Five NHL Fantasy Players and Why They Matter

Chuck JohnstonContributor IFebruary 25, 2009

In the run up to this season’s trade deadline, here’s one pooly's view on five players of note:

Daniel Briere

Although Briere has only played in nine games this season, he’s posted a solid nine points. It’s likely he’ll be inserted directly into the first or second line upon his imminent return in Philly and should get regular power play duties.

If he can maintain a point-per-game average down the stretch, which is entirely possible, he’ll be a huge boost to any fantasy team. It’s possible some owners might not realize his potential, or may be embittered by his disappointing season to date, and they may let him go for a second-string forward or offensive defenseman.

Look for Briere to change the outcome of a few fantasy hockey pools this season.


Alex Kovalev

The uncertainty surrounding Kovalev’s future, combined with his lackluster play through most of the season, has many a pooly questioning his value. Many managers may look to unload him in favor of a player with more consistent output.

Don’t be deterred by his play prior to Gainey sitting him out last week; he’s an emotional player whose role on the Canadians had become uncertain with the return of Saku Koivu. Kovalev has as much offensive talent as anyone in the league and, armed with a renewed sense of purpose, he may very well be the driving force in getting Montreal safely back in the Playoff picture.


Joe Thornton

Nobody doubts Joe’s heart in the regular season, but he has a nasty habit of disappearing completely in the postseason. In a league where postseason points count, attempt to move him for two young guns on consistent Playoff teams, such as Zack Parise in New Jersey or Ryan Getzlaf in Anaheim.

Everybody loves to love "Big" Joe Thornton, and most fantasy owners would give up just about anything to acquire the rights to him (possibly without considering his history in the Playoffs).

That said, if your pool ends with the regular season, ride Thornton all the way to the end.


Mats Sundin

Although he’s shown fleeting moments of brilliance, many fans have been disappointed that Sundin’s return to the NHL in a Canucks uniform wasn’t as spectacular as they had imagined. Ignore these people, or at the very least take advantage of them.

Sundin is playing on a good team that just happens to be in a situation where Mats plays his best hockey—that is, in the hunt for a postseason berth. If you feel your team may be a little thin at the center position, take a run at acquiring him.

He’s probably going to carry the Canucks into the Playoffs and likely to the second round (though no further).

Why? Because that’s what Sundin does.


Alexander Ovechkin

Chances are this guy went first or second in your fantasy draft. If not, you should find new friends, because the ones in your pool are idiots.

In many draft formats, one downside of having a high draft position is once you’ve landed that star player, you don’t get another pick until everyone else has had two.  That can result in all of the true superstars having been grabbed up.

What does this mean to you? It means there’s a lot of fantasy owners out there with Alexander Ovechkin on their roster but with little chance of placing in their pool. Exploit this insecurity in other owners and trick them into letting Ovechkin go for less than he’s worth. There’s a very real chance he’ll eclipse his scoring totals from last season and take that momentum deep into the Playoffs.