December 19, 2011
Dobber checks in every Monday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.
If I had a dollar for every email or Tweet that I got from someone upset with me at the 10-game mark over slow starts from either Evgeni Malkin or Zach Parise, I'd have made at least 20 bucks. Yesterday's McDonald's would have been on me, Mom.
But what is often the case when an athlete misses much of the prior season due to injury, he is either going to stumble out of the gate or there may be a flare-up of the injury. Sometimes both.
Parise finished tops in roto rankings over the past two weeks, while Malkin came in at No.6 (but he was first in shots and tied for first in goals). Let's take a look at the top roto players of the past two weeks, courtesy of Frozen Pool:
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks (11-10-6-16, plus-8, 2 PIM, 45 SOG) — Sharp gets better every year. In all aspects of the game. But Philadelphia fans, who watched their team trade Sharp to Chicago for Matt Ellison and a third rounder, can take solace in the fact that the Flyers parlayed Ellison into "future considerations" and Jonathan Matsumoto (that third rounder) into Ricard Blidstrand.
Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers (11-1-9-10, plus-8, 4 PIM, 19 SOG) — A future star, then a bust, and now a future star again. It's great being a fantasy owner where we can label a player and change our mind as often as we like. All before the guy turns 22.
Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils (25-8-17-25, plus-9, 2 PIM, 50 SOG) —Thankfully for Henrique owners who didn't exist six weeks ago, the return of Travis Zajac did not cut into his ice time nor his quality linemates. So the party looks like it's going to continue for the surprise Calder candidate.
"Sell High" pick of the week: Kris Versteeg, Florida Panthers. At his current pace, Versteeg will set a career high in points by Game 51. Talk about a fourth year breakout! But the clock will strike midnight at some point and his slowdown will probably be around 20 percent (15 points, or from his 85-point pace to a 70-point result).
Somebody wake these guys up — their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (two appearances in December) — Crawford just got Elliott-ed. Or Ellio-usted, as @kylekebert suggested to me on Twitter. That's when a starting goalie can't get another start because the backup is kicking so much ass. And yeah, I'm aware that Jaroslav Halak played both games on the weekend. I still like the term.
Grant Clitsome, Columbus Blue Jackets (14-0-0-0, minus-4, 4 PIM, 19 SOG) — After 10 points in 17 games, Clitsome has been held off the scoresheet ever since. The return from suspension of James Wisniewski and the arrival of Nikita Nikitin took a chunk out of his ice time. Clitsome's production no longer makes his fantasy owners smile, even if his name still does.
Nathan Horton, Boston Bruins (7-2-0-2, minus-3, 9 PIM, 16 SOG) — The good thing about Boston is that their three scoring lines often get hot at different times. The result often means a W. But it also means that occasionally certain lines cool off for a few games and that's all this is.
"Buy Low" pick of the week: Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets. With 15 points he sits seventh on the team in scoring. He has just two points in his last 10 games, which has really skewed his points-per-game down far below where it would be even if he had an off year. His points pro-rate to 37 over a full season, but even if he doesn't match last year's 59 he should still get to 50 at the very least.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Rich Peverley, Boston Bruins (10-2-10-12, plus-6, 6 PIM, 22 SOG) —It was surprising to see that Peverley was only owned in 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues, considering that he makes a decent depth center even when things are sub-par for him.
Daniel Cleary, Detroit Red Wings (7-3-5-8, plus-8, 6 PIM, 17 SOG) — The only thing that Cleary is consistent with are the injuries. You can pretty much predict his points based on a 68-game season and you'll be within five games of that call. But now that he's healthy you can count on 10 or 20 games hot, 10 or 20 cold all year long.
Petr Sykora, New Jersey Devils (2-2-2-4, plus-3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG) —Zajac returning to the lineup had a domino effect. Essentially, the team suddenly has a third scoring line. Zajac's been back for two games now and the team scored 11 times. While things continue to roll for this team, some of the depth scorers like Sykora gain value.
Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks (5-3-2-5, plus-5, 4 PIM, 18 SOG) — Just to make a mockery of my opening paragraph, Raymond has shown no ill effects from a broken back. He's not a first-line star, so perhaps that is a factor in the speed of his return to form. But who cares why? His stats are strong and he's available in 92% of the leagues out there for some reason.
Colin Greening, Ottawa Senators (6-2-3-5, plus-2, 7 PIM, 18 SOG) — With two-thirds of his shifts spent on a line with Jason Spezza so far this year, Greening is getting a lot of points by default. With Spezza having a nice rebound campaign, the points are plentiful. Although it's not like having his old partner Dany Heatley back (though given Heatley's low output, maybe it is), Spezza is comfortable with the big, hardworking Greening on his wing.
Matt Niskanen, Pittsburgh Penguins (5-1-5-6, even, 8 PIM, 7 SOG) — As long as Kris Letang is out, Niskanen is a strong option. Four of those six points have come on the power play — PP time that wouldn't exist with Letang in the lineup. Poolies have been waiting for Niskanen to break out years. If this situation lasts longer than a few weeks, then this could be it.
Jared Cowen, Ottawa Senators (5-2-4-6, plus-4, 2 PIM, 8 SOG) — It took Cowen 13 games to get his first NHL point, another nine games to get his second, and then 11 more games to show the Senators that they could do without David Rundblad. On November 29 he saw 20-plus minutes of ice time in a game for the first time. Since then he has played at least that much on eight out of nine occasions, with one of those being a 31-minute game (December 8 against New Jersey). This ice time will see to it that he'll be decent for you the rest of the way.