Friday, October 30, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Injury Update

Evgeni Malkin (C) Shoulder strain – Out 2-3 Weeks
Fantasy Spin: With Malkin out the Penguins will lean more heavily on Sidney Crosby. Look for Jordan Staal to be promoted to the second line and play a bigger role on the powerplay as well. Depth players such as Kunitz and Guerin will also benefit from Malkins absence.

Valtteri Filppula (C) Broken wrist – Out 6-8 Weeks
Fantasy Spin: With a lack of scoring depth on the Wings already, losing Filppula is yet another blow to the struggling team. Depth players suck as Bertuzzi and Cleary will have no choice now but to find their game as it is almost assured that Zetterberg and Datsyuk will have to be split up to get everyone’s games going.

Roberto Luongo (G) Hairline rib fracture – Out 1 week
Fantasy Spin: The Canucks will now look at under achieving Andrew Raycroft as a their main man between the pipes. Raycroft has already proven over the years that he is incapable of being a teams staring goalie. If he struggles, look for the Canucks to play Cory Schneider who has posted 6 wins in 9 games in the AHL.


Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 5 Goalie Report


Craig Anderson – Colorado
Leading the league in wins, Anderson is proving all doubters wrong. With 10 wins in 13 games, Anderson is posting a GAA of 1.97 and a save percentage of .940%. Fantasy owners should no longer be hesitant to start the budding star. If your league rewards GAA and Save % he is a high reward goalie at the moment.

Jose Theodore – Washington
Looking to rise above adversity, Theodore is proving he can still be a number one netminder in the NHL, and playing for the highly offensive Capitals doesn’t hurt either. Posting 3 wins in 8 games, Theo is also sporting a 2.47 GAA and a .922 save %. Even though is tandeming with Varlamov at the moment, he is still a must start in weekly leagues.

Ilya Bryzgalov – Phoenix
One of the biggest surprises of the year has been the play of the Phoenix Coyotes. Not one of the flashiest teams on the ice, their defense first way of playing is winning them games. Posting a league high 3 shutouts, Bryzgalov is one of the hottest goalies in the league. Owners should jump on him on the waiver wire if he is still available and ride him while he is hot.


Chris Osgood & Jimmy Howard – Detroit
The Red Wings have struggled early this season and their goaltending isn’t helping their cause. Allowing weak goals in the early minutes of games, both Osgood and Howard do not look like they are good enough to be number one goalies in the league. Until Detroit can start to shake the rust off and stop allowing early goals, keep the tandem on your bench and look elsewhere for goaltending help.

Roberto Luongo – Vancouver
The injury riddled Canucks can now add their all-star goalie to the injured list. Dealing with a hairline fracture to his ribs, Luongo is estimated out for a mere week. Even though he is a top flight goalie, Luongo has struggled this season posting 6 wins in 12 games and has a GAA 2.79 and a save % of .902. Look for Luongo to be on the shelf for more than a week and bypass Andrew Raycroft as a fantasy option.

Cam Ward – Carolina
After leading the charge to the Eastern Confernce finals last season, Ward has struggled early on this season. With 2 wins in 11 games, and posting a 2.83 GAA, fantasy owners are looking for other options. When on his game, Ward is a top goaltender in the league and should be played in all formats. Keep him in your line-up as he is bound to turn things around.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Injury Report

J-S Giguere (G) Groin - Questionable for Oct. 30 vs. Vancouver
Fantasy Spin: Jonas Hiller now becomes the default number 1 goalie in Anaheim until Giggy can get healthy. Anaheim is struggling but is should soon be able to turn around their game. Start Hiller in all formats.

Ilya Kovalchuk (LW) Foot - Out until at least mid-November
Fantasy Spin: With their leading scorer out for 3-5 weeks, Evander Kane has made the jump to the top line. Expect Atlanta to mix it up until they can find the right chemistry on the top 2 lines. Kane has limited value but may be worth look in deeper leagues. Peverly and Little should see a lot more ice time as well, don’t hesitate to play them.

Milan Lucic (LW) Finger - Out until at least late November
Marc Savard (C) Foot - Out until at least late November
Fantasy Spin: With 2 of the top Bruins out of the line-up for an extended period of time, the depth players must step up to carry the team. Krejci and Bergeron now become the top two centers, while Wheeler and Ryder will be looked upon to score the big goals. Look for more production from the defence during this time. Keep playing your Bruins as their potential on the ice far out-weigh them sitting on your bench.

Jonathan Toews (C) Upper body - Questionable for Oct. 29 at Nashville
Fantasy Spin: Toews has started the season slow and this injury doesn’t help his case. Look for the Hawks to rely on Sharpe, Kane, Byfuglien and Bolland to step up while Toews clears out his cobwebs. Look for Andrew Ebbett, Troy Brower and Jack Skille to add depth with Toews and Hossa are out.

John-Michael Liles (D) Shoulder - Out until at least late October
Fantasy Spin: Liles is skating and looks to return this week. That is great news for the Aves powerplay and owners of Wolski, Hedjuk, Stastny and Quincey. Activate Liles for your line-up next week.

Johan Franzen (C) Knee - Out until at least mid-February
Fantasy Spin: Detroit is struggling to score goals and find the right line combinations to make an impact. Although it is not wise to sit players like Zetterberg and Datsyuk, think twice about starting Betruzzi, Cleary and Leino until the Red Wings get going.

Sheldon Souray (D) Concussion - Out until at least late October
Fantasy Spin: Still not skating, Souray is taking a very slow road to recovery. Gilbert, Grebeshkov and Vishnovsky are the direct beneficiaries of this injury. Having Souray’s booming slapshot from the point on the powerplay hurts the Oilers, keep him stashed on your IR until he hits the ice and plays a couple games.

David Booth (LW) Concussion - Out until at least early November
Fantasy Spin: Receiving a crushing blow, Booth was carried off the ice on a stretcher. With Booth out for an undetermined amount of time, look for Frolik and Olesz to benefit with more icetime. With Florida having the second lowest goals for, I would look at other players as fantasy options.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard (C) Head - Out indefinitely
Fantasy Spin: With Minnesota struggling to score goals, the injury to PM Bouchard truly hurts. A lack of secondary scoring has frustrated fantasy owners. Eric Belanger has been a clear beneficiary of the injury as he has netted close to a point per game. Don’t expect Sykora, Nolan and Sheppard to get going until Bouchard can return. Look for Koivu and Havlat to continue leading the charge for the Wild.

Andrei Markov (D) Ankle - Out until at least early February
Fantasy Spin: Adapting to life without their most productive defenceman has been difficult. With Markov out for an extended period of time, M-A Bergeron has been signed to fill the void. Bergeron has helped turn the Habs powerplay around by offering them another option from the point. Add Bergeron in all formats as he will eat up a lot of PP time.

Jason Arnott (C) Arm - Out until at least early November
Fantasy Spin: With Arnott out, the Predators are finding it difficult to find the back of the net. The lowest scoring team in the league, the Arnott injury has affected the team’s fantasy value. It would be best to rest your Predators until they can get their game back on track with the exception of Weber and Suter.

New Jersey
Patrik Elias (LW) Hip, groin - Out until at least late October
Paul Martin (D) Arm - Out until at least late November
Fantasy Spin: With a November 4th date to return, the Devil’s will welcome back the veteran. Elias will take some time to get back into game condition so keep him reserved for the week he returns. Paul Martin has been a staple of consistency on the Devil’s blueline. With his injury, they have called up journeyman Cory Murphy. Murphy has limited fantasy value.

NY Rangers
Marian Gaborik (RW) Undisclosed - Questionable for Oct. 28 at N.Y. Islanders
Fantasy Spin: The Rangers are holding their breath hoping that Gaborik’s injury is not serious. The second leading scorer in the league, any injury to Gaborik will be a huge blow to the entire team. Keep him in your line-up until you hear differently. No news is good news.

Simon Gagne (LW) Groin - Out until at least early November
Fantasy Spin: his will be a good test to see if Philadelphia can overcome a major injury. Expect Gagne to be out for an extended time and continue to struggle upon returning. Expect Briere, Giroux, Hartnell and JVR to step up and play the wings on the top 2 units.

