Today, we will see two big name players return to the lineup. Are these guys the Christmas present their teams have been waiting for? Most likely, but who now gets coal in their stockings with their returns.
Andrei Markov makes his long awaited return after missing every Habs game since October 1. A victim of unfortunate circumstances, the veteran defenseman cut his leg on the skate of goalie Carey Price, a scary and freaky play to say the least.
Now Markov returns and should soon return to form, but at the expense of both recent call-up and subsequently recently demoted Yannick Weber and Marc-Andre Bergeron. A recently sent down Weber adds to his frequent flier miles while Bergeron finds himself skating on the fourth line, a situation he is not used to being a natural defenseman. The 29-year-old journeyman defenseman, mostly known for his prowess on the powerplay, will have trouble keeping up his torrid scoring pace now that his playing time will be greatly diminished. Fantasy owners should be in full blown sell mode.
Could this make Bergeron expendable to the Habs and available to a team in need of a solid powerplay QB?
In the City of Brotherly Love, Simon Gagne returns to the lineup. Amidst controversy, trade rumors and inconsistency the Flyers and new coach Peter Laviolette struggle to find an identity but the return of this sniper should help.
Gagne will play on the powerplay and on a top line with captain Mike Richards and Dan Carcillo. Although it was suggested the francophone should play with fellow French Canadiens Claude Giroux and Daniel Briere. The latter line certainly would give this team more of an identity.
The return of Gagne and the love affair between Laviolette and Carcillo is bad news for both Giroux and Calder candidate James van Riemsdyk. Both young players are the future of the team, however, with this team needing and expecting to win they can hardly afford to let rookie mistakes happen. Combine that with their third linemate, Aaron Asham, having hands of stone will yield a decent checking line and little more. Keep/sell accordingly depending on your fantasy league format.
Best-case scenario would have this team firing on all cylinders with three strong scoring lines, but due to their struggles I cannot say such a thing with confidence. Once the trade freeze is over, something will have to give in Philly.
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