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Monday Daily Puck: Know When To Walk Away, Know When To Run

John Toperzer

John has written for Rotowire.com 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.

Fantasy sports are all about context and perspective. What’s the timeframe for the particular decision; a day, a week, a season? How often do the herds say to go one way, when doing the exact opposite would yield positive results? Last season there were 18 players in the NHL to register at least 70 points. Chances you roster only a few of these elite point-getters – if you’re lucky. Anybody can pick Sidney Crosby, but most fantasy owners need to make a savvy in-season move or 10 to win. As Kenny Rogers sings, “You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them…”

It’s not easy deciding when to jettison a player. I cut ties with Mikko Koivu in one of my leagues Saturday. I’m pretty sure he’ll turn his season around. After all, his shots on goal have increased recently and he has a track record of success. But there’s an opportunity cost for waiting on him. How many other centers could be helping my team now? I’m not tied to Koivu and my patience has worn thin, so I replaced him with Derek Stepan. The statistics between the two aren’t much different and with unlimited moves, I can move onto another guy if Stepan gets off to a slow start returning from injury – or even re-acquire Koivu (if he’s still there). This particular team of mine is sitting fairly comfortably in second place and I can afford to meddle with my second-tier players. The league isn’t real deep so there are plenty of replacement level types available.

A player who’s available in a bunch of leagues is Beau Bennett. All that’s keeping Bennett from a spot next to Evgeni Malkin is Pascal Dupuis and Blake Comeau. Bennett is currently with AHL Wilkes-Barre. He hasn’t played for the Penguins after suffering a knee injury during training camp, but he could be fantasy hockey’s equivalent to found money. Teams with an extra roster slot lying around might want to consider the winger or at least make a mental note. He’ll likely be back with the Pens in the next week and he has the potential to put together nice numbers as a waiver-wire acquisition. Granted, he’s had more than his fair share of injuries. Plus, he could skate on the team’s third line instead of its second one. Despite this level of risk associated with Bennett, I really have a good feeling about him.

As someone who has watched the Penguins for a long time – I still have my first game ticket stub from Pens-Habs, Dec. 17, 1977 – I like to think I know the team pretty well. Even so, I really wish I could’ve predicted Matt Niskanen’s big campaign last year or Paul Martin’s decent showing two seasons ago. To be honest, I didn’t think either situation was real or would last. Being able to change course on a player is something I’ve decided to work on this year. Rather than trying to prove myself right I just want to win.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.

New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider) at Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:00 PM
Calgary Flames (Jonas Hiller) at Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Monday

New Jersey Devils
Martin Havlat, RW - Havlat practiced with the team Sunday, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports. (11/9/2014)
Michael Cammalleri, LW - Cammalleri took the ice for practice Sunday, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports. (11/9/2014)
Ryane Clowe, LW - Clowe won't play Monday against the Bruins, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports. (11/9/2014)
Cam Janssen, RW - Janssen has been ruled out indefinitely after suffering an upper-body injury Tuesday while playing with AHL Albany, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. (10/24/2014)
Jon Merrill, D - Merrill (arm/hand) won't play Monday against the Bruins, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports. (11/9/2014)
Adam Henrique, C - Henrique (lower body) won't play against the Bruins on Monday, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports. (11/9/2014)
Stefan Matteau, LW - Matteau is nursing an upper-body injury, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. (10/24/2014)
Steve Santini, D - Santini underwent surgery to repair a broken wrist, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports. (10/28/2014)

Boston Bruins
Kevan Miller, D - Miller (upper body) skated at Monday’s practice, Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports. (11/3/2014)
Torey Krug, D - Krug, who has missed four games with a broken finger, could return to action as soon as Monday against New Jersey, the Bruins' official site reports. (11/9/2014)
David Warsofsky, D - GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed Sunday that Warsofsky will be out 2-4 weeks with a groin strain, the Bruins' official site reports. (11/9/2014)
David Krejci, C - Krejci's (unspecified injury) status for Monday's game against New Jersey is uncertain, the Bruins' official site reports. (11/9/2014)
Zdeno Chara, D - Chara (left knee) acknowledged Tuesday that a timetable for his return to action has yet to be established, the Bruins' official site reports. "There is not a timeline right now. I wish I could tell you guys exactly when I'm going to return," Chara noted. "But at this point, it's really such a slow process, that who knows when the day is going to be." (11/5/2014)

