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Monday Daily Puck: James Neal Knees Fantasy Owners

John Toperzer

John has written for since 2003 and serves as the beat writer for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s worked for the Pirates for 17 years, written for the Penguins’ Web site as the first game-day editor, and rooted for the Steelers dating back to the Immaculate Reception.

**Saturday's Pens-Bruins game gives me a headache just thinking about it - or maybe that's just from reading the knucklehead reactions on Twitter. In any case, it looks like James Neal will be suspended somewhere between 1-4 games. That's a huge blow to Neal fantasy owners. If justice is meted out prior to Monday's game, it might be wise to bench the power forward in weekly leagues.

Pittsburgh plays Monday, Friday and Saturday. I believe a three-game suspension is likely - as I tweeted to Rotowire's New York Islanders beat man, George Kurtz (@GeorgeKurtz) after Saturday's game. Boston's Shawn Thornton, who has limited fantasy relevance, probably is out until sometime in the 2014 calendar year.

**Nick Foligno has six points (3G, 3A) and is plus-3 over the last two weeks. Foligno is 6 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. He also has an above average 65 hits.

Kris Letang has six points (3G, 3A) in his last six games, though three points came in one contest. Letang is in a mental slump right now, if that makes sense. He's making poor passes and getting beat defensively. At some point, he has to figure things out again, doesn't he?

We've talked about Jason Garrison around here, but in case you've missed it, the Vancouver defenseman is on fire. He already has 18 points (4G, 14A) in 31 games after posting 16 points in 47 games all last year. With
Alexander Edler sidelined indefinitely, Garrison figures to continue putting up steady numbers. In the last two weeks he's scored two goals and eight points on the power play.

Carolina blueliner, Andrej Sekera, is a plus-9 with a goal and five points in the last two weeks. It's easy to recommend selling high, but who would buy?

**Before Sunday's tilt, there were four goalies with 14 starts. Here are their numbers: Corey Schneider (4-6-4, 1.89 GAA, .920 save percentage); James Reimer (7-4-1, 2.63 GAA, .932 save percentage); Cam Ward (5-5-4, 2.91 GAA, .906 save percentage); and Evgeni Nabokov (5-5-3, 3.30 GAA, .892 save percentage).

I don't know whether to be happy or sad with Corey Schneider, who I roster on several teams. I don't claim to be a Devils fan like Rotowire's Dan Pennucci (@dpennucci), but I would like to see him (Schneider, not Dan) put up a few more wins with those kinds of peripherals.

Weekly Ode to Chris Kunitz

Kunitz vs. Alexander Ovechkin, fantasy hockey style

Kunitz's numbers:

31 games, 31 points (17G, 14A), plus-12, 24 PIM, 72 hits, 13 blocks, 14 PP points (8G, 6A), 3 GWG, 95 shots, 17.9 shooting percentage.

Ovechkin's numbers:

27 games, 31 points (22G, 9A), minus-10, 18 PIM, 80 hits, 10 blocks, 17 PP points (9G, 8A), 4 GWG, 146 shots, 15.1 shooting percentage.

There isn't a huge difference between the two players. Kunitz has 112 points in his last 111 regular-season games with a $3.75 million cap hit. He may be the best value on the ice and in fantasy.

**Click here for a complete list of 2014 free agents that could be on the move before the trade deadline. Here are some interesting possibilities.

Thomas Vanek ($7.143 million cap hit), Paul Stastny ($6.6), Mike Cammalleri ($6.00), Jonas Hiller ($4.50), Tim Thomas ($3.75), Alexander Steen ($3.62), Steve Ott ($2.95), Matt Niskanen ($2.3), Brian Elliott ($1.8), Ben Scrivens ($612.5K), Chad Johnson ($600K) and Justin Peters ($537.5K). Steen is just on the list to see if you're paying attention.

