Welcome to the first installment of High Noon Fantasy Hockey.
The big news last week was the Penguins losing Malkin for the next two to three weeks. He’s a member of the High Noon team, so this news strikes close to home.
There is a bit of a silver lining, as it looks like this is a move to prevent something more serious down the road and Malkin has played all 82 games of the past two seasons, and all but four of his rookie year, so he’s tougher than most. Still, that’s a big part of any fantasy team to replace and he was probably the first pick for many in their league drafts (he was first pick of the High Noon team).
Between this, Gonchar being out for even longer and Justin Williams missing most of last week, the High Noon team has been bit by the injury bug. Well…it could be worse.
So, how do you fix that hole at center for the next few weeks? If you answered with “Michael Nylander?” go sit in the corner. No, Jason “Can Opener” Allison isn’t acceptable either, no matter how many helmets he can rip apart with his bare hands.
Chances are, any of the big name centers in your league have been picked over due to the draft. Time to visit the ol’ wavier wire and see some o’ the centers that have been hot and might still be available:
Nathan Horton (C, RW), Florida Panthers – Not to be confused with that crazy elephant, Horton has racked up 7 points in the past week and a +5 rating. Oh and he can be counted as a RW, depending on your league (Yahoo! counts him as a Center and a RW. Bonus fries.) Only problem, Horton won’t getcha many face-offs. He probably won’t be available in larger leagues, as Horton is a power forward in the making, but it doesn’t hurt to look.
Mikhail Grabovski (C), Toronto Maple Leafs – 6 points in the past week, 3 of which were on the powerplay and one of ‘em a shortie. Not bad at all, considering the Leafs are making the Washington Generals look like the Boston Celtics.
Steven Reinprecht (C), Florida Panthers – Another possible diamond in the rough from the Southeast Division, Reinprecht has 5 points in the past week, including 4 goals. Oh, and he’s +5. He’s got 8 goals on the season and 11 points in 12 games. Watch out though, 4 of those points came in the Devil’s Night Angel’s Night The Day Before Vanilla Ice’s Birthday October 30th match-up against the Stars.
Daniel Winnik (C), Phoenix Coyotes – Another member of a team named after a quadruped mammal is on a hot streak. No, not Johnny Boychuk. The ‘Yotes’ Winnik is on a 4 game point streak, with 5 points and a +5 rating in that stretch.
Are any of these guys a replacement for Malkin? Well, I am reminded of this joke: “What does it spell when you take the F out of way?” There in lies your answer. Short term, these guys might help, but dump them the instant #71 gets back on the ice. He didn’t win the Art Ross last season by accident (although playing with Crosby might have helped a little).
Fantasy News Around the NHL
Tomas Kaberle, D, has 12 points in the past week. Corey Perry is on a 5 game point streak. Pavel Datsyuk has finally started scoring, notching 6 points in the past 3 games. Steven Stamkos has 10 goals in 11 games. Sidney Crosby ain’t bothered that Malkin is out, he had a hat trick in the first game without Geno.
Ovechkin left Sunday’s game vs. the Blue Jacket’s in the second period, and whoever drafted NHL Iron Man Jay Bouwmeester first overall, experiences a brief moment of justification.
Last year’s Rookie of the Year, Steve Mason, continues to struggle. Going into Sunday night’s game vs. the Caps he had a 3.48 GAA. Yikes. The Blue Jackets won, but they won 5 to 4, which isn’t too good for Mason’s GAA.
Tomas Kaberle was cut from the High Noon team right before his 5 point explosion against the Ducks, which kicked off his current point streak. Sigh. Not one of my better moves. I’ll try not to make too many references to my own team, but this was such an epic fail that I had to share it. In “Friendly Fire” news, Red Wings scoring dynamo Brad May got poked in the eye by teammate Jason Williams, forcing him to stay in Calgary to get checked out. May isn’t really of any fantasy value, unless you need someone to get you fighting majors.
Young Guns-Rookies to Watch:
Rangers D-Man, Michael Del Zotto continues to impress, but he’s been as pointless as a new Dirty Harry film in his last three games.
Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly is hot on Del Zotto’s heels for the lead in rookie scoring, with 11 points in 14 games—and he’s +10. While John Tavares, who is on a 3 game point streak, was probably picked up in most leagues only because he was 1st in this summer’s draft, be on the lookout for Dallas LW Jamie Benn. His +/- leaves a lot to be desired (-5 in the past 2 games), but Benn has 3 points in his past 5 games. Sharks junior D-Man Jason Demers has 10 points on the season (all assists) and is +7. He’s likely reaping the benefits of a happier Dany Heatley playing in the shark tank.
High Noon Show Down:
Two players are pitted against each other for a week (Monday to Monday).
Since November 1st was the 50th anniversary of the goalie mask, why not kick off the first High Noon Show Down with two goalies going head to head? Finding a decent goalie or two is a big part of any successful fantasy team.
Since Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante is credited with the birth of the goalie mask, let’s pit Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (the Canadiens played against the Rangers the night Plante first wore the mask). Come back next Monday to see who won the High Noon Showdown.