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Fantasy Mailbag: Downie, Ott valuable for stretch run

By Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer

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.



AMOS FROM LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
just made a trade and has an empty spot on his roster. His current arsenal of forwards includes Steven Stamkos (C), Ryan Kesler (C), Logan Couture (C/LW), Chris Kunitz (LW), Ryane Clowe (LW/RW), Michael Ryder (RW) and Radim Vrbata (RW). He's looking to add a winger who can provide both points and PIMs, and has narrowed his choices down to Steve Downie and Steve Ott.

This question deals with two gritty wingers of similar build that can bolster any fantasy team for its playoff push. There are likely teams out of the playoff race in many leagues -- especially keeper ones -- so this question can apply to owners who may see Downie (owned in 46 percent of Yahoo! leagues) or Ott (35 percent) on the waiver wire and also those in deeper leagues who are torn on whether to acquire either Downie or Ott via trade. Both touch on PIMs and hits with regularity, and have also proven to be catalysts on the offensive end for their respective clubs.

Ott (10 G, 22 A, plus-4, 124 PIM, 6 PPP, 93 SOG, 217 hits) is a great fit for fantasy rosters, as the C/LW
Steve Downie
Right Wing - COL
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 35
SOG: 117 | +/-: -8
eligible forward is a great complementary fantasy option on a playoff-contending team in the Western Conference. Ott sports the sixth-best hits total in the NHL and is in the midst of a balanced stretch that has seen him register 1 goal, 4 assists and 9 PIMs over his last six games. The 29-year-old has shifted lines from time to time this season for the Dallas Stars, but is currently operating on the secondary line with All-Star Jamie Benn. With 22 helpers on the season, he's closing in on his career-high of 27, showing that he has taken his game to new heights this season as a distributor.

But while Ott gives you a touch of scoring along with hits galore, Downie (14 G, 21 A, minus-8, 127 PIM, 4 PPP, 117 SOG, 83 hits) is LW/RW eligible -- which means you could slate this versatile forward in your star-studded lineup more often. The 5-foot-11 winger didn't play Sunday in St. Paul after sustaining a shoulder injury on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is currently day-to-day. Assuming he returns in the next week or so, his value will remain high from a fantasy standpoint. In six games since being traded to Colorado on Feb. 21, Downie has spent the majority of his time on the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and rookie Gabriel Landeskog, compiling 2 goals, 5 assists, a plus-7 rating, 6 PIM and 18 SOG in that span. He is a top-tier PIMs producer, and also creates quality scoring chances on a nightly basis with maximum effort on both ends of the ice. While he is likely not keeper-worthy in most Leagues, Downie is your best bet considering he best addresses your team's specific needs of points and PIMs.



KEVIN FROM GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN anticipates a tight finish for the top spot in his league standings with just a few weeks to go before the fantasy postseason begins. He currently has Tobias Enstrom on his roster, but is looking for an upgrade via free agency. He is considering picking up Kyle Quincey, but is concerned because the Detroit Red Wings play seven of their next 11 games on the road. His league categorizes goals, assists, points and rating.

Enstrom (4 G, 18 A, plus-2, 28 PIM, 10 PPP, 67 SOG) is in his prime at 27 and has contributed admirably at times this season for the Winnipeg Jets, but is currently mired in a lengthy slump with no goals and only 3 assists over his last 17 games since his five-game points streak from Jan. 16-23 came to an end. Helping
Kyle Quincey
Defense - DET
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 24
SOG: 141 | +/-: 1
Enstrom's cause is that he sees time with Dustin Byfuglien for Winnipeg's top defensive pairing, but the fact of the matter is your roster needs a spark for the stretch run. This Swedish born blueliner has clearly not instilled much confidence in you as of late, so a change may be needed.

Quincey played with the Red Wings sparingly during the early stages of his career, but is back with the club now as a 26-year-old defenseman with tremendous potential after a three-way trade sent him from Colorado to the Motor City on Feb. 21. Quincey (6 G, 18 A, plus-1, 66 PIM, 9 PPP, 141 SOG) missed one game for Detroit on Feb. 28 against the Columbus Blue Jackets due to a groin injury, but is back in the lineup for his injury-plagued squad at an opportune time. Quincey possesses more size than Enstrom at 6-2 and 207 pounds, and has produced in a number of categories since the trade, with 1 goal, a plus-2 rating, 6 PIM and 10 SOG in four games. With Ian White locked into a long slump and Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson battling injuries, Quincey is an addition that could ultimately pay dividends for your fantasy squad if he bursts onto the scene.



JODHAN FROM VANCOUVER is in a 12-team league that factors in goals, assists, plus-minus, PIMs, PPP and SOG. He is mulling a trade offer where he would send Antti Niemi and Dan Boyle and receive Kris Letang and Brian Elliott. The other goaltender on his roster is Tuukka Rask and his other defensemen are Christian Ehrhoff, Jack Johnson, Ryan McDonagh and Tomas Kaberle.

