Game of the night: San Jose (36-7-7) at Boston (39-8-7)

One of the few centers worth rostering

Joltin' Joe: Not worth drafting early

Centers in fantasy hockey are like first basemen in fantasy baseball: it is never a position of need because there are so many good ones.

That’s why you are making a mistake if you spend early draft picks on centers or first basemen. It’s wiser to attack positional scarcities. You can always get centers and first basemen in later rounds or the free agent pool.

The star centers of tonight’s Sharks at Bruins clash are living proof of this. Bruins center David Krejci (19 goals, 37 assists, +30, 16 PPP, 12 PIM, 100 shots) was a fantasy nonentity at the start of the season. By and large, he was not drafted. But now he’s a No. 1 fantasy center, a scoring machine who is the position leader at +/-. Krejci has produced comparably to Sharks center Joe Thornton (12 goals, 45 assists, +21, 20 PPP, 40 PIM, 85 shots). But to have drafted Thornton, you’d have needed a first-round or second-round pick.

Likewise, Sharks center Patrick Marleau (26 goals, 27 assists, +20, 10 PIM, 12 PPP, 172 shots) and Bruins center Marc Savard (21 goals, 41 assists, +25, 52 PIM, 18 PPP, 148 shots) have also produced at Thornton-esque levels. While both Marleau and Savard were on preseason fantasy radars, neither was a consensus early-round pick. Savard typically went in Round four or five, Marleau a few rounds later.

Two other fantasy items in tonight’s clash:

  • How many minutes will Bruins right wing Blake Wheeler (15 goals, 18 assists, +32, 30 PIM, four PPP, 87 shots) get? With Bruins right wing Michael Ryder (orbital bone) sidelined for three weeks, it stands to reason Wheeler will get more ice time. But that did not happen the last time the Bruins played, when Wheeler logged 7:30 on Saturday against the Flyers in the absence of Ryder (19 goals, 17 assists, +24, 18 PIM, eight PPP, 137 shots).  The hunch here is Wheeler plays more. He’s only 41 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues and 37 percent in ESPN leagues, and he is worth a pickup if you need a +/- boost.
  • Sharks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (six goals, 18 assists, -8, 49 PIM, 13 PPP, 105 shots) has three goals in his last four games and four goals in his last seven games. Ironically, Ehrhoff has also posted a -3 in his last four games, and a -3 in his last seven games. He is 55 percent owned in Yahoo! and 66 percent owned in ESPN. He is worth watching tonight, but he is only worth adding as a No. 4 defenseman only if you can afford the damage to your team’s +/-.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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