NHL Fantasy Hockey Focus: Risk-Takers

Matt SitkoffCorrespondent INovember 16, 2009

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 05:  Nik Antropov #80 of the Atlanta Thrashers against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Philips Arena on November 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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Taking a risk is dangerous for a fantasy owner, but it can also bring big rewards. Scouring the waiver wire or other team’s chancy players, some stick out like a sore thumb.

These players have lopsided stats, very good in one category but abominable in others. Well, let’s jump into it and look at some of the players that will reward your risk.

Nik Antropov, C/W, Thrashers

Big Nik is enjoying playing in the south. Considered a bust in Toronto and exiled to New York at last year’s trade deadline, the 6'6" former first-round pick has 16 assists in his first 17 games with the Thrashers.

Here is the risk: He has yet to score a goal. Antropov has come off two straight season’s of 25-plus goals but has been snake-bitten early on. 

Antropov is worth the risk for the simple reason he is the top line on this team, one that includes the high scoring Iyla Kovalchuk (for now). 

Look at his special teams numbers as well, with seven of those helpers coming on the power play; he is even a plus player (plus-7). Although Antropov is hurting your team with zero goals, he is contributing enough in other areas to be worth owning.

Andrew Brunette, W, Wild

Brunette's reputation as a power-play specialist has made him a good fantasy play; this season is no different, as eight of his 13 points have come on the man advantage. Brunette is averaging 3:41 minutes a game on the PP and has 250 career power-play points. 

The risk involved with the 36-year-old winger is the Wild are struggling to score five-on-five, with 29 goals in first 20 games, and Brunette will never be up for the Selke Trophy with his minus-59 over his career, minus-6 this season. 

With that in mind, he is still worth the risk for those important power-play points that could win you a category; just make sure you have a defenseman that can balance out those minuses

B.J. Crombeen, W, Blues

Crombeen was plucked off waivers by the Blues last season from Dallas and made an immediate impact on the team’s turnaround toward a playoff berth. The 24-year-old winger finished the season with 11 goals and 122 penalty minutes with the Blues. 

This season, playing mostly on a line with Paul Kariya and Jay McClement, the 6'2" Crombeen has already accumulated 55 PIM while also playing a good defensive hockey game, with a plus-4 rating. 

Now the risk involved is obviously his lowly 13 career goals, but Crombeen is worth the risk, for he also is a good source for that hard-to-get shorthanded point. 

Andy Murray has shown trust in Crombeen, and his shorthanded combo with Alex Steen has produced three shorthanded points already this season, adding to his fantasy value.

Pickup of the Week: Mason Raymond, W, Canucks

Alex Burrows' struggles and the injury to Daniel Sedin have allowed Mason Raymond to become a big fantasy player this month. The speedy winger has nine points in his last seven games. 

The makeshift top line of Raymond, Henrik Sedin, and Ryan Kessler has been productive on even strength and the power play.

The one variable on which to keep an eye is where Alain Vigneault places the hot winger when Daniel returns healthy. Wherever he is placed, he should continue to make an impact, and he should be owned in more than 20 percent of leagues.


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