By the looks of it, your roster is in need of an elite defenseman. Kris Letang, when healthy, fills that role without question. The problem is that Letang has only played in 40 of the Penguins' 64 games to date this season due to injury. When in the lineup, Letang's productivity has been stronger than that of Boyle, who is underachieving for the San Jose Sharks from a goal-scoring standpoint. But with that being said, Boyle is still on pace for 45 points, over 70 PIMs and 250-plus shots on goal, making him more valuable than
Antti Niemi
Goalie - SJS
RECORD: 25-17-6
GAA: 2.44 | SVP: 0.914
Letang, who is still out of the lineup and being evaluated after an injury Feb. 29 in Dallas. You simply can't take your chances in a blockbuster deal involving Letang when you have a sure-fire producer like Boyle anchoring your already thin defensive unit.

It's a similar case with this goalie comparison as well, as Niemi, despite the Sharks' inconsistencies, has still put forth a quality season. Niemi (25-17-6, 2.44, .914, 5 SO) has 50 games under his belt already this season, and with San Jose in the thick of the playoff race, it will be very intriguing to see how the rest of his campaign unfolds. Elliott's body of work this season is among the most impressive in the entire League, but the question "What have you done for me lately?" doesn't come with a promising answer. Jaroslav Halak has started in five of the last six games for the red-hot St. Louis Blues, winning all five and allowing two or less goals in each game. For Elliott (20-8-2, 1.63, .937, 6 SO), the playing time simply hasn't been there lately as the 26-year-old has lost three straight. With the Blues still in the race for the Presidents' Trophy, Ken Hitchcock will likely ride the hot hand, which could be bad news for Elliott's fantasy owners. This trade gives you some potential if Letang gets healthy and if Elliott surges and wins the bulk of the playing time back from Halak. However, by the looks of it, neither of those circumstances is set in stone at the moment. Plus, your other goaltender, Rask, suffered an undisclosed injury Saturday against the New York Islanders and was out of the lineup in Sunday's road game against the New York Rangers. Your best bet would be to cling to two stable producers in teammates Niemi and Boyle, especially considering there are only a few weeks to go before playoff time and you need all the production you can get from those positions.
 


JOHN FROM BOSTON has Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf, Duncan Keith and Jack Johnson as his starting defensemen in a league that factors in goals, assists, hits, PPP and SOG. He is concerned about whether or not Johnson's production will dwindle because he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. If he ends up parting ways with Johnson, he is wondering which available blueliners would bolster his unit.

Johnson's value has decreased since being dealt to Columbus -- it's just the reality of the matter. While he still remains a strong threat as a puck-moving defenseman, it will likely take some time for him to develop rhythm with the last-place Blue Jackets. Johnson (8 G, 17 A, minus-14, 29 PIM, 14 PPP, 129
Jack Johnson
Defense - CBJ
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 25
SOG: 129 | +/-: -14
SOG, 79 hits) already sports a poor rating between his time with the Jackets and Kings this season, and his numbers since the trade (0 G, 1 A, minus-2 in 4 games) suggest that his fantasy owners may need to look elsewhere for production. Here are some readily available defensemen who can contribute in key categories for your team during the stretch run:

Sami Salo, Vancouver Canucks (34 percent)
8 G, 13 A, plus-8, 8 PIM, 12 PPP, 116 SOG, 21 hits
The Scoop: He's one of the most valuable veteran defensemen available on the free agent wire. He's missed 11 games this season, but is still formidable on the power play and also in terms of shots on goal and plus-minus. The 37-year-old is not quite on pace to match his 14-goal, 23-assist campaign from 2006-07, but he's projected to finish the season with 10 G, 16 A, a plus-10 rating and nearly 150 shots. Not too shabby.

Nick Leddy, Chicago Blackhawks (22 percent)
3 G, 28 A, minus-12, 10 PIM, 10 PPP, 80 SOG, 58 hits
The Scoop: Leddy is tied with Jonathan Toews for fifth on the Blackhawks in assists. The fact that 10 of his
Justin Faulk
Defense - CAR
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 17
SOG: 80 | +/-: -9
28 assists have come on the man advantage is even more encouraging. This 20-year-old blueliner will be something special down the road, but in the meantime, he can certainly provide a boost in those two categories if desired.

Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders (22 percent)
1 G, 14 A, plus-7, 57 PIM, 2 PPP, 93 SOG, 149 hits
The Scoop: Hamonic has somehow managed to post a great rating this season despite the Islanders' goal differential being second-worst in the NHL at negative-40. Throw in an outstanding hit total and he's a lucrative fantasy package. His strong shot output also suggests he is eventually due for a surge in point production.

Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes (8 percent)
7 G, 10 A, minus-9, 29 PIM, 11 PPP, 80 SOG, 85 hits
The Scoop: The 19-year-old Faulk has flown under the radar for the Hurricanes all season. He's played in only 49 of 65 games for Carolina, but averages 1.73 hits per game and has also been active on the power play. Shots and PIMs are also the norm for this emerging defenseman. If Salo is no longer available, or if you'd prefer to invest in a younger player with eventual keeper value, you should pick up Faulk before he becomes a hot commodity in the fantasy landscape.



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

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