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Frozen Fantasy: Fantasy Pride

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson is a four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Distracted owners – every fantasy league has them. They can be a bigger risk to your success than your own mismanagement.

Squirrel!

Face it – there are a lot more losing teams in your league than winning ones. A lot of owners have already shut down for the season. Losing will do that to even the best fantasy owner.

They need a little fantasy pride.

Their lack of attention and focus is dangerous. It can all but kill any chance you have to move from third to second, or worse, second to first.

Next Thursday is the trade deadline in my Yahoo! leagues. And any move I can make up the standings will likely only come via a significant trade (and maybe one or two really astute waiver grabs tossed in for good measure).

Disengaged owners make crappy trade partners.

They won’t answer your e-mails or accept your offers – they’re too busy off chasing squirrels. They’re worried about the risk of an NFL lockout. Or they’ve moved from ‘pitchers and catchers report today’ to OMG, I need to prep for my baseball draft. Or they’re waxing their legs for bikini season.

There’s always something.

You need to get them back. Your victory may hang in the balance. Public embarrassment may be your only option. No, not in the nasty, bullying way but yes, the trash-talking, chirpy type. It works in my men’s beer league; and it works in my fantasy leagues, too.

Start chirping today; you have almost a full week to get their attention. Question their manhood. Criticize everything from their home reno skills to their ride. Or better yet, their girlfriend/wife.

Do what it takes. All you need to do is get them to respond.

That means they’re back. And I’ll bet a few other people who weren’t paying attention will come back with them – admit it, you love watching a car wreck as much as I do. They will, too.

Then you can pounce.

Talk to them about pride. About saving face. And about their ability to move up the standings fast (into a comfier, less-pathetic position) with a smart deal. No one wants to finish last. No one.

Sure, it’s manipulative but winning is winning. Don’t worry, you won’t feel dirty for long. Chirping is all part of the game. And done well, you’ll have a legion of fellow owners laughing their footballs off.

And a fantasy victory, too.

Now let’s take a look at who caught my eye this week.

Mikkel Boedker, LW, Phoenix (1 percent owned) – The Great Dane is an unbelievable skater with a surprising slapper for a sub-six footer. And it’s that slapper that gives him an occasional point role on the power play. He set up two goals on the PP on Sunday night, giving him six assists in his previous four games. He still operates from the periphery a little too much and that reduces his overall value – he just doesn’t go to the dirty places where NHL goals are scored. But short-term, you could do worse from the port side.

Kyle Brodziak, C, Minnesota (2 percent owned) – I mentioned him last week, yet he somehow dropped from three to two percent owned. He missed a game because of flu but c’mon – 11 points in as many games? He’s effectively slipped into Mikko Koivu’s skates. You snooze, you lose.

Matt Calvert, LW, Columbus (9 percent owned) – Who? Calvert’s a lot like rookie phenom Jeff Skinner – same size, similar speed, same hands, matching smarts. But he’s under the radar because his junior breakout came the year after he was drafted rather than in the same season. The fourth-rounder potted 47 goals for the Brandon Wheat Kings last year and he was named a Memorial Cup All-Star. He’s only been up for 23 games, but he already has 11 goals, six of which came in four games to end February – that was good enough to earn him the NHL’s third star of the week. He can’t keep that up – no one could. But it’s clear he has the potential to be a scoring-line sniper; just beware the rookie mood swings.

Michael Frolik, RW, Chicago (10 percent owned) – Wednesday was a glimpse of what’s possible when Frolik clicks with talented linemates. His confidence is growing – particularly given his shutdown assignment in the last minute of that game – and so is his fantasy potential. That goal and two helpers were second star worthy and that’s only the beginning. He has started his apprenticeship with Marian Hossa, and I think that’s the key to unlock his tremendous two-way potential. I like him over the next week; I like him even more for next season.

Jochen Hecht, LW, Buffalo (5 percent owned) – Hecht’s modest four-game, four-point streak was snapped Thursday night. But there’s something in my gut that says there are good things to come for this Joe Friday winger. He has a new gig playing center between top finishers Thomas Vanek (95 percent owned) and Drew Stafford (37 percent owned). And that line seems to be getting a little more open ice since the arrival of Brad Boyes. He does the little things well and can put the puck on the sticks of his talented line mates. And that will result in quiet but effective production as the Sabres push for the playoffs. You can do much worse.

Chris Mason, G, St. Louis (25 percent owned) – Mason won 30 games last season; his ratios were all above average. But this year, he was relegated to back-up duty after Ondrej Pavelec’s hot start. His skills hadn’t disappeared; his opportunity had. The latter is back and while he has struggled to deliver wins, he has allowed just seven goals in his last four appearances. His save percentage has been eerily consistent throughout his career; I don’t see why it won’t be the same going forward. And that’ll help stabilize two of four of your goalie categories.

Jamie McBain, D, Carolina (13 percent owned) – I sorely overrated this guy heading into the season; I guess I got distracted by his shiny stats at the end of last season (10 points in 14 games). But he suffered through the rookie flu until the start of January, and that made him a popular fantasy drop. He picked up his game with eight points in 14 games in January and now has five points in last six games. The magic is coming back.

Kris Russell, D, Columbus (2 percent owned) – I got lucky with Mr. Russell this past week after I lost Dan Boyle to injury. He can still be exploited by bigger NHL forwards., but he can transition on a postage stamp because of near super-human lateral speed. And that lets him jump in and out of the offensive attack with ease. He has five points, three of which have come on the power play, in his last five games. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you step back and look at his February, you’ll see eight points and a plus-five rating in 12 games. And that’s a top-20 performance over the last 30 days. How many of your D did that last month?

Andrej Sekera, D, Buffalo (1 percent owned) – Give the man a job and look what happens. Jordan Leopold went down to one of those “upper-body injuries” last week and Sekera stepped up large in his skates – three games, three straight two-point performances. What makes it even more remarkable is he’d been a healthy scratch for the three games before that. His skill is undeniable – they don’t hand out OHL defenseman of the year honors to stiffs. Grab him and let him rock your roster until Leopold returns. Who knows – he might even hang onto some of his newfound confidence (and ice time).

Wayne Simmonds, RW, Los Angeles (18 percent owned) – You know I love this guy – his speed-skill-strength combination is almost irresistible. But his knock this season has been his splits – he’s been way more effective on the road than at home. But that changed late last week when he was promoted to the top line with Anze Kopitar. He won’t be a permanent fixture there but it was enough to spark a three-game scoring streak (three goals, one helper). And I really like the potential for a Kopitar – Simmonds – Dustin Penner line. He could have sneaky value going forward, particularly with his ability to “earn” good time in the sin bin.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

Brad Winchester, LW, Anaheim (1 percent owned) – The winch has done nothing this season. His hands are so bad you have to wonder if he can even feel the stick when he holds it. So why is he here? He’s huge (6-5, 228) and intimidating, and he could soon end up skating alongside (gulp) Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. He might even get a chance to park just outside the blue paint on the quackers’ power play. Multi-category help is hard to come by at this point in the season, and pucks are bound to bounce in off of a butt that size. Be prepared to grab him if he actually gets his audition with Perry and Getzlaf.

Back to chirping.

What do you have to lose (other than the league title)? You chirp your buddies all the time. So why not do it now?

Do it with a smile. You could even insert one of those stupid smiley-face emoticons just to add insult to injury.

Worst-case scenario? You lose out on a trade but you laugh your butt off.

Nothing wrong with that.

Until next week.