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Posted On Friday, 12.09.2011 / 7:15 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Kaberle gets fresh start with Habs



While the perception surrounding Tomas Kaberle is far from high in the fantasy world these days, a fresh start in Montreal could be just what the doctor ordered.

The Canadiens acquired the 33-year-old defenseman Friday in exchange for Jaroslav Spacek -- in the hope that Kaberle (0 G, 9 A, minus-12, 2 PIM, 4 PPP, 38 SOG) can inject some life into their offense. With Montreal outside of the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings through 29 games, this puck-moving defenseman brings a wealth of experience to the table that could potentially help the Habs turn their season around.

From a fantasy standpoint, Kaberle certainly has value as he's projected to be Montreal's new power-play quarterback. With Andrei Markov still experiencing setbacks in his recovery from knee surgery and Yannick Weber in the midst of a 10-game goal drought skid, Kaberle will be put in a position to shine on the man advantage. If Markov returns, Kaberle gives the team added depth on the blue line with P.K. Subban (1 G, 10 A, plus-4, 37 PIM, 2 PPP, 77 SOG, 36 hits) experiencing a sophomore slump in offensive production.
 
Tomas Kaberle
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 9
SOG: 38 | +/-: -12
Kaberle sports a passable assist total and power-play point output this season, but his plus-minus in Carolina was subpar to say the least. On top of Eric Staal and Cam Ward having rough fantasy seasons for the Hurricanes, Kaberle never found his rhythm with Joni Pitkanen, who has missed a total of nine games this season.

While it's impossible to predict whether Kaberle will break out of his shell and excel on the power play, he will get a clean slate in what has been a forgettable season. At the very least, Kaberle's plus-minus should improve and his healthy presence will benefit an offensive unit ranked near the bottom of the League in both goals per game (2.45) and power-play percentage (11.4).

Basically, Kaberle (owned in 39 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) is worth adding in a deep league for defensive depth on your roster. You may not like what you see after five or so games, but the bottom line is that there is little risk involved in this move. If Kaberle is up to challenge and ultimately returns to form, your fantasy squad could reap the benefits.

Because, after all, this eight-time 40-plus point scorer will have at least a chance to rediscover his rhythm after a change in scenery.
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Posted On Friday, 12.09.2011 / 2:00 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Raymond comfortable on second line


Less than six months after suffering a vertebrae fracture in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Mason Raymond proved Thursday that he can still score with the best of them.

The 26-year-old capitalized in transition with a shorthanded goal off a feed from linemate Jannik Hansen in the second period of Vancouver's eventual 4-3 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens. His swift wrister bested Carey Price, and sparked his team's furious rally at Bell Centre in the process. Raymond and Hansen were promoted to the Canucks' second line following injuries to David Booth (sprained MCL) and Chris Higgins (infected foot). While Higgins is day-to-day, Booth is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Mason Raymond
Left Wing - VAN
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 5 | +/-: 2
From a fantasy standpoint, this news elevates the value of Raymond, who has looked comfortable in three games since returning to the lineup on Dec. 4. Raymond (1 G, 1 A, plus-2, 2 PIM, 5 SOG in 3 games) has seen increased ice time since his season debut (14:35 in his debut to 19:09 Thursday) and is now operating alongside a potent goal-scorer in Ryan Kesler. With Kesler working his way back toward point-per-game production and Hansen poised for a career year, Raymond is in great position to earn scoring chances in Vancouver's high-flying offensive system.

In short, Raymond -- owned in only five percent of Yahoo Leagues -- will have the opportunity to ease his way back into the swing of things for the Canucks. While his temporary role might not lead to a permanent one, it will at least give fantasy owners a chance to assess his progress in his ongoing recovery from a career-threatening injury.

Raymond's ability to shine offensively in a heightened role for Vancouver on Thursday proves that he has not lost the scoring touch that propelled him to a 25-goal, 50-point, 200-shot season in 2009-10.
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Posted On Friday, 12.09.2011 / 1:58 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Hackett fills in nicely in net for Wild

Welcome to the NHL, Matt Hackett.

Wednedsay night, the 21-year-old Minnesota Wild netminder stepped in for his first NHL appearance when goalie Josh Harding went down with an injury. The result? Hackett stopped all 34 shots faced his way en route to a solid Wild win.

