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Fantasy Mailbag: Lecavalier maintains production

by Pete Jensen 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.

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RICHARD FROM VICTORIA, B.C. has a trade offer on the table where he would give up Vincent Lecavalier and get Joffrey Lupul.

Lecavalier (18 G, 20 A, plus-1, 44 PIM, 9 PPP, 141 SOG) is on a tear as of late -- despite the fact that his team is still near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Bolts have won three straight, and their captain is largely accountable with a five-game point streak (2 G, 6 A). With seven goals and nine assists
Vincent Lecavalier
Center - TBL
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 38
SOG: 141 | +/-: 1
in his last 14 games, the 31-year-old is showing no signs of a dip in production as a second-line center and a power-play anchor for Tampa Bay. Since Lecavalier is performing admirably in the face of his team's struggles, a Lightning playoff push could do even more wonders for his fantasy owners.

Lupul (20 G, 31 A, plus-2, 40 PIM, 15 PPP, 135 SOG), meanwhile, was a first-half fantasy MVP candidate, as the forward has cranked out 51 points (T-6th in NHL) through 47 games this season. However, with an injury-plagued history spanning over the past few seasons, he remains more of a liability than Lecavalier at this time. Lupul (LW/RW eligible) has recently seen time on the Maple Leafs' third line, away from cohesive linemate Phil Kessel, in order to provide Toronto with more-balanced scoring. The forward has cooled off with only a goal and three assists over his last six outings, with all three of those helpers coming in Thursday's 4-1 rout of the Minnesota Wild. Time to panic? Not quite yet, as Lupul has put together a phenomenal season to date. But I'm not sure that I would ship out a proven player of Lecavalier's caliber and pedigree for a player who comes with some question marks.

has Ryan Smyth on his fantasy team, but is seeking a more consistent scoring option. He is torn on whether to acquire Nick Foligno or Viktor Stalberg as a replacement.

Smyth is holding up well as a veteran point-producer, but his team has experienced a rough slide this month and finds itself near the bottom of the League standings yet again. The Oilers sport the second-worst record in the NHL and have won only twice in 10 contests this month. Smyth (16 G, 18 A, even rating, 45 PIM, 7 PPP, 123 SOG) had a nice bounce-back outing with a goal and an assist in Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Calgary Flames, but the 35-year-old left wing had previously gone pointless in
Nick Foligno
Left Wing - OTT
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 30
SOG: 81 | +/-: 1
eight consecutive games. With the playoffs in sight for your fantasy squad, it may be time for a change, as you should be looking for more upside in a player. Foligno and Stalberg are LW's who have shown promise and are available in most Yahoo! leagues.

Foligno (12 G, 18 A, plus-1, 69 PIM, 1 PPP, 81 SOG) has been a major factor for the Ottawa Senators' third line all season long, and even during his current goal-scoring slump (1 G in last 12 games), he has managed to stay afloat with well-rounded play that includes seven assists, a plus-3 rating and 11 PIMS in that span. Foligno (owned in 15 percent of leagues) also churns out hits at a torrid pace (121 this season). Stalberg, on the other hand, is a viable option considering his place on the top line of the Chicago Blackhawks with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Coach Joel Quenneville has shifted lines at numerous points this season, but Stalberg (14 G, 15 A, plus-7, 22 PIM, 0 PPP, 111 SOG) has been a great complementary piece alongside his star linemates. The 26-year-old is owned in only 23 percent of leagues, and his experience is paying dividends for the Hawks, who are only a point behind the division rival Detroit Red Wings for the NHL lead. So, if you're in a league that factors in hits, Foligno's all-around game is too valuable to pass up. But if your team values goal-scoring above all else, your best bet is to drop Smyth for Stalberg.

NOAH FROM CLEVELAND, OHIO is currently in a goalie conundrum with Pekka Rinne, Jonathan Quick and Carey Price all on his roster. He is concerned that Price's value is going to waste because he ends up benching his No. 3 goaltender quite often. He has engineered a potential swap of Price straight up for Mike Richards. Brian Elliott is an available free agent in his league.

