Hot and Cold
Welcome to Hot and Cold, the article that shines a spotlight on the latest performance trends in fantasy hockey. The future might not hold what you first expect. To start, here’s who’s hot…
David Clarkson (NJ – R) 7 goals and 13 points is the type of stat line that fantasy GMs love because it shows Clarkson is playing an all-around game. Throw in 4 power play markers, 2 game winners, a +3 rating, and 13 PIMs and it’s clear that he’s also one of the top roto players in most leagues. He’ll likely slow down somewhat, but that said he’s coming off a career year 30-goal season and, at 28 years old, he’s in his prime. Clarkson is a force.
Jamie Benn (DAL – L) He’s back from his holdout and on fire over the past 3 games with 4 goals and 6 points. If you were smart enough to draft him and then stash him, give yourself a pat on the back. He’s arguably the Stars best player (sorry Loui Eriksson) and quickly becoming one of the NHL’s elite – that is, if he can keep up this pace.
Jason Pominville (BUF – R) Due to Vanek’s torrid pace, Pominville has quietly amassed 14 points in 11 GP, good for 7th in NHL scoring. He’s been at the top of the scoring race for the past couple years, with or without his line mates (Derek Roy included). He was a top draft pick and he’s delivering, so there’s really no surprise here.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Chris Kunitz (PIT) It may have taken a couple weeks, but the Penguins are tops in the East and their star players are starting to deliver – big time. Crosby could (more like should) lead the scoring race by the end of the week. Kunitz is the big beneficiary, as his hat trick last week bears witness. He’s a good player, but alongside Crosby and Malkin he’s the equivalent of the poor man’s Jari Kuri.
Tobias Enstrom (WPG – D) Despite all the offseason Jets D-men talk being about Dustin Byfuglien’s waist line, Enstrom has emerged from an injury riddled 2011-12 campaign as the team’s best defenseman. He has 13 points through 10 games to lead all NHL blue-liners. Remember, Enstrom has twice produced 50-point seasons, including 51 points in only 72 games just two years ago. He could easily finish the same way he’s started.
Craig Anderson (OTT – G) Ottawa looks like a bubble team on paper, but they started the season strong thanks to solid play in all departments, including in net. Anderson leads the NHL in wins (6), and all starters in save-percentage (.950). However, with Jason Spezza out of the line-up the Sens have suddenly gone 1-2-1 in the last 4 games. Anderson is playing well, but Spezza is the team’s best offensive player. Without him, Ottawa will likely return to .500, meaning Anderson’s pace will slow.
Zenon Konopka (MIN – Enforcer) Just when fantasy owners were starting to worry, Konopka went out and had a game for the ages. 2 fights, and 32 total PIMs against Vancouver on Feb. 7th, shot-put Konopka up to 5th in the NHL in PIMs. It was a statement game, as the Wild had just acquired tough-guy Michael Rupp from the Rangers.
Other hot players to note this week include: Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk (STL – D) each with 10 points in 10 games; Tom Gilbert (EDM – D); and Brandon Prust & Ryan White (MTL – Enforcers) both already with 46 PIMs.
Now let’s turn our attention to a group of players who look frozen in a deep freeze. Here’s who’s cold…
Cory Perry (ANH – RW) Perry had an assist on Friday, Feb. 8th, but it was only his 2nd point in his last 6 games. The scary thing is that the Ducks are winning in spite of Perry’s offensive paralysis. One would guess he should turn this around soon, and his fight on Friday at least demonstrates he’s present on the ice, but he also looks a step behind the pace to start 2013.
Kyle Okposo (NYI – RW) This one is simple. Okposo has lost his tentative spot on the top line with Tavares and Moulson to Brad Boyes (who is a “pick ‘em up” at the moment). Boyes is streaky, and his current performance is a surprise, so Okposo could easily get back with the big boys if Boyes slows. Watch this situation carefully, but consider a reserve swap for the time being.
Olli Jokinen (WPG – C) We pointed out the potential for Olli Jokinen to bust in the draft guide, and low and behold he’s only notched 4 points (and just one PP point) in the first 10 games. The latest news is that the Jets have reconfigured the top line and Jokinen is not a part of it. His offensive opportunities are on the decline.
Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Drew Doughty (heck, almost the entire Los Angeles Kings team!) Can anyone say Stanley Cup hangover? With just 3 wins to start the season (3-4-2 overall), the team that couldn’t be stopped last spring looks mediocre at best. From a fantasy perspective the Kings will get it going, but the longer it takes to get up to speed, the more likely it will be that the Kings may not qualify to defend their championship.
Ryan Suter (MIN – D) There has been a lot of talk this week about Minnesota’s inability to score, as they rank second to last in the NHL in goals despite the big off-season signings of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Suter has just 4 points (all assists) in 10 games, and he’s a stark reminder of the danger in drafting players who have switched teams in the off-season.
Dion Phaneuf (TOR – D) 2 points to start the year is nothing short of a disappointment for GMs. Phaneuf has the skills to contribute, and last year it looked like he was returning to the form he displayed in Calgary, but like so many other slow starters in the shortened season: it will now be hard for Phaneuf to return to an average production-level by year’s end.
Other cold players to note this week include: Shane Doan (PHX – R) with only 4 points to start the year, Alexandre Burrows (VAN – F) and Jason Garrison (VAN – D) with 6 combined points in 20 combined GP, and Christian Ehrhoff (BUF – D) with just 5 points.