Cullen: Fantasy Puck Mail: Fish or Cut Bait?

Scott Cullen
11/13/2009 4:22:16 PM
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 It's been a busy week in the fantasy hockey inbox, so here's a shot at answering as many questions as possible in one Fantasy Mailbag.

We've reached the time in the fantasy season, where owners are seriously questioning some of their draft day selections.  Is it time to fish or cut bait?

Scott, What is the deal with Olli Jokinen? I have been waiting for him to improve but I am losing hope? How long should I wait or is it time to dump him and pick up someone else? The other players I am thinking of picking up are David Clarkson, Rich Peverley, Ryan Kesler, or Danny Briere.  Should I keep him or pick up someone else? - Mike, Huge Leaf Fan in Minnesota!!

Mike, It's entirely fair if your patience is wearing thin on Olli Jokinen, but I'd be inclined to give Jokinen a touch longer before cutting bait.  He has four points in the last six games, which isn't great, but considering that the Flames have only 12 goals in those six games, he's at least doing something.  Clarkson has great value, particularly if you need help on the wing or PIMs and it's probably time to believe in Rich Peverley, but I don't expect Ryan Kesler to score at his current pace and Daniel Briere worries me as an injury risk. - SC

Howdy Scott, In the past few weeks I've fallen from 2nd to 12th of a 12 team league due to injuries to Marc Savard, Sergei Gonchar, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Roberto Luongo. Right now my centres are the only thing producing on my team. I drafted Kopitar to go along with Savard and he's been a nice surprise to say the least. With waiver pickups I've managed to add Brad Richards and Rich Peverley to round out the position.

I realize that when Savard comes back I'll have to trade a centre to make room and I'm a little stumped on what to do there. Currently my weakest position is right wing. I'm a little torn between trying to move Peverley, or banking on the continued success of the three breakout performers I have and trading Savard. Which do you think I should trade and what level of right winger do you think I could reasonably get in return?  Thanks for any advice you can offer. - Dan Pierce in Toronto

Dan, If you're going to move someone, it's either Brad Richards or Marc Savard and that will depend on what you can get in return for them.  If people in your league are undervaluing Savard because he's been hurt this season, then keep him and deal Richards, who has never been this productive (20 points in 16 games) for an entire season.  If you're looking for a right winger for Richards, try Alexander Semin, Daniel Alfredsson or Patrick Kane. - SC

Scott, Trying to decide who to pick up off the waiver wire?  Among the players I am leaning towards considering are:
Dustin Byfuglien
Jamie Benn
Tim Connolly
Jarkko Ruutu
David Perron
Our categories include G, A, PIMS, SOG, +/-, SHP, PPP

Island Bob, I only have moderate hopes for Byfuglien and Benn may already be slowing down, so I would look in the direction of Tim Connolly -- for as long as he stays healthy -- or David Perron, who is really talented and seems to be on track now.  Ruutu is helpful for the PIMs, particularly if you're dropping Avery, but Ruutu scored a career-high 21 points last year, so it's unlikely he'll even keep his current 40-point pace.  Avery has been a non-factor (no points in the last seven games), so it's okay to drop him but know, at some point, he'll have a stretch where he's both productive and racks up PIMs. - SC

Hi Scott, I have Bryan Little. He's got 8 points but not really lighting up the score sheet recently and I'm losing my patience with him.  I'm in a points-only league with 6 transactions for the year. I've used up three already. The four I've come down to are Justin Williams, Ryan Clowe, Ales Kotalik, and James van Riemsdyk. Williams is constantly hurt but on the first line, Clowe started off very slow but I've noticed him get points in a couple games in a row now, Kotalik hasn't put up huge numbers in the past, JVR I have no clue as it's his rookie year.  Opinions? Or should I wait it out for a bit longer on Little?  One more question, would you drop Letang for either White/Myers? Again, points-only league.  Thanks, Jason

Jason, Little really had value when he played with Ilya Kovalchuk last season, so it's not altogether promising for him this year, since he's not currently skating with Kovalchuk.  Given the limited transactions available in your league, you may want to wait a little longer, but Ryane Clowe looks like the best bet of the guys availabl, if only because it's hard to trust Williams to stay healthy.  As for the blueline question, neither White nor Myers appears to be enough of an upgrade on Letang to make it worth using one of those precious transactions. - SC 

Scott, Blake Wheeler has been very disappointing for me thus far.  I take part in a 13-team league.  Players such as David Perron, Jakub Voracek, and Dustin Byfuglien are all available and could serve to be valuable assets on any team in this league.  Is it worth dropping Wheeler for a player of this caliber or would you say that he should be expected to pick up his statistical pace? Thanks in advance, Lucas

Lucas, I see both Voracek and Perron as slight upgrades on Wheeler, though I could see totally Wheeler coming around once the Bruins get their centre situation resolved (ie. Marc Savard gets healthy and David Krejci gets up to full speed).  In the meantime, though, there are probably some better options available. - SC  

