The Goods: Spezza Sidelined

12/29/2010 7:12 PM -  Ian Gooding

The Ottawa Senators are no longer a haven for fantasy hockey studs, like they were in the two seasons following the lockout. During those salad days, the Sens could deploy arguably the league’s top line in Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, and Jason Spezza, while Wade Redden and Ray Emery were an integral part of thousands of fantasy teams. How times have changed, as fans in Canada’s capital are trying everything they can to forget the names of Heatley, Redden, and Emery.

It’s fair to say that from both from a real-life and a fantasy perspective, the Spezza injury will mostly hurt the Senators. Spezza wasn’t exactly on his way to a career season (20 points in 32 games), but he is the only center on the Senators with true game-breaking ability. He had frustrated fantasy owners this season, but he was mostly a point-per-game player over the past five seasons despite numerous injuries that held him out of at least 14 games over three of the past five seasons.

So despite this doom and gloom, someone on the Sens’ roster has to receive an increase in icetime. According to TSN, that player might be Peter Regin, who has been moved to the Sens’ top line alongside Alex Kovalev and Milan Michalek. If you’re like me, you’re confused as to why this line is actually considered a top line. Regin was pegged as a sleeper in the Draft Guide, so we may just be right about him after all. Regin is one of those players that you can consider if you play in a very, very deep league. However, one goal in 35 games at the center position isn’t going to get it done in most fantasy hockey formats. According to the same TSN article, Jesse Winchester, Ryan Shannon, and Zack Smith could also see increases in icetime and power-play minutes. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Chris Kelly, who leads the Sens with 10 points in 12 games this month, which might make him the guy to pick up here.

The Spezza injury can’t help the fantasy values of two aging Senators: Alfredsson and Sergei Gonchar. With 22 points (11g-11a) in 37 games, Alfredsson is punishing fantasy owners (like me) who didn’t show up to their live drafts on time and autopicked a player whose fantasy value was too high given his career trajectory (declining point totals in three of his last four seasons, excluding this one). Meanwhile, the only good news to mention on Gonchar this season is that has delivered on the power play, as 13 of his 17 points have been with the man advantage. However, what stands out is that he has only 17 points to show this season, along with an Islander-like (-19) ranking.

The one shining light for the Sens has been the breakout of Erik Karlsson, who has usurped Gonchar as the Sens’ top-producing defenseman. Unless your team employs Bobby Orr, it’s not usually a good thing when a defenseman leads your team in scoring. However, that is the case for sophomore defenseman Karlsson, who has 23 points (8g-15a) in 35 games. He’ll probably be an integral part of a Sens’ rebuild, which now seems almost as imminent as a Calgary Flames rebuild.

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