Fantasy Hockey: Kovalchuk starts his season; Spezza’s big slump; Gagner’s fantasy impact

Puck Daddy

Dobber checks in every Monday 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.

It's been several weeks since I've taken a look at the Hits category, and giving the ol' Frozen Pool tools a look (the Report Generator), I see many of the usual names. But a couple of newcomers jump out at me. Such as Philadelphia rookie Brayden Schenn, who is seeing 13 or 14 minutes per game, but he has also been in the Top 5 in hits over the last two weeks — which beats brother Luke.

And how about San Jose's Jamie McGinn?

Here are the top hitters of the last 14 days through Saturday's games:


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

Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks (6-4-5-9, plus-3, 0 PIM, 19 SOG, 4 PPP) — Here's the one 2010-11 Calder nominee who is actually enjoying this campaign. While Jeff Skinner tries to overcome a crappy team coaching change Jussi Jokinen on his line injuries and Michael Grabner is realizing that you need hands as well as speed, Couture rolls along and could damn well lead the Sharks in scoring by the time it's over. Although Joe Thornton will have something to say about that I'm sure.

Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils (13-10-10-20, plus-3, 0 PIM, 60 SOG, 8 PPP) — Just like last season, Kovalchuk feels that the regular season starts in January. Up until that point, he just gets someone like Petr Sykora to don his jersey and Kovalchuk mask and do the best he can. Remember this next year, folks:

Kovalchuk pre-New Year=dog.

Kovalchuk post-New Year=Kovalchuk.

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning (9-6-12-18, plus-5, 2 PIM, 17 SOG) —Mr. Reliability hasn't dipped below 80 points since the season coming out of the lockout. Three weeks ago, when he was on pace to fall short of that number, you had to know that things would turn around.

"Sell High" pick of the week: Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto Maple Leafs. With nine points in his last four games and 22 in his last 18, Grabo is now on pace for a career high of 60. I think he'll get there but not much higher, which would mean 23 points in 29 games — that's a pretty big drop from his current torrid pace.

Duds ...

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

(Hey - Artem Anisimov scored! Scott Gomez — you're up)

Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators (6-0-0-0, minus-3, 2 PIM, 14 SOG) — The Sens have gone 0-5-1 during this slump. Chicken? Or egg? The team has scored just eight goals in this span. Obviously this is a trend that will not continue for long and when it turns around Spezza will make up for lost time.

Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild (4-0-0-0, minus-5, 0 PIM, 7 SOG) — $4 million bones a season and he's managed to suck his way into getting scratched for four games. In his return to the lineup, he saw his highest ice time (23:28) since October 28. Still nothing. I don't see it happening under Coach Mike Yeo, so Zidlicky owners had best hope for a trade.

P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens (16-0-4-4, even, 23 PIM, 41 SOG) — Because Subban is shooting the puck and racking up the PIM, he's at least helping roto owners in some ways. But when Kevin Klein has accomplished the same thing — score three goals — in half the shots (59 versus 135), you know something is seriously off-kilter.

"Buy Low" pick of the week: Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues. He has three points in his last 15 games and is pointless in his last seven. But his eight-shot performance Saturday shows that he's willing to fight his way out of this funk.

The Wire...

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

Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers (he had of couple points the other day, don't know if you heard) — As I only half-jokingly Tweeted that night, Sam Gagner was 6% owned in Yahoo! leagues when he put on his eight-point show, but he would be "96% by morning". In reality, he jumped up to 25% 26% 27% as I write this and still rising.

Steve Ott, Dallas Stars (3-2-1-3, plus-2, 0 PIM, 9 SOG) — Now that the injured have slowly filtered back into the lineup, Ott's numbers have perked up again. With the "off" year for Brenden Morrow, Ott is having a solid year. We saw the same thing in 2008-09 with these two.

Jamie McGinn, San Jose Sharks (3-2-2-4, plus-2, 0 PIM, 10 SOG) —While the return of Ryane Clowe is a concern when it comes to McGinn (his ice time dipped slightly), he actually remained on the power play for the Sharks. He has 16 points in his last 29 contests.

Matt Halischuk, Nashville Predators (5-2-3-5, plus-5, 0 PIM, 6 SOG) — Taking a page from Sergei Kostitsyn's notebook, Halischuk doesn't shoot a whole lot but when he does the puck often goes in. Imagine those two on a line? Passing it back and forth all shift? Actually, it's Craig Smith who has been the catalyst here. Since joining Halischuk on a line along with noted sniper Brian McGrattan, they have really clicked.

Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs (3-2-2-4, plus-2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG) — Back with All-Stars Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, business is starting to pick up for Bozak. As you can see here, just six of his points have come without Kessel or Lupul on the ice.

Cam Barker, Edmonton Oilers (2-1-0-1, plus-3, 2 PIM, 2 SOG) — Stop laughing. Barker actually leads the Oilers in plus/minus despite playing just 14 games. At the very least, he'll help you there. He gets decent minutes and sees PP time. Beggars can't be choosers when it comes to defensemen.

Cal O'Reilly, Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-1-1, minus-1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG) — Surprisingly, O'Reilly has seen good ice time since joining the Penguins. Reunited with his former linemate from Nashville, Steve Sullivan, he has looked pretty good out there. He's out there on the second PP unit and he was the player who hopped over the boards Sunday when the Penguins pulled their goalie in the final minutes. All bets are off when Jordan Staal returns, but until then O'Reilly could surprise.

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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