Scott, Being stuck down here in the U.S, I love the fantasy segments on! Quick question for you: I have been offered Shea Weber (currently on the IR) and Nicklas Backstrom (G) for Ray Emery. I currently have Roberto Luongo as my other goalie and Lidstrom, Bouwmeester, and Erik Johnson as my only three dmen which I obviously need to add one more and Weber had a breakout year last year. Emery is hot and Backstrom has started slow but always has great numbers. Do I pull the trigger or wait for a better deal? - James P. Healey, Lynn, MA

James, I recommended buying low on Backstrom in today's Fantasy Hockey Report and getting a stud defenceman like Weber as part of the package makes it good value.  Emery is playing great -- no doubt about it -- but I wouldn't be ready to project him hanging those numbers (2.18 GAA, .924 SVPCT) all season, so if Backstrom closes the gap, which he should, then Weber swings the balance in your favour. - SC

Hey Scott, I'm in a first year, points only, keeper league and am thinking about trading Martin Brodeur, Henrik Zetterberg, Drew Stafford, and Petteri Nokelainen for Semyon Varlamov, Vincent Lecavalier, Brooks Laich, and Ryan Clowe. Goalies are given 2 points for a win and 2 points for a shutout. What's your feeling on Laich and Clowe's potential, and do you figure Varlamov will gain the starting job sometime in the season and becoming Washington's starter next year? Would you make the deal? Thanks, Daniel, Vancouver

Daniel, First off, I can only imagine this is the deepest league in all of fantasy hockey if Petteri Nokelainen is included, so that's great!  You would be upgrading significantly on your wings with Laich and Clowe, both of whom have about 60-point potential this season (with Laich coming back to earth a bit and Clowe picking up now that Pavelski is healthy), whereas Stafford is probably closer to a 50-point scorer and Nokelainen is insignificant.  Lecavalier and Zetterberg are pretty much a wash, as in it would be fair to move them in a one-for-one deal.  That leaves the Brodeur for Varlamov portion of the swap and, obviously, the Brodeur side counts a lot more.  Varlamov may win the starting job later this season, but it's entirely possible that he doesn't land it until next season, after Jose Theodore's contract expires.  If that's the case, it's a huge gamble to give up the sure thing of Brodeur in this deal, so I'd call the offer tempting, but would pass unless there was a better indication that Varlamov would secure the starting job. - SC

Hi Scott, Fantasy Hockey Question for you: In a 12-team league, my 19-man roster is currently riddled with injuries: Alexander Ovechkin, J.P. Dumont, Ray Whitney, Rick DiPietro, Sergei Gonchar, Rob Blake. Should I panic and do my best to repair the damage or wait it out and hope that when they get back, I squeeze into the H2H playoffs (4 spots)? I have already dropped Johan  Franzen, who was my #1 RW at the start of the season, with these injuries piling up. Thanks, Albert

Albert, Since Dumont and Whitney were only short-term injuries, you can probably make do for the time being.  If you are desperate, unload Rob Blake, as he wasn't getting prime power play time even before getting hurt. - SC

Hey Scott, I just got Joe Pavelski back from the IR and need to drop either Nik Antropov or Jordan Staal.  Who do you think has the more potential as the season continues? - Matt Jonas

Matt, It's a no-brainer to drop Jordan Staal.  Sure, Antropov hasn't scored a goal yet, but he's still at a point-per-game and is playing with Ilya Kovalchuk in Atlanta.  Staal hasn't been able to capitalize offensively while Evgeni Malkin was hurt and will return to his more customary third-line role now that Malkin is set to return. - SC

Hey Scott, I had Olli Jokinen as a keeper from last year in my Yahoo Rotisserie League, and I know he eventually will get it going with Jarome Iginla, but I'm wary of holding out too long. I've been offered Alexander Frolov for him straight up. I'm deep at centre with Tomas Plekanec, Jonathan Toews and Sam Gagner and light temporarily at left wing with Alexander Ovchekin hurt. Do I do this?  Thanks - Colm

Colm, Generally, I'd definitely take Frolov in exchange for Jokinen because he offers more production at a thinner position, though once you get Ovechkin back, you may not have the same kind of need on left wing.  Even if it knocks out your balance somewhat, I like Frolov as better value, so make the deal with the knowledge that you have more at your disposal to swap in another deal later. - SC

Should I completely lose faith in Brad Boyes and Michael Ryder? I just look at these guys in my league and I feel as if I am completely wasting my time! Any suggestions? - Dom

Dom, I'd be more apt to hold onto Boyes a while longer and find a replacement for Ryder.  Ryder's been dumped in a lot of leagues (3 goals in 18 games will do that to a guy).  If you're on the waiver wire specifically looking for a right winger, David Clarkson, Niclas Bergfors and Justin Williams are all owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues. - SC

Scott, What's going on with Thomas Vanek? Is he playing injured. I have Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Getzlaf, Avery (pims), Wheeler, Vanek and they are all dogging it! i'm in a keepers league, should I start offloading these guys? - Johnny Gohard

