Fantasy Six Pack: Ville Leino Strikes Back?
Welcome to this week’s edition of Fantasy Six Pack. In Week 9 we take a look at each position and suggest five players you might want add to your team. We then pick a sixth player that we don’t see paying poolies immediate dividends but we expect will be helpful down the road. We hope you find these articles useful and gain a competitive advantage over your opponents. Feel free to discuss omissions and critique our selections in the comments section. We love discussion here at PuckPuckGoose.com.
Ryan O’Reilly, Center, Colorado Avalanche
For the first time this season the Avalanche are on a three-game winning streak at home and O’Reilly is a huge reason why. At the beginning of the Av’s home stand, Joe Sacco put O’Reilly together with first-year rookie, Gabriel Landeskog and captain Milan Hejduk, the newly form line have combined for 13 points and a +19 rating. During the last 3 home games, O’Reilly has tallied 7 points (4-3-7) and a +7 rating, has 19 points (4-15-19) in 26 games this season and sits 7 points away from matching his point total from last year.
Honourable Mentions: Patrik Berglund (STL), Rich Peverley (BOS) and Saku Koivu (ANA)
David Perron, Left Wing, St. Louis Blues
If Sidney Crosby showed us anything about coming back from a concussion, it’s that if you take your time in returning, when you do, you can perform at the level you did before the concussion. Perron showed exactly that on his season debut Saturday after sitting out for 97 games. You’d be wise to grab him before someone else does. If the Crosby comment doesn’t convince just look back at his stats over the 2 years. In the last two seasons, Perron has tallied close to 50 points and last year prior to his concussion had 7 points in 10 games and all signs pointed to him having a break out season. Coaches and athletes say the first few games back can be played on pure adrenaline, so it may take a few games for Perron to get back into game shape. Once he does, you’ll be sorry if you didn’t grab him when he was available.
Honourable Mentions: Blake Comeau (CGY), Eric Nystrom (DAL) and Steve Sullivan (PIT)
Blake Wheeler, Right Wing, Winnipeg Jets
Wheeler has 8 points in his last 8 games and with him playing along side Evander Kane it’s unlikely he cools down any time soon. At lot of Wheeler’s value has to do with how well Evander Kane is playing, so make sure to Wheeler is in your starting lineup while Kane is hot. Wheeler is another all-round player who doesn’t excel in one statistical category but will contribute in all areas. Despite his poor goal total (2) he has 58 shots on goal and sooner or later the goals will come as he is currently sitting well below his career shooting percentage.
Honourable Mentions: Andrei Kostitsyn (MON), Zack Kassian (BUF) and Ales Hemsky (EDM)
Fedor Tyutin, Defense, Columbus Blue Jackets
Tyutin has put up 25+ points in each of his 4 seasons with Columbus, currently has 12 points (2-10-12) in 26 games and is on pace for a career-high 37 points. In spite of Columbus’ struggles and lack of production, Tyutin has secretly been a steady producer for the team. He tallied 5 points in October and 7 points in November and is quietly tied with James Wisniewski for the team lead in points by a defenseman. If his point production isn’t good enough for you, Tyutin also contributes in both the hits and blocked shots categories but beware of the plus/minus gamble you accept whenever you pick up a Columbus player. It’s unlikely Tyutin stays on-pace and reaches 37 points but it’s very possible he reaches 30 points especially if all Columbus’ forwards can stay healthy, namely Jeff Carter and Kristian Huselius.
Honourable Mentions: Luke Schenn (TOR), Kris Russell (STL) and Jakub Kindl (DET)
Al Montoya, Goaltender, New York Islanders
Any time you pick a goaltender from the Islanders is a gamble but luckily this goalie isn’t named DiPetro. Montoya has played well in the games he has appeared in and he’s appeared in 9 games this season. He boasts a 4-3-2 record with a .931 Sv% and a 2.17 GAA and with both DiPetro and Nabakov sidelined with injuries, Montoya will be the teams number one for the next little while. The timing couldn’t be any better for Montoya as the Islanders are playing well and scoring goals so the team will be able to bail Montoya out during any bad games he may have. Montoya could be a good interim solution but make sure he isn’t your number one goaltender in your fantasy league as you may end up having a frustrating week if the team decides
Honourable Mentions: Martin Biron (NYR), Jhonas Enroth (BUF) and Anders Lindback (NAS)
Ville Leino, Center/Left Wing, Buffalo Sabres
Leino can be looked at one of two ways, he’s due for a breakout and will reward anyone who was patient enough to hold on to him or grab him off waivers OR he’s a complete write-off for the rest of the season and whoever still has him or is willing to pick him up shouldn’t be playing fantasy hockey. I think and feel he is the former. Leino had a breakout season last year with the Flyers after failing to earn a regular NHL job the previous 3 years. The major difference for Leino last year was that he primarily found himself on a line with Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere, two players who could create space and know how to finish. Now that Leino is playing on a line with Luke Adams and Zack Kassian, they’ve created a Buffalo version of Leino’s old stomping grounds. Adam’s had a hot start to the season and has cooled significantly but has shown he knows how put the puck in the net but also knows how to move the puck around the zone and Kassian is a big boy who won’t pass up a chance to take the body. As long as this line stays together, there’s a high probability that Leino turns his season around.
Honourable Mentions: Kristian Huselius LW/RW (CBJ), Mason Raymond LW (VAN) and Simon Despres D (PIT)