How far would you go to get an advantage over your fantasy opponent? That question popped into my head Thursday night when I saw Steve Ott lick Jeff Halpern’s visor during a face-off in the Montreal-Buffalo game.Like with his tongue. Ewwwww … I’ve seen a lot of things and heard a lot of trash talk on the ice, but that was a first. The word creepy came to mind – I even had to rewind it to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. I kind of wish they had been. Ott was looking for an advantage of any kind. Extreme, yes, but his team was losing yet another game in a train wreck of a season. And he was clearly ready to do anything to mess with his opponent’s head and change his team’s fate … even this close to season’s end. It took a while for me to get over my disgust. And I just hope I don’t see that lick again in my dreams. But when I moved on, I started to think about how far is too far when it comes to gaining a fantasy advantage. Did I go too far when I drafted Ryan Kesler knowing full well he’d miss a big chunk of the early season? Was it wrong to poach both Ryan O’Reilly and Joffrey Lupul a week before each actually came back from injury? And is it wrong to pick up players in a blatant effort to block someone else from getting them? No, no and not a chance in … I’ll be honest – I did pause on the idea of tying up players on waivers by adding them, waiting a few days and then dropping them again. It felt a little like an illegal block. Or a Steve Ott lick. But I got over it really fast. No one else is going to help you win but you. Just don’t be an arse and do it when the league is already out of reach. That’s out of bounds … like Ott’s french. Now let’s take a look at who caught my eye. Josh Bailey, C, NY Islanders (3 percent owned) – Bailey is skilled and slippery, but he’s been plagued by inconsistency throughout his career. Now this five-year veteran is just 23 years old and those lapses of concentration can be chalked up to youth. Right now, he’s rocking the island with points in five of six games in April and seven points (four goals, three helpers) in that span. He’s also plus-6 in those same games. He can help. Gregory Campbell, C, Boston (1 percent owned) – Did you know there’s a Facebook page owned by “Im a heterosexual man but still I love Jaromir Jagr”? (his bad punctuation, not mine). It might not be Campbell’s page, but it could well be. Campbell’s on a three-game, five-point streak and seems to love life alongside Jagr. And he’s getting plenty of playing time with his new BFF, what with injuries to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. You should take full advantage. Lars Eller, C, Montreal (6 percent owned) – Eller is a solid playmaker with high hockey IQ, and he’s clicking well right now with Alex Galchenyuk (and Michael Ryder, too, at least lately). Eller has four points (two goals, two assists) in his last four games and while he’s no more than a second-line forward, he sometimes flashes complete dominance. There aren’t many waiver gems with that kind of explosiveness. Vernon Fiddler, LW/C, Dallas (3 percent owned) – Until now, Fiddler’s claim to fame came last February when he cracked up Orca’s coach Alain Vigneault with his imitation of Kevin Bieksa’s ‘angry face.’ But things have changed for this journeyman center. Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr have both left Dallas, so Vern has stepped up and filled the offensive void with a four-game, seven-point (two goals, five assists) streak heading into action Friday night. Yep, you read that right. Jeff Skinner picked up his last seven points in 23 games. Hmmmm … Filip Forsberg, C, Nashville (0 percent owned) – It looks like the Preds could give this rocket-launching hotshot a job in the next week. Scouts are all over the map with this guy – some think he’s a third-liner with second-line upside while others see him as a pure second liner. And then there’s the handful of scouts who think he’s a first-line player. No matter where he ultimately lands, Forsberg already has an NHL shot and the Preds are desperate for goals. You know I don’t usually trust rookies, but his sniping skills are too hard for me to ignore … particularly when he qualifies at his natural position on the wing. Jack Hillen, D, Washington (1 percent owned) – The man from Minnetonka sure had a big week. Hillen became a second-time dad Saturday night when his wife gave birth while he was on the ice against the Panthers. Then he picked up four points in his next two games and earned a two-year contract extension, all by Tuesday night. He’s always had offensive upside, but his sub-six-foot status held him back. The Caps have been outstanding lately and he could deliver you fantasy value by simply putting blades to ice. Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver (40 percent owned) – You know the name and the game so check the wire. He’s available in leagues where complacency has set in. I know that’s not you – why read this if you’ve waved the white flag? So add him if you need some help. Or better yet, grab him off waivers, hold him for a few days and then toss him back. He’ll be tied up on the wire for days and that will keep him out of circulation … and away from your nearest competition. Sami Aittokallio, G, Colorado (0 percent owned) – Aittokallio was thrust into action Thursday night because of Semyon Varlamov’s bad hip. He’s not the best Avs’ goalie prospect – that would be Calvin Pickard. But there’s still a mathematical chance the Avs’ AHL team might squeak into the postseason, so Pickard will be staying in Cleveland to aid that effort. Sami’s a lanky, reflex twinetender who has decent upside, but his play has been up and down this season. Still, you’ll need him as a handcuff if Varlamov’s hip injury is bad. The Avs suck, but Aittokallio and Jean-Sebastien Giguere will be your only goaltending hope in Mile High. Don’t sweat Sami’s so-called injury Thursday night – it was just a cramp. He’ll be fine with a little Midol. Dennis Seidenberg, D, Boston (23 percent owned) – Seidenberg is a great shot blocker and can throw a wet blanket over the oppositions’ stud forwards. But he also has a nasty shot and skates really well, and those two things have delivered four assists and a plus-4 rating in his last three games. He won’t deliver a lot, but at this point in the season, you need every point you can get. Shots on Goal Mikael Backlund, C, Calgary (1 percent owned) – Backlund is one of the Flames’ best young players. He’s responsible, aggressive and skilled. And that combination has delivered 18 shots, one power-play goal, a minus-3 rating and four PIMs in his last four games heading into Friday night. He’s a noted playmaker, but his release is both quick and sharp, and he’s showing it off right now. You might as well take advantage. PIM Jay Rosehill, LW, Philadelphia (0 percent owned) – This is all you need to know –four games and 22 PIMs. He even managed a goal in that span (go figure). He’s your best option if all you need is a little sin bin action. What a meathead. Back to Ott. He doesn’t give up. He hates to lose. Those are great traits when licking isn’t involved. But I have to give the guy credit – that move was brilliant in its creativity and it just had to throw off Halpern. How could it not? You just don’t expect a tongue in your peripheral vision. Or on your visor. I wonder if it cleans better than Windex … Until next week.
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