March 3, 2012
NHL Fantasy Fare: Keep eye on Hodgson
By JOEL COLOMBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The NHL trade deadline — at least the post-Jeff Carter part of it — produced little that is going to have much, if any, fantasy impact, with only two forwards involved, Cody Hodgson and Andre Kostitsyn, climbing into top-six roles.
Hodgson would appear to be the big winner. With Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler entrenched as the top two centres in Vancouver, there was no chance of the former Brampton junior star moving above third-line status for a while. The move to Buffalo is giving him that chance, however. Hodgson made his Sabres debut on the West Coast this past week with Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis as his new linemates, going pointless with a plus-2 rating in a pair of low scoring victories. It would not, however, be out of the question to see him eventually wind up on the No. 1 line.
— Big RW Zach Kassian, who headed to B.C., in exchange for Hodgson, has begun his Canucks career as a fourth-liner. But hoping he would displace either Alex Burrows or Mason Raymond on one of the top two lines would be asking a lot. However, Kassian does have something the other two don’t: The ability to create room for his linemates with his size. So, a promotion to a top line also is not unrealistic, though not likely until the post-season when opponents begin leaning harder on the Canucks’ stars.
— The Predators did not put Kostitsyn, their newly acquired winger, on a line with his brother, Sergei Kostitsyn, after all. And though Andrei had just more than 12 minutes of ice time on Tuesday, it should still work out for the ex-Canadien. He made his debut with Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand, the return to a top-six role being a big improvement over the forth line treatment he received in his final days in Montreal.
— Tom Gilbert’s Edmonton-to-Minnesota switch will see him inherit power-play time from the departed Marek Zidlicky, though with the Wild’s attack currently lacking the Oilers’ depth, the defenceman’s fantasy value doesn’t get any better.
— Maybe Anders Lindback — one of a few backup goalies being targeted on trade deadline — would have been a natural fit on the Leafs. Since Dec. 2, the Preds’ backup goalie is 0-6. Pekka Rinne, in the same span, is 24-8.
— Blackhawks winger Viktor Stalberg has scored 16 goals this season, with eight of them coming against the Blue Jackets. The Hawks play Columbus for the final time on March 20.
— Speaking of the Jackets, defenceman Fedor Tyutin — after going a grisly minus-15 over a nine-game span last month — has been a plus-one in each of the past three games.
— After spending most of the week juggling lines, then losing James van Riemsdyk for up to six weeks with a broken foot, the Flyers have returned C Danny Briere to the second line from the fourth. Briere, we should point out, also saw some time on Philly’s top line between Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell.
— And for those awaiting some fantasy baseball news, we’ll begin easing into that beginning with next Sunday’s column.
A ROOKIE PLUS
One of the more amazing NHL stats at the moment is rookie Gabriel Landeskog’s plus-21. This comes on an Avalanche team that has no one else better than plus-8. Or, how about this one? In games in which Trevor Daley earns a goal and/or assist, the Stars are 14-3. The team is 20-23 when he is held off the scoresheet.
HOT AND NOT
Forwards, the past two weeks
Teddy Purcell, TB
Valtteri Filppula, DET
Michael Ryder DAL
Rene Bourque, MON
Mike Green, WAS
Tomas Plekanec, MON
Nicklas Lidstrom has been sidelined with a painful bone bruise on his ankle that has lingered for about a week ... Niklas Backstrom’s groin strain will keep the Wild goalie out for a couple of weeks ... Michael Del Zotto tried unsuccessfully, to play through a minor hip injury, then sat out Friday’s game ... Kris Letang’s most recent concussion does not appear to be overly serious ... Todd Bertuzzi suffered a groin injury on Friday night ... Jonathan Toews (concussion) has yet to get his skates back on ... Mikko Koivu (shoulder) is still likely three weeks away from a return ... Tomas Vokoun hurt himself in warmups on Friday and is day-to-day ... Logan Couture (knee) didn’t last long in practice on Thursday.
With fantasy rating out of 5
Dwight King, LW, Kings
Big rookie winger drew the plum assignment this past week of playing with Carter and Richards and has 2-2-4 totals in his nine games since being called up from the AHL. We are guessing, however, that he is only holding the spot for Simon Gagne (concussion).
Robin Lehner, G, Senators
* * *
We tacked his named to the end of Jonathan Bernier’s blurb here last week as a goalie that might suddenly find himself with a No. 1 job after the trade deadline. Bernier did not work out (he wasn’t dealt) but the highly regarded Lehner — thanks to Craig Anderson’s finger injury — certainly has. It’s his job to lose right now.
Josh Bailey, C, Islanders
The former ninth overall selection had three goals on six shots in his two games before Saturday afternoon’s tilt with Boston — the first time he has scored in back-to-back games this season. We’re not saying this is the beginning of the long-awaited breakout, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Matt Kassian, RW, Wild*
No, not the Canucks’ Zach. This Kassian scored twice on Thursday versus the Habs. But those were his first two points in 21 total NHL games and he has never had more than eight goals or 18 points anywhere, including junior.
(Statistics do not include Saturday’s games)