The grind of a fantasy hockey season is just that: a grind. When you consider all the details, big and small, all the nuances and all the possibilities, you're still left with roster setting and juggling, trade offers and rejections and day-to-day focus and attention. But ain't it great?
To get you fantasy hockey owners to where you want to be, NHL.com fantasy insider Sergei Feldman brings you his weekly piece highlighting the various players who have increased or decreased their value after each week and suggesting which players to "buy" or "sell" moving forward. In the end, you'll have a clearer picture of the marketplace and be in perfect position to enhance your fantasy hockey portfolios.
It's always exciting, the first week of fantasy hockey. A clean slate for all. Confidence, oozing or eroding. And expectations up the wazoo. But it's also the trickiest time of the year for fantasy owners. You've got the ever-so-difficult task of sifting through the trendy early gems and extrapolating a more comprehensive long-term plan. So let's examine the first week and the storylines that dominated the headlines.
Remember opening night? When the over-40 club played as though its members were in their prime? Well, under the context of a condensed, grueling 48-game season, one of the more interesting topics of conversation for fantasy owners ought to center around the productivity -- or lack thereof -- of the veteran crop of forwards who have been big-time factors but are no longer considered among the League's elite. Specifically, we're talking about the Teemu Selannes and Jaromir Jagrs of the NHL. The Finnish Flash has dazzled in his first two games (2g, 2a, plus-1, 4 PIMs, 7 shots and 1 PPP) and to an extent, this should come as no surprise, as the seemingly ageless 42-year-old is coming off an 82-game 2011-12, a year in which he just missed the 30-goal mark and provided fantasy owners with consistent production. The question, of course, is can he do this again when every game, essentially, is a playoff-type game for a team that failed to reach the playoffs last season? Yes. In a 48-game season, goals will be hard to come by, as there will be no time to overcome slumps. Selanne is Mr. Consistent. And he'll prove it again this year.
Buy or sell? Buy.
Jagr is a different story. Sure, considering his age and three-year layoff from the NHL between 2007-08 and 2011-12, he posted solid numbers for a strong Philadelphia team last year. And sure, through the first four games with his new team, Dallas, he's a point-per-game contributor. But while he's likely to help the Stars be a contender in the Western Conference night in, night out, his contribution to your fantasy team isn't as likely. The Great 68 started strong for the Flyers last year, but as the postseason push began down the stretch, his production dipped. He scored just three goals in his final 23 games last year. In that same span, he finished with two or less shots 15 times. With every game having playoff implications and intensity, Jagr's solid start may not continue.
Buy or sell? Sell.
On the flip side of the "How difficult will a 48-game season be?" discussion, there exists the notion that youthful exuberance will prevail. There's little time to think of the situation you're in and it's easier to just go out and play. Furthermore, in today's NHL, speed, skill and talent rule the day. After a week of action, that's certainly proving to be the case. And leading the charge so far have been the rookies.
By now you may have heard Vladimir Tarasenko's name creep up. If not, he's only the sixth-ranked player in Yahoo! standard leagues. Through four games, he's in the top 10 in goals, plus/minus and shots. The St. Louis Blue does nothing but create on each shift, and has shown few signs of being human.
Buy or sell? Buy.
How about Cory Conacher in Tampa Bay? Playing in the shadows of some of the game's elite like Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, Conacher has fit in nicely in a top-six capacity for the Lightning. The 5-foot-8 crafty forward has himself 2 goals, 5 points, a plus-3 and 4 PIMs through three games. Solid numbers. And with talent around him, he could be a great depth option for fantasy owners. But he has just five shots in those three games. If point production slips, what will his value be? Projecting long-term, Conacher may be a solid option for the Lightning, and less solid for fantasy owners.
Buy or sell? Sell.
The Breakout Performers
Last year, Toronto's Joffrey Lupul was one of the Cinderellas of fantasy hockey, what with his career year and rebirth in hockey's Mecca. He was rewarded this year with a lucrative, long-term contract. His status now? Out for six weeks. In Philadelphia, Scott Hartnell took the League by storm and provided fantasy owners with the kind of across-the-board production you can only dream of. His status now? Out for four-to-eight weeks.
The point is, bad luck is part of the game and fantasy hockey is no exception. Relying on repeat performances can be a dangerous game. That's why it'll be especially important in this go-round for fantasy owners to surround their clubs with category depth.
Buy or sell last year's breakout performers? Sell.
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