Fantasy Hockey: Eastern Conference Scene

Fantasy Hockey: Eastern Conference Scene

Written by Frank Mazzola, Rotoexperts.com Staff Writer

October 30, 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

Though he recently suffered consecutive losses to Philadelphia, Martin Brodeur (G, NJ) has been on fire recently, recording two shutouts in three games. The letdown that many experts predicted due to his age hasn’t happened and likely won’t. He’s still one of the top five fantasy goalies and should be all season.

Brian Gionta (RW, NJ) is currently riding a three game points streak and appears to be ready to resume his usual scoring ways after a slow start for the season. He’s definitely someone to target in a trade but you’ll have to act quickly before he starts piling up points again.

Notable injuries

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

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

Watch list

Michael Rupp (C, NJ) appears to have taken over the enforcer duties from David Clarkson (RW, NJ). He has posted 28 penalty minutes in 8 games and is very willing to drop the gloves this year, so keep him in mind for your toughness needs.

New York Islanders

Between the lines

Mark Streit (D, NYI) has emerged as one of the better free agent signings the Islanders have made recently. He has seven points through eight games and has been playing strong defense as well. He’s probably available in your league, so snatch him up for depth.

Kyle Okposo (RW, NYI) notched his first goal of the season on Monday and seems poised to take off. He’s really the only pure sniper New York has, so watch him closely and add him if your lineup becomes ravaged by injury.

Notable injuries

Brendan Witt (D, NYI) – knee injury, out three to four weeks

Rick DiPietro (G, NYI) – lower body injury, return uncertain

Watch list

Richard Park (C, NYI) remains a constant threat to record shorthanded points, a difficult category in which to accrue numbers. If your league counts them, consider adding Park to serve your needs as he sees extensive time on the penalty kill for an undisciplined team.

New York Rangers

Between the lines

Nikolai Zherdev (RW, NYR) is a player you need to trade for immediately. He has five points in his last three games and is loving life in New York. He could be in line to surpass his career totals in points (61).

Stephen Valiquette (G, NYR) has impressed the Rangers with his stellar play in limited work, and could be given more starts soon. He’s won both of his games and has recorded a shutout, so he’s a must handcuff if you own Henrik Lundqvist (G, NYR).

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Chris Drury (C, NYR) broke out of his goal scoring slump recently and is playing much better. It’s possible he’s on your waiver wire right now, so add him before someone else in your league does as he’s primed to put up some great numbers.

Philadelphia Flyers

Between the lines

Joffrey Lupul (RW, PHI) has six points in his last four games. He’s very underrated and you’ll look like a genius for adding him in November when he has 20 goals by January.

Jeff Carter (C, PHI) leads the team in shots on goal (37) and is scoring at a point-per-game pace. Take advantage of his low profile and nab him off your waiver wire if he’s still available.

Notable injuries

Daniel Briere (C, PHI) – abdominal injury, out three to four weeks

Watch List

Glen Metropolit (RW, PHI) has been getting first line minutes and has four points in his last two games. Watch him for now, though, because this points bonanza may not continue much longer.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Between the lines

Jordan Staal (C, PIT) has been ice cold lately, recording only three points for the season so far. He has been relegated to the fourth line in some games, so expect his woes to continue for now.

Evengi Malkin (C/LW, PIT) and Sidney Crosby (C, PIT) have accounted for nearly half of the team’s overall points. However, the Penguins will work to become less one-dimensional, and you can expect both players to tail off slightly from their enormous early production as the season progresses.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list:

Tyler Kennedy (C, PIT) is playing more on the third line and has responded with points in two out of his last three games. As long as he keeps producing, he’ll stay there, so he’s someone to put on your radar screen.

NORTHEAST DIVISION

Boston Bruins

Between the lines

Tim Thomas (G, BOS) appears to have established himself as the starting goalie, so he’s a must add if he’s available. He also has two shutouts in his last two games.

Phil Kessel (RW, BOS) has emerged as the scoring threat many predicted he would become. He has six goals on the year and more are on the way, so grab him now off the waiver wire if he’s still around.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Marco Sturm (LW, BOS) hasn’t started well, but he’s too talented to continue at his current 41 point pace. Look for him to increase his production in the coming weeks.

Buffalo Sabres

Between the lines

Maxim Afinogenov (RW, BUF) hasn’t scored a goal yet this season, though he does have seven assists. He’s a good “buy low” candidate to trade for as he’ll almost certainly pick things up before long.

Adam Mair (C, BUF) has 35 penalty minutes through nine games. Expect him to continue his unlawful ways as well as contribute a few points here and there for your squad.

Notable injuries

Henrik Tallinder (D, BUF) – ankle, day to day

Watch list

Jaroslav Spacek (D, BUF) will see even more power play time due to injuries on the blue line and should pick up his production. He’s a nice depth addition.

M
ontreal Canadiens

Between the lines

Alex Tanguay (LW, MON) is looking like his former self, recording five points over the last four games. He’s especially potent on the power play (five points this year), and he should continue to do well in Montreal.

