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Neutral Zone Wrap: Beware of Shiny Objects

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).

Don't be tempted by shiny objects. They may shine bright and look pretty but they often burn out quickly and end up leaving a trail of destruction.

You know the situation. You go out and buy the hottest new item because you just have to have it right away. Hundreds of dollars are shelled out for whatever it is with the hope of everlasting enjoyment. But before you can even turn it on, the problems begin. Another accessory or two must also be purchased to properly run the item. And then the many service calls and headaches that follow. Anger ensues. Then denial. And finally, remorse.

Many lesser-owned NHLers who have overachieved of late may appear solid but there's that hint of doubt. Maybe the skepticism arises from the fact they have never performed like this in the past. Injuries and old age could also be used as counteractive rationale. Or perhaps the opportunities are too few, thereby justifying an end to a hot streak.

Here are a few skaters to consider. But try not to stare at them too long or their lure will suck you in and never let you go. We'd tell you to look away but then we're kinda encouraging people to read our online fantasy hockey coverage:

(NOTE: As with last week, we leave out those mentioned in the trade deadline column. And similarly, you won't find any goalies anywhere below. Unless you read between the lines.)

(Stats as of Monday March 24th)

Patrik Berglund, F, St. Louis (28% owned)

The 25th selection in 2006 has never truly lived up to expectations but at least he's grown into more of a complete player. That concept sounds nice for a real-life team-oriented organization like the Blues but it doesn't work as well for the average fantasy squad. Berglund has twice tallied two-goal performances this month but there's a couple things stacked against him: the Swede has been cold (no points in four contests) and he's not been known for ramping up the stats during the stretch drive (three in 11 to finish each of the last two seasons). Pass.

Mike Fisher, F, Nashville (25% owned)

We could've included any Nashville forward due to the club's lack of offense (26th in the league at 2.39 goals per night), but we'll pay special attention to Mr. Underwood who has been particularly active recently (points in nine of the last 14). Centering the first line may look pretty on paper but the 33-year old won't be able to add too much fantasy-wise unless you believe the Predators can regularly duplicate Friday's six-goal outburst. Nice secondary material but not a lot of upside, considering the team won't make the playoffs. That presumably means Fisher will cede ice time to younger pivots like Colin Wilson (scoreless in six) and Calle Jarnkrok (assists in both games since arriving from Detroit).

Carl Hagelin, F, NY Rangers (28% owned)

Hagelin has already surpassed his career high in goals (now at 17) and is a fan favorite on Broadway, but he doesn't do enough to warrant your attention. Even a hat-trick last week shouldn't excite anyone further, unless you're looking to acquire a situational third liner with mediocre minutes (down a bit lately from his 15:31 average) and zero power-play opportunities.

(*Based on two of the first three entries, you may think I'm biased against Swedish folk. But that ain't true. I even own a custom Michael Nylander Hartford Whaler #92 jersey to prove it.)

Travis Hamonic, D, NY Islanders (26% owned)

He may have looked like Bobby Orr on that end-to-end rush Sunday but Hamonic provides that kind of offensive potential maybe once every 200 games. One might expect more high-end stats (13 in 58) from someone who logs all those minutes (15th in the league at 24:42) but that's never been a part of the fourth-year pro's repertoire (highs of 26 points and 103 PIM as a rookie). Even with Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) seemingly done for the year and Hamonic's recent promotion to the first power-play unit, we still can't recommend him unless you're in a deep league and you possess plenty of patience.

Sami Salo, D, Tampa Bay (6% owned)

For now, the ancient one is quarterbacking the Bolts' #1 man-advantage and loving it (two PPAs Thursday). But honestly, at 39, there's not much left in the tank. There's also some kid named Victor Hedman tearing it up (approaching 50 points) and easily outperforming Salo. Even specialist Mike Kostka (five in 11 since being picked up on waivers) should be higher on your blueline depth chart. And don't be surprised if Czech bruiser Radko Gudas (19 points, 134 PIM, 239 hits, 118 blocked shots, 99 SOG) eventually surpasses Salo in the power-play pecking order.

(Dishonorable mention: Ryane Clowe, F, New Jersey (37% owned); Joe Colborne, F, Calgary (5% owned); Eric Gelinas, D, New Jersey (42% owned); Jordan Staal, F, Carolina (47% owned); Ray Whitney, F, Dallas (23% owned)


Next week, we look to the future to speculate on fantasy targets for next season. Because, hey, let's get off topic and forget about the playo...What's that? Oh, right, we'll also be prepping you for playoff pools immediately after that. You're welcome.