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.
BENEDICT FROM OTTAWA is concerned about how the return of Sidney Crosby will affect the value of Jordan Staal. He is considering shopping Staal for a player like Evander Kane.
Typically when Crosby and Evgeni Malkin
are healthy, Staal (LW/C eligible) would be slotted as the Penguins’ third-line center, considering it’s the same role he occupied when the team took home the Stanley’s Cup in 2008-09. But while this depth chart adjustment would instantly give Pittsburgh one of the more potent third lines in the League, Dan Bylsma
is instead using this opportunity to mix and match
Center - PIT
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 17
SOG: 47 | +/-: 6
lines involving Staal to maximize his potential. In the Penguins' 6-3 win Friday against Ottawa, Staal tallied a goal and a plus-two rating, while getting some reps on a line with Chris Kunitz
at LW and Malkin at RW. A potential trio of that caliber is a good reason to be patient in this situation.
There may be bumps in the road as Staal (11 G, 6 A, plus-6, 12 PIM, 3 PPP, 32 hits, 47 SOG) battles through this period of adjustment, but your best bet is to stick with the 23-year-old. Trading Staal in a package that involves Kane (9 G, 6 A, plus-1, 23 PIM, 3 PPP, 52 hits, 73 SOG) could be worth considering down the road, but it’s important to be patient in the short-term and see how Staal fares after his new role is determined. Kane, 20, has overcome a slow start to the season with four goals, two assists and a plus-5 rating in his last five games, but Staal’s potential remains higher because he operates within arguably the NHL’s most formidable roster.
BEN FROM VANCOUVER was offered a trade where he would send Ryan Nugent-Hopkins straight up for Jarome Iginla.
A month ago, we were discussing whether or not Nugent-Hopkins would stay with the Oilers beyond his nine-game NHL audition or be sent back down to juniors for developmental purposes. Suddenly, this 18-year-old phenom is a clear Calder Trophy favorite, as we find ourselves comparing his numbers with a preseason top-20 fantasy player like Iginla (6 G, 4 A, minus-11, 15 PIM, 5 PPP, 51 SOG, 29 hits). But that’s
Center - EDM
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 24
SOG: 47 | +/-: 3
the reality, as RNH’s early season numbers are better than Iginla’s by leaps and bounds, most of which has to do with the state of their respective teams.
Calgary is 13th in the West entering Saturday and Iggy’s rating and point-production have plummeted as a result. Meanwhile, Nugent-Hopkins (10 G, 14 A, plus-3, 6 PIM, 12 PPP, 47 SOG, 11 hits) has tallied three goals and seven assists in his last four games – defying logic and elevating his fantasy value to new heights with each passing day. Working alongside Taylor Hall
, Jordan Eberle
and Ryan Smyth
, the Oilers’ rookie sensation is tied for both the second-best PPP total and eighth-best point total in the League. It is clearly in your best interest to cling to RNH, because a straight up trade for Iginla would be selling yourself short at this time. The Flames’ captain remains a fantasy threat but is on pace for his first season under 30 goals since 1999-2000. If you’re in a keeper league, it’s a no-brainer to cling to RNH, as he was likely a late-round pick that could pay dividends for years to come.
DANIEL FROM WOODBRIDGE, ONTARIO has Pekka Rinne and Jonas Hiller in his league (W/GAA/SV/SO). He is considering sending either Ryan Getzlaf or Zach Parise in a trade for Ilya Bryzgalov. He has an extra roster spot and is also interested in adding Craig Anderson or Ondrej Pavelec via free agency as an alternative.
You definitely could use some goaltending depth considering Rinne (10-6-4, 2.39 GAA, .927 save percentage, 3 SO), a top-5 fantasy goaltender, is winless in his last three decisions entering Saturday’s action. Hiller (5-9-4, 3.17, .899, 1 SO) was chased by the Chicago Blackhawks
in Anaheim’s 6-5 home loss on Friday, and has not won since Nov. 11 as his team’s massive slide continues to mount. While Parise and Getzlaf have both hit walls in their production this season, both are much more valuable assets at
Goalie - PHI
GAA: 2.89 | SVP: 0.897
this point than Bryzgalov (8-5-2, 2.89, .897, 1 SO). Parise (6 G, 5 A, minus-6, 10 PIM, 2 PPP, 75 SOG, 21 hits) has a goal and two assists in his last 9 games, but his SOG output is strong – indicating the puck will begin to bounce his way sooner or later. Getzlaf (4 G, 11 A, minus-11, 31 PIM, 8 PPP, 47 SOG, 61 hits), despite his goal-scoring woes and less-than-stellar rating, remains a menace on the power-play with great hit production. You probably spent early-round picks on Getzlaf and Parise, so trading them for an erratic goaltender is not a good idea.
