NHL Players in the Olympics

01/07/2010
2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic - Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins

The title says it all.  This article will be no more than a comprehensive list of NHL (and some other players owned by NHL teams) players set to participate in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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NHLHS Endorsed Pickups

01/05/2010
Ryan Shannon of the Ottawa Senators in action.  Click the picture for more NHLHS Endorsed Pickups!

NHLHS Endorsed Pickups is a weekly column where we discuss players worthy of your fantasy team.  We hold no responsibility over the outcome of your roster, however, if you view past articles you will find a pretty successful track record.  Any player written about is under 50 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.

This week we will go over some promotions to the top lines and analyze the longevity of their value.  In addition, some players elevated their games following an Olympic selection, so there are a number of exciting topics to go over on this weeks edition of NHLHS Endorsed Pickups.

Here are today’s picks:

C: Erik Christensen, New York Rangers –  Would you believe me if I told you in August Erik Christensen would be the Rangers number one center?  The latest pivot for Marian Gaborik recently put together a modest 3 game point streak, putting in two goals and two assists.  A waiver flier from the Rangers earlier in the year seems to thrive in the offensive system of coach John Tortorella so as long as the kid stays healthy, he should be productive.  The 26-year-old showed past success playing in the Atlantic Division playing with the Penguins before leaving for Atlanta in the storied Marian Hossa swap.

Prognosis: Ride him while he is hot.  A good streaking option for at least five more games.

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Moves Imminent on Broadway

12/29/2009
New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun recently reported that the New York Rangers are shopping wingers Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.

The Rangers brought in both players this past off-season to bolster their offense with hopes that they would fit into coach John Tortorella’s system.  GM Glen Sather hoped they would fill holes and perform at levels, but at this point both have vastly disappointed.  Now Sather looks for alternative options to “beef” up his top six in order to gain a bigger presence up front, something Kotalik should provide.

What do I mean?

The Rangers want size in front of the oppositions crease in order to create more traffic to generate more offense.

When the team they signed Marian Gaborik they had one goal in mind: the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Currently, the Rangers sit on the outside looking in, knowing some tweaking in the line up is a must.

Tortorella simply cannot work with the mix of forwards he currently has.  Outside of Gaborik, most of the team fail to put together a consistent effort. We know the personality of Mr. Tortorella, a fiery, intense coach with a limited tolerance.  The team’s current players show they cannot play his system properly.

It is time to make a change.

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Alexander Semin Signs One Year Extension

12/27/2009
Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh

As Tarik El-Bashir of The Washington Post reports left wing turned right wing Alexander Semin signed a one year extension worth six million dollars.  Definitely a smart move to lock up a player the caliber of this young man.

Semin receives a slight raise from his reasonable five million dollar salary while avoiding either an arbitration hearing or offer sheet temptation.  The 25-year-old certainly put the production up to deserve a raise, arguably even into the 7 million dollar range.  In his last 91 games the native of Krasjonarsk posted 111 points, well over a PPG range.

What does this mean for Semin?

Earlier in the week there was speculation on Semin, amongst others, moving to Atlanta in a swap for Ilya Kovalchuk.  Although this deal seems incredibly far-fetched and unlikely, signing Semin to an extension would make him more attractive to a team receiving him.

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The Seven Million Dollar Man

12/26/2009
Rangers Sign Chris Drury And Scott Gomez

How does a team know their investment will pay off?  Better yet, What would inspire a team to devote a large percentage of their cap space to one single player? This article plans on analyzing the production from “top-tier” forwards based on a seven million dollar cap hit or higher.

As of this writing there are 14 forwards making this salary or higher, with most of these players filling the scorecard adequately.  These 14 forwards discussed are Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Alexander Ovechkin, Scott Gomez, Evgeni Malkin, Vincent Lecavalier, Thomas Vanek, Dany Heatley, Chris Drury and Eric Staal.

A quick glance at this list screams Drury and Gomez as the noticeable busts.  Coming into a weak free agent year for centers the two cashed in on GM Glen Sather’s ludacris spending.  However, a deeper look into their 2009-2010 season makes other players current production look similarly as bad.

In addition, this article will identify the best of the bunch showing exactly if and why the top salaries are actually worth it.  Impending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk believes his worth to be 20 percent of the current cap, an enormous 11 plus million cap hit. With his current production, not to mention countless intangibles would you consider the 27-year-old worth it?

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Daily Fantasy 3 Stars 12/23/2009

12/24/2009
Pittsburgh Penguins v Los Angeles Kings

In this section, I break down the top three fantasy hockey performers every night and cite why I chose them in particular. In addition, I will track the amount of times the players have received this honor and tally them at the end of the season. For the sake of clarity, I will be using Yahoo! standard categories (Forwards – G,A,+/-, PP, PIM, SOG; Goalies – W, GAA, SV%, SHO) and thus exclude player’s salaries.

