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Neutral Zone Wrap: The underachievers

by | Rotowire.com
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Olympic break, Shmolympic break. There is no rest for the contending Fantasy player the next two weeks, especially when just over a quarter of the season remains.

If you are looking for bargains, then this is the time to strike. Most owners seem to stop caring about their teams only because the actual NHLers have temporarily closed up shop.

On the flip side, your squad may contain one or two with a fast-approaching "use by" date. Or there are available players with great stats whose history, reputation and/or current situation suggest a decline in production.

This week, let's look at the latter example. If you got 'em, then you can either choose to trade them, bench them or hope they continue to shine. But if a decline appears imminent, then what value could you draw out of depreciating commodities when better ones exist?

Get your garbage bags ready and don't forget to leave them on the curb early so others can begin fighting over the contents:

Olli Jokinen, F, Jets: Off to represent Finland for his third consecutive Olympics, most likely in a similar second or third-line role. And while the month of December proved to be fruitful for Jokinen (11 points in 14 games), the latest stretch (one in 11) has been frustrating. At 35, he may not be asked anymore to serve as the focal point of the attack. But his age and the wear and tear from participating/traveling to and from Sochi will end up taking their toll. Looking at his last two seasons, the latter portion of each could be best described as disappointing (seven in 23, followed by three in 13). Best to cut your losses with the Finn before they get out of hand.

Nazem Kadri, F, Maple Leafs: The Leafs' 24/7 media darling has endured his share of flak for both on and off-ice activities but there's no denying the kid's talent. Kadri leapt into the forefront with a solid 2012-13 (44 in 48, plus-15), but struggled in the final regular season contests (five in 12, minus-5). Many have praised his improvement this year by supplementing his scoring with a nice physical game (116 hits, 59 PIM) and the ability to annoy opponents. Whether or not Kadri can interact positively with head coach Randy Carlyle will determine his ice time. And if you believe what you see on TV, then there's a reasonable chance the feisty forward will lose opportunities to more consistent teammates.

Clarke MacArthur, F, Senators: Little was known about MacArthur before 2010 but that changed when Toronto signed him that summer and he paid immediate dividends (career-best 62 points). After two more decent campaigns, Ottawa snapped him up this past offseason. And wouldn't you know it but the ex-Thrasher has earned a prime role and is on pace to break his pro points record (42 in 58, including 12 on the top power-play). A recent mini-slump mixed in with a foot injury may slow down MacArthur but at least he'll have a couple weeks to rest. His continued success may involve whether or not the Sens can stay in the playoff hunt. If they fall too far back, then expect youngsters like Mika Zibanejad and Cory Conacher to take away minutes from the older crowd.

Kris Russell, D, Flames: For years after being taken in the third round (2005), Russell lived with the stigma of being a slightly-undersized blueliner with shaky defensive skills. It wasn't until his move to St. Louis where the former WJHC standout rounded his overall game and was therefore treated more like an equal to his potential linemates. The Red Deer native has performed so well in his return to his home province (20 in 44, which includes seven PPPs and an average of almost 23.5 minutes) that management offered him a two-year extension over the weekend. Competing for offense with three other above-average defenders (Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, and T.J. Brodie) and recent injuries will push Russell to the limit, a situation he has never faced in his pro career. Consequently, expect Russell's numbers to take a dip.

Ben Scrivens, G, Oilers: Like Russell, Scrivens grew up in Alberta and only recently came back to stake his claim. And boy, did he ever do this -- in his fourth appearance for Edmonton, no less -- when he set an NHL record by stopping 59 shots in shutting out the Sharks. Combine this effort with a sparkling stat line (combined 1.98 GAA, .937 SV%, and four shutouts in 25) and you have the makings of a promising career. For now, at least, the reality is he suits up for the dreadful Oilers and that hasn't worked out too well for any goalie since their Stanley Cup days. And even though Scrivens has excelled these last few months, getting traded twice since June may be a warning about his chances of becoming an everyday No. 1 keeper.

(Dis)Honorable mention: Brendan Gallagher, F, Canadiens; Anton Khudobin, G, Hurricanes; Andrew MacDonald, D, Islanders; Mike Ribeiro, F, Coyotes; Carl Soderberg, F, Bruins

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Player News
Sam Carrick
Toronto's Carrick Signs One-Year Deal
Sam Carrick, C, TOR
11:39 AM
News: Sam Carrick signed a one-year deal with the Maple Leafs on Monday, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Sam Carrick spent the bulk of the year in the AHL, where he registered 27 points and 112 penalty minutes in 59 games. He also made 16 appearances for the Leafs, recording one goal and one assist.

