Lupul, Skille following similar paths to redemption
JOEL COLOMBY, QMI Agency
|Joffrey Lupul stands in front of James Reimer during Leafs team practice in Toronto, February 11, 2011. leafs will play Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night in Montreal. (Alex Urosevic/QMI AGENCY)
An interesting parallel between the two trades that went down on Wednesday: Both right wingers Joffrey Lupul, now on the Maple Leafs, and Jack Skille, off to Florida in the Michael Frolik deal, were seventh overall picks (three years apart) that were languishing on fourth lines when dealt. Both have something to prove and both will get the chance to do so.
Lupul made his Leafs debut Thursday with Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur and saw regular power-play time, a far cry better than he was getting in Anaheim. With three 20-goal seasons on his resume, we expect Lupul to regain his fantasy relevance, barring, of course, the unforeseen.
Skille’s is a different tale. He’s a burner with size but, unlike Lupul, has yet to show any hands. He held his tongue while playing fourth-line minutes in Chicago, but admitted after the trade that he figured he was better than that. Now he’ll get his chance, jumping all the way up to Florida’s top trio with Stephen Weiss and Chris Higgins, logging a season-high 17:45 of ice time Thursday against the visiting Sabres and getting regular power-play duties. He also delivered a team-high 10 hits, most of those on the forecheck, which is where the bulk of his points should come from.
— With the superior talent now around him, it’s hard to see anything bad, fantasy-wise, coming from Frolik’s move to the Blackhawks. When you haven’t scored in 23 games, anything is an improvement, right? The wild card here, however, is Frolik’s versatility. He plays all three forward positions so he could wind up as anything from a first-line winger with Patrik Kane and Jonathan Toews to a third-line centre. In his Chicago debut on Friday, he had a team-high five shots playing wing on the second line with Tomas Kopecky and Troy Brouwer, though Marian Hossa will replace the latter when he shakes the flu bug.
— Honestly cannot see Mike Fisher’s trade from Ottawa to the Predators making much of a difference in his fantasy stock. He was a reliable top-six forward with decent wingers on the Sens and will be so, again, in Nashville. The ones to benefit should be his wingmen, still undetermined heading into Saturday’s action.
— Peter Forsberg did little in his return to the Avalanche on Friday, playing just more than 17˝ minutes between Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk, getting no points, one shot on goal and going minus-2. It may take a few games, but we’ll restate our belief that Forsberg has enough in the tank to be a decent pickup over the final weeks.
— Just a note in case you missed it, but that Blues-Avalanche game scheduled for Feb. 1 that was postponed on account of the snowstorm in Denver, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 22.
— Bench Tyler Seguin for now. The Bruins have. The rookie has been a healthy scratch for the past two games after being limited to less than 9˝ minutes in each of the previous four.
— Caps’ Alexander Semin returned from his 12-game injury layoff and, for now, has been reunited w—n Is there anyone hotter than Michael Grabner right now? The little-known Islanders all-star has a dozen goals in his past 13 games, six in his past four. And he has been consistent, scoring in nine of those 13 games. All that while killing penalties and skating on a so-called third line with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo.
— Pavel Datsyuk returned to the Red Wings on Monday between Jiri Hudler and Daniel Cleary, a couple of wingers who could use his creativity. Hudler, who had trouble regaining his game after returning from the KHL, now has two goals and three assists in his past three games with Datsyuk.
— Ilya Kovalchuk is 6-6-12 in his past nine games — which is a lot closer to what his frustrated fantasy owners were expecting this season.
Do you think Micheal Haley of the Islanders made an impression on Friday night? Playing in just his third career NHL game — and first of this season — the feisty fireplug winger scored his first NHL goal, got into three fights and took two misconducts for a whopping 39 total PIMs. Not bad for just 5˝ minutes of ice time. We’re guessing he is still available in your league, but maybe not for long.
With fantasy rating out of 5
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Hard-luck veteran made his season debut on Saturday night following a long, but inspirational, recovery from a torn Achilles tendon. He’s a solid source of blue-line points behind a potent offence but, as history has graphically shown, the amiable Finn is a threat to get injured every time he steps on the ice. Scored two goals in the first of his three-game AHL rehab stint, one on a cut-in move he says he learned from his young son.
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It seems every time we mention an Isles goalie here, he goes out and gets hurt (or suspended). Koskinen let the first two NHL shots he saw get past him, but since then has stopped 93 of 102 (.912 save percentage). He’s the No. 1 guy, right now, and the Isles, as we’ve already mentioned, are playing better defensively.
Like Salo, injuries kept him out until this past week. He earned two assists in his first game last weekend, then went minus-4 in his second outing. Undersized, but a powerful skater with a wicked shot, the club wants him on the ice with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis as much as possible.
Veteran free agent was on a point-a-game pace in the AHL when signed on Saturday. Might help, but only if he lands a top-six gig.
Valtteri Filppula has been out all week with a sprained knee but is expected back next week … Craig Anderson has been granted a leave by the Avs to attend to personal matters back home ... Joni Pitkanen hurt his leg Tuesday but was hoping to return Saturday night … Ryan Malone (abs) may not be back until the playoffs … Alex Tanguay is day-to-day with a sprained neck … The Stars hope Jamie Benn (shoulder) can return this coming week … Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) should be ready by next weekend … While nearly recovered from a shoulder injury, Rangers’ Ruslan Fedotenko had an attack of appendicitis … Add Chris Kunitz, Dustin Jeffery and Eric Tangradi to the Pens growing disabled list … The Panthers should have Cory Stillman back on Sunday, but not Dmitri Kulikov (ankle).
(Stats do not include Saturday’s games)