This week’s article includes Vinny on a roll, Dubi’s rising star on Broadway, a devastating injury to Edmonton’s best d-man and Tampa Bay’s top offseason acquisition struggling.
First Liners (Risers)
Vincent Lecavalier, C, TB – After struggling at the start of the year and then being sidelined with an injury, Lecavalier has found his prior form. Vinny extended his scoring streak to four games with an assist Thursday and has seven points in the eight games he played since coming off the injured list. The window to acquire him from a frustrated owner is just about closed, but maybe you can find one who spent a little too much time partying on New Year’s Eve and ride Lecavalier’s likely strong second half to a league title.
Olli Jokinen, C, CGY – Jokinen is one name I didn’t think would be part of the ‘Risers’ list this season; but his recent performance warrants mention. Jokinen has six goals in his past 10 games, including three in his last four, to give him eight on the year. With GM Jay Feaster indicating he has no intention to trade Jarome Iginla, Olli should remain on a line with the Flames’ sniper. That said, tread carefully with Jokinen because just as quick as he got hot, the switch could flip and you might be stuck with an albatross in your lineup.
Brandon Dubinsky, LW, NYR – Numerous Rangers have gotten injured since the beginning of the year, including Vaclav Prospal, Chris Drury (2x), Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan and now Erik Christensen. Through it all, there has been one main productive member on the team - Dubinsky. Dubi has tallied in back-to-back contests, giving him 16 markers and 16 assists in 32 games this year. The Alaska native seems a cinch to better his career high of 20 goals, set just last year, and has taken his game to the next level this season.
Patrick Sharp, RW, CHI – Sharp has taken advantage of the Blackhawks' departures in the offseason and is on track to top his career highs of 25 goals and 41 assists, which came in 82 games last season. Sharp has 21 goals and 17 assists in 38 games, so he should pass his highest goal total soon. Injuries have allowed Sharp to see additional ice-time, both at even strength and on the man advantage; and though his minutes might take a slight hit when everyone returns, the return of the more talented players will be a benefit to Sharp when he is on the ice.
Kristian Huselius, RW, CMB – Huselius has picked up right where he left off when he was sidelined by an injury. Skating on a line with Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette, Huselius scored twice Thursday, giving him five goals in eight games (all in two contests) since returning after missing 22 games with an ankle injury. With Jakub Voracek slumping, Huselius has picked up the slack and should continue to produce as long as he skates on Columbus’ top line.
James Wisniewski D, MTL – Wisniewski was having a solid season on the Island, but the trade to Montreal bumps his value even higher. Wisniewski was a power-play asset for the Isles and will continue to be in his new surroundings. In addition, by being on a better a team, Wisniewski’s unsightly minus-18 rating should change substantially and head towards the plus side of the ledger. Wiz had a big game in his second contests as part of the bleu, blanc et rouge, by scoring a pair, including the game-winner, and adding an assist. His owners will reap the benefits of Wisniewski being a Canadien.
Andrew MacDonald, D, NYI – As I have said before, hockey, in most respects, is a zero-sum game. When one rises, someone usually else falls; or in this case, when someone is dealt, another player has to step up to fill the gap. This appears to be the case for the Islanders. With James Wisniewski now in Montreal and Mark Streit still out, there is a gaping hole on the blue line that has to be filled. There are a few candidates to fill the spot, but right now, it looks as if MacDonald will have the first crack. He had a pair of assists Friday, giving him six in the last six games, and looks to be the main blueliner on the power play on the Island.
Dwayne Roloson, G, TB – Roloson was traded to the Lightning on Saturday, which should give his fantasy value an even further boost. Roloson won four of his last five starts before the trade, the lone loss being a 7-2 thumping at the hands of the Rangers. His peripherals are pretty solid – a 2.64 GAA and .916 SV% - and he will have a much better chance at the win each night playing with the high-scoring Lightning. The Lightning sit in first place despite having given up an astounding 122 goals, so Roloson will likely get every chance to secure the team’s starting goalie role.
