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Fantasy Mailbag: Window not closed on Hiller

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 12:16 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Fantasy Mailbag: Window not closed on Hiller
NHL.com's Pete Jensen answers the most compelling weekly fantasy hockey questions from the fans.
NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen has you covered all season long with the weekly Fantasy Hockey Mailbag. The most compelling questions posed each week will be answered in an effort to provide you with the best chance to succeed in your particular league.

Submit your best questions for the NHL.com Fantasy Mailbag by contacting PJensen@NHL.com.



RAYMOND FROM EDMONTON currently has Jonas Hiller, Jhonas Enroth and Tomas Vokoun as his three goaltenders. He's wondering if he should drop Hiller for either Cory Schneider or Johan Hedberg.

The Ducks' swoon continues to be a pertinent fantasy topic, and Hiller certainly falls into the category of problematic performers in Anaheim. There's no sugar-coating his early season woes (6-10-5, 3.14 GAA, .900 save percentage, 1 SO), but there's also no denying that this former All-Star remains the team's most viable option in the crease. The Ducks are in a period of transition after the firing of Randy Carlyle and the subsequent hiring of Bruce Boudreau, so it's important to be patient and continue to assess
Jonas Hiller
Goalie - ANA
RECORD: 6-10-5
GAA: 3.14 | SVP: 0.900
Anaheim's progression – or regression – in the standings. Hiller and the Ducks put forth a spirited effort in their overtime loss in Bruce Boudreau's debut on Friday, and if the new coaching staff sparks a turnaround by implementing a high-intensity system in SoCal, there's still time for the Ducks' offense to reverse its inefficiencies and for Hiller to get his season back on track.

Schneider (7-4-0, 2.12, .930, 2 SO) has started seven straight games for Vancouver and won five straight decisions, but was chased after allowing three goals on five shots against Nashville on Thursday. Roberto Luongo was shaky as well in the game -- his first action since an upper-body injury on Nov. 13 -- but it's likely that he and Schneider will continue splitting time in Vancouver's unpredictable goaltending carousel. Hedberg (7-4-1, 2.18, .920, 2 SO) is expected to get the start for New Jersey in Winnipeg on Saturday after relieving Martin Brodeur on Friday in a 4-2 loss at Minnesota. But despite Hedberg's strong numbers, he has only seen action in five games since Brodeur returned to the lineup Nov. 2. One other thing to consider is that your other goalies are not in picture-perfect situations either, as Enroth is bound to lose starts due to Ryan Miller's return from injury and Vokoun has won only four of his last 11 decisions for Washington. Therefore, it's important that you hang onto a clear-cut starter in Hiller, and bank on him turning things around.



MARTIN FROM MORINVILLE, ALBERTA is in a league with seven skater categories (G, A, PTS, PIM, PPP, Hits, Blocks). He was offered a trade where he would give up David Backes and receive John Tavares.

Both Backes and Tavares are owned in over 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues, proving they are legitimate fantasy assets who should not be taken lightly. But with the Blues playing at such a high level, it's a no-brainer to keep their captain, Backes (9 G, 7 A, plus-6, 22 PIM, 2 PPP, 75 hits, 18 BkS, 72 SOG), a motivated leader who has helped guide St. Louis to an 8-1-3 mark under Ken Hitchcock. In your particular
David Backes
Right Wing - STL
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 16
SOG: 72 | +/-: 6
league, players like Backes, who bring points, blocked shots and hits to the table, certainly come at a premium. Backes is not afraid to sacrifice his body to help his team succeed – which is all you can ask for as his fantasy owner. Also, with David Perron (concussion) set to make his return to the lineup on Saturday against the Blackhawks after missing nearly 13 months, St. Louis will be as equipped as ever to succeed in the offensive zone.

Tavares (8 G, 10 A, minus-3, 10 PIM, 8 hits, 7 BkS, 7 PPP, 82 SOG) has produced strong offensive numbers, but he is far from the well-rounded fantasy asset that Backes has proved to be. If your roster needs a boost in PPP and a slight upgrade in point-production, then Tavares may be worth considering. Even though your league does not count SOG, Tavares is tied for 21st in the League in that category, proving he is at the forefront of the Isles' offensive strategy and that he puts himself in position to convert frequently. Tavares, however, is in the midst of a 12-game goalless drought, as he is often hindered by the inexperience around him in the lineup on Long Island. The Isles have been blanked six times in 23 games this season, and Tavares has yet to prove he has the capability of becoming a 40-plus goal scorer at this stage of his career. So until Tavares hits that type of stride in his development, Backes is the much more reliable fantasy option.



JAMES FROM CALGARY drafted Alexander Semin in his fantasy league, but because of his slow start to the season, is considering pulling the plug. Among his available players of interest via free agency are Ryan Clowe, Evander Kane and Radim Vrbata.

