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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
Tyler Kennedy
Sharks' Kennedy (Upper Body) Won't Return Saturday
Tyler Kennedy, C, SJ
10/26/2014
News: Tyler Kennedy (upper body) will not return from injured reserve for Saturday's game with the Sabres, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Analysis: There was some optimism Tyler Kennedy might be back in action Saturday after he took part in line rushes during Friday's practice, but the team decided he could use a little more recovery time. The Sharks could choose to activate him for Sunday's game against the Ducks, or at some point later in the upcoming week.

Semyon Varlamov
Avs' Varlamov Prepared To Start Sunday
Semyon Varlamov, G, COL
10/26/2014
News: Semyon Varlamov will be in the net Sunday against the Jets, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: Semyon Varlamov performed only so-so Friday in his first start since being sidelined with a groin injury, limiting the Jets to three goals on 29 shot attempts. Fortunately, the Avs' sputtering offense finally decided to show up Friday, busting out for seven scores in the runaway victory. It's probably a long shot for Varlamov to replicate last season's total of 41 wins, but if his mates play up to their talent level with any consistency, Varlamov should finish with a record well above .500.

Ryan Callahan
Bolts Move Callahan To IR
Ryan Callahan, RW, TB
10/26/2014
News: Ryan Callahan (lower body) was moved to injured reserve Saturday, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: The placement on IR will be retroactive to Ryan Callahan's most-recent game on Oct. 20, allowing the forward to return to action as soon as the team's medical staff deems him fit to play. Callahan was able to get in a skate Friday, but because the Bolts are labeling his injury as week-to-week, there's no guarantee that he'll be back in action within a few games.

Alex Killorn
Bolts Place Killorn On IR
Alex Killorn, C, TB
10/26/2014
News: Alex Killorn (upper body) was placed on injured reserve Saturday but is considered close to a return, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: With Alex Killorn already ruled out Saturday for the Bolts' fourth straight game, he'll be placed on injured reserve retroactively and will be able to play as soon as the team determines he's healthy. Killorn suffered the injury during Monday's morning skate, when he collided hard into the end boards with his shoulder and head, resulting in some soreness and tightness but no concussion-like symptoms. If he's able to get in a practice in the next two days, he could be cleared to return to action Tuesday against the Coyotes.

Brett Connolly
Bolts' Connolly Week-To-Week With Injury
Brett Connolly, RW, TB
10/26/2014
News: Brett Connolly suffered a lower-body injury in Friday's game against the Jets and is considered week-to-week, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: The 22-year-old Brett Connolly seemed to be on the cusp of a breakthrough in his first eight games of the season, notching two goals while seeing time on the team's second line. However, it looks like the injury will present an unfortunate roadblock for him to build on those early successes, as Connolly figures to miss the next several games. Michael Blunden and Jonathan Marchessault were recalled from AHL Syracuse on Saturday to provide the Bolts with some extra forward options while Connolly remains unavailable.

J.T. Brown
Bolts' Brown Ruled Out Saturday
J.T. Brown, RW, TB
10/26/2014
News: J.T. Brown is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will not play Saturday against the Wild, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: It's assumed that J.T. Brown suffered the injury at some point in Friday's loss to the Wild. Fellow winger Brett Connolly also fell victim to injury and will not be available Saturday, prompting the team to promote Jonathan Marchessault and Michael Blunden to the NHL squad to replenish some depth at forward.

Jonathan Quick
Kings Expected To Stick With Quick On Sunday
Jonathan Quick, G, LA
10/26/2014
News: Jonathan Quick is expected to draw the start in goal Sunday against the Blue Jackets, Jon Rosen of LAKingsInsider.com reports.
Analysis: Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice at Saturday's practice, a likely sign that he'll be receiving the nod for Sunday's tilt. The 28-year-old has certainly justified his big-money contract through six appearances in 2014-15, going 4-1-1 with a 1.54 GAA and .958 save percentage.

Martin Hanzal
Coyotes' Hanzal Expected To Return Tuesday
Martin Hanzal, C, ARI
10/26/2014
News: Coach Dave Tippett said he expects Martin Hanzal (lower body) to return to action Tuesday against the Lightning, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: Martin Hanzal was able to get in a skate Saturday morning, and while he won't be cleared to return for the game later that evening against the Panthers, the forward noted that he was feeling better than anticipated during the session. If Hanzal is able to get in a practice on either Sunday or Monday, the team's trianing staff figures to sign off on his return to game action.

David Moss
Long-Term Absence Could Be In Play For Yotes' Moss
David Moss, RW, ARI
10/26/2014
News: David Moss (upper body) appears to be dealing with a long-term injury, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: David Moss hasn't resumed skating since leaving Thursday's game with the upper-body injury and will face more tests Saturday to receive a clearer diagnosis of his condition. If the tests confirm that Moss' injury is more than a day-to-day concern as expected, look for the Coyotes to place him on injured reserve at some point next week.

Cory Schneider
Devils' Schneider Will Start Saturday
Cory Schneider, G, NJ
2:08 PM
News: Cory Schneider will start between the pipes Saturday night against the Senators, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports.
Analysis: Cory Schneider has dropped his last four decisions, but will look to get back on track Saturday against the Sens. The netminder is now 3-2-2 on the season with a .907 save percentage and a GAA of 2.93.

 
 
 
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