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR – Lundqvist is having a solid, not spectacular year in nets for the Rangers. His 16 wins along with a 2.41 GAA and .921 save percentage are all top 10 in the league, yet his owners are likely disappointed by the overall numbers. That said, with Marian Gaborik now back, Vaclav Prospal back in a few weeks and Ryan Callahan expected to return in February, the Rangers’ offense may perk up even more, allowing him register more wins.
Others include: Mikhail Grabovski, Derek Stepan, Peter Regin, Brian Boyle, Ryan Kesler, Anze Kopitar, Paul Stastny, Jordan Staal (playing in Winter Classic), Stephen Weiss, Vladimir Sobotka, Mason Raymond, Nikolai Kulemin, Troy Brouwer, Shane Doan, Patrick Kane (off IR), Jiri Hudler (signs of life), Anthony Stewart, Kris Versteeg, Evgeni Dadonov, Corey Perry, TJ Galiardi, Martin St. Louis, Marco Sturm, Ray Whitney, Erik Karlsson, Nicklas Lidstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Jeff Petry, Travis Hamonic, Erik Johnson, Tomas Kaberle, Kevin Bieksa, Pavel Kubina (warming up), Tobias Enstrom, Steve Mason, Tim Thomas, Michael Leighton, Pekka Rinne, Miikka Kiprusoff, Jonas Gustavsson and Jaroslav Halak.
Training Room (Injuries)
Jason Spezza, C, OTT – Spezza suffered a right shoulder injury in Ottawa’s win over the Penguins last Sunday and will require at least six weeks of rest. The injury fortunately will not require surgery, but that does not change the outlook. While Spezza has not had a great year and will be hard pressed to hit the 50-point mark, he was the No. 1 center on the team and his playmaking abilities will be sorely missed.
Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA – Getzlaf suffered multiple nasal sinus fractures Tuesday after getting hit in the face with a puck and is out indefinitely. A CT scan taken Friday indicated Getzlaf's injuries are stable, but it looks like he will be on injured reserve for a while longer. The Ducks, and fantasy owners alike, will have a tough time replacing Getzlaf's production while he is out. The good news is it doesn’t appear he will be sidelined long-term.
Daniel Cleary, LW, DET – Cleary suffered a fractured ankle last Sunday against the Wild. Cleary, who tallied his team-leading 16th goal in the game, said he won't need surgery, but he estimates that he will be out "a month at least." Cleary was on pace for a career-best 30+ goals, but the bugaboo that has haunted his career– injuries - reared its ugly head again Sunday.
Jussi Jokinen, LW, CAR – Jokinen, missed Wednesday’s game with a lower body injury and was unable to play against the Devils on Saturday. He reportedly tried to practice on New Year’s Eve but left after 10 minutes. There is no timeframe for Jokinen’s return, so owners will have to put his 26 points on the shelf for now.
Steve Sullivan, LW, NAS – Sullivan, who sustained a lower-body injury on December 23, has been sidelined ever since and finally landed on injured reserve Tuesday. Sullivan has suffered a lot of injuries over the years but was able to play 82 games last year for the first time since '02-'03 and had avoided the injury bug until last week. Sullivan had mild fantasy value with 20 points in 34 games, so feel free to find a replacement if you had been waiting for him to return.
T.J. Oshie, LW, STL – Oshie, out with a broken ankle since November 10, was not wearing the "no contact" orange jersey when he practiced Friday morning with his teammates. The Blues are still targeting the end of January - sometime around the All-Star break - for Oshie's return to action, but Friday's practice might allow the team to push that date up. "He looked good," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "Another good step in the rehab process. Hands looked fine and skating looked pretty good. He's got lots of work left to do, but certainly another good step today. The timeline is a moving target. We've got late January. If he beats it, great." If you have held on to Oshie, like I have, hoping for a quicker than expected return, signs point to the move paying off.
