New injuries continue to pile-up as poolies everywhere lost Eric Staal, David Krejci, Shea Weber, Victor Hedman, and Cam Ward this week. Fortunately, Jason Spezza, Jonathan Toews, and Daniel Sedin are all back on their team’s respective rosters, so be sure to put them in your starting lineups pronto. Of course, we have some new players to consider adding to your roster, and several to immediately rid your team of. Here we go:
Phil Kessel, RW, TOR – The sniper had an impressive first week as a playing member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, notching a goal and a pair of assists. Any doubts about his surgically-repaired shoulder should be put to rest.
Alex Tanguay, LW, TB – Tanguay finally seems to be getting his legs back to midseason form after joining the Lightning in early September. After starting the season with 2 points in 9 games, he has 7 points in his last 6.
Mark Streit, D, NYI – His current statistical performances are far below his career averages, so a sudden boost in production is virtually imminent. Look for Streit to put it together on the powerplay in the coming weeks.
Antero Niittymaki, G, TB – He’s started the last 3 games for the Lightning and has looked impressive doing so. Consider handcuffing Mike Smith if you add Niittymaki, as the Lightning seem to be rolling on all fronts. Act fast – Niittymaki’s just 29% owned, but will be double or even triple that by next week.
Jonas Gustavsson, G, TOR – I was projecting a post-Christmas steal of the starting job in Toronto, but the Monster’s already deservedly dethroned Vesa Toskala. He’s my new favourite for the Calder Trophy.
Tomas Fleischmann, LW, WAS – He’s stepped up in Alexander Ovechkin’s absence with a 5 game point streak, but is notorious for being inconsistent (7 points in January last season, 7 in February, 0 in March).
Brad Boyes, RW, STL – After averaging 63 points per season over the last 4 years, Boyes is on pace for just 33. No one on the Blues have been scoring lately (just 4 goals scored in last 5 games), so this hold should include Andy McDonald, David Backes, and Paul Kariya as well.
Kevin Bieksa, D, VAN – With a logjam of healthy defensemen in Vancouver, coach Alain Vigneault has placed Bieksa (arguably the teams’ best defenseman) on a forward line. While this may seem like a benefit to his offensive totals, it doesn’t always work that way, as Brent Burns learned last season in Minnesota (27 points in 59 games as a forward in 2008-09, after putting up 43 points in 82 games as a defenseman in 2007-08).
Chris Mason, G, STL – His save percentage and GAA are phenomenal, but if you’re league values wins, you’re out of luck with Mason. He has just 2 wins in the last month, and 3 on the season.
Alexander Semin, RW, WAS – With Ovechkin out, Semin has struggled under tighter checking as the Caps’ new primary scoring threat. Now that Ovie’s revealed he’ll be out for the next 4 to 5 weeks, you may want to consider dealing him while his value is still moderately high.
Patrik Elias, C, NJ – Now that he’s finally playing, you might feel inclined to wait and see how he does, but the forecast isn’t overwhelmingly positive. He’s coming off groin surgery and, though a natural winger, is being used at centre, as the Devils deal with injuries in the middle.
Ray Whitney, LW, CAR – He’s been held pointless in his last 4 games, and has struggled to do much with Eric Staal out of the lineup. Wait if you want, but the Canes’ season is quickly going down the tubes and they’re soon likely to turn to their young guns rather than aging vets.
Ian White, D, TOR – He’s been the Leafs best player aside from Tomas Kaberle this season, and rarely gets the credit he deserves. Still, the underrated blueliner is unlikely to maintain his 49-point pace. Deal him to a Leafs’ fan.
Cam Ward, G, CAR – Out for a month with a lacerated thigh, Ward’s prospects look bleak. The Canes have been atrocious, and even if Ward does make a healthy return, a 20 win season is probably a best case scenario now.