With the playoffs in full swing in some fantasy hockey formats, every pickup or lack thereof is crucial to fantasy managers that want to lay their claim to any fantasy prize(s). This week, Fred Poulin, Peter Harling, and myself, Anatoliy Metter, weigh in on some trending players and the returns of Sidney Crosby, Andrei Markov and Dmitry Kulikov. One pickup or one day of starting the right player could mean the difference between a championship and a consolation bracket. Here are the topics that the Panel will discuss for this week:
Is Wojtek Wolski or Lee Stempniak worth a pickup for managers looking for help at the wing?
Fred Poulin: Wolski is worth picking in deep fantasy leagues as he’s been producing at a fairly decent pace for the red-hot Panthers. There are far better options out there, but the Polish winger who’s only 2% owned in Yahoo! leagues, has recorded 1 goal and 4 assists in his last 5 games with a +2 rating. As for Stempniak, I wouldn’t grab him as he just came back from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for more than 6 weeks. He will need at least-5-10 games to regain his form, which is why he isn’t worth
Peter Harling: As a temporary solution, yes Wolski can help. Since being acquired by Florida he has eight points in 13 games. Wolski has always been somewhat of an enigma, teasing fantasy owners with sublime skill but disappointing with sub par effort. It was his lazy attitude that earned him a regular spot in Coach Tortorella’s dog house. At as result, he is now on his fourth NHL team at only 26 years old, but he always has a honeymoon phase where he Woo’s his new team and fantasy owner. That is always short lived however so his value has a shelf life. Lee Stempniak has the ability to go on a hot streak as he did when he was acquired by Phoenix. However, he has not shown that ability recently, and given the fact that Calgary is rather challenged offensively I
would not count on Stempniak for much (or any) offense.
Anatoliy Metter: As Peter mentioned, Wolski’s scoring seems to come in certain spurts and with a -2 rating and no points in his last two games, this might just be the sign that the winger is cooling off. Wolski wasn’t a hot commodity to begin with, but Lee Stempniak might offer something to managers in deeper leagues. Stempniak won’t rack up points by the bunches but he’ll have his moments of point production as the dual position winger (LW/RW) puts up a steady amount of shots on a nightly basis. The winger also manages to get the occasional hit and/or blocked shot, so owners that play with such stat categories could receive a bit of a boost from Stempniak when he’s not scoring.
With D-men such as Andrei Markov and Dmitry Kulikov returning to their respective lineups fairly recently, is it safe for managers to re-insert/add these two blueliners to their lineup?
Fred Poulin: These two blueliners are good fantasy options, so feel free to add to your line-up if you’re desperately needing help on the blue line. However, please note that Markov, 40% owned in Yahoo! leagues, will still need a few games to find his offensive groove (he has only 1 assist in 4 games with – 3 rating since his return). Also, don’t forget that Kulikov is a very streaky player so he could very well produce at a PPG pace or score only 1 point in the next 10 game. He is a high-risk, high reward player.
Peter Harling: Markov returning is more of a moral victory for him personally. After two years of rehabbing his knees simply being able to return to the NHL is a victory for him. Having played in four games he averages about 17 minutes a game, has one assist only and will likely sit in back to back games or once or twice if the knees need a rest. If you have been patient and have held
onto Markov on your fantasy team the last two years why not do the same, you earned it. Just don’t expect too many points. As for Kulikov, he is playing around 20 minutes a night in his return and in two games has one point. While Brian Campbell and Jason Garrison see the bulk of the power play time, Kulikov has the ability to produce points.
Anatoliy Metter: Markov’s successful return to the Montreal lineup was definitely an accomplishment for the defenseman, but fantasy managers should either keep Markov on the bench or drop him altogether. After such a lengthy comeback, it is safe to say that Markov won’t be getting the minutes necessary to produce the way that he’d be expected to when coming into a season being fully healthy. On the other hand, Dmitry Kulikov is definitely a safe option to re-insert/add to the lineup. Kulikov was putting up a steady amount of points (24 points in 46 games) before his injury and he gets time on Florida’s man-advantage. The Russian d-man is still a developing product, but it seems that the young blueliner has found his niche on this Florida Panther’s team. Fantasy managers should feel confident when picking up Kulikov as the defenceman will continue to see ice time for the upstart Florida Panthers.
Should centreman Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks be considered for pickup in deeper hockey leagues/pools?
Fred Poulin: The rookie Shaw has been a pleasant surprise this season for the Hawks recording 15 points in 28 games. While he is only 1% owned in Yahoo! leagues, there are much better options to pick-up on the waiver wire than Shaw. The rookie, prior to Sunday night’s 3-point game, had only recorded 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points in 16 games since the All-Star break.
Peter Harling: Absolutely. Shaw has earned himself a spot on the Hawks roster. While Jonathan Toews is injured Shaw has been the benefactor of opportunity and seized a job at the NHL level and now looks like a regular. He can play wing, is a decent skater and an excellent shift disturber who can provide secondary scoring. He is on a hot streak right now with seven points in his last four games.
Anatoliy Metter: Yes, Andrew Shaw should be considered for addition in deeper leagues. With seven points in his last 4 games, Shaw has definitely raised some eyebrows in fantasy circles. As long as the young centreman keeps on working hard and earning his playing time, he will keep contributing to the Blackhawks in one way or another. Aside from being able to dish out the puck and putting it in the back of the net, Shaw can throw the body, block shots, and be a physical presence on the ice. Shaw could be the type of late-season pickup that can steal some categories for managers in the playoffs. Fantasy managers in shallower leagues should keep Shaw on their watch-list, but shouldn’t be surprised if the forward is added in the coming days.
What kind of an impact does Sidney Crosby’s return to the Pittsburgh lineup have on the fantasy world (whose production on PIT could increase and whose could decrease as a result)?
Fred Poulin: Almost everyone’s production will increase as a result of Crosby’s return. Right now, Crosby is playing on a line with Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, but that is very likely to change soon. Since Crosby’s return, Kennedy has 4 assists in 3 games with a +2 rating and 10 shots on goal. As for Cooke, he has 4 goals in 3 games with a +2 rating and 9 shots on goal. Don’t forget that puck- moving defenseman Kris Letang also returned to the Penguins’ line-up so he will help boost the team’s offensive production, especially on the power play.
Peter Harling: Assuming Crosby is back for good, and the same can be said for Letang, expect the fantasy impact on most penguins to increase dramatically. If you are thinking his return will mean Malkin and Staal move to second and third line spot and may suffer in production, think again. In Malkins last two games he has six points. Jordan Staal has is even hotter with 14 points in his last 12 games. In my opinion everyone’s fantasy value will increase, it is just a question of a little, or a lot!
Anatoliy Metter: Crosby is a play-making center who simply makes everyone around him better. Evgeni Malkin has been enjoying a great year for the Penguins this year and those that work hard enough to be considered for promotion to Crosby’s line will be the beneficiaries. Pittsburgh is now as healthy as they have been with Kris Letang also back in the lineup and the Penguins should continue to rack up points in the standings as well the scoreboard. Fantasy owners should keep deploying their Pittsburgh players with the same regularity as a healthier lineup will continue to produce at a very steady pace.