This week The NHL Fantasy Files will appear in an abbreviated version.
In a few hours, I will fly directly into a hurricane. Why, you ask? A month ago, I booked a vacation for Cuba, and—wouldn’t you know it—Hurricane Paloma touches down in Varadero the same day I do. So if there’s no NHL Fantasy Files next week, you know why.
Here are some players owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues that I recommend this week:
Mikhail Grabovski (TOR—C)
Picked up as a Canadiens cast-off, Grabovski was thought to be the type of player who would excel amongst the AHL ranks but always struggle to stick in the NHL.
This past week Mikhail has proved his critics wrong. Centering a line between Niklas Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin, Grabovksi has been a much needed sparkplug on a revitalized Toronto roster. In the team's last three losing efforts he has potted five goals and more importantly been a plus-5. Even when his team is losing, he’s still a threat at both ends of the ice
While you shouldn’t expect him to keep that pace up, he’s certainly worth a flyer in deep leagues.
Ryane Clowe (SJ—LW)
I consider him the most underrated player on the San Jose Sharks.
Clowe is tied with Joe Thornton in scoring, and recently he earned the Gordie Howe hat trick against the Minnesota Wild when he dropped the mitts in the third period and slid a puck past Niklas Backstrom.
He has 11 points over the past nine games, yet is only owned in 44 percent of leagues.
You got to give more respect than that to a player than can help you in all six standard fantasy categories.
Kyle Wellwood (VAN—C)
I cannot in good conscience recommend him.
He has six goals since being recalled from the AHL. He’s one of the most creative players in the NHL. And yet he doesn’t have that drive that I like to see in players. He’s habitually out of shape, and he has an attitude that doesn’t do him any favors.
Play him at your own risk. He might be scoring, but he's still in worse shape than your Dad (see above).
Tuomo Ruutu (CAR—LW)
The streaky left winger is hot. Get him now while you still can.
Ruutu burst on to the scene in 2003 and hockey pundits predicted his large frame and light hands would explode on the NHL. And they did. Then he got injured.
Since his injury-plagued rookie campaign he was perennially pegged as a solid sleeper – if only he could stay healthy. This year fans gave up on him. October saw him sidelined with a sore groin. However in November he has six points in four games.
He has the tools to keep up point-per-game production as long as he can stay healthy. And now, he appears to be that way.
Kevin Weekes (NJ—G) and Brian Boucher (SJ—G)
Last week I recommended Joey MacDonald and Fredrik Norrena as Band-Aid goalie solutions. Neither goalie is worthy of keeping on your roster for the full season, but can help temporarily while you search for a more long term solution.
This week I’ll add two more goalies to that list.
Kevin Weekes may be regarded as the better goaltending solution since Martin Brodeur is projected to be out until February. However, I do not think Lou Lamirillo will ride him for that long. Except the Devils to bring in a veteran goaltender, but Weekes can get you some quick wins in the short term.
Evgeni Nabokov, the West Coast version of Martin Brodeur banged his knee in a shoot-out last night and is listed as day-to-day.
Last season Nabokov started all but five games for the San Jose Sharks. This season the Sharks brought in Brian Boucher to help rest their prized goaltender so he’d be rested for the playoffs. So far this year Boucher hasn’t let in a goal by shutting out both the Lightning and the Kings.
Boucher will play all games for the Sharks while Nabokov rehabs his knee. And once Nabokov returns expect Boucher to play more often so another scare like this doesn’t occur.
If you would like to know Josh's opinion on a player he hasn't mentioned, you may ask his fantasy advice here. He will respond to your questions as soon as possible.