Of all the big sports, it seems hockey loves its character guys the most. And with the real playoffs rapidly approaching the horizon, perhaps this is a good time to explore some potential role player additions to your NHL 12 franchise if you team is a contender at the trade deadline.
Yes, everybody wants to trade for a superstar, but why not explore some lesser hyped players? Those that play on your third line who, come playoff time, can ultimately be the difference maker. After all, the Bruins didn't win because they went after a marquee name at the deadline. No, they got great help from the likes of Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly. And these character guys, hopefully, will give your team the push it needs to go all the way to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.
In the world of NHL 12, many of these players can be had at the price of a decent prospect and middle pick. Is it worth it? Well, if your team is that close to winning it all, you owe it to yourself to go all out. Besides, it gives me a good reason to write this article.
Ultimately, when it comes to role players, there are two routes you can take: You can look for well-rounded players who do a little bit of everything, or you can grab a player who is good at one particular set of attributes. It all depends on the rest of your team and your playing style.
Every contender has star power. But they all also need vital role players.
These are the guys who can kill penalties, throw a hit or pop out of nowhere to score a goal. They’re usually not outstanding enough in any areas to be on the top two lines, but if a player went down and you need a temporary fill-in, you can look to them for help. In short, they do a little bit of everything. And of course, with NHL 12’s somewhat generous rating system, it’s not difficult to find somebody rated with high seventies/low eighties in most categories.
Jamie Langenbrunner – Strictly a rental, as he almost always retires after the first or second season in. but he is pretty much the quintessential all-around player, with almost all 80s across the board.
Mike Fisher – Like in real life, the classic “tweener” stuck between second and third lines — certainly not one of the top second line pivots out there, but a lot more polished than a typical third line guy (especially with his scoring prowess). He’s a solid get if you can afford his four million and change cap hit.
Dominic Moore – Again, the typical all around 80s player. Also note his 83 faceoff rating, as he can take some important draws for your team. Cheap, too, with his $1.1 million contract.
Jarret Stoll - Like Fisher, a pretty sizeable cap hit for a third liner ($3.6 million). Also like Fisher, he would be one of the best third liners if you play him there. Highlights include a 90 in faceoffs, 93 in slapshot power and above average physical attributes.
Mike Santorelli – This one is a personal choice. I got Santorelli in one of my franchises as salary ballast, but have quickly grown to love him. His ratings may be like just another typical NHL 12 player, but he seems to be one of those players — and I can only speak anecdotally — who always ends up at the right place at the right time.
Every team needs a speedster, as they can come in handy (at a lower price) when you need them.
These are players who may not have the slickest hands, but they can flat out skate. Unlike their more skilled counterparts, they are usually available at a lower price come deadline time, and can prove to be the difference between getting to the crucial dump in or having your opposition clear the zone.
Andrew Cogliano – OK, I lied. Some do have slick hands, like Cogliano, who possesses a 93 in deking. With strength and body checking at 77, he may be a bit of a lightweight, but that’s all right since opposing players most likely won’t catch him with speed and acceleration of 93.
Gilbert Brule – Brule is a good example of why the NHL series’ rating system needs a radical overhaul next year. He’s rated at 82, yet the majority of his attributes are above that number. It is perhaps only because he is categorized as a sniper, and both his shot accuracies ratings are at 80, that brought the overall down. But lucky for you, he can perform well above what his overall suggests, especially with speed and acceleration of 88.
Jason Chimera – Finally, the quintessential speedster. His technical skills, most of them in the high 70s, are unimpressive by NHL 12 standards, but he is defensively sound and is fast, with speed and acceleration of 88.
Who doesn't want a few guys who can pummel your opposition?
Usually not the most fleet of foot, but these guys can absolutely Scott Stevens somebody. However, keep in mind that it’s still preferable to find a player who at least has a 75 in acceleration and speed.
Zenon Konopka – Speed and acceleration of 79, which is pretty solid for a big lad. While his body checking of 85 isn’t the highest, he does also have high aggressiveness and fighting attributes as well, so can drop the gloves if need be. Also note his faceoffs at 87 — an unusual mix of strengths, but a combo that may well work out for you.
Jordin Tootoo – Regardless of how you feel about him in real life, he can certainly make a nice contribution to your third line in the game. Nothing remarkable about his technical skills — which is expected — but with speed and acceleration at 83, he can both skate and hit (his checking is at 90), a supremely valuable combo.
Cal Clutterbuck – I know, Mike Yeo usually plays him on the first or second line — but hey, who hasn’t had a look in the top two in Minny this year? In truth, Clutterbuck would be a serviceable second liner in the game, but a great one on the checking line. He’s in the higher end of hitters, and will probably cost a bit more than the aforementioned other two players. But in return, you get a relatively young buck who, besides being able to take the body, can occasionally put the puck in the net.
At the end of the day, defense(men) do win championships.
Offensive defensemen tend to be valued higher in the game. So it will be hard to pluck them from franchises without giving a lot away. However, that’s not to say that there’s no value in the rest of the pack, which are usually of the gritty, defence first variety.
Anton Stralman – One of the few decent offensive defencemen you can get at a relatively reasonable price. Stralman can contribute to your power play and is a good skater. But don’t play him against the opposition top players, as he will get torched with his weak defensive ratings.
Ladislav Smid, Brooks Orpik, Jared Cowen – All of them fall under the category of solid stay at home defensemen. You may occasionally see them grabbing a goal from the point, but their main strengths are containing the opposition, taking the body, and clearing the puck out of the zone — which they do with great aplomb.
However, if you’re a stickler for "believability", leave Cowen alone. He is criminally undervalued by the CPU Ottawa GM. With a potential of B in all three categories, you can get him for a scrub or two now, and a few years down the road he’ll blossom into a top line D-man.
Who are your picks for role players you can use in your team's playoff push?