**I'm not going to try and guess whether Sergei Gonchar rebounds from a five-assist, 28-game start, but I do think he'll retire after this season if things don't get better. Gonchar will be 40 years of age in April and has made plenty of money to retire comfortably over a 19-season career. He's a thoughtful guy with plenty of off-ice interests and it'd be easy seeing him skate off into the KHL.

**I wonder if the Predators would still match Shea Weber's $110 million offer sheet if they had a do-over. Through 27 games, Weber has 13 points (7G, 6A) and a minus-7 rating. I wouldn't be shocked to see him dealt.

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

Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason) at Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:30 PM
Columbus Blue Jackets (Curtis McElhinney) at Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7:30 PM
Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward) at Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo), 10:00 PM
New York Islanders (Kevin Poulin) at Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller), 10:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Monday

Philadelphia Flyers
Chris Pronger, D - Flyers GM Paul Holmgren openly acknowledged Tuesday that Pronger's career is over due to his concussion issues, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "I'll say it; Chris is never going to play again," Holmgren said. "I have no problems saying it." (10/15/2013)
Vincent Lecavalier, C - Lecavalier (back) has been diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture and is expected to miss another 3-4 weeks, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia reports. (12/8/2013)
Kimmo Timonen, D - Timonen left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia reports. (12/7/2013)
Marc-Andre Bourdon, D - Bourdon (concussion) has been placed on the non-roster injured reserve list, CSN Philly's Tim Panaccio reports. (9/30/2013)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Marian Gaborik, RW - Gaborik (knee) has resumed skating over the last few days, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/7/2013)
Nathan Horton, RW - The Blue Jackets placed Horton on long-term injured reserve last week, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (11/25/2013)
Jared Boll, RW - Boll has suffered a setback in his recovery from a foot injury and isn't likely to return from IR next week, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/7/2013)
Sergei Bobrovsky, G - Bobrovsky (groin) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. (12/4/2013)
James Wisniewski, D - Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said Sunday that Wisniewski's upper-body injury will sideline him for "about a week." (12/8/2013)

Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, C - Malkin (lower body) is listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Blue Jackets, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/8/2013)
Tanner Glass, LW - Glass will miss 3-4 weeks with a broken hand, according to coach Dan Bylsma. He was subsequently placed on injured reserve. (11/26/2013)
Andrew Ebbett, C - Ebbett has a broken ankle and will be out indefinitely, Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. (12/6/2013)
Beau Bennett, RW - Bennett will miss the next 8-10 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair his hand and wrist Monday. (11/25/2013)
Paul Martin, D - Coach Dan Bylsma said Martin is dealing with a fractured tibia and will be out for four-to-six weeks, TSN's Mark Masters reports. (11/27/2013)
Robert Scuderi, D - Coach Dan Bylsma said it's possible that Scuderi (ankle) could return to practice next week, Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. (12/7/2013)
Brooks Orpik, D - Orpik (head) will not play Monday against the Blue Jackets, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/8/2013)
Tomas Vokoun, G - Vokoun (blood clot) hasn't ruled out a return to the Penguins this season. "I feel great. I don't have any health issues," said Vokoun. "It's hard to look that far ahead. Definitely if I can (return) I want to try." (11/30/2013)

Carolina Hurricanes
Mike Komisarek, D - Komisarek (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Friday. (12/6/2013)
Joni Pitkanen, D - Pitkanen (heel) was placed on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (10/1/2013)
Alexander Semin, LW - Semin (concussion) could join the 'Canes on their upcoming four-game road trip, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (12/5/2013)
Patrick Dwyer, RW - Dwyer (upper body) missed Friday's win over San Jose, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. (12/7/2013)
Anton Khudobin, G - Khudobin (ankle) will travel on the Hurricanes' upcoming two-game road trip that begins Tuesday. (12/2/2013)
Brett Bellemore, D - Bellemore has been diagnosed with a concussion, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (12/5/2013)
Drayson Bowman, C - Bowman scored his second goal of the season and fired a season-high six shots on goal during Friday's 3-2 shootout win over Anaheim. (11/16/2013)

