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Newcomers prove valuable on Fantasy Saturday

Saturday, 03.06.2010 / 11:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer


Welcome back to our weekly wild Fantasy Saturday's! Now that the Winter Olympics and the NHL trade deadline are behind us, fantasy owners can start to focus on getting their teams ready for the playoffs. Most leagues' trade deadlines are approaching, so be sure to start the negotiating before it's too late.

Speaking of trades, how 'bout them newcomers? Five different players who were dealt at the deadline scored for their new teams tonight. With 10 games on the schedule, some fantasy owners probably had open roster spots while others were fully loaded. Either way, I hope you were able to maximize your production.

GAME STAR: Sidney Crosby
2 goals - 1 SHG, 1 assist, +2, 5 SOG
Alexei Ponikarovsky finally suited up for the Penguins and scored his 20th goal of the season. Playing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko, Poni's fantasy value gets a major boost after leaving the offensively-challenged Maple Leafs. Both he and Fedotenko are worth keeping an eye on while they're skating with Malkin. After tallying just two points in 25 games with the Kings, youngster Brandon Segal tallied a goal and an assist in his third game with the Stars -- that's four points since he's joined the team. Segal, a former fourth-round draft pick, won't stay at this pace so don't go rushing to grab him. Kari Lehtonen made his first start in goal for Dallas and first start since April 11, 2009, when he was with Atlanta -- but stopped just 28 of 34 shots.

BOS 3, NYI 2
Tim Thomas
Win, 37 saves
With Tuukka Rask sidelined due to a knee injury, Tim Thomas is doing his best to show he still has some gas in the tank. The veteran netminder stopped 37 of 39 Islander shots and earned his second consecutive win. Look for Thomas to get just about every start until Rask is healthy. Islanders forward Matt Moulson extended his points streak to five games (2G, 3A) after scoring his 23rd goal of the season. Marc Savard scored his 10th goal and first since Dec. 23 against Atlanta. Despite playing for one of the league's worst offensive teams, Savard still puts up nearly a point per game with 33 in 40 games.

TOR 2, OTT 1 (SO)
Pascal Leclaire
30 saves
The ongoing goalie battle in Ottawa continued on Saturday night. This time it was Pascal Leclaire back between the pipes, and he actually put together an excellent performance, stopping 30 of 31 shots in a shootout loss. However, no Sens goaltender is a safe play right now. After going three games without a point, Toronto's Phil Kessel scored his 22nd goal. Chris Neil, who's known for his physical play and constant altercations, netted his first power goal since the 2006-07 season when he potted three goals with the man advantage. Neil has 17 points on the season to go along with a robust 146 PIMs (matching last season's total).

GAME STAR: Jose Theodore
Win - shutout, 30 saves
Jose Theodore stopped all 30 shots he faced and has allowed just one goal in his last two starts. Perhaps Theo is making a statement trying to earn the No. 1 job before the playoffs -- roll him with confidence right now. Marian Gaborik returned to the lineup for the Rangers after missing three games -- he played 20:08 and had three shots on goal. Playing in his second game since coming over from the Hurricanes, Joe Corvo was paired up with Tom Poti on defense. He recorded his first point with the Caps, a power-play assist on Eric Fehr's 17th goal of the season. While Corvo only has 4 goals and 9 assists this season, he'll be running Washington's second power-play unit and should put up a healthy amount of points from here on out -- he did score 14 goals last season with Carolina. Another newcomer also contributed for the Caps -- Eric Belanger scored his first goal in two games with his new team. The veteran center now has 14 goals and 22 assists this season, and like Corvo, Belanger's fantasy value certainly increases playing with the powerhouse Capitals.

GAME STAR: Bryan McCabe
3 assists, +1, 3 SOG
Defenseman Bryan McCabe tallied three assists and now has 34 points in 64 games for the Panthers. The veteran defenseman is on fire right now with a goal and 8 assists in his previous four games. Florida forward Michael Frolik scored his third goal in his last two games -- he has 16 goals and 19 assists on the season. After winning his first three starts of the season, Carolina goalie Justin Peters stopped 26 of 29 shots in Florida's 4-2 loss. Peters and veteran Manny Legace have been splitting time regularly between the pipes for the Hurricanes -- you're taking a chance if you own either of them. Kamil Kreps scored his second and third goals of the season -- his first career multi-goal game.


GAME STAR: Steven Stamkos
2 goals - 1 PPG, 1 assist, +2, 4 SOG
Steven Stamkos scored twice, the first being his NHL-leading 16th power-play goal of the season (tied with Dany Heatley), the second was his 40th goal. Enough said. Martin St. Louis tallied a goal and two assists, but left the game late in the third period with an apparent upper body injury -- details were not provided. Niclas Bergfors continued to prove that he's a solid depth forward on any fantasy squad. The Thrashers forward scored his 18th goal of the season, giving him five goals and two assists in eight games since joining Atlanta. Tampa Bay forward Teddy Purcell, who came over in the Jeff Halpern deadline deal with the Kings, scored his first goal with the Bolts (a penalty-shot goal) -- he also added an assist and now has a goal and two helpers in two games with his new mates. Steve Downie has five goals and eight assists during a 10-game points streak.

