With the holiday season wrapping up, it’s time for fantasy hockey owners to step on the gas and help lead their team into the new year on a winning note. Fantasy owners have a feel for their team’s weaknesses and strengths at this point of the season, which allows you to focus on areas that need improvement. During last week’s Crashing the Net, Alexander Monaghan hit on Anthony Stewart, Marco Sturm, and Peter Regin.
Dwayne Roloson – G, Tampa Bay Lightning
The recently acquired veteran netminder assumes the number one role in Tampa upon his arrival. Mike Smith and Dan Ellis simply weren’t getting the job done for the Bolts thus far. Roloson, 41, currently sits with a .916 SV% and a 2.64 GAA this season over 20 games. His biggest problem has been offensive support, as he played with the Isles prior to his arrival in Tampa. Roloson will have plenty of scoring in front of him, as the Bolts currently score just over three goals per game, ranking them seventh among all teams in the NHL. Despite appearing in 20 games this season, Roloson has faced over 40 shots against over his last five starts and is 4-1 during that time period. While Roli was busy in Long Island, Tampa Bay has allowed the fewest shots against per game this year among all NHL teams with 27.5 per game. He makes a fine addition for owners struggling in the goalies category.
Jiri Hudler – RW/C, Detroit Red Wings
After slumping for the first two to three months of the season, Hudler has found himself in favorable matchups with the recent injuries in Detroit. Not only has Hudler seen a huge jump in ice time over the past week, but he’s also seen an increase of power play ice time on the second unit. Over his past four games, he’s collected two goals and two assists. If it’s one thing we’ve learned about the Red Wings, it’s that they can provide any player with the opportunity to score goals. At worst, Hudler can fill in for an injured Red Wing you currently have on injured reserved.
Vladimir Sobotka – C, St. Louis Blues
We’ve talked about Alex Steen in previous Crashing the Net articles, but you can add Sobotka’s name to the list. With eight points over his last ten games, he’s become a fixture among the top line for the Blues due to injuries. While not known for scoring goals, his helpers will definitely help your team. He ended the month of December with four goals and nine points and over an average of 18 minutes of ice time. He’s still finding his way on the power play, but should continue to find success during the month of January.
Jordan Staal – C, Pittsburgh Penguins
Staal, who was set to return last month from a foot injury, finally made his season debut at the Winter Classic. Staal recovered fully from foot surgery, but was sidelined due to an injury which occurred during practice. If for some reason, he’s out on your waiver wire, be sure to pick him up. Staal is one of the best two-way forwards in the league and will be centering a line between Matt Cooke and Evgeni Malkin going forward. Staal, who has scored 20-plus goals the past two seasons, will obviously not post numbers like past seasons, but will still tally double digit goal numbers and end up with around 20-25 points.
James Wisniewski – D, Montreal Canadiens
Wisniewski, like Roloson, is another player who fantasy owners are cheering over, as he moves from the Islanders to a team that can offer more production. Wisniewski currently ranks 11th among all defenseman in the NHL with 26 points. With just five goals, James is doing his point collecting on the assist sheet. However, over his first three games with the Habs, he’s collected two goals (three goals with the Isles over 32 games). He’s paired with Roman Hamrlik and currently sits on the first power play unit. What more could you ask for?
Others to Monitor
Michael Leighton – G, Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers had a full house in the goaltending department and it was a matter of time before the team decided to move one of their three netminders. Sergei Bobrovsky was a Cinderella story until recently and Brian Boucher has been holding his own with his 2.33 GAA, so Leighton was the odd man out. Leighton was activated from injured reserve on December 14th, but made just one start during the month of December and was placed on waivers. Leighton is now available to any NHL team for the rest of the season at a discounted salary (about half of his contract for the year). It’s anyone’s guess if a team takes a stab at Leighton, so be sure to stay tuned.
Mathieu Perreault – C/RW, Washington Capitals
The 22-year old finished the month of December on fire, collecting five goals over nine games in just over 12 minutes of ice time. Maybe it’s my love for Washington or the holiday eggnog hangover, but Perreault has looked good during his second tour with the Caps this season. While seeing just 10:38 of ice time per game this season over 13 games, he has a 1:30 of ice time per game while on the power play. More importantly, he’s seeing his power play time while playing next to Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green. Now that the Caps seem to be out of their mid-season funk, Perreault could find more points and a nice plus/minus rating.