Calgary Flames
Matt Stajan, C - Stajan (knee) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The FANreports. (10/29/2014)
Trevor Gillies, LW - Gillies has been suspended for 12 games for a hit on the Rochester Americans' William Carrier, the Calgary Herald reports. (10/14/2014)
Devin Setoguchi, RW - Setoguchi left Saturday’s game against the Panthers with an upper body injury, Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald reports. (11/8/2014)
Mason Raymond, LW - In addition to placing Raymond (upper body) on injured reserve Tuesday, the Flames downgraded the forward's status from day-to-day to week-to-week, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet.ca reports. (10/28/2014)
Mikael Backlund, C - Backlund was placed on injured reserve Thursday and is considered week-to-week with an abdominal issue, Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun reports. (10/30/2014)
Joe Colborne, C - Colborne (wrist) is still a little more than day-to-day according to coach Bob Hartley, the Calgary Sun reports. (11/5/2014)
Michael Ferland, LW - Ferland has been dealing with a concussion, Scott Cruickshank of the Calgery Herald reports. (11/2/2014)
Sam Bennett, LW - Bennett underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports. (10/14/2014)

Carolina Hurricanes
Jordan Staal, C - Staal (broken leg) was placed on injured reserve Thursday, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (10/2/2014)
Tim Gleason, D - Gleason (upper body) will not play Saturday against the Capitals, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (11/8/2014)

Hot

Chris Kunitz: Patric Hornqvist is rightfully getting loads of credit for breathing life and fire into Pittsburgh’s top line, but Kunitz is quietly producing at his own impressive clip. The left winger has eight goals and eight assists – just two points fewer than Hornqvist – and his 44 hits are more than anyone else amongst forwards in the top 50 of scoring not named Alexander Ovechkin. Kunitz also leads the NHL with five PP goals and his plus-9 rating isn’t too shabby either.

Keith Yandle: The Arizona blueliner leads the NHL in power-play time with 85:09 TOI. By comparison, teammate Oliver-Ekman Larsson (79:41) and Erik Karlsson (70:48) have compiled more than 65 minutes on the man advantage. Yandle’s prowess isn’t a secret – nine of his 11 points have come courtesy of the power play – but there’s probably an even-money chance the impending free agent gets traded. If that happens, the minus-23 rating he put up in 2013-14 could turn into a plus-23, depending on where he goes. Yandle already features an improved plus-1, especially when compared to Ekman-Larsson’s minus-10.

Tyler Johnson: Johnson extended his goal-scoring streak to three games Sunday, giving him five goals and 13 assists in 15 contests. He has only three points on the power play, but his plus-10 rating is near the top of the league. Johnson is one of Tampa Bay’s unheralded or under-appreciated talents, but he won’t be for long.

Cold

Tomas Jurco: The 22-year-old winger has sat out as a frequent healthy scratch in recent games, including Sunday night against the Lightning. He has two assists in 12 contests and has fallen behind the likes of Gustav Nyquist and others in the pecking order. Coach Mike Babcock is likely trying to motivate Jurco by sitting him down, but right now the Czech simply is struggling. The Red Wings could package Jurco in a deadline deal if he wears out his welcome.

Jamie Benn: Benn has one point in his last five games and one point on the power play all season long. For a player drafted in the first round, he hasn’t lived up to expectations. Yet. The Dallas forward compiled 11 points in seven contests prior to his slump, leaving fantasy owners with no choice but to wait him out.

Valeri Nichushkin: Wow, the young Russian is back on IR again with a groin injury after playing in just two games. No one is denying Nichushkin’s prodigious talent, but fantasy owners in shallow, single-season leagues might want to test the waiver wires. No one can blame you if you do.

Recommended Pickup

Derek Stepan: It’s opportunity as much as anything with Stepan. As of Sunday, he wasn’t owned in 47 percent of Yahoo! leagues. The centerman returned over the weekend for the Rangers after missing the year with a broken leg. Stepan collected 57 points (17G, 40A) in 2013-14, including 18 power-play points. He’s a good talent, reliable, worthy of consideration.

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.