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Neutral Zone Wrap: Managing the disappointments

by | Rotowire.com
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When life brings you down, convention dictates one of two responses: lie down and get run over or fight back and reclaim your dignity. If the first path is your preference, then inertia is your friend. Don't bother getting up, as it'll only make you tired again. However, should redemption be your goal, there are several ways to achieve this. C'mon, fight back. Your ego may be bruised repeatedly but that shouldn't stop your spirit from rising above the negativity.

NHLers with above-average skill sets who underperform pose a problem for Fantasy owners. Should you dump them immediately or wait a bit and trust in their abilities to recover based on stats and history? Banking on a name will work up to the point where frustration sets in because the numbers clearly don't match.

A few readers have asked me the same question over the last week, so I will provide the following answer: Have faith in Claude Giroux. Or any of the higher profile Flyers (but not the team itself) who have returned far less on investment than expected. And that means the likes of Jakub Voracek, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, and yes, even Kimmo Timonen can be trusted upon for at least a minor upsurge. Try trading for one or more of them, but only as long as the asking price is within reason.

Let's move on and talk about the other skaters who have angered us with their slow starts. But these ones are poised to start increasing their production, either due to pedigree, some sort of change, or the Law of Averages kicking in:

(Stats as of Monday November 11)

Dustin Brown, F, Kings: The summer of 2012 was a special time for Brown. Not only did the Kings win the Stanley Cup but he also became the second American captain to hoist the Holy Grail. And while his current haul (seven points in 17 contests) may not be atrocious, there is room for improvement. Consider the last six full seasons, where 46 was his lowest point total (way back in 2006-07). You'll also notice how Brown seems to step up his effort during the stretch drive (including 23 in 21 to finish the 2011-12 campaign). Remember he missed most of training camp with an injury, so perhaps all the inactivity hasn't fully been shaken off.

Michael Del Zotto, D, Rangers: For someone with a history of questionable defensive skills, it's tough to see Del Zotto struggle offensively (one goal, three assists). While labeling him a power-play specialist may be misleading, this turns out to be the strongest area of his game (eight of 21 points last year). The York Region native may never earn big even-strength minutes (sitting at 16) but he is adept at moving the puck and finding open teammates in the opponent's end. Be patient with DZ; the opportunities will come.

Jonathan Huberdeau, F, Panthers: Blink and you may forget Huberdeau serves as the reigning Rookie of the Year. While his freshman tour consisted of highlight goals and nifty moves, there also existed maturity – one from probably having stayed an extra year in junior. With the QMJHL standout facing his first full professional schedule and the pressure of avoiding a sophomore slump, it is entirely understandable if he felt discouraged during a recent five-game point drought (on the same homestand, no less). The good news is that Huberdeau has regained a bit (three in five), while retaining his top forward status (first with 17:51 a night) on a relatively weak Panthers attack.

Ryan Miller, G, Sabres: It is inevitable. The prognosticators have said it will take place soon. Based on the way the Sabres are sliding and for his long-standing service to the organization, it is only deserving Miller should earn a first-class ticket to a more favorable situation. The 33-year old has been asked to stand on his head (3.40 GAA, .912 SV% facing an average of nearly 38 shots) behind a shoddy Buffalo D and, well, you see how awesome that has worked out in the standings. If a contender is ready to shell out the resources to acquire Miller, then that would surely boost his Fantasy value.

Alexander Semin, F, Hurricanes: Once regarded as one of the best snipers in the league, Semin has gone on to develop a better overall game. The occasional brain freeze or sudden lack of interest still happens but less frequently. Carolina haven't exactly endeared themselves as a scoring machine this season (third worst at 1.84 goals per game), thereby justifying why any of their top players could have been listed in this column. But let's concentrate on the speedy Russian, what he hasn't been doing lately (one in five), and why he is bound to rediscover his touch (first PP duty, second among Canes forwards averaging over 20 minutes).

(Honorable mention: Craig Anderson, G, Senators; Sergei Gonchar, D, Stars; Dany Heatley, F, Wild; Brad Marchand, F, Bruins; Nail Yakupov, F, Oilers)

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Player News
Danny Kristo
Kristo Re-Signs With Rangers
Danny Kristo, RW, NYR
8/21/2014
News: Danny Kristo re-signed with the Rangers on Thursday.
Analysis: The 24-year-old Danny Kristo tallied 25 goals and 18 assists in 65 games with AHL Hartford last season. Another season at the AHL level likely awaits.

Patrick Marleau
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8/20/2014
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Analysis: It had been rumored and hinted at all summer that Patrick Marleau and captain Joe Thornton would have their leadership roles passed to younger players. It has also been rumored that both were asked to waive their no trade clause. Neither did. The team wants the younger generation to take the torch, but as far as fantasy is concerned, you can't reduce the playing time of a player like Marleau, who scored 33 goals and 37 assists last season.

