James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Realigning your plans

Friday, March 15, 2013


BRENT BURNS FOR YOU

I will freely acknowledge my skepticism when Brent Burns made his return to the San Jose Sharks lineup as a forward (and promptly scored a goal). Really, I still am a little reluctant to believe that he’ll stay there for a significant amount of time.

With those concerns aside, it’s pretty tough not to recommend him as at least a short-term fix.

Beyond his impressive two-game production (two goals, one assist) and tantalizing talent, the draw with Burns is his talented linemates. So far, it looks like San Jose is throwing him out there with Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. That’s a pretty fantastic scenario for Burns; really, if he stays at forward and can stick with at least one of those two talented centers, he’ll be worth keeping an eye on. Burns might just help the Sharks differentiate their offense enough to stop taking on water, too.

BLUES NOTES

Thursday turned out to be a pretty promising day for another talented (but up-and-down) team: the St. Louis Blues. It goes beyond beating the Phoenix Coyotes 3-0, too, although that win bleeds into this discussion.

For one thing, Jake Allen ended up grabbing the 28-save shutout, the first donut of his NHL career. Much like Burns, I have some misgivings about Allen; even with Brian Elliott’s profound struggles, I have some trouble trusting a guy like Allen will stick around in a three-goalie scenario. Still, after that shutout and considering his nice production (plus a solid pedigree), I think he also shares Burns’ distinction of being a nice addition ... even if it’s just for the next week or two.

Alexander Steen came back to the lineup from the IR and made an immediate impact with a goal and two assists. He’s absolutely worth a look despite being a little fragile. His partner in crime Chris Stewart continues to have a resoundingly redemptive contract year, with two goals and one assist last night.

MULLING CULLEN

As Ryan Suter continues his strong play (three assists), I must admit it could be time to reassess a guy I summarily dismissed earlier this season: Matt Cullen.

While I’ve admired his respectable mix of talent and versatility in the past, he’s rarely put that together to be particularly interesting in fantasy terms. He's regularly clocked in around the 35-45 point mark with little in the way of peripherals.

This season, he has 17 points in 26 games. I have to admit I furrowed my brow trying to figure out why ... until I noticed that his $3.5 million cap hit expires after this season. How convenient.

Because of the contract year factor, he's far more interesting. I'd say you could probably do better (but could also do worse) than Cullen this season.

INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS

On the bright injury side, Tuomo Ruutu and Tobias Enstrom returned to their respective teams’ practices on Thursday. Patrick Sharp pondered the possibility of skating for the first time since separating his shoulder, as well … Adam McQuaid is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury … Derek MacKenzie is day-to-day with an upper-body issue … Add Dmitry Kulikov (hand) to the eternally expanding list of Florida Panthers ailments … Al Montoya is day-to-day with a lower-body problem … Flu-like symptoms continue to float around nearly every team, so just make sure to monitor Rotoworld for late scratches and so on … After years of just being OK considering their situations, Pascal Dupuis and especially Chris Kunitz are really riding the Sidney Crosby gravy train in 2013.



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



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