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Neutral Zone Wrap: Keeper league options

by | Rotowire.com
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One of the most exciting trade deadlines in recent years is in the books and the attention now shifts from transactions to the playoff races. Same goes for you and your team, where the following few weeks will determine your Fantasy fate. But if you happen to participate in one of those keeper leagues and are already looking forward to next season, then you have your eye on who could be of service down the road.

With that said, let's look at who has been moved recently and recommend a few who can help now, who will help later, and who should be avoided. No one either directly or indirectly affected in the trades have been considered. And we'll forego the obvious selections, but that probably depends on what your definition of 'obvious' is. Hmm, guess that doesn't leave many options ahead. Oh well, here goes nothing:

Goalies

Today: Michal Neuvirth, Sabres

In his short career, the Czech keeper has discovered a knack for being overshadowed by a younger teammate. That says something since Neuvirth is only 25 and still sufficiently skilled. Turns out circumstances haven't changed in Buffalo, with Jhonas Enroth the patiently waiting successor for Ryan Miller's vacated throne. If you consider Enroth has only accumulated 79 NHL appearances and that the struggling Sabres are essentially holding auditions for the #1 spot, then Neuvirth could easily outshine his adversary (stopped 42 of 44 in his debut start).

(Honorable mention: Jaroslav Halak, Capitals)

Tomorrow: Jacob Markstrom, Canucks

Once considered the next great thing in Florida since the $5 early bird dinner special, Markstrom's career hit a few roadblocks. A few injuries, an influx of veteran competition, and an average resume in the AHL will not help one stick around at the top level (although a lifetime .917 SV% ain't terrible), so perhaps a stint with a less experienced netminder (countryman Eddie Lack) will wake up the supine Swede. It's no surprise the Canucks are undergoing a form of rebuild, so there's no reason Markstrom should be prevented from earning a regular role in the near future.

(Honorable mention: Viktor Fasth, Oilers)

Never: Tim Thomas, Stars

After a short sabbatical, Thomas was signed by the Panthers in September to continue the team's trend of frustrating their prospects by inserting over-the-hill talent for the purpose of stunting progress. The 2011 Conn Smythe winner hasn't exactly impressed in Florida (2.87 GAA, .909 SV% in 40); but to his credit, neither has anyone else in town. Even with Kari Lehtonen indefinitely dazed and confused in Dallas, there's no reason to trust the soon-to-be 40-year old freethinker from reclaiming old glory. But I guess if you need to fill a goaltending hole in your roster, then Thomas is better than a doorstop. Probably.

(Honorable mention: Ilya Bryzgalov, Wild)

Defense

Today: Andrew MacDonald, Flyers

Best known from his Long Island days for his multitude of minutes (regularly skated 23-plus a night), MacDonald could use the change of scenery to advance his Fantasy position. The ice time will undoubtedly decrease in Philly but he's set to earn just as many offensive opportunities. At many times this season for the Islanders, he had been asked to serve as the #1 option. On the Flyers, MacDonald isn't under all that pressure and may end up maintaining his steady numbers (24 points in 63 games for NYI). If nothing else, he can only boost his plus-minus (-19).

(Honorable mention: Andrej Meszaros, Bruins)

Tomorrow: Brayden McNabb, Kings

The Sabres possess so much young blueline talent that they were willing to swap McNabb out to the West Coast (albeit for University of Minnesota wunderkind Hudson Fasching). There's no denying the 2009 third-rounder's attacking prowess (95 in 145 in three seasons with Rochester) or his size (6'4", 210) but there's also no need for the Kings - who own a solid blueline contingent - to rush him into the lineup.

(Honorable mention: David Rundblad, Blackhawks)

Never: Rostislav Klesla, Buffalo Czech'd out

The only logical response to minor-league assignment on a suffering organization is to retire from North American play and announce an upcoming European farewell tour. Hey, the same thing happens to all of us at some point in our lives. So when the 31-year old Klesla is ready to swim back across the ocean begging for some NHL team to sign him, he probably shouldn't expect a long lineup of suitors.

(Honorable mention: Stephane Robidas, Ducks)

Forwards

Today: Shawn Matthias, Canucks

With the Canucks wounded down the middle (Daniel Sedin sidelined and Ryan Kesler at less than 100 percent), Matthias will be asked to help out in all areas. He's already seen action on the first power-play and has been singled out by head coach John Tortorella for his impressive two-way performance. And while the Red Wing draftee has never been known as an elite scorer (21 in 48 last season classifies as decent), there's a chance for improvement on a forward unit lacking depth.

(Honorable mention: Steve Ott, Blues; Tuomo Ruutu, Devils)

Tomorrow: Brandon Pirri, Panthers

It was a shame the former RPI standout never really received a fair chance in Chicago (guess there was no room for a 22-year old who puts up 11 in 28). Less than a week in his new surroundings, Pirri has already been offered a better position as he currently centers a line with Jonathan Huberdeau. The Florida coaching staff would be wise not to overwork the kid nor waste his exceptional abilities (pretty much a point-per-game scorer in the AHL) in the minors.

(Honorable mention: Calle Jarnkrok, Predators; Andrei Loktionov, Hurricanes)

Never: Dustin Penner, Captials

Penner wasted golden opportunities in LA and Anaheim with a supposedly lazy attitude, so there's not much hope he'll suddenly shape up in the nation's capital. If you are even considering picking up Penner, then this may be the only fact you need to read in order to curb your urge: there are over 40 IHOP locations within a 10-mile radius of the DC area.