Joe Thornton
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Joe Thornton, C, SJ
8/20/2014
News: The Sharks officially announce Wednesday that Joe Thornton would not be the team captain entering training camp, the Mercury News reports.
Analysis: Coach Todd McLellan said that he doesn't consider it to be stripping Joe Thornton of anything, since he'll be given the opportunity to earn the "C" back. The team has talked frequently this offseason of passing the torch to the next generation and that's what this appears to be. Thornton was not only rumored to be losing his "C," but was involved in trade rumors as well. However, he has a no trade clause and doesn't seem interested in leaving San Jose.

Raffi Torres
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8/20/2014
News: Raffi Torres suffered an infection in his surgically-repaired right knee and is expected to miss the first few months of the season while he undergoes another operation on the knee, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Analysis: Raffi Torres was limited to just five regular-season contests in 2013-14 after undergoing knee surgery and suffering a subsequent setback shortly after returning after the Olympics. He would ultimately rejoin the Sharks during the postseason and looked to be healthy heading into the upcoming campaign, but it seems the infection surfaced at some point over the summer. For the second straight season, he'll open on injured reserve as a result, with no concrete date for his return. Torres has been a useful player for the Sharks when he's been on the ice, but with two years still remaining on his contract, his durability concerns might dampen the remainder of his tenure with his team.

Dennis Seidenberg
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Dennis Seidenberg, D, BOS
8/20/2014
News: Dennis Seidenberg (knee) expects to be ready for training camp, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Dennis Seidenberg, who last suited up on Dec. 27, had surgery in early January to repair an ACL/MCL injury in his right knee in. At the time, the estimated timetable for a return was in the 6-8 month range. With no reported setbacks since then, and given that the sturdy blueliner indicated that he probably could have returned to action had the Bruins advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, things appear to be on track for him to be at, or near, 100 percent in advance of the upcoming regular season.

Henrik Zetterberg
Wings' Zetterberg: Healthy Heading Into Camp
Henrik Zetterberg, LW, DET
8/20/2014
News: Coach Mike Babcock relayed that Henrik Zetterberg (foot) said he was "feeling the best he has in years" this offseason, suggesting he'll be a full participant in training camp, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: With both Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk missing 37 games apiece last season, the Red Wings were forced to get by with a patchwork forward ranks to so-so results. Now that both players are feeling healthy, the depth chart should enjoy more stability in 2014-15, but don't be surprised if Zetterberg notices a drop in ice time for maintenance purposes as he enters his age-34 season. Still, Zetterberg hasn't had many health issues prior to last season, and managed to supply 48 points over the 45 contests in which he suited up. There's plenty of value to be had in Zetterberg, even as he takes on a more deferential role to emerging wings Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar in the years to come.

Pavel Datsyuk
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8/20/2014
News: Coach Mike Babcock relayed that Pavel Datsyuk (knee) said he was feeling "the best he has in years" this offseason, suggesting he'll be ready to go for training camp, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: Considering Pavel Datsyuk hasn't played since late April, it's no surprise he's feeling spry, but there's serious questions he'll hold up for 82 games as he enters his age-34 campaign. He's missed a total of 76 games over his last four seasons, muting the impact of the nearly point-per-game production he provides when healthy. Considering his injury history, Datsyuk might not be worth the markup price his name will cost fantasy players on draft day.

Stephen Weiss
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Stephen Weiss, C, DET
8/20/2014
News: Stephen Weiss indicated he's feeling healthy following his April 21 surgery to repair his sports hernia, NHL.com's Dan Rosen reports.
Analysis: Stephen Weiss was a disaster in his first season with the Red Wings after inking a five-year, $24.5 million deal last summer, appearing in only 26 games and totaling four points. He ultimately required a pair of sports hernia surgeries that prevented a second-half return, but after spending the last four months recovering, he appears ready to go for 2014-15. Weiss will be given the opportunity to win back his job as the Wings' No. 2 center, but it seems dubious that he'll be able to return to the 50-point form he showed during his prime years with the Panthers.

Mike Mottau
NHLer Mottau Calls It A Career
Mike Mottau, D, FLA
8/19/2014
News: Mike Mottau announced his retirement from professional hockey Tuesday, Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reports.
Analysis: The Massachusetts native was exploring the option of playing with AHL Providence to stick with his hometown Bruins organization, but decided he was content to spend more time with his family. Mike Mottau, 36, appeared in 321 career NHL games with the Rangers, Flames, Devils, Islanders, Bruins and Panthers, with his most productive seasons coming in the late-2000s with New Jersey.

Josh Harding
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8/19/2014
News: Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said Josh Harding is "a go" for training camp, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "Everybody seems to be feeling pretty good, and at this stage, all of our players who were banged up at the end of the season are feeling better. Josh has felt good. Right now we're not expecting any issues for anybody with respect to passing training camp medicals."
Analysis: With an 18-7-3 record, 1.65 GAA and .933 save percentage, Josh Harding was playing as well as any goal in hockey before a setback in his treatment for multiple sclerosis sidelined him after the end of December. Because he's missed large chunks of both of the last two seasons while dealing with the effects of the illness, fantasy players shouldn't look to invest heavily in Harding. Even if healthy, he's no lock to open the season as the regular starter in goal for the Wild with Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper still around.

 
 
 
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