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Neutral Zone Wrap: Make the right adjustment

by | Rotowire.com
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Look how far we've come as a Fantasy society. From our inception, where painstakingly long drafts were carried out by hand and often in-person, to the current state of affairs where quick online, click-as-you-go formats have become the norm. If you wanted the league standings and latest news 20 years ago, you stood by the mailbox waiting for it to arrive. These days, all stats and updates are readily available in seconds and ready to use for further research and manipulation.

Like the fake version, the actual NHL has evolved during the same time period. The no-helmet days may be a distant memory, but the current game holds just as many risks. Players may be bigger, stronger and better maintained, but the incidence of serious injury remains a popular talking point. We could go on and discuss related topics such as safety, insurance, and viewer interest but frankly, all that would be better covered in other forums.

So let's return to the Fantasy world, where improvement is always the goal -- adjusting rosters, working all transaction areas, ensuring your own well-being. Survival of the fittest exists everywhere; one must work hard since hoping something will happen usually doesn't fly. If your squad looks poised to compete for the championship, then don't sit around and wait. See what the other owners have, check the numbers, and make a move. In other words, be proactive.

To help you in your cause, here are five new teams from which to pick the flash and avoid the trash:

(Stats as of Monday December 16)

Despite aches, pains, and other disturbances, the Bruins have still found their way to the top of the Atlantic Division. With Loui Eriksson (concussion, unknown return) and Dougie Hamilton (lower-body injury, one to two more weeks) among the multitude of casualties, a couple vacancies have opened up. No need to remind either Reilly Smith (23 points, with four goals in his last five) or Carl Soderberg (15 in 27), who have seamlessly moved their way up the ladder. Dennis Seidenberg probably isn't your best option, but he picks up enough across the board (10 points, plus-10, 54 blocked shots, second power-play time) to earn your attention.

December springs luck for the Canucks, who haven't lost in seven. Jannik Hansen (two goals in three) has once again punched his ticket alongside the Sedins but he's not getting comfortable. Without Alexandre Burrows (jaw surgery, see you in January), Mike Santorelli (10 in nine) has made the most of his opportunities. So is Chris Higgins (eight in seven), who provides poolies with a hint of why he was drafted in the first round 11 years ago. Alexander Edler (minor knee tweaking) didn't inspire much confidence when healthy (three in 14, minus-9), while Kevin Bieksa (finally notched a point Saturday after 12 zeros) has also disappointed. Maybe workhorse Dan Hamhuis (only nine, but averaging ~25 minutes the last month) can increase his production to supplement Jason Garrison's potential career season (already with 22, including 10 PPPs).

Long live the Kings; the Kings aren't dead. With Jonathan Quick (groin strain, give him another two weeks) slowly working his way back, Ben Scrivens (1.66 GAA, .941 SV% in 16) has picked up most of the load but darkhorse Martin Jones (5-0 with a 0.99 GAA and .967 SV%) has managed to one-up the former Leaf. After once again dominating the AHL (12 in 10), Tyler Toffoli is wreaking havoc with the big boys (15 in 20). Two consecutive inspired playoff performances have landed Dwight King (three points on the weekend) the LW gig on the first line. His best days and legs are most likely behind him, but don't tell Jarret Stoll (six in seven). The buzz on Jake Muzzin (14) has not fizzed out but maybe Alec Martinez (four in five) would get some love if he could string together a few more decent outings.

A broken down Detroit still put on a better show than most other clubs, even if it's only on cable. Their captain has missed the last seven and the #1 goalie suffered a mishap in practice but the Magic Man just returned and is raring to knock the Wings out of their five-game slump. Gustav Nyquist (eight in 13) has grabbed the mantle of the missing with a bit of assistance from Tomas Tatar (13). Don't tie your waiver wire on Todd Bertuzzi (a goal in six). Give up on Brendan Smith (five in 25, minus-4) and move on to Jakub Kindl (accumulating the man-advantage minutes but scoreless in seven) before it's too late.

No matter how hard one tries to avoid it, everyone ends up in Jersey. Contrary to the passage of time, 41-year old Jaromir Jagr (28 in 34) has not slowed down. Dainius Zubrus (five in four) may never have served as the main attraction but, wow, he's sure been playing a while. All the hype that followed Damien Brunner has almost evaporated (although three goals in three looks to be a good sign). If Adam Henrique (four in 13) wants to be the Devils' anointed one at center, then he ain't doing it right. Andy Greene (eight in 12) keeps plugging away while Eric Gelinas (13 in his rookie campaign) has excelled during his blueline apprenticeship.

