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Frozen Fantasy: Time to Make Moves

Janet Eagleson

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

This season is off to a bizarre start. Martin Hanzal will not be the NHL point leader for long. Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will put up points. And your fantasy team that looked so damn good on draft day will soon start to reap dividends.

Honest. The ice will tilt back. I promise.

I know it's hard to wait this out. I almost vomited in my mouth when one of my head-to-head squads delivered 18.66 points in Week 1. 18.66! The league leaders that week delivered more than 70 points in the same span.


I'm not suggesting you hang onto everyone on your squad while praying they'll start to put up points. Underperforming studs like Crosby, Getzlaf, Perry, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Jakub Voracek and Anze Kopitar (you get the point) will get their points. But your unproductive sleepers need to go. Now.

Bu-bye, Nazem Kadri. Hello, Ales Hemsky.

Other owners in the Yahoo Friends and Family League chirped me when I picked up Nazem Kadri late in the draft. They knew (just like you know) that I couldn't stand the guy. I drafted him because he needs to put up or shut up this season, and those are the kind of sleepers who can help you win.

But he has sucked. Time to go.

It's true that the overachievers like Ales Hemsky and Martin Hanzal will eventually come back to earth. But you need to roll those guys onto your squad -- at least short term -- to buy time until your studs fire things up.

So gone are Kadri, Alex Killorn, Mikkel Boedker and Nino Niederreiter and in are Hanzal, Hemsky, Jori Lehtera and Nikolaj Ehlers. For now.

What do you need to do to keep pace while your giants continue to slumber?

Now, let's look at who caught my eye this week.

Jason Demers, D, Dallas (2 percent Yahoo owned) -
Guess who's the top scorer on the Dallas blue line after four games? Yep. Demers is ahead of John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski, the two boys expected to seize the reins in the great state of Texas. Demers did pick up 22 points in 61 games after coming over from the Sharks last season, and he has scored 34 in the past. Watch out if he continues to get some of the power-play time. He's more than just a guy who loves interpretive dance. (Dr. Google will help you figure that one out).

Martin Hanzal, C, Arizona (10 percent) -
Despite his many talents, Hanzal has never scored more than 40 points in a season. But this season could be a little different. He's chaperoning the uber-talented Max Domi (47 percent Yahoo owned) and Anthony Duclair (34 percent), and the trio of misfits has been on fire. They delivered seven goals, 12 assists, 32 shots and a combined plus-13 rating over the week ending with Thursday's games. Hanzal had seven of those helpers alone. Someone else will snap him up if you don't.

Matt Hendricks, LW, Edmonton (0 percent) -
This 34-year-old meathead probably thought he'd died and gone to heaven when he realized he was sitting on the bench beside his new best friends, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He seems like an odd addition to that line, but not when you realize he went 7-for-8 in the faceoff circle Thursday night. Hendricks will help that line get possession of the puck and will pick up points by simply having his stick on the ice. And he'll deliver plenty of PIMs, too.

Nick Holden, D, Colorado (0 percent) -
Holden took a big step backward last season, so no one even gave him a sniff this season. But I think he will have a much better season this year, even with the influx of defenders that came to Mile High in the offseason. Holden won't have to do all the heavy defensive lifting, which could free him to deliver more offense. And so far, so good. He has three points and 13 hits in four games this season, and he might even end up seeing some power-play time. I'm watching him.

Mattas Janmark, C, Dallas (1 percent) -
Janmark scored his first NHL goal on his first NHL shot on his first NHL shift. Talk about first impressions. He came out of nowhere to win a job with the Stars this season, and now they're playing him ahead of talented Russian Valeri Nichushkin. Go figure. I don't think it's going to last -- he's still not strong enough on the puck to survive in the NHL. But he's smart and fast, and that's a good fit on the third line with Ales Hemsky and Antoine Roussel. I wish he had more positional versatility, but I'm happy to sit back and watch.

Jori Lehtera, C, St. Louis (15 percent) -
Last season, Lehtera proved he could play with the big boys, delivering 44 points while spending most of his time with stud Vladimir Tarasenko. This season, this slick passer has already clicked with the talented Jaden Schwartz and that gives the Blues way more offensive weapons. Lehtera has already delivered five points, including three helpers, in the first five games -- he should be delivering them for you.

Brock McGinn, LW, Carolina (0 Percent) -
McGinn is a hard-working checker who hit the Powerball jackpot Friday night. He made his NHL debut and did so on a line with Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg. And then he potted his first career point -- a goal -- by banging home his own rebound just 55 seconds into the game. He finished with two points and a huge grin on his face. I can't blame him -- he looked great on that line. I don't expect this kind of output every time out -- he's better suited as a checking-line winger. But he could catch lightning in a bottle for a few more games.

Colton Parayko, D, St. Louis (8 percent) -
Booyah -- what a Monday for this hulking Alberta native, who delivered two goals in his first game in his home province. And he did it in front of his parents and sibs. Parayko has gone from an OK prospect to can't miss in very short order. His skating still needs work, but his foot speed is decent for a guy who's 6-foot-5. He's poised with the puck and doesn't spook easily, so his future is bright. He'll get a few points here and there, so deep leaguers should take a look. Just don't overestimate his value. He will struggle to get offensive opportunities in a blue line dominated by Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo.

Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Buffalo (12 percent) -
This guy is a beast. He's in the top 10 in the NHL in average ice time for defenders. He plays in all situations and shuts down the best the opposition has to offer. And he's on the first power-play unit with studs like Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. Ristolainen has three points (one goal, two assists) in his last two games and all three came on the power play. That doesn't seem like it's overly outstanding until you compare that to last season (nine PPP in 78 games). #breakout.

Kris Versteeg, LW/RW, Carolina (6 percent) -
Versteeg put on a show Friday night with Eric Staal -- each had a goal and two helpers. I won't wax poetic about his skills or his potential -- you know the guy too well already. But I will tell you his last great season (54 points in 71 games) came in the swamps of Florida in 2011-12. My point? He's in the backwater otherwise known as Raleigh, so maybe that anonymity is what he needs to bring you near-career numbers, especially if he and Staal stay together. Just remember the impacts his plus-minus will have on your roster.

Back to patience.

It's a virtue, right? That's why I'm not panicking that the Ducks and my Ryan Getzlaf have been shut out three consecutive games. Admittedly, it was hard to watch. But then again, hockey is hard to watch with the Jays in the MLB playoffs.

But I digress.

Maybe you should actually search for an owner who doesn't have patience. He might not understand its virtues and could be cajoled to move someone who's seriously ticking him off. It's sort of like a fastball high and inside. Buzz one by and see what happens.

You might just make off with an unexpected prize. Now and for the future.

Until next week.