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Frozen Fantasy: Jettison All Senators

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.

The e-mail came within minutes of the first tweet. Erik Karlsson’s Achilles tendon was cut and his owner had given up on his season. Fire sale, it said.

More like flush.

It was the quickest tap-out I’ve ever seen. I get it. I really do. It’s a keeper format so it’s about making choices for 2013-14. But what happens in single-year leagues?

There’s no easy answer.

The Sens are headed straight to the draft lottery. Cripes, they might end up with the best odds to land Nathan McKinnon, Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin or Ottawa’s own Sean Monahan. Small consolation, I suppose. It would actually be nice to have one of those youngsters alongside Karlsson when he returns.

Single-year owners are probably panicking or they’re completely numb. Karlsson has already been dumped in 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

But don’t give up.

I’m not saying you should hold onto him. But I am saying that there may be creative ways to maintain traction in some of his key contributing categories. It just requires creativity.

Honestly, I think the bigger losers might be the ones rostering other Sens.

Let me explain. Karlsson did it all for the Sens. He carried the puck up. He protected Craig Anderson. He set up the Sens’ forwards. He fired the puck. He’s the conductor for the Ottawa orchestra. Without him, there are just a bunch of strings and brass instruments. And they sound like crap without a conductor.

Trade your Sens now. I am.

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

Joe Corvo, D, Carolina (6 percent owned) – I guess all Corvo needed was a good benching to snap his game back into perspective. He has five points in his last four games and should be picked up immediately. He has delivered at a 0.5 point-per-game pace before (and that wasn’t that long ago). The Canes have a whole lot more firepower up front than perhaps ever before (or at least in a very long time) and Corvo has the skills to get them the puck.

Eric Fehr, RW, Washington (0 percent owned) – Fehr has always been a fantastic talent, but he’s as injury prone as the Trail Blazers’ Greg Oden. Yikes. But he has a sniper’s mentality and will definitely deliver when healthy. Like right now – he has three goals and two assists in his last three games.

Cody Franson, D, Toronto (16 percent owned) – Franson spent chunks of last season stapled to that awful splintered bench in the press box. He has most of the tools – size, poise, offensive skill – to be a top-four NHL defender, but his foot speed can leave him exposed at times. However this season, the Leafs have embraced more of a Western Conference approach to their game and he’s thriving. He entered Thursday on a four-game, five-point streak and has eight points in 11 games overall. He could actually end up leading the Leafs in blue-line scoring this year.

Carl Hagelin, LW, NY Rangers (12 percent owned) – Hagelin is the most interesting hockey player in the world. OK, he really isn’t, but he’s one of the more interesting unowned guys on this list. He exploded onto the scene last year, winning the Fastest Skater title at the All-Star Game and finishing with 38 points in 64 games. His skating is breathtaking and his skills are strong, and that combination has given him four goals and two assists in his last three games. Playing on the Rangers’ top line helps, too. Snap him up – his two-point effort Thursday has his ownership on an express elevator.

Jannik Hansen, RW, Vancouver (5 percent owned) – Give him ice, watch him score. It’s what he did last year when he delivered 22 points in 37 games to start the season. He was filling in on the second-line last year and he’s doing the same thing right now. Heading into Friday’s game, Hansen has four points in his last four games. Snag him while he remains on the second line and drop him the moment he slips off. He’s just another largely interchangeable third-line checker otherwise.

Jussi Jokinen, LW/C, Carolina (4 percent owned) – Jokinen has been awful so far this season. But remember – he has averaged 54 points over the last three seasons and probably just needs his carburetor tuned a little differently to improve his output. It looks like his throttle response is improving – just check out the three points, including two goals, in his last four games. Adding him is a risk, but then again, so is crossing the street some days. What’s the harm? Take a test drive. You can always drop him in a few games if his game coughs or sputters.

Darcy Kuemper, G, Minnesota (0 Percent owned) – Kuemper is a solid prospect, but he’s still a bit of project right now. He was pressed into NHL action on Tuesday night when Josh Harding couldn’t go and there’s no specific timeline on the latter’s return. Multiple Sclerosis is an unforgiving disease and Harding is working to get his meds properly aligned. That doesn’t happen overnight. Kuemper could be up for a bit and Niklas Backstrom owners would be wise to roster him. I did.

Mark Letestu, C, Columbus (1 percent owned) – Five points in five games? That’s what happens to a third-line player on a bad team when he takes a leap up to the top trio. He’s smart with the puck and away from it, and is opportunistic when opponents make mistakes. He can’t sustain this output … or can he? He went on a rip at the end of last season (six goals and five assists in 16 games), so he’s a definite sleeper pick-up for smart owners.

Marc Methot, D (4 percent owned) and Patrick Wiercioch, D, Ottawa (1 percent owned) – Oh boy. The Sens are sunk now that Erik Karlsson is hurt, but they still have to fill his roster spot. Methot and Wiercioch have as good a shot as any to try to do just that. Each has his merits and his faults, and either will deliver secondary fantasy points with increased ice time. Just watch for the drag on your plus-minus – it’s one thing to stretch your skills and a whole other to be miscast for a long period of time.

Jordan Schroeder, C, Vancouver (1 percent owned) – Schroeder is small, speedy and skilled, but he has struggled to find his groove in the AHL. He looked great Saturday night when he drained two goals against the Flames and I think he has a chance to really show off his talents now that the Orcas have shut down Manny Malhotra. I’d love to see him line up with Zach Kassian … I think they’d excel in a Mutt and Jeff kind of way. Right now, he has the smarts and skills to deliver in deep leagues. Or at least not hurt you like some other high-risk prospects on lesser teams.

Jiri Tlusty, LW/C, Carolina (26 percent owned) – What the heck has gotten into this Internet photo star? He exploded offensively this week with five goals and seven points in the three games heading into Thursday’s tilt with the Leafs. It’s easy to forget this guy was a first-round draft pick. He’s still inconsistent, but he’s a strong skater with nifty hands and a quick , compact release. And that means he can keep up with top-flight players … like Eric Staal and Alexander Semin. Yep, that’s who is hopping the boards with and that makes his worthy of major ownership. He took a 25 percent jump from Tuesday night to Thursday morning, and won’t be out there much longer.

Plus-Minus Power

Mark Fraser, D, Toronto (1 percent owned) – Fraser is never going to be an offensive powerhouse. But he’s a great defensive defenseman who can skate well and is hard to play against. And that means there aren’t a lot of goals scored while he’s on the ice. He’s plus-10 in his first 11 games and also has 24 PIMs. Stick him into your last D spot and he’ll help sop up the mess left by your best cherry-picker.

PIM Producers

Brad Staubitz, RW, Anaheim (0 percent owned) – He doesn’t play much, but when he does, he delivers with his fists. He has two, 17-PIM efforts in his last three games; one of those was for a vicious spear on the Stars’ Brenden Dillon’s man bits. Grab him if you need sin bin help. And keep his name in mind for the first week of April when the Stars and Ducks play three times. He’s a marked man for what he did to Dillon.

Back to Karlsson.

Matt Cooke didn’t cut Karlsson on purpose – that’s a ludicrous idea. But he did cut any hope the Sens had for the postseason.

And any hope that fantasy owners had for riding their Sens to a title.

Until next week.

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