Monday, January 19, 2009

Week Sixteen Newsletter

Well, we've passed through sixteen quality weeks and the race in the Draft is quite intense. The lead has increased to 29 points, but from second to eighth is only 11 points. That'll make for a great post-All-Star game stretch to the end. The jockeying for position will finish up on Wednesday for the second Waiver Draft, where the Draft may actually commence a little earlier than Monday the 26th.

Now that the All-Star Break is finally descending upon us, we are only looking at a 24-game schedule between Monday and Wednesday, leaving our Draft teams with an average of 17 games to be played. Our leader, John B., has a chance to take another leap in the standings, as he leads all Draft teams this week with 21 skater games to be played and two healthy starting goaltenders. This should pad his lead, barring any major injuries.

Today, the 19th, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the States, which means we have some Monday matinees to enjoy... well, if you were in the States or observe American holidays. Hooray for the Sherpa! Stay tuned this week for a mock waiver draft, just to see how the teams in the Draft will likely pick. We'll also highlight the top available players for your choosing as well.

Good luck this week and enjoy the All-Star weekend.

Poll Question
At first, this week's poll looks like it was going to be claimed by the fact that the majority of page viewers are from Calgary, but sure enough, those thoughts subsided through the week when it was all sifted down to the bottom. Last week's poll question was, 'who do you think is the best player in the NHL,' having to choose from the top five players in pool points at the end of Week Fifteen. Miikka Kiprusoff stormed out to a lead, but was then reeled in and passed by Alexander Ovechkin, who finished the week with 7 of 14 votes. Kiprusoff finished the week with 4 of those votes. And look at that... 14 votes this past week. That's not too shabby.

This week, I'll be asking you, 'what's your favourite part of the All-Star weekend?' The All-Star break gets underway on Thursday, seeing the last games played on Wednesday night. That'll make for a pretty quick week, but don't think the newsletter comes out right away. It'll be out on Monday, giving you the lowdown on the All-Star game festivities and a look into Week Eighteen's Waiver Draft.

It was a record week for points in the Draft in Week Sixteen, we hit 500, right on the nose. That didn't mean we hit a record weekly high though for teams, but we did see nine teams eclipse the 30-point mark. That's mighty impressive. Two teams finished with the weekly-high in points with 36, but only one of those teams moved in the Standings. For the second time this season, Ryan manages to sneak away with the Mover & Shaker award. He moved up three spots in the Draft, from 7th to 4th, right on the cusp of the money spots. It's a pretty tight race there for the money spots, too. Only 11 points separate 2nd to 8th and there are a couple teams just on the cusp of that race as well.

Ryan saw some pretty even distribution of points in Week Sixteen and only managed to have two players without points in the week. His top point producers were Matthew Lombardi (5 points), Miikka Kiprusoff (5), Corey Perry (4), Jason Spezza (4) and four others with 3 points a piece.

This week's prize is a Richard Brodeur Upper Deck Masterpieces jersey swatch card, a pretty cool looking card, to say the least. It sure does have that retro feel to it. For Week Eighteen, we begin into some of the O-Pee-Chee retro cards, which resemble the 1979-1980 OPC set, which Wayne Gretzky's rookie card was in. The first one on the block for a prize will be a Mikko Koivu card. These cards are fairly limited, which makes them somewhat special. Good luck for next week! It's a short week, so it's a sprint to the finish.

On the Sheet, it was a pretty slow week for moving, rather than shaking. There was a little bit of jockeying for position in the week, but we'll focus on the big number, the weekly-high. Week Sixteen saw the Sheet leader, Dale C., pick up 89 points, 2 better than second place in the week, 4 points better than second place overall. That's the sort of week the leader needs to keep his stock high. Having a big week for Dale on the Sheet this week was Pavel Datsyuk (7 points), leading the way, far and away the best player. Eleven players afterwards had 4 points, so I wasn't going to list all of them. Seven players finished with 3 points as well. That's a pretty solid week of points.

Only one team failed to make the 20-point mark in Week Sixteen and they are our Basement Dweller of the Week. Dale B. finds himself for a second time in the weekly basement, staying down in 14th position. It was a pretty cold week for Rod Brind'Amour, Patrick Kane, Alex Goligoski and J-S Giguere, who all played, but failed to pick up points in the week. Paul Statsny, Tom Poti and Olaf Kolzig all had injuries to thank for their lack of production in the week. Thankfully for Dale, the second Waiver Draft isn't too far along and he will be able to spark his team up with a couple more moves that could move him up a little bit.

In the Basement on the Sheet, the week low in points and the biggest drop didn't correspond either. They were a little bit closer than the M&S situation, but not quite. So, in the same mode as the M&S, we're going to take the worst week in the Sheet pool and call that the Basement Dweller. Good? Good. The week-low in points for the week was Loren, who finished a good scoring week with a mere 60 points. There were quite a few teams in the low-60's, but 60 was the lowest. That distinction went to Loren, who has yet to make a trade this season and had ten players who finished with zero points in the week. Sure, having only ten with no points isn't the worst we've seen all year, but it's not very productive in a big scoring week, that's for sure. Trades would be handy!

There were a number of players who had good weeks in the points department, but only one stood above from the rest. Marc-Andre Fleury finished the week with 8 points, which was mostly in part to his shutout of the Rangers on Sunday afternoon. Now that Fleury is being leaned on in Pittsburgh, he's now getting the wins to go with his minutes. Unfortunately for Fleury, the injury problems at the beginning of the year, really dampered his overall points, now only ranked 82nd in pool points this season.

Fleury finished the week at 3-1-0, beating Philadelphia on Tuesday, Anaheim on Friday and shutting out the Rangers on Sunday, only losing to Washington on Wednesday, possibly in part to being back-to-back nights.

The Penguins are going to need that sort of production if they are going to make sure they are going to be in a playoff position. After Week Sixteen, the Penguins currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the East and would be up against the red hot Bruins in the first round.

It's been a pretty disappointing year for Rod Brind'Amour in Carolina, as he only has 26 points in 46 games and holds a league-worst -29 rating. The Hurricanes don't currently hold a playoff spot in the East and they were looking forward to having a bounce back season from Brind'Amour after an injury-plagued year. Right now, he's pretty cold in the fantasy department and it's probably best to stay away.

Other News and Notes

The Blue Jackets activated Rick Nash from the IR in time for the team's game against the Canucks on Sunday night, which meant that Box 9 phenom, Nikita Filatov, was a healthy scratch for the game. It is now expected that the youngster will be sent down to the minors again, likely for the remainder of the season, just so the team doesn't click over the 10-game mark and lose a year on his contract.

New acquisition, Dany Sabourin, was the healthy scratch of the three goaltenders in the Edmonton system on Sunday night. Sabourin, picked up from the Penguins, has been traded into a funny situation for goaltending and it is unclear as to whether or not he'll figure into the line-up anytime soon. Dwayne Roloson has earned the number one job of late, while Jeff Deslauriers is the desired candidate to back Roloson up. There hasn't been any early indication on how this will all play out, but it is somewhat interesting.

The Kings welcomed back to the line-up a couple of defensemen, Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty, from injury this weekend and on Saturday, there were a couple of healthy scratches to make room. Both Derek Armstrong and Tom Preissing were back in the press box for their game against the Stars on Saturday afternoon.

With Johnson figuring back into the line-up, the team had to make some space and for that reason, Teddy Purcell has been sent back to the minors. Purcell is thought to be one of the more highly-regarded prospects in the Kings' organization, but he has been that way for a while now, not really making that extra jump necessary to be a full-time player in the NHL. It may only be a matter of time before his luck runs out.

On Saturday night, Box 25 forward, Kyle Chipchura, was a healthy scratch again, as the Canadiens took on the Senators. Chipchura hasn't found a regular place in the line-up for the Habs yet, as the team is trying to fill holes due to injury. Chipchura is thought to be more of a defensive pivot, so the free-wheelin' offense might not be his style. Max Pacioretty may have been the better of two young players, as he's the one seeing time for the Habs at this time.

It's been a little while since we last saw Daniel Winnik on the scratched list, but here we are again, as the Box 6 forward didn't dress against the Oilers on Sunday night. His promise and potential over the summer has not been realized and it looks like he's of little fantasy value this season. You may want to drop him while the dropping is good.

On Sunday, the Penguins were grateful to see the return of Sidney Crosby and Kristopher Letang (both pool players) and in order to make room for the returns, Janne Pesonen and Alex Goligoski were healthy scratches. Pesonen was recalled from the minors earlier in the week when all the injuries have been prevelant, while Goligoski has been a healthy scratch more and more of late. After the game on Sunday, the Penguins did decide to send Pesonen back to the minors.

The Lightning again decided to scratch their premier young forward, Steven Stamkos, for their Saturday night match-up against the Panthers. The 2008 1st overall pick has only been scratched one other time this season, due to some inconsistent play, as the Lightning are really wanting him to come alive on the scoresheet, as they try and work themselves out of the bottom of the East.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Hockey Night in Canada

That's right... it's what's been building up for the past few weeks, as next week's edition of Hockey Night In Canada will be weekend-wide, as the All-Star Break is upon us. The rosters have been set-up, with a few changes likely to be made still, and we'll be in for a good weekend of Skills Competitions, YoungStars Game and the marquee match-up of West versus East. Sure, there is what you would consider some All-Star snubs, but maybe those will be ironed out with some injury changes this coming week.

The actual playing week ends on Wednesday night and won't restart until Tuesday, which will be a nice break here for the Sherpa. That week, we'll prepare for the second Waiver Draft, which will happen sooner rather than later. Week Eighteen is only another week away.

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