All season long, NHL.com’s weekly Fantasy Mailbag will feature the best fantasy hockey-related questions from you, the fans.
Locked into a toss-up in deciding which player to add or drop? Looking for insight on a trade proposal? Look no further than this interactive forum every Saturday during the season for comprehensive analysis on moves that can make or break your fantasy squad.
NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen has your inquiries covered all season long. 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
Joe (Brooklyn, NY):
I am currently in a tough league and might have made a grave mistake drafting Jaroslav Halak and Tomas Vokoun as my netminders. While I don't doubt Vokoun's skill, I worry he'll split his time evenly with Neuvirth, which doesn't bode well from a fantasy perspective. I also have Johan Hedberg, but relying on him and Vokoun would mean juggling my goalies daily and having to look up who's starting -- which isn’t too appealing.
Would it be worth it to ditch Halak and one of my better players (Bobby Ryan, Eric Staal or Zdeno Chara) in order to pick up a more reliable goaltender such as Cam Ward or Miikka Kiprusoff?
Goalie - WSH
GAA: 3.28 | SVP: 0.899
Vokoun has allowed seven goals in two games for Washington, but sports a 2-0-0 record. No surprise there, as the 35-year-old should be aided all season by the Capitals' potent offense. Halak, meanwhile, has struggled out of the gate as well, surrendering 8 goals in three games en route to a 1-2-0 record. While neither is an ideal early-round pick, depending on how many teams are in your league, you may have been forced to grab two decent starting goaltenders early on in order to compete, prompting you to take Vokoun and Halak.
Halak is the outright man in the crease for the Blues, who should be much improved if they avoid the injury bug in 2011-12. The Capitals should be one of the top teams in the East all year, and regardless of whether Neuvirth and/or Braden Holtby
split time in net for Bruce Boudreau
's squad, Vokoun was acquired this offseason in the hope that he could re-discover his 2005-06 form that enabled him to post a 36-18-7 record in 61 starts despite a subpar 2.67 goals-against average with the Nashville Predators
. Also, with Martin Brodeur
getting up there in age, Johan Hedberg
will be one of the most frequently used backups in the League. But, of course, that would require daily dedication to lineup research.
Over the next few weeks, I would gauge the interest of the respective owners of Kiprusoff (37W, .906 SV%, 2.63 GAA in '10-11) and Ward (37W, .923, 2.56 in '10-11) in regards to their potential trade value in relation to your team. Both of these goalies will get a ton of starts, and are workhorses that will produce plenty of wins, in addition to reliable all-around fantasy performance. If Vokoun continues to win, be sure to sell at a high value.
Be willing to part ways with Chara if need be, because your top forwards (Ryan and Staal) are too important to your team maintaining high production in offensive categories. If you could acquire an underrated defenseman in the top-30 range (i.e. James Wisniewski
, John-Michael Liles
, Jack Johnson
, Tomas Kaberle
, Ryan Suter
, etc.) and either Ward/Kiprusoff in exchange for Vokoun/Halak and Chara, this deal would be worth your while. Although it will be tough to part ways with the third-ranked fantasy blueliner, according to Brian Metzer's weekly rankings, your upgrade in goaltending could make a huge difference for your roster come playoff time. Both Calgary and Carolina are expected to be in the thick of the races for the final postseason spots in their respective conferences, which means both Kipper and Ward will likely be playing meaningful hockey down the stretch of the season.
Jeff (Windsor, Ontario):
I'm in a keeper league and debating a trade sending Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa with a 2nd Round pick for next year for Sidney Crosby and Tyler Seguin with a fifth-round pick for next year. Your thoughts?
This is an intriguing trade proposal, because it involves future early-round draft picks and two huge wild cards in Crosby and Seguin. Crosby, who had the scoring title in his grasp last season before missing the second half of the season due to injury, is inching closer to a return to action after being cleared for contact this week. Seguin, with top-line center David Krejci
still day-to-day after sustaining a leg injury in practice this week, has assumed a more important role in the Boston Bruins
' offensive attack this season. The 19-year-old already has four points (1 G, 3 A) in as many games. You would also be receiving a fifth-round pick in next season's draft, which is an early-enough selection to earn you a legitimate sleeper pick.
But while the idea of having two bright young stars anchoring your roster is quite appealing, you would be agreeing to part ways with a top-10 player in Datsyuk, who is healthy and off to a fast start with three points (1G, 2A) and a plus-3 rating in three games. In addition to this Russian-born phenom, you will be surrendering a second-round pick -- which would nab you a top-10 player at any position next season -- as well as Hossa, who has put up 20-plus goals in 11 straight seasons.
