Welcome to CBCSports.ca's Fantasy Hockey 1-on-1, where every Friday our resident nerds — er, experts — Jesse Campigotto and Jordan Shifman, debate three hot topics of interest for poolies.
In last week's edition, the guys confessed their most boneheaded moves of the season (Kari Lehtonen? Seriously?). This week, they try to help you avoid a miscue of your own by telling you which underachievers you shouldn't give up on.
Don't forget, you can use the comments function at the bottom of the story to send your burning fantasy questions to the fellas, who will answer the best ones.
Looking for a league to join? Check out CBC's Hockey Night In Canada Fantasy Pool. It's fun. And you could win a car.
All stats are through Wednesday.
Which underachiever is worth hanging onto?
Jesse: As the pot-dealer kid from American Beauty would say, don't give up on Nik Antropov. If you're in a league that rewards goal-scoring, the big Thrashers forward has been a huge letdown with just two goals in 27 games. But Antropov is still keeping you afloat with his 23 assists, and there's reason to believe he'll start lighting the lamp. That awful shooting percentage of 6.1 (less than half his career mark) just has to get better, and Antropov's average power-play time of 2:53 suggests he's getting a decent amount of opportunities — on one of the NHL's highest-scoring teams, no less. One red flag, though: Antropov has just 33 shots on goal, putting him well behind the rate of 2.8 shots per game he registered last season when he potted a career-high 28 goals for the Leafs and Rangers. Another red flag: those brutal alternate jerseys the Thrashers are sporting. Putting numbers on the front won't be enough to trick the good people of Hotlanta into thinking they're watching football.
Jordan: You want to know why Antropov has only two goals? It's because he's not the go-to guy anymore like he was in Toronto. Simply put, he's not overachieving anymore. Atlanta has perennial 40-goal man Ilya Kovalchuk to carry the load, and when he's not scoring, Max Afinogenov puts them home, not Antropov. It's worth keeping Antropov for assists, but I wouldn't expect a huge outpouring of goals from the Kazakh. For me, Brad Boyes is finally showing signs of turning it around. For a guy that scored 76 goals over the past two seasons, he had a very quiet start to the 2009-10 campaign. But in his past seven games, Boyes has four goals and a game-winner on 24 shots for the Blues.
Who's your drop of the week?
Jordan: No question about this one: Rod Brind'Amour. He's sunk like a stone in the Hurricanes' depth chart recently and people are catching on after he was a victim of the dreaded "healthy scratch." Despite 50-plus points and 18-plus power-play points in each of his last four seasons, the two-time Selke Trophy winner is an embarrassing minus-19 with just two goals and eight points in 29 games. And people wonder why Carolina is struggling.
Jesse: Don't straight-up cut Jaro Spacek just yet, but maybe see if you can package him in a multi-player trade with someone who's desperate for a defenceman with scoring potential. Spacek has struggled with Montreal, recording just three goals and 10 points despite seeing steady power-play time in the absence of point man Andrei Markov. The 35-year-old Spacek is showing his age: like many a Hab, he's already missed a couple games due to injury, and now he's banged up again after taking a shot off the knee this week. Worse news for Spacek owners: Markov is back skating with the team and is aiming for an ahead-of-schedule January return.
Who's your pickup of the week?
Jesse: It won't be easy, but try dealing for Markov. Sliced ankle tendons are nothing to sneeze at, but the high-scoring defenceman should still be able to shoot the puck upon his return. The Habs need him desperately on the power play, so look for Markov to get big man-advantage minutes as soon as he's back in game shape. With 64 points last season, the 30-year-old proved he's an elite blue-line scorer — a commodity as rare in fantasy hockey as it is in the real thing. Smart fantasy owners will know that, so if you want to nab him, try to find a trading partner who can't afford to wait til the New Year. Just be sure to make a strong offer right away: the longer you nickel-and-dime, the closer Markov's return gets, and the less likely you'll be able to pry him away.
Jordan: Come on, man: no owner is going to be stupid enough to trade Markov with him returning in about a month. Why trade a guy that has proven he can be one of the NHL's top defencemen? If you're in a league for money and someone trades you Markov, you should feel just a little bit bad when you take that person's money at the end of the season. Instead of making trade offers in vain for Markov and his power-play assists, how about picking up Kyle Okposo? The Islanders' forward may be on a goal-scoring drought, but there's no denying his play-making abilities. Alongside snipers John Tavares (84 per cent owned) and Matt Moulson (61 per cent), Okposo has six assists in his last four games, with five of them coming on the power play. He's owned in just 30 per cent of Yahoo! leagues despite having 20 points in 30 games, including 13 power-play points.
Jesse: Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?