Fire on Ice

01/09/2011 7:24 PM -  Evan Reynar

Drew Stafford, RW BUF (26GP-14g-8a-22pts, with a +1 and 22 PIMs)
Jason Pominville, RW BUF (32GP-8g-12a-20pts, with a (-8) and 101 shots)

You could hear a thunderous, collective “uh-oh” from Sabre nation a few weeks ago with the news that Derek Roy would miss the remainder of the season with a torn tendon in his leg. Thankfully for Sabres’ fans, Stafford has returned from injury. We mentioned Stafford a few weeks back but feel obligated to mention him again due to his wide availability. Not only is he the hottest commodity on the wire these days, his current goal-scoring pace is among the best in the league. He’s been slept on due to a 16-game IR stint, but while in the lineup, he’s done nothing but produce with 9 goals in 11 games since his return. Also picking up his play of late after a slow start, Pominville is getting back to the levels of production that are expected of him. He has 16 points (7g-9a) in his last 17 games. Pominville seems to fly under the radar every year while being a consistent 60+ point guy for four seasons now.

Nikolai Kulemin, LW, RW TOR (40GP-15g-14a-29pts, with a +1 and 8 pp points)
Kris Versteeg, RW TOR (39GP-12g-18a-30pts, with a (-10) and 13 pp points)

For such a poor team, Toronto always seems to be a goldmine for offensive help off the waiver wire. It looks like they’ve managed to assemble two legitimate scoring lines thanks to their one genuine offensive star—Phil Kessel—and one emerging star in Mikhail Grabovski. If you want to capitalize on their success, your best bets off the wire are Kulemin and Versteeg. The Grabovski line, with Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur have been blazing hot over the past month or so culminating in a career night in Atlanta on Friday where the trio posted two goals each in the first two periods, leading the team to a 9-3 road victory. Versteeg, on the other hand, has been quietly consistent since a terrible October, finding the bulk of his value on the powerplay since developing some fine chemistry with Kessel. Since posting just two points in his first nine games with the Leafs, Versteeg has managed a near point-per-game pace with 28 points (11g-17a) over the last 30 games.

Tuomo Ruutu, LW, RW CAR (40GP-10g-23a-33pts, with a (-2) and 28 PIMs)

The production levels of ‘Canes players usually seems to be completely dependent in the amount of ice-time they get with Eric Staal, but the recent emergence of rookie Jeff Skinner has given the Canes a legitimate two-headed monster. While Staal and Skinner may not be available to you, take a look at Ruutu who has been benefiting from playing with both. Ruutu is almost always a valuable fantasy commodity once he gets going; the question just always seems to be at what point of the season is that going to happen. With 13 points (3g-10a) over his last 8 games, he could be jumpstarting a career season.

Sergei Kostitsyn, LW, NSH (38GP-11g-12a-23pts, with a +3 and 5 pp points)

There aren’t many viable fantasy options with the Preds due to their focus on defensive play, but one guy has been flying way under the radar for over a month now. Sergei, the less heralded Kostitsyn brother, has been very quietly breaking out since being promoted to a top-6 forward in early December. After posting just 3 points in the first 19 games with a miserable (-7) rating, Sergei has gone on to produce 20 points (9g-11a) over the last 19 contests with a much improved +10 rating. He currently rides a 5-game goal scoring streak.

Andrew MacDonald, D, NYI (21GP-0g-11a-11pts, with a (-3) and 8 pp points)

I’m not even really sure who MacDonald is, but his strong play of late has coincided directly with the Islanders winning 8 of their last 11 games. The former 6th round pick has all 11 of his assists over the last 13 games. With James Wisniewski shipped off to Montreal, you can expect him to continue to see the bulk of the power-play time – at least until he stops producing.

Dan Hamhuis, D, VAN (33GP-3g-9a-12pts, with a +12 and 18 PIMs)

The Canucks are making a strong case to be considered the elite team in the West with balanced scoring and perhaps the most complete defensive core in the league. Hamhuis may not be the first guy you think of for point production on the backend, but if your league counts +/-, he may be one of the best options around right now. After a bit of an inconsistent start to his career in Vancouver, he appears to be settling in, posting a +11 rating over the last 9 games. Factor in his ability to chip in a point here and there and you got a legitimate d-man option off waivers.

Jose Theodore, G, MIN (16GP-8-5-2, with a 2.46 GAA and a .921 SV%)

If you’re struggling with goaltending starts, or you’re a Niklas Backstrom owner, you’re probably going to want to grab Theodore right now. Backstrom is out nursing a groin/hip injury and will undergo a MRI this week to determine the severity of it and how much time he will miss. Theodore has been more than adequate in relief of Backstrom this year and has won four in a row since becoming the interim starter, including three in a row on the road, in which he gave up just two goals.

Cory Schneider, G, MIN (12GP-8-0-2, with a 2.31 GAA and a .925 SV%)

While there’s no doubt that Roberto Luongo is the man in Vancouver, you may be surprised to know that Schneider has started five of the last nine games for the Canucks. He probably won’t keep up that pace all year, but the fact that he has yet to lose in regulation this year should mean some more starts are in his future. He’s definitely worth a look in your deeper leagues.

Do you have a question about your fantasy hockey team? Email Ian at ian@fantasyhockey.com, and he’ll add it to the Fantasy Mailbag. Or follow fantasyhockey.com on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates, general hockey discussion, and any fantasy hockey questions that you have. You can also become a fan on Facebook.


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