Dobber checks in every Monday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.
If you're hard up for a penalty minutes guy, let me throw a name at you — Kris Newbury of the New York Rangers).
Newbury will offer you absolutely nothing else, but he's not going to hurt your plus/minus and he's averaging over four penalty minutes per game thanks to those 17-minutes accrued against Calgary on the 20th. He's doing what he can stay in the league and if you're falling behind in this category he'll be of use to you for a couple of weeks. (Update: Newbury was dropped to the AHL for the time being on Saturday.)
Also, let's not forget that my favorite PIM dark horse Zac Rinaldo has been recalled by the Flyers. He has yet to earn a minute in the sin bin since being called up two games ago. But the odds of that continuing are roughly equivalent to the odds of Kyle Turris taking home the Coyotes' MVP award for 2011-12.
On the other hand, if your league has been listening to me over the past year and ditched the PIM in favor of Hits, then Vancouver's Aaron Volpatti makes a nice wire pickup.
Thanks to the Frozen Pool tool, here is a nice snippet of the top hitters of the past two weeks.
Coming up: Fantasy studs, duds and the wire.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick...
Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks (5-1-6-7, even, 6 PIM, 16 SOG) — Although the Ageless One is looking at finishing the season with his worst plus/minus in several years, the points are still there. He has more points since turning 35 years old (399) than Anze Kopitar has in his career (371), to put his greatness in perspective
Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers (4-4-5-9, plus-5, 4 PIM, 11 SOG) — Amazingly, those are the only four games in which he has seen more than 16:01 of ice time. Yes, he was in the doghouse there for awhile, but employed a tried and true method to get out of it — he started playing with Claude Giroux.
Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers (4-0-7-7, plus-8, 2 PIM, 5 SOG) —As long as Chris Pronger is on the shelf, 36-year-old Timonen will be posting points like 26-year-old Kimmo Timonen.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (3-0-0, 0 SO, 1.33 GAA, 0.950 SP) — If the Habs win 42 games this year, Price will win 42 of them.
Tomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres (10-8-7-15, plus-4, 10 PIM, 39 SOG) — He's been a poolie's dream so far, posting numbers that would make Alex Ovechkin do a double-take. After four years of not even getting a sniff at that 84-point mark that he hit as a sophomore, Vanek has decided that he has teased fantasy owners long enough.
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks (5-5-4-9, plus-7, 2 PIM, 16 SOG) — Are we ready to anoint this guy as the best Joe on the Sharks yet? Hard to believe that San Jose selected Milan Michalek 199 picks ahead of Pavelski in 2003.
Somebody wake these guys up — their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues (1-5-0, 3.58, 0.843) — Just 20 or 22 months removed from stealing the No.1 job from Carey Price in Montreal, Halak is looking over his shoulder at Brian Elliott. The latter has posted stellar numbers so far and is winning hockey games. He also has a track record of stealing the top job from struggling goalies (Martin Gerber, Pascal Leclaire). He's making the big bucks, so Halak has the advantage of getting thrown back in there after the slightest Elliott miscue. Logically, that would indicate that he'll eventually turn things around. But since when did logic work in fantasy hockey?
Steve Downie, Tampa Bay Lightning (8-0-0-0, minus-6, 40 PIM, 6 SOG) — Downie has been a fantastic points/penalty minutes combo player but this year he seems to be focusing his game on getting quality sin bin time. I would hold out hope for him to turn things around were it not for the fact that he is being outshot by Kevin Klein. Consider him a PIM specialist until he starts shooting the damn puck.
Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues (8-0-1-1, minus-6, 4 PIM, 29 SOG) — Look at the shots. He's not going to be held off the scoresheet for much longer. Perhaps his first assist of the campaign Sunday — his birthday — will spark him.
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers (9-0-2-2, minus-2, 2 PIM, 17 SOG) — He's fifth on the team in PP time and his overall ice time is solid. He may fall victim to a bit of the sophomore jinx, but it won't be this bad. Things will turn around at least a little.
Steve Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins (13-0-3-3, minus-2, 4 PIM, 24 shots) — Maybe he needs better linemates and ice time. Never mind.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but a couple of potential steals...
Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes (2-2-3-5, plus-4, 0 PIM, 5 SOG) —Last week's dud is this week's stud. Long-time fantasy owners are familiar with this guy's act. But those newbies who don't know his M.O. may have dropped him.
Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues (4-1-0, 1.67, 0.942) — He's probably scooped up in your league by now, but if not — get on it. At worst, he'll give you a few more decent starts before Halak Luongo gets his job back.
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks (2-2-0, 1.97, 0.927) — He's probably scooped up in your league by now, but if not — get on it. At worst, he'll give you a few more decent starts before Halak Luongo gets his job back.
Josh Gorges, Montreal Canadiens (5-0-4-4, plus-5, 6 PIM, 8 SOG) — If your league has 12 or more teams in it, chances are you'll need a No.6 defenseman. This may be the only time — ever — that Gorges could provide you with some short-term help.
Cal O'Reilly, Phoenix Coyotes (numbers are irrelevant) — One of the most underrated setup men in the NHL, O'Reilly could not have been moved to an emptier arena a more suitable team. I have a hunch that he kicks his tenure in the desert off with a bang. Lots of assists and power-play points.
What to think of these youngsters in your keeper league...
Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators (9-0-1-1, minus-3, 2 PIM, 12 SOG) — The Senators did the right thing and sent Zibanejad back to Sweden after Game 9. Despite the numbers, we saw that he has an underrated offensive game and that he's pretty much a shoe-in as a regular next campaign.
Ty Rattie, St. Louis Blues (16-11-11-22, minus-6, 24 PIM for Portland of the WHL) — The 32nd overall pick this past summer is sixth in the WHL in points, so the upside is there. But with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko likely the next two offensive forwards in the system to get a spot, Rattie is looking at another two years unless he can leapfrog one of them (or Tarasenko decides that KHL stardom is the life for him).