NHL Fantasy Fare: Misleading penalties

JOEL COLUMBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:19 PM ET

Ever notice how difficult it is to actually pick up penalty minutes off the waiver wire?

It looks easy enough, just grabbing the top guy available from the list of PIM leaders. But, in many cases, that truculence you just invested in could remain dormant for a while, as he piles up the zeroes in other categories. Owners who drafted Lightning’s Steve Downie, or claimed him after he earned 31 minutes in his first six games, have garnered only three major penalties and 41 PIMs since. That wouldn’t be so bad had his offence not dried up and he wasn’t a roster-killing minus-15. Then there is the case of Canucks’ Maxim Lapierre, who suddenly finds himself in the top 10 in PIMs following a 39-minute reign of terror in three recent games. But look deeper and you’ll see that total included three misconducts, which you simply can’t count on. Take note, too, that, in the 12 games prior to Lapierre’s streak, he managed just two minors while contributing little else fantasy-wise.

The problem with PIMs is that, with pugilism on the decline in the NHL, getting that one player who can rack up fighting majors on a regular basis is tougher to find. Zenon Konopka (12 majors), Brandon Prust (10) and Derek Dorsett (9) lead the NHL, though none offers up anything else to a fantasy squad, although the latter’s six goals and even plus-minus help a bit.

-- Yes, it’s too late, but the key for next season is to join the owners who already build PIMs into their drafting strategy and bump up the likes of Milan Lucic, Ryane Clowe, Brenden Morrow and Brad Marchand on your lists. However, for those who need PIMs now, the advice here is to look for players who take a lot of minors, get the occasional major and are plus-skaters. Points are a bonus. Oilers’ Theo Peckham has a league-leading 41 PIMs the past month, is a plus-1 and, being a defenceman, his lack of offence won’t hurt you as much. Sharks winger Brad Winchester is 3-2-5 and plus-6 the past month to go with 26 of his 39 PIMs. And if you’re still hooked on fighters, Krys Barch, acquired by Florida from Dallas on Dec. 7, has majors in three of his five games as a Panther.

-- The Blue Jackets play only one game next week — Thursday night in Nashville, a team they’ve already played three times this season. And where you’d probably want to bench any of your Columbus players, their top line of Jeff Carter, Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal has combined for five goals and eight assists in those three games against the Preds.

-- With Claude Giroux out indefinitely, Philly has moved Sean Couturier up to the top line between Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell. The Flyers have lauded the rookie’s defensive game, but now he gets the chance to display the offensive chops he showed in junior.

-- Devils C Travis Zajac made his season debut on Friday after missing the first 21/2 months recovering from Achilles tendon surgery. The veteran skated on a third line with Eric Boulton and Mattias Tedenby but we’re figuring he eventually finds his way on to the second line — currently comprised of three natural wingers — with perhaps Petr Sykora dropping down.

FOURTH DOWN

Most teams deploy their top-line forwards on the power-play. But there are exceptions. Tomas Holmstrom has 6-4-10 totals with the man advantage but only three assists at even strength because the Wings have him on the fourth line. Same for Jason Arnott who leads the Blues with seven power-play points, but spends most of the game as the fourth-line centre.

GAMES THIS WEEK

2 — ANA, BOS, BUFF, CAR, CHI, EDM, NJ, PITT, SJ, STL, TB, WASH

1 — CLB

All other teams play 3 games

HOT AND NOT

Skaters, the past two weeks

Olli Jokinen CGY

5-6-11, plus-2 12 PIMs

Wayne Simmonds PHIL

5-2-7, plus-5

Danny Cleary DET

3-2-5, plus-5

- - - - - - -

Rick Nash CLB

1-1-2, minus-2

Alex Goligoski DAL

0-0-0, minus-4

INJURY UPDATES

Zach Parise lost his two front teeth Friday thanks to a high stick. No big deal, though. They were already fake … Mikko Koivu suffered a leg injury on Wednesday but should be out only a couple of weeks … Mike Richards (concussion) reportedly is getting closer to being able to skate again … Goalie Anterro Niittymaki looked great in his first AHL rehab game on Friday … Don’t count on Martin St. Louis (eye) returning before Christmas … The Stars also will keep Kari Lehtonen (groin) out until at least Christmas … The Sens figure to have Sergei Gonchar back by Tuesday … He’s not one of the big names, but Brian Rolston is the latest out with a concussion … Scott Gomez (groin) is finally practising.

WAIVER WATCH

With fantasy rating out of 5

Jamie McGinn

LW, Sharks

* * *

Former second-rounder has taken off ever since Patrick Marleau joined him on the third line, producing 5-2-7 totals in December after managing just four points the first two months. The Sharks have been waiting a while for this.

Kurtis Foster

D, Devils

* * *

As expected, newly acquired veteran has seen major jump in his power-play time his first two games with the Devils. Didn’t get any points, but that should come. Had four shots in his Jersey debut.

Paul Szczechura

C, Sabres

* *

After two failed tries with Tampa, 26-year-old has landed a nice gig between Vanek and Pominville, with 1-3-4 totals and a plus-3 in six games — kind of Buffalo’s version of Tyler Bozak. Gut feeling, though, is he won’t last there.

Richard Bachman

G, Stars

* *

After three magnificent starts to begin his career, the Devils put six past him on Friday. He’ll get another chance, but is probably headed back to the AHL when Kari Lehtonen returns in a couple of weeks.

Jared Cowen

D, Senators

* * *

On no one’s radar with just one goal in his first 21 games, rookie has responded to his increased ice time with nine points in his past dozen games, including the four-point eye-opener on Friday.

(All statistics are up to and including Friday's games)


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