The Goods on Fantasy Hockey
by Ian Gooding on 02/04/12 at 01:59 AM ET
If a player can accomplish the highest single-game point total since 1988, then he should at least be worthy of mention in this little blog.
On Thursday, Sam Gagner shocked the hockey world with an eight, count ‘em, 8-point game against the Blackhawks. Suddenly Sam finds his name alongside two other names that probably ring a bell – Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey – in the Oilers’ record book. If he happened to be in your lineup, go buy yourself a lottery ticket. If he happened to be on your bench or you “almost” picked him up from the waiver wire, hopefully you had a box of tissues nearby.
Yet Gagner has slowly trickled down the Oilers’ depth chart in recent seasons, as the Oil has drafted clone-type forwards in Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Gagner had even been pushed down to the third line, often playing less than 15 minutes per game. Slowly he had turned into the forgotten man in the rebuilding effort - but not anymore.
I’ll return to Gagner in a moment as one of my Pick Six players for Saturday, but first here’s what you need to know for this weekend as you plan your lineup.
There are 12 games on the schedule, including four daytime games. The first two games start at 1 p.m. ET, so make sure you have your lineups ready by then.
Six Eastern Conference teams - Boston, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington – are in action on both Saturday and Sunday. Four Western Conference teams - Anaheim, Calgary, Chicago, and Columbus - do not play either Saturday or Sunday. Plan accordingly.
So here’s the Pick Six for Saturday, starting with Suddenly Sam:
Sam Gagner, C, EDM – add/start
On Thursday night, Gagner was owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues. About 24 hours later, his ownership shot up to 11 percent. Here’s a given: don’t expect eight points every night. However, Oilers coach Tom Renney may now think again about not playing Gagner on the scoring lines. Keep in mind that that the Oilers could take advantage of the situation and trade Gagner in an attempt to construct a better-rounded team. One would have to assume that the return would be a top-4 defenseman, which is a commodity that many other teams are looking to stock up on at this time of year. The sixth overall pick in 2007, Gagner still has the potential to become a universally-owned center in fantasy leagues one day. But before adding him, be sure to consider his stats over the entire season and not just from Thursday.
Mikhail Grabovski, C, TOR – start/trade
Aside from the aforementioned Gagner, Grabovski is as hot as any player on the planet right now. Fresh off being named one of the NHL’s Three Stars last week, Grabo is riding a four-game point streak in which he has scored nine points (3g-6a). He seems like a strong bet to continue that point streak against Ottawa on Hockey Night in Canada, but two events may occur sometime afterward: 1) a cold snap not unlike the one that hit during November (4 points, -3), or 2) a rumored trade out of Toronto, which could diminish his value if he is dealt to a true contending team looking to bolster its third line.
Jiri Hudler, LW, DET – add/start
Hudler might be yet another example of a post-hype sleeper, since many fantasy owners wouldn’t have regarded him that highly after last season’s 37-point output. However, Hudler’s 17 goals this season places him second on the Wings, even ahead of marquee names Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Hudler also has goals in three consecutive games and would be a strong bet to hit the twine again against a flimsy Oilers defense.
Ty Conklin, G, DET – add/start
With Jimmy Howard sidelined for at least the next two games with a broken finger, Conklin is expected to start the Wings’ next two games, including Saturday’s matchup in Edmonton (mlive). The always-strong Wings are once again the NHL’s leader in points, so Conklin is probably your best bet if you need to find a quick W from the waiver wire, although his season numbers (3.20 GAA, .886 GAA) are hardly flattering.
Johan Hedberg, G, NJ – add/start
If for some reason Conklin has already been scooped, Hedberg is another backup option that has been confirmed for Saturday (Tom Gulitti). Hedberg hasn’t started since January 11, but remember that he is one of the league’s stronger backup options (12-7-1, 2.45 GAA, 2 SO). Conklin is still a stronger start, since Hedberg is facing Philadelphia, but remember that the Flyers are dealing with a few injuries to key offensive contributors.
Chris Stewart, RW, STL – bench
What is it with this guy? That incredible run that Stewart went on last season following his trade from Colorado now seems like a distant memory. With only 20 points in 47 games, Stewart was held to just 13 minutes of icetime against Los Angeles on Friday and 10 minutes two games before that. Since he doesn’t seem to be a significant part of new coach Ken Hitchcock’s plans, Stewart will probably be dangled as trade bait before the deadline. He should be riding the pine if he is still on your roster, although another trade could boost his value again.
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About The Goods on Fantasy Hockey
My name is Ian Gooding, and this is The Goods on Fantasy Hockey. Given my ability to understand numbers, write sentences, and follow hockey, it’s not a surprise to those who know me that I became a fantasy hockey writer. I started writing about fantasy hockey in 2006 for fantasyhockey.com and became the site’s content editor in 2007. Looking to expand my audience, I joined Kukla’s Korner in the summer of 2011 to create the site’s first fantasy hockey blog.
A few times each week, I’ll provide an article called “Pick Six” where I will write about six players that should either be in your fantasy team’s starting lineup or bench for the upcoming game. As well, I’ll provide the fantasy takes on important hockey developments. You can also email me your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter.