NHL Skinny: Hostile takeovers

Matt Romig
Yahoo! Sports


1st Chair: Chris Osgood(notes)
2nd Chair: Jimmy Howard(notes)
Skinny: We've seen Ozzie cede a significant portion of the workload to backups in the past, so fantasy owners probably can't afford to ignore Howard's recent run (3-0, 2.00, .926) even it if was triggered by the flu bug (Osgood has been out). The plan all along had been to keep Osgood fresh through frequent time off, and that was before he reverted back to his 2008-09 regular-season form. Update: It's Howard Wednesday and Saturday and Osgood Friday (if healthy), according to the Detroit Free Press.

1st Chair: Jose Theodore(notes)
2nd Chair: Semyon Varlamov(notes) (1a)
Skinny: Coach Bruce Boudreau says he hasn't lost confidence in Theodore despite a rough patch that includes an early shower Nov. 11 and Saturday's 5-2 loss. The case for Theodore was a numbers game at one point, but Varlamov has taken over in both GAA (2.67 - 3.24) and save pct. (.910 - .890).

1st Chair: Pekka Rinne(notes)
2nd Chair: Dan Ellis(notes)
Skinny: Rinne's shutout Saturday was his second in just over two weeks and extended his run of success to six wins in seven starts. At 69-percent owned, he could be available in a few shallow leagues. Ellis had San Jose on the ropes Nov. 10 but allowed a soft goal late in a 4-3 loss that may have tipped the scales toward Rinne for good.

1st Chair: Carey Price(notes)
2nd Chair: Jaroslav Halak(notes)
Skinny: As a reward for making 53 saves Saturday, Price got his 24-hour pass revoked along with the rest of the Habs. Serves him right for having his best game of the season on a night his teammates slumbered. Halak was solid in his last start (30 saves, 31 shots) but has started just once since Oct. 31.

1st Chair: Jonas Gustavsson(notes)
2nd Chair: Vesa Toskala(notes)
Skinny: Gustavsson got the hook for the first time in his brief NHL career Saturday and has now surrendered seven goals on his last 35 shots. As you might expect Toskala was just OK in relief (15 saves on 17 shots). The Monster's first three November starts (.952 save pct.) gave fantasy owners some hope that a useful option could emerge in Toronto. Handle with care.

1st Chair: Steve Mason(notes)
2nd Chair: Mathieu Garon(notes)
Skinny: Mason is dealing with back spasms to go with his sophomore slump. Garon (3-1, 2.60, .923) should get his second consecutive start Monday against Edmonton.

1st Chair: Jonas Hiller(notes)
2nd Chair: Jean-Sebastien Giguere(notes)
Skinny: Giguere still thinks he can be a No. 1 in Anaheim. Coach Randy Carlyle appears open to the possibility as well. "Whoever we feel is going to give us that best chance, that’s who is going to play," Carlyle told the Orange County Register (boilerplate for the coach). Jiggy's first start since Oct. 24 was a moderate success (27 saves in 3-2 shootout loss Friday in Columbus).

1st Chair: Dwayne Roloson(notes)
2nd Chair: Martin Biron(notes), Rick DiPietro(notes)
Skinny: Biron is an intriguing speculative add for fantasy owners. He has respectable numbers in three November turns (2.63, .918) and could be a slump or injury away from joining a contender. Until then expect a near-even workload split and frequent DiPietro workout updates.

1st Chair: Ondrej Pavelec(notes)
2nd Chair: Kari Lehtonen(notes), Johan Hedberg(notes)
Skinny: A second back surgery will sideline Lehtonen another 6 to 8 weeks. Pavelec (42-percent owned) gets a bump in value. He rebounded from a tough start to the month to blank the Kings with 38 saves Friday.

