Take a look at the stats leaders as of Monday. You’ll find five veterans of 14 or more seasons among the top 10 in points, with Jaromir Jagr at the top and Brendan Shanahan, Ray Whitney, Rod Brind’Amour and Mats Sundin rounding
out the list.
The 37-year-old Shanahan is also tied for the scoring lead with 12 goals.
These players will be owned in all hockey pools, as should Joe Sakic and Slava Kozlov, both in the top 30 in points. Mike Modano is another greybeard putting up consistent, if not spectacular, numbers in this not-so-new NHL.
A little further down the scoreboard, poolies will find other aging warriors amidst the wannabes and young hopefuls, many of whom could be free agents in your fantasy league.
There’s Keith Tkachuk, for example, and 20-year vet Scott Mellanby. Both were written off as fantasy entities this year but the rebounders now can boast of better stats than Jonathan Cheechoo and Alexander Semin.
Bill Guerin is also playing beneath his years and betters Pavel Datsyuk and
Ladislav Nagy in scoring. Mark Recchi has more points than Alex Tanguay and Patrice Bergeron.
Grab them if needed, though certainly they might not be able to handle the pace all season. There are a more then a few of their brethren already falling by the wayside as their years and injuries catch up with them.
Doug Weight and Owen Nolan have shown short flashes of past brilliance. But along with the likes of Jeremy Roenick, Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts and John LeClair, there’s really no need to pick them up.
Their best years of distinguished service are clearly behind them.
Michel Ouellet has scored the plum assignment of skating alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the top line in Pittsburgh. Always a pretty decent player, Ouellet will now be a must-starter for as long as he rides shotgun with that duo.
His gain is Colby Armstrong’s loss – not that Armstrong doesn’t deserve it.
He has been a big-time bust this season, mustering only four assists despite top-line duties.
Another line shuffle that could pay dividends in your pool is P.J. Axelsson’s move to the Bruins’ top line. With two goals and two assists in his first two games with Marc Savard and Glen Murray, Axelsson is worth a hard look in all fantasy pools.
Will Atlanta continue to play the hot hand between the pipes?
Starter Kari Lehtonen was struggling and so sat for two games last week.
Johan Hedberg came in and was brilliant in relief.
That should draw Hedberg more playing time and the attention of poolies who need help in goal.
The clock struck midnight Saturday on Maxim Afinogenov’s Cinderella season and those unfortunate poolies who own the third-place scoring leader. He separated his shoulder and will be out at least three weeks.
A tough break too for Mike Comrie. The Coyotes’ leading scorer was hot of late, registering five points in his last three games, but fractured his foot Friday and will be out until the new year.
Promising young defenceman Duvie Westcott of the Blue Jackets is also out for a long stretch. He smashed the joint in his left index finger and will need six to eight weeks to recover from surgery.
Greg Dennis can be reached at cp.pool(at)hotmail.com.
Some suggestions on players to add or avoid in your hockey pool this week:
1. Tomas Kaberle, D, Maple Leafs. High fives in games, goals, assists. And plus-five too.
2. Ray Whitney, LW, Hurricanes. Set-up man scores with a pair of two-goal games.
3. Alexei Yashin, C, Islanders. Re-emerging star has 13 points in seven games.
4. Jose Theodore, G, Avalanche. Three wins, 97 saves and a 2.00 GAA last week.
5. P.J Axelsson, LW, Bruins. Defensive dude turns offensive with three goals, six points.
1. Alexander Semin, LW, Capitals. Scoreless in five straight games after torrid start.
2. Anson Carter, C, Blue Jackets. How much does the former Canuck miss the twins?
3. Jason Smith, D, Oilers. No points and a miserable minus-seven in last five games.
4. Manny Fernandez, G, Wild. Workhorse allowed 10 goals in three winless starts.
5. Michael Peca, C, Maple Leafs. Fine defensively but very feeble fantasy-wise.