But it’s not only those with Mike Modano and Jarome Iginla who are dancing in the street. Astute poolies will see this as a golden opportunity to grab some sunshine themselves, as Calgary and Dallas shuffle their lineups to accommodate their incoming veterans.
In Calgary, the great beneficiary appears to be Craig Conroy, the former Flame recently obtained in a trade and now the No. 1 centre between Iginla and Alex Tanguay.
Conroy has four points in his first three games with Calgary, and is as good a free agent as any, if available. Iginla is flying already with a goal and four assists in his first two games since missing 11 with a knee injury.
Daymond Langkow, Iginla’s centre before the injury, now finds himself on the second line. But that doesn’t damage his pool value much because Langkow’s right-winger just happens to be Kristian Huselius, one of the hottest players in the NHL right now.
Also on that line is David Moss, a rookie with nine points in 20 games.
He’s worth watching over the next week to see if any of that talent rubs off on him.
Meanwhile, Modano is not the producer he used to be – he had just 20 points in 27 games before he was hurt – but he still takes his rightful place on the Stars’ first line and the power play.
The winner in Dallas will be Jere Lehtinen, who is a free agent in many pools even after scoring seven times since the new year.
See if that old spark between these long-time linemates doesn’t produce some heat over the last 30 games of the season.
Poolies can also activate Mathieu Schneider (knee) of the Red Wings. The gifted defenceman’s return after 10 games will likely drop Niklas Kronwall on the Detroit depth chart, though Kronwall secured his status as a future keeper with decent play in Schneider’s absence.
Head injuries are serious business in the NHL and any player who gets his bell rung will be given extra time to recover. Marco Sturm of the Bruins has post-concussion syndrome after getting clocked with a stick last week and it’s difficult to say how long he’ll be out.
Duvie Westcott of the Blue Jackets has missed 11 games after suffering a concussion and is still having headaches every day. The young defenceman is a long way from returning.
Something bizarre is happening to Nikolai Zherdev of the Blue Jackets. He looked to be turning around a bad season with seven points in six games after the New Year. But his energy level fell and he eventually went out with what the team thought was the flu. Doctors now suspect something worse but can’t say more until the talented forward undergoes a battery of tests.
Dan Fritsche, who has a point in six straight games, will take his place on the top line with Rick Nash and Sergei Fedorov.
If you are desperately looking for help in goal, or perhaps have Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, expected to miss a week with a groin injury, a decent option awaits you in Minnesota.
Niklas Backstrom, brilliant in recent games, might be the No. 1 starter there for a while.
That’s because Manny Fernandez (knee) might be more severely injured than the team is letting on. He was supposed to practise last week but that didn’t happen. And, with Backstrom’s fine play, the Wild won’t be in a rush to get Fernandez back.
Backstrom would be a good pickup – Sean Burke, well, not so much. The veteran did have a 40-save shutout Saturday to win his first game for the Kings. But he’ll take a spot on the bench this week with starter Mathieu Garon back from a finger injury.
As NHL trade rumours heat up in advance of the approaching deadline, there was one minor trade of note last week with the Bruins acquiring forward Brandon Bochenski from the Blackhawks.
Bochenski failed in previous NHL stints with Ottawa and Chicago, but the Bruins are hurting offensively and think Bochenski’s 66 points in 35 games in the AHL mean he’s ready to contribute.
Wait to see if he plays on a top line before grabbing this longshot.
Greg Dennis can be reached at cp.pool(at)hotmail.com.
Some suggestions on players to watch or watch out for in your hockey pool this week:
1. LW Kristian Huselius, Flames. Eight goals, 18 points in 12-game scoring streak.
2. RW Jamie Langenbrunner, Devils. Finishes hot week with two goals, five assists.
3. RW Ales Hemsky, Oilers. Playmaker has two goals, eight assists in four games.
4. C Peter Forsberg, Flyers. Five-point week proves he still great when healthy.
5. G Andrew Raycroft, Leafs. Four straight wins and only five goals against.
1. C Chris Kelly, Senators. Seven-game scoreless streak puts job on top line in jeopardy.
2. C Corey Stillman, Hurricane. Minus-five and only one assist in four games last week.
3. RW Jason Williams, Wings. Eight-game skid underscores wasted potential this year.
4. D Brad Stuart, Bruins. Bad goes to worse with minus-nine, no points in five games.
5. RW Bill Guerin, Blues. Is his nice comeback stalling or running out of gas?