Johnny, Vanek missed a couple of games early in the season with an injury, but has just five points in nine games since returning, but he's still getting shots on goal (2.77 this year, compared to 2.89 last year), so I think he's still probably a decent buy-low candidate right now.  The goals aren't coming for Lecavalier, but he still has 14 points in 16 games.  Give him another month before you give up on him.  Getzlaf is coming off hernia surgery, so while he's only got one goal, he's still a point-per-game right now.  Avery has been on very good behaviour (17 PIMs in 14 games), which doesn't do much for fantasy owners, but he has always seemed to be a guy who can just blow a gasket and pick up 40 penalty minutes in a couple of games.  Wheeler may be worth replacing if there is some quality on your waiver wire. - SC

Dear Scott, I am in a yahoo hockey league fantasy draft. I am stacked at the center position, with Evgeni Malkin, Mike Richards, Marc Savard, and Steven Stamkos.  However I am weak at the left and right wings.  If I had to move a center to boost up my wings, who would I trade and for who? Thanks, Domenico

Domenico, Definitely investigate what you could get for Marc Savard or Mike Richards but, in either case, you would need to get an elite winger in return.  Consider Daniel Sedin (if he returns shortly), Rick Nash, Mike Cammalleri or, if you're feeling persuasive, Jarome Iginla. - SC

Hi Scott, Injuries have forced me to rely on other sources of points such as Jarret Stoll, James Neal, Matt Moulson, Nik Antropov and Mikael Samuelsson. They've all been doing well enough, but I'm looking at James van Riemsdyk and R.J. Umberger. So should I pick them up? Are they going to produce more for me? If so, who should I drop? Or should I just leave those players where they are?  Thank you so much for your time and insight, Matthieu Poirier

Matthieu, At least as long as Simon Gagne is out, James van Riemsdyk is an intriguing addition -- he ranks third on the Flyers in shots on goal despite playing only 13 minutes a game.  Give him a shot ahead of an early overachiever like Mikael Samuelsson. - SC

Scott, I'm in a head to head style 12 team Yahoo! fantasy league. I wanted your opinion on a couple of trades, one that I have completed and another that I am contemplating. I've done this trade: Eric Staal going my way for Dustin Penner. I also have the opportunity to take advantage of a guy with a very grim IR situation. He has Daniel Sedin, Marian Hossa, Andrei Markov and Johan Franzen all on the shelf. He also has the underachieveing Bobby Ryan. I would like to deal for at least 2 of Hossa, Ryan and Sedin.  I have the currently blazing hot James Van Riemsdyk and Tomas Kaberle. While I love the situation Kaberle is in, being able to play his game to maximum effectiveness for the first time in a long time, and now having Phil Kessel coming back, we can hardly expect him to hit the 100 points he's on pace for. Van Riemsdyk is in a similar position, taking advantage of more ice time and a better chance to play, but once Gagne comes back, he'll be back down to the 2nd or 3rd line. I expect Ryan will turn his season around at some point, and Sedin to be good for an 80 point pace. Hossa.. who knows.
I am dead set on getting Daniel Sedin, so I was thinking if I flipped Kaberle and Van Riemsdyk for Sedin and Ryan/Hossa, do you think it would be a good deal for me?
Oh, and there's one more trade I have in the works, all I need is an approval of the other GM: going my way is Ryan Miller and Phil Kessel for Chris Mason and Daniel Alfredsson. - Jaroslaw Lajkosz

Jaroslaw, the Staal for Penner trade could pay off eventually, but it requires a leap of faith that Staal is going to come back from injury and start producing like he was expected to this season, while Penner has to slow down (which isn't such a reach to project).  Offering Kaberle and van Riemsdyk for Sedin and Ryan or Hossa is likely a tad optimistic, but the premise of dealing Kaberle and van Riemsdyk while their value is high is absolutely sound.  The final deal looks fairly even, if you consider Miller and Alfredsson near the top of their respective positions and Kessel and Mason to be good, not great, producers.  The advantage would go to your side, however, since goaltending tends to be so important and Miller is so securely entrenched as a starter. - SC 

Hi Scott, Just curious on your assessment of the fantasy value of Justin Williams this year. Getting a point per game now, but I'm hesitant to trade for fear of a recurring injury. Cheers, Brian

Brian, When a guy misses 83 games over a couple of seasons, as Williams did, it's hard to have faith that he'll suddenly stay healthy -- and he didn't do himself any favours in building that confidence by missing five games early this season.  Nevertheless, if you're in a league that has IR spots, there's no reason not to ride Williams as long as he continues to ride Anze Kopitar's coattails. - SC

Scott Cullen can be reached at



The player I am dropping is Sean Avery. Would you agree that this move would make sense?  Also, do you think Simon Gagne will play a worthwhile amount of games this year, and keep him on the IR, or will his injury plagued career continue?  I only have two IR spots, and I have Gagne, Savard, and Gonchar hurt. Thanks, Island Bob

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