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Neutral Zone Wrap: Managing disappointment

by | Rotowire.com
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Disappointment just happens. Face it. You just can't be perfect all the time. There's no way to live up to unrealistic expectations when reality ends up blocking the way.

The same principles apply to Fantasy hockey. The history of a player could tell a story of awesome achievements and incredible intangibles, but certain factors may currently exist to diminish their value – whether it be a deteriorating body, decreased opportunities, or the unwanted appearance of Father Time.

You may be able to spot a few trends from the early returns, but we're way too early to base players' worth from these over a full season. I will use every attempt to leave out obvious statistics, but may be forced to do so if the numbers explain the insight. Look over the following fellows and try to hold back your hopes on their 2013-14 prospects:

(For related material on the same subject, check out Jan Levine's busts column.

Niklas Backstrom, G, Wild: Not to be confused with the Washington star forward of the extra 'c', this Finnish netminder has served as the Wild's backbone the last seven-plus seasons. At 35 and with a new three-year deal, Backstrom looks ready to continue his legacy. That may become difficult with backup Josh Harding waiting for his full-time break and prospects Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson excelling in other leagues. Even if the incumbent can hold on to No. 1, his stats could suffer as Minnesota seems to be built around an offense that looks like it will be regularly involved in high-scoring shootouts.

Daniel Briere, F, Canadiens: The Habs presumably signed Briere for his French Canadian heritage and/or his ability to seamlessly adapt to their vertically challenged lineup. The 36-year old was once known for his scoring touch but has lately been more associated with injuries. Philly deemed Briere buyout-worthy, but his arrival in Montreal looks to be leadership-based. He may be skating on the first line and earning significant power-play minutes, but try to be like the Flyers and stay away.

Jarome Iginla, F, Bruins: Yes, Iginla is really on the Bruins this time. No online trickery, no last-minute destination changes. Like Briere, he is 36. But unlike the diminutive winger, Iginla appears to have at least something left in the tank. The key issue to remember about the Edmonton native is that he isn't the power forward he used to be (although he did drop the gloves in Game 1). Teaming up with David Krejci and Milan Lucic may be one thing; keeping up with them (and other younger scorers) over the long haul is the problem.

Jaromir Jagr, F, Devils: By now, we're betting you can spot the trend. If you didn't notice 'ancient, past prime, and advance hospital reservations', then you can go ahead and skip to the next player. Jagr's career credentials are impressive and lengthy, so they need not be mentioned. As active players go, only Teemu Selanne (at 43!) is older. Recent point totals (35 points in 45 regular-season games split between Dallas and Boston) may suggest the Silver Mullet can still provide a significant offensive contribution. And especially since the Devils lost Ilya Kovalchuk to defection, it would seem as if Jagr would be the perfect fill-in to offset some of the missing production. But anyone who witnessed his struggles skating last postseason will easily be able to resist owning him.

Erik Johnson, D, Avalanche: How dare we include someone here who is only 25?! Well, if you were selected first overall in the 2005 draft and haven't lived up to the hype, then it's probably no surprise to be listed amongst these fossils well-preserved examples. Johnson topped out at 33 and 39 points in his first two years but the decline since has proved painfully obvious. The USNTDP alumnus still logs mega minutes (at least 20 a night, including top power-play billing), but the output has been lacking. So with Tyson Barrie in the background, Ryan Wilson soon to return from injury, and blueline bluechippers like Duncan Siemens and Chris Bigras next in line, there's enough talent to eventually supplant Johnson in the pecking order.

Honorable mention: Derick Brassard, F, NY Rangers; Troy Brouwer, F, Washington; Erik Cole, F, Dallas; Christian Ehrhoff, D, Buffalo; Kari Lehtonen, G, Dallas

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Player News
Anthony Peluso
Jets Move Peluso To IR
Anthony Peluso, RW, WPG
10/31/2014
News: Anthony Peluso (upper body) was placed on injured reserve Thursday.
Analysis: Anthony Peluso was moved to IR to make roster room for Evander Kane (knee), who will return to the lineup Thursday. Since Peluso first sustained the injury a week ago during practice, he's already missed the seven-day minimum required for every IR stint and will be immediately eligible to return when healthy.

Anze Kopitar
Kings' Kopitar Expected Out Again Thursday
Anze Kopitar, C, LA
10/31/2014
News: Anze Kopitar (upper body) didn't take part in line rushes during morning skate and is expected to be scratched Thursday against the Penguins, Jon Rosen of LAKingsInsider.com reports.
Analysis: Along with fellow injured forwards Trevor Lewis and Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar remained on the ice for extra work following the morning session, suggesting he's not yet ready to return. While Kopitar will miss his second straight game, the cap-strapped Kings were fortunate enough to be granted an emergency recall Thursday to ice a healthy 20 skaters, an option that wasn't available to them Tuesday against the Flyers.

