Craig Smith (right) had a fine season despite his misuse in Nashville. (Section303.com)
By Chris Wassel and RotoRob
Wow, is it really over? Yes it is. It’s hard to believe that after over 25 weeks of hard fought Fantasy hockey warfare, the 2013-14 regular season is done. It all seems so final and the reality is, it is. For us, personally, it has been a very successful season as far as most formats. We even had a little luck this season playing Daily Fantasy Sports.
This week, we give a final salute to the “All Stars” that truly made your team special. If it were not for these waiver wire picks, who knows what might have happened to that championship team or that playoff team. The bottom line is that not all waiver wire pickups are created equally.
We have one final submission this week so we will present two of the best forwards that were picked up along with two of the best defensemen and a goalie just to round out the deal. Kudos to you if you took our suggestions during the season and landed one or more of these dudes… chances are you probably had a pretty good season.
Jaden Schwartz, LW, St. Louis Blues: Schwartz got off to a fast start, prompting a Week One recommendation. Okay, so he slowed down over the final month, but the 21-year-old enjoyed a major breakthrough, potting 25 goals with 31 assists for 56 points in 80 games. Schwartz was active on the power play, with five goals and five assists and he managed a game-winner for the third straight season. He’s already added his first career playoff goal as he continues to excel against the Blackhawks (scoring twice in five regular season games against them this season).
Craig Smith, RW, Nashville Predators: Imagine if Smith was used better than he was in Nashville. There is an underlying reason why Barry Trotz is gone and that is because of how he handled some of his better offensive talent. When you look at how the forwards are stacked in Nashville, there was no reason for Smith to be held back as long as he was. Hell, two years ago the kid flashed finishing ability when he was a rookie (as you can see in the video below). Finally — out of necessity — Smith got more opportunities and Fantasy owners were rewarded. He wound up with 52 points in 79 games and probably could have had at least 60 if he played more than 16:24 a game. Smith had eight points in his final four games and was on the ice for almost 18 minutes a contest during that span. His ownership numbers rose from single digits when we recommended him in late-October to 35-to-45 per cent in all formats.
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames: Right in Week One, we identified Giordano as a player that fell through the cracks on draft day, but people still didn’t fully get the message, so we reminded them at the beginning of December. If you listened, you landed a blueliner that potted 14 goals in 64 games, might have been a Norris Trophy finalist if not for his injury and a player that clearly established himself as a future Norris winner. The Flames’ captain ripped 180 shots on goal and enjoyed a robust +12 for a crappy team.
Andy Greene, New Jersey Devils: In mid-November, we recommended Greene as he was doing a good job of filling in plenty of categories. Sure enough, he wound up staying completely healthy (which by itself is impressive), had a career high in goals and recorded 24 assists while putting up career bests in PM, shots and ice time. Greene even logged 10 assists on the power play — not too shabby. Okay, if you’re an advanced stathead, Greene’s declining PE percentage is worrisome, but there’s no doubt that as a low ownership waiver wire pick in November, he wound up as a key player on most teams.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Minnesota Wild: Okay, so we didn’t recommend Bryz until the final week of the season, but in an awful season for plucking goalies off the wire, he was the best option. He wasn’t exactly sharp in his 20 games in Edmonton, but he looked like a new man in Minny, recording three shutouts in just a dozen games (11 starts). Okay, so now that the playoffs are here, Bryzgalov is terrified as he’s suddenly realized that there’s a bear on his uniform and he’s again contemplating the cosmos, but hey, he probably helped get your Fantasy team over the hump.
It is hard to believe that this season is really over. As always, you can follow us on Twitter @ChrisWasselTHW for draft impressions, Fantasy free agency signings, and even daily antasy playoff information for box pools and such. Fantasy hockey is year round these days and we are here for the reader, the expert, and anyone who has questions. Thanks for reading.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite waiver wire pick of the season was.