A week before deadline day, the Penguins and Stars made one of the biggest trades of the season when Matt Niskanen and James Neal went to Pittsburgh for Alex Goligoski. Fantasy owners were united about one thing: Neal would be the biggest beneficiary.
Not so fast.
Neal has managed just four points in 12 contests with his new team. Granted, he was brought in to play with Sidney Crosby so when he returns I fully expect Neal to become a 70-plus point player. But the dynamic in Dallas is now completely different and it’s to the benefit of 21-year-old Jamie Benn.
Since that pre-deadline deal, Benn has been held of the scoresheet just twice, with points in 10 straight games (eight goals, six assists in that span). He’s clicking on the wing on a line with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro, although he did not look out of place as a center during Brad Richards’ absence. Benn has always been a potential point-per-game player, but the removal of Neal from the lineup has given Benn the ice time needed to get to that level sooner, rather than later.
The main difference is in power play time. Prior to the trade, Benn’s PP time per game hovered just below the two-minute mark. Now it’s up to 2:20 per game and rising. It doesn’t seem like much, but over an 82-game schedule that means the difference between 65 and 75 points, which is where I boldly think he’ll land in 2011-12.
A lot of keeper league owners breathed a sigh of relief when Craig Anderson re-signed with the Senators. After seeing what happened last season, there was fear Anderson would go the way of Marty Turco, Evgeni Nabokov or Jose Theodore. You know: from starter to barely getting an NHL job. And you can add Antti Niemi to the list as well. There was one point last summer where I was certain Niemi would have to sign in Europe somewhere before he was saved by the San Jose Shark bell. Everything worked out great, but it could have been quite different. Now that Anderson has a home and will be a 65-game starter (health permitting) next season, his owners can relax.
Sergei Samsonov has done this to us before, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of it for the short term. When he first arrived in Carolina he banged off 32 points in 38 games to finish the season, thereby leading many poolies to believe he had found his home. After drafting him as a possible 65-point player, reality quickly set in for those poolies as ‘Sammy’ managed just 103 points in his next 211 games. Now a member of the Panthers, he’s teasing us again with nine points in 10 games. He also has three consecutive two-point efforts. Since Samsonov is a former Calder Trophy winner (1998), he gets a lot more rope in fantasy circles than most players would. But I wouldn’t count on anything more than a good final two weeks of the season.
Eric Belanger is at it again. Although, his hot streaks generally fall in that October to December window before he tails off in the second half. I was burned by this once several years ago, scooping him up at 32 points in 42 games and then watching him finish with 37 total. But lately, the Phoenix pivot has been putting up the points: nine of them in his past seven games to go with a plus-7 rating in that span.
Torrey Mitchell, to me, has always been a ‘tweener.’ That is to say, a potential second-line winger who could put up 55 to 60 points, but mostly spends his time bouncing back and forth between the second and third line. However, injuries have derailed his progress and now he is likely a third-liner for good. That being said, he’s certainly posting huge numbers across the board right now and makes for an excellent short-term solution. In his past eight games, the San Jose winger has seven points, 23 shots on goal, six penalty minutes and is a plus-6.
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.
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