Sergei Gonchar (D) Wrist - Out until at least late November
Fantasy Spin: The top team in the league has already shown they can do it with Gonchar out of the line-up. The main beneficiary of the injury will be Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski on the top powerplay unit. They have increased value now that Gonchar will be out for at least a month.

San Jose
Joe Pavelski (C) Foot - Out until at least late October
Fantasy Spin: Although he is skating, the timetable for Pavelski is still loose. An underrated fantasy player, Pavelski centers the Sharks second line when healthy. Patrick Marleau has thrived with Pavelksi on the sidelines.

St. Louis
T.J. Oshie (C) Appendectomy - Out until at least early November
Fantasy Spin: Struggling to find his game early in his sophomore year, Oshie will be sidelined temporarily. He offers little fantasy value at this point but has a bright future in St. Louis. Look for Boyes, Kariya and McDonald to continue to eat up the icetime for the Blues.

Phil Kessel (RW) Shoulder - Out until at least early November
Fantasy Spin: With only 1 win under their belt, Toronto needs Kessel to come back to help lead their lousy offence. Aiming for a November 3rd return, he still has not been cleared for contact. Owners should expect Kessel to struggle when he does come back into the line-up. Keep him reserved until he has a week of game time under his belt.

Daniel Sedin (LW) Foot - Out until at least mid-November
Pavol Demitra (RW) - Shoulder - Out indefinitely
Sami Salo (D) Knee - Out until at least late November
Fantasy Spin: The infirmary is loading up for the Canucks. With 3 important pieces out of their line-up and Luongo struggling early, Vancouver has looked for rookies to help with the depth. Michael Grabner and Sergei Shirokov have been promoted from the AHL and may be worth a look in deeper leagues. Mathieu Schneider is back from an early injury and should be activated in all formats.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 5 Rookie Report

It's Tuesday, time for the JFH Rookie Report.

John Tavares (C), NYI - 10GP, 3G, 4A, 7PTS
Tavares has slowed down of late, going pointless in his past 4. The bad news for JT owners is that his ice-time has also decreased as he has averaged roughly 18 minutes on the ice over the past 5 games. That is down on his over 20 minutes from the first 5 games.
Fantasy Impact:
The 18 year-old has shown that he is human afterall. He'll have his ups and downs throughout the year, just don't get too high or too low on him and do something you'll regret. At the end of the year, 65-70 points is a strong possibility.

Ryan O'Reilly (C), COL - 11GP, 2G, 8A, 10PTS
The hottest of all the freshman, O'Reilly has 6 points in his last 4 and points in his past 7 games (9). His ice-time has also gone up and he played a season-high 20:13 on Saturday night. The Avs love the progress O'Reilly has made in transitioning to the NHL game and are giving him the opportunity to blossom.
Fantasy Impact:
While O'Reilly is red hot, he doesn't have a scorer's pedigree. His career-high in points with Erie (OHL) was 66 in 68 games. Hard to imagine him coming close to a PPG at the NHL level this year. Sell a fellow owner on O'Reilly's hot start and you'll be happy when he slows down in a few weeks.

Niklas Bergfors (RW), NJ - 9GP, 2G, 3A, 5 PTS
With 3 points in his past 2 games, Bergfors is showing the Devils why they drafted him 23rd overall in the '05 Draft. Niklas has spent the past 4 years adapting to the North American game in the AHL. He received over 17 minutes of ice-time in back to back games last week, showing that the Devils feel his game has finally matured enough to become a reliable NHLer. Playing on an effective line with Clarkson and Zubrus, the Devils are setting this youngster up for success.
Fantasy Impact:
Bergfors has great offensive instincts and can be a productive scorer if he sticks on the Devil's 2nd line. Not as heralded as some of the other rookies, Niklas could be just as valuable the rest of the way. If he is a FA, pick him up, especially in keeper leagues.

Michael Grabner (RW), VAN - 6GP, 2G, 3A, 5PTS
With injuries to Daniel Sedin and Pavol Demitra, Grabner is getting the opportunity to show his talent. The young Austrian has responded well with 4 points in his past 3 games. Playing on a lightning quick line with Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond, Grabner is making the most of his audition.
Fantasy Impact:
The 14th overall pick in the 2006 Draft, Raymond has high-end offensive skills and speed to burn. He could be a nice find for the Canucks, and your fantasy team.

Michael Del Zotto (D), NYR - 12GP, 4G, 8A, 12 PTS
While we thought Del Zotto would start to slow down, he has actually heated up. The 19 year-old rearguard has 7 points in his last 6 games and has seen his ice-time steadily increase, playing a season high 20:14 against NJ last week. His 12 points is tops among all rookies and tied with Dan Boyle for the league lead among all Dman.
Fantasy Impact:
We still think it will be impossible for Del Zotto to keep this pace up. That said, he may be more advanced than we thought. You may want to ride him out through his first tough stretch (it will happen) and see how he recovers. He could end up being a great keeper DMan by the end of the year.

Other notables:
A slow week for Dallas winger Jamie Benn with just 1 goal in his past 3. Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk has 4 points in his past 4. Rangers Centre Artem Anisimov has 2 goals in his past 2 games while continuing to get minimal ice-time. Pre-season sleeper LW Ville Leino has just 1 assist in his past 5 games with the Red Wings. TB D Victor Hedman is pointless in his past 4.


Players to Watch - Week 5

Michael Grabner (RW) – Vancouver
With 5 points in 6 games, he has been seeing time on the top 2 lines.

Alex Goligoski (D) – Pittsburgh
With Gonchar on the mend, Goligoski has been promoted to the #1 powerplay unit.

James Wright (C) – Tampa Bay
Tampa will decide to keep Wright or send him down this week. He has been playing on the top line.

Wayne Simmonds (RW) – Los Angeles
Simmonds has 4 points in his last 5 games and is a +5. Gritty 3rd liner that is may help in a deep league.

David Perron (LW) – St. Louis
Perron has been given the opportunity to climb the depth chart and time on the 2nd powerplay.

Eric Belanger (C) – Minnesota – 0G – 1A – 1PTS
Dustin Penner (RW) – Edmonton – 3G – 3A – 6PTS
Matt Moulson (LW) – NY Islanders – 1G – 0A – 1PTS
Clarke McArthur (LW) – Buffalo – 0G – 0A – 0PTS
Matt Carle (D) – Philadelphia – 0G – 1A – 1 PTS


Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 5 Forecaster

Week 5 is one of the busier weeks in fantasy hockey this year. So many games owners have lots of good choices in players to play on their rosters.

4 Game week
Islanders, Rangers, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Capitals, Avalanche, Wild, Canucks and Coyotes.

3 Game week
Devils, Penguins, Bruins, Sabres, Senators, Hurricanes, Panthers, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Predators, Blues, Oilers, Ducks, Stars and Sharks.

2 Game week
Flyers, Thrashers, Lightning, Flames and Kings.

Washington: Philadelphia, @ Atlanta, New York Islanders, Columbus.
Look for a great offensive week from Ovechkin and company this week. It should be a high scoring affair against Philly to start off the week followed by three weaker opponents in the Thrashers, Isles and Jackets.
Fantasy spin: Theodore will likely see at least one game this week as the Capitals have no need to rush him back. Varlamov should be benched against Philly since they have shown they could hit the twine against any team. Play all your offensive Caps with confidence.

Toronto: @Anaheim, @ Dallas, @ Buffalo, @Montreal.
The forecast does not look good for the Maple Leafs. Maybe some time away from the pressure pot at the ACC and some time to gel as a team is what the doctor ordered for the struggling Leafs.
Fantasy spin: Owners should choose quality over quantity for leagues having weekly roster changes. With so many teams playing 4 games there are better options.

NY Rangers: Phoenix, @New York Islanders, @Minnesota, Boston.
Surprisingly, the Rangers rank 3rd overall in goals per game and should have no trouble continuing their hot start. The week starts off hard against the number 1 defense in the league but ends with games with teams in the bottom third of Goals Against. Although the offence should have a very solid week, it is Lundqvist who might be the biggest play of the week. With all four teams the Rangers face having difficulty finding the net the Ranger net minder is set for a huge fantasy week.
Fantasy spin: Look for Gaborik and Prospal to continue scoring and Lundqvist to have a very solid week.

