2013 Fantasy Hockey: Peaks and Valleys – Time Is Flying By
The beauty of a lockout-shortened season is the never-ending stream of hockey on my television. For all the stupidity and unnecessary loss caused by the lockout, fans are now spoiled with seeing their favorite teams in a short period of time. The sad thing about this season is that when it ends, the void left by an artery-clogging schedule will be larger than normal. The 2013 season is flying by way too fast!
The same can be said for fantasy owners. Seasons like this make it even more important to get the best bang for the buck out of every position. One bad week due to injuries or having top guys not produce can hurt playoff chances as fast as a Shea Weber slap shot.
This week the players to consider making a play on, good or bad, are close to be being guys to add for the remainder of the season, as the season is moving at a rapid pace. A number of injuries occurred over the past seven days, including a head injury to Evegeni Malkin. Owners with the Russian scorer will be looking for a scorer to try and add some help with the loss of such an important fantasy forward. A guy I brought up in the inaugural column, Matt Read, also was lost for up to six weeks because of multiple muscle tears to his rib cage.
What his loss is to your fantasy teams, the following players are peaking at the right time to be a gain for you.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Center, Florida Panthers: It took a few weeks, but one of the foreseen front runners for Rookie of the Year is finding his scoring touch. The 19-year old has seen a recent uptick in playing time, now seeing 15+ minutes a night. It is no coincidence his scoring has gone up as well. Huberdeau may be hard to come by, as his popularity is on the rise. Regardless, he is a must-own on a team that does not have many players worth a roster spot.
Milan Michalek, Left Wing, Ottawa Senators: Preemptive strikes are necessary in fantasy. Michalek has been sidelined for two weeks with a knee ailment, and has been dropped in a number of leagues. There is never a good time to be an injured, fantasy-relevant player, but Michalek falls in that category. He is due back this week, according to Ian Mendes of the Ottawa Citizen, which means he is a great addition, if available. He has eight points in 13 games this season, making him an everyday player in roto and head-to-head leagues. Weekly owners should look at him as a low cost addition in weekly leagues.
Colin Wilson, Center, Nashville Predators: Wilson has a five game scoring streak end Wednesday, but is a great player to add on a depleted offense. His plus/minus has taken a hit recently, falling on the wrong end with a minus-one rating entering this week. Wilson is available in about half of leagues, and may still be a cheap weekly option.
Patrik Bergland and Jamie McGinn have been great in recent weeks. Bergland has nine goals, and may have finally put his game together. McGinn has filled in admirably with all the injuries in Colorado. His minutes have started to come back to the 14-17 range, but may be expected to play a similar, larger role to protect their young stars from future injury this season.
Down In the Valley
Brad Boyes, Center, New York Islanders: Boyes is starting to build confidence with a three game scoring streak. It may be a sign that his streaky scoring may be more consistent in a quiet market, but that is far-fetched to me. The Islanders are putrid, and once the scoring stops, Boyes will be a burden on your plus/minus. Turn him for another bench player, or pass.
Brent Burns, Defenseman, San Jose Sharks: Shame on me. I jumped on the gravy train and got burned for it. Burns is such a gifted player, but injuries continue to get the best of him. If you added him, thank you for swinging and missing with me.
Zack Kassian, Right Wing, Vancouver Canucks: The young winger had a great start to 2013. With Ryan Kesler out, Kassian was awarded a spot on the top line with the Sedin twins. As expected, the return of Kesler pushed Kassian down the depth chart to the fourth line. To Kassian’s credit, he is a young power forward who is moving in the right direction in his career, but on a deep team in Vancouver, Kassian is now fantasy waiver wire material.
Players like Matt Read, Brandon Dubinsky, and Derek Morris are injured and should be released from your team. Most were already borderline roster guys, but their respective injuries make them useless in fantasy hockey.
Best wishes this week!
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