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.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have played 10 games. Other teams, such as Detroit, New Jersey and San Jose, have played just six. The impact that this could have on a fantasy squad is often ignored, like an impressive young rookie on a Barry Trotz team.
But think about it for a second — 67 percent more games than some other teams. Would you rather own a Penguin with seven points or a Red Wing with five?
This discrepancy is doubly-sucky for Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby owners. Malkin's patched up knee did not react well to the heavy early schedule and he has been forced to rest it. If he's on the Red Wings, resting it for 10 days would have meant missing three or four games. On the Penguins, it means six. Take three games away from Malkin and you're taking four or five points away from your end-of-season totals.
The same logic applies with Crosby, who is inching closer to a return. If he returns November 5, he will have missed 14 games. But if the Penguins had the Sharks' schedule then the number becomes 11. Three games, which means four or five points.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick...
Marc-Andre Bergeron, Tampa Bay Lightning (8-2-7-9, minus-1, 2 PIM, 12 SOG) — He's shown us this kind of production before. Yeah, back in 2007 with the Islanders. There was no real reason to draft him, yet many of you did in the late rounds for your bench. Now you look like geniuses.
Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins (8-3-6-9, plus-7, 4 PIM, 27 SOG) — If Phil Kessel wasn't on such a tear right now, the Toronto media would be going batty over how well Seguin is doing.
Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins (3-2-3-5, plus-3, 12 PIM, 4 SOG) —This guy brings you a priceless combination of goals, PIM, plus/minus and shots. And between him and Seguin, they are making Chris Kelly look like Henrik Sedin.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings (5-0-1, 3 SO, 0.81 GAA, 0.972 SP) — Ridiculous
Alexander Burmistrov, Winnipeg Jets (7-2-4-6, plus-3, 4 PIM, 13 SOG) — His ice time has been climbing and he now flirts with 20 minutes per game on a regular bases. He just turned 20 last week, but he's already looking like the real deal.
Somebody wake these guys up — their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Cody Franson, Toronto Maple Leafs (3-0-1-1, minus-4, 0 PIM, 2 SOG) — A top prospect for Nashville, Franson's first two campaigns were virtually flawless (50 points, plus-25). At this point, his step backwards is just too big to see any hope for this season. Drop him.
Tyler Ennis, Buffalo Sabres (7-0-0-0, plus-2, 2 PIM, 12 SOG) — The good news is that he has been taken off the Ville Leino line — and Leino has been fitting into the Buffalo system about as well as Marco Sturm fit in on the Canucks. The bad news is that Ennis may now be out with a sprained ankle (we'll hear word on the status later Monday).
Patric Hornqvist, Nashville Predators (6-0-0-0, minus-3, 4 PIM, 11 SOG) — I think Horny is playing a little hurt. I also think he was pushed down the depth chart last season by Sergei Kostitsyn. And now he is pushed down even further by the emergence of Craig Smith. It hasn't cut into his PP time yet, so he's not a dropsy. But the leash has to be getting shorter.
Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets (6-1-0-1, minus-3, 2 PIM, 21 SOG) — Many figured this to be the big breakout year for Kane. But with the Burmistrov line stepping up, Kane is seeing a cut in his ice time.
Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes (5-0-1-1, even, 0 PIM, 12 shots) — Interesting stuff — in each of the last three seasons, Vrbata has tallied at least two points in his first two games…and then put up goose eggs the next four games. Nice to see him follow the script.
Kevin Bieksa, Vancouver Canucks (8-0-1-1, minus-5, 23 PIM, 20 SOG) — Bieksa had a huge second half and a big postseason. And with Christian Ehrhoff gone, he's actually seeing more PP time. There is no reason to think that this slump will continue.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but a couple of potential steals...
Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers (7-2-4-6, plus-4, 2 PIM, 18 SOG) —It's hard to get a read on Read in terms of where this is going. No question that he has a future as a top sixer. After his four-point game, he was given over 21 minutes of ice time. But the next game he was given just 11:54. So does a slump of any kind mean a constant reduction in ice time? Is he still too new to be given any rope to work through a cold streak? That's why I stuck the word "potential" in there. But he should be on your team while you evaluate.
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers (6-2-2-4, plus-3, 6 PIM, 6 SOG) — He's not a point producer, but he's a plus/minus machine with a lot of PIM potential. The points he is getting right now are just gravy.
Kyle Quincey, Colorado Avalanche (4-1-3-4, plus-3, 2 PIM, 12 SOG) — In each of Quincey's two full NHL seasons (he was hurt last year), he posted the bulk of his points in the first half. To the tune of a 40 or 45-point pace. So he could be of help to you for another two months before he hits that wall.
Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs (2-0-1-3, plus-1, 2 PIM, 2 SOG) — If he can stick with the Leafs this time, then he's a waiver wire steal. He could get you 40 points, 150 shots and 60 PIM.
Chris Kelly, Boston Bruins (4-2-3-5, plus-5, 5 PIM, 5 SOG) — As long as he plays with Lucic and Seguin, he's worth a flyer. Hell, maybe he could Chris Clark his way to his first (only?) 50-point season.
What to think of these youngsters in your keeper league...
Kyle Palmieri, Anaheim Ducks (6-8-2-10, plus-7, 2 PIM, 30 SOG in the AHL for Syracuse) — That's actually 30 points in his last 20 AHL games dating back to last season. Palmieri is close and he's the next piece to Anaheim's top-six puzzle.
Slava Voynov, Los Angeles Kings (3-0-0-0, plus-2, 0 PIM, 2 SOG for LA, but two points and plus-5 in two games for Manchester) — So many Drew Doughty injuries needed intangibles here. Voynov is NHL ready, but the numbers game is keeping him off of this roster when everyone is healthy. As such, he is a KHL flight risk and losing a player for nothing sucks. My keeper league would have to be pretty deep for me to use a roster spot on him at this point.