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Fantasy Pool Look: The Kovalchuk conundrum

Ilya Kovalchuk has five goals and 14 points through 28 games after scoring at better than a point-per-game pace last season. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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Ilya Kovalchuk has five goals and 14 points through 28 games after scoring at better than a point-per-game pace last season. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Ilya Kovalchuk.

After sitting here thinking of how to finish that sentence, I thought it best to just leave it at that and ask you to press your lips together, widen your eyes and shrug your shoulders. What else can you say about a player entering his prime who has consistently produced in the 85- to 95-point range, but is on pace for just 40?

It’s not getting better, either. Sure, he has three points in his past two games, but they were all assists. He has just two goals in his past 20 games and carries a minus-9 rating in his past eight.

So what do you do if you own him? Shop him. I only wish it were that easy. Different fantasy leagues have different owners with different personalities. In one league, you may find an owner who covets having the Kovalchuk name on his squad and will give you fair value for him. He would get a discount, obviously, but not so much of one that it cripples you. In another league, you may discover all owners show disinterest. It all depends on the personalities. In one league I packaged him with two other players to land Dany Heatley - and then I merely replaced the other two players from the waiver wire. In another league, I only received an offer of...um...Dion Phaneuf. Incredible difference.

If you get lucky, great. But if nobody steps up with something reasonable, you have to sit on him. At some point, Kovalchuk is going to post a point-per-game. If he starts that right now he’ll finish with 67 points. If he starts doing it two weeks from now, he’s looking at 60 points. We don’t know when the turnaround will happen, although if coach John MacLean is ever let go it’s a good bet Kovalchuk’s turnaround will begin right away.

I wish my crystal ball was a lot clearer on the matter...

If you do decide to bench Kovalchuk, a winger to consider as a replacement is Nashville’s Sergei Kostitsyn. Believe it or not, the skilled yet underachieving Belarussian has seven points in his past five games. He is also a plus-6 in that span and his ice time has slowly crept up past the 16-minute mark. Still only 23, this is a last-ditch offensive run that he needs to stretch into several weeks if he’s to avoid heading to the Kontinental League next season...

An under-the-radar, multi-category pickup would be winger Brandon Prust of the Rangers. In the past 17 games, Prust has 10 points, 44 penalty minutes and is plus-5...

Farm Report

The Habs have recalled prospect Max Pacioretty from Hamilton of the American League. How could they not? They’re struggling to score and ‘Pac-man’ has been absolutely tearing up the AHL this year. He leads the league in goals (17 in 27 games) and also has 15 assists, which puts him second in the scoring race with 32 points. After a rough season a year ago, Pacioretty is back on track to be a top-sixer in the NHL and it could happen as early as...now.

 

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com
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