Players on the ReboundSunday, January 08, 2012
About half the 2011-12 NHL season is in the books, but if you’ve fallen behind in your fantasy league, there’s still enough time to turn things around. Below is a list of six players who might help you do just that. Some of them are looking to bounce back after missing a significant amount of time in the first half, while others have simply taken advantage of the recent opportunities they’ve been given.
Tyler Myers-D-Buffalo Sabres
We suspect that although Myers was drafted in basically every league, he’s since been dropped in about half of them. We can certainly relate to fantasy owners’ frustrations as Myers got off to a slow start this season and missed roughly a month and a half due to a broken wrist. But he’s back now and with blueliner Christian Ehrhoff gone for weeks, the Sabres are expected to rely on Myers more than they have at any other point this season. That was especially evident on Friday when Buffalo decided to have Myers log 23:08 minutes of playing time, including 2:35 minutes with the man advantage, in his first game back. Clearly the Sabres didn’t feel the need to ease Myers back into the lineup, despite his roughly seven week absence.
Corey Potter-D-Edmonton Oilers
Potter is someone we mentioned earlier in the season, but he probably fell off many fantasy owners’ radars when he suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for a month. He’s back now and just as good as ever with six points in his last seven contests. Just as importantly, Potter is still getting a ton of playing time with the man advantage, including a whopping 14:02 minutes with the man advantage in three games from Monday through Friday. I’d recommend Myers over Potter, mostly because Myers has more upside and a track record of success. However, Potter isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Tuukka Rask-G-Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins are about as close to a super team as you’re likely to ever see in the salary cap era. It’s scary to think this club has won a Stanley Cup and scored two goals for every one they’ve allowed this season without the services of the man who was once their star, Marc Savard. It’s equally surreal to look at Thomas, with his 1.90 GAA and .940 save percentage over 24 starts, as statistically the second-best goalie on the team. As amazing as Thomas has been, Rask has put himself in a position to start splitting the workload with Thomas on a fairly even basis due to Rask’s outstanding work in the nets. This is especially so because the Bruins will begin a stretch of nine games in 15 days on January 10th and coach Claude Julien will want to make sure Thomas is not overworked. At the least, Rask is a nice short-term option for the next 45 days.
Steve Downie-RW-Tampa Bay Lightning
The appeal of Steve Downie is simple: he’s a decent offensive threat who might also end up with 200 penalty minutes. However, Downie was limited to less than 14 minutes per game in the first two months of the season and as a result he had just five points in 21 contests. The Lightning gave him more responsibility in December and he rewarded them by recording 11 points in 31 games, while averaging 16:31 minutes per contest. Downie was minus-three in Thursday’s contest, but he also logged an impressive 22:52 minutes of ice time. As long as Tampa Bay continues to give him top-six minutes, Downie will be a very desirable option in fantasy leagues.
Mikael Samuelsson-RW-Florida Panthers
Injuries have already forced Samuelsson to miss over a quarter of the season, but he’s healthy now and firing on all cylinders. Samuelsson has a goal and three points in two games since returning and he has six points in eight games with Florida since the trade. What’s more, Samuelsson has been among the Panthers’ top forwards in power-play ice time in both games since his return. If he can stay healthy, Samuelsson should be able to record about 30 points in Florida’s final 41 contests.
Kyle Okposo-RW-New York Islanders
Okposo had just six points in 19 games in October and November, but he’s been getting progressively better. Things have been especially good for Okposo since he started playing on the Islanders’ top line with John Tavares. Okposo recorded a point in each of his last four contests, with Tavares being involved in all four points. Okposo set a new season-high in playing time with 21:13 minutes on Tuesday and then beat that mark with 21:26 minutes in Friday’s contest. On his own, Okposo is a borderline fantasy player in standard leagues, but he’s definitely worth owning as long as he can stay on the Islanders’ top line. Just keep a close eye on the Islanders’ depth charts if you choose to grab him.