Just two full weeks until the Olympic break, folks. Look at it as a two-week vacation from the part-time job that is managing your fantasy team. Just don't tune out from hockey entirely. You don't want to miss the Olympic tournament. It's great hockey and a different level of passion when some of these NHL stars are representing their countries. Until then, we should have an exciting few weeks as the rumor mill heats up. Let's take a quick look at the weekend behind us.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Sidney Crosby the mentor? This wasn't how things were supposed to go in Pittsburgh this season – but then again not much has gone right for the Penguins. The days of playing alongside veterans like Mario Lemieux and Ziggy Palffy are over for Crosby. The student has become the teacher. Crosby is just 18 years old, but already he is considered the front-runner for the team's captaincy in 2006-07. And with 55 career games under his belt, he's the "elder statesman" on Pittsburgh's top line which, for now, consists of Crosby, Colby Armstrong and Jani Rita. Armstrong has played 17 games. Rita is a veteran of 37 lifetime starts.
Rita is the latest addition. He was acquired Thursday in the trade that sent Dick Tarnstrom to the Oilers. The 1999 first-round draft pick had his best offensive season as a professional in 2002-03 when he scored 48 points in 64 games with Hamilton of the AHL. He hasn't had much time to mesh with his new teammates, but Crosby came away from Saturday's game impressed with the winger's speed. As with all things relating to the Penguins, you have to take a wait-and-see approach with this new line. The youngsters may flourish, or this forward combo could wind up on the scrap heap.
Michael Nylander has hardly struggled since coach Tom Renney moved him off New York's top line. The center has done quiet well, in fact. Entering play Saturday, Nylander had recorded 16 points and a plus-12 rating in 14 games. So what can we expect now that Renney's latest lineup shuffle has Nylander back on the No. 1 line with Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka? If Saturday's result is any indication the answer is: more of the same – and then some. Nylander assisted on two goals – one by Jagr – in the 7-1 win over Pittsburgh. Expect at least a point per game, not bad for a guy available in more than half of Yahoo! leagues.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Justin Williams, RW, Car
Williams leads all fantasy right wings with 15 assists over the past month. That'll happen, of course, when you line up alongside one of the NHL's most dynamic young goal scorers in Eric Staal. Williams has at least one point in five of six games (2 goals, 8 assists). He's showing no signs of slowing down despite having already surpassed is previous career-high point total.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Corey Perry, RW, Ana – This kid proved he can score during a 34-point binge in 19 games with Portland of the AHL earlier this season. He's back with Anaheim now and under orders to shoot the puck more. Saturday he checked in with two goals and an assist in a 6-2 win over the Kings.
David Vyborny, RW, Cls – The hot streak continues. Vyborny scored twice Saturday and has seven points in his past three games. It's the continuation of a fantastic fantasy month that already includes a five-game point streak.
Niklas Kronwall, D, Det – According to the Detroit Free Press, Kronwall will begin a conditioning assignment with Grand Rapids of the AHL on Feb. 4. A gifted offensive defenseman, Kronwall could make a solid post-Olympic sleeper if his ailing knee will allow it.
Cristobal Huet, G, Mon – He started back-to-back games, beating Philadelphia on the road and then putting up a solid fight with 37 saves in Thursday's 3-0 loss at Ottawa. Trade rumors have begun to swirl around Montreal starter Jose Theodore.
Mark Recchi, LW, Pit – On a four-game point streak, Recchi has four goals and four assists in the past week.
Dick Tarnstrom, D, Edm – While not quite a Sergei Gonchar-level bust, Tarnstrom has disappointed coming off a 52-point season in 2003-04. The move to Edmonton should be a positive one for this offensive defenseman.
Dan Boyle, D, TB – Careful if this name comes across your team page in a trade offer. The season numbers still look good, but he's poised to finish January with only two points in the books.
Ed Belfour, G, Tor – Belfour lasted just 26 minutes in his last start. Dating back to early January, he has allowed four or more goals in six straight starts.