Jiri Hudler has eight points in 31 games this season. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Pavel Datsyuk is on the shelf for the next month, which frees up, oh, 19:29 of ice time and 3:26 of power play time per game, give or take a second. That’s a lot of key ice time up for grabs and the players on the receiving end will see a nice boost in production as a result.
The situation becomes even more extreme with Daniel Cleary suffering a broken ankle Sunday. In the case of Cleary, that means 15:50 and 1:13 PP are freed up.
Considering Henrik Zetterberg couldn’t possibly see more ice time and PP time than he already does, and that Tomas Holmstrom is already logging tons of time with the man advantage, the list of candidates for a boost is a short one. Johan Franzen, Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula and Todd Bertuzzi are the potential top-sixers who stand to benefit.
A lot of poolies - and you can count me as one of them - are turning their attention to Hudler. The shifty Czech has been a major disappointment this campaign and he has slowly played his way into coach Mike Babcock’s doghouse. However, with Datsyuk out, Babcock decided to give Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller some time on the power play rather than grant Hudler more shifts. How big of a slap in the face is that? Well, the combined average power play time given to Miller and Abdelkader this season is just 16 seconds.
The Cleary injury seems to have forced the matter, however. Cleary had been playing with Filppula and Bertuzzi, whereas Hudler had been lining up with Miller and Abdelkader. Somebody had to be promoted. Hudler finally got his chance Monday, replacing Cleary on the second line, seeing more PP time and tallying two points. Look for the turnaround to continue.
In Buffalo, the Sabres are feeling a similar void. Their top scorer, Derek Roy, is out for the season with a torn quadriceps tendon. During the rest of the game Roy left, coach Lindy Ruff leaned on veteran Jochen Hecht and youngster Nathan Gerbe to provide some offense. Each of them saw twice as much PP time as they’re used to seeing and that’s a trend that could hold. Rookies Tyler Ennis and Luke Adam should also see a small boost, but the early indication is Gerbe and Hecht will get the biggest lift.
With Patrick Kane, Viktor Stalberg and Marian Hossa all hitting the sidelines recently, we’ve seen the likes of Troy Brouwer and Bryan Bickell really step up. Since being a healthy scratch in early November, Bickell has 15 points in his past 20 games, including 10 in his past nine. Brouwer has six in his past six games and has a firmer grip on his ice time. Hossa and Stalberg returned Sunday and when Kane returns (which could be Tuesday night), look for both Brouwer and Bickell to slip back to their expected range, especially Bickell.
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.