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Frozen Fantasy: Foppa Floppa?

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson is a four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Happy early Valentine’s Day, Avs – Foppa picked you for his next big date.

He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me…

Peter Forsberg’s return Friday is a tough call – don’t you think? I liken it to starting to date a girl around Christmas or Valentine’s Day – you don’t want to mislead her with an extravagant gift but you also don’t want to screw things up by going cheap.

The decision is nerve wracking. What happens if you pick the wrong side?

I loved Peter Forsberg’s game in the mid-to-late 90s; he was an offensive machine with the attitude of a bull. But then came the injuries. All those injuries. Groin, upper-body, hernia and those feet. Oh, those painful feet.

Now he’s “unretiring.” He’ll be 38 this summer. And he last played in the NHL in 2008.

This isn’t going to be pretty.

Fantasy owners shouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole. No way, no how. I can’t say that strongly enough. You and I both know that someone in your league will pounce on him – cripes, he was snapped up weeks ago in several leagues I’m in. But smart owners really do know better.

Just how deep do those guys think center ice is?

At least he’s not Brett Favre – he didn’t hold his team hostage while he made his decision. But he does have a bit of Favre in him – there comes a point where you have to look into the mirror and see the man you are instead of the man you’ve been.

The game has gotten faster – a lot faster – than it was when he left. And I know all too well how chronic foot problems impact skating ability. Some days it’s tolerable if your pain threshold is high and others, you can’t feel (or move) your feet for at least 15 minutes after those skates come off.

I wish Foppa had stayed retired – it’s always better to go out on top than to leave small and broken. His legacy would still be intact. And we’d remember him for his on-ice dominance instead of his resume of injuries.

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

Chris Campoli, D, Ottawa (1 percent owned) – The Sens have lost a pathetic 16 straight games. But losing seems to have lit a fire under Campoli’s glutes, especially lately, and he has seven points in his last seven games. I knew he was an aggressive puckmover but this is nuts. He’s playing like he has nothing to lose (quite honestly, he probably doesn’t). It’d be a crime to ignore his current outburst. But just be ready to dump him as fast as you picked him up.

Ben Eager, LW, San Jose (2 percent owned) – This tough guy has talent and he obviously loves being on the top of the food chain instead of the brown-bird bottom. His move to the Sharks has inspired him to three points, 13 PIMs, 11 blocked shots and 15 hits in just eight games. He’s not just another meat-headed pylon; grab him if you need sin bin points.

Michael Frolik, RW, Chicago (14 percent owned) – That sound you hear is Frolik doing back flips through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. He is exceptionally talented but was mired in the Florida mud. His get-out-of-jail-free card came Wednesday and his career should ultimately explode. But here’s the rub. That studly supporting cast is great on paper but that team is now perhaps the deepest in the league down the starboard side. So unless Frolik can switch to left wing, he’s behind both Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Temper your expectations in single-year leagues but long-term, I really like how his opportunities have improved – there aren’t that many 21-year-olds out there who’ve already had two 20-goal seasons. He’s on his way up.

Curtis Glencross, LW, Calgary (3 percent owned) – Glencross is one ornery dude who’s at his very best when he’s channeling his anger into jock-rattling checks. And right now, he’s so hot and angry he could melt an iceberg… relatively speaking, of course – he is Curtis Glencross after all. Still, he has five goals and seven points in his last eight games without picking up a single penalty. I’d love to see him bring more consistency to his game. But until then, he and his 100 mph shot are worthy of a short-term run on your roster.

Kristian Huselius, LW (14 percent owned), R.J. Umberger, LW/C (58 percent owned) and Antoine Vermette, C, Columbus (24 percent owned) – All of a sudden, the awkward Ohioans seem to have figured out how to roll two successful and productive lines. And while the top trio of Rick Nash (99 percent owned), Derick Brassard (28 percent owned) and Jakub Voracek (46 percent owned) seem to get all the attention, it’s the second line of Huselius, Umberger and Vermette who are ripping it up right now. They have a combined 17 points in their last four games; Umberger has eight, Huselius five and Vermette four. All are worthy of activation if they can maintain this intensity. And there’s even a rather solid argument that a guy like Umberger may actually be almost as valuable as Nasher himself in standard Yahoo! leagues. At half the price.

Joffrey Lupul, LW, Toronto (8 percent owned) – Yes, he’s talented. And yes, there’s plenty of opportunity in his new home. But Lupul was actually just a throw-in to Wednesday’s deal – that trade was all about prospect Jake Gardiner. But still, Lupul does have potential if he can manage a Justin Williams-like injury recovery. It just may not come this year. Exercise caution here – he’s still not completely healthy so don’t get your hopes too high.

Al Montoya, G, NY Islanders (1 percent owned) – I’m not sure if Montoya is an optimist or a pessimist; either label could fit on Long Island. This week’s trade could be a career saver – his NHL dreams looked all but over in the Phoenix system. But is it a dream or a nightmare to end up in the blue paint for the Isles? It could be an injury just waiting to happen. Or it could be worth 10-12 wins. He should assume the weight of the starter’s role (Mikko Koskinen just isn’t ready for the gig) so he may help the truly desperate.

Drew Stafford, RW, Buffalo (25 percent owned) – Jekyll and Hyde – which Drew Stafford will show up for fantasy owners? He’s been all Jekyll – five goals and an assist – in the last two games. And he actually has 20 goals in just 35 games this season. But three tricks mean there are a lot of peaks and Hyde-like valleys in his output. Still, there are fewer than 30 guys right now who have potted 20 goals so far this season. And last season, only 24 guys hit 30 goals overall. He should get there this season (barring another injury, of course). He can really help in goal-heavy leagues.

Dennis Wideman, D, Florida (44 percent owned) – Is he back? Wideman started hot (10 points in his first 14 games) and a lot of fantasy owners had visions of his 50-point season in Boston. But five points in his next 20 games changed my mind and yours, and his ownership (and activation) rates dropped like a stone. But it’s time to get back on board. He has quietly put together 14 points in his last 20 games, a pace that matches that amazing season in black and gold. That’s good enough for me.

Marek Zidlicky, D, Minnesota (23 percent owned) – Zids says he’s coming back next weekend and that’s great news for his on-ice and fantasy teams. Sure, there’s a risk of re-injury – he chose rehab over surgical repair – but consistent, 40-plus point defenders don’t grow on trees. Hopefully, he can pick up where he left off when it comes to offense. So steal him off the wire right now – he’s the best blue line option currently lurking out there.

Back to Foppa.

Don’t get me wrong – I think he was one of the very best of his era. And I get it how hard it must have been to walk away from the game young.

And even Bobby Orr – the best who ever played the game – stuck around a little too long. There’s nothing worse than looking back at his Blackhawks hockey card and seeing a man who was a shell of his former self.

Good luck, Foppa. I hope I’m really, really wrong. But I still won’t be putting in a claim for you.

Until next week.