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Fantasy Mailbag: Injuries and trade proposals

by Pete Jensen /
All season long,’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. 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 Fantasy Mailbag by contacting

Kyle (Toronto):

I am involved in a fantasy hockey pool with some of my friends and I received this trade offer. I would send Pavel Datsyuk and Lubomir Visnovsky in exchange for Evgeni Malkin and Mark Streit. Is this trade worth accepting considering Malkin's and Streit's injury history, or should I just keep my players and be safe?

All four of these players have had their fair share of injury issues in the past, but the bottom line is that they are all currently in their respective lineups, which makes this deal more intriguing. Visnovsky (1G, 3A in 9 games entering Saturday) burst onto the scene last season and is Anaheim's power-play quarterback moving forward with an array of experienced, point-generators to work with (Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne, etc.). While the Ducks' offense has gotten off to a slow start (2.22 goals per game; 24th in NHL), their arsenal should thrive on the man advantage over the long haul, making Visnovsky, last year's point-leader among defensemen, one of the most coveted fantasy defensemen in the League.

Streit (1G, 6A, 10 PIM in 8 games), has effectively meshed with the New York Islanders' top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau early in the season. However, the Isles lack scoring depth, which has led to inconsistent production on a game-to-game basis from their entire offense. Streit has seen three games without a point in his first eight so far this season, and experienced back-to-back minus-3 outings in New York's regulation losses this week at Florida and at home against Pittsburgh. While Streit's production is relatively high despite his ongoing recovery from a shoulder injury that saw him miss the entire regular season last year, the inexperience surrounding him on Long Island could prevent him from producing a Visnovsky-type fantasy season (81 games, 18 goals, 50 assists, plus-18, 31 PPP in 2010-11).

With Datsyuk and Malkin, you know what you're getting if injuries are out of the picture. These Russian-born forwards are top-10 fantasy assets, but have had injuries limit their production in recent years. Datsyuk (2G, 5A in 8 games) is more of a sure thing at this point, as the 33-year-old played in 79-plus games in four-straight seasons before missing 26 regular season games last season due to injury. In two of those four healthy seasons, Datsyuk was on the cusp of 100 points. If he stays in the lineup, Datsyuk should produce 80-plus points as he operates with another top-10 fantasy forward, Henrik Zetterberg, on Detroit's top line. Malkin (1G, 4 A in five games), on the other hand, is more of a risk at this juncture -- as he has already missed seven of Pittsburgh's 12 games this season. The 25-year-old is one of the League's true game-breakers when in the lineup, but a recovery from his torn ACL and MCL suffered last year brings severe caveats from a fantasy perspective.

Malkin put up 113 points in his Conn Smythe-winning season in 2008-09, and reeled off four-straight 77-plus point, 240-plus SOG, 78-plus PIM seasons to start his career. But ever since, he's missed a total of 61 games due to injury over the last two seasons and change. If Malkin is healthy and Sidney Crosby misses a significant portion of the season, the Russian-born center has an opportunity to surpass the century mark in both points and PIMs alongside James Neal and Steve Sullivan on Pittsburgh's top line. But with much risk surrounding the situations of both Malkin and Streit moving forward this season, it's in your best interest to stick with Visnovsky and Datsyuk. Each is among star-studded point producers in Anaheim and Detroit, respectively, and will likely carry his respective units for your fantasy roster all season long.

Griffin (Rhinebeck, NY):

I have a tough decision to make with my fantasy goaltending for this season. My starters are Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Ward, so I'm not too worried there, but I'm having a tough time deciding between Johan Hedberg and Evgeni Nabokov as my backup.

Nabokov hasn't really shown up big yet for the Isles, but he has been a world-class goalie in the past. With Rick DiPietro still recovering from injury, I think Nabokov may have the opportunity to put up good numbers while splitting time with Al Montoya.

If Martin Brodeur's injury issues continue, I'm wondering if Hedberg can continue with his strong play if he's pushed into a more permanent leading role? Should I cash in on Nabokov now while his value is low and hope that he beats out Montoya for the starting role with the Islanders, or hang on to Hedberg betting that his strong play we've seen so far and Brodeur's injuries will continue? Thanks for your advice.

Goaltenders like Nabokov and Hedberg have been a pertinent topic around the fantasy hockey world over the past few weeks, so let's take a look at these two New York metro-area goaltenders. Hedberg (4-2-1, 2.31, .926, 1 SO) blanked the Kings in L.A. on Tuesday and also did not allow a goal when he relieved Martin Brodeur in a shootout win over those same Kings earlier this month at Prudential Center. While Hedberg is always prone to nights like Thursday, where he allowed four even-strength goals en route to a disappointing 5-3 loss in Phoenix, he proved to be more effective than Brodeur last season for the Devils and has held his own early this season in Marty's absence due to a shoulder injury.

