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Fantasy Six Pack: Rookies leading the way

by on 12/19/2011

Remember Week 11 is a short week, there will only bee 5 game days as the NHL will take both December 24 and 25 off for Christmas.

Welcome to this week’s edition of Fantasy Six Pack. In Week 11 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.

Adam Henrique, Center, New Jersey Devils

I’ve mentioned Henrique before in the “Honourable Mentions” so his name shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been reading this weekly feature. Many consider Henrique to be a rookie of circumstance and a bit lucky to be where he is right now. After an off-season injury sidelined number one center Travis Zajac and a clavicle injury to Jacob Josefson opened up a top 6 role for Henrique, who originally made the team out of camp as a bottom-6 role player. Since being moved to the top line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, Henrique has tallied 25 points (8-17-25) in 30 games and now sits second in rookie scoring behind Ryan-Nugent Hopkins. Henrique has also been one of the Devils most consistent players, since tallying his first point of the season Henrique has gone no more than 2 games without a point and already has 6 multi-point games in his young career. Not only is he a point producer but Henrique is willing to put on his boots and get to work, he also contributes hits and block shots. He’s also decent in the circle with a 49.3% win percentage. Henrique’s ability to compliment and produce with star players should come as no surprise as he spent most of his junior career centering the talented Taylor Hall. It’s worth noting that this point in the season, Kovalchuk has 6 more points than he did at this time last year while playing with Travis Zajac. For those worried about Henrique’s value dropping once Zajac is back to game shape, coach DeBoer has indicated that he is unlikely to break up the top like due to their chemistry and production.

Honourable Mentions: Rich Peverley (BOS), David Desharnais (MON) and Tim Connolly (TOR)

Mason Raymond, Left Wing, Vancouver Canucks

Mason Raymond has 6 points (3-3-6) in 7 games since returning to the Vancouver lineup after missing 25 games with a fracture vertebrae. When Raymond made his season debut he was the left winger on the third line, 5 games later he was on the first line and as of Saturday he was the right winger on the second line. He’ll likely stay on the second line while Chris Higgins and David Booth rotating in on the left side. Raymond tallied 25 goals and 28 assists in a breakout season playing along side Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson, he followed that up with a disappointing 15 goals and 24 assists despite playing with the same linemates the year before and their line being used in more offensive situations. After suffering a fractured vertebrae, Raymond and the fans of Vancouver questioned whether he’d be able to ever play again and if he did, would he be the perimeter player that disappointed the year before or the player that used his speed and drove the net two season ago? Since his return, Raymond has been a bit of both. He still skates the puck along the half-boards up and down the offensive zone but he has shown at times his willingness to go to the front of the net, something sorely missed last year. It’s still too early to say he’s regained his form from two years ago but all the signs are there and right now he’s getting a lot of puck luck that he just didn’t get last year. Raymond is a very streaky scorer, he’ll go on a hot streak of 14 points in 12 games but then he’ll turn around and produce 3 points in 13 games. Just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when you pick up a player like Raymond. Outside of points, Raymond will only contribute shots, don’t expect a lot of hits or block shots from him.

Honourable Mentions: Chris Higgins (VAN), Dustin Penner (LAK) and Jamie McGinn (SJS)

Todd Bertuzzi, Right Wing/Left Wing, Detroit Red Wings

The only time Bertuzzi was fantasy relevant was when he was a Vancouver Canuck.

Of course I’m kidding. He’s no longer the dependable offensive powerhouse he used to be with the West Coast Express but he can still produce admirably. Bertuzzi has produced 40+ points in each of the last 4 season, which he is currently on pace for again this year. It also doesn’t hurt that he is riding a 5 game point streak, he’s first 5 game point streak since the 2007-08 season. Bert is another streaky player that will produce in bunches and then disappear but playing along side phenom Pavel Datsyuk, I’d wager those cold streaks don’t last as long as they have in the past. There isn’t much to say about Bert, you know what you’re getting when you pick him up. He’ll give you 40 points a season while contributing some decent shot, hit and PIM totals. He’s also a dual-eligible player which makes team management easier.

