I had an interesting roster dilemma this weekend for my team. Thomas Vanek had been in my injured reserve spot for about a week and a half after his fluke injury against Columbus. With him returning I had to drop one player – never an easy decision.
After some thought I was able to whittle down the choice to either Tomas Plekanec or Valeri Nichushkin. For some context, it is a 10 team dynasty league in which each manager keeps four forwards, one defencemen and one goalie.
I am firmly entrenched in a "win-now" strategy, selling off the majority of my draft picks for next season and filling my roster with a lot of proven veterans.
Earlier in the season I had traded Blake Wheeler and a draft choice to acquire Plekanec; since centermen have been difficult to find in our league. Since that time Pleks has been a bit inconsistent with only four points in his previous 11 games. Over the years I have been a huge fan of his, a reliable 45 to 60 point player with over 200 shots and good power play totals.
Why then the dilemma you ask? Well, I’ve made the mistake of watching one too many Dallas Stars games and have fallen hard for Nichushkin. The big Russian is an absolute joy to watch, possessing an imposing frame, deadly release and net driving ability that has me reminiscing about a young Rick Nash.
Ultimately, after some back and forth, I made the call to cut loose Plekanec and go with the 18 year old rookie.
Under almost all circumstances this is the complete opposite of what I would recommend to owners. There is close to no chance that Nichushkin will be a top 40 player this season, meaning he’ll be back into the draft next fall. Plekanec is a proven veteran who will provide consistent production from a position (center) that has been hard to fill.
So why did I do it? As mentioned above my team is filled with a lot of strong assets with production levels I feel confident in predicting – Hossa, Vanek, Spezza, Zetterberg, Williams... to name a few. Nichushkin represents the only real "unknown" on my team. Because I am confident in most other parts of the roster I am taking the gamble on Valeri sticking on the top line with Seguin and Benn in the second half and providing close to 50 or 55 points.
I have his odds of success this season at 10 or 15 percent – that is to say, it is unlikely. But part of fantasy hockey is taking a chance on guys and letting your intuition guide you every now and then. Just make sure that on the balance of decisions you go with the veteran.
Are there any roster decisions you’re currently mulling over in fantasy? I’m always happy to try and lend an objective eye. You can follow me @FantasyHockeyDk
Not much on the NHL schedule last night with only 2 games, let’s take a look...
5 Things You Should Know
1. Ryan Miller is reminding us all how much a goalie’s team factors into his fantasy value
Buffalo lost 3 to 1 against Detroit last night. Bringing Miller’s loss total to 14, to go along with a goals against average of 3.11. Impressively, he is still sporting a .919 save percentage which would be the second best number of his career. The Sabres are in the middle of what looks to be a full scale rebuild. Miller will almost certainly be dealt at the deadline or sign elsewhere in the summer – until that time he is low end #3 or strong #4 goalie in most formats.
2. Not a bad place to be - Gustav Nyquist is skating with Zetterberg and Franzen
There is nothing better for your fantasy value then being called up from the AHL and plopped down on the first line with Mr.Zetterberg. Watching Nyquist play I’m always struck by his creatively and ability to think the game. He and Henrik really work well together, making creative passes and generating a lot of opportunities. Gustav has been playing around 15 minutes in each of his 3 games, but I would expect that to trend up over time as the coaching staff becomes comfortable playing him on the power play.
3. Erik Karlsson played over 31 minutes last night against Carolina
The Senators lost 4 to 1 against the Hurricanes, but perhaps the biggest story out of the game was Karlsson skating in more than half of it. He is currently second in the NHL for time on ice averaging nearly 28 minutes every night. While this might burn him out by the post-season, I take it as a positive for his fantasy value. He has 24 points and 71 shots through 24 games.
4. Erik Staal is back! (Did he ever leave?)
Like the leaves changing color or the sun rising every morning, it seems that we are treated to annual questions about Eric Staal’s fantasy value. This despite an unbelievably consistent track record over the past decade. He broke out last night and dismissed a lot of the worries with a goal, 2 assists and 3 shots on net. Rest assured he remains a top 20 player in virtually all formats.
5. Daniel Alfredsson is still fantasy relevant
It’s amazing what can happen to aging stars if they get themselves into the right situation. Alfredsson appears to have found just that in Detroit. He posted a goal and an assist last night to go with 3 shots. He has an 82 game pace of 66 points and 176 shots to accompany a likely positive plus minus in Detroit. In multi-cat leagues he is a nice bottom of the roster player; however, in points only leagues you should bump his value up a tad.