NHL Skinny: Net Vets

Matt Romig
1st Chair: Tim Thomas
2nd Chair: Andrew Raycroft
Skinny: How does 2003-04 Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft feel about being a backup? "It is what it is," he told the Boston Globe with a shrug. Wait a minute, isn't that Todd Bertuzzi's line? He can't complain, really. Raycroft hasn't been healthy often, and when he has stayed off the IR, he's been terrible. Thomas has stopped 85 of the past 87 shots he's faced entering play Sunday and is the clear No. 1 until the Olympic break. By then Hannu Toivonen should be healthy and the team will have decisions to make before the March 9 trade deadline.
1st Chair: Cristobal Huet
2nd Chair: Jose Theodore
Skinny: Huet was given three straight starts as struggling starter Jose Theodore was given some time to rest and regain his confidence. Huet responded with three spectacular efforts, the final two resulting in shutout wins. Trade rumors continue to swirl around Theodore. If the Canadiens can find a taker (Theodore's contract is an obstacle), they may be more willing to deal than ever.
1st Chair: Michael Morrison
2nd Chair: Jussi Markkanen
Skinny: How about none of the above? The Calgary Sun Saturday reported that the Oilers have stepped up efforts to land Buffalo goalie Martin Biron. If those efforts fail, Edmonton may pursue Curtis Joseph or Ed Belfour should their respective teams fall from playoff contention. Morrison has started (and won) three of Edmonton's past five games and is the guy to own for now. If he's your guy, however, it's time to explore a plan B.
1st Chair: Curtis Sanford
2nd Chair: Patrick Lalime
Skinny: Lalime is back with St. Louis after a few months in AHL exile, but he has yet to see game action. Sanford made his seventh straight start Saturday and is 4-2-1 in those games. In order to recall Lalime, the Blues had to expose him to re-entry waivers. You have to figure they wouldn't have taken that risk if they don't plan on playing him.
1st Chair: Adam Munro
2nd Chair: Craig Anderson
Skinny: After briefly spending time with Boston and St. Louis, Anderson was re-claimed via waivers and is once again Chicago's backup goalie. He bailed out Munro in Saturday's 6-0 loss to Nashville. Both goalies are placeholders with very little fantasy value. Nikolai Khabibulin should return after the Olympic break, at which time he'll resume No. 1 duties.
1st Chair: Ed Belfour
2nd Chair: Mikael Tellqvist
Skinny: Belfour's January numbers were hideous and Toronto is losing, so it's no surprise that you can't flip a puck into the stands at Air Canada Centre without hitting a fan willing to say, "hey, give Tellqvist a shot." For his part, Belfour has settled down a bit. After allowing four or more goals in six straight starts, he posted a .929 save percentage in his next four. And it should be noted that Toronto was without defensemen Bryan McCabe and Alexander Khavanov for much of January. He may not survive another extended slump, but for now Belfour looks secure.
1st Chair: Jean-Sebastien Giguere
2nd Chair: Ilya Bryzgalov
Skinny: The Orange County Register reported Sunday that Giguere will likely start Monday against Edmonton. It was against the Oilers that Giguere got himself into hot water in the first place. His meltdown late in that Jan. 25 game led to two quick Edmonton goals in an eventual 6-3 loss. Bryzgalov stepped in and won three straight while Giguere cooled his heels, but it was Jiggy who shut out San Jose Saturday.
1st Chair: John Grahame
2nd Chair: Sean Burke
Skinny: You can't find fault with Burke's play of late. He shut out Philadelphia Jan. 28, and then earned the team two more points three nights later by stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced against Toronto. Burke has been good. Grahame has been spectacular. His shutout of Washington Saturday was his fourth in his past seven starts. Not much here for coach John Tortorella to blow his top about. Even in his backup role, Burke makes a solid No. 3 fantasy goalie..

I own too many t-shirts. That's the conclusion I reached last week while packing up my belongings for a move to Southern California. Even after throwing out gems like a tattered championship shirt from a 2001 winter softball league, I had more than I could deal with. And I hold Yahoo! partially responsible. We went t-shirt happy here a few years back. Y2k? Have a t-shirt. New version of Yahoo! Mail? Here, throw this on. Danny Heatley's position eligibility changed? How about a "Y! not play Heatley at LW" beefy-T?

So you'll forgive me if I overlooked anything this weekend. My back aches as if I carried the Stanley Cup from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I have no cable TV. Even if I did, I didn't bring a TV with me. Not enough room after that box of Yahoo! summer picnic shirts made the cut. I did manage to check out a few games here at the office, where I've been holed up for the better part of three days since I don't have Internet here yet, either. Here's hoping your fantasy weekend went smoother than my ill-planned move. What I managed to catch follows:

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

It's been quite a last few weeks for 30-something journeymen goalies. A few days ago Cristobal Huet was just another forgotten backup. Montreal's goalie of the future? Heck, few even considered him to be the backup of the future. That honor belonged to 24-year-old rookie Yann Danis. Until, that is, coach Bob Gainey gave struggling starter Jose Theodore a few nights off. Enter Huet, who with back-to-back shutouts now has a stranglehold, at least temporarily, on one of the most prestigious jobs in hockey. Here are the numbers: 3 starts, 2 wins, 94 of 96 shots against stopped. Gainey says he still has a plan to help Theodore regain his confidence. The way Huet performed on back-to-back nights this weekend, that plan will surely include some spectating between now and the Olympic break.

