From goal scorers to defenders to the men who keep the puck out of the net, each week we'll take a spin around the rink and touch on some of the players that are in the news.
Jarome Iginla is finally back. The NHL's reigning 1st Star of the Week, Iginla has four goals in his last three games and nine points in his last five contests. He's still has a mere 11 goals and 21 points in 29 games played on the year, but he's playing like his old self the last 10 days and that has to make his owners smile.
Ryan Kesler started the year on the sidelines as he recovered from surgery, but he's certainly found his groove late for the Canucks. One of the best two-way forwards in the game, Kesler has ratcheted up the offense of late with five goals and nine helpers in 10 games. He's back to being an elite forward option.
Artem Anisimov got a lot of press when he scored a goal and then proceeded to use his hockey stick as a gun to shoot the puck in net, but it's his production that warrants a mention today. He has four goals and three assists in six games in the month of December.
Kyle Brodziak is one of the hottest skaters in the league. No, I'm serious. The last two weeks he's not only lit the lamp five times but he's also handed out two helpers, has 18 shots on goal, has 19 penalty minutes and has racked up 10 hits. All of a sudden there are quite a few Wild skaters who are looking like solid pickups.
Brendan Morrison is like 43 years old, OK he's just 36, but he's an afterthought to most. Still, he's not devoid of talent (over his 79 games as a Flame dating back to last year he's registered 12 goals and 39 assists). He's produced seven points over his last three games, so if you're desperate down the middle, you could look his way.
Paul Szczechura, and I bet at least half of you out there don't know what team he is on, will center the top line for the Sabres on Tuesday lining up with wingers Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. Paul, there is no way I'm typing that last name again, has three points in four games this season and obviously finds himself in a position that could lead to some substantial production if he can prove worthy of sticking on the line.
Young Colin Wilson of the Predators had 16 goals last season in his first full NHL season. In his last five games he has two goals and has dished out four helpers.
Blue Line Business
John Carlson of the Capitals was the NHL's 3rd Star for the just completed week after he recorded a goal and six helpers in three games. He's well on his way to surpassing his totals of seven goals and 37 points as he already has five goals and 15 assists in just 28 games.
Kurtis Foster was sent packing by the Ducks, along with G Timo Peilmeier, in exchange for Rod Pelley, Mark Fraser and a 7th round draft pick from the Devils. Foster is the name to be concerned with here as the Devils seem very likely to give Foster some substantial time with the man advantage. “He hasn't played much this year but we know enough about him,” GM Lou Lamoriello said. “We were looking for someone who can handle the puck and the point.” Add Foster off waivers if you're in need of a boost on the backend.
Erik Johnson was the #1 pick in the land in 2006. After failing to live up to expectations in St. Louis, the rearguard was sent to the Avalanche. Consider that experiment a failure as well. Through 25 games this season he hasn't scored a single goal, has just nine helpers, and had a wretched (-14) hanging around his neck. He still has plenty of time to grow his game, he's only 23 years old, but for now he is a fantasy liability.
Sheldon Souray had eight points in 11 games to open the season for the Stars. Since that point, things have gone horribly wrong. Souray has a mere five points in 17 games, but it's actually much worse than that as he has gone 14-straight games without a point. So much for him returning to his previous level of greatness.
P.K. Subban is a tremendously impressive young rearguard, one with a lot of offensive upside (he showed it last season with 14 goals and 24 assists in his first season in the league). Unfortunately, his offensive game has taken a step back this year (1g, 10a) as he's focused more on the defensive side of the game. "For my team, you look at the amount of minutes, I'm playing, they don't need me rushing the puck every shift or extending my shifts or leading the cycle in the offensive zone." But *we all need you to do that P.K.
Martin Brodeur is just 6-8-0 with a 3.18 GAA, nearly a full goal above the 2.23 mark he has for his 1,148 game NHL career. He's allowed two goals in each of his last three appearances, but he just can't seem to get over the hump.
Matthew Hackett was named the NHL's 2nd Star after he stopped 76 of 78 pucks (.974 save percentage) on his way to two victories for the Wild. Too bad for him that Niklas Backstrom is back, relegating Hackett to a support role. When Josh Harding is ready Hackett will be sent back to the minors, but he's certainly made a major impression on the Wild's brass.
Roberto Luongo is back. Winner of his last four outings, Luongo has permitted just five pucks to hit the back of the net in those four games. Cory Schneider has done a wonderful job for the Canucks but this is still, clearly, Luongo's team.
Dwayne Roloson should not be active for your fantasy squad. Besides owning a simply hideous 3.67 GAA on the year, Dwayne had allowed four goals in four straight games before allowing just three on Monday. However, he was pulled after just 21 minutes in the contest as he stopped only nine of 12 shots. The 42 year old looks washed up.
Zdeno Chara was originally thought to be out through the Christmas holiday with a leg injury. News comes out of Boston that Chara might just be day-to-day and that he certainly could return before the holiday. Chara has been streaking since the start of November with 15 points and a +17 rating in 18 games.
Sidney Crosby does not have a concussion, but he remains out with concussion related symptoms. Confused? So am I. Crosby has passed the baseline testing (an ImPACT test), but he's still got a headache and doesn't feel right. At this point Crosby could be back in a few days, or as it seems more likely, we could be talking about a lengthier rest for Crosby. I'm going to be the bringer of doom here... is it possible that Crosby's career as an every game player is already over? Let's hope that they get this figured out soon and that Crosby's career isn't severely impacted by this issue.
Evgeni Nabokov (groin) has been activated from the IR. With the way that Al Montoya is playing it's unclear if Nabokov will split work, take over, or serve as the backup for the Isles. It wouldn't be at all surprising if the two battled for time in net.
Martin St. Louis, who lost his games played streak at 499 when he was hit in the face by a puck in practice (facial and nasal fractures), will likely be out past Christmas and potentially until January. Here's to hoping it's sooner rather than later.
Jeff Skinner doesn't have a concussion according to the team, but he continues to sit out. Consider him day-to-day for now, at least until the Hurricanes give us some more information about what's going on with him.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and his NHL thoughts can be read at Rotowire.com. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.To email Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.