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The Daily Puck: What's Wrong With Geno?

John Toperzer

John Toperzer

John Toperzer writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Although there's little debate Evgeni Malkin is a superstar, a closer look reveals he's been very good, but not great in three of the last four seasons. Malkin is off to a decent start in 2013-14 with three goals and 10 points in 11 games, but he's averaged less than one point, collectively, per game in 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2013-14. Of course, he won the Hart Trophy in 2011-12, totaling 109 points in 74 games, so there's no denying his potential greatness.

Still, fantasy owners who picked Geno high in drafts in three of the last four seasons have been disappointed with a combined 80 points in 85 games. A telltale sign of Malkin's success lies with his shooting percentage. When he won the Hart and Art Ross several seasons ago, he finished with a 14.7 shooting percentage. In his other three most recent years, that number has dropped to 8.5 percent.

The Penguins center recently admittedly he's not 100 percent - fortunately he didn't mean he was hurt, only that he's not playing up to his level. He's right. Malkin has skated some of his best hockey when Sidney Crosby's been out. No doubt a healthy Malkin and Crosby is best for Pittsburgh, but the best thing for Malkin's fantasy owners might be a trade - not that that's going to happen anytime soon.

Getting 40-goal scorer James Neal back - he's still out indefinitely - and Beau Bennett will give Geno and his fantasy owners a boost. Linemates Jussi Jokinen and especially Chuck Kobasew or Matt D'Agostini have had a hard time playing up to Malkin's level.

Long story short, it might be time to start looking at Malkin in a different light, at least until something changes.

The Thomas Vanek for Matt Moulson trade is a shocker given the timing of the deal. Players of Vanek's ilk are typically dealt closer to the deadline. Vanek owners should rejoice that the teams did the deal so early in the season. Vanek goes from a Buffalo team averaging 1.46 goals per game to an Islanders team scoring at a 3.09 goals per game clip. Matt Moulson, who has totaled 53 points in 58 games since 2011-12, goes to the rebuilding Sabres. It doesn't take a genius to see which player's fantasy value gets a boost and which one drops.

Lastly, what are we to make of the Philadelphia Flyers. Are they a buy-low team after a 5-2 win over the Isles on Saturday? That's a tough call, but it might make sense to send out feelers on Claude Giroux. Giroux has only five assists in 10 games and could still be suffering from an offseason wrist injury, but his numbers are bound to improve - provided his injury isn't long-term. Wayne Simmonds has had a terrible start, but he's got no place to go but up. If you believe in Philly at all, now is the time to pounce.

Hot

Alex Steen: Steven Stamkos, Henrik Sedin, Steen, Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Which of these is not like the other? These were the NHL's top five scorers and the Blues' forward was one of them. His 38.5 shooting percentage will regress closer to his career mark of 9.6 percent, but enjoy the ride while he's hot - unless you can get good value in return. Figure on a 45-50 point season for Steen.

Logan Couture & Matt Duchene: No, these aren't sleepers, but they are the kind of players with the ability to make the jump to the elite level, given their goal-scoring ability and game maturity. Both forwards are in their fifth seasons and are on teams with boatloads of young talent. Couture (6G, 8A in 12 games) and Duchene (9G, 4A in 11 games) are worth targeting and paying the premium to acquire.

Torey Krug: He's got four goals and six points in 10 contests, including three goals in his last three games. It's early, but it's looking like Krug's playoff performance last season wasn't a fluke.

Cold

Zdeno Chara: When you're 6-foot-9 with the wingspan of a 747, you can pretty much do what you want on the ice. Chara came up with the Islanders as a defensive player who could chip in the occasional point or two. Since then, he figured the game out and regularly totaled 40 or 50 points. It appears as though he's slowing down a bit offensively. His shots are down and he's scored 22 points in 58 games since 2011-12. He still has good value for a blueliner, but it's not quite what it used to be. His name might be greater than his fantasy game at this point in his career.