Ryan Whitney, D, EDM – Whitney, who suffered an ankle injury Tuesday against Buffalo, will be out of action for at least a month. The Oilers won't know the true extent of the injury to Whitney's ankle until the swelling subsides in about two weeks. It is at that point that doctors will decide if surgery is needed. If the tendon is dislocated than Whitney, who was having an All-Star type season with two goals and 25 assists and a plus-13 rating in 35 games, could be out much longer than just a month.
Marek Zidlicky, D, MIN – Zidlicky, who left Wednesday's game against the Sharks after taking a hard check and striking his head on the bench, suffered a shoulder injury that will sideline him long-term. No more details were given on the type or extent of the injury, but coach Todd Richards spoke of it in terms of months, not weeks. Zidlicky had been a steady source of production and was having a solid year with 20 points in 30 games, so he will be sorely missed.
Others include: Andy McDonald (concussion, still not symptom-free), Mike Comrie (hip surgery, out three months), Erik Christensen (out 4-6 weeks, second degree sprain of MCL in his right knee), Nikolai Antropov (IR, undisclosed), Jordin Tootoo (substance abuse rehab), Michael Del Zotto (groin/abdomen, healthy scratch, day-to-day) and Corey Crawford (back from illness Saturday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Eric Belanger, C, PHX – Belanger has only recorded three assists in the last 13 games, his last goal coming November 10 against Chicago. Belanger has not been effective for the past month. Even though he is not typically a 20-goal scorer, he is expected to at least chip in and help the Coyotes' scoring-by-committee approach. So far he has been non-existent. Belanger does lead the team in face-off wins at 55%, but unless your league uses that stat, it’s solely a number that helps the Coyotes on the ice.
Brian Rolston, C, NJ – Rolston was sent down to Albany (AHL) earlier in the week in an attempt to get his $5 million salary off the books. Consequently he had to pass through re-entry waivers, was not claimed, and is now back on the Devils' roster. With just two goals and three assists in 21 games, hopefully he wasn't on your roster to begin with. Rolston’s is an interesting story considering he was a viable source of goals and shots several years ago. It's no secret the Devils are looking to move him.
Ales Kotalik, LW, CGY – Kotalik put the puck past Buffalo’s Ryan Miller during a 5-2 win over the Sabres on Monday, which was his first point all season. Kotalik injured his knee during the preseason, which has limited him to just 11 games. However, since he is only averaging 11:34 of ice time per game, it's best to leave him alone in fantasy leagues until he works more shifts.
Simon Gagne, LW, TB – Gagne has no goals and just one assist in the past six games, failing to mesh with a healthy Vincent Lecavalier. Gagne was Tampa Bay’s big pick-up this offseason, and to date, he has been a bust. Limited to just 20 games due to an injury, he has just seven points, along with an unsightly minus-15 rating. Look elsewhere for production because Gagne has shown no signs of turning it around.
Zack Bogosian, D, ATL – Bogosian has been slated as the “future” for the Thrashers' defense for two years, but has yet to really take the big step to the next level. He was even a healthy scratch Friday, but it’s possible he just had a minor setback from a recent knee injury. With just six points in 33 games and a minus-8 rating, Bogosian has been a huge disappointment after potting 10 goals in his sophomore campaign. Perhaps spending New Year’s Eve in the press box was just a wakeup call for the young blue-liner because he was back in the lineup Sunday. See if he can pick things up going forward.
Martin Brodeur, G, NJ – The nightmare that has been Brodeur’s season seems to get worse each game. Brodeur has had a rough go of it since returning from a knee injury, going 0-8 and losing his last six starts. He is also is sitting with a career worst 3.04 GAA and .886 save percentage. It’s possible Broduer will have a resurgence under new/old coach Jacques Lemaire, but don’t count on it given how bad both he and his team have looked.
Others include: Steve Reinprecht, Mikael Backlund, Craig Conroy, Nazem Kadri, Gilbert Brule, Todd White, Linus Omark, Greg Mauldin, Niclas Bergfors, Tyler Ennis, Mike Knuble, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Luke Adam, Justin Braun, P.K. Subban, Mike Commodore, Anders Lindback, Craig Anderson, Mathieu Garon and Sergei Bobrovsky.