Time to (reluctantly) add Maxim Afinogenov

Afinogenov is no longer with the Sabres, but his crap-tastic Buffalo seasons explain his low ownership.

After his one-goal, one-assist, +2 performance in Thursday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Bruins, Thrashers RW Maxim Afinogenov has jumped to the forefront of fantasy hockey watch lists.

Janet Eagleson sang his praises, pointing out that he is skating with Ilya Kovalchuk and that he now has 19 points in 18 games. To this we will add that the Thrashers are a scoring machine. Their 3.56 goals per game ranks second in the NHL, behind only the Capitals.

Given these circumstances, how is it that Afinogenov, 30, remains only 42.4 percent owned in ESPN formats and 43 percent owned in Yahoo! games?

While we at the Genius wholeheartedly endorse Afinogenov as a “must-add,” we would be remiss if we didn’t point out that he has frustrated us before — and that these previous frustrations are why his ownership remains so effing darn low. Let us enumerate the top two frustrations:

1. The 2007-08 season. Surely you remember: After back-to-back point-per-game seasons with the Sabres in 2005-06 and 2006-07, both of which included ample PPPs and shots on goal, Afinogenov submitted a 56-game dud: 10 goals, 18 assists, -16, six PPPs and 114 shots. His numbers in 2008-09 were not much better. Thus it was with plenty of justification that Maxim fell off the fantasy radar.

2. A +/- nightmare. While Afinogenov has scored consistently all year — as Eagleson mentions, he has a point in 15 of 19 games — he was a -6 after his first nine games. Since then, he has skated with Ilya. Lo and behold, he now stands at +3. Funny how that works.

So while we are all for adding Maxim to rosters, we must warn fantasy players that you’re adding a player who’s dependent on others. We love Thrashers C Rich Peverley as much as the next blogger, but if Thrashers coach John Anderson separates Afinogenov from Ilya, he will minimize Maxim’s value.

For now, though, Afinogenov is someone you should start with confidence.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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