Fantasy Hockey Cliffnotes: Forgiving R.J. Umberger

Updated: April 3, 2012 at 10:40 am by Alexander Monaghan

Fantasy Hockey Cliffnotes is an article that will attempt to find bargains for fantasy hockey teams hurting in certain categories. The below analysis will be in shorthand form, with the emphasis being on short-term, relevant value based on various aspects of the game. Enjoy.

To be successful in fantasy hockey, you need to have a short memory. Holding grudges doesn’t get you anywhere while many savvy moves can be made on the margin. Case in point: R.J. Umberger. Umberger has not been very good this season, there’s really no way to sugarcoat it at this point. But over the last week he’s been arguably the best player in hockey.

Following three healthy and productive seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Umberger struggled mightily out of the gate. Through his first 24 games this season, the four-time 20-goal scorer posted only three goals and four assists. Back in October and November, the Blue Jackets were clearly the worst team in hockey, struggling to figure out where James Wisniewski and Jeff Carter fit while trying to make a difference in the ultra-competitive Central Division.

Now that Wisniewski is injured (actually returning tonight) and Carter is in Los Angeles (and also injured), the players that previously succeeded like Umberger and Derick Brassard can now settle back into their old roles. And nobody has been happier about it than Umberger, who scored five goals over his last three and eight goals in his last six.

The Blue Jackets played the spoiler for a week now and figure to finish the season on a high note. Even though we doubt it saves the job of GM Scott Howson, this sudden boost will give the team some added confidence– something they haven’t seen all season. Therefore, don’t be afraid to roster Umberger, Brassard, Cam Atkinson or starting goalie Allen York over the fantasy hockey season’s final week.

–On Saturday night, Los Angeles Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier received a surprising start. With the Kings barely in the division lead, many people, including myself, thought head coach Darryl Sutter would ride Jonathan Quick until his team clinched a playoff berth.

However, as Sutter actually mentioned weeks ago, he was afraid to burn out Quick. As the back-t0-back tracker shows, Bernier has only started in back-to-back games over the last month. Just surprising that trend would follow with so much at stake. During Game 5 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher made a very similar move in starting backup goalie Mike Smith. He then was able to use a fresher Dwayne Roloson and win the following game. Interesting to see if Quick dominates the remainder of the season; he did shutout the Oilers last night.

–On Monday morning, the Leafs sent down Jussi Rynnas. Does that mean Jonas Gustavsson is healthy? It probably means he can at least backup Ben Scrivens this week, saving the Leafs a small amount of money by not carrying three goalies.

Gustavsson practiced yesterday and might be an option to play over the remainder of the week. The Monster needs a new contract and probably won’t get it from the Leafs. Considering GM Brian Burke refused to part with James Reimer for a first round pick at the trade deadline, you have to imagine the big man is in their plans for next season. It would not be shocking to see the team go after a more experienced netminder to help push the streaky starting goalie.



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