Matt Hackett
Goalie - MIN
RECORD: 2-0-0
GAA: 1.01 | SVP: 0.974
The following night, with both Nicklas Backstrom and Harding on the bench with day-to-day injuries, Hackett earned his first NHL start. The result? A 42-save outing en route to a 4-2 Wild win over Los Angeles.

If you've never heard of the guy before, you might want to listen up.

With the Wild's top goalies sidelined, Hackett figures to see consistent playing time moving forward. This could mean good things for those fantasy owners crafty enough to jump in and snag the up-and-coming beast between the pipes.

Despite the limited experience, the third-round selection of the 2009 NHL Draft has stopped 76 of 78 shots, while collecting a .974 save percentage and a 1.01 GAA. Moreover, he's 2-0-0.

The Hackett train could be leaving the station sooner rather than later, but wise fantasy owners should enjoy the ride while the opportunity is there.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 7:34 PM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Is trading Sid your best bet?

Fantasy owners take notice: Sidney Crosby will not join the Pittsburgh Penguins for a two-game road trip, which begins Thursday night against Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia. While the specifics are unknown, Crosby did suffer a "stinger" after colliding with teammate Chris Kunitz Monday against Boston.

His absense was described as precautionary by general manager Ray Shero, after it was made clear that the ImpACT tests Crosby took with Dr. Micky Collins--which help monitor concusssions--"showed no problems."

Even though early reports don't suggest a serious setback, Crosby's fantasy hockey impact ought to be carefully reviewed.

One can't knock his debut performance against the New York Islanders Nov. 21 where he finished with a four-point outing and followed it up with his most productive five-game stretch of his career. And, of course, nobody ought to forget his talent and production since breaking into the NHL.

The guy's an absolute stud.

But while Crosby's arguably been the best player in the League, one option for fantasy owners might be to seek a trade and get a lot back while setting aside the day-to-day worries of the superstar center's health.

Recent injuries should have Sidney Crosby owners considering the unthinkable; contemplating trading the great No. 87. (Photo: Greg Shamus/NHLI)

Think about it.

As the Penguins figure to be a contender in the Eastern Conference, it's possible that the team will treat Crosby with caution more so than they might in years past. Moreover, if you're able to land solid pieces in the trade, you'll need not worry about relying on stellar performances from "Sid."

The key, of course, will be bringing back more than complementary pieces to your team in a trade. But as you debate to keep or to trade, consider this:

Of his seven seasons in the League, four--including this season--have seen the 2005 first-overall selection play in at least 77 games. In 2007-08, Crosby missed 29 games with an ankle injury and, of course, everyone recalls his recent recovery from a concussion.

When he returned to the lineup, he did so at 100 percent health. This recent two-game absense may come and go as quick as Crosby disspelled speculation of potential rust before scoring on his first shot against the Islanders. Still, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound talent's durability ought to be considered.

The fantasy return for a Crosby trade could provide balance in many positions and categories for your squads. As crazy as the notion might appear to be, your duties as fantasy team owners is to think about it.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 2:24 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Hansen heating up for Canucks

Daniel Sedin stole headlines with a hat trick on Tuesday night, but Jannik Hansen wasn't far behind.

Hansen (27 games, 9 goals, 5 assists, minus-1, 0 PPP, 14 PIM, 42 SOG) continued to fly under the radar as a complementary offensive weapon for Vancouver, scoring a pair of goals in the Vancouver Canucks' 6-0 rout of the Colorado Avalanche. The Danish-born right wing has operated alongside Cody Hodgson on Vancouver's third line, and is picking up steam as of late -- with four goals in his last three games. Considering Hansen opened the season with only a goal and three assists in his first 14 games, his recent performance has made it clear that he does possess sleeper fantasy value.

If his heightened goal-scoring production continues, it will only be a matter of time before the 25-year-old becomes a trending commodity in the fantasy world. Despite the fact that he does not see much time on the power play these days, Hansen has already equaled his goal-scoring production from last season -- an indication that he may be primed for the first 20-plus goal season of his career. If his production soars, he could potentially challenge newly-acquired David Booth for time at wing on Vancouver's secondary line.

