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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
Patrik Berglund
Blues' Berglund Scores In Loss
Patrik Berglund, C, STL
12:47 AM
News: Patrik Berglund scored his fourth goal of the year Saturday in a loss San Jose. He was plus-1 with two shots and two hits on the night.
Analysis: Patrik Berglund's offensive output has been disappointing this year with just 11 points in 32 games, although he has never been a big scorer. Regardless trade rumours surround the veteran Swede and how he responds could provide a boost to his owners.

Steve Ott
Blues' Ott Nets First Of Season
Steve Ott, C, STL
12:42 AM
News: Steve Ott scored his first goal of the season Saturday in a loss to San Jose on his only shot of the game. He added seven hits in 13:46 of ice time in the game.
Analysis: Steve Ott is a veteran role player and penalty killer at this stage in his career, so offensive contributions aren't what the Blues are expecting from him. Fantasy owners should look at him the same way.

Keith Yandle
Coyotes' Yandle Picks Up Helper In Loss
Keith Yandle, D, ARI
12:38 AM
News: Keith Yandle picked up an assist Saturday in a loss to the Kings. He took one shot, registered two PIM, and blocked two shots on the night.
Analysis: Keith Yandle's 21 points rank him 11th among defensemen as he once again shows he is among the top offensive defensemen in the NHL. He has picked up five points in his last eight games.

Jannik Hansen
Hansen (Undisclosed) Expected To Play Monday
Jannik Hansen, RW, VAN
12:36 AM
News: Coach Willie Desjardins indicated Jannik Hansen (undisclosed) should be able to play Monday against the Coyotes.
Analysis: Jannik Hansen collapsed on the bench in the second period of Sunday's game. He and spent the night in the hospital and didn't skate Sunday morning, both for precautionary reasons. However, it appears as though the reasoning behind the collapse was minor, and he should be fine moving forward.

Mike Brown
Sharks' Brown Out 6-8 Weeks With Broken Fibula
Mike Brown, RW, SJ
12:25 AM
News: Mike Brown has a broken right fibula and will miss six-to-eight weeks from the time of the fracture on Dec. 9, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports.
Analysis: Mike Brown was placed on injured reserve the day after the injury, indicating it was severe. Now that the injury has been revealed as a broken fibula, the timetable has been set at six-to-eight weeks, scheduling his return for late January or early February

Teddy Purcell
Oilers' Purcell Picks Up Three Points In Loss
Teddy Purcell, RW, EDM
12/21/2014
News: Teddy Purcell scored a goal and dished out a pair of assists in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Stars.
Analysis: Teddy Purcell snapped a three game drought without a point with his highest output of the season as the 29-year-old is up to 17 points (five goals) through 34 games. He'll likely end up somewhere around the 30-point barrier but should only be considered in deeper formats.

Taylor Hall
Oilers' Hall Picks Up Three Points
Taylor Hall, LW, EDM
12/21/2014
News: Taylor Hall potted two goals and added an assist in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Stars.
Analysis: Taylor Hall had been slumping with just one point in his last eight contests, but broke out with his best effort of the season. The 23-year-old is up to 10 goals and 11 assists through 28 games as his numbers have dipped from his 80 point output from a year ago.

Mark Arcobello
Oilers' Arcobello Pots Two
Mark Arcobello, C, EDM
12/21/2014
News: Mark Arcobello notched a pair of goals in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Stars.
Analysis: Mark Arcobello snapped a streak of nine straight games without a point with his second multi-point game of the season. He's got seven goals and 11 points, and while the 26-year-old will likely surpass his career-high of 18 points, he doesn't have much value for fantasy purposes.

Ben Scrivens
Oilers' Scrivens Picks Up Another Loss
Ben Scrivens, G, EDM
12/21/2014
News: Ben Scrivens made 40 saves but allowed five goals in Sunday's 6-5 shootout loss to the Stars.
Analysis: Ben Scrivens now has suffered through five consecutive defeats, allowing nine goals in the last two. His defense hasn't helped the 28-year-old as he's faced 119 shots in the last three games and should probably be avoided as both he and the team struggle through the season.

Tyler Seguin
Stars' Seguin Scores Twice In Win
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL
12/21/2014
News: Tyler Seguin scored two third period goals and added an assist in Sunday's 6-5 win over the Oilers.
Analysis: Tyler Seguin added to his league leading total with his 24th and 25th goals of the season. The 22-year-old also pulled into a tie for first in the NHL in points with 42 and should be counted on every night.

 
 
 
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