Sergei Gonchar: Gonchar has a history of playing poorly his first season with a new team and then rebounding. But at this stage of his career, it's hard to have that kind of faith. Gonchar struggled to start 2012-13, but finished with 27 points in 45 games. This year, he has one assist in 10 games. The difference is that he's not getting shots to the net. Last season, Gonchar took nearly two shots per game (85 shots). He currently has only nine shots, less than one per game. He's a vet and the Stars are paying him a lot of money, but at age 39 he's slowing down.

Tyler Ennis: He has one point and a minus-4 rating in 13 games for the Sabres. Ennis averaged 0.66 points per game (123 points in 187 games) prior to 2013-14. Some have compared him to the enigmatic Maxim Afinogenov. Perhaps he'll find some chemistry with newly-acquired Matt Moulson - something has to give.

Recommended Pickup

Radko Gudas, D, TAM: He may make some silly decisions in his own end, but there's no denying his fantasy usefulness in leagues which use hits, penalty minutes and blocked shots. He's got a goal and four points in 11 games to go along with 40 hits, 31 PIMs and 22 blocks.

Monday's Projected Goalie Starters

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check here

Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Carolina (Justin Peters), 7:00 PM ET
Dallas (Kari Lehtonen) at Buffalo (Ryan Miller), 7:00 PM ET
Montreal (Carey Price) at Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:30 PM ET
Chicago (Corey Crawford) at Minnesota (Nicklas Backstrom), 8:00 PM ET
Washington (Braden Holtby) at Vancouver (Roberto Luongo), 10:00 PM ET

Recent Injury News for Monday's Teams

Pittsburgh
James Neal (undisclosed) - Not yet practicing after leaving in opener.
Beau Bennett (lower body) - Out but skated prior to practice Friday.
Rob Scuderi (leg) - Injured Saturday, will be reevaluated back in Pittsburgh on Monday.

Carolina
Jeff Skinner (upper body) - Underwent MRI Sunday, questionable Monday.
Anton Khudobin (lower body) - Not close to returning.
Radek Dvorak (lower body) - Questionable for Monday, missed practice Sunday.
Cam Ward (lower body) - Getting MRI Sunday but still out for weeks.
Brett Bellemore (lower body) - Placed on injured reserve Saturday.
Patrick Dwyer (lower body) - IR for several days.

Dallas
Ryan Garbutt (suspension) - Serving five-game suspension.

Buffalo
Mike Weber (thumb) - Placed on injured reserve Saturday.
John Scott (suspension) - Hearing set for Thursday, expect suspension.
Patrick Kaleta (suspension) - Serving 10-game suspension
Corey Tropp (broken jaw) - Still out at least a week with broken jaw.
Joel Armia (broken hand) - Out another couple weeks.

Montreal
Douglas Murray (upper body) - Out Monday, but progressing ahead of schedule.
Daniel Briere (concussion) - Out indefinitely with his third concussion.
Brandon Prust (shoulder) - Will miss a month with a right shoulder injury.
Max Pacioretty (hamstring) - Out with a strained left hamstring.
Alexei Emelin (knee) - Out until end of November.
Davis Drewiske (shoulder) - Out another four months.

Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist (undisclosed) - Returns Monday against Montreal.
Rick Nash (concussion) - Out Monday, has not returned to practice.
Carl Hagelin (shoulder) - Eligible to return from IR as soon as Tuesday.
Ryan Callahan (thumb) - Still out for the week with a broken thumb.

Chicago

Minnesota
Keith Ballard (concussion) - Out Monday against the Blackhawks.
Charlie Coyle (lower body) - The promising youngster will not play Monday.
Josh Harding lower body) - Could serve as Nicklas Backstrom's backup Monday.
Jonas Brodin (face) - Out Monday with a broken cheekbone.
Michael Rupp (knee) - He's participating in practice but is unlikely to play Monday.

Washington
Jack Hillen (leg) - Out until the new calendar year with a broken leg.
Evgeny Kuznetsov (shoulder) - Expected to return in KHL sometime in November.

Vancouver
David Booth (undisclosed) - Hasn't played since leaving Thursday with injury.
Dale Weise (leg) - Fourth liner left early Thursday, Monday status unknown.
Jordan Schroeder (ankle) - Currently on injured reserve with ankle injury.
Jannik Hansen (arm) - Placed on IR with an arm injury.