Welcome to CBCSports.ca's Fantasy Hockey one-on-one, 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 we answered our first question asked by you: who gets points and penalty minutes? This week, Jordan's going it alone and giving his advice on the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada Fantasy Pool, as requested by you. He also looks at what's making Anze Kopitar go in L.A., along with who's been the biggest underachiever so far this season.
Don't forget, you can get some top-notch fantasy hockey advice by sending in your questions for our fantasy pros using the comments function, and we'll answer the best one in this space next week.
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.
1. Who should I be looking at in the Hockey Night In Canada Fantasy Pool?
Jordan: Let's get right to it and focus on the players that will give you the most bang for your buck. Up front, it's easily Dustin Penner, who is having a great season so far with 19 points and will only cost you one point off your salary cap. Like Penner, James Neal and Brandon Dubinsky are cheap buys but solid selections. Players worth a roster spot that will cost you two points include Ryan Smyth, Brooks Laich, Vaclav Prospal and Steven Stamkos. On the back end, don't look now but Toronto's Tomas Kaberle is leading all defencemen with 17 points (PV = 2). The league's biggest stars like Green, Boyle and Phaneuf are all doing well, but come with a high price tag. Instead, you should be targeting the cheaper buys with a big upside, like Alex Goligoski (PV = 1), Kyle Quincey (PV = 2) or Derek Morris (PV = 1). Between the pipes, it's hard to argue with choices like Marc-Andre Fleury, Craig Anderson or Ryan Miller, but there are other good options available. With two wins and a shutout this week, Andrew Raycroft (PV = 2) has been solid since taking over for the injured Roberto Luongo in Vancouver and could be a good short-term buy. In Tampa Bay, Antero Niittymaki (PV = 2) has seemingly taken over the starting job from oft-injured Mike Smith, while Coyotes netminder Ilya Bryzgalov (PV = 2) is leading the league in shutouts with three.
2. What's made Anze Kopitar so good this season?
Jordan: If you're looking for the secret to Kopitar's success, look no further than his rejuvenated wingers. On the left, there's the wily veteran, Ryan Smyth. After a stint in Colorado in which his numbers declined (96 points in 132 games), Smyth has found his groove again — parked in his office right in front of opposing goaltenders. On the right, Justin Williams has been a forgotten man in LA, but he's come back from injury with a vengeance. Amazingly, Williams played a total of just 81 games over the past three seasons combined, but already has 10 points in 10 games this year. What could be most influential about these two wingers is their solid defensive play. Smyth has finished all but three of his past nine seasons with a positive plus/minus rating and Williams is a career plus-33, while Kopitar is a career minus-44. This season, the trio has combined for 53 points, including 20 on the power play, and a plus-19 rating in 15 games. If Kopitar is to continue at his torrid pace (24 points and 43 shots on goal), Smyth and Williams must stay healthy and motivated alongside the league's only Slovenian. But let's call a spade a spade here, Kopitar is a great player and his skill shouldn't surprise anyone. There's a reason why he was selected 11th overall in the 2005 draft, ahead of Marc Staal, Martin Hanzal and Andrew Cogliano, among others.
3. Besides those singled-out Thrashers, who has been the most disappointing this season?
Jordan: Martin Havlat would have to make this list. The Minnesota Wild winger has struggled with his new team, registering just one goal and a lacklustre minus-9 rating. The 88 per cent of Yahoo! Fantasy owners that drafted Havlat are used to injuries, but not a lack of production. Next on the list is David Backes. Somehow still finding a spot on 67 per cent of Yahoo! rosters, Backes has been one of the least productive players in the league this season. His only two points came in consecutive games in mid-October and his team certainly isn't benefiting from his play, as the Blues have been held scoreless for two straight games against Phoenix and Florida. Perhaps the biggest underachiever thus far is Alex Tanguay. He struggled to find a suitor in the summer after having a stellar, albeit abbreviated, season with the Habs last year. With just one goal and six points through 13 games in Tampa Bay, Tanguay's minutes have dwindled and he's even beginning to negatively affect fellow linemate Vinny Lecavalier (only one point this week). At this rate, Tanguay will be hard-pressed to match his totals of 41 points in 50 games from last season. Realistically, we all know Tanguay will turn it around sooner or later, but the question is when. For now, one goal every 13 games isn't going to cut it.
Next week: Which aging veterans continue to maintain surprising value?