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Monday Daily Puck: What's one game of Sidney Crosby worth?

John Toperzer

John Toperzer

John has written for Rotowire.com since 2003 and serves as the beat writer for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also contributes with a Daily Puck article every Monday. He’s worked for the Pirates for 15 years, written for the Penguins’ Web site as the first game-day editor, and rooted for the Steelers dating back to the Immaculate Reception.

Around The Rink

Week 16 brings up a common dilemma in weekly fantasy leagues i.e. what do poolies do with players on teams with light schedules. The Pittsburgh Penguins play all of one game -- Wednesday, against the Washington Capitals. Do you stick with Sidney Crosby over an average centerman playing a four-game schedule? Three games? What about Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang? Fantasy players have some sticky decisions to make in an important fantasy week.

Without further ado, let’s get to the meat of the article.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Calgary Flames (Reto Berra) at Carolina Hurricanes (Anton Khudobin), 7:00 PM
Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00 PM
Phoenix Coyotes (Mike Smith) at Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec), 8:00 PM
Vancouver Canucks (Eddie Lack) at Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Monday

Calgary Flames
Kris Russell, D - Russell (knee) skated on his own Saturday and Sunday, Aaron Vickers of NHL.com reports. (1/5/2014)
David Jones, RW - Jones (eye) did not take part in the Flames' morning skate, Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun reports. (1/11/2014)
Patrick Sieloff, D - Sieloff is at home in Ann Arbor, Mich., recovering from a staph infection, the Calgary Herald reports. (11/22/2013)
Curtis Glencross, LW - Glencross has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and will miss eight weeks, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan reports. (12/23/2013)
Blair Jones, C - Jones has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus and will be out indefinitely, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 reports. (12/23/2013)

Carolina Hurricanes
Jay Harrison, D - Harrison (concussion) will be a game-time decision Sunday against the Predators. (1/5/2014)
Jiri Tlusty, LW - Tlusty underwent an emergency appendectomy Tuesday and will miss the next 2-to-3 weeks, Michael Smith of the Hurricanes' website reports. (12/27/2013)
Joni Pitkanen, D - Pitkanen (heel) was placed on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (10/1/2013)
Cam Ward, G - Ward (lower body) may skate Thursday morning, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (1/8/2014)
Eric Staal, C - Staal (lower body) returned to practice Sunday. (1/12/2014)

Tampa Bay Lightning
Brian Lee, D - Lee (knee) is still only doing off-ice workouts. (11/9/2013)
Ben Bishop, G - Bishop will be on the ice Friday morning to test out his sprained wrist, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. (1/10/2014)
Mattias Ohlund, D - Ohlund (knee) was placed on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reports. (10/2/2013)
Sami Salo, D - Salo, who left Saturday's game with a lower-body injury, was seen using crutches in the locker room after the game. (1/11/2014)
Steven Stamkos, C - Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he believes Stamkos (leg) will be able to return in time to play in the Olympics, reports the Associated Press. Cooper said if Stamkos can play for the Lightning before the Olympics, "naturally he's going to be ready." (1/9/2014)
Keith Aulie, D - Aulie (hand) practiced in a red no-contact jersey Thursday morning, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. (1/10/2014)
Victor Hedman, D - Hedman left Saturday's game in the third period after he was leveled on a hit by the Flyers' Scott Hartnell, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. After the hit, Hedman got up and threw his helmet and stick, earning an ejection from the game. (1/11/2014)
J.T. Brown, LW - Brown (shoulder) was on the ice for Friday's practice, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. (1/10/2014)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Marian Gaborik, RW - Gaborik (collarbone) is no longer wearing a sling, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (1/8/2014)
Ryan Craig, C - Craig (lower body) was sent down to AHL Springfield on Friday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (1/10/2014)
Blake Comeau, LW - Comeau is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee. (1/10/2014)
Jack Skille, RW - Skille (upper body) was placed on injured reserve by the Blue Jackets on Friday. (1/3/2014)
Jared Boll, RW - Boll will miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery on his ankle Monday. (12/17/2013)

Phoenix Coyotes
Zbynek Michalek, D - Michalek (lower body) is out for Saturday's game against the Flyers. (1/4/2014)

Winnipeg Jets
Matt Halischuk, RW - Halischuk (forearm) is back skating for the Jets, Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press reports. (1/10/2014)
Grant Clitsome, D - Coach Claude Noel said Clitsome (back) "hasn't been able to do much" since landing on injured reserve, Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press reports. (1/10/2014)
Paul Postma, D - Coach Claude Noel said Postma (leg) is close to practicing with the team, Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press reports. (1/10/2014)
Evander Kane, LW - Kane (hand) will not play in the Jets' game against the Blue Jackets on Saturday, according to TSN's Darrin Bauming. (1/11/2014)
Jim Slater, C - Slater (sports hernia) is making slow but steady progress in his recovery, Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press reports. "I don't know where he's at percentage-wise, but he's above 50 percent," coach Claude Noel said of Slater's health. (1/10/2014)

