On Wednesday, I offered up my picks for the 2009-10 Centers and Wingers who will offer the fantasy hockey (salary cap league) GM the best combination of points and a minimal salary cap hit. Today, I'll break down the Defensemen and Goalies who will earn you critical points without breaking the bank.
Cam Barker, CHI - For what he brings to the table, this kid is underpriced in most cap leagues. He's young, and has yet to play a full season in the NHL. In 68 games last season, Barker posted a noteworthy 6-34-40, -6. Expect his points to increase in 09-10.
Erik Johnson, STL - A one-of-a-kind preseason golf cart accident kept Johnson off the ice for all of 08-09. As a result, his cap hit is on the low side. Expect Johnson to play a significant role in the Blues' renaissance this season.
Zach Bogosian, ATL - Despite playing just 47 games in his rookie season (08-09), Bogosian put up good numbers (9-10-19, +11, 47 PIM, 90 SOG) on a sub-par team. This season, the Thrashers will be an improved team, and Bogosian will improve upon his rookie stats.
Honorable Mention: James Wisniewski, ANA - Wisniewski's stats in 08-09 were solid, despite missing a considerable chunk of the season due to injury: 48GP, 3-21-24, +9. With Chris Pronger gone from the OC, expect Wiz to pick up some of the slack (as well as points).
One to Watch: Jonathan Ericsson, DET - In 19 regular season contests last season, Ericsson posted a rather humble 1-3-4, -1. What got him onto this list was his playoff performance: 22GP, 4-4-8, +9, 25 PIM. If Ericsson can keep that up throughout 09-10, he won't be a "salary cap bargain" next season.
Starting goalies generally aren't cheap, especially if they mind the net for one of last seasons' playoff teams. Thus, the best deals - though not necessarily the cheapest goalies - will be found on teams which didn't make the playoffs in 08-09, but are trending upward heading into this season. To wit:
Mike Smith, TBL - The Lightning will be an improved team this season, and should challenge for the 8th seed in the East. And Smitty will lead (and sometimes) carry them. He'll do well, as long as he doesn't have to play too many back-to-back games. You won't be sorry to have Smith on your team.
Cristobal Huet, CHI - Huet rode the pine much of last season, due to the strong play of Nikolai Khabibulin. The Blackhawks tried to deal Huet and keep Khabibulin this summer, but the Bulin Wall moved to The Great White North and the 'Hawks found no takers for Huet's (rather large) contract. Chicago doesn't have another goalie waiting in the wings, ready to step in and seize the starting job. Thus, Huet is Chicago's #1 goalie by default. For that fact alone, he's quite underpriced.
The Los Angeles Kings' Starting Goalie - Will it be Jonathan Quick or Erik Ersberg? Doesn't matter - just wait until a starter emerges and grab him. The Kings will be an improved club this season, and their (dirt cheap) goalies will make you look good.
Honorable Mention: Marty Turco, DAL - Last season was an aberration. Turco will be better, and the Stars will be back in the playoffs. While Marty's cap hit won't be small, it will be less than most other goalies on playoff-bound clubs. He'll prove to be quite a bargain in 09-10.
One to Watch: Semyon Varlamov, WSH - At this point, it would appear that Jose Theodore will be given every opportunity to keep the starting job in Washington. He will be on a very short leash, however, and Varlamov will take over the moment Theodore stumbles. Put Varlamov on your bench now, and wait; you'll be glad you did.
Take me back to On Goal Analysis