For at least a few days, Huet was able to steal the spotlight from another fantasy everyman, Boston's Tim Thomas. While Huet was blanking Philadelphia Sunday, Thomas was doing his best one-man act while trying to keep the Bruins alive against Carolina. He faced 18 shots in the second period. He stopped 16 of them. The two goals allowed matched the >total surrendered by Thomas in his past three starts combined. Like Huet, this 31-year-old undrafted goalie from Flint, Michigan appears to have nailed down a No. 1 job – at least until the Olympic break. Thomas is owned in about 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Huet is available in about 95 percent. If you own Theodore, you have to pick up Huet now as insurance. Either goalie is capable of disappearing – remember Martin Biron? – but both have value right now either as short-term fixes or pre-deadline fantasy bargaining chips.

The 2006 AHL All-Star game Wednesday drew a crowd of 15,015, a record for the event. Hey, why not come out? For the price of admission during the lockout season AHL fans got a look at Jason Spezza, Eric Staal, Ryan Miller, Keith Ballard and a host of other players who went on to make a fantasy impact in 2005-06. Actually, there's one name missing there – and it's an important one to remember. Niklas Kronwall was an all-star starter last year. The Grand Rapids defenseman tallied 53 points in 76 games and was named the league's top defenseman.

Knee surgery derailed this talented offensive defenseman's progress, but the 2000 first-round draft pick finally made his season debut Wednesday. He didn't disappoint. Kronwall had two assists in a conservative 14 minutes of ice time in a 3-2 Red Wings victory. That ice time was up to 16:35 Saturday and he was a plus-1 in another Detroit win. As of Sunday morning, Kronwall was available in roughly 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He makes a solid immediate add as a No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy defenseman.

Bad news out of Phoenix, where it was announced Friday that Ladislav Nagy will miss the rest of the season following surgery on his injured right knee. Though far from a household name, Nagy had emerged as a top fantasy forward in 2005-06. Before the injury, he ranked as the 15th-best forward with 15 goals, 41 assists and 74 penalty minutes. According to the East Valley Tribune, Nagy will need four to five months of rehabilitation.

He can't possibly fill the scoring void, but Phoenix recalled forward Pavel Brendl to take Nagy's roster spot. With San Antonio, Brendl recorded 14 points in 13 games after coming over in a December trade with Carolina. The 4th overall pick in the 1999 draft, Brendl is fighting the bust tag. Phoenix is his third team, and he's never scored more than 13 points in any NHL season.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Brad Boyes, C, Bos
    Boyes saw his point streak snapped at eight games Saturday. No problem. He started another one Sunday. Boston is back in the playoff hunt, and it's not just Tim Thomas doing the heavy lifting. Boyes' line has been on fire of late. In 10 games, Boyes has five goals and eight assists, with six points coming on the power play. He can be had for free in all but a small fraction of leagues. Linemates Marco Sturm (7 goals in past 10) and Patrice Bergeron (15 points in past 11) are more widely owned, but worth scanning the waiver wire for.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Lee Stempniak, RW, StL – There's a scoring void in St. Louis now that Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger are gone. Stempniak has been a beneficiary of more ice time. His goal streak was snapped at three games Saturday, but he assisted on a score in nearly 18 minutes of ice time.

Michel Ouellet, RW, Pit – Pittsburgh's top line seems to have a new look every night. The latest iteration on display Saturday had Sidney Crosby centering Ouellet (seven points in past seven games) and Tomas Surovy (one goal, six shots Saturday). Anyone skating with Crosby is worth keeping an eye on.

Andrei Markov, D, Mon – He scored a goal Saturday and assisted on a power-play tally Sunday. Markov now has a four-game point streak (3 goals, 4 assists) that dates back to Jan. 14. He missed eight games with a shoulder injury.

Sergei Gonchar, D, Pit – Sure it's only a snapshot, but Gonchar was the fourth-best fantasy defenseman over the past week. His colossal goal drought is still drawing boos from Pittsburgh fans, but the defenseman does have 10 assists and 16 PIMs in his past 10 games.

Mikael Samuelsson, RW, Det – Samuelsson was in a funk before coach Mike Babcock threw him on a line centered by Henrik Zetterberg. The result: three goals in three games and a combined 11 shots in his past two efforts.

Jon Sim, RW, Fla – Remember this guy? Sim led the league in preseason goals, but couldn't crack coach Ken Hitchcock's lineup in Philly. They shipped him to Florida, where at least lately he's flourished on a line with Chris Gratton and Juraj Kolnik. Sim had goals Friday and Saturday and Gratton has five points in two games.

Michael Nylander, C, NYR – As expected, Nylander is maintaining a point-per-game clip since rejoining Jaromir Jagr on New York's top line. He had a two-point night Saturday.

Francois Beauchemin, D, Ana – He extended his point streak to five games Saturday and now has two goals and six assists in his past seven games.

Ilya Kovalchuk, RW, Atl – Tuesday it was an illegal stick. Friday it was a dive. Kovalchuk has been responsible for some critical mistakes lately – mistakes he has not offset with offensive production. His goalless streak reached six games before Saturday's tally, and coach Bob Hartley temporarily demoted the winger to Atlanta's third line.

Jeff O'Neill, RW/C, Tor – O'Neill watched Saturday's game from the press box as a healthy scratch. Fantasy owners are much better off employing the services of Darcy Tucker, who has at least one point in 12 of his past 16 games.

Petr Prucha, RW, NYR – The news could have been worse, but Prucha will miss 3-4 weeks after spraining his right knee in Saturday's 4-3 win.

Patrick Marleau, C, SJ – He was benched during Thursday's overtime against Minnesota. Marleau was given his standard allotment of ice time Saturday, but he was still held without a point for the sixth consecutive game.