Fantasy Hockey: Eastern Conference Scene

Fantasy Hockey: Eastern Conference Scene

Written by Frank Mazzola, Rotoexperts.com Staff Writer

October 23, 2008

Frank Mazzola takes a look at the NHL’s Eastern Conference and keeps you up to date on the latest developments.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

New Jersey Devils

Between the lines

Patrik Elias (LW, NJ) is hot right now, recording four points in his first five games. If he can stay healthy (always a concern with him; he hasn’t played a full slate of games since the 2003-04 season), he will be a very undervalued source of points for you. Grab him if he’s available in your league.

David Clarkson (RW, NJ) only has seven penalty minutes for the season, which is a shock considering he was expected to be extremely active in that area. Hold onto him for now, but understand that you may need to look elsewhere for “sin bin” needs.

Notable injuries

Brian Rolston (C/LW, NJ) – High ankle sprain, return uncertain

Bobby Holik (C, NJ) – Broken finger, out three to four weeks

Watch list

Travis Zajac (C, NJ) will likely benefit the most from Holik’s absence and should see increased ice time for the foreseeable future. The opportunity should manifest itself in a healthy uptick points-wise, so grab him if you can.

New York Islanders

Between the lines

Bill Guerin (RW, NYI) leads the team with 16 shots on goal. Look for Captain Billy to keep shooting at his current pace. He is taking on a much bigger load in his attempt to provide New York with more offense.

Bruno Gervais (D, NYI) has three assists through five games this season. The club is counting on him to assume a larger role in the wake of the numerous injuries to defensemen. While he’s not roster-worthy just yet, keep an eye on him as possible D depth to your squad.

Notable injuries

Radek Martinek (D, NYI) – Upper body injury, out three to five weeks.

Watch list

Frans Nielsen (C, NYI) has seen an increase in his time on the power play, a trend that should continue until Mike Sillinger (C, NYI) returns from injury. Don’t add him yet, but watch Nielsen to see if he can continue his growth pattern.

New York Rangers

Between the lines

Scott Gomez (C, NYR) is red hot, recording eight points in his first nine games. Try to trade for him now rather than later; he is going to be productive the entire season. By January, you won’t be able to pry him away from his owner for all of the gold in Fort Knox.

Markus Naslund (LW, NYR) is starting to get comfortable with his new team, which will only bring good things in terms of fantasy statistics. He’s available in a surprising number of leagues. You’ll kick yourself later if you don’t nab him.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Daniel Girardi (D, NYR) is playing a bigger role for the Blueshirts, and the results have been noticeable. He has five points thus far; three of which have come on the power play. He’s widely available and should be an immediate add for depth to your fantasy team.

Philadelphia Flyers

Between the lines

Simon Gagne (LW, PHI) is most definitely back after his lost season last year. He’s producing at a point-a-game level, and you can expect that to continue. He’s probably not available on your waiver wire (unless you play in a league that is devoid of intelligence), but do whatever it takes to get him on your roster.

Antero Niittymaki (G, PHI) has been better than Martin Biron (G, PHI), but that’s not saying much. His .907 save percentage and 2.84 Goals Against Average means that neither Flyer netminder is worth owning right now. If you are really pressed for goalie help, you could gamble that Niittymaki might produce better results in the near future.

Notable injuries

None

Watch List

Mike Knuble (RW, PHI) is now playing on the first line, because Mike Richards (C, PHI) was moved to the second line. To make room for him, Daniel Briere (C, PHI) will move over to center from right wing. Got all that? Good, because it means that you should make obtaining him a priority.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Between the lines

Dany Sabourin (G, PIT) notched a shutout in his only appearance this season. His strong play could enable the Penguins to trust him more, allowing starter Marc-Andre Fleury (G, PIT) to take off more games. Sabourin is a fine young goalie (not to be confused with Fine Young Cannibal) and should be an automatic handcuff for Fleury owners.

