Each week, Jordan will attempt to provide you with guidance and inside information as you pick your Hockey Night in Canada fantasy pool lineup presented by Kia, with a focus on finding "sleeper" picks to help fill the roster when cap space is low.
This week is number 7 of the Kia Fantasy Pool and it begins on Saturday November 12th.
Almost 20 per cent of the season is in the books and sometimes the mark of a good team is one that can break a long grueling season into smaller "achievable' chunks. If you believe in that statement, then you must be a believer in the Dallas Stars!
Dallas has been playing some unreal hockey. Sporting an 11-3-0 record they sit atop of the NHL standings. Now, if this continued they would be on pace for over 128 points. We know this isn’t going to happen but it’s still something to look at, something to discuss. So far the Stars have featured strong goaltending, a resurgence on defence (Sheldon Souray anyone?), and some consistent scoring (five players have 10 points or more).
Are they teasing you with inflated early results or perhaps drawing shades of comparison to the 1999 team that won the Stanley Cup?
Something I liked last week: Tyler Seguin scoring a hat trick against the team that "never got to draft him." He looked every bit the No. 2 overall draft pick that Boston selected as the Bruins pasted Toronto 7-0. The Brampton native has shown this season that a sparsely used rookie campaign was the only reason his stats were low in 2010. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but this guy looked like a man on a mission to show Toronto's brass what they missed out on.
In goal this week I want to pump the tires of Kari Lehtonen of the Stars. This guy has been virtually perfect this season and is a fantasy stud for the Kia Fantasy pool. He boasts a record of 11-1-0 and has a goals against average of 2.13 and a save percentage of .936. The most impressive stat on Lehtonen is that Dallas leads the league in shots allowed yet he still has been able to put up those type of numbers.
To put it in perspective, this guy has faced 407 shots in 12 starts. Game in and game out, he is being tested, and he is making the grade. I should also point out that he has wins in all three games that went over 60 minutes (with two in the shootout). For this fantasy pool, points are given for wins and shutouts, so Lehtonen gets you points in 92 per cent of the games that he has started so far.
I don’t believe in ‘sure things’ but this is as good as it gets in fantasy hockey. Ride Dallas's hot streak as long as it lasts. In Week 7, Dallas plays three games (@ DET, vs. FLA, @ COL) and I think Lehtonen could get all of the starts as his backup Raycroft is 0-2 this season. In this recommendation I don’t discount that their opponents will be tough but Dallas has shown an ability to win, and win often this season. At a player value of 3, Lehtonen isn’t a bargain but is on the low end in terms of cost for an "elite" fantasy goalie.
On the blue-line for Week 7, I want to suggest you take a look at Florida Panthers defencemen Dmitry Kulikov. He sports a healthy 10 points in 14 games thus far, and lately he’s come on strong with four points in his last five contests. Florida is a young team with several veterans and Kulikov is second amongst their defencemen in points and third in average time on ice. Kulikov also has an added bonus of learning from an experienced partner in Brian Campbell. This pairing lands him on the power play as part of the first defensive unit.
All in all, at a player value of 1 he is a budget cost player with a lot of upside. Usually a team like Florida would be a concern in other fantasy areas (plus/minus) but in this pool we only need goals and assists. This guy can give you some output at a low cap friendly cost. He fits well as a fourth defencemen option for your team. If you add him for Week 7 he is due to play in three games (vs. PHI, @ DAL, @ STL) and hopefully be good for a handful of points.
My forward pick for the week is Jason Pominville of the Buffalo Sabres. He has 18 points in 14 games and is tied for the club lead with Thomas Vanek. Besides his affordable player value of 2 he has several appealing qualities for being selected to your team in week 7.
First, Buffalo plays four times (@ BOS, @ MTL, vs. NJ, @ CAR), with two inter-divisional games that can motivate a player to elevate his game. Another reason I like Pominville is his consistency. In the 2011-12 season he has only gone pointless in consecutive games on one occasion. He also has four multi-point games where he racked up three points each time.
Finally, if you needed another reason to pick him in Week 7, Pominville is tied for fourth place in the NHL in points as of Nov. 9. He is tied with both Sedin twins and ranks ahead Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, and Martin St Louis. I would slot Pominville in as your fifth forward and would then give him medium level of consideration to make him your 3-star forward selection.
Good luck with your Week 7 selections and remember to have your rosters set in time for the 7 pm. ET deadline on Nov. 12. Once you get your roster in be sure to tune it at 5pm/et to watch Hockey Night in Canada, as coverage begins with Gameday, hosted by Andi Petrillo and PJ Stock.