Kukla's Korner

The Goods on Fantasy Hockey

Pick Six: Something Old, Something New

We knew that this would be a crazy mixed-up season with an even crazier mixed-up start (after all, last year's conference leaders the Canucks and Rangers are winless in a combined four games). Perhaps you speculated that the shortened season would be easier on the NHL’s senior citizens, or maybe you guessed that the younger players that have been playing in the CHL or AHL would be a leg up on players who used the lockout to rest. Both guesstimates were correct, as both the NHL’s youth and those who discovered the fountain of youth dominated the NHL’s first weekend.

Teemu Selanne, RW, ANA
With two goals and two assists against a suddenly sieve-like Canucks defense, the league’s oldest player (42) was also one of its strongest on Saturday. His career assumed to be on the decline at the time of the NHL’s season-long lockout, the well-liked Selanne has scored at least 25 goals every season since then except for 2007-08, when he spent most of the season contemplating retirement (imagine that now). A player who clearly didn’t receive enough respect in fantasy drafts this season, Selanne shouldn’t be counted out until we actually witness a production decline.

Jaromir Jagr, RW, DAL
Although he and the Stars were shutout by Josh Harding and the Wild on Sunday, Jagr went wild with two goals and two assists in his Stars debut on Saturday against Phoenix. Like Selanne, Jagr probably fell farther than he should have in fantasy drafts this season. Playing on a line with fellow oldie Ray Whitney, Jagr should see significant power-play time with his latest team. Surprisingly, he is owned in only half of Yahoo leagues.

Alex Kovalev, RW, FLA
After a one-year NHL hiatus, Kovalev has found his way to Miami. But he’s playing hockey for the Panthers and not playing shuffleboard at a retirement home. On the Panthers’ second line with super rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, Kovalev scored a goal and two assists in his Panthers’ debut. Given that Kovalev’s last NHL season was a disaster (34 points split between Ottawa and Pittsburgh in 2010-11), don’t view Kovalev’s Saturday performance to be a sign of things to come. But deeper leaguers could take a flier on him if he continues to catch lightning in a bottle with Huberdeau.

Jonathan Huberdeau, C, FLA
Speaking of Huberdeau, the third overall pick from last year’s draft looks NHL ready. Since he is playing for a Panthers team that lacks an offensive superstar, Huberdeau should receive regular minutes throughout the season. Playing on the aforementioned second line, Huberdeau mirrored linemate Kovalev’s production with a goal and two assists. I’ve made a point to draft him in more than one league, and I don’t think you’ll be sorry if you do the same. In fact, Huberdeau should be in the discussion in many keeper leagues too.

Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL
Tarasenko looks like he fits right in with the Blues, scoring a pair of goals in his debut on Saturday. He may have flown under the radar a little in fantasy drafts, given that he fell to the 16th overall pick in 2010, but most of that has to do with the risk involved in getting a Russian player out of the KHL. Tarasenko scored at point-per-game pace in the KHL and was a star in last season’s World Junior tournament (11 points in 7 games). He is still available in most fantasy leagues, but don’t expect that to last.

Ben Scrivens, G, TOR
Randy Carlyle has never been the most cooperative coach when it comes to fantasy leagues. So it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that he threw a curveball on Saturday in starting Scrivens in the Leafs’ opener over James Reimer. Scrivens made his coach look smart, making 21 saves in the Leafs’ 2-1 win over Montreal. As a result, he probably earned the start on Monday against Buffalo, but then again we’ll never know until game time with Carlyle. Given that the Leafs seem to be in no hurry to trade for Roberto Luongo, Scrivens seems like a decent short-term fix if you received the shaft when it comes to goaltending in your fantasy league.

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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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