It's roster freeze time. No trades, call-ups or waivers from Dec. 19-27. If you're hoping for a deal to get you out from under that Vesa Toskala, Evgeni Nabokov platoon, you'll have to wait until after the holidays. Apparently while fistfights, lockouts and $95 club seats are perfectly acceptable, the National Hockey League can't stand the thought of a player getting a pink slip under the tree. Fair enough. No such restrictions in Yahoo! leagues, however. Fed up with Tom Poti? Cut him loose. Want to make a pitch for reborn winger Rick Nash? Offer away. First, let's take a look back at the weekend that was:
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Add seer to the many talents of Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby. "He's a natural scorer," Crosby told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review before Friday's game against the Islanders, describing winger Ryan Malone, who entered play with one goal and six points in 12 games. Natural scorer? Sure Malone led the Pens with 22 goals as a rookie in 2003-04, but he was only able to match that total in his sophomore campaign and he entered this season with a career minus-45 rating. Maybe the "natural" part is his problem. Nobody doubts Malone's physical gifts, but the rap on him is that he lacks a grinder's heart.
That effort has been there lately. After missing more than a month with a broken forearm, Malone is clicking on a line with Crosby and veteran Mark Recchi. It began modestly with an assist Monday at Washington, built steam with a career-best four-point night Wednesday, then blew the roof off with another career-first, a hat trick Friday after Crosby's on-target assessment of his scoring ability. Malone is available in more than 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Considering the Coors Field effect that comes along with a line pairing with Crosby, he's worth a flyer in just about all formats. Linemate Recchi (70 percent owned) has seven points in three games.
Take note of a few blueline developments in fantasy leagues: Ottawa's Tom Preissing has the best plus/minus among all defensemen over the last month. … The second best plus/minus (plus-11) belongs to Sean Hill, who also has 22 penalty minutes and seven points. … After a slow fantasy start, Anaheim's Francois Beauchemin has come on with 10 points in his last 18 games. Half of his 32 penalty minutes have come in the last eight games. … Chicago's Duncan Keith is one of only seven defensemen with double-digit assists in the last month. … Brian Leetch may be close to a deal to begin his 19th NHL season.
One-timers: Cory Stillman is still available in more than half of all Yahoo! leagues. … Anaheim's George Parros has a fighting major in eight of the last 11 games he's played. … Pittsburgh's Erik Christiensen has seven points in eight December games.
BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Joe Pavelski, C, SJ – Jonathan Cheechoo has picked up his play of late, but despite the resurgence of last year's 50-goal scorer, Pavelski continues to log major minutes on San Jose's top two lines. Saturday he collected two assists in a pressure-cooker of a win over Anaheim. The totals through 12 games: 7 goals, 3 assists and 2 game-winners. He's been playing wing mostly (still logging minutes alongside Joe Thornton), so keep an eye out for a position eligibility change that would further boost his value.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Kyle Wellwood, RW, Tor – Not too many fantasy owners took notice when he was granted wing eligibility in November. Well, how about a five-point night to grab your attention? Wellwood had three goals and two assists Saturday to extend his point streak to four games.
Brett Clark, D, Col – Surprisingly, he's available in close to 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Clark has three goals, eight assists and 14 penalty minutes in the Avs' last 13 games. He's almost certainly out-producing your No. 3 and No. 4 defensemen.
Ruslan Salei, D, Fla – Last week's Bargain Bin defenseman no longer qualifies in that category. That's a start, but with multi-point games in three of his last seven games, Salei's ownership percentage should be closer to, say, 100 percent.
Petr Tenkrat, RW, Bos – Decent short-term add here as he's still skating with Marc Savard and Glen Murray on Boston's top line. Tenkrat scored goals in back-to-back games last week and remains playable as long as P.J. Axelsson is on the shelf.
David Vyborny, RW, Cls – No slowing these Blue Jackets. Vyborny had his second straight three-point night Monday and now has 12 points in his last six games.
Nathan Horton, C, Fla – He's averaging just about a point per game in December and has picked up the PIM pace as well. After spending 11 minutes locked up in 13 November games, he has 14 PIM already in eight games this month.
Christopher Higgins, LW/C, Mon – Remember him? Higgins was leading the Habs with eight goals through 13 games before suffering an ankle injury. He returned Saturday and recorded four shots on goal but no points against the Penguins.
Owen Nolan, RW, Pho – While veteran players continue to fall out of favor with coach Wayne Gretzky, Nolan continues to say and do the right things. Probably only watch-worthy at this point, but Nolan has come on of late with two goals, three assists and four penalty minutes in his last five games.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League
A pair of goalies found employment as owners rolled the dice on Hannu Toivonen and Chris Osgood. No trades this week as owners seemed to have resigned themselves to an inevitable Romig runaway.