Kukla's Korner

The Goods on Fantasy Hockey

Experts League Update

We are now one-third into the shortened season (gee, that went by quickly, didn’t it?). I'm not trying to brag, but I currently sit in first place in the fantasy writers Experts League, which I had first written about last month. In fact, I’ll probably jinx myself by bringing up my current perch atop the league.

So what is the secret to my success? Luck, sweet luck. Luck be a lady, as Frankie would sing. A few players have turned out much better than I had expected when I drafted them. Which players would these be, and what are their prospects entering the remaining two-thirds of the season?

Craig Anderson, G, OTT
When I drafted Anderson, I was simply hoping that he would hold decent ratios, given the high number of starts that he would likely receive. Not only has he been able to handle the workload, but he also currently leads the NHL with a 1.49 GAA and .952 SV%. The bad news is that a sprained ankle and not a statistical normalization could drop his fantasy value. Anderson owners will probably want to look into adding Ben Bishop, who will likely start for the Sens while Anderson is out. The good news is that the injury that forced Anderson to leave Thursday’s game against the Rangers doesn’t seem to be long-term.

Thomas Vanek, LW, BUF
In spite of only recording points in one of his last five games, Vanek still leads the NHL with 12 goals and 25 points. Vanek has historically been a streaky scorer, recording a pile of goals one week while falling off the face of the earth the next. It will be interesting to see how the coaching change in Buffalo will affect Vanek’s numbers going forward. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to dangle Vanek in a trade, just to see if you can receive an elite-level talent in return.

Patrik Elias, C/LW, NJ
The 36-year old Elias is currently a top-10 producer in assists (15), points (19), and plus/minus (+10) this season for the somewhat surprising Devils. Many fantasy hockey pundits (myself included) have assumed Elias to start to decline the past few seasons, but Elias has more than made up for the void left by the departed Zach Parise (who also happens to be on my team). Elias fell in a ton of drafts this season in spite of scoring 78 points (26g-52a) last season, so it’s difficult to consider his production this season a fluke. Teammate David Clarkson, who has already scored 10 goals this season, also deserves mention as a player who has far exceeded expectations.

Sam Gagner, RW, EDM
Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov… it’s easy to forget about another Oilers’ talented first-round pick. But it’s Gagner who is tied for the Oilers’ team lead in scoring with 16 goals in 16 games. It’s no secret that the Oilers would like to trade for a shutdown defenseman or a starting goalie, and Gagner’s name always seems to be mentioned with the trade rumors. If we had a full season, Gagner would appear ready to crack 20 goals and 50 points, benefitting from the embarrassment of riches in young scoring.

You can check out the Experts League here.

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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 gooding74@shaw.ca, or follow me on Twitter.

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