Fantasy Spin: Crosby cleared for contact
Sergei J. Feldman - NHL.com Staff Writer
Ten months after going down with a concussion, Pittsburgh Penguins
captain Sidney Crosby
has officially been cleared for full contact, a giant -- though incremental -- step forward in his recovery from a concussion he sustained after big hits in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 and the Pens' next game on Jan. 5. READ MORE ›
First off, your keeper situation is a key factor in this deal. If you have other premier players on your fantasy roster or cannot keep Crosby because he was too high a draft pick this season, then this deal is simply too risky at this time. While Crosby could re-emerge as the top fantasy asset in the game and Seguin could score 25-30 goals this season for your squad, there's also the chance that Sid could be hindered by post-concussion syndrome throughout the season and Seguin could find a difficult time establishing himself amongst Boston's deep core of forwards at this stage of his career. It's just the reality of the situation. It's imperative to retain one or both of these players, because this move has a better chance to work out for you in the long-term.
While this trade could pay off for your team this season and also moving forward, avoiding a mega-deal with this much risk is the way to go. Datsyuk, if healthy, will be a difference-maker for your squad, as he plays amongst an array of talented players in Detroit that not only cater to his strengths as a slasher but also frequently capitalize on the scoring chances he sets up for them. However, if you're confident and willing to take a risk on this deal because of what you've seen from Crosby in the past, then take the green light and play your chances. Sid will look to utilize his outstanding skill sets and hockey IQ upon his return to game action, and is likely to bounce back in a big way for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Alex (Azusa, Calif.):
Do you think Michael Grabner will increase his production, put up similar numbers to last year or drop off? I believe some potential replacements include Ville Leino (LW), Wayne Simmonds (RW), Joffrey Lupul (LW/RW) and Danny Cleary (RW). Much thanks!
Grabner has spent the first three games of the young season on the Islanders' second line. He is arguably the fastest skater in the league and finds a plethora of good looks at the net seemingly every given night. His only goal this season came as a result of his awareness in attacking the net and tapping in a free puck near the crease.
This 24-year-old winger has work to do in capitalizing on most of his opportunities and establishing his composure on the ice in his second full season in the League. I don't expect Grabner to necessarily exceed his strong numbers (34 G, 18 A, plus-13, 228 shots) that made him a Calder Trophy finalist last year, but I do envision a strong output in the vicinity of 25-30 goals and over 200 shots on goal. His shot selection should improve over the course of the season, and his impact will be crucial for a young Islanders team with a lot to prove in 2011-12.
As far as the players you listed, all four are worth monitoring:
- Leino, 28, is a late bloomer as evidenced his breakout 53-point (19G, 34A) campaign last year. He has a goal already this year and will definitely contribute to a deep Buffalo Sabres' offense, but my concern with Leino is his history leading up to last season. He had never scored more than 5 goals in an NHL season before his 2010-11 output, and will be under more pressure than ever to elevate his game after signing a 6-year, $27 million contract with Buffalo.
- Cleary (2 assists in 3 games this season) has produced 40-plus point outputs in four of his last five seasons and will continue to pick his spots as alongside star forwards Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the Red Wings' top line. If available, he is a logical replacement for Grabner if the Islander forward ends up experiencing a sophomore slump during the opening months of '11-12. Cleary is the most reliable player of the four potential replacements you listed, as he is bound to produce a strong rating and point total as long as he is operating with two of the game's best offensive players.
- Simmonds, who will be an energy player for the Philadelphia Flyers, has only missed six games in 3-plus seasons at the NHL level and will continue to develop into a playmaker this season. The 23-year-old has 70 points combined over the past two seasons and already has a goal and an assist in three games this season for Philly. He battles for every inch of positioning on the ice and also brings other important fantasy elements to the table – PIMs and hits. The young forward already has 9 PIM this season and has produced 73-or-more in each of his first three NHL seasons – including a showing of 116 in ’09-10. The former Los Angeles Kings' prospect also racked up 125-plus hits in each of the past two seasons.
Right Wing - DET
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 2
SOG: 13 | +/-: 3
- Injuries remain the glaring concern surrounding the 28-year-old Lupul. He has looked productive early on the season, with four points (1G, 3A) in two games, but the question is, "Will this be the year he stays healthy?" After an injury-plagued season and a half with the Ducks, Toronto acquired Lupul last February via trade, he totaled a respectable 9 goals and 9 assists in 28 games. Now, Lupul has a new beginning with the Maple Leafs and will look to keep the team's strong start going strong by gelling with Phil Kessel on the primary unit. If healthy, he is bound to register the fourth 20-plus goal, 46-plus point campaign of his career.
Irmin (Örebro, Sweden):
I'm in a 14-team head-to-head league with four starting defenseman spots and the following categories: G/A/Plus-Minus/PPP/SHP/GWG/SOG/HITS (no PIM). I selected Andrei Markov in the ninth round of my fantasy draft, despite his current injury situation. My other D's are Dion Phaneuf, Sheldon Souray and Ian White.