(Honorable mention: Martin Erat, Coyotes; Marcel Goc, Penguins)

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Player News
Jimmy Howard
Wings' Howard To Play Wednesday
Jimmy Howard, G, DET
3/4/2015
News: Jimmy Howard will be in the net for Wednesday's game against the Rangers, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports.
Analysis: Jimmy Howard has alternated starts with backup Jonas Gustavsson over the last four games, but he should still be viewed as the Red Wings' unquestioned No. 1 goalie. He's graded out as an above-average netminder this season with a 2.23 GAA and .917 save percentage, but he could struggle to uphold those numbers against a potent Rangers attack that ranks second in the league in scoring.

Alec Martinez
Kings' Martinez Hopes To Resume Skating This Week
Alec Martinez, D, LA
3/4/2015
News: The Kings are hopeful that Alec Martinez (concussion) will be able to resume skating at some point later this week, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Alec Martinez, who will miss his 11th straight game Tuesday against the Oilers, is evidently showing some signs of progress in his recovery from concussion-like symptoms, but until he gets back on the ice, a return from IR shouldn't be viewed as imminent. The 27-year-old's absence prompted the Kings to address the blue line at the trade deadline, with the team reeling in Andrej Sekera from the Hurricanes last week.

Gregory Campbell
Bruins' Campbell Iffy For Thursday
Gregory Campbell, C, BOS
3/4/2015
News: Gregory Campbell (upper body) did not absorb contact at Tuesday's practice.
Analysis: Gregory Campbell remains iffy for Thursday's game against the Flames, though with the Bruins having added forwards Brett Connolly and Maxime Talbot at the NHL trade deadline, the team can probably afford to not rush Campbell back.

Tyler Kennedy
Isles' Kennedy Will Start On Second Line
Tyler Kennedy, C, NYI
3/4/2015
News: Tyler Kennedy will begin his Islander career on the second line, according to the Islanders web site.
Analysis: Tyler Kennedy won't remain on the second line for long. With the Islanders suffering some injuries they need Ryan Strome to center the third line so for now Kennedy will play on a line with Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen but this will be changed as players like Kyle Okposo, Casey Cizikas and Mikhail Grabovski come off of IR.

Ben Scrivens
Oilers To Start Scrivens On Tuesday
Ben Scrivens, G, EDM
3/4/2015
News: Ben Scrivens will be in the crease for Tuesday's game against the Kings, Jason Gregor of OilersNation.com reports.
Analysis: Ben Scrivens will be sure to rise to the occasion for a game against his former team, but it's doubtful that his team will do much to help him out. An already porous Oilers squad became a little more suspect Monday by trading away Jeff Petry, leaving the team quite depleted in front of Scrivens. Of course, his offense hasn't been doing much of late either for Scrivens, who has given up two or fewer goals in three consecutive games but only has one win to show for it.

Kevin Bieksa
Canucks' Bieksa Remains Sidelined
Kevin Bieksa, D, VAN
3/4/2015
News: Coach Willie Desjardins indicated Tuesday that Kevin Bieksa (hand) is at least a week away from a return to action, Jon Abbott of tsnradiovancouver.ca reports.
Analysis: Such a timetable effective rules Kevin Bieksa out for at least the Canucks' next four games and a return to action March 12 against the Kings is hardly a lock for the blueliner, who last suited up Jan. 20.

Lubomir Visnovsky
Isles' Visnovsky Back In The Lineup
Lubomir Visnovsky, D, NYI
3/4/2015
News: Lubomir Visnovsky will draw back into the lineup Tuesday for the Islanders, according to Newsday's Arthur Staple.
Analysis: Coach Jack Capuano has been playing musical chairs between Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait and Tuesday Strait was left without a chair when the music stops.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks' Andersen Confirmed For Tuesday
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
3/4/2015
News: Frederik Andersen has been confirmed as the starter in goal for Tuesday's game against the Coyotes, Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Analysis: It will mark Frederik Andersen's first game since suffering a neck injury in his Feb. 8 start against the Lightning. John Gibson filled in admirably in Andersen's stead and has been especially sound in his last handful of outings, which may result in the Ducks employing a timeshare in goal over their next several games. That was precisely the situation that both goalies found themselves to start the season, only for Andersen to quickly emerge as the No. 1 option after Gibson floundered in the opener and later was reassigned to AHL Norfolk.

Jared Spurgeon
Wild's Spurgeon Gets In Skate Tuesday
Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN
3/4/2015
News: Jared Spurgeon (head) participated in Tuesday's morning skate, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Jared Spurgeon didn't appear to be facing any limitations during the session and is considered a possibility to play Thursday against the Capitals. However, with the Wild not holding practice Wednesday and thus not being able to make another assessment of Spurgeon's condition, the blueliner might have to wait until the weekend to get back in the lineup.

Matt Cooke
Wild's Cooke Resumes Skating
Matt Cooke, LW, MIN
3/4/2015
News: Matt Cooke (sports hernia) has been able to skate for the last week, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Despite his involvement on the ice, Matt Cooke isn't expected to resume practicing in the near future. It looks like a mid-March return is a best-case scenario for the winger, but it seems more likely that his timetable will extend beyond that.

 
 
 
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