We're only one week away from the final changes we're allowed to make in the Draft, with our second Waiver Draft. After the end of Week Nineteen, Sunday, February 2nd, we'll begin to look at some new players for our Draft team and take away some of our good-for-nothing anchors that are holding us back from greater things. It will go much like the Week Ten Draft, but hopefully much faster and we'll have it all done by the end of day on Friday, if at all possible.
If you are going to be unavailable to make some decisions next week, please notify me and we'll make arrangements to improve your team.
So, in light of the upcoming Draft, I thought I would highlight the top players available in each position and those who are likely to be taken in the first round of the Waiver Draft.
The top forward in the Available pool is still Radim Vrbata of the Coyotes. He's played in 44 games this season and has 37 points (21G, 16A) for the Dogs, while averaging 18:34 of ice-time again. He trails Shane Doan (Dale B.) by 10 points for the team lead.
The Flyers have improved their scoring this season and included in the new charge is R.J. Umberger. He's the second best forward available with 35 points (9G, 26A) in 46 games for the Flyers. He has impressed many with his hard nosed play, but his scoring consistency has room for improvement.
Highlighted in a newsletter already, Jeff Carter has also been a big part of the turnaround in Philadelphia. This season, he's accumulated 32 points (18G, 14A) in 48 games, also not missing a game for the Flyers. He's definitely one to keep around if we were playing in a keeper draft.
It's easy to criticize... I can tell, because everyone does it, but it was pretty easy to pick on Dustin Penner for not being worth the big contract he was offered this past summer. Well, he's climbed the ranks of the Available List and now has 32 points (15G, 17A) in 52 games for the Oilers. Sure, he isn't the 40-goal scorer Kevin Lowe thought he'd be right now, but 15 so far isn't too bad either.
Skipped over the first time around, Eric Belanger of the Wild is still hanging around the Available List with 32 points (12G, 20A) in 50 games for the Wild. He hasn't missed a game yet for the Wild, which could be his strongest asset.
Now, who wouldn't want a Detroit Red Wing player on their roster these days? They're winning... they're scoring... why not, right? Jiri Hudler is the next best Red Wing with 32 points (11G, 21A) in 51 games this season. He could easily be a dark horse for the number one pick in this second draft.
Quite possibly the hottest player on the list at the moment, Scott Hartnell of the Flyers could be a pretty good bet for a Waiver Draft pick. At the moment, he stands with 30 points (16G, 14A) in 46 games, but has two hat-tricks in his past 8 games.
Believe it or not, the Canadiens have been a very good pool club this season and their best rookie this season has risen the ranks to possibly make a jump onto a roster here right away. Andrei Kostitsyn has posted 30 points (14G, 16A) with the Habs in 45 games. He has been a breath of fresh air for the team and has been playing with Alexei Kovalev (Clayton) for the better part of the season now.
The influx of young talent in Phoenix has already paid some dividends. YoungStars game participant, Peter Mueller, has earned some high praise with his play and his stats speak for themselves... 30 points (13G, 17A) in 48 games. He should be a welcome addition to any pool team for the second half of the year.
Another name, another Coyote. Steve Reinprecht used to be a regular pick in drafts previous, but has really fallen off, mostly due to injury. This year, he seems to be keeping himself relatively healthy as he's played in 48 of 49 games for Phoenix. In those 48 games, he's scored 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points.
The Thrashers have enjoyed some mild success while in the playoff hunt. Eric Perrin is one of the budding players providing some excellent support for Atlanta, he has 30 points (8G, 22A) in 51 games for the Thrashers and has shown some consistency, as he mostly gets a point here and there on a regular basis.
The top two defensemen available are tied with 25 points, but doing it in less games in Niklas Kronwall for the Detroit Red Wings. Kronwall has 5 goals and 20 assists in 47 games for the Wings and has been playing upwards of 20 minutes per game. That's a strong case for a high pick.
Also with 25 points (4G, 21A) is Rob Blake of the Kings. Blake was dropped earlier in the season when he had 7 points in his first 25 games, but since then, Blake has had 18 points in his last 26 games, performing better than who he was substituted for.
Skipped the first time around, Pavel Kubina has stayed amongst the best available defensemen with 24 points (4G, 20A) in 41 games. Kubina had missed 10 games earlier in the season, which kept him out of the minds of those trying to upgrade, but in his last 7 games, Kubina has picked up 5 points (2G, 3A).
In Boston, Dennis Wideman has played some good hockey and has earned himself a spot on the list for consideration for next week. Wideman has 23 points (7G, 16A) in 48 games for the Bruins and has only missed one game so far this season.
Two Flyers defensemen will finish the list of defenders off here on the posting. They both have the same amount of points (22 - 3G, 19A), only Braydon Coburn has done it in 5 more games, but he's also been healthy in five more games. Coburn is a big physical defenseman, but has seemingly been a bit more durable than his counterpart below. Since we're replacing players who more than likely haven't been too healthy this year, I thought a good tie-breaker for who should go first is in more games played.
Randy Jones is the other defenseman with the same amount of goals and assists as Coburn, but has done it at a better pace. If you were left with these two for your next defenseman pick, would you choose number of games played or pace of which they've scored?
The Oilers new number one goalie is still available to the lowest bidder (in the Standings). Mathieu Garon has received the bulk of the minutes in Edmonton, but the lacklustre amount of wins that the Oilers have generated makes for good reason why people would stay away from the Edmonton crease. Garon has 15 wins and 3 shutouts to his name, which is far and away the best qualifications for any available goalie.
The Kings also have their number one goalie available to the lowest bidder. Jason LaBarbera has even less going for them, except lead decorator in the Western basement. The Kings starter has the most minutes played of any available keeper, but the Kings haven't been able to string many wins while in front of him.
Well, his play isn't Hart Trophy worthy anymore, but he may be able to fill in for a goalie that has hit the skids. Jose Theodore has won 12 games this season in a platoon situation. Theodore hasn't won himself the starter's role in Colorado, but he has been playing much better than seasons before, if that makes any difference to you.
With only about two or so weeks before Marc-Andre Fleury (Dennis) is to return from his high ankle sprain, Ty Conklin has earned some rave reviews for his play with the Penguins this year. Conklin has won 10 games and had 2 shutouts in Pittsburgh during the time he's had the starting job, which has kept the young Penguin team in the playoff hunt. A goaltending controversy may brew when Fleury returns.
Confidence in the goaltending has been shaky in Minnesota and Josh Harding has been the recipient of more minutes because of that this season. With 1208 minutes to his name this season, Harding is the only other 10+ game winner available in the Draft. Harding also has a shutout and an assist for a total of 23 points this year, which ranks him fifth among this list.
Those are your best bets for available players, but don't forget to check the list out on the website if you need some help beyond these picks.
NHL, Hockey, Hockey Pool