What to do with unusually underperforming players like Steve Mason, Jason Spezza and Alex Kovalev? Hold for now and hope for a turnaround, or in Kovalev’s case try to buy him for pennies on the dollar.
Andrei Kostitsyn, LW, MTL – Kostitsyn has seven points and a +5 rating over his last seven games. After a promising 2007-2008 campaign, Kostitsyn struggled mightily last season. Coach Jacques Martin seems to have drilled a bit of a defensive conscience and work ethic into Kostitsyn with a demotion to the fourth line, and now the offense is starting to come. He’s probably available as a free agent in your pool.
Dennis Wideman, D, BOS – This looks like a great chance to buy low on Wideman. His season totals aren’t impressive, and he’s day-to-day with a minor injury. Prior to that though, he had posted five points over a six game stretch leading into December, with four of those coming on the powerplay.
Coming into the season, Wideman was universally viewed as a solid fantasy option, and I still think he should be over the second half of the season.
Alex Kovalev, RW, OTT – Over his last three games, Kovalev has shown some signs of life, posting three assists, a +2 rating, and chipping in during the shootout against the Ducks. The enigmatic Russian is known for being streaky, and this could be a sign of bigger things to come.
We all know what Kovalev can bring to your team when he’s on his game, and odds are some owners have all but given up on him. If you’re desperate for offense and can’t afford to give up much to get it, Kovalev is a viable option.
Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, MTL – Bergeron has plenty of defensive shortcomings, and isn’t the most consistent of players. Goal scoring defenseman are at a premium though, and Bergeron’s six goals in 23 games puts him over the 20 goal per year pace. It’s also worth nothing that five of those six goals came with the man advantage.
Steven Stamkos, TB, C – Stamkos has fizzled a little lately after his hot start. Hang tight though; he only has a couple more weeks to impress Team Canada brass and he will turn it around in a hurry.
Steve Mason, G, CLB – I’m not trying to defend Mason’s play; he’s been awful. That said, there likely isn’t any sort of trade market for him in your pool. Mathieu Garon hasn’t been a whole lot better than Mason. The Blue Jackets are likely going to keep trying to force-feed Mason the starter’s role, especially since they decided he made Pascal Leclaire expendable.
Until the Blue Jackets decide to deal for a veteran with some experience as a starter, the job is Mason’s to lose. You won’t get a decent return for him, so keep him stashed on your bench until he turns it around.
As an aside, keep an eye on the Islanders’ goaltending situation in the coming weeks. With DiPietro getting his first game action with Bridgeport the other night, the Isles may be forced to move a goalie. A guy like Marty Biron or Dwayne Roloson would have some solid fantasy value playing for the Blue Jackets.
Jason Spezza, C, OTT – Once again, this isn’t an attempt to defend Spezza’s play to this point in the season. You won’t get any value for him right now, and he’s been too consistent a point-producer in his career to keep this pace up. It’s also worth nothing that he posted two points in Ottawa’s most recent win over Anaheim. He should turn things around, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you shipped him off for the bag of pucks most people are offering.
Dustin Penner, EDM – Penner seems to be slowing down for real now, and Ales Hemsky’s season-ending injury doesn’t help his case any. His season totals still put him above the much vaunted point-per-game mark, so there might still be some strong interest in him in your pool.
Chris Mason, G, STL – Mason’s last six starts have yielded just 2 wins, and the opposition has lit him up for 19 goals in that span. Mason performed admirably earlier in the year when he was regularly facing high shot totals. Maybe he’s finally feeling the fatigue.