A total of 13 games are on tap for Saturday, meaning that only four teams are not in action: Edmonton, Colorado, Calgary, and St. Louis. The Flames are the only team that do not play this weekend, so your weekend waiver-wire choices can be from any other team. Anaheim, Columbus, Los Angeles, Ottawa, and Toronto all play both Saturday and Sunday, giving you possible bonus production for players from those teams.
In this edition of the Pick Six, I’ll focus on some hot and cold players, but I will start with two upper-level goaltenders with big contracts currently struggling with playing in high-pressure markets (aka goalie graveyards).
Ilya Bryzgalov, G, PHI – bench
It wasn’t the five goals allowed against Montreal on Wednesday, nor the four goals allowed in relief against Winnipeg on Thursday that concerns fantasy owners. It was the interview afterward, where Bryzgalov revealed that he is “lost in the woods” and at the “low point of his career” with “zero confidence.” I guess when you’re used to playing in front of 5000 fans per game, you can take a night off and no one will notice. I think Bryz’s words are nothing more than words uttered out of frustration and that he will eventually make things work in the unforgiving sports climate that is Philly. But it’s clear that he’s not in a good place right now. It’s not clear whether he will start Saturday, but you might prefer to bench him until he rights the ship inside his mind.
Roberto Luongo, G, VAN – start
The plan for the Canucks is for Luongo to start on Saturday against Washington. That may not seem like a good spot to use him, but keep in mind that his lifetime numbers against the Caps are 2.25 GAA with a .929 SV%. We all know by now about Luongo’s usual struggles in October, and those of us who understand the power of numbers know that his stats won’t be this brutal all season. The Canucks are currently dealing with “Stanley Cup hangover,” which could be affecting other players on the team as much as Lu. As I’ve said before – don’t make any knee-jerk reaction moves – your patience will be rewarded.
Evgeni Nabokov, G, NYI – bench
So why couldn’t Nabby hang in just a little longer for the shootout on Thursday? I don’t know how Isles coach Jack Capuano can throw the rusty Rick DiPietro in for a shootout (although color me surprised that he didn’t tweak something!) It’s probably Nabby’s turn to jump off the Isles’ merry-go-round of goalies after his turn as the starter this week, so move him to your bench. The same applies for all Isles goalies regardless, but you probably knew that already.
Nik Antropov, C, WPG – start
Antropov was ignored en masse in fantasy drafts this season, yet it was two short years ago that he racked up 67 points with the Thrashers. Antropov may be most remembered as a Leafs prospect who didn’t quite turn out to be Mats Sundin, but his numbers seem to be good enough for many fantasy teams. Thanks to his three points from Thursday’s lacrosse match in Philly, Antropov has six points over his last three games. I just added him in one deep league, and I’m sure you can consider doing the same.
Sergei Gonchar, D, OTT – start
Call me crazy for recommending him as a start, but Gonchar is having an excellent week. To boot, he plays on both Saturday and Sunday. Gonchar has yet to score a goal this season, but he has racked up five assists over his last three games. The best part? He’s only a (-1) this season. Maybe he’s not quite as done as you think.
Kris Versteeg, LW, FLA – add/start
After winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago, the former Calder finalist has changed addresses several times, going from Toronto to Philadelphia before possibly finding a home in Florida. After being ignored in fantasy leagues because he’s moved around so often, Versteeg finds himself in the top 10 in NHL scoring with 11 points (5g-6a) in nine games. He has also had one four-game point streak this season and is currently on a three-gamer. Just don’t be surprised if the Panthers send him packing yet again at the deadline.