There are only three types of people who’ll be reading this article this week – league leaders, second-place wannabes and hockey crazies with zero social life. I’m going to focus on those of you in the first two groups.
No offense intended to my friends in the last group. I still love you.
But this last article of the year is really focused on those of you who are desperate for a late-season charge.
At this point, you can really only move up by a point. But that point can become two if you can overtake the league leader in a category. His loss can be a huge gain for you. Or worse, a two-point loss could kill your championship hopes if you play your cards wrong.
So I’ll keep this short and sweet. After all, some teams have as few as four games left. The guys below are on late-season surges. But they’re significant risks, too. Pick them up if you need a little extra something or if you want to block someone else from getting them. You just need to be damn sure they’re better than the guys you already have.
Let’s take a look at who caught my eye this week. Talk about slim pickings.
Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa (10 percent owned) – I mentioned him recently but there are a lot more reasons to pick him up now; nine more to be exact. He has two goals and seven assists on a four-game point streak and four of those helpers have come on the power play. His time has come. He’s perfect for a desperation run.
Saku Koivu, C, Anaheim (15 percent owned) – It looks like Ryan Getzlaf’s loss is Koivu’s gain. Getzlaf’s bad ankle has given the elder Koivu a boost up the charts and he responded with a goal and assist on Wednesday night. And then there’s his outstanding plus-minus (his plus-5 was the second-best output in the league last week). Anaheim has six games left while a lot of other teams have just four. Take advantage.
Steve Ott, C, Dallas (11 percent owned) – Ott’s hat trick Wednesday night ripped the lid off the guy’s recent scoring exploits. He has seven goals, one assist and 30 PIMs in his last nine games. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Mark Recchi, RW, Boston (12 percent owned) – I’ve talked about him before and you know his game – streaky. He’s on one right now as the Bruins push to keep their playoff berth. Take advantage if you need help on the right side.
R.J. Umberger, C, Columbus (23 percent owned) – Umberger is “strong like bull” and right now, he’s using that to full advantage for fantasy owners. He upped his scoring streak to six games and seven points with his 22nd goal of the season in Thursday’s loss. He can carry his team in short spurts – remember last year’s playoff series against the Wings? And right now, he might help you make a four-game run.
Jakub Voracek, RW, Columbus (13 percent owned) – Yes, he needs a haircut. And sure, I’ve talked about him before, too. But he’s been as high as number five on Yahoo! rankings at right wing this week and has two three-point efforts since last Thursday. He’s a risk-reward pick but at this point, that’s the only kind of pick you need.
Justin Williams, RW, Los Angeles (12 percent owned) – Williams may be injury prone but his output this season – at least when it comes to shots on net – has been as consistent as his best seasons. Don’t nab him if you need points too; he’s just not producing. His goal Thursday was his first since Dec. 3. But he had 20 SOG in five games heading into Thursday night. He could be a difference maker if you only need a single point in one category.
Dean Arsene, D, Edmonton (0 percent owned) – Guess what Arsene learned from his two brief callups earlier this season – journeyman defenders who make their rookie debuts at 29 need to make quick impressions. And he has. His last three games have been highly productive… at least with his fists. He has 24 PIMs in three games since last Friday night. Defense is a great spot for a late-season run to sin-bin supremacy.
Back to desperation time.
I wish I were in your shoes. Last year, I parlayed wins in several leagues into a kick-butt Weber grill and an inch-and-a-half thick, dry-aged Black Angus steak.
There’s no better way to celebrate a win.
But this year, I’ve been decimated by injuries and my best finish was third in just a single league. The others? Fourth, sixth and the very worst? Second-last in a keeper league that I won last year.
I’m sending you all the first-place karma I can.
Until next year.