By Bryce Crittenden
Welcome to this week’s edition of Crashing the Net. For this fifth week of the season we’re going to take a look at each position and some of the players you might want to add to your roster. We hope you will be able to utilize this article in order to gain a competitive advantage over your opponents throughout the season. Feel free to add omissions and critique our current choices in the comments section as we welcome an open discussion at DailyFaceoff.com.
Nathan Gerbe, Left Wing, Buffalo Sabres
If your like many others who have dropped small Sabres forward Tyler Ennis and are looking for a replacement, it might be time to give 5″5′ Nathan Gerbe a chance. Gerbe has at least a point in four of the Sabres last five games. The 24 year old had a career year with the Sabres last season by scoring 31 points in 64 games. So far this season he’s scored 8 points in 13 games and is on pace to have a career season. He’s currently fourth in Sabres scoring and is averaging just under 15 minutes of ice time per game in a second line role with the team. Gerbe should be available in most leagues as he’s currently owned in only 11% of both Yahoo! and ESPN leagues plus he has both LW & C eligibility.
Alexander Burmistrov, Center, Winnipeg Jets
One player avoiding the dreaded “sophomore slump” this year is Jets center Alexander Burmistrov. The eighth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft is having a breakout season with the Jets by scoring 10 points in the Jets first 13 games. As a rookie last season with the Atlanta Thrashers he finished the season with 20 points in a limited role with the team. So far this season under new bench boss Claude Noel, the 20 year-old has been averaging just over 20 minutes of ice time per game. With Nik Antropov being out with a hand injury, Burmistrov will continue to be a key part of the Jets offence. Burmistrov is currently owned in only 14% of all Yahoo! leagues so it’s recommended that you pick him up while you can.
David Clarkson, Right Wing, New Jersey Devils
Ilya Kovalchuk owners looking to pick up a replacement while he’s injured don’t have to look to far. Devils right winger David Clarkson took Kovalchuk’s spot on the team’s top line with Zach Parise and Adam Henrique Saturday night. Clarkson is normally good for about 20 points per season but could be even more valuable for those leagues reward penalty minutes. Last season, the 27-year old finished with 116 penalty minutes and currently has the sixth most penalty minutes in the NHL with 37 minutes. If you’re in a deeper league that rewards penalty minutes than Clarkson could be a great pick up for you this week.
Adam Larsson, Defence, New Jersey Devils
Taking rookies can always be a gamble, especially taking rookie defenceman. Every now and then a rookie defenceman will break through and end up being a valuable fantasy option. In the last few years, fantasy GM’s have seen players like Michael Del Zotto, Tyler Myers, Alex Pietrangelo, and Kevin Shattenkirk have breakout rookie seasons. This season’s top rookie defenceman could be the Devils’ Adam Larsson. Larsson was the fourth overall pick at June’s NHL Entry Draft and so far has been playing a big role with the Devils. While he may only have two points this season, you have to look beyond that to see the potential that he could have for your team. So far the rookie leads the Devils in total ice time and averages just under three and a half minutes of power play time per game. He’s gotten points in two consecutive games and the Devils have been giving him plenty of opportunities on the power play which is what you want for your fantasy defenceman.
Rick DiPietro, Goaltender, New York Islanders
Most people will question this pick but that’s ok. With Rick DiPietro winning his first game of the season on Saturday night you might actually want to think about adding the often injured goalie to your team. DiPietro has started in the Islanders last four games in a row posting a decent 1-1-2 record with a .904 save percentage and a 2.67 GAA. Make no mistake about it, DiPietro’s the team’s number one goalie and as long as he stays healthy he’ll be getting most of the starts. Despite sitting in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders are only one game below .500 and have only played 11 games which is the fewest amount of games in the NHL. The Islanders are one of the league’s youngest and most exciting teams. This will be an interesting week for the team as they play the Bruins and the surprising Colorado Avalanche. Look for DiPietro to get both of those starts and if he continues to play well could attract attention from other fantasy owners. He’s only owned in roughly 7% of all Yahoo! leagues so if you’re team is in need of a goalie he could be a solid option for you.