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Thanksgiving Day Special: Players worth thanking

by Matt Cubeta
Thanksgiving is known for two things: turkey and football. Well, today we make an addition and insert something with a little flavor. In this Thanksgiving Day Fantasy Special, we make hockey a part of the holiday tradition -- and what better way to display our holiday spirit then to look at several players that we, as fantasy managers, should be thankful for so far in the 2010 NHL season.

In no particular order, here's a list of the guys that have been gold in all fantasy leagues. From the surprises to the expected superstars, when you say your Thanksgiving Day prayers, make sure you thank these players -- that is, if you are lucky enough to have any of them on your team:

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning -- Of all the superstars, Stammer has outshone every one of them with 20 G, 15 A, plus-9 rating, 18 PIMs, 17 PPP and 81 SOG in 21 games.

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning -- While Stamkos is drawing all the attention in Tampa, his linemate continues to pile up tons of points as well.

Dustin Byfuglien, Atlanta Thrashers -- Easily the top-ranked fantasy defenseman in Yahoo! Leagues, Byfuglien is putting together a monster season that includes 7 goals and 76 shots from the blue line!

Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers -- We've mentioned him several times in our Fantasy Five, but Richards continues to put together what could turn out to be the best season of his six-year career.

Chris Stewart, Colorado Avalanche -- Some people thought he'd cool off after his hot start. He hasn't: 11 G, 13 A, plus-2 rating, 31 PIMs, 7 PPP and 61 SOG in 20 games.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens -- Price used to drive fantasy owners crazy with talks about his potential every season. We can finally be grateful of taking a flyer on the Habs' netminder this year.

Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins -- If not for Byfuglien, Letang would be the talk of the blue line this season. Regardless, Letang, and not Alex Goligoski, has filled Sergei Gonchar's shoes with ease in Pittsburgh.

James Neal, Dallas Stars -- Playing on a line with Brad Richards has done wonders for the talented youngster in Dallas: 8 G, 11 A, plus-10 rating, 25 PIMS, 4 PPP and 63 SOG in 19 contests.

Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins --
It took Thomas just one start to steal Boston's starting goaltending job from Tuukka Rask. He has run wild with it: 10 wins, 1.49 GAA, a .954 save percentage and four shutouts.

Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks -- The most consistent player on the Hawks currently leads the NHL with 97 shots on goal while recording 12 goals and 22 points in 22 games.

Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings --
Owned in just 71 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, Williams is on pace for 37 goals and 86 points. If he's available, what are you waiting for?

John-Michael Liles, Colorado Avalanche -- 20 points in 20 games from any blueliner is outstanding, especially if he was a waiver-wire pick up, like Liles.

Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks -- 40 years old or not, Selanne continues to produce like a superstar; he's on pace for 29 goals and 78 points -- we just need him to stay healthy.

Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta Thrashers --
Injury or not, Pavelec has been outstanding in between the pipes for the Thrashers, especially recently: he has allowed two or less goals in six of his last seven appearances.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers -- Giroux has finally put all of his talent on display for everyone to see: 12 G, 11 A, plus-6 rating, 12 PIMs, 7 PPP and 52 SOG in 22 games.

Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim Ducks -- Running Anaheim's top power play unit with all those talented stars has done wonders for Lubo, and nothing should slow him down going forward.

Mathieu Garon, Columbus Blue Jackets -- Despite a 5-1-0 record, 1.08 GAA, .960 save percentage and three shutouts, Garon is still technically the team's No. 2 goalie behind Steve Mason -- but he clearly deserves to be owned in more than 45 percent of Yahoo! Leagues.

Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings -- Never, ever doubt Lidstrom.

Brandon Dubinsky, New York Rangers -- At one point in the season, Dubinsky was tied for the NHL lead with 10 goals. He still has 12 goals and 19 points, as well as 27 PIMs in 22 contests for the Blueshirts.

Ryan Whitney, Edmonton Oilers -- He might not have any goals, but with 17 assists in 20 games, he's been just about the only bright spot for Edmonton.

Steve Montador, Buffalo Sabres -- Montador has never recorded more than 23 points in any of his 10 NHL seasons, but with 3 goals and 8 helpers in just 22 contests for the Sabres, he should easily have his best offensive campaign in 2010-11.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Philadelphia Flyers --
The early front-runner for Rookie of the Year, Bobrovsky has 11 wins, a 2.29 GAA and a .925 save percentage in 16 starts.

Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins -- Lucic is finally having that breakout season we all expected: 10 G, 7 A, plus-10 rating, 20 PIMs, 3 PPP and 34 SOG in 19 games.

Clarke MacArthur, Toronto Maple Leafs -- He might not have a goal in his last nine games, but he still has 7 goals and 18 points in 20 contests for the Leafs this season -- not too shabby.

Michal Neuvirth, Washington Capitals -- The 22-year-old netminder has been exceptional in D.C. -- he is tied for the League lead with 12 wins and has earned the clear-cut No. 1 job on one of the best teams in the NHL.

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