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Player News
Jake Gardiner
Leafs, Gardiner Ink Five-Year Pact
Jake Gardiner, D, TOR
2:52 PM
News: Jake Gardiner signed a five-year, $20.25 million contract extension with the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, Chris Johnston of Rogers Sportsnet reports.
Analysis: Jake Gardiner, 24, asserted himself as a long-term building block for the Leafs on defense last season with his second 30-point campaign, contributing 10 goals, 21 assists, 108 hits and 87 blocks over 80 games. With Carl Gunnarsson shipped to St. Louis in the offseason, Gardiner appears poised to claim a spot next to Dion Phaneuf on the team's top defensive pairing, though fellow ascendant youngster Morgan Rielly will provide some heat.

Chad LaRose
LaRose Signs AHL Contract With Hurricanes
Chad LaRose, RW, CAR
2:48 PM
News: Chad LaRose agreed to a contract with AHL Charlotte on Tuesday, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Analysis: The 32-year-old will try to parlay the AHL contract into a comeback with the Hurricanes at the NHL level, after he sat out the entirety of the 2013-14 campaign. Chad LaRose appeared in 35 games for the Hurricanes two seasons ago, logging four points and a minus-8 rating.

Matt Fraser
Bruins' Fraser Should Be Ready For Training Camp
Matt Fraser, LW, BOS
2:00 PM
News: Matt Fraser, who underwent surgery on his right foot a week after the 2013-14 season concluded, is slated to start skating in early August, ESPN Boston reports.
Analysis: The report adds that the winger -- who is coming off a season in which he recorded 20 goals and 30 points in 44 AHL contests with Providence, along with two goals in 14 NHL contests -- expects to be 100 percent for the start of training camp in September. The 24-year-old is in line to make a run at a roster spot with the Bruins, given that the team needs to fill a couple of spots up front after bidding adieu to veterans Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton this offseason.

Peter Mueller
Blues Sign Mueller
Peter Mueller, RW, FLA
11:57 AM
News: Peter Mueller has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blues, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeremy Rutherford reports.
Analysis: Peter Mueller spent last season in Switzerland, scoring 24 goals and 46 points for Kloten of the Swiss A-League. Although he carries concussion concerns, Mueller is a skilled winger who will provide the Blues with a solid depth option up front.

Justin Fontaine
Wild's Fontaine Agrees To Contract
Justin Fontaine, RW, MIN
9:53 AM
News: Justin Fontaine has agreed to a two-year contract to remain with the Wild, the Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Justin Fontaine played 66 games during his rookie season for the Wild last season, finishing the campaign with 13 goals and 21 points, including a hat trick in January. He'll continue his development with Minnesota and likely see more playing time in the upcoming season.

Eric Staal
Hurricanes' Staal Undergoes Hernia Surgery
Eric Staal, C, CAR
8:51 AM
News: Eric Staal underwent successful hernia surgery and is expected to be ready for training camp in September, USA Today reports.
Analysis: Eric Staal's procedure should allow him ample time to recover by training camp and be fully healthy by the time the regular season begins. The 29-year-old posted 21 goals and 61 points in 79 games last season, production lower than his usual output. Nonetheless, Staal has only missed 17 games during his 10-year career, so durability hasn't traditionally been a concern for him.

Jimmy Hayes
Panthers Retain Hayes On One-Year Deal
Jimmy Hayes, RW, FLA
8:25 AM
News: Jimmy Hayes has agreed to a one-year contract with the Panthers.
Analysis: Jimmy Hayes joined the Panthers after being dealt by the Blackhawks on Nov. 14 of last year. He played 53 games in a Florida jersey, during which he totaled 11 goals and seven assists.

Michael Frolik
Jets Re-Sign Frolik
Michael Frolik, RW, WPG
8:13 AM
News: Michael Frolik has re-signed with the Jets on a one-year contract, The Globe and Mail's James Mirtle reports.
Analysis: Michael Frolik was reportedly in discussions over a long-term deal to remain in Winnipeg, but instead settled on just a one-year contract. The winger finished last season with 15 goals, 27 assists, and 42 points for the Jets.

Jerry D'Amigo
Jackets Sign D'Amigo
Jerry D'Amigo, RW, CLB
7:59 AM
News: Jerry D'Amigo signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
Analysis: Jerry D'Amigo was acquired by Columbus earlier this month in a deal that sent forward Matt Frattin to Toronto. The 23-year-old D'Amigo made 22 appearances for the Maple Leafs last season, scoring one goal to go with two assists. He'll compete for a roster spot with the Blue Jackets during training camp.

Jason Williams
Oilers Sign Williams To AHL Deal
Jason Williams, RW, PIT
12:52 AM
News: Jason Williams agreed to a one-year contract with AHL Oklahoma City on Friday.
Analysis: Jason Williams, 33, last appeared at the NHL level in 2011-12 with the Penguins. He spent the last two seasons with Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss Elite League, charting 34 goals and 30 assists over 79 total games. He'll attempt to parlay his AHL contract into a call-up to the Oilers, but his age will certainly work against him.

 
 
 
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