Montreal: New York Islanders, @Pittsburgh, @Chicago, Toronto
The most impactful fantasy story coming out of Montreal this week will be the goaltending situation. No question with Price’s poor play of late that Halak is the primary goaltender for now. The question is whether Price can play his way back into the net with Halak playing so well.
Fantasy spin: With two easy games at home and two tough ones away from the Bell Centre, look for the goaltending saga to continue after this week. Halak and Price should split time in net with the better of the two holding the edge on who will start the following week.

Colorado: @Edmonton, @Calgary, @San Jose, @Vancouver.
Not a favourable forecast for the up and coming Av’s, with four difficult games against conference rivals on the road. Anderson has played extremely well for Colorado, but this week should be a good indication on whether if he can take the next step.
Fantasy spin: Currently Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose sit first, second, or eighth in Goals per game respectively, so no one will blame you for sitting Anderson this week.

Nashville: @Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas
Not much going on for the Predators offensively as they sit dead last in goals scored, but the goaltending scenario seems to be finding its way here. Look for Ellis to start against Minnesota and Dallas and Rinne, who played just horrid against the Senators last week, to start against the offensive Blackhawks.
Fantasy spin: Ellis has a chance to distance himself against Rinne. If Ellis has a strong week, he definitely has the upper hand.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Saturday Night Round-Up

Another busy Saturday night for fantasy hockey. Let's take a look at some of the key performers.

NJ defeats PIT 4-1
Niklas Bergfors had the game winner and has 3 points in his last two games. He is currently playing on a hot line with Zubrus and Clarkson. While he played only 13:23 last night, it was more a reflection of the Devils protecting the lead then Bergfor's play. He did average over 17 minutes a game over the past two. Keep an eye on Bergfors, he has always had offensive upside but the Devils have been patient with him.

MTL defeats NYR 5-4
Mike Cammalleri had 3 goals and 4 points last night. Montreal's top line is looking great and Cammo is showing that he doesn't need Iginla to thrive. This is no surprise, as we said in our JFH forecaster Cammalleri didn't play regular shifts with Iginla last year, as most of their shared ice-time came on the PP. Look for him to finish with around 40 goals and 85 points.

WSH defeats NYI 3-2
Jose Theodore came back and played very well for the Caps. He looked good, stopping a bunch of Islander flurries to keep the Caps in the game. Washington is getting good goaltending right now and both Theodore and Varlamov have great value moving forward.

BOS defeats OTT 4-3

Derek Morris had 2 assists and now has 7 points in 10 games. I was not a believer in Morris but he is getting lots of ice time right now and taking PP time away from the previously effective Dennis Wideman. Grab Morris if he is available and ride him while he's hot. I still think he will see some time in the pressbox before the season ends.

PHI defeats FLA 5-1
Rookie James van Riemsdyk had a goal and an assist in just 12:54 of ice-time (2:03 on PP). He now has an impressive 7 points in 6 games while averaging 11:30 a game. If you have JVR as a keeper, you may want to activate him. The Flyers are committed to giving James quality ice-time, including PP time, which should allow him to battle for the Calder trophy.

VAN defeats TOR 3-1
Mason Raymond scored 2 goals in 17:42 of ice-time. With Sedin and Demitra out, the Canucks are looking for Raymond to produce. The Grabner-Kesler-Raymond line was dangerous everytime they were on the ice, using blazing speed to cause turnovers and create chances. Take a flyer on Raymond if he's available, as he should be productive in the short-term.

SJ defeats ATL 4-3

With the injury to Ilya Kovalchuk, rookie Evander Kane had a goal and played a season high 19:02. Kane is quietly having a productive rookie year with 5 points in 8 games while averaging 13:53. He is staying in Atlanta and should get better as the season progresses. Activate him in your keeper leagues if Kovalchuk is out for any length of time.

BUF defeats TB 3-2
Ryan Miller continues his impressive start for the Sabres, stopping 24 of 26 shots. Miller is now 6-0-1 with a 1.69 GAA and .940 SV %. He is red hot right now and helping fantasy teams get off to great starts. Miller has always been on the cusp as one of the League's best and this could be the year he dominates. While he won't keep this pace up, he is still a potential Vezina contender and a top #1 fantasy goalie.

DAL defeats STL 4-1
The Neal-Richards-Eriksson line is one of the hottest in the league. They have combined for 15 points in the past 3 games, and seem like the perfect combination of size (Neal), playmaking (Richards) and scoring touch (Eriksson). Grab any of these three right now and hope they can stay healthy and productive all year round.

MIN defeats CAR 3-2
Brent Burns had 2 assists and played 7:44 on the PP. He now has just 4 points in 10 games but is starting to gain his confidence back. Grab Burns off an owner who is frustrated with his "slow" start as Burns could finish the year as a top 15 Dman.

CHI defeats NSH 2-0
Just when everyone is ready to claim Niemi the new Hawk's #1, Huet goes out and shuts out the Preds. Huet made 27 saves and looked very comfortable in the net. He should still get about 60-65% of the starts this year but grab Niemi as a handcuff if you can.

COL defeats DET 3-1

Craig Anderson is the best player in fantasy right now. How odd does that sound? Anderson made 48 saves against the Wings last night...the Detroit Red Wings. He is now 8-1-2 with an outstanding 2.14GAA and .935 SV%. The Avs are playing with a ton of confidence and could keep this run going for another month or two. Anderson's performance should not be a huge surprise as his SV % has been over .924 through the past 3 years with a suspect FLA defence. He'll come back down to earth but he is red hot right now. Ride him if you have him.

LA defeats PHX 5-3
Drew Doughty had 2 assists and played over 10 minutes on the PP...that's right, 10 minutes, double the amount of PP time of any of the Kings' other Dmen. Doughty is breaking out in a big way this year with 9 points already in just 11 games. As far as keeper Dman, he is right behind Mike Green, Dion Phaneuf and Shea Weber. If you can get him off an owner who thinks it's just a hot start, do it now. He won't be affordable starting next season.

CGY defeats EDM 5-2

Everyone knew Rene Bourque was a sleeper but no one thought he was this good. Bourque had a goal and 2 assists in 17:57 last night. He now has 5 goals and 14 points in just 10 games. Sell high on Bourque if you can, he'll slow down and finish with about 60-65 points. While you'll be happy with that production, you may find some owner that think he'll break 85 points. If you do, sell the house.

CLB defeats ANA 6-4
Jakub Voracek is arriving in a big way. He had 2 goals last night and now has 6 points in his past 4 games. Voracek is one of the most talented young players in the game and is beginning to earn the trust of Coach Ken Hitchcock. Like Doughty, try to get Voracek for cheap now as his value will only go up as the season progresses.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 4 Goalie Report


Tim Thomas: After allowing 6 goals against the Ducks and sitting the next two games, he came back and shut out the Stars in Dallas. Posting a very respectable 2.00 GAA and .935 SV% and 1 shut out over the last 7 days gives Thomas a nod on the hot list this week.

Pascal Leclaire: With two starts and two wins later, we are seeing what a healthy Leclair can do in a good week. Allowing just one goal in each of his contests against the Habs and Lightning, and posting a stellar .956 SV%, a healthy Leclaire remains a must start in any fantasy format.

Marc-Andre Fleury: The hottest team and the hottest goalie go hand in hand. Fleury keeps on rolling with strong performances last week, making big saves when he was called upon. Winning both his starts and posting a 1.00 and .957 GAA and SV% respectively makes Fleury the top net minder this week.


Dwayne Roloson: It’s hard to fault anyone playing between the pipes for the Islanders this year. Getting pulled halfway through a game after allowing 4 goals on 12 shots deserves to be on the cold side. Roloson will get a few wins since the Islanders are an improving team, but should suffer in the GAA and SV% categories. Avoid him if you can.

Jonas Hiller: Although he played well in his last outing, stopping 34 of the 37 shots, Hiller struggled by allowing 3 goals on 12 shots. With a 4.26 GAA and .878 SV%, he finished the week with no wins on 2 stars. Look for Hiller to continue to get starts as J.S Giguere is currently out due to injury and Hiller will still get time in net to correct his course.

Carey Price: After allowing 3 goals against the Avalanche on 23 shots and 3 goals against the offensively challenged Senators, Halak got the call to start. He played tremendously allowing just a single goal. Price’s cold week could have triggered a tandem situation in Montreal, keep Price on a short leash for now.

