Fantasy Hockey

Fantasy Hockey Weekly Trend Setting

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A month of the 2013-14 NHL season is in the books. The leaderboard looks about how one would expect. There are however, a few notable exceptions looking to make lasting impressions. Alex Steen, Kyle Okposo, and Frans Nielson, are all early season surprises. Can they keep it up? Plus we look at pick-ups and injuries in this week’s Trend Setting.

Forward Trends
Injuries
Steve Downie (F – PHI) 1G, 6A – Downie started the season hot out of the gate with Colorado, adding 36 PIMs and 26 SOG to 7 points. Looking for more speed, Colorado moved Downie to Philly, where Downie was tapped to take on a top-3 role. Things were looking good until Downie suffered a severe concussion during a fight with Washington Capitals tough-guy Aaron Volpatti. The good news is Downie is out of the hospital; the bad news is there’s never any clear timetable for recovery with concussions. Pull him out of your starting line-up for now; and follow-up on this situation during the week. If it looks like he’s going to be out long-term you might need to part ways with him.

Jeff Carter (F – LKA) 5G, 4A – Carter was another forward that was off to a great start. On Friday the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman reported that Carter was going to be placed on I/R with a lower body injury. Later, NHL.com repoted that Carter was seen wearing a walking boot at Friday’s practice. Today, the L.A. Kings Insider quoted Coach Sutter as saying it was a “nagging” thing, and that it was “Better to take care of it now”. Both encouraging signs for Carter owners. Don’t expect this sniper to be out of the line up long.


Trends
Alex Steen (F – STL) 12G, 6A – Steen is on pace of an 82 goal season. This former first round has always had scoring touch, but largely failed to live upto expectations. Steen has never scored more than 24 goals, and has scored more than 20 goals only twice – at 29 year of age, I feel like this is a breakout year for Steen. His fast start, and St. Louis’ lights out play should see the slick left winger hit the 40-goal plateau. Surprisingly Steen is still available in 11% of Yahoo! leagues so if you can get him make sure you do.

Kyle Okposo (F – NYI) 4G, 13A – Okposo is another first rounder who been on the tipping point of breaking out for the last few seasons. Injuries have hampered all those campaigns. Kyle has the raw talent, experience and surrounding talent to have a strong season, the question is can he stay healthy. If he can, he’ll post top-20 forward numbers alongside John Tavares and Tomas Vanek. Owned in only 68% of Yahoo! leagues there is no reason he should be on your waiver wire.

Fran Nielson (F – NYI) 8G, 8A – Nielson is the red herring of the group. While I do this he’s a very talented young forward, I don’t think he’s going to be able to keep up his over point-per-game scoring pace. Nielson’s numbers should come back down to earth. I see him finishing the season with 50 – 55 points. Nielson is owned in 68% of Yahoo! leagues and may be a nice boost if you’re looking for forward depth.

Derek Stepan (F – NYR) 3G, 7A – Stepan will be leaned on for offensive production in New York. Rick Nash is still out with concussion symptoms. He’s currently anchoring the Ranger’s second line along side Mats Zuccarello, and Chris Kreider. Even better is that Stepan is centering New York’s top power play unit. Giving him plenty of offensive upside. Owned in only 71% of Yahoo! leagues, Stepan is a strong play, especially for Nash owners who are still looking for a replacement.

Honourable Mention – Brad Richards, Gabriel Landeskog, Alex Killorn, Todd Bertuzzi

Defensive Locks
Injuries
Justin Schultz (D – EDM) 1G, 7A – Schultz is out on a day-to-day basis with a groin injury. If you’re in a +/- league this is almost good news for you, as most of us needed an excuse to bench a guy we burned a high draft pick on. Otherwise, Schultz’s 8 points in 14 games are solid for an offensive-defenseman in most formats. The injury doesn’t sound to be severe so try to slot in a bench player and ride this one out. In weekly formats Schultz should be benched this week.

Locks
Ryan McDonagh (D – NYR) 1G, 2A (last week) – After a tough start on the road the Rangers are finally back at MSG. And home has been good to them. McDonagh is the number one option on the New York blueline. He plays on the top-pairing, and is the only d-man on the Rangers top power play unit. McDonagh also gets it done averaging 23 minutes of ice per game, and had two hits and four blocks last week. Owned in 58.8% of ESPN leagues and 25% of Yahoo! leagues. McDonagh will be a solid mid-tier defenseman at the end of the season.

Jake Muzzin (D – LAK) 0G, 3A (last week) – Buried behind Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov is yet another Kings defenseman that can generate offense from the blueline. Muzzin has a habit of scoring in streaks, but his steady play has earned him a spot next to Doughty on LA’s top pairing. He also get some exposure to the power play on LA’s second unit. If you’re looking to take a flyer on a d-man with upside in deeper leagues Muzzin can be a nice boost. Owned in 24% of Yahoo! leagues and 25.6% of ESPN leagues Muzzin should be available for most of you.

Honourable Mention – Brooks Orpik, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Jay Boumeester

Backend Support
Injuries
Craig Anderson (G – OTT) 4W, 4L, 1S/O – Anderson was taken off the ice on a stretcher during overtime in last nights game against Dallas after a collision with rookie forward Valeri Nichuskin. Anderson had a stiff neck after the hit, and is expected to be out at least a few games. Starting him this week is likely a bad idea. Anderson owners looking to bolster their goaltending group can make a play for Robin Lehner who will get the starting duties in Anderson’s absence. Ottawa only has 3 games this week, so I wouldn’t expect to see Anderson back between the pipes until next week.



Support
James Reimer (G – TOR) 4W, 3L, 1S/O – Reimer has been solid of late, even in the 4 – 0 loss to Vancouver. He, and counterpart Jonathan Bernier, seem to be thriving in Toronto’s two-goalie system. While Reimer will be splitting starts with Bernier, he will be doing it on a much improved Maple Leafs team that could be a dominant force in the East. If you own Bernier, or are looking to get away from a bad situation (a la Florida, Carolina or Winnepeg), Reimer is decent option. Owned in 90% of ESPN leagues, and 63% of Yahoo! leagues he is still widely available.

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About Shen Harji

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