Tobias Enstrom is nearing a return to action after missing one month from injury.
Analysis: Tobias Enstrom is still probably about a week away if not more from returning to action from a shoulder injury. Enstrom is available in 10-50% of fantasy leagues but he is going fast. At the time of his injury he was having a career year averaging 24 minutes of ice time per game and an elite mark of .84 assists per game. He’s also put up 6 power play points in just 13 games played which is still a team high. For his career Enstrom is averaging .46 assists per game which is in the top ten among active defensemen.
Enstrom may not score tons of goals and his plus/minus may be pedestrian but he is one elite defensemen. His assists, ice time and power play points make him a top twenty defensemen going forward this year. The only reason he remains available in so many leagues is because he plays in Winnipeg and he’s not from North America. Holding out for an exact date for his return will cost you if you choose to wait in this situation.
Jiri Hudler hasn’t been playing his best hockey in the past week but he remains a valuable fantasy forward as the injuries pile up around the league.
Analysis: Hudler has posted 16 points in 20 games this season and is a minus-1 on a team with a negative 16 goal differential. He has plenty of fantasy strengths. His ice time is in the 17-18 minutes per game range and he gets plenty of time on the Calgary power play. He doesn’t take many penalties but he does shoot enough and maintains a respectable plus/minus on an awful team.
Hudler is available in 50% of fantasy leagues which does not come as a surprise even though he ranks 63rd among all NHL forwards averaging .80 points per game. Remember that last year he did post 50 points in Detroit in limited ice time.
If guys like Milan Michalek or Clarke MacArthur are available you’ll definitely want to pick them up. Keep in mind that Michalek is going through some knee issues so you will want to monitor his status. The twenty-eight year old Michalek has scored 53 goals in 143 games over the last two years which is .37 goals per game.
The Chicago Blackhawks are playing great but is the Viktor Stalberg hype deserving?
Analysis: Viktor Stalberg is having a solid year, 13 points in 24 games. He is a plus-9 and has 59 shots on goal. Obviously he is going to be picked up in some leagues but the amount of attention he is receiving seems to negate what he doesn’t do from a fantasy perspective.
Stalberg has only posted 1 power play point this year and had 0 last year in 79 games. This is a surprising stat since he has spent at least a few minutes per game on the man advantage over the past few weeks. We also have to take into consideration that he’s only getting 14 minutes of ice time per game and that number isn’t going to go up unless there are even more injuries in Chicago. Stalberg doesn’t rack up the penalty minutes either which is what you would like from guys who only produce at a half point per game.
He currently ranks as the 99th best fantasy forward this year but if his shots or plus/minus take a hit he will be worthless. The hype isn’t justified but he is a fine fantasy option for now.
Sergei Bobrovsky’s play has been very good as of late as he continues to fly under the fantasy radar.
Analysis: Bobrovsky has allowed two or fewer goals in six of his last eight starts. Unfortunately he only has three wins in that eight game span. Regardless of Columbus’ inability to score, Bobrovsky has been extremely impressive. Over the last two weeks Bobrovsky is the 12th rated fantasy goaltender. What is even more surprising is that he is available in 70-80% of fantasy leagues.
Bobrovsky has only played in 14 of Columbus’ games this year but look for him to get increased playing time over the next few months. His save percentage and goals against average is significantly better than Steve Mason who has seen action in 11 games this year.
With injuries to Craig Anderson, Cam Ward(long term) and Martin Brodeur you have to consider Bobrovsky even if Columbus can’t score. You really don’t know what you are going to get from Anders Lindack or even Brian Elliott right now, so don’t count on those guys going forward although Tampa’s offense may keep Lindback relevant.
Sergei Gonchar may only have one point in his last nine games but he is still producing in other fantasy areas.
Analysis: Despite his lack of points production Sergei Gonchar is still a must own. He’s twentieth in the NHL among defensemen in shots with 42 despite missing three games earlier this year. Gonchar is also twenty-third among NHL defensemen in ice time per game at 24:14. He is a plus-2 thus far this year but I wouldn’t expect much more than that due to the significant injuries on the Ottawa squad. The points and especially the power play points will come as Gonchar continues to get tons of minutes on the power play.
A few owners have dropped Gonchar because of his points production… don’t make the same mistake. His shots and ice time are elite and he will only hurt you in penalty minutes which isn’t that bad of a thing. Gonchar has outperformed Marek Zidlicky, Justin Faulk and John Carlson over the past two weeks despite being dropped. Gonchar is available in 5-30% of fantasy leagues so pick him up now before he starts scoring again.