Brooks Laich
Caps' Laich A Possibility For Saturday
Brooks Laich, C, WAS
10/31/2014
News: Coach Barry Trotz said Brooks Laich (upper body) could possibly play Saturday against the Lightning, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports.
Analysis: The Capitals planned to place Brooks Laich on injured reserve last week, but ended up reversing course and keeping him on the roster as a scratch for each of the last four games. He's been doing some activity on his own in preparation for a return, but if he's unable to fully practice Friday, it would seem likely that the Capitals rule him out for a fifth straight contest.

Patrick Maroon
Ducks' Maroon Progressing Well
Patrick Maroon, LW, ANA
10/31/2014
News: Patrick Maroon (knee) is recovering faster than anticipated from his MCL sprain and could play at some point during the Ducks' current four-game road trip, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Patrick Maroon suffered the injury Oct. 14 and was expected to miss four weeks, but a return over the next few days would mean that he was able to cut that projected recovery timetable in half. The winger won't be an option for Thursday's game in St. Louis, but coach Bruce Boudreau indicated there's a good chance the winger will be available for Friday in Dallas or Sunday in Colorado. Maroon was previously deployed on the Ducks' first line prior to suffering the injury, but there's no guarantee he'll reclaim that role was activated from IR. Since Maroon has been out, all of Devante Smith-Pelly, Dany Heatley and Matt Beleskey have seen time on the top trio with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and it's unclear if Boudreau will end up permanently settling on a player anytime soon.

Daniel Briere
Avs' Briere A Healthy Scratch Thursday
Daniel Briere, C, COL
10/31/2014
News: Daniel Briere will be a healthy scratch Thursday against the Islanders, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: The 37-year-old Daniel Briere will be replaced in the lineup by Dennis Everberg, who was recalled from AHL Lake Erie on Wednesday. It's unclear if the demotion to the press box will be a permanent one for Briere, as it will likely depend on how well the rookie Everberg meshes Thursday with John Mitchell and Alex Tanguay on the third line. Briere has two goals and three points over 10 games with the Avs on the season.

Nate Guenin
Avs' Guenin Rejoins Lineup
Nate Guenin, D, COL
10/31/2014
News: Nate Guenin will rejoin the Avs' lineup Thursday against the Islanders, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: Zach Redmond has emerged as coach Patrick Roy's preferred replacement option for Ryan Wilson (shoulder) on the third pairing, but Nate Guenin will now receive the opportunity to make an impression of his own. Guenin hasn't played since Oct. 18 and hasn't provided a point in his four games this season.

Semyon Varlamov
Avs' Varlamov To Start Thursday
Semyon Varlamov, G, COL
10/31/2014
News: Semyon Varlamov is set to make the start in goal Thursday against the Islanders, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: Semyon Varlamov has helped the Avs come away with at least a point in his last five starts, but is still sitting on a losing record (1-2-3) for the season. He'll have a good shot at evening his record against the Islanders, who have struggled defensively for most of the season.

Jesse Winchester
Avs' Winchester Appears To Have Suffered Setback
Jesse Winchester, C, COL
10/31/2014
News: Jesse Winchester appears to have suffered a setback in his recovery from a concussion, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: After taking contact in practices earlier this week, Jesse Winchester was donning an orange non-contact sweater at Thursday's morning skate, a sign that he's noticed a downgrade in his recovery. The fact that the Avs haven't shut down his on-ice activities entirely offers some encouragement, but it no longer looks as though Winchester will be activated in the coming days.

Josh Jooris
Flames' Jooris To Be A Healthy Scratch Friday
Josh Jooris, C, CGY
10/31/2014
News: Josh Jooris will be a healthy scratch for Friday's game against the Predators, Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: Josh Jooris has been quiet since recording a goal in his NHL debut, with his move to the bottom line likely contributing to his lack of impact. Brian McGrattan is expected to take his spot in the lineup Friday.

Zach Bogosian
Jets' Bogosian To Play Thursday
Zach Bogosian, D, WPG
3:56 PM
News: Zach Bogosian (upper body) will play Thursday against the Devils, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
Analysis: Zach Bogosian made it through pregame warmups without incident and will rejoin Tobias Enstrom on the Jets' top pairing. The 24-year-old has three points in eight games this season.

 
 
 
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