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Fantasy Hockey: Why Chris Kunitz is a stud, Drew Doughty 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.

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Rookie Tomas Hertl had "the four-goal game" and the rooster-petting hype that followed. Dustin Penner has that "man he's killing my fantasy team I'm never drafting him ag- wait, what?" thing. But what does Ryan Johansen have? He's hype-less. A man without buzz. But he's quietly crept up the scoring list and now sits third in scoring among all players making two million or less this season. Poolies in salary-cap leagues are understandably thrilled. And his agent is rubbing his hands with glee.

Here is the expanded list, courtesy of Frozen Pool.

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Studs...

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

Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins (8-5-6-11, minus-1, 6 PIM, 21 SOG, and 6 PPPts) - The Penguins have a permanent spot etched into this section. If it's not Crosby, it's Malkin. If it's not one of them, it's one of their linemates. I could just as easily stuck James Neal here, too. Neal has 14 points in his last eight games.

Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings (7-2-7-9, plus-4, 4 PIM, 19 SOG) - Held off the scoresheet Wednesday, Kronwall has nonetheless been on fire. He has been credited with just two shots on goal over his last three games, which is a sure sign that the hot streak will be giving way to the cold soon.

Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes (8-3-8-11, plus-7, 0 PIM, 29 SOG) - Vrbata is having a career season in this, a contract year. But he's been flourishing in Phoenix since being briefly deluded into thinking he could be productive elsewhere when he had that cup of coffee with the Lightning.

Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks (3-4-1-5, plus-2, 2 PIM, 11 SOG and 3 PPPts) - One point in six games to start the year after missing most of last season sounds pretty fair to me. So I don't count those games and consider him the guy who has 21 points in 24 games. That's a pace that puts him in line with his pre-injury numbers from 2009 to 2011.

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Duds

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

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings (7-1-1-2, minus-2, 8 PIM, 13 SOG) - If he had a points-per-game average of 0.47 in 2011-12 and 0.46 the following year, is his current 0.48 for this season off base? If only he played for Anaheim, then I could say "if it walks like a Duck…" and it would be funny.

Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins (14-1-1-2, minus-1, 4 PIM, 26 SOG) - How you can play virtually every even-strength shift with Sidney Crosby for 14 games and come away with two points is beyond me. Who does he think he is, Colby Armstrong? Dupuis is a 'buy low' candidate. His shot percentage, as you can see, is brutal. It will turn around.

Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers (6-0-0-0, minus-2, 2 PIM, 18 SOG) - Also suffering from Armstrongitis is Voracek, who has been on the Claude Giroux line lately yet his already brutal season is just getting worse. It's hard to imagine Voracek's floor being any lower than a 45-point season at this point in his career, but stranger things have happened.

Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes (1-3-1, 3.62 GAA, 0.886 SV%) - This is Smith's second cold run of the season, neatly sandwiching a hot streak from late October. In daily leagues, this streakiness can be a good thing if manipulated properly. It's a little trickier in weekly leagues - I myself was burned a couple of times, benching him and activating him during wrong weeks.

The Wire...

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

Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers (9-5-5-10, plus-10, 2 PIM, 24 SOG) – Since the Flyers acquired and put Steve Downie on Couturier's line and then moved Matt Read there as well, these guys have been flying (excuse the pun). All three should be owned if they're not already.

Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes (5-4-2-6, plus-6, 2 PIM, 12 SOG, 2 PPPts) – Here is your new Hurricanes PP quarterback. He showed signs of this in Buffalo, but between injuries and the fact that the Sabres had several other options they were turning to, he never got a chance. Just 11% owned, but other than injuries there is very little risk here.

Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues (7-3-5-8, plus-7, 4 PIM, 15 SOG) – The 21-year-old is not really used on the power play, not yet anyway. But his line (with the Vladimirs - Sobotka and Tarasenko) is hot right now.

Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets (5-4-3-7, plus-3, 2 PIM, 16 SOG, and 4 PPPts) – With 19 points in his last 23 games, Johansen has come a long way since being a healthy scratch for the AHL farm team just six months ago.

Brian Gionta, Montreal Canadiens (4-1-4-5, plus-4, 2 PIM, 8 SOG) – Remember when he scored 48 goals and tallied 89 points? What a crazy aberration, eh? Gionta has settled into a 45- to 55-point range and this latest hot streak is just a market correction. But ride it while you can.

Nick Bonino (7-2-5-7, minus-2, 2 PIM, 10 SOG, and 4 PPPts) – Bonino isn't shooting the puck right now, but he's been an assist (and power-play point) machine. The 25-year-old has always been more of a setup man, so if you're lacking in these categories he'll help, and probably chip in well enough throughout the year. Just 12% owned.

Devin Setoguchi, Winnipeg Jets (4-3-1-4, plus-5, 2 PIM, 6 SOG) – The streaky Setoguchi has 10 points in his last 14 games, after just five in his first 14. Overall, his numbers are about where they've been for the last four years so expect this hot streak to die down in a week or so.

Heating Up?

Here's where I'll fire off a few names of players who may be at the very beginning of a nice little run. Just a gut feeling, but worth looking into and/or taking a chance on:

Tomas Tatar, Detroit; Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia; Lars Eller, Montreal; T.J. Brodie, Calgary; Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay.

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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