Semin, along with teammate Alex Ovechkin, is among the glaring underachievers in the League thus far in 2011-12. While Semin (5 G, 5 A, minus-4, 32 PIM, 2 PPP, 52 SOG, 8 hits) was a popular keeper pick in fantasy leagues because his resume sports three 70-plus point campaigns, his production through 23 games this year has made his fantasy owners regret their decisions to retain his services. One of the
Radim Vrbata
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 21
SOG: 68 | +/-: 9
major tasks at hand for new Capitals' coach Dale Hunter is solving Semin – who was benched earlier this season by Boudreau and has seemingly lost his effectiveness from a fantasy perspective. It remains to be seen if Hunter can get his message across to Washington's star-studded roster.

As far as free agency in your league, Vrbata's goal-scoring pace has shattered expectations and his plus-minus is among the most efficient in the League. But while the Coyotes have put together a nice start to the season, it's a risky move to invest in Vrbata (12 G, 9 A, plus-9, 8 PIM, 4 PPP, 68 SOG, 18 hits), who has eclipsed the 20-goal plateau only twice in his career. Staying in the Pacific division, Clowe (5 G, 11 A, even rating, 41 PIM, 6 PPP, 64 SOG, 28 hits) is a solid producer for San Jose's second line but has not exactly mustered earth-shattering fantasy numbers outside of his assist and PIM outputs. Clowe (owned in 89 percent) is likely to pick up the pace as the season wears along for the Sharks, but the most valuable player to add to your roster out of this trio is Kane (12 G, 7 A, plus-2, 23 PIM, 4 PPP, 93 SOG, 59 hits), who is clearly playing beyond his years for the Jets. Kane (owned in 69 percent) is fifth in the League in SOG, tied for seventh in goals, and a difference-maker in leagues that count hits. He leads Winnipeg in both goals and points, and is shaping up to be its most potent playmaker in the offensive zone.



LIAM FROM TORONTO is wondering in which order you would rank the following players: Vincent Lecavalier, Joffrey Lupul, and Teemu Selanne.

1. Lupul (LW/RW eligible) is on pace to be the best player out of this trio by far if he keeps up production anywhere in the vicinity of his scorching pace. His totals in goals, assists and points are among the top-10 in the NHL entering Saturday's action. Injuries have plagued much of Toronto's roster but not Lupul (12 G, 18 A, plus-4, 30 PIM, 11 PPP, 73 SOG, 29 hits), who has teamed with Tyler Bozak and early MVP candidate Phil Kessel to form one of the most dangerous lines, League-wide.

Teemu Selanne
Right Wing - ANA
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 23
SOG: 73 | +/-: -3
2. Selanne (RW eligible) has four goals and four assists in his last eight games, and is the only high-profile member of the struggling Ducks that is up-to-speed with expectations coming into the season. Likely playing in the final year of his monumental NHL career, Selanne (9 G, 14, minus-3, 38 PIM, 11 PPP, 73 SOG, 3 hits) is tied for seventh in the League in power-play production (with Lupul) and is a major reason why Anaheim has even hung around in many of their recent losses. While his age does not guarantee any keeper value beyond this year, there are few players in the League with the natural puck-moving abilities of this right wing. From a fantasy standpoint, the diversity to his game speaks for itself.

3. Lecavalier (C eligible) has more SOG and hits than both Lupul and Selanne, and also has outstanding offensive numbers centering Tampa Bay's top line alongside longtime teammate Martin St. Louis. But having missing 17 games because of injury last season, his ability to stay healthy for a full season remains a question at age 31, and his goal scoring numbers are a growing concern as they have dipped gradually ever since a career-best total of 52 in 2006-07. But after three straight years of sub 30-goal seasons, this may be the season Lecavalier gets back up to speed in that regard.



SCOTTY FROM CONWAY, NEW HAMPSHIRE was offered a trade where he would acquire Bobby Ryan straight up for Tyler Seguin.

Tyler Seguin
Center - BOS
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 24
SOG: 63 | +/-: 19
Ryan was a top-15 fantasy player coming into the season, but to this point his production cannot be compared to that of a 19-year-old phenom in Seguin. Despite his current rough patch of a goal and three assists in his last eight outings, Seguin (12 G, 12 A, plus-19, 10 PIM, 6 PPP, 63 SOG, 8 hits) leads the defending-champion Bruins in goals and points, while sporting a league-best plus-19 rating through 23 games. Situated on Boston's second line alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, Seguin has taken his game to a new level and may be the most critical ingredient to the Bruins' recipe for defending their title.

On the other side of the spectrum, Ryan has increased his point total in each of his four previous seasons at the NHL level. But as his current slump continues, his streak of three consecutive 30-plus-goal outings is in serious jeopardy. Anaheim's high-octane top line has suddenly staggered as the Ducks' offense is statistically the second-worst in the League through 25 games. Ryan's rating is also a detrimental minus-7. While Ryan has the pedigree that could enable him recover as the season progresses, nixing this trade and keeping Seguin is definitely the way to go.



To submit a question for NHL.com's weekly Fantasy Mailbag, contact fantasy insider Pete Jensen at PJensen@NHL.com.
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