Monday, February 25, 2008

Fantasy Hockey: Hot and Not

The NHL's Trade Deadline is tomorrow and the deadline in your own league is likely coming up pretty fast. Fantasy Hockey, much like life itself, is mostly based on timing. Getting the right players at the right time can win you that elusive championship you seek.

Here are some players you should try to obtain and ones you should jettison.

Who's Hot:

Mike Ribiero-C-Dallas Stars: Ribs had his worst month this season (besides November) in January, when posted only 13 points in 14 games. "Still a point a game", you say, but 5 of those games were of the "0-fer" variety. He's rebounded somewhat in February. He's still suffering too many games where he records nothing, but at least lately he's been making up for it with multi-point performances (5 this month so far)

Teemu Selanne-RW-Anaheim Ducks: The Finnish Flash returned and picked up where he last left off. Shaking off a considerable amount of rust in impressive fashion, he has failed to record a point in only 3 of the ten games he's played this year. Last night's five point bonanza (3g, 2a) lends some serious credibility to the notion that Selanne will continue to be a force to be reckoned with the rest of the Fantasy season.

Who's Not:

Daniel Briere-C-Philadelphia Flyers: Honestly, I could've titled this entry "Any Flyer you care to name" as the entire team has gone sub-zero during this horrid ten game losing streak. However, most of the team does not carry Danny's contract or the weight of his expectations (both of which appear to be crushing him right now.) He was signed to be a "more than a point-a-game" player, but he's currently delivering roughly half of that. What's worse, he starting to hear the boos from the Flyer faithful (perhaps they're a tad peeved with his repulsive -23 plus minus rating?) See if you can sell another owner on his Power Play prowess and potential, but divest yourself quickly.

Georges Laraque-RW-Pittsburgh Penguins: Let's face're not looking for pretty, end-to-end rushes from Big Georges. His point scoring is merely a bonus. No, you have Laraque on your team for one reason only: To get you some badly needed penalty minutes. His recent drought is likely causing you to look elsewhere (as well it should) to fill this need. Maybe it's not all his fault as there aren't many players left willing to take on this intimidating Warrior. But that's really not your problem....unless you own him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

To Buy or To Sell...that is the question

As recently as two weeks ago, the New York Islanders chances of making the playoffs seemed dead in the water. The team was fighting injuries and was playing it's most uninspired hockey of the season. Fans began to glumly accept that a shot at the Cup was not to be and started debates over which players should be moved at the upcoming trade deadline.

Then things got interesting.

The Islanders are now in the midst of a four game winning streak and are once again in the thick of the hunt for one of the coveted 8 spots. They dismantled an underwhelming Atlanta team in convincing fashion on Saturday and today defeated one of the league best squads, the San Jose Sharks. Fans began singing the praises of players such as Mike Comrie and Ruslan Fedotenko when, only days earlier, they were ready to send each of them to any other NHL destination for a bag of pucks and a couple of rolls of tape.

So, which team is for real? The underachieving Islanders who need to be rebuilt or the hungry group who needs a few key parts to win it all?

As a long time fan, I am not fooled. This team, winning streak notwithstanding, is fundamentally unsound and cannot compete in the long haul. This has become the trend in recent years: Strong start, middle of the season swoon, rebounding effort at the end just to make the postseason, then first round exit. It is not a formula for success and needs to be revamped.

I believe that GM Garth Snow has a rebuilding plan in mind and is determined not to repeat the mistakes he made during the Ryan Smyth fiasco. I think he signed players like Comrie to 1 year contracts in order to either sell high on them at the trade deadline or to simply use them as a stopgap measure until players from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were ready to assume regular roles with the big club.

Stay the course, Garth. Do not be tempted by the silver lure gleaming off Lord Stanley's chalice. The Isles do not have a chance to win this year, but if they continue the rebuilding program they are on, they may have a chance to compete for many years to come.