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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
Joe Colborne
Colborne Stuffs Stat Sheet For Flamse
Joe Colborne, C, CGY
1:49 AM
News: Joe Colborne scored a goal, picked up an assist, went plus-2 and collected four PIM in Tuesday's win over Buffalo.
Analysis: The Sabres are as fantasy-friendly as an opponent can be, and Joe Colborne took advantage to deliver his third goal and fifth point in the last four games. He's starting to get rolling offensively again and is worth a look in deeper formats.

Jiri Hudler
Flames' Hudler Overcomes Illness, Assists Twice
Jiri Hudler, LW, CGY
1:46 AM
News: Jiri Hudler posted a pair of assists -- one on the power play -- and went plus-2 in Tuesday's win over the Sabres.
Analysis: He'd been iffy coming in with an illness, but certainly looked healthy out there, firing four shots on goal -- his highest shot total since Dec. 16. Unsurprisingly for someone who's been shooting so little, Jiri Hudler hasn't been scoring many goals lately -- he has just one in his last 14 games, although he's racked up 10 assists in that span.

Johnny Gaudreau
Flames' Gaudreau Exits Break With Two Goals
Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY
1:44 AM
News: Johnny Gaudreau pushed his point streak to three games by scoring goals on both of his shots -- one on the power play -- Tuesday against Buffalo.
Analysis: An efficient game for Johnny Gaudreau, who has a four-game streak if you include the All-Star Game. But we don't, of course. He just keeps looking better and better, and is on pace to easily hit 60 points while playing the least-physical hockey in the league -- the rookie hasn't taken a penalty in his 48 career NHL games, and he just five hits all year.

Jonas Hiller
Hiller, Flames Easily Top Sabres
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
1:41 AM
News: Jonas Hiller faced just 18 shots Tuesday, turning aside 17 in a 4-1 victory over Buffalo.
Analysis: It's the 12th straight loss for the Sabres, and like most of them, it was pretty easy for the opposition. Jonas Hiller was rarely tested while ending a stretch of four straight appearances without a win. He's been inconsistent this year, but still represents the top starting option in net for the Flames.

Jhonas Enroth
Enroth, Sabres Emerge From Break With Loss
Jhonas Enroth, G, BUF
1:39 AM
News: Jhonas Enroth gave up four goals on 31 shots in Tuesday's loss to Calgary.
Analysis: In a typical Buffalo-style game, his teammates mustered only 18 shots on opposing goalie Jonas Hiller. That's seven straight losing starts for Jhonas Enroth (he had one relief appearance without a decision in that span), who's given up a stunning 34 goals on those seven losses. Yes, 34. A whopping 22 of those have come in his last four starts.

Charlie Coyle
Wild's Coyle Scores One For Highlight Reels
Charlie Coyle, C, MIN
1:36 AM
News: Charlie Coyle scored a late-third-period goal Tuesday to make the difference in a 2-1 win over Edmonton.
Analysis: It was one for the highlight reels, as Charlie Coyle swooped down the ice by himself at high speed past Oilers goalie Viktor Fasth, went past the net, sent the puck up toward the goal line, and then came back with the stick to tap it home from behind the goal. It's worth watching again and again. Coyle's offense remains inconsistent, but Tuesday's goal offers a reminder of what he's capable of doing.

Devan Dubnyk
Dubnyk, Wild Emerge From Break With Win
Devan Dubnyk, G, MIN
1:32 AM
News: Devan Dubnyk stopped 23 of 24 to deliver a 2-1 victory over his old Edmonton mates on Tuesday.
Analysis: He'd struggled a bit in the last two games before the break after getting off to a big start with Minnesota, and there's been a sharp difference so far in Devan Dubnyk's results when facing good teams vs. bad ones. He's allowed two goals in total while beating the Oilers, Coyotes and Sabres, but gave up seven goals in two games against Columbus and Detroit.

Viktor Fasth
Oilers' Fasth Plays Well In Loss
Viktor Fasth, G, EDM
1:29 AM
News: Viktor Fasth allowed just two goals on 29 shots, but took the loss Tuesday against visiting Minnesota.
Analysis: Ex-Oiler Devan Dubnyk stuck it to his old mates on the other side, ending Viktor Fasth's brief two-game winning streak. He's posted save marks of .925 or higher in three of the last four, but Fasth's body of work as a whole this year suggests that he can hardly be trusted by fantasy owners.

Rickard Rakell
Ducks' Rakell Picks Up Two Points
Rickard Rakell, C, ANA
1:27 AM
News: Rickard Rakell scored a goal and picked up a power-play assist in Tuesday's win over the Canucks.
Analysis: With 15:19 of ice time, he skated more than he had in any of the last 10 games, and along with that came his highest shot total (four) since Dec. 22. The former first-round pick has noteworthy offensive upside, and he seems to be realizing it in fits and starts now. He's becoming fantasy-relevant in deeper formats.

Ryan Miller
Miller, Canucks Fall To Anaheim
Ryan Miller, G, VAN
1:24 AM
News: Ryan Miller allowed three goals on 23 shots and watched his team get shut out in Tuesday's loss to Anaheim.
Analysis: Well, if you're gonna lose, you might as well lose to the best. Ryan Miller and the Canucks have dropped two in a row, but both against quality opponents in Anaheim and Tampa Bay. An easier matchup looms Friday against Miller's old Sabres mates.

 
 
 
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