Vancouver Canucks
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)
Alexander Edler, D - Edler is out indefinitely with what is now being reported as a knee injury, Team 1040 reports. (12/6/2013)
Alexandre Burrows, RW - Updating a previous report, Burrows underwent successful surgery on a broken jaw Monday and will be out for four weeks, News 1130 reports. (12/3/2013)

New York Islanders
Lubomir Visnovsky, D - Visnovsky (concussion) visited a specialist earlier this week, but remains out indefinitely, Newsday's Arthur Staple reports. (12/5/2013)
Evgeni Nabokov, G - Nabokov (groin) returned to practice Monday, according to Newsday. (12/2/2013)
Brian Strait, D - Strait (upper body) returned to practice Monday, according to Newsday. (12/2/2013)

Anaheim Ducks
Viktor Fasth, G - Fasth will miss the next three-to-four weeks with a lower-body injury, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (11/23/2013)
Stefan Noesen, C - Noesen is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. (10/14/2013)
Francois Beauchemin, D - Beauchemin (upper body) is targeting a return to the lineup next Sunday against the Oilers, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (12/7/2013)
Mathieu Perreault, C - The Ducks placed Perreault (lower body) on IR on Thursday, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (12/5/2013)
Luca Sbisa, D - Sbisa will miss the next six-to-eight weeks after suffering a torn tendon in his right hand in Friday's game, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (11/23/2013)
Jakob Silfverberg, LW - Silfverberg (hand) is not expected to return until late December at the earliest, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (11/21/2013)
Sheldon Souray, D - Souray (wrist) skated before Thursday's practice, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (11/21/2013)


Radko Gudas - The multi-category machine is back! Gudas collected an assist, two PIM, five hits, three blocks and finished plus-1 on Saturday night in his first action since Nov. 22. Pick him up if someone dropped him. I did in one of my leagues.

Matt Niskanen - I was a big fan of Niskanen's when he scored 26 points and compiled a plus-22 rating his 2007-08 rookie season. Since watching him play 100s of times with the Penguins, my fanatic level has dropped. Give him credit for taking advantage of his current situation, however. With Paul Martin, Rob Scuderi and now Brooks Orpik out, Nisky has stepped up. He pocketed two power-play assists Saturday.


Mike Smith - The Phoenix goalie holds a 13-6-5 mark, but his peripherals are below average. Smith has a 3.01 GAA and .911 save percentage. In 2011-12, he went 18-10-3 with a 2.21 GAA and .930. It's surprising to see the usually stingy Coyotes with such porous goaltending numbers. Aside from Smith's performance a couple years ago, he's never registered a goals-against average under 2.50 while playing at least 25 games.

Pascal Dupuis - The right winger has a goal and four assists in his last 23 games. Penguins rookie, Jayson Megna has that many points in 11 games. Dupuis is frustrated, as evidenced by his bone-breaking slash of Boston's Chris Kelly on Saturday. It might be best to simply bench Dupuis until he turns his season around.

Alexander Edler - He's out indefinitely with a lower-body injury, though that might actually help poolies like me who've stuck with him. The defender scored just nine points and registered a minus-12 rating in 27 games before getting hurt. The time off might do him (and our fantasy teams) some good. Hockey Buzz has him rumored on the trading block to the Capitals. If that happened, his fantasy value would spike.

Recommended Pickup

Antti Raanta - If Corey Crawford is forced to miss time due to the injury he sustained Sunday night, Raanta becomes the de facto starting goalie in Chicago. Taking over in net for a high-scoring Stanley Cup championship team has its benefits and they could become yours, too. Hypothetically, if Crawford is out a long time then the Blackhawks would likely trade for another tender, so don't do anything too crazy in regards to Raanta.

Thanks for reading!


The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.