Other mentionables: Craig Anderson and Ilya Bryzgalov continue on the upward rise. They continue to play at a high level each night and are rewarding their owners with amazing stats. Keep riding their streak until they shows signs of faultering.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 4 Rookie Watch

Lets take a look at some of last week's hottest rookies and whether or not you should care.

Jason Demers (D) - SJS
9 GP, 0 G, 7 A, 7 PTS

The 21 year-old is currently tearing up the NHL as the Sharks 6th defenceman. An offensive defenceman from the QMJHL, Demers had no problem adjusting to the AHL as a rookie last year - putting up 33 points in 78 games. Now a rookie in the big show, Demers has already picked up 7 points in 9 games. While fellow rookie Michael Del Zotto has been snapped up in all leagues, Demers is available in most. He has 4 points in his last 2 games, and played 18:16 last night. Most importantly, he's getting time on the talented Sharks Powerplay (5:18 last night).
Fantasy Impact:
Demers is adjusting well for a second straight year and could stick with the Sharks. Pick him up if he's available, his upside on that powerplay is through the roof.

Evander Kane (C) - ATL - 6 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS
Another 2009 draftee, Kane is impressing management in Atlanta. He scored a highlight reel goal against the living legend Marty Brodeur last week and has 3 points in 5 games. Many scouts felt Kane was a lock to make the Thrashers out of camp as he has the ability to be an impact player in all three zones. He is getting just under 14 minutes a game but should see that increase as the season progresses.
Fantasy Impact:
If Kane is still available, he is worth a look. He may be the rookie with the biggest second-half impact.

Ryan O'Reilly (C) - COL - 8 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS
While Matt Duchene is getting all the press in Colorado, it is O'Reilly who may be more NHL ready. A smart, but slow-footed pivot, O'Reilly was drafted in the second round last year, 30 picks after Duchene. O'Reilly is currently centering the third line and averaging over 14 minutes a game. Responsible in both ends, O'Reilly may see his responsibilities increase as the season grows.
Fantasy Impact:
With 5 points in his past 4 games, he could be ready to play a more offensive role with the Avs. Take a flyer on O'Reilly as it looks like he'll stick with the Avs.

Tyler Myers, (D) - BUF - 6 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS
Myers dominated the 2009 World Junior tournament for Canada and many felt he could have stepped right into the Sabres line-up once the tournament was over. The 6'8 rearguard moves like a fleet-fooded 6'1 Dman. His offensive game came a long way while getting huge minutes in Kelowna last season. He has already become a top Dman on the Sabres and they are giving him the opportunity to play in all situations. Myers has 4 points in 6 games while averaging just under 20 minutes a game.
Fantasy Impact:
His offensive production should slow-down a bit, but Myers could put up 25-30 points and 80 PIMs if he can stick with the Sabres all year.

Artem Anisimov, (C) - NYR - 9 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS
One of our favourite rookies this pre-season, Anisimov is struggling to put up points with limited ice-time in the Big Apple. A slow start was expected as he made the squad as their fourth line centre. He has however put up 4 points in 9 games while averaging less then 10 minutes of ice-time a game. Artem should jump up the depth chart once the Rangers experience some key injuries.
Fantasy Impact:
Keep an eye on Anisimov and be prepared to snag him when you hear about Gaborik's groin, Avery's suspension, or another major injury.

Other notables:
Jamie Benn, John Tavares and Michael Del Zotto continue to fight for the rookie scoring lead. Matt Duchene scored his first goal last week and has 4 points in 8 games. Victor Hedman is still getting big minutes on the Lightning D and has 4 points in 7 games. Ville Leino has 3 points in 7 games and needs to step up with Detroit's key injuries.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Writing on the Wall?

Goalie controversies brew at the beginning of each NHL season. This season is no exception as fantasy owners are already wondering who will start each night in Washington and Nashville, but will Chicago be next?

Last year, Head Coach Joel Quenneville had two high priced goalies in Huet and Khabibulin. General consensus was that Khabibulin would get some starts to showcase his talent and hopefully help trigger a trade, but he ended up playing himself into the number one role. He was playing so well that he started every important game for the Hawks at the end of the year. But with the Bulin Wall signing in Edmonton during the off season, it looked like Chicago was moving forward with Huet. Controversy over in Chicago right?

Let’s look a little deeper into a goalie controversy and see if the Coach's history plays a role.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville has been coaching at the NHL level for over a decade and has one Presidents trophy and a Jack Adams award to his credit. He has made the playoffs 8 times in the last 9 years and is respected amongst his colleagues. He also is not shy about riding the hot goalie. Let’s look back at his coaching career and his goaltending starting habits.

St. Louis
97-98 Grant Fuhr 54 starts. Jamie McLennan 26, Others 2
98-99 Grant Fuhr 37 starts, Jamie McLennen 30, Others 15
99-00 Roman Turek 66 starts, Brent Johnson 16, Others 0
00-01 Roman Turek 53 starts, Brent Johnson 29 Others 0
01-02 Brent Johnson 58 starts, Fred Brathwaite 24 Others 0
02-03 Brent Johnson 35 starts, Fred Brathwaite 23, Chris Osgood 9, Others 15
03-04 Chris Osgood 65 starts, Others 17 (Quenneville was fired Feb’04)

Four number one goalies in 7 years hmmmm.

05-06 David Aebischer 42 starts, Peter Budaj 29, Others 11
06-07 Peter Budaj 53 starts, Jose Theodore 29, Others 0
07-08 Jose Theodore 52 starts, Peter Budaj 30, Others 0

Three number one goalies in 3 years hmmmm.

08-09 Nikolai Khabibulin 40 starts, Cristobal Huet 40, Other 2

Now Huet is in his 7th NHL season and playing on his 4th NHL team. Not a great track record for stability. Furthermore, the most starts of his career were 51 in 2007-08 when he split time in Montreal and Washington.

Just seems like the situation in Chicago is ripe for a major goaltending switch. If Huet continues his slow start, look for “results now” coach Quenneville to give Niemi a shot to be the Hawks #1.

Quenneville's history, Huet's slow start and Neimi's impressive play provides all the fuel needed for a future goalie controversy in the Windy City. The only question is; how soon is the future?

Fantasy Spin:
Any starting goaltender for the Hawks should be put at a premium simply because Chicago is such a strong team. Grab Niemi and his 1.73 GAA off your waiver wire and play him every chance you get. If a time share develops in Chicago, you’ll look pretty smart. If he steals the spotlight you’ll look like a genius.


Players to Watch - Week 4

Eric Belanger (C) – Minnesota
Increased responsibility playing on the top 2 lines in Minnesota.

Dustin Penner (RW) – Edmonton
Coach Quinn seems to have found the right mix for him to reach his potential.

Matt Moulson (LW) – NY Islanders
Playing on the top line and getting a lot of opportunities.

Clarke McArthur (LW) – Buffalo
Scoring important goals and playing on the top 2 lines.

Matt Carle (D) – Philadelphia
Paired with Pronger on the powerplay, will get points from the highflying Flyers.

Week 3 Results

Patric Hornqvist (RW) – Nashville – 0G – 2A – 2PTS
Jordan Staal (C) – Pittsburgh – 1G – 0A – 1PTS
Daniel Cleary (LW) – Detroit – 0G – 1A – 1PTS
Ryan Malone (LW) – Tampa – 2G – 0A – 2PTS
Steve Bernier (RW) – Vancouver – 0G – 1A – 1PTS


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 4 Forecaster

This week starts off surprisingly slow, especially coming from an NHL off day on Sunday Oct 18th. Week 4 starts with 3 games on Monday, followed by 6 games on Tuesday and 6 on Wednesday. Fantasy owners shouldn’t put themselves in a frenzy in weekly head-to-head leagues since everyone is in the same boat.

Columbus, Edmonton, L.A, San Jose and Vancouver play 4 games this week. Both the Sharks and the Blue Jackets are on the road for all four games. The Maple Leafs on the other hand, play once during this fantasy week and that is on a very busy Saturday tonight.

Nashville: Neither Rinne nor Ellis looked spectacular in the first three games last week, but we will see who has the upper hand with the Predators playing three road games in four nights.

Fantasy Spin: Upper hand seems to go to Rinne by default. Look for Rinne to get starts on Wed and Sat while Ellis on Thursday.

San Jose: With east coast tilts against the Rangers, Lightning, Thrashers and Flyers on the schedule this week, look for Thornton and company to post some pretty solid numbers.