The free agent goalie market is strong enough in your league for you to take your chances on one of the two goalies you mentioned. Pavelec (7-7-4, 3.21, .898, 1 SO) is only 24-years-old and has been hot as of late, with a 3-0-1 mark in his last 4 decisions. Pavelec is owned in 49 percent of Yahoo! leagues and has been a workhorse for the much-improved Jets, playing in 19 of their 22 games this season. Anderson (9-7-1, 3.46, .889, 0 SO) has also been resilient, bouncing back from a recent five-game winless skid with three wins in four decisions. Because Anderson (owned in 60 percent of leagues) has more experience in his arsenal, I would add him to give you steady production and lineup depth.
ADAM FROM SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA has an offer on the table where he would receive Ryan Kesler in exchange for Duncan Keith.
This trade likely addresses specific needs for both sides. A fantasy owner probably wouldn’t offer a top-tier goal scorer, despite his slow start, for a defenseman unless his team is weak in that area, but if you can get this deal done, it would be a steal for you. Kesler, who missed the first five games for Vancouver as he recovered from offseason hip surgery, had a strong game on Friday with a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating in the Canucks’ 5-0 win over the Coyotes. With four points in his last three
Center - VAN
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 11
SOG: 46 | +/-: 0
games, Kesler (4 G, 7 A, even rating, 12 PIM, 7 PPP, 46 SOG, 29 hits) is beginning to shine on the power-play again, and is capitalizing on recent scoring chances – which is great news for his fantasy owners.
While Keith (2 G, 12 A, even rating, 4 PIM, 7 PPP, 50 SOG, 6 hits) is still technically in his prime at 28, his 14-goal, 69-point output in the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup-winning season is a distant memory. Keith had seven goals last year in 82 games, and is again on pace for less than 10 through the quarter point this season. He still racks up assists, but it is concerning to see a healthy, goal-scoring defenseman underachieve in two straight seasons. Kesler made the jump from 25 goals in ’09-10 to a career-high 41 in ’10-11, and is the primary offensive option on the Canucks’ second line with Chris Higgins
and David Booth
. He is fully recovered from injury, and has already showed signs of picking up his scoring pace. I would nab Kesler in a trade while you still have a chance.
GAJAN FROM SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA picked up Ville Leino earlier this season, but is disappointed by his performance through 22 games. He is considering dropping Leino in favor of either Kyle Wellwood or Chris Kelly.
Most fantasy owners have jumped off the Leino bandwagon by now, as he is owned in only 10 percent of leagues entering Saturday’s action. Leino (2 G, 3 A, minus-7, 2 PIM, 0 PPP, 20 SOG, 7 hits) had 11 PPP in his contract year last season in Philadelphia and was a popular late-round sleeper pick in fantasy drafts, but the 28-year-old has found little rhythm in western New York. It’s safe to say the time has come to pursue other options.
Wellwood (7 G, 10 A, plus-2, 2 PIM, 5 PPP, 29 SOG, 2 hits) is your best option in this comparison. He’s owned in only six percent of leagues, but leads Winnipeg in points through 22 games and is an active
Center - WPG
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 17
SOG: 29 | +/-: 2
offensive force alongside Andrew Ladd
and Nik Antropov
on the Jets’ top line. Wellwood has already outperformed his 2010-11 scoring numbers, as he played only 35 games a year ago due to injury. But after logging valuable ice time and contributing seven points in 18 games during the San Jose Sharks
’ playoff run last year, Wellwood has played with a purpose as one of Winnipeg’s primary offensive weapons.
Kelly, owned in 11 percent of leagues, has played 75-plus games in each of his first six NHL seasons, yet has never scored more than 15 goals in a single campaign. While there’s a chance Kelly (7 G, 7 A, plus-13, 13 PIM, 0 PPP, 37 SOG, 20 hits) could be a late bloomer based on his strong start to the new season, he remains a third-line player in Boston behind a deep group of forwards and is likely to return to his normal production, fantasy-wise.
To submit a question for NHL.com's weekly Fantasy Mailbag, contact fantasy insider Pete Jensen at PJensen@NHL.com.