Rotisserie drafts really aren't that complicated. We may sweat over every pick and some of us may even let that countdown clock tick down to 5, 4, 3, 2 … in the first round even though we're picking third and the first two selections went according to form, but really there's a lot of luck involved. If handed a coin and directed to try to toss "heads," would you sweat over it – employ your best "heads" form, if you will – or just get the hunk of metal airborne and see what happens?

That's not to say there aren't good and bad draft strategies or rotisserie owners who may consistently be better than others, but the agonizing over picks assumes that there are right and wrong selections in a particular draft slot rather than a larger tier of players who fit that slot and who should, assuming good health for all parties, provide roughly similar fantasy returns. In some rounds you'll get the best of the available tier, in other the average and sometimes you'll grab the short straw. Then another round starts and the lottery begins anew.

Where you can get into trouble is becoming overly attached to a player going into the draft. Since a player with fourth-round value could conceivably go at any point in picks 37-48, there's a tendency to reach early and expend a third-rounder on a guy you've become infatuated with. Under those conditions, the possibility exists that you use your third round pick on the worst of the fourth-round tier, then get unlucky again in the fourth and grab another underachiever.

Such was the case with yours truly and Bobby Ryan(notes), drafted by this expert twice (5th round, 6th). I also got hung up on Chris Kunitz(notes), who I drafted in four leagues, each time a little bit early. And no, I'm not a Ducks guy. Ryane Clowe(notes) in 2007-08, now that was a homer pick. Anyway in spite of myself (and probably due to good luck to offset my boneheadedness), I currently sit in fourth, third and first (tie) in my three industry leagues. My in-house league team is treading water and my Roto Arcade blog team may never be spoken of again.

Please use the comments to discuss the reach picks you're kicking yourself over. And I'm not talking about guys like Steve Mason, Cam Ward(notes) or Martin Havlat(notes). Those guys were probably all selected right around where they should have been. They're just underachieving, for one reason or another. I'm talking about the Derick Brassards of the world (he was another Skinny favorite). If you're looking for a place to gloat about where you drafted Anze Kopitar(notes), this is not the correct forum. Your comments are not welcome here.

Let's jump right into the Skinny. Believe it or not, it's been a busy few weeks of baseball planning for the Yahoo! fantasy crew (fruits of the labor coming soon to a newsstand near you), so a few regular elements are taking the week off …

One-timers: Buffalo center Tyler Ennis(notes), a 2008 first-round pick, scored in his NHL debut Saturday. … Marc-Andre Bergeron(notes) ended an eight-game point drought with a goal and two assists Thursday. … Steve Sullivan(notes) took a season-high 11 shots Saturday (two goals vs. Montreal). … Is anyone out there willing to give Cory Murphy(notes) another chance? The Devils blueliner had two points Saturday, one on the power-play. … It looks like Alex Ovechkin(notes) could return to game action Tuesday. … Eric Staal(notes)? Maybe next week. … Sharks left wing Ryane Clowe has nine points in nine games. … Dual-wing eligible Tomas Fleischmann(notes) has an eight-game point streak (7-3-10). … Only Ryan Getzlaf(notes) has more assists over the last month among forwards than Nik Antropov(notes), who has 14 helpers and his 56-percent owned. … If you've invested in Michael Leighton(notes) or Manny Legace(notes) in the wake of Cam Ward's injury, go ahead and have your voice heard.

BARGAIN BIN: Available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
James van Riemsdyk(notes), LW, Phi (45-percent owned) – In keeping with the theme from the into, you can count me among those high on Claude Giroux(notes) heading into draft season. But with Giroux there was just a little too much buzz out there. His 40-point pace may play OK in deep formats as a late-round pick, but if you reached because you couldn't let "your guy" land on another roster, you're probably feeling the sting.

As it turns out van Riemsdyk has been an outstanding consolation prize. He scored again Monday – the puck sure gets off his stick in a hurry – to give him four goals in his last six and points in six of seven. Nearing the quarter pole he ranks in the top 25 among left wings, making him startable even in standard formats. You got your money's worth if you called his name on draft day.

