Happy New Year, faithful readers! It is right around now where it becomes really easy for people to lose interest in their fantasy hockey team if it isn’t performing well. But it is important to note that we still have a whole second half of the season to make up for any shortcomings.
Maybe you took Sidney Crosby and his early struggles dragged you down the standings. Don’t fret! Crosby is turning it around, having scored over a point-per-game for the last month and a half.
Maybe your team was ravaged by injuries. Not to worry — a healthy second half can get you back into the mix.
Or maybe your team just stinks. If that’s the case, here are six players widely available in fantasy leagues (all ownership figures are based on Yahoo! leagues), starting with a genuine star breaking out right before our eyes.
Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA (46 per cent owned)
Barkov is the real deal. I call him “Kopitar East” — he is really that good.
Nothing about the 25 points in 30 games that Barkov has piled up so far is out of the question. He is helping the Florida Panthers emerge as the hottest team in the league. Only injuries can hold Barkov back, having already cost him 10 games this season and 39 through his first two years. Everyone wants the next breakout star on their team, and yet Barkov remains available in half of all leagues. Grab him before someone else can.
Shane Doan, LW/RW, ARI (29 per cent owned)
No one expects Doan’s goal-scoring binge to continue at its current rate. (He has seven goals in the last four games.) That said, there is still value to be had even if Doan slows down. He has taken advantage of Martin Hanzal’s absence from the lineup to move to the net-front on the Arizona Coyotes’ top power-play unit.
As long as Hanzal is out, Doan is in a position to succeed. Averaging 2.5 SOG per game while adding nearly two hits per game, Doan offers enough peripheral value to contribute even if the scoring dries up.
Mike Ribeiro, C, NSH (17 per cent owned)
The Nashville Predators forward does not offer much value outside of the assists category. That said, after a slow start he did nab 11 assists and 13 points in 15 December games. If you are in a points-only setting or maybe you are in a pinch with some injuries and need a little scoring, Ribeiro appears to be back on track. Do not be shocked if he scores 30 points over the final 40 games.
Anton Stralman, D, TB (51 per cent owned)
Plenty of folks stuck it out with Stralman through the hard times and are now reaping the rewards. After registering just nine points through his first 29 games, Stralman has caught fire, doubling that total with nine points in his last 11.
Through that 11-game stretch, the Tampa Bay Lightning scored 2.73 goals per game, nearly a half-goal boost over their average through the first 29 contests. That still isn’t near where their offence was last season, but with the team now healthy and the goals perking up, it looks like a really good time to jump on Stralman.
Shayne Gostisbehere, D, PHI (44 per cent owned)
Any concerns of Gostisbehere losing his job when Mark Streit returned have been quelled. Streit is back and Gostisbehere is still the top offensive defenceman on the Philadelphia Flyers roster, operating as the only blue-liner on the top power-play unit.
Gostisbehere was held silent on a recent three-game road trip through California, but he isn’t the first guy to have seen his numbers suffer on such a trip. Getting back at it at home on Tuesday night, Gostisbehere picked up two points as a reminder that he is for real.
Karri Ramo, G, CGY (49 per cent owned)
Since the start of December, Ramo has been the fifth best goalie in fantasy hockey with a 9-4-0 record, a 1.75 goals-against average and a 0.936 save percentage. If you are in a position in goal where you couldn’t use that kind of help, then you are truly blessed. But even if you are already stocked in goal you could snag the Calgary Flames netminder and sell off one of your bigger names for some help elsewhere.
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For more help in your fantasy hockey pool in the second half of the season, pick up the Dobber Hockey Mid-Season Guide, available Jan. 8.