NHL Skinny: Mock the vote

Matt Romig
Yahoo Sports

GOALIE HOT SEAT

FLORIDA PANTHERS RED HOT
1st Chair: Craig Anderson
2nd Chair: Tomas Vokoun
Skinny: It's really an ongoing audition. Anderson got back-to-back road starts over the weekend (Pit, Mon) and the Panthers came away with three of a possible four points, so you have to classify him as the frontrunner. That said, the Miami Herald reports that we'll see Vokoun on Tuesday in Toronto. So yeah, it's up for grabs.


NASHVILLE PREDATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Dan Ellis
2nd Chair: Pekka Rinne
Skinny: Ellis missed a few games with a nasty cold, but returned Saturday in a 3-2 loss to Calgary. Rinne has a razor-thin margin for error. Nashville has scored three goals combined in his last four starts, which has more to do with his 1-3 record than the goalie's play.


LOS ANGELES KINGS RED HOT
1st Chair: Jon Quick
2nd Chair: Erik Ersberg
Skinny: Coach Terry Murray told the Los Angeles Daily News that the team is going to "need and want to have two goalies playing" going forward. That means that even though Quick (.943 save pct., 1.59 GAA) is red-hot, the issue of who will play Tuesday against the Kings has not been settled. Ersberg had a respectable .910 save pct. in five December starts before suffering a groin injury.


OTTAWA SENATORS RED HOT
1st Chair: Martin Gerber
2nd Chair: Alex Auld, Brian Elliott
Skinny: Auld and the Sens let three one-goal leads slip away Sunday. Gerber hasn't won back-to-back starts all season. It's hard to believe, but with Ottawa sitting dead-last in goals scored, this goalie situation has devolved into one to flat-out avoid fantasy-wise. Elliott, for what it's worth, was named AHL goalie of the month in December. His first January start was a shutout. Will he get a shot? Time will tell.


ANAHEIM DUCKS HOT
1st Chair: Jean-Sebastien Giguere
2nd Chair: Jonas Hiller
Skinny: The numbers scream "start Hiller," particularly after the 26-year-old's shutout Sunday, his third of the season in 15 starts. If you're going to play the numbers game, however, you need to take into account that Giguere shaves 28 points off his GAA and ups his save percentage by 11 points after the All-Star break.


PHILADELPHIA FLYERS HOT
1st Chair: Martin Biron
2nd Chair: Antero Niittymaki, Scott Munroe
Skinny: Finally healthy, Biron won back-to-back starts before taking a seat on the second night of road back-to-backs on Saturday. He was solid against Vancouver (29 saves on 31 shots) but has otherwise been so-so for the better part of six weeks, allowing three or more goals in 10 of 11. As far as No. 2 goalies in high-upside positions go, Niittymaki (10-percent owned) is one of the more desirable. That said, Scott Munroe will serve as backup with Niittymaki likely out a week with a groin strain.


CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS HOT
1st Chair: Nikolai Khabibulin
2nd Chair: Cristobal Huet
Skinny: Coach Joel Quenneville had been considering going with Khabibulin for the Winter Classic. Given the result – Huet started and was yanked after allowing six goals – it could be considered the coach's one and only mistake in managing his goalie tandem. New Year's Day marked the first time a healthy Chicago goalie had been pulled early this season. Expect the 1-for-1 timeshare to continue.


EDMONTON OILERS WARM
1st Chair: Dwayne Roloson
2nd Chair: Mathieu Garon, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers
Skinny: Roloson is still just 27-percent owned despite a solid run of four wins in five starts that includes a 38-save effort Saturday against Dallas. Drouin-Deslauriers has a .912 save percentage in three AHL starts. Garon hasn't done enough to mount a serious challenge.


WASHINGTON CAPITALS WARM
1st Chair: Jose Theodore
2nd Chair: Brent Johnson, Simeon Varlamov
Skinny: No starter named yet, but the Washington Post thinks we'll see Theodore against the Flyers on Tuesday. Hard to argue with that as Theodore has won five straight, stopping 97 of the last 103 shots faced. Six of Johnson's last seven starts landed in the win column, too. Varlamov is 14-3 in the AHL. Embarrassment of riches (for now).


VANCOUVER CANUCKS WARM
1st Chair: Jason LaBarbera
2nd Chair: Cory Schneider, Curtis Sanford, Roberto Luongo
Skinny: Schneider was sent back to Manitoba (AHL) Monday, no surprise considering the play of LaBarbera since coming over from the Kings (1-0-2, 1.90 GAA, .943 save pct.). Consider Labs a short-term bargain, particularly if the debut of Mats Sundin can give the Canucks a roster-wide boost. Luongo is likely still two weeks away.


COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Steve Mason
2nd Chair: Pascal Leclaire
Skinny: Mason will start Tuesday at Detroit despite a rough go in Saturday's 5-2 loss in St. Louis. He stays in net partially because he's the undisputed No. 1 in Columbus now and in part due to the fact that Leclaire missed practice Monday to get his ankle examined. Mason's confidence will be tested by a tough week (@ Det, @ Was, Min).


DETROIT RED WINGS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Ty Conklin
2nd Chair: Chris Osgood
Skinny: It's Conklin on Tuesday and Osgood on Thursday according to the Detroit Free Press. Coach Mike Babcock hinted that he wants to get a rotation going, but doesn't appear to be a fan of 1-for-1 timeshares. Could be a guessing game here for a while.


Here's a thought to fix NHL All-Star voting: Let the fantasy owners have their say. Do you think anyone who invested a fifth-round draft pick on Alexei Kovalev would have voted him an All-Star between Nov. 11 and Dec. 13, when the Montreal forward was in the midst of a 17-game goalless drought? Mike Komisarek wasn't even drafted and to date his AS-caliber season has caught the attention of owners in only five percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Things weren't quite as egregious out west, but do you think anyone would accept a 1-for-1 trade and ship Dan Boyle for Scott Niedermayer? Give up Niklas Backstrom and get Jean-Sebastien Giguere in return? Swap Pavel Datsyuk for Jonathan Toews? The fantasy community can fall victim to home town favoritism and overpaying for name brands, sure, but if you want our loyalties you'd better show us some production. Next year let's have an All-Star ballot right on my team page, so I can vote for Joe Thornton and drop Pascal Leclaire in the same session.

We don't do conference-specific leagues, but here's one man's ballot for East/West All-Stars from a bang for your ADP buck perspective.

Eastern Conference
C: Jeff Carter, Phi (ADP 108.5) – Sniper guarantees owners competitiveness in goals category and was probably drafted as a C2.
LW: Milan Lucic, Bos (NA) – Forget ADP here. Free agent points/PIM guy does something positive every night.
RW: Phil Kessel, Bos (127) – You're not supposed to find 18-game point streaks in the speed rounds.
D: Mark Streit, NYI (130.1) – Ticket to Long Island actually resulted in a spike in power-play output.
G: Tim Thomas, Bos (148.6) – Ranks No. 3 in standard leagues. Make a case for Manny Fernandez (ADP 164.8) here and you won't get an arguement from me.

Western Conference
C: Ryan Getzlaf, Ana (27.5) – Voters got this one right; first-round value out of a third-round pick.
LW: Patrick Marleau, SJ (132.3) – Afterthought pick ranks No. 25 among all players in standard formats.
RW: Devin Setoguchi, SJ (139.9) – The earlier you drafted, the later you probably got him.
D: Shea Weber, Nsh (141.5) – Kudos to everyone who ignored the 2007-08 slip.
G: Steve Mason, Cls (NA) – League leader in GAA, save pct. and shutouts was likely a post-draft free agent in all but the deepest of leagues.

Now I wouldn't propose sending these lineups to Montreal as-is. Evgeni Malkin is a legitimate All-Star. Patrick Kane, too. And I honestly don't have a problem penciling in Sidney Crosby for the next 15 years assuming typical production.

TV ratings and fan interest do matter. But when Alexander Ovechkin is on the bench for national anthems, you have a flawed system and fantasy owners are much more likely to be tapped into what's actually happening on the ice. Anyway before you tear my selections above to pieces (of course there are other worthy ADP bargains), remember that it's all just a fantasy.

Let's get to more realistic developments:

Weekend UpdateNeed-to-know info from the past few days

Just when Bryan Little (19 goals in 40 games) started gaining fantasy acceptance (50-percent ownership), he gets hurt. The injury occurred when he was cross-checked in the ribs in Sunday's 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay. Thrashers coach John Anderson spent most of his post-game podium time blasting his players for another lethargic effort, but he did take a moment to acknowledge that rib injuries usually lead to weeks, not day, in street clothes. Thankfully X-rays revealed no broken ribs, so the official designation is day-to-day.

If you're looking for the bright side – and with this Atlanta team you have to look really, really close – this is a chance for Colby Armstrong to join center Todd White and left wing Slava Kozlov on what has been the Thrashers' most productive line of late. Armstrong has some value in deeper formats, so monitor how things go with Little on the shelf.

It looks like we'll see Steve Sullivan on the ice Saturday for Nashville. If he suits up against Chicago it will be his first game action since Feb. 22, 2007. He had a goal and an assist that night before missing the end of overtime and the shootout with a back injury that would lead to two surgeries and nearly two full years of lost time. About the only thing that can be said for certain about his comeback is that Nashville is absolutely desperate for scoring punch. That and it's also a fact that Sullivan has 158 points in 150 games in a Nashville uniform. Trying to accurately predict anything further – remember his health problems go all the way back to 2003-04 – is pure folly.

