Fantasy Hockey: Eastern Conference Scene

Fantasy Hockey: Eastern Conference Scene

Written by Frank Mazzola, Rotoexperts.com Staff Writer

October 16, 2008

HIGHLIGHTS: 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

Zach Parise (LW, NJ) has picked up where left off last year. Through three games, he already has two goals (one of which was of the game winning variety) and one assist. Do anything short of selling off your first born to acquire him, as he’s on a rocket to Mars in terms of fantasy value.

Colin White (D, NJ) is plus-4 for the season so far. However, considering he’s minus-13 for his career, it doesn’t seem as though he’ll keep it up. Stay away until he proves he is worthy.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

John Madden (C, NJ) is constantly underrated by the fantasy experts, but you shouldn’t ignore him. He can be a good source of shorthanded points, a difficult category to garner points in. Grab him if you find yourself deficient in that area.

New York Islanders

Between the lines

Joey MacDonald (G, NYI) has started all three games for the Islanders, leading to rampant speculation about the health of Rick DiPietro (G, NYI). Buffalo shellacked MacDonald earlier this week, and if New York doesn’t turn to it’s franchise goaltender soon, warning bells should be going off in the fantasy world. MacDonald is not a good long-term option by any stretch of the imagination.

Doug Weight (C, NYI) has been a force on the power play, notching two points in three games. He’s a crafty veteran who runs the scheme well. Weight should be one of the few bright spots for the Islanders this season, so feel free to nab him for depth.

Notable injuries

Radek Martinek (D, NYI) – Upper body injury, out four to six weeks.

Watch list

Trent Hunter (RW, NYI) recorded only 12 goals last season but has two so far this year. He’s been very active in the offensive zone and is as worthy as anyone on the Islanders’ roster for you to pick up for depth.

New York Rangers

Between the lines

Brandon Dubinsky (C, NYR) is definitely a man you want on your squad right now. He has started the year absolutely on fire (seven points in five games), and his confidence is growing on a daily basis. He’s looking like an excellent bargain and should be available on your waiver wire.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Aaron Voros (LW, NYR) -has seven points on the year and is contributing to the PIM and PPP categories. This won’t last, so you should get him while he’s hot.

Philadelphia Flyers

Between the lines

Martin Biron (G, PHI) has been dreadful between the pipes, currently sporting a 6.35 Goals Against Average. Expect more work to go to Antero Niittymaki (G, PHI) in the near future.

Mike Richards (C, PHI) has been his usual productive self, notching three points in as many games. Trade for him now if you can.

Notable injuries

Randy Jones (D, PHI) – hip, out until January.

Watch List

Andrew Alberts (D, PHI) will be playing on the third defense line, boosting his value. With the scoring talent that the Flyers boast up front, he could see a rise is his assists total at the very least.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Between the lines

Tyler Kennedy (C, PIT) has started strong, notching three points and recording 11 shots on goal for the season. However, hold off on nabbing him until he proves this early burst won’t flame out. He could easily fall to his team’s fourth line if he tails off, and then he wouldn’t get the minutes he’s currently receiving.

Eric Godard (RW, PIT) is averaging 4.5 penalty minutes per game. He has plenty of other heavyweights to fight in the Atlantic division, so expect the trend to continue.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list:

Petr Sykora (RW, PIT) has replaced Miroslav Satan (RW, PIT) on the Penguin’s top power play unit, a move that should help his value rise. He’s a sniper, and Pittsburgh clearly has the talented centers to get him the puck.

NORTHEAST DIVISION

Boston Bruins

Between the lines

Michael Ryder (RW, BOS) is delivering on the expectations that he would resurrect his career, recording three points in his first two games. However, if his career statistics are any indication, he’s a bit of wild card to count on for that continued production. Pick him up at your own risk.

Dennis Wideman (D, BOS) is plus-4 over two games. He is a promising up-and-coming defenseman who has more value in keeper leagues, but he’d do just fine for you this year as well.

Notable injuries

Chuck Kobasew (RW, BOS) – ankle, out three weeks.

Watch list

Tim Thomas (G, BOS) seems like a good bet to establish himself as the starter over Manny Fernandez (G, BOS). He carried the load last year, and the Bruins trust him more because of it. You should, too.

Buffalo Sabres

Between the lines

Thomas Vanek (LW, BUF) has three goals on the year, including one shorthanded effort. You should beg, borrow, and/or steal to get him on your roster right now, as he will be a major contributor in the fantasy world this season.

Craig Rivet (D, BUF) has compiled 25 penalty minutes in two games. He’s a tough customer who will not only get you penalty minutes, but who can deliver some scoring as well. Rivet definitely warrants your consideration.

Notable injuries

Jochen Hecht (C, BUF) – finger, out 2-to-3 weeks.

Watch list

Clarke MacArthur (LW, BUF) is set to take on a bigger role in the Sabres’ offense and is a sneaky pick-up for depth. He produced in his short stint last year, and odds are he’ll do it again.

Montreal Canadiens

Between the lines

Sergei Kostitsyn (LW, MON) has been killing it lately, recording five points (three of them on the power play) and notching ten shots on
goal. He’s the real deal and the effort will continue.

