Fantasy Puck: Taking A Turn on the Top Line Talent Blog
12/1/2008 4:47:06 PM
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Some new guys are getting a shot on their respective top lines and more mail, including a look at the top AHL prospects.

- Back from injury, Dan Cleary has lined with up with Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa on Detroit's No. 1 line.

- With Nathan Horton sidelined, the Panthers moved rookie Michael Frolik onto the top line with Stephen Weiss and David Booth.

- Drew Stafford has moved onto Buffalo's number one line with Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy.  Meanwhile, Paul Gaustad has added some grit to a line with Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville.

- Against Los Angeles on Friday, the Blackhawks swapped Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp's spots so that Toews was between Martin Havlat and Troy Brouwer while Sharp skated between Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane.

- Steven Stamkos now has Vaclav Prospal and Radim Vrbata on his wings, which is good news for Ryan Malone, who joins Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.

- While Olli Jokinen is out, Peter Mueller is back with Shane Doan and Steve Reinprecht.

- With all the injuries in Washington, Eric Fehr has joined Tomas Fleischmann and Michael Nylander on the second line.

- The Canadiens re-united Alex Kovalev and Robert Lang (a throwback to their Penguins days) against the Sabres on Saturday night, while Matt D'Agostini skated on the wing with Saku Koivu and Chris Higgins.

- Thrashers C Eric Perrin skated with Jason Williams and Ilya Kovalchuk on the weekend.

- Joe Sakic's back keeps giving him problems, so Tyler Arnason moved into his spot with Wojtek Wolski and Marek Svatos on the weekend.

- Desperate times in Dallas as Mike Modano has moved onto a line with Brad Richards and Loui ErikssonJames Neal is skating alongside Mike Ribeiro and Sean Avery, leaving Mark Parrish with Chris Conner and Toby Petersen.  Notably missing from the top three lines against Edmonton?  Fabian Brunnstrom.

Mail time...

Hey Scott, What in the world is going on with Pierre Marc-Bouchard?!?!?  This guy had only been getting better and better in the past 3 seasons and now he is an absolute dog...I know he's missing Brian Rolston in Minny and he did have an injury earlier in the year but he's driving me crazy!  With his "potential" upside and eligibility on both wings in fantasy pools, is he worth the headache and pain of keeping till he finds his groove?  - Thanks, Frustrated PMB owner

Frustrated, Bouchard is a risky play for a couple of reasons.  1. Bouchard doesn't score goals, which means he needs a finisher to make his passes count; and 2. He doesn't get penalty minutes (zero in 19 games this year), so if he doesn't put up points, then he's not providing much.  Bouchard skated with Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette on the weekend, while Brent Burns remains up front with Eric Belanger (or Benoit Pouliot) and Stephane Veilleux and Owen Nolan lined up with James Sheppard and Antti Miettinen. If you have a deep league, keep PMB stashed on your bench, because he's getting a decent opportunity but in shallow leagues, you can probably find someone better to replace him. - SC

Scott, I'm in a 20-team, 40-man roster league.  We get to keep 35 players every year and each year we have a five-round draft.  Which players in the AHL do you see being in the NHL sometime this year?  Will Ottawa call up Elliott at some point this year? - James

James, Here are 20 guys in the AHL right now that may have a shot at the NHL at some point either later this season or have value into the future (their opportunities this year may be determined by team needs, injuries, contracts etc.):
Nikita Filatov, RW, Blue Jackets
Ville Leino, LW, Red Wings
Teddy Purcell, RW, Kings
Claude Giroux, RW, Flyers
Nathan Gerbe, C, Sabres
Antti Niemi, G, Blackhawks
Cody Fransson, D, Predators
Tuukka Rask, G, Bruins
Matt Halischuk, RW, Devils
Tim Kennedy, LW, Sabres
Artem Anisimov, C, Rangers
Jack Skille, RW, Blackhawks
Blake Comeau, RW, Islanders
Gilbert Brule, C, Oilers
Darren Helm, RW, Red Wings
Kyle Chipchura, C, Canadiens
Bobby Sanguinetti, D, Rangers
Chris Butler, D, Sabres
Nicklas Bergfors, RW, Devils
Jonathan Bernier, G, Kings

Elliott may have a shot with the Senators at some point in the future, but how much Elliott plays this year will depend a lot on whether the Senators can unload (or waive) Gerber.  If the Sens fall out of contention, that would also make it more likely that Elliott would get an extended look at the NHL level. - SC

Hey Scott, I'm in a 9-team points-only pool with standard points for everything (except that we don't have penalty minutes), and pretty much every person on my team is underachieving and I'm looking to make a big trade to get back into the game. I've been offered Zdeno Chara and Alex Auld for Marc-Andre Fleury and under normal circumstances I wouldn't accept the trade, but considering the fact that Fleury is injured plus how far behind I am from the leader, I've been considering it. My defence is Rafalski, Kronwall, Kuba and Jovanovski, so I could really use the scoring that Chara brings. My goalies are Fleury, Biron and Thomas and there are a few decent goalies left to pick up. Should I make this trade? - Adam