With 12 games and 24 teams in action, we saw plenty of hockey to get us through the Christmas break.  Now in the middle of a mandated break, us hockey fans as well as players anticipate a big day on Saturday.  Having said that, since there were so many teams in action, choosing three standout players proved incredibly difficult. Here are our standout fantasy stars for the evening:

THIRD STAR: Marc Savard, Boston Bruins (0-0-1) –  Savard played a vital role in the Bruins 6-4 victory over the Thrashers.  Going blow-for-blow with the offensive powerhouse in Atlanta, the 32-year-old center stepped up and lead his team to victory.  On the night, Savard put three points on the scoreboard, a goal and two assists all of which coming on the powerplay.  In addition, the Ottawa, Ontario native fired four shots on goal while posting a plus one rating.

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NHLHS Endorsed Pickups

12/22/2009
Chicago Blackhawks v Washington Capitals

Any player written about is under 50 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.

This week saw several players breakout, several produce above their means and others who continue to produce all of which leads us to an extended version of NHLHS Endorsed Pickups.

Here are today’s picks:

LW: Dean McAmmond, New Jersey Devils –  As of this writing, McAmmond slots between Zach Parise and Patrik Elias.  Having said that the veteran center boast a four-game point streak where he scored two and assisted on four more.  Although center is his position called upon in real life, the 36-year-old qualifies at LW due to playing there the majority of his career.  Does anyone remember the McAmmond – Craig Conroy Jarome Iginla line? I sure do, that was a looooong time ago.

Prognosis: McAmmond showed signs of life last year with the Isles when he posted 9 points in 18 games.  His current projection mirrors these numbers with 8 points in 16 games.  This production marks the veteran’s absolute ceiling.  At best he will pot 40 points, but with David Clarkson and Dainius Zubrus eventually returning even that is a stretch.  Stream if desperate, definitely not a keeper.  Otherwise read more for better options on the left side.

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Ilya Kovalchuk Going NOWHERE

12/21/2009
Atlanta Thrashers v Florida Panthers

Unfortunately this is not an actual news story but simply one man’s bold prediction.  Before you blast me for the headline, lets look at the facts so you can see my thought process.

The latest from Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution states that the talks between the two are currently at a stand still.  However, Kovalchuk went on record to state, “he would like to stay with the same team his whole career. However, he understands that hockey is a business.”

Yes Ilya, hockey is a business.  You need to see that the business of the Atlanta Thrasher is Ilya Kovalchuk.  This team lives and dies by the blade of his stick.  The signings of Nik Antropov, Maxim Afinogenov as well as the acquisition of Pavel Kubina directly correlate to this team wanting to succeed with Kovalchuk.

So lets go over some facts.  The consensus rumors cite Kovalchuk wanting the league maximum over a ten year span, a total he certainly deserves.  By the CBA agreement, the maximum allows for 20 percent of the teams cap.  As the cap currently stands at 56.8 million and looks to stay within that range with our booming economy, our Russian star stands to make at least 11.36 million a year.

By my calculations even if Kovalchuk does sign at this maximum contract at the maximum cap hit, the Thrashers boast over 20 million worth of cap dollars left on their budget.  How many other teams can say they have this much room? Better yet, how many teams already have surrounded Kovy with teammates he thrives with due to both nationality and chemistry?

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Weekly Fantasy 3 Stars – Week Ending 12/20/2009

12/21/2009
New York Rangers v Toronto Maple Leafs

Similar to our Daily 3 Stars, this section will break down the top three fantasy hockey performers every week and cite why I chose them in particular. In addition, I will track the amount of times the players have received this honor and tally them at the end of the season. For the sake of clarity, I will be using Yahoo! standard categories (Forwards – G,A,+/-, PP, PIM, SOG; Goalies – W, GAA, SV%, SHO) and therefore omit salaries.

THIRD STAR: Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers (0-0-1) –  Now sitting second to Joe Thornton in the scoring race, Gaborik posted an impressive week.  The 27-year-old scored two goals and two assists over three games, all of which coming on the powerplay. In addition, he took a massive 17 shots on goal while sitting four minutes in the penalty box.  As the scoring in New York continues to improve, the native of Trencin, Czechoslovakia simply needs to stay healthy in order to reap the benefits.

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Restoring the Rosters: Chicago Blackhawks

12/09/2009
Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets

Matthew Pouliot’s series on Circling the Bases, I have decided restore the rosters for every NHL team. Like Pouliot, I have established some ground rules for my selections.

  1. Each team contains players they originally drafted or signed before any other NHL team. This includes players drafted and not signed, as well as European free agents coming over at an older age.
  2. I have chosen to leave retired players off the list, and lean toward players in the AHL rather than those deported (KHL, SEL, DEL, etc.).

Essentially I am choosing the best available players for a team to succeed in the current NHL season. All 30 teams will be covered, with grades assigned to forwards, defense and goaltending. After all 30 articles are written, they will be ranked in order. This series’ intent is to reward or shame NHL scouts.

Due to excellent drafting over the last couple of years, the Blackhawks have restocked the cupboard nicely.  The core established on their current roster is mostly homegrown with players with free agent signings filling out a few spots.  Both their forwards and defensive units feature high end talent as well as solid depth.

The lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks is as follows.

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