Is Markov worth waiting for or should I trade White and one of my lower-end forwards (Andy McDonald, Devin Setoguchi or Shane Doan) for a better defenseman like Brent Seabrook or Alex Pietrangelo)? Once Markov is back, I don't plan on keeping an extra defenseman on my bench.
Markov has been decimated by injury over the past two seasons following a career-high 64-point output in 2008-09. While he possesses the potential of finishing the season as a top-20 defenseman, he is currently on Injured Reserve with his status for this season still unclear. I would personally hang on to Ian White, who seems to be in a favorable situation in Detroit entering his prime at 27, already has a goal and a plus-4 rating this season through three games. If his point production continues to improve, he will see more time on the power-play with Nicklas Lidstrom, which could give you an unexpected boost in the PPP category.
Since you seem to have depth at the forward position, it would not be a bad idea to sell high on Setoguchi (2 goals in 4 games in '11-12), who established himself as a consistent 20-plus goal scorer through the years as a prospect with San Jose and should emerge as a top-line offensive force for the Minnesota Wild. McDonald suffered a head injury Thursday night against Dallas and returned to St. Louis on Friday for further evaluation. His value will dip, for now, as a result. Doan -- who has eclipsed the 60-point mark six times in his career -- has a higher fantasy value than Setoguchi. So if you were to ship Doan and Markov, you should at least try to obtain a top-six forward from a playoff-contender in addition to Seabrook or Pietrangelo -- who are both coming off career years.
Right Wing - MIN
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 2
SOG: 15 | +/-: -1
Parting ways with Setoguchi, along with Markov, to a team with depth at defenseman should be enough to pry a top-20 blueliner like Pietrangelo or Seabrook from an opposing owner. But if that doesn't work, there are a few point-generating defensemen that can be obtained at a much lesser price.
For instance, both Joni Pitkanen (owned in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues) and Kevin Bieksa (55 percent) should see their value soar in the next few weeks as they continue to log valuable ice time for Carolina and Vancouver, respectively. Bieksa re-gained his scoring touch last postseason (5G, 5A in 25 games), and with Christian Ehrhoff now in Buffalo, the 30-year-old blueliner could put up strong numbers for the offensive-minded Canucks in '11-12. Pitkanen (1G, 2A in 5 games) has already established himself as threat in the offensive zone this season and should see time on the Canes’ top pair with Tomas Kaberle. If you can snag one of these two players in exchange for one of the three forwards you mentioned, then it may be worth it to keep a bench spot for Markov just in case he bounces back from his nagging knee injury.
Ben (Greenwich, CT):
I was offered Marian Gaborik straight up for Corey Perry - I don't know what to do because of Gaborik's health, because if Gaborik stays in the lineup for 82 games with Brad Richards centering him, he has the chance to score 40-50 goals. I also don't know if Corey Perry can also duplicate his breakout season last year. What should I do?
Be careful pursuing a deal of this magnitude based on potential, as it could easily come back to haunt your team all season long. The New York Rangers' addition of an elite orchestrator like Brad Richards could certainly end up doing wonders for Gaborik, who saw a significant point drop-off last year (86 in ‘09-10 to 48 in '10-11) and missed 20 regular season games due to injury. But while it can be tempting to value the upside of a player with a resume of goal-scoring prowess like Gaborik's, it's important to remember just how prolific a fantasy player Corey Perry was last season. We're talking one of the best all-around fantasy seasons of the past decade, as Perry reeled off 98 points (50 G, 48 A), 104 PIMs and nearly 300 shots on goal.
You likely either spent a first-round draft choice this year on Perry or held onto him as a keeper after he burst onto the scene last year. The bottom line is you should avoid a one-for-one swap involving Perry at the current stage of the new season. Perry has not scored in three games for Anaheim, and Gaborik had a goal in the Rangers' season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Kings, but those stats are irrelevant. If your counterpart is willing to throw a top-15 defenseman or goaltender into the equation -- in addition to Gaborik -- to give your team more depth in a certain area, then that's a different story. But trading the game's top-rated right wing straight up for a borderline top-10 player at that position is not in your best interest.
Now, could this change in a few months? It's certainly possible, because fantasy hockey is unpredictable – with a prime example being Perry's masterful season a year ago. But while Perry's trend of increasing his point total in every campaign since his first NHL season back in 2005 may finally come to an end this season, his active approach on the offensive end makes him a top-five overall fantasy player. The weapons around him in Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf, together with his consistent PIM and shot outputs, should enable Perry to produce another 40-plus goal, 80-plus point season. Gaborik's fantasy ceiling is probably in that range after New York's major upgrade to its top line. However, it's a no-brainer to hang on to Perry, who is likely to carry your team in the majority of your league's offensive categories all season long.
To submit a question for NHL.com's weekly Fantasy Mailbag, contact fantasy insider Pete Jensen at PJensen@NHL.com.