Fantasy Spin: Look for back up Thomas Greiss to get the start against Atlanta on Saturday giving Nabokov his first rest of the season.

Los Angeles: The Kings look to have the easiest schedule of the week, but it might end up being a tough one. The week starts with home and home tilts against an improved Stars squad, followed by a tilt with Phoenix (who already beat them 6-3 earlier this year) and then flying to Columbus to play the next day.

Fantasy Spin: Kopitar and company started off strong, but have lost the last two. Play them, but don’t expect great numbers from the Kings this week.

Toronto: The Leafs play their lone game Saturday night in Vancouver. They should have plenty of time to prepare physically and mentally to try and get their first win of the season.

Fantasy Spin: The only real Leaf name that is worth something right now is Ponikarovsky(4pts in 6 games with a +4) and even he needs to be benched on any fantasy squad this week.

Washington: A slow week for the Capitals with two away games in Atlanta and Long Island, but that shouldn’t stop AO from keeping his 2 points a game pace.

Fantasy Spin: While Backstrom, Ovechkin, Semin and Green should put up decent numbers, the bigger story is in net for the Capitals. Varlamov will likely start both games and has a chance to distance himself from Theodore who is nursing a sore back. While no goalie controversy is ever cleared up in the first month or so, this may be Varlamov's last chance to put in his claim as the front runner.

Chicago: After 4 games last week, the Hawks play only two this week. Sharp is leading the pack in scoring, but Toews and Campbell have picked it up the last couple of games. With the 2 games spread out on Wednesday and Saturday, Huet “should” get both starts.

Fantasy spin: If Huet and Niemi split time this week, there is an unofficial goalie controversy in the windy city.

Edmonton: The Oilers play 4 times this week starting with two on the road against Vancouver and Columbus, then finishing up with two at home against Calgary and Vancouver.

Fantasy spin: The Bulin wall will get 3 starts and should post better than decent numbers this week. Edmonton's offence seems to be scoring by committee this year so no one jumps out for leagues that allow weekly roster changes. Opt for quality over quantity in this case.


Just Fantasy Hockey - Saturday Night Round-Up

A few fantasy-worthy notes from ALL of last night's games.

PIT defeats TB 4-1
PIT: Alex Goligoski got his 6th point of the season last night. He played over 6 minutes on the powerplay and almost 21 minutes overall. Bylsma loved Alex while coaching Wilkes-Barres last season and Alex is quickly establishing himself as the Pens #2 Dman - averaging 21:03 a game. If he is still sitting on your league's Free Agent wire, snap him up or look to buy him off a GM that wants to maximize value from a hot start. This kid is legit.
TB: Steven Stamkos scored his 4th of the year. With 8 points in 7 games, Stamkos is becoming a must-start centre who could finish with 75 points.

ATL defeats BUF 4-2
ATL: Rich Peverly picked up another assist and now has 7 points in 5 games. A point-per-game player with the Thrashers last season, Peverly looks to be the real deal and could be an effective #2 fantasy center. He also won 13 of 15 faceoffs for those in roto leagues.
BUF: Drew Stafford had a goal and 5 shots. He now has a point in each of the three games since Vanek went down. Stafford started slow but is the Sabres flashiest winger sans Vanek. He'll get plenty of opportunity to produce over the next month.

COL defeats DET 4-3
COL: Rookie Matt Duchene scored his first of the year in over 18 minutes of ice-time. Tough guy Cody McLeod scored his 2nd and 3rd goals of the year in over 14 minutes of ice-time. McLeod scored 15 goals last year wile putting up 162 PIMS. He could be a great pick-up in leagues that reward PIMS.
DET: With all the injuries, both Valtteri Filppula and Ville Leino are taking advantage of more ice-time. Filppula scored a goal in over 21 minutes last night while Leino assisted and played almost 19 minutes for the second straight game - a big spike from his previous high of 13:47. As long as Datsyuk and Franzen are out, Babcock will rely heavily on these two. Their production should spike.

OTT defeats MTL 3-1
OTT: Mike Fisher had 2 assists and 10 FOW in over 20 minutes of ice-time. He now has 6 points in 7 games and looks to be breaking through as a #2 centre now that Ottawa has surrounded him with 2nd line talent. Grab him off the FA wire if he is still there.
MTL: Cammalleri finally got his 1st of the season while putting 5 shots on goal. Head Coach Jacques Martin is leaning heavily on the top line of Gomez & Cammo as they each had over 4 minutes of PP time. Carey Price continues to struggle, letting in 3 goals on just 21 shots.

NJ defeats CAR 2-0
NJ: Martin Brodeur gets his first shut-out of the season and is rounding into form after a shaky start. Zach Parise had a goal and an assist and is back to his point-per-game pace.
CAR: Cam Ward stood on his head in this game but didn't get any support. Eric Staal is still battling through injuries and was a minus 2 in 19 minutes of ice-time. He has just 2 goals in 7 games and hasn't looked at all like his dangerous self.

SJ defeats NYI 4-1
SJ: With Joe Pavelski out, Patrick Marleau is excelling back at his natural Centre position. Playing over 21 minutes last night, he scored his 6th goal of the season and seems more focused on just playing hockey after being stripped of the C this summer. Marleau is an excellent #2 fantasy centre right now and could even be a #1 if he can keep up his current level of play.
NYI: Matt Moulson is proving that he can be a player in this league. Flanking star rookie John Tavares, Moulson netted his 4th goal of the season, and 3rd in as many games. The big winger has some skill and is getting to play big minutes, in all situations, with the young Islanders team. As long as he keeps putting the puck in the net on the top line, Moulson belongs on your fantasy squad.

NYR defeat Toronto 4-1
NYR: With a goal in over 18 minutes last night, rookie Michael Del Zotto continues to impress on the Ranger's powerplay. He is only averaging 15 minutes of ice-time a game but is still getting top PP time. Del Zotto could have a Cam Barker type of impact this year but dont expect this point-per-game pace to continue. He will slow down and will probably see a few healthy scratches before the year is up.
TOR: Not much to like in Toronto right now from a fantasy prospective. Rookie Viktor Stalberg played 4:33 of the PP last night but failed to register a point for the 4th straight game. He'll finish with decent rookie numbers but those that bit on his pre-season points are scrambling to move him.

WSH defeats NSH 3-2
WSH: Now playing with AO, Mike Knuble had 2 assists in over 17 minutes. He now has 7 points in 8 games (6 in his last 3) and is a great compliment to Ovechkin. Knuble could challenge his career numbers of 65 points if he can stick on the top line.
NSH: Patric Hornqvist had another assist and played 3:32 on the PP. That's 3:25 more PP time then JP Dumont received. It's clear that Barry Trotz trusts Hornqvist to be a point producer on this team and he should get his opportunities all year long. Grab him off the FA wire if he is still there.

CLB defeats LA 4-1
CLB: Jakub Voracek scored his 1st of the year. The talented second year player is struggling to find consistency in his game. Averaging just over 14 minutes of ice-time a game, Voracek is getting lots of PP time but is not yet trusted in all situations. Coach Ken Hitchcock likes to ease in his young players until they can be effective in all three zones. Voracek owners need to be patient as it will take him some time to produce at the level he is capable of.
LA: Ryan Smyth had an assist in 19:20 of ice-time. With 10 points in 8 games, Smyth is a great sell-high candidate right now. His style and leadership is becoming quite valuable to a young Kings team, but it is that same style that always gets Smyth on the IR. His time will come so you should sell him to an optimistic owner that thinks Smyth is going to have a career year at age 33.

DAL defeats CHI 4-3
DAL: Rookie Jamie Benn had another assist and played almost 5 minutes on the Stars' PP - most of any Stars' forward. Benn has 6 points in 7 games, but only one goal for the former 56 goal scorer in the WHL. Benn will start putting some pucks in soon and should be grabbed in any league. He will challenge Tavares for the rookie scoring title.
CHI: Jonathan Toews finally notched his 1st of the year. Toews played just 18:36 last night and 2:56 on the Powerplay. Compare that to second line centre Dave Bolland's 22:36 and 4:11 on the PP and you see that Coach Joel Quenneville is losing some patience with Toews. Toews is a great buy-low candidate but manage your expectations. He is not a 90 point player yet and may struggle to hit 75 this season.

