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Neutral Zone Wrap: Hanging (Around) Chad

Evan Berofsky

Evan Berofsky

Evan Berofsky enjoys writing. Seriously. When heís not trying to shove hockey miscellany down your throat, he gets his kicks playing tournament Scrabble(TM). If you have anything to say about Evanís work (or need any hot word tips), feel free to contact him at or follow him on Twitter (@evanberofsky).

Ask not what your fantasy team can do for you, ask what others can do for your fantasy team. The other owners in your league may be perceived as your so-called enemies but they can unknowingly help you achieve success.

How so?

Say you're looking to trade. The first task is to target the player(s) in question. Check the other rosters and find a way to get it done. This process may not be straightforward but you should be persistent in your endeavor. Heck, if you know someone favors a certain NHL club, then try to work that angle to your advantage. If that owner is out of contention, then he/she may be more likely to give up value for a chance to grab a familiar face.

The aforementioned procedure is by no means foolproof but it's definitely a viable option if you're aiming for the title. Maybe some skater in the following collection just happens to be the one you've targeted for weeks. OK, that's probably not likely but there has to be at least one guy who deserves your attention:

(Stats as of Monday February 3)

Give my regards to the Rangers. Who knows what the future holds for Ryan Callahan in the Big Apple, but they'll be fine on the right side if Mats Zuccarello keeps up his run (four points in three games, nine in his last 11). After a couple seasons of grooming, Chris Kreider may be emerging as the forward New York has been waiting for (he's much better than a three-point night shoved in between eight scoreless efforts). Being the #3 center isn't as bad as it sounds for Derick Brassard (four in three, slots nicely on the second power-play). Don't get your hopes up on Benoit Pouliot (two in seven). The deep crater left behind by Michael del Zotto has been adequately filled by Marc Staal (four in three, plus-6) and allows John Moore (the 21st pick in 2009) extended opportunities.

The Big Bad Bruins are back. As long as Reilly Smith (recent seven-game point streak) keeps producing, Loui Eriksson (four in 10 since a concussion) may have to wait longer to recover his scoring touch. It's amazing to see how Carl Soderberg (28 in 46) has excelled, especially when he's down on the third line. Unfortunately for you, Chris Kelly (who peaked at 38 in 2011-12) scores much higher on intangibles than he does in the scoring department. And if you're a Tuukka Rask owner (raises hand, shakes head), you have to be miffed to see Chad Johnson (stealing four wins and a shutout the last two weeks) fill in more than he's supposed to.

Phoenix are hanging around the edge of playoff contention, so it remains to be seen what moves they make approaching the trade deadline. One would never be able to guess Shane Doan (four in six, including two power-play assists) is 37 based on the way he battles. Reliability and hard work have paid off for Lauri Korpikoski (six in seven), as he received the call to join Team Finland in Sochi. Even if the ice time ain't what it used to be, Mike Ribeiro (seven in seven) doesn't disappoint. And without much defensive special-team duty left, it's up to you to decide between veterans Derek Morris (two in 16) and Zbynek Michalek (points in two after nothing in seven following an injury) or 2011 first-rounder Connor Murphy (could sneak his way in one of the PP units).

Like the Coyotes, the 'Canes sit right behind the top eight in the East. The return of Cam Ward should provide a boost, even if Anton Khudobin (five victories in six, no more than three allowed in any of those) has performed admirably of late. Even time out and a temporary demotion shouldn't hurt Jiri Tlusty (five in six) for the rest of the campaign. The future is now for Elias Lindholm (one in 10), but maybe the 19-year old isn't ready for it. How Manny Malhotra made his way back from an eye injury is heartwarming, but don't be fooled by the offensive anomalies (three points last week vs. Ottawa, but the surrounding 11 goose eggs remain closer to the norm). Enjoy whatever John-Michael Liles (scoreless in six) can earn before he loses his prime power-play position.

One of these days the Islanders will figure it out. After arriving in October, Thomas Vanek (a blistering 31 in 32 in Long Island) realized where he was and apparently doesn't want to stay long-term. Congrats to Frans Nielsen (eight in 10, three PPAs) for keeping up the consistency and making many eat their words. Brock Nelson (four goals in eight) is slowly maturing and definitely worth a flyer for his secondary power-play action. Calvin de Haan hasn't necessarily wowed offensively since turning pro (but ran a five-game point streak in the middle of January), but the minutes are there to build a fantasy resume. And if Andrew MacDonald is also ready to be traded to a contender, perhaps Thomas Hickey (four in six) can move up to a larger role.