For my part I signed Sullivan back in mid-December in a league that starts four players per forward position. I stashed him on my IR and don't plan on activating him until after I see how this comeback plays out. So it's safe to say I'm rooting for him. There's just too much uncertainty to slap a buy order on him for shallower leagues. If you have a spare part on your bench and want to take a chance, do it. For the record he's owned in about 3-percent of Yahoo! leagues as of Monday afternoon.

One-timers: Ilya Kovalchuk had goals in back-to-back games after nine straight without a goal. … Doug Weight to Columbus seems all but inevitable these days. … Teddy Purcell has been seeing top line duty with the Kings and has three points in three games. … Petr Prucha had goals in back-to-back games in his return to the Rangers lineup and added an assist Monday. … Mikael Tellqvist is peaking again and he'll start for the Coyotes on Wednesday, according to the Arizona Republic.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Rene Bourque, LW, Cal (34-percent owned) – Believe it or not, Bourque began the new year as Calgary's most efficient player in 5-on-5 situations. He plays about 21 ½ even-strength minutes per point, which is slightly better than Craig Conroy (21.80). Jarome Iginla ranks fourth on the Flames, not that we'd draw any value conclusions from that data. In his last 15 games, Bourque has 13 points (8 goals), 15 penalty minutes and has been scoreless in back-to-back games only once. Ice time has increased, a hint that the production is sustainable. He's a viable LW2 at this pace.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

T.J. Oshie, C, Stl – We're only talking relevance in leagues that start three or four centers, but in those deeper formats Oshie can lend a hand. The 2005 first-round draft pick has three points in three games since returning from an ankle sprain. He'll continue to see power-play time at least until Andy McDonald returns from injury.

Andy McDonald, C, Stl – Speaking of McDonald, he's a free agent in about 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says we'll see him back in game action next week. His 56 power-play point pace from the season's 16 games was not sustainable, but if PPP is your deficiency, don't hesitate to add Andy.

Owen Nolan, RW, Min – There's a gap of games missed due to a leg injury, but after Sunday's two-goal effort the veteran has eight goals in his last nine games. Six of the goals have come on the power play. It's pretty simple for Nolan at this stage of his career – he's crashing the net and creating traffic and scoring goals in close and on deflections and rebounds.

Vaclav Prospal, LW, TB – There's a reason Prospal finishes every season having been owned by three or four teams in fantasy leagues – the point-per-game potential is enticing, but the hot-and-cold streaks lead to the turnover. With six points in four games (coinciding with a reunion on the Lecavalier line), we're in the midst of one of those positive stretches. Of course the entire line seems to be in coach Rick Tocchet's doghouse, so anything can happen from here.

Todd Bertuzzi, LW, Cal – He's scoring at a point-per-game pace over his last 14, but that's about all you're getting. The 100-PIM upside isn't there any more and Bertuzzi isn't a big help on the power play (2 points in 14 games). The plus/minus can kill you, so only call his number if you can afford the hit there.

Bobby Ryan, RW, Ana – Featured in the bargain bin last week, Ryan is still producing – Sunday's two-point effort gives him 11 points in eight games. Anaheim's power play hasn't skipped a beat with Ryan subbing for the injured Teemu Selanne. The rookie has seven power-play points in eight games as the Ducks have converted nine of their last 26 chances.

David Booth, LW, Fla – Starting with a hat trick on Nov. 9, Booth has 18 points in 19 games. He'll bring a five-game point streak (4 goals, 4 assists) into Tuesday's game.

P.J. Axelsson, LW, Bos – There's been some line juggling – because, you know, the Bruins have been struggling – and Axelsson has seen a modest spike in production (8 points, 4 PPP in nine games). Nothing spectacular, but serviceable is all you're looking for in a LW2 forward.

Jonathan Cheechoo, RW, SJ – Still about 40 percent available, Cheechoo is on a hot streak with eight points (plus-7 rating) in six games. Fantasy vets don't need to be reminded of the upside here.

Daniel Carcillo, LW, Pho – You don't get 60 minutes in penalties for being a healthy scratch, so Carcillo's recent press box run hasn't been of much value. He returned Sunday in time to get three teeth knocked out. Oral surgery will sideline him Tuesday.

Matt Hunwick, D, Bos – A nice free agent find during his hot streak, Hunwick has just one point in nine games.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League update
Janet Eagleson has company atop the standings as Matt Buser – isn't he a basketball guy? – made a push to move into a first-place tie. Team Romig's best goalie is Jon Quick, which tells you everything you need to know about where my attention is focused trade/free agency wise. League-wide transactions for the week involved Jonathan Cheechoo, David Backes, Steve Eminger, Erik Cole, Blake Wheeler and Peter Mueller among others.