WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Flyers' right wing Mike Knuble sustained a fracture to his left middle finger in Saturday's 8-2 loss to Pittsburgh and will miss at least two weeks, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Too bad. Knuble was one of Philadelphia's bright spots, which is to say that he was underachieving (he was a minus-4 through 10 games) rather than flat-out stinking. Head-to-head owners need to make other arrangements at left wing for at least the next two matchups.
If you're not carrying a left wing on your bench take a look at Taylor Pyatt (see Bargain Bin) or Jochen Hecht as possible fill-ins. As for the Flyers, they have a decision to make. Rookie Stefan Ruzicka had previously practiced on the same line with Peter Forsberg and is a candidate to take Knuble's spot. Ruzicka scored his first NHL goal Saturday and somehow managed an even rating in the lopsided loss to the Penguins. He's probably watch list material at this point but is worth keeping an eye on.
- San Jose shuffled lines for Sunday's win at Tampa Bay, though it's hard to imagine the move having much fantasy impact. Milan Michalek had an assist while joining Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo on the Shark's top line. Can he possibly increase his production? Probably not. Michalek was already logging a ton of power play minutes and had developed all kinds of chemistry with Patrick Marleau and Steve Bernier.
The wild card is Mark Bell. Much of his draft value was tied to the promise of minutes alongside Joe Thornton. He's off that line now, and has just one point in his last five games. Marleau is no slouch, so joining the Heavyweight line may well be the shot in the arm he needs. If he doesn't get things going, however, he could switch places with Mark Smith and land on the third line.
- Line changes: Sleep-walking winger Sergei Samsonov was paired with Alexei Kovalev, who was moved to center, on Saturday and the result was two goals for Samsonov and three helpers for Kovalev. Both could use a boost. … The Boston Globe reports that Phil Kessell could be moved back to center, with a demotion to the third line attached. … Mark Parrish is subbing for injured winger Marian Gaborik on Minnesota's No. 1 line.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Taylor Pyatt, LW, Van – The same formula worked last year for Vancouver: Place a journeyman winger alongside the wildly underrated Sedin twins and see what happens. In 2005-06, the result was a career-best, 33-goal season from Anson Carter, who was making his sixth NHL stop. Carter bolted to Columbus, totally sapping his fantasy value and robbing us of one of the all-time great line nicknames, the Three Brothers Line.
Now the man is Pyatt, who replaced Markus Naslund on the Sedin line a few games into the season. The results have been predictable. Playing alongside a pair of pass-first playmakers, Pyatt has a goal in six of his last nine games and at least one point in five straight. He has had an up-and-down career since joining the league in 1999, coincidentally going eighth in the same draft that saw linemates Henrik and Daniel taken in the top 5. A run at 30 goals isn't out of the question if his line assignment sticks.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Tomas Kaberle, D, Tor – His hat trick Saturday was the first by a Toronto defenseman in 25 years. He also jumped from two to six points on the season. Still a slow start, but he's still a premier fantasy defenseman. He was cut loose in about nine percent of fantasy leagues as of Sunday afternoon. Dumb move.
Tuomo Ruutu, C, Chi – OK, so signing Ruutu is a desperate move. But the Blackhawks are desperate for two things: healthy forwards and scoring punch. Ruutu is healthy – for now – and can spark the lineup. Coach Trent Yawney plans to play him at wing, which could prompt a position-eligibility change in Yahoo! leagues.
Matt Lashoff, D, Bos – He played about 20 minutes Saturday in his second NHL game and is big and physical, even if he is dwarfed by blue-line partner Zdeno Chara. The 2005 first-round draft pick has been limited to about 19 seconds of power-play time so far, so isn't worth a roster spot yet. Slap him on your watch list and see what happens.
Joffrey Lupul, RW, Edm – Lupul skated with Ales Hemsky and 2006 fantasy surprise Petr Sykora in Saturday's 4-0 win over Washington. Seems like a line that could give the opposition fits, and Lupul took advantage Saturday with a goal and an assist on the special teams.
Colby Armstrong, RW, Pit – Great buy-low candidate. He's available in about 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues and is logging tons of ice time alongside Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Hasn't translated to the scoresheet yet, but one of these days he'll post a 3-4 point night and then the buying frenzy will be on. Book it.
Ryan Whitney, D, Pit – Still available in 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Whitney will appear somewhere in this column weekly until that figure shrinks below five percent. He has eight assists in five games and could maintain that pace by accident with all the firepower he shares the ice with.
Shea Weber, D, Nas – The Preds are expecting a Dion Phaneuf-like leap from this 21-year-old blue-liner eventually. He seems to be on his way. Weber has four assists in his last three games and dropped the gloves Thursday for his first fight of the season.
Mike Smith, G, Dal – Smith has stopped 54 of 56 shots in two starts. While starter Marty Turco doesn't like to take nights off, when he does sit it will probably be against teams "not worthy" of his efforts. Smith could take advantage with 10-15 wins and a couple of shutouts.
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Kensik moves into a tie for first place while going against standard practices by carrying only two goalies. Hey, when your top two are Roberto Luongo and Manny Fernandez, I guess three is, indeed, a crowd.