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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
John Klingberg
Stars' Klingberg Sinks Canucks In OT
John Klingberg, D, DAL
12:52 PM
News: John Klingberg scored the overtime-winning goal Saturday against Vancouver.
Analysis: It was a perfect shot from the 22-year-old, who now has 11 goals and 38 points in 59 games. While his goal Saturday was his first in 22 games, the youngster has been logging heavy minutes for the Stars and has been steadily dishing out the assists. Playing on the top power-play unit with Tyler Seguin, John Klingberg has emerged as a lethal offensive defenseman who is playing a key role for a Stars team that has won five of their last six games.

Cody Eakin
Stars' Eakin Picks Up Two Assists
Cody Eakin, C, DAL
12:48 PM
News: Cody Eakin collected a pair of assist in Saturday's win over Vancouver.
Analysis: Skating on the second line, Cody Eakin has been producing steadily of late, racking up five goals and 11 points in his last 14 games. The 23-year-old has a career-high 17 goals this season and is a solid scorer for a Dallas team that has won five of their last six games.

Trevor Daley
Stars' Daley Assists Twice In Return
Trevor Daley, D, DAL
12:44 PM
News: Trevor Daley returned to the lineup Saturday, collecting two assists in 24:19 of ice time in Saturday's win over Vancouver.
Analysis: Trevor Daley had been out since March 3 with a knee injury, but returned in a big way Saturday, helping the Stars pick up their fifth win in six games. Daley now has 35 points in 62 games and appears back to full health. With 16 goals on the season, including six power-play tallies, Daley is worth adding if he's available.

Tyler Seguin
Stars' Seguin Pots 34th Goal
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL
12:38 PM
News: Tyler Seguin scored his 34th goal of the season and had an assist in Saturday's win over vancouver.
Analysis: Tyler Seguin is now up to 69 points in 66 games, with early-November marking the last time he went more than two games without recording a point. With 11 power-play tallies and 258 shots on goal, the 23-year-old fantasy stud is a must-start every game.

Eddie Lack
Canucks' Lack Gives Up Four Goals In OT Loss
Eddie Lack, G, VAN
12:14 PM
News: Eddie Lack gave up four goals on 40 shots in Saturday's overtime loss to the Stars.
Analysis: A decent outing for Eddie Lack, who has now lost two straight games, surrendering seven goals in that span. The 27-year-old falls to 14-11-4 on the season, but still owns an impressive .919 save percentage and 2.48 GAA. Ryan Miller (knee) appears to be out for the remainder of the regular season, so the Canucks playoff hopes will be riding on Lack. Keep him rolling, as everything is on the line and he should be at his best.

Kari Lehtonen
Stars' Lehtonen Makes 33 Saves In Win
Kari Lehtonen, G, DAL
12:07 PM
News: Kari Lehtonen stopped 33 of 36 shots in Saturday's win over the Canucks.
Analysis: While Kari Lehtonen has won eight of his last 10 games, he's allowed at least three goals in four straight outings. While his .907 save percentage and 2.84 GAA needs work, Lehtonen's 34-15-10 record makes him a reliable fantasy option. He starts almost every game and hasn't suffered back-to-back regulation losses since late-January.

Chris Higgins
Canucks' Higgins Pots 11th Goal
Chris Higgins, LW, VAN
1:56 AM
News: Chris Higgins scored a power-play goal in Saturday's loss to Dallas.
Analysis: A rare power-play goal for Chris Higgins, who has just two tallies with the man advantage all season. While he often goes through dry spells, the 31-year-old has two goals and three points in his last three games and is playing alongside the red-hot Radim Vrbata. He's stuck at 11 goals on the season, but his recent play indicates he could be starting a hot streak to finish the regular season. If he can build off these last few performances, he could be worth scooping up in some very deep leagues.

Nick Bonino
Canucks' Bonino Nets Two Points In Loss
Nick Bonino, C, VAN
1:52 AM
News: Nick Bonino scored his 14th goal of the season and had an assist in Saturday's loss to the Stars.
Analysis: Nick Bonino has been producing steadily of late, notching three goals and nine points in his last 15 games. Skating on a line with Radim Vrbata and seeing second-unit power-play time, Bonino now has 34 points in 68 games on the season. He's isn't tearing it up, but his consistent production makes him worth a nab in deeper leagues, as these final games for the Canucks are must-wins.

Chris Tanev
Canucks' Tanev Logs Two Assists
Chris Tanev, D, VAN
1:42 AM
News: Chris Tanev registered a pair of assists in Saturday's loss to Dallas.
Analysis: While it was a good offensive night for Chris Tanev, he was a mess defensively, finishing a minus-2. The 25-year-old now has a career-high 18 points in 63 games, while averaging 20:59 of ice time. He shows flashes of offensive brilliance and his plus-9 rating is solid, but with just 48 shots on goal and two power-play points, Tanev's fantasy value is mostly restricted to deeper formats.

Radim Vrbata
Canucks' Vrbata Scores 30th Goal
Radim Vrbata, RW, VAN
1:38 AM
News: Radim Vrbata hit the 30-goal mark Saturday, scoring a power-play goal and adding an assist in a loss to the Stars.
Analysis: Another strong outing for Radim Vrbata, who has been firing on all cylinders of late. He now sits 10th in the NHL goal-scoring race and has racked up four goals and nine points in his last five games. He's fired 18 shots on goal in his last three games and is up to 58 points in 72 games on the season. You know what to do.

 
 
 
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