For a player owned in only two percent of Yahoo! leagues, Hansen is worth the risk at this point, especially considering he diversified his game as a distributor last season (82 games, 9 goals, 20 assists, plus-13 rating, 113 SOG). If Hansen stays healthy, there is a great chance he will take the next step in his development and thrive in an even bigger way in a back-seat role for the Canucks. 

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Posted On Sunday, 12.04.2011 / 2:29 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Moulson shouldering load for Isles

The New York Islanders departed on their four-game road trip in search of an answer to their offensive woes. It's safe to say they found a spark in Matt Moulson.

The 28-year-old was an offensive machine during the swing away from Nassau Coliseum, compiling seven goals and one assist in four contests. Moulson (13 G, 6 A, plus-2, 2 PIM, 5 PPP, 61 SOG) capped off the trip with an emphatic four-goal outing on Saturday in New York's 5-4 win over the Dallas Stars. The Islanders finished the road trip with a 3-0-1 record, after entering the stretch without a road win to show for themselves all season.

The Isles' offense still sports the worst goals-per-game average in the NHL (2.17), but Matt Moulson's scorching stretch has brought out the best in the team's top line -- even with John Tavares in the midst of a 13-game goalless drought. During the team's recent struggles, coach Jack Capuano did some line shuffling, but now the team's primary line is back where it belongs.

Matt Moulson
Left Wing - NYI
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 19
SOG: 61 | +/-: 2
The trio of Moulson, Tavares and PA Parenteau -- which combined for 19 points in the Isles' three-game win streak spanning from Oct. 10-15 -- has reeled off 20 points in their last four games. But while the line has shown astronomical potential in small doses, it has been more defined by its inconsistency this season.

From a fantasy standpoint, Moulson (owned in 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues) has well-documented goal-scoring ability, having played in all 82 games and scoring 30-plus goals in each of his last two seasons. While Tavares (three assists on Saturday) is the most promising young player on New York's roster, Moulson is the more mature leader of the forwards and has provided a stepping stone for the unit with four of the team's next five games coming at home. Moulson stands as the only NHL player to score four goals in a game this season, so he'll become a popular addition to fantasy lineups around the world once the new fantasy week begins on Monday.

The challenge for Moulson and the team's top line is now to carry the positive momentum over to Nassau Coliseum -- where the Isles have been shut out five times this season. In the mean time, Moulson is making a living off making scrappy plays around the net -- and his linemates are reaping the benefits.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 2:16 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Kane blossoms at new position

It's fun being the center of attention. Even more fun when you're doing it at right wing.

Chicago Blackhawks playmaker Patrick Kane spent all of 2011-12 playing the center position until Friday night, when he joined teammate Jonathan Toews on the right side of the ice - the side of the ice he's been accustomed to playing since breaking into the League in 2007-08.

The result: a solid two-assist, two-shot outing in what was a winning effort in the shootout for the Blackhawks over the New York Islanders.

For the most part, fantasy owners should've been pleased with Kane's production this year. After all, he ranks third in the NHL in assists, 10th in points and is a top-20 shot producer. Those are more than respectable numbers for any fantasy contributor. But Kane has never finished a season with less than 70 points and 21 goals.

Leading up to Friday's til, though, Kane went six games without registering a goal. Dig deeper and you'll notice he has scored just seven goals in 26 games this year.

Project jumpstart is underway. So despite the goal-scoring dry spell,which has now reached eight games, Kane appeared to be more than comfortable playing alongside captain Toews.

If the two can develop some chemistry, Kane could see a huge jump in production, which would only mean good things for your fantasy squads moving forward.

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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:25 AM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: B's, Lucic go out with a bang

It was a pretty good month for the Stanley Cup champion Bruins and their rugged left winger Milan Lucic.  With a 6-3 win over Toronto Tuesday night, the Bruins capped an incredible 12-0-1 November.  As he has done all season long against the Leafs, Lucic was dominant once again, scoring a pair of goals in the B's latest victory.

