Welcome to week 3 of the Fantasy Planner, getting you ready for next week's fantasy hockey action. (10/19 through 10/25).
Week 2 Review
A few surprising starts seem to be continuing in the West as Colorado and Phoenix haven't slowed down a bit in week 2. The entire Pacific division seems to be upside down from top to bottom, with the Coyotes and Kings on top and the Ducks and Sharks on the bottom. This division may replace the Northwest as the tightest division in the league this season, but look for the Sharks to rise to the top over the next several weeks.
In the East, the Rangers are the surprise story, in terms of wins, but more so, in terms of goals. The team leads the league in goals scored with 28. 7 of those have come from defensemen. Suddenly, there are a few viable fantasy options in New York, beyond Gaborik and Lundqvist.
Week 3 Matchups
Teams with 4 Games: Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, LA, San Jose, Vancouver
Teams with 2 Games: Anaheim, Buffalo, Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, New Jersey, Ottawa, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Washington
Teams with 1 Game: Toronto
With only one game next week at Vancouver, if you actually have an Maple Leafs on your roster (can't think of many worth having right now), you'll want to give them a rest on your bench.
This promises to be a good week for the Sharks in your lineup, as they have 4 games, including matchups with Tampa Bay and Atlanta to pad their stats. Canucks should also do well this week, with four games including 2 with Edmonton and 1 at home against Toronto.
Dan Girardi (NYR) - In the past week, Girardi has risen from 82nd to 9th among defensemen. Over the past 3 games, he's knocked in 3 goals and 1 assist. Seems like all of the Rangers defensemen (except Staal) are getting in the scoring this season, with Michael Del Zotto and Wade Redden both registering 3 points in the past 3 games. It looks like Torts has these guys playing an upbeat game. Ride them while they're hot.
Scott Hannan (COL) - Before last night, Hannan had 3 points in his last 3 games, including 1 goal and 2 assists. During that time, he's moved up to a ranking of #38 among defensemen.
Ryan Malone (TB) - Over the past 3 games, Malone has knocked in 5 goals. He once showed a scoring touch when he was with the Pens, playing along side Crosby, but this is the first real glimpse of that he's shown with the Lightning. While he's no threat to crack 40 goals in a season, he may be worth a look in the short term.
Brad Richards (DAL) - Richards has 5 points in the past week over 2 games. This gives him 9 points in 5 games this season. I would be shocked if he can stay above a point a game over the course of the season. Dallas doesn't have enough fire power to sustain this kind of offense over the long haul. If I had Richards in my lineup, I'd be looking to trade and sell high.
Niklas Lidstrom (DET) - Despite his historic 1000th point last night, Lidstrom has started the season a bit behind pace. Before last night's game, he had just 1 assist in 5 contests. Has the best defenseman in the league started to reach his decline, or it just a slow start?
Kris Letang (PIT) - I drafted Letang late in all of my leagues and it looked good for the first week. Despite the Pens success, he's gone scoreless in the last 3 games. Don't give up on the young defenseman. He'll finish the season above 40 points, so there's plenty yet to come.
Ryan Suter (NAS) - Suter's assist last night was his first point in 4 games. He's going to have to pick it up, or he'll find himself being dropped in many leagues.
Here are a few other names who may be available in your league and are worth a look:
Loui Eriksson (DAL) - Eriksson has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games and is worth adding to your bench if he's still available. Eriksson has been seeing a good bit of time on the power play this season, and should be counted on to reach 30 goals this year.
Milan Michalek (OTT) - Michalek's value dropped late this summer when he was taken out of San Jose. He started the season very slowly; however, the last two games have been golden, as he and Jason Spezza have woken up. Michalek's hat trick last night gave him four goals in two games. He looks comfortable with Spezza and should continue to score.
Vinny Prospal (NYR) - Prospal is on fire along with the rest of the Rangers so far. He's put in 6 points over the last 3 games, and as you probably know, he's due for a high scoring season this year if he follows his normal off-on-off-on pattern. Look for him to approach 70 points this year.
Drop or Keep?
Here are the guys that many owners are struggling with the decision to drop or hold on, based on poor showings so far:
Tim Connolly (BUF) - Connolly has to be the most frustrating fantasy option out there. He seems to be healthy, so you think it's finally safe to take a chance on him, but so far, he's not done a thing. 1 point in four games is enough to say you should be looking for better options right now.
Jay McClement (STL) - McClement shot out of the gate this season, so many fantasy owners picked him up, having never heard of the guy. 0 points in his last 3 games has brought it back into perspective. Again, look for something better.
Alex Edler (VAN) - Many thought Edler would be a decent fantasy option on defense this season. He still may be. However, 2 assists in 5 games isn't exactly setting the world on fire. I'd hold on to him for a couple more weeks before abandoning ship. He's still logging a ton of ice time and his chances will come.
Cristobal Huet (CHI) - The big trend this week was for owners to run out and snatch up Antii Niemi, believing that Huet's slow start would have him riding the pine this season. Chicago went back to Huet last night and he performed well. In fact, Coach Joel Quenneville made a point of saying last night that Huet is still the number one guy. He's making too much money for the Hawks to give up on this soon. Stick with Huet for now.