Miroslav Satan (RW, PIT) is proving to be a wise free agent acquisition for Pittsburgh, notching six points in his first seven games. He’s comfortable being a secondary scorer, so there’s no reason that the success shouldn’t linger.

Notable injuries

Sergei Gonchar (D, PIT) – shoulder surgery, return uncertain

Watch list:

Kris Letang (D, PIT) has three assists on the year so far and is seeing increased ice time with all the injuries to the Pittsburgh blueline. He would make a fine depth player for your squad.

NORTHEAST DIVISION

Boston Bruins

Between the lines

Marc Savard (C, BOS) is once again one of the top centers in fantasy hockey and should be pursued at all costs. Savard trivia: I have never failed to win the league championship in any of the four years I’ve had him on my team. Food for thought.

Milan Lucic (LW, BOS) is continuing his enforcer role for the Bruins, leading the team with 16 penalty minutes. Grab him if you’re in the market for a goon.

Notable injuries

Chuck Kobasew (RW, BOS) – ankle, out two weeks

Watch list

David Krejci (C, BOS) is a developing sleeper candidate for this season. Stash him now and you’ll look smart later when he’s producing at a level many didn’t see coming.

Buffalo Sabres

Between the lines

Ales Kotalik (RW, BUF) is off to a scorching start, recording seven points in his first six games. Don’t expect him to continue at this torrid pace for the entire season, but he’s a good player to have on your roster right now.

Ryan Miller (G, BUF) is playing at a sky-high level
, notching four wins and recording a Goals Against Average of only 1.45. He’s definitely worth targeting in a trade if you can get him.

Notable injuries

Craig Rivet (D, BUF) – knee, out two to three weeks

Watch list

Patrick Kaleta (RW, BUF) has become an agitator of Avery-esque proportions. His 32 penalty minutes are a sign of things to come. If your team is in need of toughness, Kaleta can help.

Montreal Canadiens

Between the lines

Andrei Markov (D, MON) hasn’t hit the back of the net yet, but he does have nine assists in six games. He’s fast approaching elite status, but you still may be able to steal him away from an unsuspecting owner.

Alexei Kovalev (RW, MON) is not off to the start many expected, but he’s showing signs of busting out. If you’ve got him, keep playing him. If you don’t, try to get him in a trade.

Notable injuries

Andrei Kostitsyn (LW, MON) – concussion, day to day

Watch list

Tomas Plekanec (C, MON) is an under-the-radar guy in Montreal who will eventually be a significant contributor to someone’s fantasy squad. Add him now.

Ottawa Senators

Between the lines

Antione Vermette (LW, OTT) has been missing in action thus far, but he has 15 shots on goal. He’ll break through soon, so scoop him up at the first sign of progress.

Chris Neil (RW, OTT) has not been his usual menacing self lately, recording only six penalty minutes through five games. There are better options on the waiver wire if you are deficient in the penalty minutes category.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Nick Foligno (LW, OTT) will be playing on a line with Jason Spezza (C, OTT) for the time being. That should result in good things on the offensive end.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Between the lines

Jason Blake (LW, TOR) continues to struggle with scoring (only one goal and three points through six games). But as expected, he’s among the league leaders in shots on goal. That will certainly continue, but if you can trade him, do so. He’ll fetch a higher price than his value dictates.

Luke Schenn (D, TOR) is finding life in the NHL a little rough. He has zero points through six games, sits at a -3, and may be returned to his junior team soon, so don’t bother with him.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

John Mitchell (LW, TOR) has been seeing some time on Toronto’s top line. See if the experiment continues and consider stashing him, because it would certainly increase his value.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

Atlanta Thrashers

Between the lines

Ron Hainsey (D, ATL) is starting to feel more comfortable with his new teammates, and it shows. However, it’s disturbing that he only has one point on the power play. His prowess while playing with the man advantage was a big reason he was brought to Atlanta, so, if you own him, keep hoping he picks things up soon.

