It'll be about a week until Super Bowl hype kicks into full gear, so of course the National Hockey League goes dark for five days. Gary Bettman and Co. never miss a chance to dodge the spotlight. Not much to keep an eye on in the next few days, so take some time to reconnect with your normal life while the Center Ice package sits on idle. We'll pick things up again next week with a summary of what went down Friday-Sunday. Until then, here's the All-Star break version of the NHL Skinny:
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
According to teammate Craig Conroy, newly acquired goaltender Sean Burke didn't arrive in Los Angeles expecting to perform miracles for the Kings. Honestly, nobody was expecting any. Burke is a 17-year veteran who hasn't been a full-timer in the league since 2000-01. His last game action came in April when he backstopped the Tampa Bay Lightning's playoff-exiting 3-0 loss at the hands of Ottawa. Both Burke and John Grahame were included in the Lightning's 2006-07 plans, as the club viewed spotty goalie play as an obstacle to another deep playoff run.
So if not miracles, then what? Well for one thing, the Kings expect Burke to play games – maybe even finish some. Burke, claimed via waivers Wednesday, was immediately inserted into Los Angeles' starting lineup Saturday. He even looked pretty darn good. That is, until leaving due to dehydration in the third period. Fantasy owners in desperate need of a regular starter should take note. Burke will play plenty until Mathieu Garon returns from a broken finger.
It looks to be official: Bryan Murray will not be breaking up the Dany Heatley- Chris Kelly- Daniel Alfredsson line when center Jason Spezza returns from the IR. This from the Ottawa Citizen, which also adds what we already know about every line in the NHL – it's not set in stone. At least for now this means that Kelly has a chance to remain hot. He has 11 points and 10 penalty minutes in his last eight games – Ottawa won seven of those. That bodes well for his short-term fantasy fortune.
Spezza, according to the Citizen, will center the team's No. 2 line with Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette on his wings. This doesn't make Spezza waiver-wire worthy, but certainly represents a hit to his value. Vermette will be given a chance to make a splash. Reality here says Ottawa is just two losses in three games away from returning Spezza to his home on the team's featured line. But until then, milk what you can from Kelly, who remains available in more than 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He'll probably outscore your No. 2 center over the next 2-3 weeks.
BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Niklas Kronwall, D, Det – Word out of Detroit is that he won't miss any time due to the nose injury he suffered Saturday against Colorado. Now that Joni Pitkanen has his goal, the scoreless defenseman spotlight falls on Detroit's young rearguard. Even if he doesn't get that goal anytime soon, you're looking at a solid No. 4 defense option who had points in six of 10 games entering the break.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Michel Ouellet, RW, Pit – Happy to include Ouellet here for a second consecutive week rather than printing a retraction. It's been that kind of year for Pittsburgh wingers. Ouellet has two goals and seven assists in his last five games and shows no signs of slowing – yet.
David Legwand, C, Nas – A Bargain Bin candidate as a player available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Legwand is finally justifying that lofty selection in the 1998 draft. He used a hat trick Saturday to become the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer and has seven goals and seven assists in his last nine games.
Zbynek Michalek, D, Pho – Given a choice, I'd rather own this Phoenix rearguard than brother and Sharks winger Milan Michalek. Ten points in 14 games won't blow you away, but that's three more than Milan has produced in the same stretch, and squeezing points out of a defenseman takes much more effort.
Hannu Toivonen, G, Bos – Toivonen played pretty well while making back-to-back starts for the first time since the opening month of the season. If Boston can't make a legitimate playoff push with veteran Tim Thomas in net, it may well decide to give the younger Toivonen a longer look.
Daniel Paille, LW, Buf – Maybe one for the future stars files, but Paille so impressed Lindy Ruff in his role as second-line left wing that the coach decided to keep him there after Paul Gaustad's return. Paille had seven points in his first 10 games with the Sabres.
Cam Barker, D, Chi – Barker, the third overall pick in the 2004 entry draft, scored a goal for the Blackhawks in just his second NHL game on Jan. 14. Since then he's gone three games without a point and is a minus-6. Such is life with young defensemen.
Paul Stastny, C, Col – Already a slam dunk acquisition in keeper leagues, Stastny is starting to produce like a legit No. 2 fantasy center. A four-point night in Edmonton kicked off a stretch of 16 points in 14 games.
Mike Knuble, RW, Phi – Who knows what will happen after the All-Star break, but at least for now Knuble suffers a downgrade as coach John Stevens replaced him on the top line with Sami Kapanen. Upgrade Kapanen as long as he remains on the Peter Forsberg-Simon Gagne line.
Brad Boyes, C/RW, Bos – Make that 12 straight without a point and a minus-12 over that span.
Alexei Zhitnik, D, Phi – A plus-13 when he was dealt from the Islanders to the Flyers, Zhitnik is now a minus-1. That's a minus-14 in 16 games. Think a trade out of Philly would help Joni Pitkanen?
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Wayne Gretzky-favorite Travis Roche is signed by RotoWire's Kensik. With four goals and five assists in his last 12 games, Roche is worthy of a No. 3 or 4 defense slot on your team. Party appears to be over for Ruslan Salei, who was cut loose.