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Holiday Special: The 'X-Mas' Factors

by Sergei J. Feldman /
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Santa Claus is coming to town…

And this year, he’s bringing with him a bag full of fantasy gifts.

Fortunately, for all you fantasy team owners out there,’s fantasy insider Sergei Feldman digs deep inside Santa’s bag and hands out the Top 5 impactful fantasy performers of the season at each position up to the holiday break.

Without further adieu, here is this year’s All-Christmas Fantasy Team:


CENTER: Evgeni MalkinPittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 25 | PTS: 40
SOG: 133 | +/-: 7
The knee injury Pittsburgh PenguinsEvgeni Malkin faced last season, which forced him to undergo surgery and miss a large chunk of the season is old news for those familiar with the star center. The nagging knee injury this season—after supposedly fully rehabilitating leading up to the season—is also old news, but of the don’t-forget-about-it variety.

“Geno” started the season with a three-game point streak, but then missed games on and off (seven total) until he felt he was near 100 percent for good. He returned and produced modestly until Nov. 21, Sidney Crosby’s first game back from a concussion. Suddenly, Malkin dazzled. In the 14 games since, with or without Crosby in the lineup, the 25-year-old has put up points in all but two games. In that span, he has amassed 24 points.

As a result, Malkin has climbed the NHL scoring leaders ladder. Despite ranking third in points (40), the 6-foot-3, 195-pound center reigns supreme atop fantasy performs in Yahoo! Standard leagues. As his Penguins get injured bodies back in the lineup, Malkin’s production could only improve. Much like his status as one of the premier fantasy contributors.

RIGHT WING: Claude GirouxPhiladelphia Flyers

Claude Giroux
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 26 | PTS: 43
SOG: 86 | +/-: 8
While the hosts of this year’s Winter Classic sit near the top of the Eastern Conference heading into the holiday break, Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux sits pretty at the top of the NHL scoring standings with 43 points.

It’s not a foreign seat for the Giroux, either. The 23-year-old emerging superstar has been at or near the top of the scoring standings for most, if not all, of the 2011-12 season.  But it’s obvious that the NHL’s leading scorer be chosen as one of the best, right? Not quite.

Coming into the season, the 2006 first-round selection of the Flyers was given the keys to the car in The City of Brotherly Love after previous anchors Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were traded away. Despite the new responsibility, however, whether or not Giroux would merely ride around the parking lot or take the whip to the streets remained to be seen. So far, he’s cruising on a superhighway. 

Through 30 games this season, No. 28 has 17 goals, 26 assists, 43 points, a plus-8 rating, 5 power play goals and 86 shots. He ranks in the Top 10 in goals, assists and points. Most impressively, however, has been Giroux’s resolve. Fantasy owners everywhere recall a recent setback where the 5-foot-11 playmaker suffered a concussion which forced him to miss two games. In his return to the lineup, Giroux netted four points, proving that nothing can deter him this season.

LEFT WING: Daniel SedinVancouver Canucks

Daniel Sedin
Left Wing - VAN
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 26 | PTS: 39
SOG: 106 | +/-: 11
Vancouver Canucks’ left wing Daniel Sedin has seen increased production in three straight seasons leading up to this campaign. That streak is threatened this year, as he is off his 104-point pace from last season. He’s only on pace for 91 points. In other words, he’s doing just fine.

The always dangerous 31-year-old is doing it all once again, after coming off an Art Ross Trophy-winning season. Take a quick glance at the top fantasy performers in Yahoo! Standard leagues and you’ll find Sedin’s name near the top of the list among all players and at the very top among left wings. For good reason, too.
Brother Daniel has put up a solid 13 goals this season, along with 26 assists (good for third best in the NHL), 39 points (fifth most in the League), a plus-11 rating and 106 shots. In addition to leading his Canucks to within one point of the Northwest Division lead in the West, Sedin has likely been a huge reason why your fantasy squads have blossomed or at least held on.

What’s interesting about the 1999 second-overall selection is that he’s quietly one of the League’s best. It’s easy to expect the kind of numbers he’s been producing of late. The fact that he delivers makes him a cut above the rest.

DEFENSEMAN: Shea WeberNashville Predators

Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 29
SOG: 106 | +/-: 14
Nashville PredatorsShea Weber is known as one of the top players at his position year in, year out. That label applies in the world of fantasy hockey, too, as he delivers across-the-board production and serves as a model of reliability. This year, Weber is doing much of the same, and then some.

With the holiday break upon us, Weber is on pace for his most productive season ever, a season that could rival that of some productive forwards in the NHL. Through 35 games, the veteran blueliner has himself 8 goals, 21 assists, 29 points, a plus-14 rating, 24 PIMs, 5 power play goals and 106 shots. He has never scored more than 53 points in a season and is en route to 67 so far. Overwhelming? How fitting, as that’s exactly what Weber’s presence exudes on the ice and in fantasy hockey.

In addition to a rare talent and a complementary supporting cast, Weber’s impressive play can be directly linked to his consistency. Leading up to the break, the 26-year-old has points in 9 of 11 games. As a defenseman? Impressive. As the season continues and the competition gets tighter, look for Weber to persevere with relative ease. 

GOALIE: Tim ThomasBoston Bruins

Tim Thomas
Goalie - BOS
RECORD: 16-5-0
GAA: 1.84 | SVP: 0.943
For most people, you win some, you lose some. For Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas, you win some … and that’s that. The proof is in this season’s 16-5-0 record pudding. But it doesn’t end with wins for Thomas, as the 37-year-old is among the League’s best in every major goaltending category.

Through 23 appearances this season, last year’s Cup Champ has played to a .943 save percentage (good for second in the NHL) and 1.84 GAA (good for fourth best in the League). Though not a Yahoo! Standard league category, his four shutouts are just a nice bonus.

Among the greatest attributes of the 1994 ninth-round pick is his refusal to play to his age. Ask Thomas and 37 is the new 25. Since 2006-07, Thomas has three 30-plus win seasons and is easily on pace for a fourth this year. With no signs of slowing down, and given the fact that Thomas plays on arguably the League’s best team, Tim Terrific’s name will be near the top of any list.
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