Adam, Even if Fleury misses a couple more weeks, I don't think Chara is enough to get in return, particularly in a league that doesn't count penalty minutes, unless there are really quality goaltenders available on your waiver wire because, when healthy, Fleury's value is awfully high since he gets the majority of the starts for one of the top teams in the league. - SC

Scott, In a keeper fantasy league, if you are holding the number one pick overall, what should you do? Keep it and draft Hedman or Tavares? or trade it? What kind of a return do you think should one expect? - Thank you, Sam

Sam, If the expectation in your keeper league is that one of those two rookies is going to go first overall, I'd be inclined to deal it if you could get a significant return.  I'm anticipating Hedman going first overall, and while he'll help whichever team he goes to, it's not easy for an 18-year-old to turn around a last-place (or close to last-place) team.  Tavares figures to be a scorer in the NHL, but it's hard to say how high his ceiling will be.  It doesn't bode well that people still question his skating and that his production has tailed off since his phenomenal 2006-2007 season. - SC

Scott, What do you think of Marc Savard?  Do you think he will not be able to keep him up, or should I trade some one like Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg?  Also what do you think of Derick Brassard for Patrik Elias and Shea Weber with Anze Kopitar for Alexander Ovechkin or Evgeni Malkin or Alexander Semin? - Daniel

Daniel, Savard will put up points, no matter who is on his wing, all season.  If he can do it with Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic, who were totally unproven, then there's little reason to think Savard won't be a 90-point guy.  However, if you can get Datyuk or Zetterberg for him, they are definitely safer picks with better plus potential.  Elias is starting to play well and, since I like him as a usually strong second-half performer, he's a decent return for Brassard, but only if you require a safer more proven option.  Pairing Weber with Kopitar might get you any of those guys (surely for the currently-injured Semin), but that will depend a lot on positional needs. - SC

Hey Scott, I was just wondering which new starting goalie (Scott Clemmensen, Curtis Sanford, Erik Ersberg, Dany Sabourin) has the most fantasy value right now?  Also, looking at the goalie situation in St. Louis (Legace and Mason) and Columbus (LeClaire and Mason), do you think a starting goalie will emerge within either of those clubs? Thanks for all your help. - Matt from Newfoundland

Matt, I'd say that Ersberg has the most long-term value of the first four your mentioned, because he's set to be the Kings' starter for the forseeable future.  Clemmensen is -- shockingly -- next most valuable, at least until he stops winning and he's replacing a guy who is out for a long time.  Sabourin is valuable for as long as Fleury is out, but Fleury's prognosis has been more secretive, so I don't quite know how long Sabourin is going to hold his value.  Sanford is going to face competition from Cory Schneider and we still don't know how long Luongo is out.  If it's another couple of weeks, and Sanford is splitting starts, then that's not much help.  As for the Masons, I think Chris will challenge Legace and, if he keeps playing better, can take over the starting job soon.  in Columbus, Steve Mason should be the Jackets' starter now.  Perhaps for political reasons Leclaire is the number one, but Mason has outplayed him and Ken Hitchcock sure seems impressed enough to go with the rookie as much as possible.  However, as long as Leclaire is in Columbus, it's hard to peg Mason as a clearcut number one. - SC

Hi Scott! It seems the recently performances of the Lightning make Vincent Lecavalier's owners test their patience. In my league, I got an offer in which I got Lecavalier and Brad Richards for Joe Thornton and Alex Kovalev. Do you think I should pull the trigger to get Lecavalier or ask for more as Thornton's value is pretty high thanks to San Jose's performance? - Huy

Huy, I'd say you're overpaying (by just a little) if you're giving up Thornton and Kovalev.  Since Thornton hasn't had a great start either, he's just as likely to have a big finish to the season. - SC

Hey Scott, I desperately need some help on defence and was wondering when do you think Ryan Whitney & Sergei Gonchar will be back playing. I wanted to pick them up before they make headlines as to when they should be back. Thanks for your help! - Stephen

Stephen, Ryan Whitney is practicing with the Penguins now and, while he's considered "day-to-day", it doesn't take much for that to change.  Grab him now if he's still available.  Gonchar's injury was supposed to require a six-month recovery time, so if he's on track with that estimate, that would peg his return as late March, too late to have much impact in the regular season. - SC

Hi Scott. I have Comrie in my pool & I'm wondering what's up with him?  I know he has a sore hip but is he in the doghouse as well. Cheers, Graham

Graham, Comrie came back too soon from hip surgery, so he's had to take some time off to recover more fully.  Even when he is healthy, it's tough to find a great line combination for him on the Islanders, so his value is going to be mediocre.  Maybe it will get better with a trade later in the season. - SC

Hi Scott, I have Semin in a points league and - obviously - he's on IR right now. I'm deathly afraid that once he's back he'll be a complete dud, or at least on par with his marginal scoring of last year. I'm pretty sure I could turn him into someone like Getzlaf or a top level goalie now - but what if he comes back and continues to shoot the lights out? Any thoughts? - Gary

Gary, If you could get Getzlaf for Semin, I'd take it in a heartbeat.  Semin's propensity for getting injured is starting to scare me. - SC

Scott Cullen can be reached at

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