Evgeni Nabokov
Goalie - NYI
RECORD: 1-2-0
GAA: 2.23 | SVP: 0.927
The situation in Uniondale, N.Y., involving Nabokov (1-2-0, 2.23, .927), Montoya and DiPietro, is far from stable. First, we saw Montoya win two of three starts to begin the season, before Jack Capuano gave Nabokov a chance against the New York Rangers -- and the 36-year-old proceeded to pick up his first regular season NHL win in more than a year. Then, with the Isles on a three-game losing skid, Nabokov stopped 30 of 32 shots to force a shootout in Pittsburgh on Thursday. But the Russian-born goaltender felt the effects of a lingering lower-body injury, prompting Capuano to give DiPietro his first chance of the season. The injury-prone goaltender registered a loss after allowing a goal on three shootout attempts.

Honestly, Hedberg seems like the safer bet in this toss-up. The Islanders have had an unpredictable goaltending situation for years and use six goaltenders over the course of last season. Now, the former San Jose Sharks' All-Star goalie may not even get enough starts, even if he does produce quality numbers, to sniff Hedberg in terms of fantasy value. Whether or not Brodeur comes back strong, Hedberg has shown enough promise during the Devils' second-half surge last season and through seven games this season to be considered a fantasy factor, not to mention the better option in this comparison with Nabokov.

Mike (Edmonton):

I currently own Christian Ehrhoff in my fantasy league along with Kris Letang, Chris Pronger and Mark Streit. While I'm not horrified by Ehrhoff's performance thus far, he has been somewhat disappointing, fantasy-wise.

Ian White is an available defenseman that I'm considering picking up since he has been performing well so far with the Detroit Red Wings. Should I drop Ehrhoff and pick up White or should I wait it out and hope Ehrhoff starts putting up better stats? I hope to get some of your valuable insight on this.

Your roster is deep on the blue line, and Ehrhoff (1G, 5A in 9 games), like your other three options, is expected to produce upwards of 30 assists and 20 PPP in a full season when healthy. Therefore, despite his slow start, he is extremely valuable for your fantasy team. The German-born defenseman is durable, having played in 77-plus games in each of his past five seasons. He's also an emerging scoring force, as evidenced by back-to-back 14-goal, 30-plus point seasons with Vancouver.

Christian Ehrhoff
Defense - BUF
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 6
SOG: 17 | +/-: -4
Ehrhoff's issue in Buffalo this season is likely just chemistry. After thriving for years among Stanley Cup contenders in San Jose and Vancouver, Ehrhoff is now working out the kinks in Western New York. With established scorers in Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford and a healthy Derek Roy, along with youthful contributors in Tyler Ennis and rookie Luke Adam, Ehrhoff has plenty to work with again in his new digs. But this 29-year-old will need to work well with whichever tenured defenseman he is paired with most often as the season goes along (Jordan Leopold, Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera are all more fluent in Lindy Ruff's system than Ehrhoff).

Looking at your roster, White (2G, 1A, plus-1 in 8 games) could be an important piece in both the short- and long-term. With Chris Pronger set to miss a few weeks after an eye injury suffered on Monday, I strongly recommend you grab White while you still have the chance. He continues to be paired with veteran Nicklas Lidstrom on Detroit's primary defensive pairing, and fantasy GMs will see an upward trend in his stock as long as that remains the case.

Mike (Vancouver):

I have Alexandre Burrows in my fantasy lineup, but I'm curious as to how his ice time will be affected by Vancouver's trade for David Booth this week and Ryan Kesler's return from injury. My team is lacking in power-play points and assists.

I am considering trading for one of the following: Alex Tanguay, Joffrey Lupul, Jason Pominville, Loui Eriksson and Michael Cammalleri. Obviously, for some of these players, I would need to sweeten the deal. What's my best option?

As of now, I wouldn't worry about Burrows' ice time. Despite the Canucks' acquisition of a regular 40-point scorer in Booth, Burrows (3G, 2A, plus-2, 10 PIM, 8 hits in 10 games) still has a smooth connection with the Sedin twins on Vancouver's top line. As of now, Booth is slated to play on the second line with Chris Higgins and Kesler (41G, 32A in 82 games in 2010-11), who just returned from offseason hip surgery. However, while these lines appear to be matches made in heaven, the on-ice results so far this season have not been up to par with Vancouver's high expectations following what was nearly a Stanley Cup win last June. Alain Vigneault may be forced to roll the dice if his team's current mark of 4-5-1 does not improve quickly, so it's definitely something to keep an eye on.

As far as the other players you listed, Cammalleri has 30-goal, 60-point potential with Montreal. Fantasy owners got a taste of that type of production after his 39-goal, 43-assist, 255 SOG season in 2008-09 with the Calgary Flames, but have yearned for a repeat. The Habs, as everyone is well-aware, are off to a slow start this season, and Cammalleri (3G in 7 games) has already missed three games due to injury this season (32 games missed in last two seasons combined). He should be a factor once the Canadiens are back in the swing of things, but he is not worth pursuing in exchange for Burrows. Lupul, who scored in Thursday's win for the Leafs at Madison Square Garden, is another injury-prone guy who produces in bunches when healthy. His brilliant fantasy play so far this season (10 points, plus-4, 16 PIMs) speaks for itself, but it's tough to predict whether or not injuries will catch up to him once the wear-and-tear of the regular season kicks in.

