Every Thursday, the Genius will list three players to monitor for fantasy relevance. As a rule, the players will be owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues.
Player: RW Michael Grabner, Canucks
Ownership: 5 percent Yahoo!, 2.9 percent ESPN.
Optimism: Only 22, the former first-round pick has become a shot machine in his last four games (5, 6, 7, 2). In those games, he has two goals and two assists, all of which were PPPs. Rob Higgins, fantasy expert for the Toronto Sun, recently wrote: “He’s playing with Vancouver’s best all-around forward in Ryan Kesler, on the team’s fastest line and is the Kobe to Kesler’s Shaq. He likes to shoot and can finish. As long as his context is a Top 6 one, in the NHL, he will point enough to help.”
Skepticism: Grabner has done a lot of his scoring by being in the right place at the right time in front of the net. He deserves credit for this knack, but how sustainable is the cherry-picking for a 180-pounder?
Player: D Derek Morris, Bruins
Ownership: 9 percent Yahoo!, 7.1 percent ESPN.
Optimism: There was a time when Morris — a first-round pick back in 1996 — was a must-own fantasy blueliner. Granted: That time was 2002-03. Still, in his first season with the Avalanche, Morris put up numbers: 11 goals, 37 assists, +16, 68 penalty minutes, 28 power play points (nine goals, 19 assists), and 191 shots on goal. Lately, Bruins fans have glimpsed the Morris vintage. In his last three games, Morris has one goal and four assists, not to mention a +2 and seven shots. It’s no coincidence these three games marked the return of D Dennis Wideman from a left shoulder injury.
Skepticism: Morris has not amassed more than 30 points in a season since 2003-04. He is also no guarantee for PP productivity. Only one of the five points on his recent three-game binge was a PPP.
Player: D Jeff Schultz, Capitals
Ownership: 1 percent Yahoo!, 0.4 percent ESPN.
Optimism: In fantasy football, you want a piece of the Saints. In fantasy hockey, you want a piece of the Capitals, who score 3.56 goals per game (third). Schultz, 23, a first-round pick in 2004, has one goal and four assists in his last three games, not to mention four PIMs and a staggering +5.
Skepticism: Schultz isn’t sniffing the power play and he is averaging fewer than 18:00 of ice time.
photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons