Drew Miller, brother of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, has 11 points in 38 games with Detroit this season. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Red Wings are dropping like flies and it’s been interesting to see how the dynamic of the team shifts when so many key components go down with injury. Most of the changes have rather large fantasy implications for the short term.
Goaltenders Jimmy Howard (day-to-day, knee), Chris Osgood (out until March, groin), defenseman Brad Stuart (indefinitely, jaw), and forwards Tomas Holmstrom (one month, hand), Dan Cleary (out for another month, ankle) and Pavel Datsyuk (another month, hand) are all on the shelf.
As far as goaltending is concerned, Joey MacDonald will get the free wins since this team wins a ton of games no matter who they put on the ice, so for a goalie-starved fantasy team, plucking MacDonald off the wire is a great way to add a couple of W’s. Backup Thomas McCollum will probably not see a shot unless MacDonald stumbles or Howard is out for an extended period of time.
On the blueline, Jonathan Ericsson has been taking advantage of the added ice time Stuart’s absence has created. Ericsson had a great game Saturday, complete with two points and a plus-3 rating, and he’s been piling up the penalty minutes as well. The 26-year-old has a great fantasy future as a multi-category stud. In a couple of years he could be bringing you 45 points, 100 PIM and an obscene plus-minus number.
Up front, with an entire line wiped out in Holmstrom, Datsyuk and Cleary, I expected to see a lot from Jiri Hudler, who had been in the doghouse. We’re seeing something from him, but still not enough. He has eight points in his past 10 games, but only four in the past eight games, so his ice time has started to slip again.
It’s easy to take away Hudler’s ice time when the likes of Drew Miller and Darren Helm are producing like they are. Helm has 10 points in his past nine games, while Miller has six in his past six. If Miller keeps this up, look for him to eat away at Hudler’s PP time. Miller is already a coach favorite and Hudler is on a short leash. In the short term, both Helm and Miller make excellent stop-gaps for your team.
It’s been the story of the Red Wings for almost two decades: Players step up from all over the organization and sometimes a diamond is found in the rough when he otherwise may never have received the chance.
Since returning from his upper-body injury, 27-year-old Jussi Jokinen has been reunited with Eric Staal and the results have been fantastic: Seven points in four games and counting. That gives Jokinen 33 on the season and puts him back on track for 63 on the year, even though he missed six games. It’s always nice when a player still hits his projected output even though he missed some time. Jokinen could potentially do even better than that, provided he remains on the top line.
It’s only been one game - well, one period actually - but the line combination of Wojtek Wolski along with rookies Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello sure clicked Sunday night. With Marian Gaborik stapled to the bench in the second period and much of the third for lackluster production, Zuccarello was moved into his spot and the new trio scored two quick goals. It’s something to keep an eye on, particularly if Gaborik can get rolling on another line, perhaps back with Brandon Dubinsky.
The Canucks recalled Sergei Shirokov from the Manitoba Moose of the American League. He has yet to play in the NHL this season, but seems to be getting used to North American hockey after a rough season a year ago, as he leads the Moose in scoring with 33 points in 39 contests. Shirokov will be turning 25 in two months, so his window of opportunity to start a successful NHL career is small. But he’s highly talented and it’s top-six or bust. If he makes any kind of impression on the Canucks in these final three months, he’ll be a regular next season.
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.