Vancouver Canucks
Roberto Luongo, G - Luongo (ankle) will travel with the team on its upcoming road trip that starts Monday in Los Angeles. (1/12/2014)
Andrew Alberts, D - Alberts (head) has been placed on IR. (1/7/2014)
Alexandre Burrows, RW - Burrows (jaw) won't be medically cleared to play until next Saturday against the Flames, meaning he will miss the next four games, the Vancouver Sun reports. (1/10/2014)
Alexander Edler, D - Edler (knee) will not play Friday vs. the Blues. (1/10/2014)
Jordan Schroeder, C - Schroeder (ankle) had successful surgery on his broken ankle in early November and is expected to return in eight-to-nine weeks, News 1130 reports. (11/5/2013)
Ryan Stanton, D - Coach John Tortorella said Stanton would miss multiple weeks with an ankle injury, Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reports. (12/19/2013)
Hunter Shinkaruk, C - Shinkaruk will require major hip surgery and miss the rest of the WHL season, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun reports. (12/27/2013)


Hot

Loui Eriksson: He’s back! Eriksson assisted on Boston’s lone goal in a 1-0 win at San Jose on Saturday. Cross your fingers that he’s working under a two-concussion limit in 2013-14, because of a third blow to the head could derail the rest of his season. When healthy, however, Eriksson is close to a must-start.

Ryane Clowe: Early returns are good. Clowe has a goal and five points in his last four games. Get him while he’s healthy, dump him when he gets hurt.

Tommy Wingels: He’s back after a short stint on IR. Wingels registered 10 hits against the Boston Bruins. That by itself gets him on my hot list. He’s also chipped in with nine goals and 22 points in 41 games.

Mikael Backlund: Any Flames player that ends a 196-minute goalless stretch on home ice deserves mention.

Eric Staal: He could return Monday after missing the Hurricanes’ last three games with a lower-body injury. If not, he’ll surely be back for the team’s back-to-back weekend games.

Radim Vrbata: Five assists in his last three games and 34 points in 42 contests. Vrbata is likely outproducing his draft spot. He’s got a shot to eclipse his career mark of 62 points, set in 2011-12.

Matthew Carle: The former Flyer torched his old team Saturday with two assists and a plus-6 rating. Carle has pointed in six straight January contests – tallying eight assists while compiling a plus-8 rating.

Ryan Malone: You’re excused if you take a wait-and-see attitude on Malone, even after his two-goal showing Saturday (which included an empty-netter). The big winger has totaled 11 goals in his last 53 games but has eclipsed the 20-goal mark six times.

James Wisniewski: The ninth-year Columbus defender is on pace for a career year with 25 points (3G, 22A) in 38 games. The well-paid Wisniewski already has 10 power-play assists and his plus-1 rating won’t hurt fantasy owners.

Alexander Edler: Hopefully the last five-plus weeks on IR have given the Swedish blueliner the necessary contemplative time off to figure out why he stinks -- nine points in 27 games and a minus-12 rating stinky. He’s on the hot list, however, because there’s a chance he might be available in your fantasy league and he has the pedigree to put up a strong second half.

Cold

Pittsburgh Penguins: The team plays just one game in Week 17.

Danny DeKeyser: He came back for the Winter Classic and looked terrible. He probably wasn’t 100 percent, especially since he missed additional time immediately thereafter. Before getting hurt, Dekeyser had a nice run with eight points in 10 games. The rookie has one assist in seven games since returning and appears to be playing at less than 100 percent.

Sean Couturier: Two points in his last 10. Couturier is a classic example of fantasy owners doing their own due diligence. Plenty of fantasy experts recommended the young Philly when he went on a mini-streak in early December. The first-round draft pick has one power-play point in 2013-14 and is still a defensive whiz at this stage of his young NHL career. Picking the season when his offense matures remains a risky proposition. (Note: Alas, Couturier tallied a power-play assist in the third period of Sunday’s loss).

Anton Khudobin: He lost a game Friday against Columbus, his first defeat in seven decisions. Khudobin will likely get another shot Monday at home against Calgary, but if he does poorly, look for the team to give Cam Ward or Justin Peters a look next weekend.

Keith Yandle: The snubbed would-be Olympian admitted he let his team down with a minus-3 performance against Anaheim on Saturday, his second straight minus-3 effort. Yandle’s too good not to end his mini-slump, perhaps as early as Monday. He has six assists in five career contests against Winnipeg.

Matt Frattin: The former Toronto Maple Leaf was a trendy consideration in deep leagues prior to 2013-14 but has delivered two goals and six points in 32 games. Last year, Frattin totaled 13 points in 25 games with Toronto, leading some to believe he could break out. That hasn’t happened.

Recommended Pickup

Ryan Malone: Tampa Bay plays five times in Week 16. Poolies leary of putting Malone into their personal fantasy circle of trusts could look at other Lightning forwards, too. Minnesota plays three times at home and Nino Niederreiter has plenty of post-hype talent with eight points in his last eight games.