Fantasy Hockey: Nail Yakupov is a stud; Mikko Koivu is a dud

Dobber checks in every Thursday 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.

Depending on league format, you're either fighting it out for a regular season win, rebuilding for next year, or just kicking off a heated playoff battle. Because Option 4 - the one where you mailed it in about six weeks ago - would imply that you're not even reading this.

Very few leagues out there award points for takeaways, but damn if this Frozen Pool report isn't interesting anyway. Here are the league leaders in takeaways...

Anyone else raise an eyebrow at some of the names? Peter Mueller? P.A. Parenteau? Riley Nash in just 25 games?


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

Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (11-3-15-18, plus-9, 8 PIM, 19 SOG, 6 PPPts) – Backstrom and Mike Ribeiro had a good laugh at our expense throughout January, February and into March. But they've finally ended their little prank and stopped wearing each other's jerseys. In those same 11 games that Backstrom tallied 18 points, the guy with "Ribeiro" on his back managed just six.

Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins (17-12-7-19, plus-17, 8 PIM, 71 SOG) – How close was I to benching Dupuis for the week after Sidney Crosby went down? I'm sure many Dupuis owners thought about it. But apparently he doesn't need Crosby - he has five points in the four games that he's played without him. He's shooting like a man possessed - that's something he'll bring with him if he signs for big money with a new team this summer.

Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers (6-4-3-7, plus-2, 6 PIM, 12 SOG, 2 PPPts) – The 'Fail for Nail' campaign ended over a year ago. Did the Oilers not get the memo? The team has lost four in a row, despite the efforts of their prized rookie.

Brian Elliott (4-0-0, 1.07 GAA, 0.960 SP, 2 SO) – We don't try to understand or explain why Elliott is so horrible for a random length of time and then the best goalie in the world for another random length of time. We just curse, call him a few names, and activate him.


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

Mikko Koivu (5-0-0-0, 2 PIM, minus-1, 7 SOG) – This, on the heels of a seven-game points streak (three goals, eight assists). Easily the younger Koivu's longest drought of the campaign. In fact, Koivu's last pointless streak that went five games happened in April of 2011.

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets (7-0-1-0, minus-6, 8 PIM, 17 SOG) – How quickly can a stud fantasy player turn on you? As fast as his 270-pound body possibly can. Byfuglien was a member of the 'Studs' section the last time I wrote this column, which was two weeks ago.

Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks (33-7-5-12, minus-13, 18 PIM, 94 SOG) – Let's compare, shall we? Scott Gomez has played 32 games and has 12 points and is minus-8. I'll leave that with you.

Alex Edler, Vancouver Canucks (11-1-1-2, plus-1, 9 PIM, 26 SOG) – In February of 2012, Edler also went through an 11-game stretch in which he managed just two points. And that season he set a career high in points with 49. The moral of the story is, don’t panic.

The Wire...

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

Vernon Fiddler, Dallas Stars (4-2-5-7, plus-3, 0 PIM, 6 SOG) – Surprisingly, it hasn't been Cody Eakin who has filled the void left by the Derek Roy trade - it's been Fiddler on the Roof. Eakin has but one assist in those games - and his ice time has surged.

Alex Chiasson, Dallas Stars (3-3-1-4, plus-2, 0 PIM, 6 SOG) – The 6-4 rookie has four NHL games to his name, but he's made the most of them. His ice time is still being carefully held in check but so far he's doing everything offensively that Jaromir Jagr was doing with that roster spot.

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders (12-5-4-9, plus-6, 2 PIM, 25 SOG) – For a few years now, the Islanders have had future potential, but little in the way of current on-ice results. Is it coming together finally? Oilers fans take heart.

Jack Hillen, Washington Capitals (6-1-4-5, plus-7, 0 PIM, 8 SOG) – Even if the points stop rolling in, at the very least Hillen will help your plus/minus. He is a former WCHA All-Star who posted 37 points in 41 games for Colorado College, but poolies expected the numbers to come much sooner and had long ago given up on him.

Richard Bachman, Dallas Stars (Numbers irrelevant) – Kari Lehtonen is out with another lower body injury (which is Lehtonen-speak for groin). The Stars recalled Cristopher Nilstorp and I think we'll see he and Bachman play two or three games each before Lehtonen returns. The Stars have won three in a row and have allowed just six goals in those games, so whoever is in net should give you solid results.

Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens (4-2-3-5, 2 PIM, plus-2, 9 SOG) – After a 17-game run in which he managed just three points, Galchenyuk is back on track. Winning the rookie scoring race is out of reach - Jonathan Huberdeau has 27 points - but there is still time to get into the Calder conversation. He sits with 20 points on the year and boasts a plus-10 rating.

Matt Calvert, Columbus Blue Jackets (7-4-2-6, plus-3, 4 PIM, 16 SOG) – The 23-year-old has been on and off all year, but lately he's shown chemistry with Cam Atkinson on the second line. How long this continues will depend on Brandon Dubinsky's possible return.

Heating Up?

Here's where I'll fire off a few names of players who may be at the very beginning of a nice little run. Just a gut feeling, but worth looking into and/or taking a chance on:

Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers; Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks; Marcus Foligno, Buffalo Sabres; Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars; Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes.

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