Todd White (C, ATL) is still in the process of developing chemistry with new linemate Jason Williams (RW, ATL), but his production has been good thus far. Expect him to continue doing well as the relationship progresses.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Johan Hedberg (G, ATL) may be seeing more time in goal soon. The Thrashers are not terribly pleased with the effort from Kari Lehtonen (G, ATL) and won’t hesitate to give “Moose” a shot if Kari’s spotty play continues.

.

Carolina Hurricanes

Between the lines

Niclas Wallin (D, CAR) has been a nice surprise for Carolina, recording a point in every game. However, Wallin doesn’t play much on the power play nor take a ton of shots, so his upside is limited.

Joe Corvo (LW, CAR) continues to struggle. He has only one point in five games. If you drafted him, you have to keep him for right now and hope he improves.

Notable injuries

Frantisek Kaberle (D, CAR) – foot, return uncertain

Watch list

Ryan Bayda (LW, CAR) is starting to heat up. He’s been seeing some time on the second line and making the most of his opportunity (three points with a +4 rating), so keep him in mind when shopping for a left winger with potential.

Florida Panthers

Between the lines

Keith Ballard (D, FLA) has been proving to be a good acquisition. He’s got five points in as many games and has been seeing major minutes while the Panthers deal with injuries to their blueline, so ride him for now.

Cory Stillman (LW, FLA) has provided a nice boost to the power play. He has three PP points through five games and has always been known as a producer in that area. He’s worth trading for.

Notable injuries

Bryan McCabe (D, FLA) – back, return uncertain

Watch list

Nick Boynton (D, FLA) has played well and could be in line for some power play time. That would give a nice boost to his value, but wait to see if it happens before tabbing him.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Between the lines

Martin St. Louis (RW, TB) has shown signs of breaking out of his early season funk. It’s still a concern, however, that he only has ten shots on goal. Obviously, if you have him, play him and hope he starts firing at will again like he always has.

Matt Carle (D, TB) has not been performing well so far. He hasn’t been all that noticeable in any of the six games he has played. If he doesn’t improve, he may be a candidate to drop from your squad.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Janne Niskala (D, TB) has stepped up and is now seeing some power play opportunities. Don’t go crazy claiming him, but keep his name in mind for the future.

Washington Capitals

Between the lines

Sergei Fedorov (C, WAS) is starting to look like his old self again. He’s got five points, is a +7, and has seen some time on the first line. He would be a nice pick-up for depth at the center po
sition.

Jose Theodore (G, WAS) has not played well and could lose some playing time to Brent Johnson (G, WAS). A 3.17 Goals Against Average was not what Washington (nor his owners) envisioned when they signed him. Proceed with caution as far as putting him in your lineup.

Notable injuries

Tom Poti (D, WAS) – groin, day to day

Watch list

Brooks Laich (C, WAS) could be in line to see some more minutes. He has one power play point so far, and his value could definitely rise if he gets more opportunities with the man advantage, so keep an eye on him.

Frank Mazzola is a staff hockey writer for Rotoexperts.com who is committed to helping you win your league. All comments, suggestions and death threats should be sent to him at frank.mazzola@rotoexperts.com

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Keywords- NHL, Patrick Elias, Bill Guerin, New York Rangers, Scott Gomez, Simon Gagne, Frank Mazzola, New Jersey Devils, Miroslav Satan, Sergei Fedorov, Philadelphia Flyers, Martin St. Louis, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, rotoexperts, rotoexpert, roto, expert, fantasy, hockey, analysis, advice, analysis


2 Responses to Fantasy Hockey: Eastern Conference Scene

  1. Kramer says:

    The Phillies are winning cuz Tampa is throwing the series. Too many strange plays and strikeouts by the Rays, looks to be done on purpose.

  2. repetitivnegativ says:

    Sabourin won in a shoot-out, but didn't record a shutout in the process/

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