The NHL does Christmas right. There are no games for two days – courtesy of a provision in the collective bargaining agreement. Rosters are frozen, too. You won't tune out Friday only to awake from a turkey-induced coma Monday to find your starting goalie exiled to St. Louis or Columbus or worse (maybe), the AHL. It's a true fantasy holiday, and those are hard to come by. So The Skinny took it easy, too, trading a remote control and the Center Ice package for golf clubs and spiked eggnog. I hope you had a safe, happy and carefree holiday as well. Here's a quick skate around the NHL:
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Another rookie defenseman has made a fantasy splash in Chicago. Remember Brent Seabrook? He notched five assists in the opening week to turn some heads, and while that production tapered off a bit, he remained a solid No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy defenseman until last week. That's when he tweaked his knee, an injury that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks. The injury created an opening for fellow rookie Anton Babchuk, the team's No. 1 draft pick in 2002.
Babchuk figures to get plenty of ice time with Seabrook on the shelf. He played close to 19 minutes Monday, scoring a power-play goal in a 4-3 loss to Columbus. In seven games with the Blackhawks, he has two goals and two assists. Three of those points have come on special teams. The Skinny, as you may know, is a sucker for defenseman who can move the puck. We over-hyped Ryan Whitney here earlier this season, but other favorites like Brian Campbell and Kurtis Foster have held their own.
All season long we've been waiting for Bill Guerin to kick it into gear for the Dallas Stars. "I have no confidence," he told the Dallas Morning News last week. Could a little time off been all he needed? It's much too soon to declare his slump over, but the right wing finally found the back of the net Monday, breaking a string of 13 straight games without a score. Though he may have doubted himself, fantasy owners hadn't lost faith. As of Sunday, Guerin was still owned in close to 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Not much to act on there, but there's another slumbering sniper on the Dallas roster who is coming to life. Stu Barnes scored twice in 17 minutes of ice time Monday. In the Stars' past three games, the center has four goals and one assist. Stretch back further and Barnes has points in six of seven (4 goals, 4 assists). You have to go all the way back to 1997-98, when Barnes scored 30 goals, to find an impact fantasy season on his resume. Still, with all the great story lines emerging in Dallas this season, it wouldn't be a shock to see Barnes keep this up.
Petr Prucha is still available in close to 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues. It must be the center-only eligibility scaring fantasy owners off. Otherwise, there's no reason why this Rangers rookie shouldn't be on a roster in your league. Sure everyone probably has a pair of productive centers on their roster, but are they out-producing Prucha? Consider this: Not a single player in the fantasy pool has more goals in the past month than Prucha. Not Ilya Kovalchuk. Not Eric Stall. Not Dany Heatley. Prucha's goal Monday was his 12th since Nov. 24.
In that same span the former fourth-liner only has two assists. If helpers are you need, look elsewhere. But if you need a guy to boost your fortunes in the Goals department, you can count on Prucha. He's also spending a ton of time in front of the net on New York's top power-play unit, so he'll be a force in the power-play categories as well.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Kari Lehtonen, G, Atl
After beginning the month of December with four straight losses, the Thrashers have won six of eight, with both losses coming in overtime. Goalie Michael Garnett is coming off back-to-back shutouts, but coach Bob Hartley won't commit to starting him Wednesday when the team plays again. Why? Because Hartley is the same guy who called Lehtonen a Calder candidate before the season started. Lehtonen was activated from the IR Monday and it's only a matter of time before he takes over for Garnett.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Rostislav Klesla, D, Cls – Sidelined by injury since early November, Klesla is back and logging huge minutes for the Blue Jackets. He played close to 25 minutes Monday, notching a goal and an assist in a 4-3 win.
Chris Drury, C, Buf – With a three-point night Monday, Drury now has five goals and five assists in his past eight games.
Vernon Fiddler, C, Nas – He's got a name that is perfect for the Nashville roster and a game that recently earned him a promotion to the Preds' top line. He has three goals and a plus-4 rating in his past five games.
Martin Rucinsky, LW, NYR – Doing a little of everything of late, Rucinsky has a goal, four assists, a plus-2 rating, four penalty minutes and two power-play points in his past three games.
Jason Woolley, D, Det – Healthy again, Woolley has a goal and four assists in Detroit's past three games.
Andrei Zyuzin, D, Min – Zyuzin had been sitting for a different reason. He was a healthy scratch for three straight, but has returned to record a goal and two assists in his past two starts. He sat out Monday with the flu, however.
Brent Burns, D, Min – A unique player in that he carries eligibility at both wing and defense, Burns is adjusting to a more offensive role with the Wild. The 20-year-old has two goals in Minnesota's past three games.
Duvie Westcott, D, Cls – Everybody in Columbus has benefited from Rick Nash's return, and that includes the blue liners. Westcott had a goal and an assist in the last game before the break. He has 13 points in his past 19 games after starting the season with zero points in 16 games.