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Fantasy Mailbag: Reimer's value dwindling in January

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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KENNY FROM ALBERTA is contemplating dropping James Reimer for either Josh Harding or Evgeni Nabokov.

It's no secret that Reimer's value has taken a significant hit over the past two weeks, leaving his fantasy owners bewildered. Jonas Gustavsson has started all six games for the Toronto Maple Leafs this calendar year, emerging as the team's most reliable goaltender. Reimer sports a 7-4-4 mark this season but has allowed three or more goals in eight of his 11 outings since returning from a concussion that caused him to miss 18 games. The good news for Reimer owners is that Gustavsson, following a four-game win streak that included two shutouts, has fallen back down to earth with consecutive losses at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers. But the reality holds true for the time being, as the 23-year-old Reimer (owned in 58 percent of Yahoo! leagues) hasn't played since Dec. 31 and can only bide his time as coach Ron Wilson continues to dissect the goaltending dilemma. Reimer should still be retained if at all possible, but stability should be sought from an available netminder.

James Reimer
Goalie - TOR
RECORD: 7-4-4
GAA: 3.01 | SVP: 0.900
Harding (29 percent) has the sixth-best save percentage in the League (.929) and has been in net for the Minnesota Wild in each of its last three games. Once starter Niklas Backstrom (flu) is back, this will return to a free-for-all for playing time, but Harding remains a nice short-term option with game-breaking capability as evidenced but his monster 47-save effort in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues. The Wild have only won twice in their last 15 games, but if Harding gets his season back on track, there is potential left in the tank from a fantasy standpoint. That being said, your best bet at this time is probably Nabokov (27 percent), who has started 11 straight games for the New York Islanders and is fresh off his 300th career win Saturday vs. Buffalo. Nabby, believe it or not, has overcome a forgettable 2-8-0 start with five wins in his last eight outings. Al Montoya (concussion) is working his way back, but Rick DiPietro (sports hernia) is likely done for the season leaving a familiar void in net on Long Island. The bottom line is this veteran is rediscovering his rhythm and already becoming a growing commodity in the fantasy world.

LIAM FROM TORONTO is pursuing multiple defensemen via trade and free agency. He is monitoring the performance of Jack Johnson, Kevin Bieksa, Tyler Myers, John Carlson and Nicklas Kronwall to see which three blueliners possess the most fantasy value.

I'll rank your prospective defensemen as follows: 1. Bieksa, 2. Johnson, 3. Kronwall, 4. Carlson, 5. Myers. Now, here's why you should push to acquire the first three.

Kevin Bieksa
Defense - VAN
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 25
SOG: 98 | +/-: 6
Bieksa (4 G, 21 A, plus-6, 51 PIM, 8 PPP, 98 SOG, 89 hits) operates on the top defensive pairing for the Canucks, who are one point off the best record in the NHL. This 6'1" blueliner got off to a sluggish start with only three points in his first 16 games this season, but was a point-per-game force for the Canucks from Dec. 15 to Jan. 7, with two goals and 10 assists in that span. He has an array of weapons around him, which explains how he's accumulated 8 PPP on an average of only 1:50 of power-play ice time this season. Johnson (7 G, 13 A, minus-7, 18 PIM, 10 PPP, 93 SOG) has displayed offensive balance and power-play prowess, making him an asset to any lineup. Kronwall (9 G, 10 A, minus-4, 26 PIM, 7 PPP, 79 SOG, 67 hits) like Bieksa, has experienced offensive players around him every time he steps on the ice. He is certainly streaky (four separate pointless stretches of four or more games this season) but he's the best goal-scorer on your list and always finds a way to make his presence felt.