There's no question that your goaltending trio is formidable, but it's a smart move to think ahead and plan for the stretch run of the fantasy season. Obviously, with Rinne allowing only 19 goals in his last 11 starts (10-1-0), you know what you're getting. The same can be said regarding Quick, who is carrying the Los Angeles Kings on his back with a League-leading six shutouts and is in the top-5 in both goals-against
Carey Price
Goalie - MTL
RECORD: 16-17-8
GAA: 2.41 | SVP: 0.914
average (1.95) and save percentage (.933). Those are your clear-cut guys for the long haul.

With Price (16-17-8, 2.41 GAA, .914 SV %, 2 SO), however, things get tricky. He stopped 32 of 33 shots in a road win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, but is only 4-9-1 in his last 14 outings as the Montreal Canadiens' struggles have persisted. He's a promising goaltender moving forward for keeper purposes, but is well off pace to match his League-leading total of 38 wins last season. It may be worth pursuing a trade moving forward, but I'm not sure that a straight-up deal for Richards brings in maximum return. Richards (14 G, 12 A, plus-2, 50 PIM, 8 PPP, 100 SOG) missed time due to injury earlier this season and is pointless in his last four games. While Elliott (15-5-1, 1.68, .937, 5 SO) is a solid option to fall back on if you do trade Price, even his value is up in the air as he's gone 2-3-1 in his last six decisions while his teammate, Jaroslav Halak, has gone 7-0-0 in his last seven outings. Elliott was rewarded for his strong campaign with a two-year extension by the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, but I wouldn't make the trade because I just don't feel that you would be bringing in enough fantasy production at the forward position to justify giving up Price.

PATRICK FROM BOSTON had high hopes upon drafting Eric Staal before the season, but has been extremely disappointed in his performance. He is contemplating dropping Staal in favor of a player like Chris Kelly?

Staal (11 G, 25 A, minus-22, 26 PIM, 12 PPP, 170 SOG) has maintained his reputation as an elite point-producer through his team's struggles, but its no secret that his plus-minus makes his fantasy owners cringe. In fact, his rating (minus-22) currently stands as the worst mark in the League. But despite his struggles in that one category, he still logs nearly four minutes of power play ice time per game and sports a sky-high shot total. Before his current stretch of two points in four games, Staal exploded for 14 points (4 G, 10 A) over an eight-game span. Because of that potential, Staal shouldn't be dropped. However, if your roster is in need of a lift, I would determine your squad's worst skater and consider some alternatives.

Peter Mueller
Center - COL
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 4
SOG: 24 | +/-: 1
I'm not sure that Kelly (14 G, 10 A, plus-23, 21 PIM, 1 PPP, 68 SOG) is the best option for your squad as the 31-year-old has only a point in his last eight games. The Bruins' third-line center (owned in 20 percent) has accumulated one of the best ratings in the League, but has struggled in both SOG and PPP categories and has gone pointless in 28 of his 45 games played this season. Each of the following centers could pay larger dividends than Kelly.

Peter Mueller (3 G, 1 A, plus-1, 2 PIM, 1 PPP, 24 SOG in eight games), who is C/LW eligible, has been utilized in a big way since returning to the lineup from a concussion on Jan. 12. Mueller (owned in 12 percent) has played only 23 games in three seasons in the Mile High City due to head injuries, but is suddenly rolling with three goals and an assist in his last two games alongside Paul Stastny on the Avs' secondary line. It may be a small sample size, but it's encouraging nonetheless for a guy who has been sidelined so often. Another interesting addition would be Mike Fisher (owned in 12 percent), who is picking up steam for the surging Nashville Predators. Fisher (9 G, 16 A, minus-1, 17 PIM, 8 PPP, 84 SOG) is showing his potential over his last 10 games on a line with Martin Erat, racking up two goals, eight assists and a plus-3 rating in that span. I would obviously cling to Staal barring injury, but it would be wise for you to invest in either Mueller or Fisher for roster depth.

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