If your fantasy blue line could use a spark, this may be your lucky day.
Lubomir Visnovsky, the high-scoring defenseman who was traded by the Anaheim Ducks to the New York Islanders on the night of the 2012 NHL Draft, has finally arrived on Long Island. The Isles had suspended Visnovsky after he failed to report to the team, but they lifted the ban on Thursday to activate the defenseman.
Reports are even indicating that the 36-year-old, who practiced Friday, could make his debut for New York as early as Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres, raising questions about his potential fantasy value.
Owned in only 29 percent of Yahoo! leagues entering the day, Visnovsky is far from a sure thing. But for fantasy owners to ignore what he was capable of only two seasons ago is just foolish.
Visnovsky led all NHL defenseman with 50 assists and 68 points in 2010-11, while his power-play point total that season (31) was second behind only Nicklas Lidstrom (39) for the League lead at their position. Last season, the Slovakian missed 14 games for the Ducks and never found his groove, causing a significant dip in nearly every fantasy category.
He may have produced an impressive (by his standard) 47 PIMs last season, but Visnovsky posted 12 fewer goals (6), 41 fewer points (27), 21 fewer PPP (10) and 40 fewer SOG (112) than he did in 2010-11. Fantasy owners who spent an early-round pick on the power-play quarterback last year would regret it by the mid-way point of the season.
But as Visnovsky steps into a situation where he may have the opportunity to redeem himself offensively, owners may want to take a chance on the d-man. The Islanders, after a strong start to the season, have lost three in a row and have gone 0 for 19 on the power play over that skid.
It's only logical for the team to incorporate Visnovsky, who has seen upwards of four minutes per game on the power play in the past, to see if he can bolster their production in those situations. It also couldn't hurt that Visnovsky stayed active while in Europe, posting16 points in 32 games for Bratislava Slovan of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Regardless of whether he's paired with Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald or Travis Hamonic, Visnovsky has plenty of fantasy potential as he hopes to get his NHL career back on track. Thus, fantasy owners who find this veteran defenseman floating on the waiver wire should get a head start and add him prior to his eventual debut.