Honourable Mentions: Kyle Palmieri (ANA), Jarod Palmer (MIN) and Jordin Tootoo (NAS)

Jared Cowen, Defense, Ottawa Senators

Cowen is the second of third rookies showcased this week and for good reason. The 21 year old’s emergence this season made David Rundblad an expendable asset and allowing the team to trade him for Kyle Turris. Cowen is not an offensive dynamo like teammate Erik Karlsson but has still produced 10 points (4-6-10) through 33 games this season and 4 points came in his last game. Perhaps most surprising is the fact Cowen is a plus player despite playing on a team that gives up the second most goals against in the league. Right now, Cowen is solid in his own end, as such will help you in your hits and blocked shots categories but is still developing in his own end. Since the beginning of the season Cowen has made a noticeable effort to shoot the puck more, through his first 10 games, Cowen had 2 shots on net, in his last 10, he has 15. With him shooting the puck more he is also starting to produce more offensively. In his first 10 games he had 0 points, in the last 10, he has 8, which happens to be 80% of his points on the season. Suffice to say, Cowen is producing now, forget about how he was going earlier this season. For the time being, Cowen is only worth picking up if you need help with hits and blocked shots and someone who can chip in offensively one in a blue moon. If you’re in a keeper league, he is an absolute must own, Cowen is only beginning to show of what he can do at the NHL level. Cowen will continue to develop into a solid two-way player producing offensively and shutting down other teams top players much like Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty and Shea Weber.

Honourable Mentions: Anton Stralman (NYR), Erik Johnson (COL) and Trevor Daley (DAL)

Richard Bachman, Goaltender, Dallas Stars

Christmas came early for the Stars in the form of Bachman. After losing Lehtonen to a groin injury, the Stars went with backup Andrew Raycroft as their starter. Raycroft played well for 2 games before letting in 12 goals in his next 3. Bachman made his NHL debut in a relief effort vs San Jose and has yet to give back the crease. Bachman became the first Stars’ netminder to win his first three starts in franchise history. He lost his first NHL game vs New Jersey and gave up 6 goals. Bachman has been a quality replacement while Lehtonen has been out in 4 NHL starts he has a 3-1-0 record, with a 2.08 GAA and a .931 Sv%, he even has a shutout. He has quality goaltending written all over him. For the remained of time that Lehtonen is out, Bachman will start most games despite the 6 goals he allowed last game. He’s a quality starter for fantasy teams in the interim but he has next to no value when Lehtonen gets back in one year leagues and he is expected back shortly after Christmas. When Lehtonen returns the Stars will be forced to make the  difficult decision of moving Raycroft and keep Bachman in the NHL as a backup or send him down to continue his seasoning. If you are in a keeper league, be sure to pick Bachman up while you can.

Honourable Mentions: Michal Neuvirth (WAS), Al Montoya (NYI) and Jhonas Enroth (BUF)

Kyle Turris, Center, Ottawa Senators

I am high on Kyle Turris, I like the flashes of skill and ability I’ve seen from him and I feel he was mismanaged in Phoenix. Getting traded to Ottawa was the best possible thing that could have happened to him. He is going to be the team’s second line center and he’ll be allowed to make mistakes and get plenty of ice time. I suspect Turris will play mainly with Nick Foligno and Chris Neil until Milan Michalek is healthy. Michalek’s return will bump team captain, Daniel Alfredsson to Turris’ right wing. He’ll also see plenty of time on the second power play unit.

So what should you expect from Turris now that he’s a Senator?  I feel he is still a few games away from being in “game shape” but with the ice time he’ll be getting and the linemates he’ll play with. I’m expecting him to finish the season with 38 points. Any less would be a big disappointment. Turris is also a decent faceoff man, he usually hovers around 50%. Turris has the skills to be a among the top producers in the league and now he’ll be given the ice time and leeway to do it. If he can’t produce in Ottawa, it’s unlikely he’ll produce anywhere.

It’s too bad Filatov wasn’t able to produce and went back to Russia instead of going to the AHL, I would have been interested in seeing if a Filatov-Turris-Alfredsson line could produce. I guess I’ll have to wait til preseason next year.

On that note, I’m sad there will be no future line of Boedker-Turris-Player X for Quebec in the future (see what I did there? Cause you know PHX is going to get moved …).

Honourable Mentions: Tyler Myers (BUF), Scottie Upshall (FLA) and Anton Babchuk (CGY)

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