PHX defeats BOS 4-1
PHX: Keith Yandle had his first 2 points of the year in 19:35 on the ice. Yandle is a talented young Dman that many predicted would have a breakout season. Coach Dave Tippet wanted Yandle to focus on being a more complete Dman and Yandle has responded. His ice-time has increased to about 19 minutes a game and he is now playing in all situations. Yandle is currently on the 2nd PP unit but could quickly oust Adrian Aucoin if his play continues to progress. If an owner gave up on the talented reaguard, grab him now.
BOS: David Krejci played a season-low 14:09 last night but notched his 3rd point of the year. Krejci missed all of training camp after off-season surgery and is still adjusting to the pace of regular season play. With just 3 assists in 7 games, you may be able to grab Krejci off an owner who is ready to bail on him. Krejci is one of the leagues' talented young pivots and should finish near 65 points.

VAN defeats MIN 2-1
VAN: Roberto Luongo looked sharp last night with 17 saves. The only goal he allowed was re-directed by teammate Kyle Wellwood. Luongo has struggled early this season but wants to backstop Canada at the Olympics. Look for one of those dominating Bobby-Luo stretches very shortly.
MIN: In the other net, Niklas Backstrom made 37 saves and was the only reason this was a close game. Backstrom is one of the top goalies in the game but just doesn't get the offensive support. If your league counts GAA and SV %, see if you can buy him cheap off a disappointed owner.

STL defeats ANA 5-0
STL: Erik Johnson had 3 assists last night and now has 6 in 6 games. Johnson missed all of last year after a freak golf cart injury. That allowed him to drop in many drafts, but the youngster is only 21 and already a complete Dman. He should flirt with 50 points this year and will be a top 10 drafted Dman starting next year. Get him now, if you can.
ANA: Jonas Hiller was pulled last night after giving up 3 goals on 12 shots. Call it a rough outing as Hiller has played very well this year, making at least 32 saves in each of his prior starts. Don't let last night fool you, Hiller is still the number one in Anaheim and will continue to get more starts then JS Giguere.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 3 Goalie Report


Jonas Hiller - ANA - His play continues to warrant him starting in Anaheim over counterpart J.S.G. In three games last week he had 3 wins, and an outstanding GAA and SV% of 1.63 and .951 respectively. Look for him to continue his hot start.

Ilya Bryzgalov - PHO - After allowing one goal on 18 shots he faced in his first start of the week he followed that by shutting out the high powered offence of the Sharks in San Jose. He currently has a spectacular GAA of 0.48 and SV% of .977, however don't expect him to be able to maintain these numbers.

Ryan Miller - BUF - In three games he had 3 wins, one shut out, 71 saves, a GAA of 1.00 and a SV% of .959. Although he doesn’t have the most consistent team in front of him, Miller is a top NHL goaltender and remains the Sabres top guy. Ride him while he is white hot.


Tim Thomas - BOS - Allowing 6 goals and a SV% of .800, Thomas makes the cold list. Although playing just 1 game so far, as the reigning Vezina trophy winner he should be expected to put up better numbers.

Cristobal Huet - CHI - Lost his starting job to the Bulin wall last year and things aren’t going so well this year. Huet got pulled after allowing 3 goals in the first 7 minutes against Calgary and then was benched against Edmonton in favour of Niemi. This could be just the warning signal being sent from coach Quenneville or just a planned start in a busy week for the Hawks, but whatever the case Huet didn’t cut it this week.

Vesa Toskala - TOR - Not that I like kicking a man when he’s down, but perhaps some time on the IR is just what he needed after a horrendous week. With 12 goals in two starts with a SV% at .818 he deserves to be anywhere but your starting line up.

Other Mentionables: Jonathan Quick, Craig Anderson and Evgeni Nabokov are must starts in all formats. They have winning records and are carrying their teams currently. Roberto Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff are struggling to keep their teams afloat and get wins.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 3 Rookie Watch

Artem Anisimov (C) – NYR
6 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS
The talented Russian centerman is playing a mere 10 minutes a night but has managed to score 4 points in 6 games. The 21 year old averaged a point per game in the AHL and is looking to climb up the depth charts on Broadway.

Victor Hedman – (D) – TAM – 5 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 PTS
The second overall draft choice is making a huge impact with the Lightning. With 4 points in 5 games, Hedman is averaging over 25 minutes a game and plays in every situation. He has 14 shots and a +2 rating and has shown veteran poise as a rookie.

Jamie Benn – (LW) – DAL – 4 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS
Benn has made an impression with Coach Crawford and is averaging 16 minutes of ice-time a game. Benn had 82 points in 56 games in the WHL and has a tendency to score goals, something the Stars need.

Evander Kane (C) – ATL – 3 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS
It appears that Kane is on his way to playing with the Thrashers on a full-time basis. With the early struggles of Antropov and Todd White, Kane may find his way onto the top line sooner rather than later. If he can make a connection with Kovalchuk he may just win rookie the Calder trophy.

Tyler Myers (D) – BUF – 4 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 PTS
The 6’8”, 222 lbs d-man possesses a reach that keeps attackers at to the outside. An all-round defenceman, Myers has an offensive flair to him. With 42 points in 58 games in the WHL, Myers has seen time on the powerplay already.

Other mentionables: John Tavares and Michael Del Zotto continue to lead the rookie scoring race with 5 points. Erik Karlsson is struggling in Ottawa and may get sent down very soon. Peter Regin continues to produce in Ottawa, a team that is finding it difficult to score.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Players to Watch - Week 3

Patric Hornqvist (RW) – Nashville
Has 4 points in 3 games and playing on the top 2 lines.

Jordan Staal (C) – Pittsburgh
Playing with Malkin helps his fantasy value.

Daniel Cleary (LW) – Detroit
Moving to the top line with the Franzen injury.

Ryan Malone (LW) - Tampa
Coming off a hat-trick against Carolina, playing top 6 minutes.

Steve Bernier (RW) – Vancouver
With D Sedin out, he will get a chance to play on the top line.

Week 2 Results

James Neal (LW) – Dallas - 1G – 1A – 2PTS

Dustin Byfuglien (RW) – Chicago - 0G – 0A – 0PTS

Yannick Weber (D) – Montreal - 0G – 0A – 0PTS

David Moss (LW) – Calgary - 0G – 0A – 0PTS

Mike Comrie (C) – Edmonton - 2G – 1A – 3PTS


Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 3 Forecaster

Those you playing in league where you can adjust your roster only once pay attention to the week ahead. Chicago, Colorado, Nashville and Los Angeles play four times this week with Chicago having the most favourable schedule. This is important to note since there are no games Sunday October 18th. So those 4 teams will be playing 4 games in 6 days.
Fantasy spin: Chicago, Colorado and Los Angeles’ back ups should play the second half of back to back games while Rinne and Ellis should split the duties in Nashville.

The Flyers have an extremely light schedule with one game and that being on Friday.
Fantasy spin: For leagues which enter their rosters weekly rather than daily, you might want to consider sitting your Philly players even though it’s against a much weaker Panthers squad with Richards and Carter being the only exception.

The Rangers appear to have an easy schedule for the week ahead. Two games against the hapless Leafs and a meeting with the Kings.
Fantasy spin: Gaborik and company have the change to put up some big numbers in the week ahead. Lundqvist might get the nod twice this week and post above average stats.

The Capitals get ready for some home cooking this week. Three games against the Devils, Sharks and Preds.
Fantasy spin: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green should continue to put up big numbers so don’t hesitate to slot them in your roster. It should be interesting to see whether Varlamov or Theodore plays more between the pipes for the Caps.

Nashville splits their four games with alternating home and away games against the Oilers, Stars, Hawks and Caps. The big story out of Music City is who will be starting in net. Ellis had a strong pre-season and has started the first two games. After having his starting job taken from him last year by Rinne, Ellis should get his chance this week to play himself back into the spotlight.
Fantasy spin: Those who have daily roster changes should expect an alternating rotation of goalies. With four games in six nights fantasy owners should see who has the upper edge this season for the number one goalie. Look for an even split with whoever starts against the Oilers at home to also face the Hawks.