Carlson (5 G, 17 A, even rating, 12 PIM, 5 PPP, 88 SOG) is an efficient blueliner who will aid your weekly assist total, but fails to set himself apart from this pack of defenseman in any other category. His current seven-game pointless streak only adds to the concern. Myers (3 G, 4 A, minus-7, 12 PIM, 3 PPP, 41 SOG, 33 hits) has played in only 24 of 44 games this season for the Sabres due to injury, and has channeled the underachievement of his team by posting a single-digit point total. His negative rating is a red flag, as was Saturday's loss on Long Island where Myers (56 percent) logged a career-high 31:05 of ice time but was minus-2 by the end of the night. It's been that kind of season for the young d-man.

ZIV FROM RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA is in a head-to-head league and is looking for drop either Derek Roy or Paul Stastny. Potential replacements on the free agent wire include Shane Doan, Andrew Ladd, Gabriel Landeskog and Derek Stepan.

Stastny is finally gaining some traction with four points in his last five games for Colorado's secondary unit, including a two-point outing in Colorado's win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday. With that, his 10-game goalless skid was history. His total of 11 PPP through 43 games is strong, but Stastny, the Avs' highest paid player, has seen Ryan O'Reilly rise to the occasion and operate on the team's top line in Matt Duchene's absence. On a similar note, Roy scored a goal Saturday against the Isles but is putting up ordinary numbers across the board for Buffalo's struggling offense. In short, it may be time to explore other options.

Paul Stastny
Center - COL
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 25
SOG: 101 | +/-: -6
Doan and Ladd are both captains and important parts of their team's offenses, but are far from perfect fantasy options. Doan notched his first career hat trick on Jan. 7, but those remain his only points in his last 10 games. The 35-year-old has excelled in hits (124) and SOG (130), but has left something to be desired in points (25), power-play production (7 PPP) and rating (minus-9) this season. Ladd has not registered an assist since Dec. 27, but has four goals and 14 PIMs in his last seven games and has racked up 145 SOG this season. However, Ladd's weakness is the man advantage, where he's logged an average of 2:34 of power-play ice time but produced only 4 PPP for the Winnipeg Jets.

As far as the younger batch of options, Stepan, 21, is sometimes overlooked from a fantasy standpoint, but is a big-time contributor for the League-leading Rangers. His teammate, Brandon Dubinsky (shoulder), is day-to-day, so Stepan (10 G, 19 A, plus-14, 10 PIM, 7 PPP, 93 SOG, 71 hits) will be relied upon heavily as a point-producer. Stepan had two points in Saturday's win over the Leafs, sports a plus-14 rating and is on pace for a career-high in points. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 Draft, meanwhile, is in great position to put up 40 points, a plus-20 rating, 50 PIMs, 250 SOG and 200-plus hits by season's end in Colorado. Personally, with the Rangers and Avs playing well, I would go young and drop both Stastny and Roy for Stepan and Landeskog. If one, or both see a second half surge, each could warrant keeper value by season's end.   

STEVE FROM CALGARY is in search of point production and is considering dropping James van Riemsdyk or Matt Duchene for either Valtteri Filppula or Adam Henrique.

JVR is out indefinitely with a concussion, while Duchene (knee) is out at least another few weeks. While Duchene is on IR with a recovery timetable, the same cannot be said for van Riemsdyk, a top-line regular who is barely on pace to match his totals from last season, let alone meet expectations for a 30-plus goal season. If you are set on dropping one of these two, it has to be JVR at this time, assuming he doesn't hold keeper value for your team.

Valtteri Filppula
Center - DET
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 37
SOG: 73 | +/-: 11
As far as a potential replacement, Filppula -- if still available -- is your clear-cut choice (63 percent) because he's on pace for a 70-point, plus-20 campaign as a prime contributor for the Detroit Red Wings' second line. But a more widely-available asset is Henrique, who has made a seamless transition from the start for the New Jersey Devils' top line. Henrique (39 percent) is tied with the injured Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the rookie goal-scoring lead and only one point off RNH for the lead among first-year players in that category as well. He is lightning in a bottle as a catalyst for the Devils' offense and appears to be the only rookie poised amass 70 points by season's end. With Henrique having reeled off three goals and three assists in his last four games, I certainly like the upside of adding the rookie and dropping JVR at this time in a non-keeper league.

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