I'm going to keep things brief today. You've got better things to do on a holiday eve than read my ramblings and I'd like to enjoy some Southern California sunshine on what is a day off at the Yahoo! compound. Please enjoy a safe farewell to 2007 and don't forget to check out the Winter Classic Tuesday. We've got NHL editor Ross McKeon on the ground in Buffalo, so check out Yahoo! Sports' NHL page for comprehensive coverage. See you in 2008 …
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Things to do Monday: Pittsburgh has already named Ty Conklin its starter in goal for Tuesday's Winter Classic in Buffalo. You're going to watch the game – might as well have something on the line fantasy-wise, too. Don't laugh. Conklin, if you haven't paid attention, has started four of five for Pittsburgh, winning all four. The streak includes wins by shutout, shootout and one in overtime. "He's playing really well," coach Michel Therrien told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He's playing with confidence, and the team's playing with confidence when he's in there." Conklin remains available in about 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues and makes a legit fantasy No. 3 option for the duration of Marc Andre-Fleury's injury. Dany Sabourin could always re-emerge – all it would take is one or two Pens losses – but for now Conklin is the guy to own.
Your better long-term option is still Tampa Bay's Kari Ramo, who is owned in about 17 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He's still battling Johan Holmqvist for the No. 1 job, but I'd rather have that battle play out with him on my roster than risk losing him to another owner.
Forget what I said about: Last week I touted the Sharks' four-game road trip as a reunion tour for the Heavyweight Line consisting of Milan Michalek, Patrick Marleau and Steve Bernier. Not so fast. While the trio did skate together last Sunday in practice, the bulk of San Jose's action for the week saw Michalek and Bernier joining Joe Thornton on the top line. Bernier has four points in two games and is a solid short-term add as long as this unit remains together. Michalek has points in four straight (3 goals, 3 assists). Marleau, by the way, centered Mike Grier and Marcel Goc Saturday.
One-timers: The Detroit News is reporting that Henrik Zetterberg is confident he can return in a few days and Tomas Holmstrom expects to be back in the lineup in a week at the latest. … Minor league grinder Colin Stuart has a goal and an assist in two games for the Thrashers in his first NHL action. … Sharks defenseman Matt Carle recorded his first two December points Saturday and Atlanta rear-guard Alexei Zhitnik miraculously has three points in two games after a 32-game drought. … According to the Chicago Tribune, the Blackhawks are optimistic that Martin Havlat may play Thursday against Phoenix.
BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Andrei Kostitsyn, LW, Mon – The line of Kostitsyn, Tomas Plekanec and Alex Kovalev provided all of the Canadiens' offense in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers Sunday. Kostitsyn (0.99 percent owned) had two goals and an assist, Plakanec (7 percent owned) had a goal and two helpers and Kovalev (99 percent) picked up two assists. Injuries, illness and general tinkering have shuffled lines of late, but Kostitsyn has been effective in any role lately, providing six goals and seven assists in 14 December games. In the "new" NHL, fantasy owners have every right to thumb their noses at below point-per-game performers, but even today left wing can be a scarce position. Ride this 2003 first-round draft pick as a No.2 left wing while he's hot.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Niklas Kronwall, D, Det – A low-risk assist, plus/minus addition, Kronwall has 13 helpers and is a plus-11 in Detroit's last 16 games. Good health wears well on this guy, a veteran of the fantasy radar who's just now living up to the promise. He's a free agent in slightly more than 50 percent of leagues, by the way.
Petr Prucha, LW, NYR – Three points in December isn't much to get excited about, but the last two, both goals, came in Saturday's win over Toronto. There's that and the fact that his name has been swirling in rumor circles of late. We know this guy has 30-goal potential because, you know, he scored 30 goals as a rookie.
Alexander Semin, LW, Was – He's scoring at a point-per-game pace over his last seven and, more importantly, is staying in the Caps lineup. All those games lost to injury resulted in him getting cut loose in about 30 percent of leagues. Health risk or not, you can't ignore this kind of production at left wing.
Colby Armstrong, RW, Pit – Back on Sidney Crosby's wing, Armstrong has eight points in five games. I dropped Armstrong to waivers Dec. 15 in an industry league. I just can't win with Pittsburgh forwards. Based on Armstrong's latest hot streak, I'd probably go out and sign Ryan Malone or Jordan Staal.
Richard Park, RW, NYI – An upgrade here last week after scoring three goals in six games, Park changed disciplines and racked up six assists in three games. Still probably only an option in deeper leagues, but he remains a Ted Nolan favorite.
Antti Miettinen, RW, Dal – He's still available in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which must mean most folks are happy with their production at right wing, because the alternative – that most leagues out there aren't very active – is unthinkable. Miettinen's December numbers for your review: 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points (5 on the power play) in 10 games.
Mike Fisher, C, Ott – His value normally spikes when Jason Spezza gets hurt, but in this case Fisher's hot streak (9 goals and 2 assists in 10 games) doesn't come at the expense of any of Ottawa's forwards.
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Another solid week keeps Rotowire's McLarney entry atop the standings. Owners kick the tires on Marek Zidlicky, Jason Williams, Tomas Plekanek, Rob Blake and Jason Arnott among others. Team Romig, for those of you that care (hi, Mom), crept into third place behind solid weeks from Milan Michalek, Joffrey Lupul and Martin Biron.