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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
Braden Holtby
Caps' Holtby Pulled In First Period Saturday
Braden Holtby, G, WAS
3/29/2015
News: Braden Holtby surrendered three goals on thirteen shots, and was pulled late in the first period of Washington's 4-3 loss to the Predators on Saturday.
Analysis: It was a poor outing for Braden Holtby, who had won four of his last five starts heading into Saturday's match against the Predators, a powerhouse in the Western Conference. The decision to pull him early in the game likely means he will be called upon to start Sunday's crucial showdown with the Metropolitan Division leading Rangers, but check before game time to confirm the start. Despite the poor performance, Holtby owns a sterling 36-19-9 record, with a 2.18 GAA and .925 save percentage, on the season.

Jonas Hiller
Flames Turn To Hiller On Sunday
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
3/29/2015
News: Jonas Hiller will be in the net Sunday against the Predators.
Analysis: Jonas Hiller has been the forgotten man in goal of late for the Flames, but he'll have a chance to stake his claim to the No. 1 gig with a strong outing against the Predators. Coach Bob Hartley has shown a tendency to ride the hot hand this season, and with Ramo's ratios starting to flat line, opportunity knocks for Hiller, who has a 21-18-4 record and 2.44 GAA this season.

Patrick Kane
Hawks' Kane Still On Target For Return
Patrick Kane, RW, CHI
3/29/2015
News: Patrick Kane, who is out with a broken clavicle, is still on track to return by the Western Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup playoffs if the Blackhawks get that far, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Analysis: The original diagnosis was that Patrick Kane would miss 12 weeks that put his return by the Western Conference Finals. Blackhawks' coach Joel Quenneville though sort of left open the door that he could return earlier. Kane has recently been skating on his own so it has spurred some optimism in the Blackhawks' camp that he will return before the conference finals.

Brandon Sutter
Pens' Sutter Exits With Injury
Brandon Sutter, C, PIT
3/29/2015
News: Brandon Sutter exited Saturday's game against the Coyotes in the third period with an injury, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Analysis: With only a few minutes left in the match, it appears unlikely that Brandon Sutter will return. He's the second player to exit for the Penguins, after defenseman Kris Letang was removed from the game in the second period following a hit into the boards. Sutter should be viewed as day-to-day heading into Sunday's match against the Sharks.

Trevor Daley
Stars' Daley Back In Saturday
Trevor Daley, D, DAL
3/29/2015
News: Trevor Daley (knee) will return to the lineup Saturday against the Canucks, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun reports.
Analysis: It will be Trevor Daley's first game since March 3, when he suffered a knee injury following a hit from the Isles' Matt Martin. While his return probably comes too late to help the Stars chase down a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, Daley should bolster many fantasy rosters with postseason play underway in many leagues. Despite the missed time, Daley's 16 goals still rank him tied for third among all NHL defensemen.

Jason Garrison
Bolts Rule Out Garrison With Upper-Body Injury
Jason Garrison, D, TB
3/29/2015
News: Jason Garrison was ruled out from returning to Saturday's game against the Red Wings due to an upper-body injury, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: Jason Garrison skated just two shifts and logged 0:41 of ice time before departing. He should be considered questionable ahead of Monday's game in Montreal until the Lightning issue further word on the severity of his injury.

Markus Granlund
Flu Keep Flames' Granlund Out Of Practice
Markus Granlund, C, CGY
3/29/2015
News: Markus Granlund missed Saturday's practice due to a case of the flu.
Analysis: The illness could put Markus Granlund at missing Sunday's game against the Predators. Josh Jooris centered the Flames' third line at practice with Granlund unavailable.

Kris Letang
Pens' Letang Departs With Injury Saturday
Kris Letang, D, PIT
3/29/2015
News: Kris Letang left Saturday's game in the second period after he was hit into the end boards by the Coyotes' Shane Doan, Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: The Penguins haven't ruled Kris Letang out of the game yet, but that seems like a safe conclusion after he was unable to skate off the ice on his own. It appeared that Letang's head backed into the boards on the hit, so the blueliner will undoubtedly be evaluated for a concussion, among other possible injuries. Penguins tough guy Steve Downie quickly got in a skirmish with Doan shortly after play resumed, but that won't make up for any potential absence for Letang, who entered Saturday ranked in a tie for second among all NHL blueliners with 54 points in 68 games.

Cedric Paquette
Lightning's Paquette Not Ruled Out For Monday
Cedric Paquette, C, TB
5:07 PM
News: Cedric Paquette does not have a fracture in his leg, but it's still unclear whether he'll be able to play Monday against Montreal, Reynaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: Cedric Paquette suffered the injury while trying to save an empty net goal late in Saturday's game. He has not been ruled out for Monday's game at this point, but the situation should become more clear as puck drop approaches.

Tanner Glass
Rangers' Glass Fined For Butt-Ending Bruins Player
Tanner Glass, LW, NYR
5:06 PM
News: Tanner Glass has been fined $3,897.85, the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for butt-ending Boston's Adam McQuaid during a melee at the end of Saturday's game, according to NHL's Department of Player Safety.
Analysis: He received a major penalty and a game misconduct during the game and the league was quick to hand down the fine.

 
 
 
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