The Hawks as previously mentioned have the easiest schedule of all the teams playing 4 games this week. Home games against the Flames, Oilers and Stars and a mid week tilt against the Preds at home.
Fantasy spin: Look for Niemi to start one of the back to back games giving Huet a rest. Play your Hawks with confidence including Byfuglien, Bolland and Versteeg in deeper leagues.


Just Fantasy Hockey - Saturday Night Round-Up

With Saturday seeing the majority of action in the NHL, each Sunday JFH will take a look at each game and how it may have impacted your fantasy pool.

Washington vs Detroit
J Theodore (WAS) stopped 34 shots and looks to be in the lead as the number 1 goalie.
D Cleary (DET) played over 18 minutes, had 5 shots and 1 assist. Pick him up on your waiver wire.

New Jersey vs Florida
T Zajac (NJD) has 5 points in 4 games and playing more than 20 minutes a game. Good option for a depth center.
D Clarkson (NJD) has 4 points in 4 games and 6 PIMs. He is a good depth guy in a roto league.
T Vokoun (FLA) stopped 38 shots and was stellar but will struggle to put up decent numbers.

NY Islanders vs Boston
J Tavares (NYI) had 1 goal, 1 assist and 4 shots. With 5 points in 3 games, it’s a great start to the season.
M Hunwick (BOS) scored 1 goal and 1 assist and should be considered as a depth defenceman.
D Krejci (BOS) has 0 points in 4 games. Boston is struggling to find chemistry right now.

Anaheim vs Philadelphia
T Selanne (ANA) scored both Anaheim goals, now has 4 goals in 4 games. He can still snipe.
J Hiller (ANA) stopped 36 shots and looked solid. He still should tandem with Giggy for now.
M Carle (PHI) has 8 points in 4 games and plays on the PP with Pronger, grab him now.
C Giroux (PHI) moved from 3rd line center to playing right wing with Richards and Gagne. Expect more production from him.

Atlanta vs Ottawa
B Little (ATL) as 4 points in 3 games and is the only other Thrasher that is contributing other than Kovalchuk.
M Fisher (OTT) has 4 points and 7 PIMs in 4 games and is finally adding secondary scoring. Keep an eye on him.
A Picard (OTT) has 3 points, 4 PIMs and is +4 in 4 games. He is the only Senator d-man contributing on the score sheet.

Pittsburgh vs Toronto
S Crosby, E Malkin and S Gonchar (PIT) are Leaf killers. They combined for 7 points.
J Staal (PIT) played with wing with Malkin for some shifts. His value could increase slightly if this becomes a regular thing.
V Toskala (TOR) takes another loss and has horrible numbers. He has no fantasy value at this time.

Carolina vs Tampa Bay
C Ward (CAR) had 34 saves in the loss as Carolina struggles to score goals.
J Jokinen (CAR) has 5 points in 5 games. He has limited value and should only be considered in deep leagues.
R Malone (TAM) scored a hat-trick and should only be considered a depth player if available.
P Ranger (TAM) had a goal and an assist. He has offensive tendencies and may help in deeper leagues.

Buffalo vs Nashville
R Miller (BUF) stopped all 25 shots for his first shut-out. He looked extremely sharp.
T Myers (BUF) spent time on the PP and should be the quarter-back before too long. Keep an eye on him if he is available.
P Rinne (NAS) stopped 41 shots and held the Sabres to 1 goal. Look for him to start again soon.

Los Angeles vs St. Louis
J Quick (LAK) stopped 29 shots and is the Kings number 1 goalie. He has a 3-1 record and if he is available should be picked up.
R. Smyth (LAK) and A. Kopitar continue to make a potent scoring tandem. They could have career seasons.
B Boyes (STL) had 8 shots on net but was held off the scoresheet. Keep playing your Blues as they are bound to break-out sooner rather than later.

Colorado vs Chicago
C Anderson (COL) continues to carry the Aves and is making superb saves. If your league rewards GAA and Save %, grad him if he is available.
W Wolski (COL) and K Quincey have 5 points in 4 games. They are deadly on the powerplay and should not be available in any league.
K Versteeg (CHI) now has 6 points in 4 games. He is getting top PP time and playing on the top 2 lines.
C Huet (CHI) continues to struggle, look for Niemi to get a start soon.

Columbus vs Phoenix
M Garon (CLB) gets the shut-out in his first start. He will not displace Mason as the number 1 guy, no worries.
R Klesla (CLB) has 4 points in 4 games and 8 PIMs. Look at him as a depth defenceman in deeper leagues.
R Vrbata (PHO) has 4 points in 4 games and had 5 shots on goal. Keep an eye on him or take a flyer if he is available.

Montreal vs Edmonton
C Price (MON) falls to a 2-2 record and hasn’t played well on the Western roadtrip. Look for Halak to get the call in goal soon.
B Gionta (MON), S Gomez and M Cammalleri continue to produce for the Habs. Other Canadiens are struggling to produce.
M Comrie (EDM) has 4 points in 4 games and is playing the second line center role. Keep an eye on him in deeper leagues.

Minnesota vs San Jose
A Brunette (MIN) and E Belanger both have 5 points in 4 games. They are quietly producing as top 6 players.
J Demers (SJS) is playing as the 6th defenceman and has 3 points in 5 games. Keep an eye on him at this point only.
P Marleau (SJS) has 5 goals and 1 assist in 5 games. He looks rejuvenated and must be started in all leagues.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Does Becoming a UFA Equal a Career Year?

There is a myth out there that professional athletes bring their “A” game in their contract year. Somehow they push that little bit more when there is money to be made. Taking a look at the UFA list for 2010 there are some big names (see below for the list).

So, the million dollar question (or multi-million dollar question) is:

Should you expect more from a player in their contract year?

First we should look at the UFA list from 2009 and see how they fared over their past two seasons:

Player – Age – 07/08 GP – PTS – 08/09 GP - PTS
Sundin - 38 - 74 - 78 - 41 - 28
Kovalev - 36 - 82 - 84 - 78 - 65
Spacek - 35 - 60 - 32 - 80 - 45
Sullivan - 34 - 57 - 60 - 41 - 32
Koivu - 34 - 77 - 56 - 65 - 50
Ohlund - 32 - 53 - 24 - 82 - 25
M. Samuelsson - 32 - 81 - 40 - 73 - 40
McDonald - 31 - 82 - 52 - 46 - 44
M. Hossa - 30 - 72 - 66 - 74 - 71
Gionta - 30 - 82 - 53 - 81 - 60
Cole - 30 - 73 - 51 - 80 - 42
Tanguay - 29 - 78 - 58 - 50 - 41
Franzen - 29 - 72 - 38 - 71 - 59
Antropov - 29 - 72 - 56 - 81 - 59
Zetterberg - 28 - 75 - 92 - 77 - 73
Havlat - 28 - 35 - 27 - 81 - 77
D. Sedin - 28 - 82 - 74 - 82 - 82
Connolly - 28 - 48 - 40 - 48 - 47
H. Sedin - 27 - 82 - 76 - 82 - 82
Gaborik - 27 - 77 - 83 - 17 - 23
Cammalleri - 27 - 63 - 47 - 81 - 82
Bouwmeester - 25 - 82 - 37 - 82 - 42

There is a definite pattern. Players over 32 had arguably better years a year before their contract year. Age certainly could be a contributing factor in the decline in productivity, however the fact they were in a contract year and didn’t even sustain their previous years levels proves the contract year hype is a hoax.

While no player under 32 had a huge spike in their numbers compared to the previous year, they as a group had better seasons then the year before. Zetterberg was the only glaring exception where his point total went substantially down, which I believe was an anomaly.

Below is a list of 2010’s high-profile UFAs, including their age:

Lidstrom (39), Ray Whitney (37), S. Neidermayer (36), Gonchar (35), Kariya (34), Nabakov (34), Turco (34), Demitra (34), Savard (32), Marleau (30), Jokinen (30), Tanguay (29), Ponikarovsky (29), Frolov (27), Plekenac (26) and Kovalchuk (26).

Fantasy impact:

Again look for the trend to continue. Players under 32 should improve on the previous years totals. As for players over 32, you shouldn’t be hoping for any special simply because they are in a contract year.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Montreal Signs Marc-Andre Bergeron

The Montreal Canadiens have signed defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron to a 1year contract.

With the injuries to Markov and O’Byrne, GM Bob Gainey needed to make a move to solidify the Habs blueline. By bringing in Bergeron, the Canadiens acquire a 28 year old with a booming slapslot that will help mostly on the powerplay.

