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Frozen Fantasy: Sid Needs to Sit

Janet Eagleson

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

Sidney Crosby could return Sunday. It could be the biggest mistake of his career.

Hang 'em up until September, Sid.

Don't get me wrong - I think Crosby is (was) the best player in the league. But I also think he came back far too soon last December and he shouldn't risk the rest of his career just to help his team in this year's playoffs.

Don't do it. For your sake...and ours.

Sure, Sid's return might get me back into a money spot in one of my leagues. And he'd probably help some of you, too. But those are selfish thoughts if his return might result in another injury and an even longer absence.

Or worse.

Yes, the Pens are better with him than without. But it's hard to argue their success in his absence. The team is fourth in the East with the sixth-best offense, fantastic special teams work (top-two on the PK; top-five on the PP) and is top-10 in goals against. And then there's Evgeni Malkin's dominance - is it my imagination or is he better out from Sid's shadow?

Hey - the Pens actually need Kris Letang as much as they need Sid. The drop off to Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin is steep.

But then again, Letang might be wise to sit down until September, too.

Sometimes it sucks to be a fantasy owner, particularly in situations like these. The bigger picture - the good of the game - is far more important than our individual teams.

So Sid needs to sit. Kris, too. It's better to have them in the game than out.

Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week. I've put them into categories - it's time to focus on those places where you can actually make some headway. Every point counts at this point in the season.


Matt Hackett, G, Minnesota (6 percent owned) - Welcome to the starter's job, Mr. Hackett. Josh Harding left in the second period Thursday night and Hackett - the nephew of former NHLer Jeff Hackett - just became the de facto top canine in Minny. Hackett is supremely talented but the team in front of him is sketchy at best. Still, a starter is a starter. Get him now.

Dustin Tokarski, G, Tampa Bay (2 percent owned) - Mathieu Garon has a torn groin. Dwayne Roloson has been pathetic. So that leaves the door wide open for the AHL's win leader to stake claim to Tampa's blue paint. Tokarski is small (5-11) compared to today's behemoths between the pipes. But he's absolutely clutch and is motivated to show general manager Steve Yzerman that he deserves consideration as the back-up for next season. His rebound control still isn't where it should be, but he showed Thursday that he has considerably greater fantasy value than Rolie Polie Ollie.


Jamie McGinn, LW, Colorado (3 percent owned) - It's feast or famine for this big hitter. In San Jose, his offense was down and that made him little more than a fourth-line banger. But the move to Denver opened up the buffet for this quick shooter - he has four goals and six points in five games, but all of those points have come in the last three games. His production may dry up. But then again, it might not. He has joined a young club that's trying to force its way in the postseason and he's now a top-six guy. Take advantage.

Multi-category help

Jordan Caron, RW, Boston (1 percent owned) - He's big, he's smart and he's going to be a great power forward...some day. Right now, he's giving us a glimpse of those skills. He's not going to toss guys around but he sets a great screen, works the wall with aplomb and fires a fierce wrister. And that delivered three goals, three assists and a plus-6 rating on his current three-game streak. This won't last - he's only 21. But he could give you some solid short-term support.

Pascal Dupuis, LW/RW, Pittsburgh (31 percent owned) - Dupuis' three-point night caught my eye in Wednesday's win over the Leafs. But it came as a real surprise to me that this 40-point winger has been on a 60-point pace since the beginning of February. His ownership is climbing, but there's always a chance he might be available if someone in your league is asleep.

Power-play points

Ryan Malone, LW, Tampa Bay (12 percent owned) - It's rare to find a power-play producer on the wire. But Malone is sitting out there in a whole lot of leagues and six of his last eight points have come with the man advantage. And considering those eight points have come in the last nine games, he's your best PPP option now that the trade deadline has passed. He'll also give you shots, PIMs and hits, but don't expect miracles in plus-minus. That's a lost cause with that team.


Brooks Orpik, D, Pittsburgh (7 percent owned) - Orpik doesn't usually deliver a whole lot of fantasy goodness. But this shutdown specialist is top-five in plus-minus with a plus-eight rating in the last two weeks. And he has four points in his last four games. He's won't keep delivering points but he should keep up the solid defensive play. And that can help stabilize that category for you...that is, if you can afford the failure to deliver in all those other categories.


Johnny Boychuk, D, Boston (15 percent owned) - This guy is top-20 overall in shots (go figure) and he's been particularly prolific this month. He has 16 shots in four games in March. And while he isn't an overwhelming offensive force, Boychuk does deliver in fringe categories like blocked shots and hits (eight and 13, respectively, in the same four games).

Jason Chimera, LW, Washington (9 percent owned) - I'm not sure what has gotten into this guy. He's big and fast, and has always been a formidable forechecker. But lately, he has gone nuts firing an almost Alexander Ovechkin way. He has 62 in his last 17 games, a pace that would deliver 300 over a full season. He won't deliver much in other categories but he could help you can a valuable point or two in a close categorical race.

Back to Sid and the Pens.

I know you're worried - I am, too. That collision with Chris Kunitz didn't seem like much but it pushed Sid back to ground zero.

I pray that Crosby isn't the next Eric Lindros. Or Pat Lafontaine.

Max Pacioretty has rebounded - no, slingshoted - to even greater heights just 366 days after that ugly injury. I hope Sid can do the same.

Sid may have to change his game in order to return. Hold back. Don't stick his nose into the dirty areas. At least we'd have him back. And isn't 80 percent of the old Sid better than nothing at all?

It would just make him a mere fantasy mortal.

Until next week.