Matt Romig is getting some well-earned time off, so I'm here in this space to talk Fantasy Hockey with you. Let's clear off the ice and discuss some of player upgrades and downgrades from the last few weeks.
Danny Cleary(notes): He quietly was one of the better Detroit forwards during January (4-5-9 over 13 games, with 13 PIMs), and even with Tomas Holmstrom(notes) and Johan Franzen(notes) returning soon (Holmstrom as soon as Tuesday, Franzen perhaps next week), Cleary has enough skills to stick with either Pavel Datsyuk(notes) or Henrik Zetterberg(notes). The Wings like the way Cleary works the corners and cycles the puck, and he's got just enough speed and finesse to hang with the big names.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes): The Leafs obviously traded for Giguere with the intention of making him the No. 1 netminder. He's already been cleared to start Tuesday against New Jersey. Rest-of-season fantasy rank: something in the low 20s, say 23. The supporting cast is still very weak here (who's going to score for Toronto?), but a starting goalie any team not Edmonton will carry fantasy cred in most formats.
Nicklas Lidstrom(notes): A slumping Lidstrom was hurting one of my clubs about two months ago and I put him out on the block; most of the offers I got back were hilarious (and utterly ridiculous). I might have moved Lidstrom for a Top 20-25 rearguard just to shake things up, but people were offering players just one level above the street free agents. No one's thinking about selling Lidstrom low going forward; he was the league's top scoring defenseman for January (5-10-15, tied with Drew Doughty(notes)) and the Detroit power play should get even better with Holmstrom and Franzen on the mend.
Alex Burrows(notes): I think it's time to give this guy a shout-out for the ridiculous level of play he's showing. Burrows led the NHL in goals (15) and plus-minus (plus-17) over the last month, and while playing with the Sedins has a lot to do with it, it's not everything. Burrows also picked up 26 penalty minutes during the month, which are always welcome in the world of Yahoo! standard scoring.
Jason Blake(notes): Here's another former Leaf that's landing on his feet; the Ducks are giving him a shot on the Teemu Selanne(notes)-Saku Koivu line right out of the chute. I'm very curious to see how they look Monday against Florida, assuming Teddy Flash is healthy enough to answer the bell.
Filip Kuba(notes): There's nothing particularly exciting about this vet but he moves the puck well (six assists in his last seven games) and the Senators are in high gear right now (seven straight wins). Okay, let's ride it while it lasts.
Rob Schremp(notes): Get out the post-hype sleeper file, it might be time for another entry. Schremp's play in December was good enough to earn him a regular spot on the top two lines on the Island and he took it up a notch last month (4-7-11, plus-2). Remember, Schremp was a first-round pick of the Oilers back in 2004.
Dennis Wideman(notes): I suppose you have to be somewhat respected to log a minus-12 rating over the course of a month; if your team didn't trust you, the sweater would be stripped off your back in no time flat. Wideman's messy rating was only part of the story for his terrible January; he managed just two points and six penalty minutes.
Marty Turco(notes): He's allowed three goals or more in six of his last seven starts and his messy numbers for January speak for themselves (3.61 GAA, .884 save percentage). Does Turco have a comeback in him at age 34, or is it time for us to wash our hands of him for good? Alex Auld(notes) hasn't been much better of late, so both guys figure to get a chance at the job over the final third of the year.
Niclas Bergfors(notes): It was fun while it lasted; Bergfors was a healthy scratch on Friday, then logged a piddly nine minutes (no shots, no points) against the Kings Sunday. He's managed just one point over his last 15 starts.
Sheldon Souray(notes): Like most of his Edmonton teammates he was absolutely horrid in January (two points, minus-12 rating) and now there's the matter of a broken hand which might need surgery. The Oilers were going to have trouble moving Souray's bloated contract anyway, but this physical development might make it next to impossible.
Brad Stuart(notes): I suppose he's been playing hurt in recent weeks but that's not a full excuse for the tollbooth act I've seen on my screen (the Coyotes forwards embarrassed him for two hours last week). Here's the math on Stuart last month: three measly points, a minus-6 rating, next to no fantasy value.
Derek Roy(notes): When you're an undersized finesse center, an 11-26-37 line through 51 games doesn't really feed the cat. Roy has just one goal and 31 shots over his last 13 games. The Sabres expected a lot more when they threw big bucks at Roy back in the summer of 2007.
Chris Osgood(notes): He's got just one regulation victory in his last 10 starts and while the spacing between those appearances may have something to do with it, Mike Babcock isn't stupid – he's playing his best goalie, Jimmy Howard(notes). Osgood's last showing was a messy five-goal effort at Minnesota last week, and Howard followed that up with a pair of dazzling efforts. Thanks for the memories, Ozzie, but you're not getting anywhere near my active roster.