If you're looking to make a trade, be sure to seek guys who are in favorable point-production situations on premier lines around the League -- like the other three players you mentioned:

* Tanguay is a six-time, 60-plus point scorer and has 1 goal and 7 assists in nine games this year. If last year's 69-point, 20 PPP output is any indication, this 31-year-old will again be an important piece to the puzzle for Calgary's top line with the Jarome Iginla.

* If the Stars are for real, then Eriksson (5G, 3A, plus-2) will be along for the ride. This 26-year-old has back-to-back 70-plus point seasons on his resume, and if Kari Lehtonen keeps giving Dallas' offense confidence with strong play in net, Eriksson and linemate Jamie Benn will remain a premier fantasy duo.

* Pominville did have a streak of four consecutive 60-plus point seasons from 2006-07 to 2009-10, but it remains to be seen if this 28-year-old can maintain his strong play (4G, 9A, plus-3) and elevate his game to where it used to be. One positive sign for Pominville is that his longtime teammate, Thomas Vanek, continues to light the lamp at a scorching pace. If that remains the story in Buffalo, the Sabres' captain, as Vanek's scoring accomplice, will have an excellent season.

Pominville, Tanguay and Eriksson are all worth pursuing, but it would also be wise to wait out where Burrows fits into Vancouver's offense in the next few months. Burrows missed the first 10 games last season due to injury, which put a damper on his season totals from a fantasy standpoint. If he is in the lineup all season, he can be the full package for a fantasy squad, as evidenced by his 2009-10 totals (82 games, 35 goals, 67 points, 121 PIM, 97 hits, 209 SOG).

Louis (Yulin, Guangxi, China):

I'm competing with my friends in a Fantasy League for the first time so I'm watching the NHL more closely than ever, despite living in China (thanks to NHL GameCenter Live). My league tracks Goals/Assists/Plus-Minus/PIMs/PPP/SOG for skaters and Wins/GAA/SV%/SHO for goalies.

My goaltenders are Roberto Luongo, Jonas Hiller and Johan Hedberg. I've been following's fantasy news daily and at the top of my watch list of goaltenders is Brian Elliott and Jacob Markstrom. Which, if any, of these goaltenders should I invest in? Any help is greatly appreciated!

Luongo (2-3-1, 3.45, .868) was a clear top-five fantasy netminder entering the new season but has not lived up to expectations thus far, and his situation reached a boiling point when he was pulled from Vancouver's 3-2 loss at Edmonton on Tuesday. His backup, Cory Schneider (2-2-0, 1.97, .927), has fared very well and will steal some starts from Luongo if trends continue. While Luongo is still an asset based on his pedigree, there is some uncertainty hovering around his play these days.

While Anaheim's offensive productivity has fluctuated, Hiller's solid numbers (4-3-1, 2.49, .905) have provided Randy Carlyle's team with stability throughout the young season. Hiller, in his prime at 29, is comfortable flying under the radar and will continue to be a reliable fantasy contributor for your team.

Brian Elliott
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 4-1-0
GAA: 1.67 | SVP: 0.942
Hedberg, as discussed above, is a top-five backup in the League and will see time in net for New Jersey, whether Brodeur is healthy or not. But you bring up an interesting question, because Markstrom and Elliott, with each passing day, seem to be challenging the No. 1 goalies on their respective teams for time. Markstrom, the Florida Panthers' second-round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, is only 21 but has opened eyes around the League in his second career stint with the club (2-2-0, 2.11, .945 this season). While Jose Theodore has been strong in net for a much-improved Florida team and remains the starter, an injury or a stint of poor production for the veteran could leave Markstrom with the Panthers' job at some point this season. Markstrom is worth monitoring, especially as the audition of his nine-game entry-level deal continues.

As far as Elliott, it may take a more lengthy run of prowess for him to snatch the long-term No. 1 goaltending job from Jaroslav Halak (1-4-0, 3.47, .835). But for now, Davis Payne is making it interesting by riding the hot hand. He has elected to start Elliott, who relieved Halak in a 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings last week, in St. Louis' ensuing three games. Elliott (4-1-0, 1.67, .942) had sparked a three-game win streak for the Blues prior to Friday's loss to the Flames, and the team is suddenly relevant in the Western Conference after their slow start. While I would advise a wait-and-see approach with Markstrom, it could pay huge dividends if you drop your least-prized skater in favor of Elliott, who may only need a few more starts to signal a change in the guard for the Blues. After an outstanding 2009-10 season and playoff run in Montreal, Halak was hindered by injury and was 27-21-7 with a 2.48 GAA and .910 save percentage last year. If that season didn't put doubt in the minds of fantasy owners, this one is beginning to do so. Even if Luongo straightens out and Hedberg continues his strong play, the acquisition of Elliott for your team would mean added depth and potential trade bait for a move that could bolster your roster at another position.

To submit a question for's weekly Fantasy Mailbag, contact fantasy insider Pete Jensen at

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