Thanks for all the great feedback on your draft day steals and busts. I should have known going in that if there's one way to flood my inbox – other than leaving NHL scoring leader Eric Staal off the Big Board – it's soliciting stories about draft day success and heartbreak. Not surprisingly, goalies dominated the bust list, with Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Brodeur appearing most often (Chris in Minnesota, shame on you for blaming your Rick Nash pick on your wife). On the steal side, Eric Staal, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley were fantasy favorites. I also enjoyed the fact that many of you took pride in nabbing some lesser-known, guys, like Paul Mara, Marc Chouinard and San Jose's Patrick Marleau. Thanks again for the insightful, but mostly entertaining, email.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
If Ryan Whitney is available as a free agent in your league, sign him. It's easy to write off a hot start as a fluke, but this kid has the potential to be something special. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, the former fifth overall pick has the size to man the blue line in the NHL. He's also skilled offensively, as evidenced by his 41 points as an AHL rookie last year and his otherworldly 19-points-in-10-games start to the 2005-06 campaign in the same league. Since making his Penguins debut on Nov. 1, all he's done is record six assists (three on the power play) and a plus-2 rating in three games. Twice he has logged more than 25 minutes of ice time, and he's getting a long look on special teams. And with Pittsburgh, time on special teams means time on the ice with the likes of Sergei Gonchar, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby. There was a pretty good run on Whitney when he cleared waivers, but at last check Ric Jackman was still owned in more Yahoo! leagues. In case you hadn't noticed, Jackman has been a healthy scratch for each of Pittsburgh's last three games.
A trio of widely available Dallas forwards has recently caught fire. Leading the charge has been center Stu Barnes. Yes, the same Stu Barnes who managed just two points in Dallas' first 10 games. Since then, he has four goals, two assists and a plus-3 rating in four games. Not surprisingly, linemate Niko Kapanen enjoyed a similar spike in productivity. In those same four games, Kapanen has two goals and five assists, with three points coming on the power play. Finally, there's Antti Miettinen, who has a goal, three assists and four penalty minutes in his past two games for the Stars. Fantasy owners have been pretty lukewarm toward Dallas forwards ever since the team failed to top the three-goal mark in seven of its first eight games. Since then, however, the Stars are scoring an average of 4.5 goals per game.
There was plenty of injury news over the weekend. Predictably, none of it was good. Just as things were looking up for the Penguins, they lose winger John LeClair to multiple facial fractures. Sounds like surgery won't be necessary (similar to Mats Sundin's situation), but he's out indefinitely. Hopefully his loss will not require Pittsburgh to break up the newly formed Crosby-Lemieux-Recchi line that has been so productive of late. More bad news, also, for Chicago's Tuomo Ruutu, who returned to the Blackhawks lineup for just long enough to realize that not all was right. He'll miss 3-12 weeks. More problems for Rick Nash, too. He injured his left knee Thursday and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. This spells doom for any Columbus forward in the fantasy pool, as the Jackets seemed destined to rank last in the NHL in scoring.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Jeff Carter, C, Phi
Carter logged double-digit minutes just once in his first 10 games, and that was on opening night. The promising rookie tallied just one point in his first seven games, a disappointing start after scoring 74 points in 55 games in the OHL last year (not to mention 23 points in 21 AHL playoff games). According to the Philadelphia Daily News, a summer bout with mononucleosis may have contributed to his slow start. In any case, he's stronger now, and his ice time is up, due in part to the concussion suffered by Keith Primeau. Carter has four goals in his past five games and his role should only expand as the 20-year-old adjusts to the rigors of life in the NHL.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Petr Prucha, C, NYR – How's this for confidence: Head coach Tom Renney sent Prucha out as part of a 5-on-3 power play attack Saturday, then included the rookie in his shootout lineup after a scoreless overtime. He scored on that power play – his third goal in six games – and also won it for New York in the shootout. They'll count on him for offense while Martin Rucinsky is recovering from his knee injury.
Craig Conroy, C, LA – That Conroy-Alexander Frolov-Pavol Demitra line just keeps piling up points. For Conroy – generally regarding as a solid two-way forward but not a huge scoring threat – that means a career-high points pace. The 36-year-old has 15 points in his past nine games.
Bryan Muir, D, Was ‐ He's never scored more than seven points in an NHL career that has spanned nine seasons and seven teams. But the way things are going with defenseman scoring this year, all bets are off. Muir scored a goal and added an assist Sunday. He now has five points (four on the power play) and 14 penalty minutes in his past six games.
Brent Seabrook, D, Chi – Fantasy owners dismissed his four-assist performance on Oct. 7 as a fluke, justifiable since he followed it up with five straight games without a point. It might be time to re-think that stance. The rookie has two game-winning goals already this month, and his totals since that rough patch are: 2 goals, three assists, 10 penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating in eight games.
Mikko Koivu, C, Min – He's not getting top-line ice time yet, but we should expect that to change soon. Koivu won the No. 1 center job in training camp, but had the start of his season delayed until Saturday by injury. He scored his first career goal Sunday, and beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere as part of the Wild's winning shootout lineup.
Ales Kotalik, RW, Buf – Not much has gone right for Buffalo lately, but Kotalik keeps plucking along. He has held off the score sheet Saturday, but the winger has six goals and two assists in his past eight games.
Tomas Holmstrom, LW, Det – A great two-way fantasy player, Holmstrom has five goals and an assist in his past three games, while still finding time to maintain a streak of at least four games with a trip to the penalty box.
Alexander Mogilny, RW, NJ – After averaging slightly more than a point per game in October, Mogilny has begun November in a funk. He has a lone assist and a minus-2 rating in three games, and the winger played only two shifts in the third period of Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Rangers.
Sheldon Souray, D, Mon – Maybe he's still a little shaken up over that move Jason Spezza put on him Oct. 27. He has failed to register a point in Montreal's past seven games.