Commentary

Grand Theft Roto: Buy now, play later

Updated: January 15, 2008, 12:42 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

While the injury department for fantasy hockey is looked after quite nicely by my colleague Tim Kavanagh in "Icing It Down" (Mondays on ESPN.com), I thought it prudent to wade into his territory for a week to look at some of the guys who have been or will be out for an extended period of time, but you should probably consider trading for.

So excuse me for stepping on your toes a little, Tim, but I keep putting off those waltzing lessons.

Buy now, play later

This is essentially a list of players I wouldn't mind going after in a trade if I had the bench room and position in the standings where I could afford to be patient. It goes without saying that you should also consider some of these players for a pickup if they happen to be free agents in your league.

Dan Boyle, D, Lightning: Boyle is probably going to need about a month to get back into form after two surgeries this season. He is skating now, so it's just a matter of conditioning and getting his wrist ready to fire his patented point shot. However, he will be returning at 100 percent and should play like a top-five fantasy defenseman on a potent Tampa Bay power play. There is no competition for his job when he returns because both Paul Ranger and Filip Kuba have been unable to maintain production. Look for 30 games and 20-25 points from Boyle. It's hard to tell you exactly what to try to flip to Boyle's current owner to get him, but one suggestion would be to try and up-sell a guy like Shane O'Brien. His numbers look good, but you can replace the penalty minutes from your waiver wire and Boyle could still double O'Brien's output from now to the end of the season, even with another month handicap.

[+] EnlargePhilippe Boucher
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesPhilippe Boucher had 51 points and 104 PIMs in 76 games last season.
Philippe Boucher, D, Stars: There has been no word on Boucher's status; he is set to be re-evaluated sometime this week after undergoing shoulder surgery a month ago. He might be someone you can find on waivers, even in deep leagues. If not, I am still advocating a trade for him. Even with his point shot power sapped by his shoulder this season, he managed 11 points in 28 games with 24 PIMs. A healthy Boucher, on the other hand, probably would have had closer to 17 points and averaged better than a penalty minute per game. Assuming everything is fine with his shoulder, he should have a similar timetable to Boyle's and be back in the first week of February. That would give him about 30 games to make an impact. Sure, Matt Niskanen has confused the situation a bit upon Boucher's return, but there is also a chance Boucher is flipped to another team to get Dallas another scoring winger. Boucher should come really cheap right now with his status up in the air, but could provide great dividends down the stretch.

Daniel Carcillo, LW, Coyotes: Like Boyle and Boucher, Carcillo is on target to be back for February. Still the NHL's penalty minutes leader despite being out since Dec. 20, Carcillo's fantasy value goes without saying. There is a strong chance he has been dumped, so check your waiver wire first (and you may be able to wait on him a couple more weeks). If you are in a deeper league, I suggest trying an offer of Aaron Voros for Carcillo. Voros starting establishing his claim to being a points/PIMs combo about the time Carcillo went down, and was probably the replacement for many Carcillo owners in shallower leagues. With Mikko Koivu back in the fold now for Minnesota, Voros will be hard-pressed to line up on a scoring line for the Wild, which is what helped him notch some points to go with his PIMs. I'd rather own Carcillo for the last two months of the season, than Voros for the balance.

Cory Murphy, D, Panthers: Murphy's return appears imminent, though we still don't know exactly what happened to him. The Panthers never revealed the extent of his "sore shoulder" injury, but he has been out since Nov. 13 because of it. Murphy is small in stature and had taken some pretty rough hits that he wasn't accustomed to taking while he was in Europe for the better part of a decade. His offensive and puck-moving skills are undeniable, and he's had an immediate impact on Florida's offense. The Panthers need him to resume that same role, and if you hurry, you may be able to get this No. 3 (borderline No. 2) defenseman on the cheap.

Michel Ouellet, RW, Lightning: Ouellet is just waiting for clearance to begin practicing again. A dislocated shoulder should mean he doesn't need too much conditioning and may be back in two weeks. Clearly, no one else Tampa Bay has can do any better on the Brad Richards line, so Ouellet should be able to step right back into that role. If you can flip a piece of your bench for Ouellet, he still has a chance to deliver on his preseason sleeper status.

Chris Clark, RW, Capitals: It's easy to overlook the fact that Clark has only played 18 games this season and his recent IR stint was his second absence from the lineup this season. A gritty mix of points and PIMs, he has been slotted back in (as of Sunday) on a line with Michael Nylander and Alexander Semin and maybe even gets power-play time with the Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander Ovechkin connection. The bottom line: He'll have linemates and his stats so far should allow you to get him on the cheap. He's a No. 3 right winger.

Bryan McCabe, D, Maple Leafs: The problem with McCabe is that his numbers were way down before the injury. He is on pace to possibly return in early February, but it wasn't a lingering injury that knocked him out, it was a broken hand. So what do we blame his pre-IR stats on? I think it might have had something to do with Mats Sundin being on an absolute tear. With every puck Sundin touched going in the net in the early going, why dish it back to the point on the power play? Why not finish it himself? Now that Captain Mats has cooled off, McCabe and Tomas Kaberle should get back to their old ways on the point with the man advantage. I'd definitely offer up something cheap to try to pry away McCabe from his owner. They are likely disillusioned with him this season anyway.

Steve Sullivan, RW, Predators: You might only get a dozen games out of Sullivan, but they'll be darn good ones. In most leagues you should be able to scoop him up now, but in leagues where he is stashed on the IR, you should make an offer. You'd be surprised how little it takes to get a player who hasn't seen the ice all season and for whom there is no timetable for a return.

Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins: Yeah, this would be your desperation play. Bergeron suffered a heck of a concussion Oct. 27, and it remains to be seen if he'll even skate again this season. The Boston Herald has recently reported some positive omens though. Bergeron says he is riding a stationary bike for upwards of seven minutes, and although he still feels a bit "off" after the exercise, he has been making it longer in recent days. Once the post-concussion syndromes disappear, Bergeron could conceivably take to the ice and get back into shape in about three or four weeks. Going and getting Bergeron for your offense would be a Hail Mary, but Boston is no stranger to those.

Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.

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