The NHL Fantasy Files are late this week because (as my regular readers know) I spent the last week in Cuba. I took the weekend to catch up on a week’s worth of hockey and to research my recommendations.
While my vacation was wonderful, but I’m quite happy to be back in a country that airs more than just Spanish episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond. I sure missed watching Saturday night hockey while hiding from Hurricane Paloma in my hotel room.
Here are some players owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues that I recommend this week:
Ty Conklin (DET—G)
Tonight Ty Conklin starts for the second game in a row. Why? Chris Osgood, starting goaltender for the first place Detroit Red Wings has decided to bench himself.
“I’m just tired of letting in three goals a game,” Osgood said. “You go from last year where it was always one or two. It’s something we’re working on, something I’m working on. It’s not something we can’t take care of.”
Conklin played surprisingly well for the Pittsburgh Penguins when called upon last year, and should repeat his performance with the defensively superior Red Wings. If you’re relying on Weekes, Clemmensen, Kolzig, or Fernandez for spot starts I’d suggest dropping one of them for Ty Conklin. Coach Mike Babcock will ride him while Chris Osgood works out the kinks in his mechanics.
Kris Versteeg (CHI—RW)
His fifteen points over sixteen games places him third in team scoring and only one point behind Patrick Sharp. Yet he is owned in less than a quarter of leagues.
Playing on a line with sophomore all-stars Toews and Kane there is no reason Versteeg shouldn’t challenge for the NHL rookie scoring title.
As a bonus, he should also earn you a boatload of penalty minutes. Last year for the Rockford IceHogs he had 174 penalty minutes to go with his 49 points.
While Versteeg doesn’t come with the name recognition of a Martin Havlat or a Jonathan Toews, he can be had for free if you act now.
Pavol Demitra (VAN—LW)
Pavol is healthy…for now.
While he is healthy, he’s worth owning. Demitra typically misses 10 games a season with an injury. He’s already missed ten games this season so hopefully that the last he will see if the IR.
Demitra also typically puts up 60 points. But that was playing under Jacques Lemaire in Minnesota. Pavol has shown chemistry with the Sedin twins and has the potential to return to his St. Louis form with those two offensive-minded line mates.
Cam Barker (CHI—D)
The second Blackhawk I will recommend this week is the red hot Cam Barker.
While Barker has not shown much offensive talent with the Blackhawks over the past two seasons he does have an offensive upside. He scored a point-per-game for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League and played well in the American Hockey League this year. It appears Barker finally has caught up to the NHL-level game.
Since being called up in late October Barker has nine points over eight games for the Blackhawks and is playing on the first power play unit alongside Brian Campbell.
He is owned in less than 20% of leagues and is easily worth a shot at your fourth defenceman position.
Tim Connolly (BUF—C)
The last player I will recommend this week is another oft-injured player.
Since the lockout Tim Connolly has scored 103 points in 119 games for the Buffalo Sabres. The only problem is he cannot seem to stay healthy.
He has played extremely well for the Sabres this season but did not travel with the team this weekend after Keith Tkachuk drilled him into the boards. He is day-to-day with a bruised chest.
As he is only owned in a small fraction of leagues there is no need to pick him up immediately, but monitor his health closely and pick him up once you’re sure he’s 100%.
Nov 19, 12:36pm: Reports out of Buffalo are now that the team will update Tim Connolly's status on a week-to-week basis rather than day-to-day. This does not look good for his health. Take Connolly off your watch list for now.
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