Bergeron will require some conditioning in the AHL before he can contribute in any manner. He is worth a waiver pick-up in deeper leagues as he should take Markov’s time on the powerplay until he gets back from injury.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 2 Rookie Watch

Rookies play an integral part in any pool as well as the NHL. Some players are no brianers to produce in their first year of play, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but some take a while to get their feet wet and make an impact.

Each season fantasy owners take a stab at drafting a rookie that could help their team immediately or in the near future. Every Tuesday at Just Fantasy Hockey we will have our weekly Rookie Watch segment where we will breakdown the top rookies around the league and how they could impact your team.

Michael Del Zotto (D) – NYR – 3GP, 2G, 1A, 3PTS

Del Zotto is anchoring the Rangers powerplay at this point and should help your fantasy team in the short term. If he is available, pick him up.

James Van Riemsdyk (LW) – PHI – 2GP, 0G, 3A, 3 PTS

JVR is ready for the NHL and is primed to make an impact in his first year. He should be able to fill a depth role on your team and make a run for the Calder Trophy.

John Tavares (C) – NYI – 1GP, 1G, 1A, 2PTS

The number one pick made an impact in his first game. Facing Crosby and Malkin in your first game and walking away with an shootout loss is a big accomplishment. He should be taken in all drafts.

Matt Gilroy (D) - NYR – 3 GP, 1G, 0A, 1PTS

At 25, Gilroy has the poise of a veteran but is lacking the experience. Logging 18:09 minutes of ice-time a game, Gilroy will take time to develop into a fantasy option.

Nikita Filatov (LW) – CLB – 2 GP, 1G, 0A, 1PTS

Filatov is looking to make an impact and impress coach Hitchcock in his first season. With one goal in 2 games and logging a mere 8:29 minutes of ice-time a game, owners of Filatov should take the wait and see approach when dressing him.

Other mentionables: Benn Ferriero is playing on the top 2 lines in San Jose, Evander Kane assisted in his first game in Atlanta playing on the third line, Victor Hedman has one point and logged 26:27 minutes in his first NHL game.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Florida Signs Dominic Moore

The Florida Panthers have signed Dominic Moore to a 1 year contract.

With the lack of offensive depth in their line-up, the Panthers have signed Moore who is able to help out at both ends of the rink and add some veteran experience to the team. Splitting time between Toronto and Buffalo last season, Moore had a career year in the points department. With 44 in 81 games, Moore established himself as a dependable player that could play as the second or third line center role.

In Florida, Moore should easily step into the third line role. He has little to no value as a fantasy player but may be an option in a deeper roto league that offers categories such as face-offs.


Players to Watch - Week 2

Each week we will be highlighting a few players to keep an eye on during the scoring week. These players may be available via your waiver wire or available for a low price through a trade.

James Neal (LW) – Dallas
The talented winger scored 2 goals in his first game.

Dustin Byfuglien (RW) – Chicago
With Hossa injured, he has risen up the depth chart already.

Yannick Weber (D) – Montreal
The offensive d-man gets the call-up already.

David Moss (LW) – Calgary
Lining-up on the top line increases his value.

Mike Comrie (C) – Edmonton
Second line center on a motivated, youthful team.


Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 2 Forecaster

For leagues which allow weekly roster moves it’s important to maximize each roster spot. With every team playing on Saturday followed by a rest day, there are higher amount of teams only playing 2 games this week. Colorado, Detroit, Boston, Nashville, Chicago, Buffalo, Florida, Toronto, St. Louis, New York Islanders and Atlanta players will only see ice twice. Conversely, Anaheim will suit up 4 times next week. So take that into consideration when making your roster moves for the week.
Key Match ups

October 6th

Washington at Philadelphia

The two Eastern conference powerhouses meet up for the first time and will be an early test for both undefeated teams. Emery has a hold on the starting job in Philly but will have the first real test since returning to the NHL; where as in Washington, Theodore and Varlamov have split the first two games this year. Look for Theodore to get the start as his solid game against the Bruins has increased his value. Regardless of who wins this affair, it should be a high-scoring game.

October 7th

Montreal at Vancouver

Montreal is coming off two overtime wins in week 1 against Toronto and Buffalo while Vancouver remains winless in its’ first two games. Montreal overhauled practically their entire team in the off-season, while Vancouver locked up their three most important assets to long term contracts. With Montreal’s infirmary filling up with blue-liners, the Canadiens will continue to look at Carey Price to carry the load. Outshot in their previous two contests, Price looks rejuvenated and primed for a good season. Luongo on the other hand has not looked solid in his first two starts and will be looking to rebound against the Habs. Expect a tight, low scoring hockey game.

October 8th

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia

Emery owners should know that what they really own after Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Crosby and Malkin visit this week. These two Atlantic division foes have no love loss between them and should end up finishing 1-2 this year in their division. Pittsburgh won four of the six games last year, one by shoot out, another by an overtime win. This is the ultimate test for Philadelphia, as the basis of the Chris Pronger trade was to help them contend with the likes of Pittsburgh and Washington. This will be a hard fought game one of a division series that should turn into a war by the end.

Chicago at Detroit
Both of these teams are returning from their respectful trips to Europe. The Black Hawks are in the Motor City for the first time since their defeat in the Western Conference Finals. An injured Marion Hossa removes some of the intrigue to this game, while Patrick Kane remains eager to continue his early scoring ways. A winless Detroit should be nothing to worry about, for now. Struggling to get their offense going in Europe, the Wings should come alive on their home ice. With both teams having question marks in goal, this should be an offensive showdown...start all your Hawks and Wings.

October 10th

Washington at Detroit

There is a real possibility of Detroit starting the season winless in their first four games. The big question, however, is who will be starting in goal for the Red Wings. Chris Osgood remains the number one goaltender in Detroit as Jimmy Howard’s play in Sweden was less than average. Coach Babcock was critical of Howards play during the pre-season. Look for Howard to split time with Osgood but be on a very short leash. Talented rookie Ville Leino continues to impress with limited amounts of ice-time. Look for his ice-time to increase in the weeks ahead if he keeps on producing.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

NHL New aand Notes - October 3

Now that the Stanley Cup banner has been raised and Canadian icon Joe Sakic has his number retired in the Pepsi Center in Colorado, we can concentrate on what has already transpired in the first 2 days of hockey.

Andrei Markov (D) – MON – A lacerated tendon has sidelined the All-star defenceman for 3-4 months. Markov came into contact with Carey Price’s skate and immediately limped off the ice. This is a devastating injury for the Canadiens and will be in tough to replace the leadership and points from Markov. Look for Spacek and Hamrlik to get added powerplay time. The Habs have also called up young offensive d-man Yannick Weber. Put a claim in on him as he will get plenty of PP time.

Craig Anderson (G) – COL – The new number one in Colorado came up big on Joe Sakic night. Stopping 38 out of 40 shots, Anderson looked unstoppable as the game wore on. If Anderson is available in your league take a long look at him. He will get a lot of shots each night and will have to be at the top of his game to get wins on the young Avalanche team.

Brooks Laich (C) – WAS – Scoring 2 points and 1 assist and lining up with the top gunners (AO and Backstrom) on the powerplay, Laich seized his opportunity. If he is available in you league, snatch him up on the waiver wire. He may not always play on the top line, but he will provide enough offense to garner a spot on your bench as a depth player.

Tomas Vokoun (G) – FLA – The veteran goalie was the catalyst for the Panthers as he saw 55 shots on goal and stopped 52 of them. A talented goaltender, Vokoun is the undeniable number one guy in Florida. He will see a lot of shots this season and will either be the hero or the goat. See if there are other goaltending options in your league as Vokoun should lose more than he wins.

Ray Emery (G) – PHI – His first full season game back in the league since he bolted for Russia. In what appeared to be an easy game for the Flyers, Emery stopped all 27 shots. The Flyers are hoping for Emery to be a stable and consistent goaltender this year and their success rests on it.

Brandon Dubinsky (C) – NYR – The newly re-signed centerman has some veteran wingers to help elevate his game. Lining up with Gaborik and Prospal, Dubinsky is the top center in New York and should get points playing with Gabby. If he is available in your league grab him on the waiver wire and hold onto hi until Gaborik gets hurt.