Brad Richards
Blackhawks' Richards Sets Up Kane In Game 4 Win
Brad Richards, C, CHI
12:58 AM
News: Brad Richards assisted on Patrick Kane's game-tying power-play goal in Saturday's double-overtime victory over the Ducks in Game 4.
Analysis: Brad Richards has recorded a point in each game of the series thus far, giving the Blackhawks the offensive presence at the second-line center spot that was sorely missing during the past postseason. The 35-year-old submitted a mediocre regular season, but if he can remain productive for just a few more games, he'll be well worth the investment the Blackhawks made.

Brent Seabrook
Blackhawks' Seabrook Nets Game 4 Goal
Brent Seabrook, D, CHI
12:56 AM
News: Brent Seabrook tallied a goal in Saturday's Game 4 triumph over the Ducks.
Analysis: It was an effective all-around game for Brent Seabrook, who finished with four shot attempts, four hits, and six blocks across 32:03 of ice time. With coach Joel Quenneville showing little trust in fifth and sixth defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Kyle Cumiskey, Seabrook should be poised to log big minutes for the remainder of the postseason.

Valtteri Filppula
Bolts' Filppula Pots Game-Winner In Game 5 Sunday
Valtteri Filppula, C, TB
5/24/2015
News: Valtteri Filppula scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 Sunday against the Rangers.
Analysis: It was the third goal of the postseason for Valtteri Filppula, who has racked up four points in his last three games. Skating with Steve Stamkos, Filppula is having a decent postseason, notching 10 points in 18 games. He doesn't shoot much, but when he does, it can be lethal. Filppula's struck twice on the power play this postseason and is averaging 20:30 of ice time, making him a reliable scoring option who has helped Tampa Bay grab a 3-2 stranglehold on their series against the Rangers.

Steven Stamkos
Bolts' Stamkos Scores For Fourth Straight Game
Steven Stamkos, C, TB
5/24/2015
News: Steven Stamkos scored for the fourth straight game and added an assist in Sunday's Game 5 win over the Rangers.
Analysis: After recording just three points in seven games against Detroit in the first round, Steven Stamkos has exploded for 14 points in his last 11 games. The 25-year-old has seven points in his last four games and is the first player in Lightning history to score in four straight playoff games. With the Bolts now one win away from advancing onto the Stanley Cup Final, look for Stamkos, who sits second in NHL playoff scoring, to have another big outing in Game 6 Tuesday in Tampa Bay.

Henrik Lundqvist
Rangers' Lundqvist Stops 20 Shots In Game 5 Loss
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
5/24/2015
News: Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 of 22 shots in Sunday's Game 5 loss to the Lightning.
Analysis: While the King turned in a decent performance, his opponent Ben Bishop was sensational, stopping all 26 shots he faced. Henrik Lundqvist has now lost three of his last four games, with the Rangers now on the brink of elimination. The 33-year-old has been phenomenal in elimination games in the past, so he'll need to show more of the same magic if the Rangers hope to force a Game 7 Tuesday against the Lightning in Game 6.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop Pitches 26-Save Shutout In Game 5
Ben Bishop, G, TB
5/24/2015
News: Ben Bishop stopped all 26 shots he faced in Sunday's Game 5 win over the Rangers.
Analysis: A fantastic outing from Ben Bishop, who had to leave warmups early after taking a shot in a very uncomfortable place. It was a great bounce-back performance from the 28-year-old, who had been burned for 10 goals in his last two games. Bishop's now 11-7-0 in this postseason and is one win away from advancing onto the Stanley Cup Final. Now that he's back on his game, look for Big Ben to have another giant outing in Game 6 Tuesday as the Bolts look to close out the series.

Braydon Coburn
Lightning's Coburn Misses Most Of Game 5 While Ill
Braydon Coburn, D, TB
5/24/2015
News: Braydon Coburn missed most of Sunday's Game 5 against the Rangers due to an illness, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: Lightning coach Jon Cooper hinted after the game that Braydon Coburn was vomiting on the bench, and the defenseman didn't play at all during the second period. Coburn finished with just 5:43 of ice time, after topping 15 minutes in each of the series' first four games. He can be considered day-to-day as the Lightning take a 3-2 series lead back to Tampa Bay for Tuesday's Game 6.

Lubomir Visnovsky
Isles' Visnovsky Could Be Headed To Austria
Lubomir Visnovsky, D, NYI
5/24/2015
News: Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) is close to signing a deal to play in Austria next season, according to SNY.tv.
Analysis: Lubomir Visnovsky is a free agent who has suffered several concussions over the past couple of seasons and was probably not going to be re-signed by the Islanders. While the Isles will miss Visnovsky's offensive skills and especially his ability to quarterback the power play, this may end up being addition by subtraction.

Matt Carle
Lightning's Carle Good To Go
Matt Carle, D, TB
5/24/2015
News: Matt Carle (undisclosed) will play in Sunday's Game 5 against the Rangers, ESPN's Mike Mazzeo reports.
Analysis: As expected, Matt Carle will rejoin the lineup after missing Friday's Game 4. He figures to work on the third defensive pairing alongside Andrej Sustr.

 
 
 
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