At this point in the season, enough games have been played to get an idea of some of the guys who might not be total flashes in the pan. But what about the struggling stars who were expected to be big contributors?
Smart fantasy owners aren’t that different from smart GM’s in realizing that great players struggle sometimes, too. Here are a few guys who should bounce back to at least some extent, opening the door for buy-low trades.
Phil Kessel - I don’t care how you want to explain away his struggles by a lack of “heart” or an unwillingness to go to the tough areas blah blah. Kessel is one of the most gifted snipers in the league and there’s simply no way he should be 0-for-36 shots on goal this season. Sure, he probably misses Joffrey Lupul (out with an injury), but that doesn’t explain this. Offer a respectable forward who is producing at a nice clip for Kessel and collect your evil winnings at the end of the season.
Alex Ovechkin - While I think there might be just enough negative attention for Kessel to swindle someone with a trade, it would be a lot tougher to do it with Ovechkin. And let’s face it: there’s a serious stink hovering over Ovi and the Caps right now. Still, maybe you could throw out a dart throw of an offer. I wouldn’t offer anything worse than your fourth round selection if you want Ovechkin’s owner to have any respect for you, though.
(Ilya Kovalchuk is struggling similarly, although I’m a touch worried about the quality of his teammates. In Washington, at least there’s a chance Adam Oates will stop over-thinking things by lining Ovechkin up with scrubs. Eventually. Maybe.)
Alexander Semin - This must be a great time for lazy, possibly xenophobic sports writers, because many of their favorite “enigmatic” whipping boys are having horrible shooting luck so far. Semin has only connected on one out of 31 shots. If he was connecting at his career 13.8 shooting percentage, he’d have at least four goals instead this season.
Tyler Seguin - Same situation as many of these guys. My biggest beef? He would have been in a contract year this season, but the Bruins were proactive and already locked him up.
Look, I know these guys are stars and thus will be tougher to trade for. Still, the reward could be worth the work that comes with devising a trade that would appease that given owner, who might be at his or her wit’s end by now.
INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS
Cam Fowler is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury ... The Blue Jackets defense is a mess, with James Wisniewski (possible concussion) joining Nikita Nikitin and Adrian Aucoin on the injured list ... Good news/bad news for the Dallas Stars. Ray Whitney is expected to miss a month or more with a broken foot. On the other hand, Derek Roy is expected back today and Kari Lehtonen's expected to play a ton this month ... Wayne Simmonds is out indefinitely with a concussion, suffered at the elbow of John Erskine, who served the first game of a three-contest suspension on Sunday ... Jason Spezza's back injury looks very serious, at least for those who care about this season only. He could be out into April ... Ryan Kesler skated with the Canucks. He's traveling with the team but his return isn't certain. Worth stashing in the IR if you have a slot open, though ... Speaking of Vancouver, Roberto Luongo gets his fourth straight start on Monday ... Brian Elliott will get a couple starts, at least, as Jaroslav Halak was placed on the IR with a groin strain ... Vincent Lecavalier might not even miss a game after suffering a bone bruise from an errant shot ... Dustin Byfuglien is day-to-day with a lower-body injury ... Ray Emery stole one for Chicago on Saturday, making 45 saves in a shootout win ... Who knows how legitimate the rumors are, but there's at least some talk that the Philadelphia Flyers are looking to make a big move. Could that mean Jarome Iginla, Keith Yandle, someone or no one? We'll see.