Another week, another steady stream of questions from readers. They're coming in faster than we can get to them, so again, be patient and hopefully we'll get to all of them eventually.
Your column is great and so is The Hockey News in general. I have a bit of a three-pronged attack ready for you here. So here goes:
1. My first question is regarding my main man Jarome Iginla. I'm a massive Flames fan and I know we aren't the most offensively gifted squad in the NHL, but do you think the addition of Alex Tanguay is enough to spark Iggy this season?
2. My second question is about Henrik Zetterberg. I picked him up in my fantasy league only to find that he cannot score at all. Is he worth keeping?
3. Finally, do you think Evgeni Nabokov will stay with the Sharks or do you think he will be traded to a team in the same goaltending situation as the Bruins?
Thanks mate, and keep up the good work.
- Matt W. Melbourne, Australia
First of all, thanks for calling me Â“mate.Â” It's a big improvement on the names many readers usually reserve for their correspondence with me. Now let's get down to business.
1. Iginla sure looks to be making more headway on offense so far this season. However, it sure isn't because of the influence of Tanguay, who is so far inside Jim Playfair's doghouse, they had to build a separate wing for him.
As I mentioned last week, there's an intriguing option out there in the person of Iginla's former centerman Craig Conroy, currently wasting away in Los Angeles. But Calgary's problems run much deeper than that. Without Miikka Kiprusoff functioning at Vezina Trophy-level, the Flames need more than one line to do the scoring. Right now, that's a pipe dream on the level of the Coyotes rebounding to make the playoffs.
2. Zetterberg scored a goal against the Hawks last night, snapping his nine-game goal drought, his longest since his sophomore season in 2003-04. Like the Red Wings, he's had a rocky start this season, but like the Red Wings, he seems to be warming up. Deal him at your own peril.
3. I don't think Nabokov will finish the season in San Jose. He's not playing all that poorly (two shutouts, a .914 save percentage, and a 2.31 goals-against average), but he is being outplayed by Vesa Toskala. If Sharks GM Doug Wilson wants to add a proven veteran to his blueline, Nabokov is one of the few assets he would willingly part with.
Rumor has it Erik Cole might be traded from the Carolina Hurricanes. Know anything about that?
- Robert Hankin
I haven't heard anything that would suggest Jim Rutherford has given up on Cole. The winger hasn't been scoring anywhere close to the pace that made him such a key component of Carolina's regular-season dominance last year, but he's still getting primo ice time and is a physical force for the Â‘Canes. You don't give up on a big power forward that easily.
Here are my questions:
Although he's been out for a couple weeks, Martin Havlat has jumpstarted the Blackhawks and his linemates are really producing.
Will this continue and will players like Radim Vrbata reach the 70-80 point mark?
Also, what's the deal with Tuomo Ruutu? Will he center Havlat and is he worth jumping on early?
- Paul Staz
In the six games he's played since Havlat was injured, Vrbata has just a goal and two points. He had 13 goals and 34 points in 45 games with the Hawks last season, which suggests he doesn't necessarily need Havlat to put up points. But the sooner Havlat returns from a dreaded high ankle sprain Â– and nobody, including Havlat, knows when that will be Â– the better chance Vrbata has at being a point-a-game player.
Ruutu, meanwhile, has played three games now since returning from a sprained knee he suffered in the pre-season. He still doesn't have a point, but there's no doubt he's got the tools to be a force on offense. If he and Havlat are healthy at the same time, they will play together, and you'd be smart to get hold of him. But that's a big Â“ifÂ”.
I'm in a 10-team positional keeper league and was another sucker who underestimated Matt Carle. In any case, I picked another young defenseman named Dan Hamhuis, who has logged plenty of minutes, but has done squat in terms of points.
Another Predators defensemen (Ryan Suter) isn't doing too shabby and is still available. I'm curious what your take on Suter is (and the Preds defense in general).
Hamhuis seems to be one of their workhorses, but sees no PP time. I'm not about to give up Hamhuis, but if someone like Suter can continue his production, I'm all over that.
- Travis Hammond
Hamhuis has fallen off the radar offensively this season, but he plays a ton of minutes and should accumulate points on a Predators team that just keeps getting better.
Though they're a bit young, I like Nashville's defense a lot. Suter has been an offensive revelation so far - he's got two goals in his last two games - and with seven points in 12 games, he's nearly halfway toward equaling his rookie offensive output of 16 points in 71 games last season. And he's only 21 years old. Get on him while the getting's good.
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