January always feels like a bit of a fantasy dead spot. By now, the season's surprises (Mike Green) and disappointments (Patrick Marleau) have made themselves known. The chaos of the trade deadline is still more than a month away. And late-season call-ups are still toiling away in the minors. That's not the reason the Skinny landed a few days late this week. At least for the remainder of January, this column will appear on Wednesdays, so adjust your social calendars accordingly. On to the updates …
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Things to do ASAP: Back in early December I recommended – if you had the roster flexibility, that is – signing Teemu Selanne and storing him on your bench until mid-January, when he was likely to make a decision on his status for 2008. Well, here we are in early January and the Teemu buzz is building. We don't yet know what his final decision will be. What we do know, however, is that he's on a five-day-a-week skating program and he intends to make a decision within two weeks. Do retired athletes who get this close to a comeback ever stay retired? I'm sure it's happened, but there are three factors here that make a Selanne return look like a lock. One, Scott Niedermayer came back. Two, the Ducks are desperate for secondary scoring. Three, Anaheim remains a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. I wouldn't see Selanne making a comeback with, say, Colorado. Not that he'd be welcome back there, anyway. As of Sunday, for what it's worth, Teemu was available in about 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues. I wouldn't expect a 40-goal pace upon his return, but No. 2 RW numbers are in reach.
Also, some interesting goalie developments have made some No. 1 or potential No. 1 guys available via free agency. It's never all that easy to acquire a No. 1, so when you can get one without haggling over trade terms, consider yourself lucky. In Edmonton, Mathieu Garon has won three of four, including a Monday shutout. Available in 35 percent of leagues, he's pushed Dwayne Roloson into a backup role and could see a spike in value if the Oilers can stay healthy (Sheldon Souray) or if they make a trade-deadline splash. Other widely available guys with No. 1 potential: Dan Ellis, Ty Conklin, Michael Leighton and Antero Niittymaki.
Forget what I said about: After two weeks of banging pots and pans trying to get the world to sign Karri Ramo, I have to downgrade my enthusiasm to a cautious endorsement. Ramo has struggled of late. But so have all the other goalies at coach John Tortorella's disposal.
One-timers: Martin Havlat (83 percent owned) returned to the Blackhawks lineup Sunday and was held pointless by Detroit. … The Washington Post reports that Chris Clark scrimmaged with Washington Monday. He played on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin and may return during the Caps' five-game homestand. … Islanders GM Garth Snow wouldn't commit to bringing Kyle Okposo to the NHL this season, but told Newsday that "it's a possibility." … Mark Recchi has 14 points in 15 games as a member of the Thrashers. … Florida's reconfigured No. 1 line has Olli Jokinen centering Richard Zednik and Brett MacLean.
BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Erik Johnson, D, Stl – Projected over a full 82-game season, Johnson's current scoring pace translates to 47 points. For reference, only 19 defensemen finished the 2006-07 season with more than 45 points. The biggest obstacle for Johnson earlier this season was ice time, but with Steve Wagner demoted to the minors, the days of the healthy scratch may be behind Johnson. Pure coincidence, but Johnson picked up three assists against Columbus three days after the Wagner transaction.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
J.P. Dumont, RW, Nas – Only about 50-percent owned, Dumont is scoring in 100 percent of games lately. His pretty power-play tally against the Kings Tuesday extended his goal-scoring streak to six games. He has points in 10 of 12.
Mark Parrish, RW, Min – The good news: Parrish has scored Minnesota's last three goals. The bad: That production is spread over three games. While the Wild may be struggling as a whole, Parrish has goals in four straight and points in six in a row.
Colin Stuart, LW, Atl – That end-to-end rush against Buffalo Saturday raised some eyebrows. So have four points and a plus-6 in six games this season. Curious, since the fifth-round draft pick had six points in 29 games at the AHL level so far this season. That promotion to Marian Hossa's line probably didn't hurt.
Casey Borer, D, Car – Desperate for a reliable puck-mover on the blueline, the Hurricanes are giving Borer a shot. The rookie picked up his first two points on Jan. 4 in his second NHL game.
Kyle Wanvig, RW, TB – He made his season debut Saturday on Brad Richard's line as coach John Tortorella is simply desperate for production there. Wanvig led Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate with 36 points and seven power-play goals. Huge reach here, but if you see his name turn up in scoring summaries, take note.
P.J. Axelsson, LW, Bos – If you're in a 20-team league or your configuration requires you to start three left wings, then it's worth noting that Alexsson has four goals and two assists in his last seven games. Owners in traditional leagues: Take a pass.
Alexander Radulov, RW, Nas – Hard to definitively say the wait is over, as it looked like the wait was over toward the end of last season, particularly the playoffs. That said, Radulov's ice time is up and his production is through the roof: 5 goals, 4 assists and a plus-8 in his last seven games.
Marek Svatos, RW, Col – Presumably, someone has to score goals for the injury-depleted Avalanche. Lately it's been Svatos, who now leads Colorado in goals after going on a six-goals-in-eight-games binge.
Brandon Bochenski, RW, Ana – If Selanne doesn't return, it could be Bochenski that supplies some secondary scoring punch. Sorry Bobby Ryan owners. Bochenski, you may remember, had 11 points in 11 February games last year and 22 points in 27 games in Feburary and March.
Nik Antropov, C, Tor – His cold streak reached nine games Saturday. No points and a minus-4 haven't helped fantasy owners much.
Mathieu Schneider, D, Ana – More than a few fantasy owners probably wish it was Schneider, and not Andy McDonald, traded to make room for Scott Niedermayer's salary. Schneider finally recorded an assist Monday to snap out of a seven-game drought.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League
Bada Byng caused a mini-stir by dropping Alexander Frolov right around the time the Kings left wing was piling up eight points in three games. With Rick Nash and Jason Blake already at the position, there was some depth there. But still? McLarney remains in first place, proving there's more than one way to reach the top. Our league leader has six moves on the season while the second place team – the Maingot entry from Rotowire – has made 56 add-drops. Churn, baby, churn.