James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Gotta have Martin Havlat

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In 82-game leagues like the NHL and NBA (not to mention the marathon that is a 162-game MLB season), there can be times when running a fantasy team can honestly become a bit of a grind. That’s especially true if your best players are injured enough to miss games as “day-to-day” mysteries but not banged-up enough to go on the IR or if your should-be top performers are hitting a bit of a lull.


Yet for all those bad times, there are those moments where you experience that sublime combination of cleverness and sneakiness - the moments that make the tedious times worth the trouble. Here’s an opportunity to (possibly) make your competitors groan this morning – if they haven’t beaten you there already – go ahead and scoop up Martin Havlat if you still can.



OK, there’s a pretty good chance that he might already be taken, but Havlat and Jose Theodore are more likely to be on the waiver wire because – let’s face it – their original owners were probably justified in losing their patience with them.


That’s especially true in the case of Havlat, whose belated beginning to his San Jose Sharks career didn’t exactly take off right away. Worse than that, though, was his seemingly inevitable spiral into injury woes, which most notably happened from mid-December to mid-March.


Even when he was healthy, he didn’t seem like the dangerous force who became a charter member of the “when he’s healthy” club.


Well, chalk it up to comparatively spry legs or just finally being healthy for real, but Havlat is looking awfully dangerous.


It's not fair to look at his work in the "last five games" because two of those contests happened before Christmas. Instead, we only have his three games back to look at. He started with a goose egg against the Nashville Predators, registering two penalty minutes and three shots on goal but no offense. He's been lightning it up in two important games since then, however, as he scored two goals - including the overtime winner - against the Detroit Red Wings and then collected two points (1G, 1A) in San Jose's wildly disappointing defeat to the Anaheim Ducks last night.


Honestly, there were times when he seemed like one of just a handful of Sharks players with any real interest in winning a very important game on Monday. Sure, San Jose isn't a team full of speedsters, but even so, it seemed like his burst really stood out at times.


Things have been bad for the Sharks – particularly Antti Niemi (who was pulled), Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau (all scoreless) – but Havlat looks like he might be the kind of force who enticed owners into risking a reasonably high pick on him in drafts. Their logic was reasonable: talented player + Thornton’s passes = fantasy gold.



It reminds me of Marian Gaborik in 2008-09. After frustrating his original owner by falling out of action on Dec. 23, he didn’t come back until late March. Gaborik scored in nine of his 11 games back, collecting 10 goals and eight assists for 18 points in 11 contests.


Any fantasy owner who jumped on Gabby gained an elite scorer while a) feeling clever and/or b) winning their leagues.


Hey, Gaborik – Havlat parallels don’t always have to be heavy on disappointment, right?



Go with the typical disclaimer, but it looks more and more like Alexander Radulov will indeed be a Nashville Predators forward again – at least for the rest of the season. Don’t bother picking him up today, but I cannot blame you if you hastily pick him up on midnight. There’s a very real chance that he could actually play on Thursday or Saturday, but as usual, stay tuned before you make the plunge.



Brian Rolston – yes, that Brian Rolston – had a goal and three assists as the Boston Bruins bludgeoned the Toronto Maple Leafs by a ridiculous score of 8-0. The Bruins swept the season series by an equally ridiculous margin of 36-10. Tim Thomas needed just 13 saves for one of the easiest shutouts of his career. The only bad news for Boston is that there are no more games left against Toronto this season … The Devils-Rangers season series has been full of so many choreographed fights that they’ve become the bloody, violent, hockey answer to arranged marriages. Still, last night took the wacky wedding cake, with three simultaneous squabbles as the puck was first dropped. I apologize for not sounding the PIM alarms for you … Alex Ovechkin scored twice – both on the PP – as the Capitals scored a big win against the Red Wings, who keep free-falling without Nicklas Lidstrom. Perhaps that’s a dark vision for the future of the franchise once he eventually leaves … You can pretty much bury whatever was left of the Maple Leafs and Lightning’s playoff hopes after each team was blown out in their respective games on March 19 … Marcus Foligno has an incredible seven points in his first six career NHL games – in fact, they all came in the last five. Obviously, his 55.6 shooting percentage is totally unsustainable – and it’s hard for me to imagine him staying hot for long – but if you’re desperate for a shot in the arm, why not?



Andrei Meszaros will be out six-to-eight weeks, so if you were holding onto him for whatever reason, it’s time to cut ties … Nicklas Lidstrom seems to be quite a way from returning. Not good … This impact will be felt in reality more than fantasy, but go ahead and drop Darren Helm (MCL) as he won’t play again until the playoffs, barring a Jimmy Howard-like turnaround … One more Red Wings bit: Joey MacDonald’s back might be a significant issue. Things are just rocky for Detroit … Andy McDonald might not be far from a return, despite a troubling looking fall … Ryan Kesler could be on suspension watch after clipping Cal Clutterbuck. (Click here for the full injury list.)

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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