GAME STAR: Ilya Bryzgalov
Win - shutout, 32 saves
Phoenix's big deadline acquisition, Wojtek Wolski, contributed his second goal in as many games since joining his new team. Wolski also added an assist and is playing on the top line with captain Shane Doan and playmaking center Matthew Lombardi. With 19 goals and 31 assists, Wolski is worth owning in most leagues at this point. Also playing in his second game with the Coyotes, defenseman Derek Morris tallied his 23rd assist of the year (Morris also dropped the gloves with Corey Perry for those of you that have PIMs as a category). Morris' 26 points this season are his most since he recorded 27 in his first stint with Phoenix in '05-'06. Petr Prucha potted his first goal since scoring two on Jan. 16 against Minnesota. With just 12 goals and nine assists on the season, Prucha shouldn't be owned in many fantasy leagues.

GAME STAR: Chris Stewart
3 goals, 1 assts, +2, 6 SOG
Chris Stewart, who has been arguably the biggest surprise in fantasy hockey, had a monster night as he recorded his first career hat trick and added an assist. The gritty winger now has 24 goals and 27 assists in 60 games and has proven to be a must start in all formats. Peter Mueller, who came to Colorado in exchange for Wojtek Wolski, had two assists, giving him a goal and three assists in three games with the Avs. Mueller is a former No. 8 draft pick and has loads of potential (which he displayed with his 54-point rookie season), but was unable to put it all together for Phoenix in the previous two seasons. Playing for a new club could be the remedy. Wait a few more games and if Mueller continues to produce, give him a shot. Blues winger David Perron set a career high when he scored his 16th goal. While he may not reach his 50 points from a year ago, Perron's future is bright in St. Louis. Playing in his first game since Jan. 11 (knee and back injuries), Milan Hejduk scored two goals and tallied six shots on goal for the Avs.

GAME STAR: Benoit Pouliot
1 goal, 1 assist, +2, 4 SOG
The fifth newcomer who contributed a goal for their new team was Kings forward Fredrik Modin, who was playing in his second game with L.A. The former Blue Jacket is a solid role player, but with just seven points on the season, he shouldn't be owned in any leagues. Although he wasn't acquired on deadline day, Dominic Moore is still a recent newcomer for the Habs, and after getting a shorthanded goal against the Kings, he now has a pair of goals and an assist in five games for his new team. Benoit Pouliot continues to thrive in Montreal -- he scored his 13th goal in 23 games since Minnesota dealt him (he also added an assist). Pouliot looks like he may have found a home with the Habs and he could be a decent sleeper in next year's fantasy leagues. Anze Kopitar extended his point-scoring streak to six games with his 30th goal of the season. This marks the second time in his four-year career that Kopi has reached the 30-goal plateau.

GAME STAR: Steve Mason
42 saves
Steve Mason was absolutely outstanding against the Sharks, stopping 42 of 44 shots, but unfortunately he took the hard-luck loss. If you remember, back on Feb. 10, Mason turned aside all 40 Sharks shots he faced in a 3-0 win. Basically, the next time Columbus faces San Jose, you shouldn't hesitate to start the youngster. Dany Heatley continues to score for San Jose -- he had his league-leading 16th power-play goal (tied with Stammer, as mentioned earlier) and 34th goal overall. Joe Thornton set up the goal, giving him an NHL-high 61 assists. Blue Jackets center Andrew Murray got his second goal of the season. Jakub Voracek assisted on the goal and he now has 36 points, two away from his rookie total a year ago.

Sunday is the new Saturday! With nine games on the schedule, several fantasy owners will find their rosters filled to the max. Here are a few suggestions if you have the space to add a player for the day:

Ruslan Fedotenko, LW, PIT -- As I stated earlier, Tank is playing on Pittsburgh's second line with Evgeni Malkin and newcomer Alexei Ponikarovsky. He has a goal and two helpers in his last three games and is worth a shot right now.

Dainius Zubrus, RW, NJD -- Two things about Zubrus: 1) He's centering a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias, and 2) The Devils are playing the Oilers. Need I say more.

Denis Grebeshkov, D, NSH -- The newly acquired Predator scored a goal and chipped in an assist in his first game in Nashville. He is a talented offensive-minded defenseman and should thrive in the Preds system.


Detroit (Jimmy Howard) at Chicago (Cristobal Huet), 12:30 p.m. ET
Boston (Tim Thomas) at Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury), 3 p.m. ET
Vancouver (Roberto Luongo) at Nashville (Pekka Rinne), 3 p.m. ET
Calgary (Miikka Kiprusoff) at Minnesota (Niklas Backstrom), 3 p.m. ET
Carolina (Manny Legace) at Atlanta (Johan Hedberg), 5 p.m. ET
Buffalo (Ryan Miller) at NY Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7 p.m. ET
Toronto (Jean-Sebastien Giguere) at Philadelphia (Michael Leighton) 7 p.m. ET
New Jersey (Martin Brodeur) at Edmonton (Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers) 8 p.m. ET
Montreal (Carey Price) at Anaheim (Vesa Toskala), 8 p.m. ET


Have a fantasy question you want answered? Want advice on a trade proposal, or have a hot tip you want to share with the NHL.com fantasy community? Write to us at fantasy@nhl.com and your question may be answered in the Fantasy Forecast.

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