Fantasy Hockey: The James Neal show; Keith Yandle’s struggles; Gustav Nyquist conundrum

Dobber checks in every week to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.

Two weeks of regular season hockey to go before we break out our draft lists and start putting together a formidable playoff team for the office pool. But before all that, let's take one last kick at the can here as we try to win/place/save face/not lose our 2011-12 fantasy league.

Here is a snippet of Frozen Pool's Roto Rater report for the last two weeks — taking into account player position and the standard deviation of each stat to assign a rating.


These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...

James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins (8-5-9-14, plus-9, 8 PIM, 32 SOG) — Neal has the sweetest job in hockey — playing shotgun beside the league's leading scorer. He's also been piling up the PIM and the result of this has him second among all players in roto ranking for the entire season. Take a look:

Drew Stafford, Buffalo Sabres (7-4-8-12, plus-10, 0 PIM, 26 SOG) — He was a minus player who was on pace for 40 points. Two weeks later, he has 45 points and is plus-7 on the campaign. He's clicking well with the surging Tyler Ennis and the surprising Marcus Foligno. For the first half of the season Stafford had a nagging problem that was holding his numbers back. It's called "Ville Leino is on my line".

Brad Richards, New York Rangers (10-6-8-14, minus-2, 0 PIM, 34 SOG) — I didn't know this - Brad Richards has been a plus player just three seasons in his career, but a minus player six times. He sits at minus-1 this year and for his career he's a minus-73. Who does he think he is, Milan Jurcina?

Matt Moulson, New York Islanders (15-9-5-14, minus-2, 0 PIM, 36 SOG) — The 28-year-old has 95 goals over three seasons and his just six shy of 40 for 2012-13. All this from a guy who, when he was 25, couldn't get a one-way NHL contract. His 34 goals would easily lead the Kings — the organization that let him walk. And his 64 points is one shy of LA's top scorer Anze Kopitar.


Somebody wake these guys up — their fantasy owners are counting on them...

Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames (6-0-2-2, minus-1, 4 PIM, 20 SOG) — It's not often that I take a 'Stud' from one week and slap him on here as a 'Dud' the following week, but here we are. Five games without a point after getting points in eight straight (14 in that span).  Shades of former Flames Rene Bourque or Kristian Huselius, where hot/cold streaks like this are second nature.

Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes (6-0-0-0, minus-3, 9 PIM, 13 SOG) — Yandle's following up a 59-point contract year with a 41-point rolling-around-naked-on-a-big-pile-of-money year.

Zack Kassian, Vancouver Canucks (10-0-0-0, minus-1, 29 PIM, 6 SOG) — I can solve all of Zack's problems with this piece of advice — shoot the puck! Even Tomas Kaberle is laughing at you.

Kris Versteeg, Florida Panthers (11-0-1-1, minus-1, 13 PIM, 20 SOG) — A career year that has gone so bad that it may not become a career year any more. At the 53-game mark, Versteeg had 48 points. Since then, he missed nine games due to injury and has one point in the 11 that he did play. That's right, 20 games have gone by and he's boosted his point total from 48 all the way up to 49. As a rookie he had 53 points.

The Wire...

Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...

Benoit Pouliot, Boston Bruins (9-4-7-11, plus-9, 0 PIM, 13 SOG) — The good news for Habs fans is that Montreal is starting to look good in that trade that sent Guillaume Latendresse to the Wild for Pouliot. The bad news for Habs fans is that Montreal is starting to look bad for letting him walk last summer. He's averaging 12 minutes a game, yet should still manage to finish the year with 35 points and a plus-20 rating. Right now he'd be seventh in scoring on the Habs.

Raffi Torres, Phoenix Coyotes (10-5-3-8, plus-7, 14 PIM, 18 SOG) — The Coyotes have been struggling of late and that's because they've been relying on Torres for their offense. Not really. But he's the only one providing any these days.

Jamie McGinn, Colorado Avalanche (12-8-4-12, Even, 7 PIM, 48 SOG, 3 PPG, 2 GWG) —Hey, you know who could use a guy like McGinn? The San Jose Sharks. They're struggling so badly that even the Colorado Avalanche has caught them in the standings. Oh. Wait a minute…

Cody Hodgson, Buffalo Sabres (4-3-3-6, plus-2, 0 PIM, 19 SOG) — Weird that Kassian makes a splash when he arrives in Vancouver while Hodgson can't buy a point in his first 10 games with Buffalo…but now their situations have reversed. But Hodgson's reason for the turnaround is the same as what was noted in the Stafford blurb above — he kicked that case of Leino's-on-my-line-itis.

Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins (7-7-3-10, plus-7, 4 PIM, 13 SOG) — The last time a third-line plugger started scoring like crazy when he was put on a line with a superstar, Chris Clark was getting 30 goals.

Brian Rolston, Boston Bruins (6-3-8-11 plus-8, 2 PIM, 13 SOG) — In two weeks, Rolston has gone from a frequent healthy scratch looking at a 10-point season with a minus-14 rating to finish his career… to a solid secondary scoring option who has a shot at 30 points and getting his plus/minus back to even.

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings (4-1-3-4, plus-2, 0 PIM, 6 SOG) — Nyquist is a very promising young prospect who has proven himself ready for NHL duty. He's a solid setup man who has not looked out of place at all. There is no guarantee he'll stay with Detroit through the duration of this season, but until he's sent down he'll keep tallying up the assists … although he'll have to do it from the fourth line.

For more fantasy hockey tips, take a gander at DobberHockey. And while you're at it, follow Dobber's fantasy hockey musings on Twitter.

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