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Fantasy Hockey: Joe Pavelski is a stud; Cam Ward is a dud

Dobber Hockey
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Dobber checks in every Thursday 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.

There are still some early surprises yet to adjust, but many of the crazy player stats have fallen back into the line. Here is a snippet of Frozen Pool's Yahoo! Roto Ranker, which ranks players in every category and then adds the ranks.

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Studs...

These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...

David Perron, St. Louis Blues (2-2-3-5, plus-5, 0 PIM, 6 SOG) – Perron is playing alongside David Backes and TJ Oshie on what has become one of three first lines on the Blues. Perron's return to health, as well as Andy McDonald's, not to mention the arrival of Vladimir Tarasenko, has made this team an offensive force. Fancy that, a Ken Hitchcock team scaring you with their offense.

Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks (6-3-8-11, plus-4, 2 PIM, 19 SOG) – Along with linemates Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau (who actually have even more points), Pavelski is enjoying close to a 90-point pace. Over 48 games. The last time he was this hot producing at this kind of clip you have to go way back to, well, a month ago when he was in Russia. But before that, you'd have to go back a couple of years.

Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators (5-0-1, 0.98 GAA, 0.967 SV%) – Unlike the Blues, who are steamrolling through everyone and giving up something ridiculous like three shots on goal per game, the Senators are actually letting a bunch of shots through. Anderson is facing just over 31 shots per game, but has been up to the task almost every time.

Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers (4-2-2-4, plus-2, 16 PIM, 9 SOG) – After 28 goals, 49 points and 114 penalty minutes, poolies were expecting a slight regression in some of those numbers. But his pace so far is even better than last season. He's shooting the puck at a rate of nearly 2.5 per game over his last 89 regular season games. Before that, his career average was closer to 1.5 per game. As you can see, it's made a difference.

Duds

Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...

Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes (1-3-0, 4.51 GAA, 0.861 SV%) – After a first three games that saw about eight star goaltenders crap the bed and send poolies into a panic, five or six of them have turned things around since. Ward isn't one of them. What's concerning is that he started last season 8-12-3 before going 22-11-10. These slow starts are becoming a habit and in a shorter season, pulling out of it by Game 24 won't cut it. His fantasy owners will be buried by then (at least…I would be, in one of my leagues).

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (6-1-1-2, minus-2, 6 PIM, 20 SOG) – In his two best seasons, Ovechkin had 974 shots in 159 games. That's about six shots per game. Last year, and so far this campaign, his average is closer to 3.5. That's one reason for the production slowdown. The other reason is Adam Oates' stubbornness in not only trying out, but keeping Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb on his line. Apparently, they skate well, work hard, and play a north-south game - which makes them a great fit according to Oates. You know what makes an even better fit? Not sucking.

Craig Smith, Nashville Predators (6-0-0-0, minus-1, 6 PIM, 5 SOG) – Last year's rookie surprise fizzled out around January and 365 days later he still hasn't regained that spark. And Coach Barry Trotz isn't one to wait around, as you can see from Smith's ice time, which dipped as low as four minutes one game. The situation isn't promising, as he needs ice time and skilled linemates to flourish.

Derick Brassard, Columbus Blue Jackets (4-0-0-0, minus-2, 2 PIM, 5 SOG) – It seems odd to say that a veteran misses the presence of a guy with 30 games under his belt, but that's the story here. Brassard had two points in three games when Cam Atkinson was in the lineup and zero points since Atkinson suffered a high-ankle sprain.

The Wire...

Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...

Joel Ward, Washington Capitals (6-3-2-5, plus-4, 4 PIM, 12 SOG) – Ward is clicking on a line with Mike Ribeiro and Jason Chimera (who was last season's surprise waiver wire pickup). For the first part of last year, Chimera was Washington's top goal scorer. Looks like it's Ward's turn this time…anyone but that guy making over $100 million.

Tom Gilbert, Minnesota Wild (4-2-4-6, minus-2, 4 PIM, 7 SOG) – Gilbert has shown flashes of this stuff three or four times in the past, indicating that he's a 60-point defensemen when, after the luster wears off, he turns out to be a 30-point defenseman. He's getting plenty of ice time, but Jonas Brodin is taking his PP time now. So the hot streak won't last, but ride it while it's there.

Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild (4-0-2-2, even, 2 PIM, 3 SOG) – Brodin is a highly-regarded rookie defenseman who is already getting nearly 21 minutes of ice time per game. He's partnering with Ryan Suter now and seeing time on the first power-play unit.

Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators (4-0-2-2, plus-3, 18 PIM, 9 SOG) – You know what you're getting with Neil, a 33-year-old who is pretty consistent in that 20- to 30-point, 150- to 200-PIM range. But at this point he's beating that pace and has a great plus/minus besides. Thank you Craig Anderson.

Zack Kassian, Vancouver Canucks (7-5-0-5, even, 12 PIM, 15 SOG) – This year's Cy Young Award leader has made Canucks fans forget all about that guy who went to Buffalo in exchange for him. The penalty minutes were expected of him, but the shot total, the goals…and of course the Swedish linemates, have been a nice surprise.

Matt Frattin, Toronto Maple Leafs (3-3-2-5 plus-20, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 6 Hits) – Besides the nice production, of which Frattin will continue to post in clusters here and there, he is great for fantasy leagues who count Hits as a category.

Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens (3-2-1-3, plus-3, 0 PIM, 7 SOG) – Gallagher was the bes player on a bad Hamilton Bulldogs team. It's great to see how well he does when given skilled linemates - as Alex Galchenyuk surely is. Despite the third-line ice time and minimal PP time, he has still been a great contributor.

For more fantasy hockey tips, take a gander at DobberHockey. And while you’re at it, follow Dobber’s fantasy hockey musings on Twitter.

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