Jaroslav Halak (G, MON) has played well for the most part in his three appearances this season. The Canadiens want to avoid overworking Carey Price (G, MON) too much, so look for Halak to see a decent amount of time between the pipes going forward.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Robert Lang (C, MON) has been seeing some time on the first line and has produced well (three points in his last four games). It’s a good idea to stash him on your bench if you have the room because he could match last year’s total (54 overall points).

Ottawa Senators

Between the lines

Alex Auld (G, OTT) has played well, and, coupled with Martin Gerber’s (G, OTT) injury and overall ineffectiveness, appears to be on the verge of stealing the starting job. You should add him immediately in all formats as he could very well turn out to be this season’s Ty Conklin (G, DET).

Filip Kuba (D, OTT) continues to defy his critics who dismissed his strong start to the season. He now has eleven assists in nine games and is available in a number of leagues. You might as well strike while the iron is hot, so claim him and hope he can keep it up.

Notable injuries

Martin Gerber (G, OTT) – leg, day to day

Watch list

Antoine Vermette (LW, OTT) is getting his shot to play with Jason Spezza (C, OTT). If this doesn’t jump-start him, I’m afraid nothing will. If you own him, cross your fingers and pray.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Between the lines

Mike Van Ryn (D, TOR) has never been known for being big point producer, but he has six points in eight games thus far. He’s taking advantage of increased ice time and you could do worse if your squad is in need of some defensive production.

Tomas Kaberle (D, TOR) continues to struggle this season. He only has two points through eight games. Hold on to him for now, but if he doesn’t break out of his funk by December, consider dropping him, as things may not improve for him.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Niklas Hagman (LW, TOR) is riding a three game point streak and seems to be elevating his overall play. Watch him for now, but don’t hesitate to nab him if he proves to be consistent.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

Atlanta Thrashers

Between the lines

Mathieu Schneider (D, ATL) has posted an abysmal minus-10 this season. He’s finding life to be much rougher in Atlanta than at his previous stops, and, if you own him, you have to be worried that he may not find his groove there.

Bryan Little (C, ATL) has cooled off after his excellent start, notching only one point over the last four games. He’s still adjusting to life in the NHL on a permanent basis, so lower your expectations for him.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Colby Armstrong (RW, ATL) has points in three of his last four games. He could be in line for more ice time and power play opportunities, as the Thrashers are desperate for anybody to step up and start scoring.

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Carolina Hurricanes

Between the lines

Eric Staal (C, CAR) is starting to heat up, notching four points over the last five games. His lack of power play production has some of his owners anxious, but he’s way too talented not to pick up his production in that area soon.

Michael Leighton (G, CAR) has actually outplayed starter Cam Ward (G, CAR) to date. He is a must add for Ward owners and a decent pickup for everyone else.

Notable injuries

Joni Pitkanen (D, CAR) – knee, return uncertain

Watch list

Dennis Seidenberg (D, CAR) may benefit from injuries to the Hurricanes’ blue line and receive more ice time. However, he’s a speculative play at best right now, so just watch him.

Florida Panthers

Between the lines

Nathan Horton (C, FLA) has recorded points in every game but two this season. He’s a sleeper with massive potential and you’d be well advised to pick him up and stash him.

David Booth (LW, FLA) leads the team in shots on goal. He’s another guy worth taking a chance on if you have room on your bench.

Notable injuries

Stephen Weiss (C, FLA) – groin, return uncertain

Watch list

Kamil Kreps (C, FLA) has done nothing of note yet this season, but he will see more ice time because of the Weiss injury. He flashed some nice playmaking potential last year, so watch to see if he can rekindle the magic with different linemates.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Between the lines

Radim Vrbata (RW, TB) has played miserably and is now nursing a groin strain. Sorry if you drafted him, but he’s safe to cut ties with for right now if you need the roster space.

Vaclav Prospal (LW, TB) has been one of the few bright spots for the Lightning this season. He’s got six points so far and is enjoying himself, so pick him up if he’s available.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Paul Ranger (D, TB) has the potential to produce better than he has been (one point in five games). He’s worth tracking anyway as a depth pickup if your lineup gets decimated by injuries in the future.

Washington Capitals

Between the lines

Hopefully, you were lucky enough to draft Alexander Semin (C, WAS). He’s been so hot lately, he’d set the ice on fire if it were possible. His 16 points in only nine games are a harbinger of more to come.

Alexander Ovechkin (LW, WAS) is taking some time off for personal reasons. While it’s natural to feel for him as a human being, he has to be killing his owners. He is expected back soon and hopefully will be able to play more like the Ovechkin of old than he has thus far.

Notable injuries

None

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Watch list

Tomas Fleischmann (RW, WAS) will be a great under-the-radar addition if he ever discovers some consistency. Watch him to see if he shows signs of doing so.

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

http://www.Rotoexperts.com

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