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.
JEREMY FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. is contemplating benching or trading Bobby Ryan in his fantasy league. He has three other players with LW eligibility on his roster (James Neal, Taylor Hall and Alex Tanguay), and his league counts goals, assists, plus-minus, PIMs and power-play points.
Ryan's last five games have been a promising twist to a wildly inconsistent season, as the star forward has reeled off five goals, an assist and a plus-2 rating in that span. Ryan is now even with Corey Perry
for the team lead in goals, but before his recent surge, the 24-year-old was locked into a six-game goalless streak. Ryan has proven to be a dynamic scoring threat in this League with three straight 30-plus goal seasons, but the bottom line is that the Ducks have the NHL's second-worst record and Ryan's season has been defined by erratic performance on a night-to-night basis with a dip in power-play production.
Right Wing - ANA
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 23
SOG: 94 | +/-: -6
A good sign is that Ryan (15 G, 8 A, minus-6, 25 PIM, 2 PPP), and his linemate Ryan Getzlaf
, responded well after general manager Bob Murray
said he would leave it up to the team's core players to decide their own fate within the organization. Anaheim broke through Friday by scoring three times in the final period to upend the New York Islanders
, 4-2. Your roster has depth at LW so Ryan is expendable, but with the recent news that Neal is out indefinitely with a broken foot, I would hold off on dealing Ryan for the time being. If the Ducks' struggles continue, there are no givens when it comes to Ryan's place in Bruce Boudreau
's system, but that's not to say his value will not remain high. His recent outburst is an indication that Ryan has the determination to get his game back on track for the second half of the season. You obviously can't bench a fantasy game-breaker in Ryan at this time for Tanguay (5 G, 17 A, minus-3, 18 PIM, 9 PPP), who hasn't played since Dec. 20 because of an undisclosed injury, and with Neal's pace for a 40-plus goal season now in jeopardy, Ryan and Hall will be crucial contributors for your team moving forward. Hall has scored goals in four straight games and continues to show promise on Edmonton's top line, and with Ryan finally streaking, you owe it to yourself to ride out both hot stretches.
MARK FROM THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO is mulling a trade offer where he would part ways with Jason Spezza and receive John Tavares.
Spezza (15 G, 26 A, minus-1, 22 PIM, 12 PPP, 134 SOG) is one of only 16 players this season to amass 40 points, so he should be handled with care from a fantasy standpoint. Coming into the season, I probably would have advised you to acquire Tavares in this deal, but the unpredictable world of fantasy hockey has seen Spezza return to form as an elite point-producer after missing 20 games last season due to injury.
Center - OTT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 26 | PTS: 41
SOG: 134 | +/-: -1
Tavares (13 G, 23 A, minus-9, 14 PIM, 13 PPP, 137 SOG) is certainly making a case as of late as the anchor of the Isles' top line with two goals and seven assists in his current five-game point streak. However, his goal-scoring production this season has slightly regressed from last season and his biggest challenge remains to cash in on more of the prime scoring chances he creates for himself. Tavares is an excellent power-play producer and is on pace for his first career 70-point season, but he has simply not taken the next step as a premier finisher in this League, which is why I would elect to hang onto Spezza – one of the most improved fantasy players from a year ago. Tavares' youth certainly gives him legitimate keeper value, but Spezza definitely wins the head-to-head battle between these two centers from a fantasy standpoint at this juncture of the season.
SAM FROM DETROIT, MICHIGAN is considering dropping Kris Letang since he is out with a concussion. He is considering taking a gamble on Kyle Quincey or Jordan Leopold, both of whom are available.
Defense - PIT
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 19
SOG: 64 | +/-: 5
Patience is key in regards to Letang (3 G, 16 A, plus-5, 12 PIM, 10 PPP, 64 SOG in 22 games), who has been out with a concussion since Nov. 26 but is arguably the game's best two-way defenseman when healthy. Under no circumstances should you drop Letang, but it's definitely smart to slot him in an available Injured Reserve slot for the time being. Letang skated for the first time since his injury on Friday, but I would definitely advise you to pursue a short-term option via free agency as the star defenseman continues to work his way back into the fold for the injury-depleted Pittsburgh Penguins
Leopold (7 G, 9 A, even, 8 PIM, 4 PPP, 46 SOG), despite not scoring a point in his last two games, is beginning to come into his own offensively for the Sabres as he recorded two goals and four assists during a seven-game stretch from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3. But while Leopold may have the edge on Quincey (4 G, 16 A, even, 44 PIM, 8 PPP, 85 SOG) from a goal-scoring standpoint, the rest of his numbers don't stack up. Quincey (owned in 61 percent of Yahoo! leagues) is a hot commodity among defenseman in the fantasy landscape for a reason, as he averages 2:47 on the man advantage per game and has produced eight power-play points for the Colorado Avalanche
in 37 games. Quincey's assist and SOG outputs are nearly double that of his counterpart in this comparison, and his PIM showing thus far can be a factor in leagues that count that category. There's little doubt that Leopold (24 percent) is an emerging force for a Buffalo team that is vying for an offensive identity, but the best option is clearly Quincey at this time. Be sure to grab him while he's still available in your league.
LOGAN FROM NANAIMO, B.C. is considering dropping Brent Burns, but is torn on Kevin Shattenkirk and Michael Del Zotto as a potential replacement. His league takes G, A, +/-, PIMS and SOG into account.
Burns was projected to be a top-15 defenseman after a career-high 17-goal season in 2010-11, but has been a bit less consistent this season for the San Jose Sharks
through 38 games. Still, I wouldn't go so far as to drop Burns (7 G, 6 A, plus-10, 14 PIM, 109 SOG), since he has registered quality offensive numbers all around, highlighted by noteworthy SOG and plus-minus totals.
Defense - SJS
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 13
SOG: 109 | +/-: 10
While Burns should be a mainstay on your roster, I would definitely try to make room on your roster for either Del Zotto or Shattenkirk as well, since they are two of the NHL's brightest young defensemen who could possess keeper value by season's end. Both play for two of the League's top teams, but Del Zotto is emerging as nearly a point-per-game player for the first-place New York Rangers
, bouncing back from a forgettable sophomore season with three goals and 14 assists in his last 20 games. Shattenkirk, who snapped a four-game pointless streak with a goal and an assist in the St. Louis Blues
' 4-0 win over Colorado on Saturday, has taken 22 more shots than Del Zotto with similar offensive numbers all around. But while both of these young blueliners have bright futures, Del Zotto has been picking up serious steam as of late and would be my recommendation as a trending pickup to add depth to your blue line. You don't often see a 21-year-old defenseman holding his own with the fifth-best rating in the NHL.
To submit a question for NHL.com's weekly Fantasy Mailbag, contact fantasy insider Pete Jensen at PJensen@NHL.com.