Milan Lucic
Left Wing - BOS
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 18
SOG: 42 | +/-: 6
Toronto shouldn't feel singled out as Lucic has made life difficult on most of the teams he has faced over the span of November.  In 13 games this month, Lucic has scored seven goals, including three on the power play,  while also chipping in four assists, 15 PIMS and a plus 4 rating.  When Lucic gets on the type of run he is currently on, the 23-year old is fantasy gold as he can contribute to categories across the board.  There are few players in the NHL who have the ability to score 30-plus goals a season while racking up well over 100 PIMs as Lucic did last year.  If you are in a league that counts hits as a category, Lucic is even more valuable as he has 51 on the season.

When taking into consideration his age, potential to improve, and the skill around him in Boston, Lucic is the kind of force fantasy GMs should be salivating over.  Of course Lucic is well regarded in the fantasy world but not probably to the extent he should be.  If Lucic is putting the puck in the net on a consistent basis, then his all around game makes him one of the top left wing options in the entire League.  Both the B's and Lucic had November's to remember and it looks like nothing but blue skies ahead.    
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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:20 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Parise struggling in contract year

With Zach Parise in the midst of another lengthy goal-scoring drought, the concerns of his fantasy owners have reached a new high.

Zach Parise
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 13
SOG: 78 | +/-: -8
Parise, who posted an assist and a minus-2 rating in the New Jersey Devils' 6-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday, extended his goalless streak to six games. This marked the second time this season in which Parise has gone five-plus games without finding the back of the net. For a player with an average draft round in Yahoo! Leagues of 2.7, Parise's fantasy production is way down based on high expectations (circa 40 goals) surrounding his contract year.

Coming off a season where he played only 13 games due to a knee injury, Parise was named the Devils' captain in October and has also gone through a brief position change where he saw time at center. With pressure brewing, Parise nearly notched the most dramatic goal of New Jersey's season when the puck crossed the goal line off his skate with 2.1 seconds remaining in the third period last Saturday against the New York Islanders. But when the ruling on the ice was overturned due to a distinct kicking motion on Parise's part, the frustration continued to mount as the Devils suffered an excruciating 3-2 loss.

The 27-year-old has been in the lineup for all 23 of New Jersey's games this season, but has simply not displayed the game-breaking ability that justified an early-round fantasy draft selection. Despite a strong shot output, his plus-minus and point totals are sub-par. Regardless of whether or not his slump is due to an ongoing recovery from injury, the bottom line is that Parise is on pace to register his first full season with under 30 goals since his rookie campaign in 2005-06.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 2:17 AM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Is Coyotes' Smith the real deal?

Mike Smith is turning doubters into believers one win at a time.  The Coyotes' goalie made 24 stops for his 12th win of the season Tuesday night as Phoenix defeated Chicago, 4-1.

Mike Smith
Goalie - PHX
RECORD: 12-4-3
GAA: 2.13 | SVP: 0.935
The always dangerous Blackhawks, winners of two in a row heading into Tuesday's contest, couldn't get anything going offensively against Smith until finally breaking through against him until Patrick Sharp scored in the final minute of regulation. Smith improved his record to a stellar 12-4-3 on the season while boasting an impressive .935 save percentage.

Few could have predicted this kind of success for Smith, who the Coyotes signed on July 1 of this year to replace Ilya Bryzgalov after the latter signed with Philadelphia. But to this point, Smith has outplayed Bryzgalov and many of the other more marquee goalies across the League. If you were shrewd enough, or more likely lucky enough to draft Smith or perhaps scoop him up off the waiver wire in shallower leagues, you are certain to be one happy fantasy GM.

The question facing all Smith owners now is, can he keep up his surprisingly hot play?  At 29 years old, Smith has never played more than 42 games in a season. But it is possible Smith has found a home in the desert. Smith seems to be a strong fit in Dave Tippett's system and might be finally ready to prove he is capable locking down a No.1 goalie job in the NHL and on your fantasy squad. Even if you are convinced that Smith is the real deal and won't come crashing down to Earth, don't be afraid to sell high on him if the right opportunity should present itself. Goalies can always command a pretty penny on the trade market and Smith's value might never be higher.
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NHL.COM FANTASY HOCKEY COVERAGE
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OFFSEASON FANTASY RANKINGS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Evgeni Malkin
5. alex Ovechkin

CUBETA & JENSEN'S COMPLETE RANKINGS