Roman Hamrlik (D, MON) seems to be rebounding from his disappointing effort last year. He has three points so far and leads the club with a plus-4 rating. Feel free to get him if he’s available, but keep in mind that he hasn’t always been the healthiest of defensemen. He’s played more than 80 games only three times in his 16-year career.

Notable injuries

Christopher Higgins (LW, MON) – groin, may return on October 15.

Watch list

Guillaume Latendresse (RW, MON) is heating up and may be receiving more time on the power play soon. He’s a capable scorer and would definitely benefit from additional time on the man advantage.

Ottawa Senators

Between the lines

Martin Gerber (G, OTT) is off to a miserable start (3.40 Goals Against Average) and may lose some playing time to Alex Auld (G, OTT). Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Filip Kuba (D, OTT) has three power play points in three games. Historically, he has never been a true threat with the man advantage, so don’t expect the good times to keep rolling for him.

Notable injuries

Daniel Alfredsson (RW, OTT) – knee surgery, out two to three weeks.

Watch list

Shean Donovan (RW, OTT) should benefit the most from the Alfredsson injury by garnering additional playing time. He’s a sneaky play while the big guy is out.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Between the lines

Nik Antropov (C/RW- TOR) leads the club with a plus-3 rating over two games. He’ll be counted on to produce and will get the necessary minutes to do so.

Vesa Toskala (G, TOR) is currently sporting a woeful 4.36 GAA. He’s a talented goalie, so stick with him during this rough patch.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Alexei Ponikarovsky (LW, TOR) could be in line for more power play time. The Leafs need to get their scoring from somewhere, and Ponikarovsky is as good a bet as any Leaf to do some damage.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

Atlanta Thrashers

Between the lines

Bryan Little (C, ATL) has exploded onto the scene this year, recording five points in three games. It looks like the time he spent with the big club during his rookie campaign last season has served him well, and he should continue his fine season.

Mathieu Schneider (D, ATL) has gotten off to a slow start with his new team. He only has one point thus far and a minus-4 rating, but he should pick things up soon. Don’t get frustrated and do something moronic like dropping or trading him away.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Niclas Havelid (D, ATL) is currently tied with Ron Hainsey (D, ATL) for the scoring lead among Atlanta’s defensemen with four points. He’s not a bad pickup to consider for your team.

.

Carolina Hurricanes

Between the lines

Joni Pitkanen (D, CAR) is off to a nice start with his new club, notching three points in as many games. He’s a nice complement to Joe Corvo (D, CAR) on the blueline and will continue to pile up the points.

Ray Whitney (LW, CAR) continues to defy Father Time. He currently leads the Hurricanes with four points and is playing with confidence. You should ride him now before the season starts to wear him down.

Notable injuries

Scott Walker (RW, CAR) – hand, out six weeks.

Watch list

Frantisek Kaberle (D, CAR) has performed well on the power play early on, recording two assists. He could be in line for more minutes with the man advantage, so keep an eye on him.

Florida Panthers

Between the lines

David Booth (LW, FLA) is opening eyes in the Sunshine State with his strong start (four points in two games). Booth is definitely a guy you should grab if he’s still available on your waiver wire.

Expect Nathan Horton (C, FLA) to heat up soon. He leads the club with 11 shots on goal and is too talented not to have some more of those go in.

Notable injuries

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

Watch list

Stephen Weiss (C, FLA) became Florida’s number one center by default when Olli Jokinen (C, PHO) left over the summer. Weiss has the talent to make a big splash in the role and should be hoarded if you have the roster room.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Between the lines

Not that any member of the Lightning is playing very well right now, but Radim Vrbata (RW, TB) hasn’t even been a factor in any of the three games he’s played. More was expected of him when he signed as free agent, and he will lose ice time if his disappearing act continues.

Both Mike Smith (G, TB) and Olaf Kolzig (G, TB) have performed reasonably well. Smith should be on a fantasy squad as depth in any typical sized league.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Adam Hall (RW, TB) could step up if Vrbata is benched or demoted on Tampa’s second line, which would be a boon for his fantasy prospects. However, he hasn’t shown that he’s a real scoring threat thus far, so watch him for now.

Washington Capitals

Between the lines

Alexander Semin (LW, WAS) is off to a brilliant start. He’s playing on both the power play and penalty killing units, and you should try to trade for him before his stats become too big for his owner to ignore.

Michael Nylander (C, WAS) is a guy I’ve been touting the entire summer as a sleeper, and he is proving worthy of that praise. He has recorded four points thus far, three of them with the man advantage. You may even find him on your waiver wire, but he’s going to disappear like pancakes into a fat guy at an IHOP soon if you don’t grab him.

Notable injuries

None

Watch list

Dave Steckel (C, WAS) will see extensive time on the penalty kill this season and already has a shorthanded goal. Don’t pick him up just yet, but definitely keep an eye on him for the future.

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, Zach Parise, Brandon Dubinsky, New York Rangers, Rick DiPietro, Olli Jokinen, Frank Mazzola, New Jersey Devils, Thomas Vanek, Ray Whitney, Philadelphia Flyers, Vesa Toskala, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, rotoexperts, rotoexpert, roto, expert, fantasy, hockey, analysis, advice, analysis


One Response to Fantasy Hockey: Eastern Conference Scene

  1. Kramer says:

    Today is the 50th anniversary Lindy Ruff was hired as coach.

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