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Fantasy Hockey Lump of Coal Awards

nhl logoTis the season for merriment, candy canes, and egg nogg. Happy holidays to you! The NHL fantasy hockey season may not be bringing you such good tidings. So who gets your lump of  coal so far? Here’s the naughty list.

1) Eric Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes

It is hard to say whether Eric Staal is still suffering the effects of a devastating knee injury suffered last spring or he is a victim of his environment, a poor Hurricanes team in the running for the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. Regardless, if you drafted him in your standard league, let’s hope he was a late round pick. In Daily play, he is someone to avoid since he can easily give you a -2 with 1 shot on goal as he could a couple of goals. That is, until he is traded.

2) Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

If anything, a lump of coal for Mackinnon is a compliment. It means that his rookie season was so solid that expectations were high. However, a harsh regression for many players, including star forward Matt Duchesne (only 20 pts and a -3), has taken full effect in Denver. It is probably best to wait for MacKinnon to have a break-out week until including him in your Daily roster. But if you feel like being a clever clairvoyant, you could gamble with him against a weak opponent and hope he puts up a 3 spot.

3) Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues

It’s a good thing for Pietrangelo that fellow defensive teammate, Kevin Shattenkirk, is having a standout season warranting some Norris Trophy talk, otherwise he’d be in the limelight for his disappointing start to the season. Pietrangelo is a -10 on a quality Blues team. Shattenkirk, by contrast, is a +18. In Daily play, their price has separated significantly after starting virtually equal. It looks like his role may have changed too much this year to believe he will put up the offensive numbers he has in the past.

4) Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins

While his season has not been horrid, he was drafted in the top 10 of most standard drafts. The unpredictability of the Bruins so far make him poor value in Daily play. It used to be that you could select Rask against almost any opponent at home. This year is different. Key injuries on the blue line, including to man-beast Zdeno Chara, have made them vulnerable defensively. It also looks like Johnny Boychuck, excelling with the New York Islanders, was more important than people thought. In short, Rask was the beneficiary of an excellent defensive squad for the last 2 seasons. Now it is buyer beware.

5) Mike Smith, G, Arizona Coyotes

Okay, so the Coyotes stink, what should we have expected? Numbers fit for an AHL demotion were certainly not in my crystal ball. In standard non-daily leagues, Smith is one of those sleeper-type pick ups who, when hot, can pile up the points. He’s never going to be your number 1 (if he is, egads), but he has been a worthy gamble in recent years. The bright spot is that Arizona may be going yard-sale in the New Year and if Smith is shipped out, his value will rise significantly. Since his price in Daily play has dropped significantly, there could be some value there with a better squad in front of him.

Honorable Mentions

I’m cheap and selective of how I dole out the coal. Careful consideration was also given to his potential All-Star team of underachieving players: Cory Schneider (G, New Jersey Devils), Erik Karlsson (D, Ottawa Senators), P.K. Subban (D, Montreal Canadiens), Jordan Eberle (W, Edmonton Oilers), Tomas Vanek (W, Minnesota Wild), Anze Kopitar (C, L.A. Kings). To me, Kopitar and Vanek played themselves off the list in the last 2 weeks.

That’s my list, who’s on yours?

(Check back on Boxing Day, the 26th for the next batch of holiday awards)

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