Antero Niittymaki(notes), G, TB (47-percent owned) – Mike Smith(notes) (31-percent owned) started and won Monday. It was just his second start in November as he tries to shake off a slow start and lingering injuries. Truth is, Smith is the guy favored by the organization. Niittymaki, however, has been the more effective goalie (5-1-3, 1.93, .939). The Lightning haven't lost in regulation in six games. If Vincent Lecavalier(notes) can get going and some younger player continue to develop, this is a team that can support a legitimate fantasy No. 2 in net.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Ville Leino(notes), LW, Det – The Red Wings were high on Leino's performance playing alongside Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg(notes) on Saturday. The 5-percent owned forward didn't land on the scoresheet, so the display didn't do much to spike his fantasy usage figures. If he sticks on the Zetterberg line, that should change in a hurry.

Nicklas Bergfors(notes), RW, NJ – The power-play time isn't going away and the production hasn't tapered off a bit. Bergfors burned the Caps and Pens for a goal, four assists and two power-play points over the weekend, giving the 2005 first-rounder eight points (five on the power-play) in six November games. That 15 percent ownership figure needs to jump a bit.

Brad Stuart(notes), D, Det – They're asking Stuart to get more involved offensively in Detroit. So far that has translated to just four points in eight games. Not too shabby, but nothing to get too excited about. If the power-play role remains, however, Stuart could emerge as a legitimate D3 or D4 in fantasy circles. He was at one time considered a blue chip offensive prospect.

Evander Kane(notes), LW, Atl – Since Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) returned to the lineup (not missing a beat, by the way), Kane has three goals (two game-winners), two assists and is a plus-3 in three games.

Tom Gilbert(notes), D, Edm – A slow start (1-3-4) has last year's 45-point defensemen sitting on the waiver wire in about 85 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Gilbert failed to register a point Sunday but did put a season-high five shots on net – the increased activity no doubt tied to the absence of Denis Grebeshkov(notes) (knee). This could get Gilbert going.

Mason Raymond(notes), LW, Van – Since Oct. 30 Raymond has five goals, five assists and five power-play points in eight games. The streak has included stints with multiple lines, so there's hope he can maintain something resembling a 65-point pace when Daniel Sedin(notes) reenters the mix.

Maxim Afinogenov(notes), RW, ATL – Maxim has been a Skinny semi-regular this season, a sign fantasy owners aren't buying into the hot start. Well, ignore at your own risk. Sure, he had his best offensive season (22-51-73) as part of a Buffalo offensive juggernaut, but this Atlanta team isn't exactly struggling for top-six offensive weapons. Recent streak: four goals, six assists, plus-5 in seven games. Speaking of Thrashers, I know center is a deep position, but is Rich Peverley(notes) (8-15-23) really of no use in 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues?

Andy Greene(notes), D, NJ – A five-game point streak (2-4-6) ended Saturday, but Greene was a plus-3 with two shots against the Caps despite not landing on the scoresheet. Six of his nine points on the season have come with a man-advantage.

Brent Burns(notes), D, Min – Good news: Burns was a plus-4 in Sunday's overtime loss to Carolina. Downside: he's now minus-10 on the season. The early going may have been a disaster, but Burns has nine points in his last 13 games and is a manageable minus-1 over that span. That deserves better than 27-percent ownership.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League update
You can find Rocky Bonanno's great fantasy hockey analysis over at NHL.com and you can find his roto team atop the Friends and Family standings. Dan Boyle(notes) and Andy Greene were his big point producers and it's always nice to say that about your blueliners. Martin Brodeur's(notes) 3-0 week didn't hurt the effort. Overall it's a competitive group with fewer than 20 points separating first from eighth. Fantasy 10-day contracts were recently extended to Brendan Morrison(notes), Danny Cleary(notes), Mike Modano(notes), Matt Moulson(notes), and Jarrett Stoll among others.

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