So fresh, so Steen

March 8, 2010

Blues C Alex Steen could help your squad this week if you need an injury replacement for Bruins C Marc Savard (above).

How long will the Bruins be without the stellar services of C Marc Savard (concussion)? Carried off the ice on a stretcher in Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh, Savard was moving his limbs — that’s the good news.

The bad news: Even if he is bodily ready, a head injury is something the Bruins will not take chances with. (It is safe to say the organization recalls how long it took C Patrice Bergeron to return to playing condition.)

Scan your league’s free agent pool for Savard replacements, and there’s one pivot who stands out: Blues C Alex Steen, owned in only2.8 percent of ESPN leagues and 8 percent of Yahoo! formats. How shall we make the case for Steen? Four ways:

1. On fire. In the three games the Blues have played since the Olympic fortnight, Steen has three goals and three assists. In the last seven days, he ranks No. 8 in ESPN and No. 9 in Yahoo! leagues.

2. This is when the Blues get hot. Last season at this time, Blues G Chris Mason went on a hot streak of fantasy-title winning proportions. From March 10 to April 12 of last year, Mason (and the Blues) went 12-3-2.  Those who rode the Blues in March and April were fantasy money down the stretch.

3. The Blues have an easy upcoming schedule. They do not play again until Thursday, March 11, but on that night they visit the Islanders. The next two stops — at Columbus March 13 and at Minnesota March 14 — hardly strike fear in the hearts of owners.

4. Steen has pedigree on his side. The 24th overall pick in 2002, Steen just turned 26 and tied his career high in goals (18), which he set as a rookie with Toronto in 2005-06.

Now, no one is saying Steen is going to morph into a draft-worthy fantasy center in the season’s final few weeks. But he has the talent — and supporting cast — to give your team a lift for the next few weeks. And if you own Savard, your team might need one.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Time to shed your Blues? (Backes, McDonald, Tkachuk, Kariya, Boyes, Johnson, Mason)

October 21, 2009

Another year, another 50 assists for Blues LW Paul Kariya.

Another year, another 50 assists for Blues LW Paul Kariya.

Last night’s 5-1 ass-kicking in Pittsburgh was bad for the Blues (1-3-1 in their last five) but worse for owners of their fantasy players.

In fact, according to numbers, owners are dropping their Blues. RW David Backes is down 1.7 to 89.8 percent; C/LW Andy McDonald is down .5  to 16.5 percent; LW Paul Kariya, despite his goal last night, is down 11.0 to 48.6 percent; LW Keith Tkachuk is down 4.3 to 65.4 percent; G Chris Mason is down 1.9 to 92.4 percent; RW Brad Boyes is down 1.3 to 97.7 percent. The only significant Treble Clef whose ownership is up is D Erik Johnson, who rose .6 to 44.7 percent.

But the question remains: Is it time to shed your Blues? I say no. Push me, and I say: Not yet. Give these guys one more weekend. On Friday and Saturday, the Blues have back-to-back home games vs. the Wild (1-6) and Stars (3-2-3). Those two games could be a recipe for a rebound.

A quick breakdown of why the key Blues are worth holding:

G Chris Mason: Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch reports that Mason is not yet in jeopardy of losing his job as the No. 1 goalie, despite getting pulled after two periods in Pittsburgh. Backup Ty Conklin (2-0-0, .940, 1.71) pitched a shutout Saturday night but he is still the backup.

C/LW Andy McDonald: His positional versatility is a huge asset on benches in Yahoo! formats; McDonald has proven, again and again, that he is a point-per-game man when healthy. This year, he has six points in seven games. That is no player to drop, especially with the Wild coming to town.

LW Keith Tkachuk: He has seven points and a +2 rating after seven games. That typed, we are dealing with a 38-year-old LW who no longer amasses the penalty minutes that made him a fantasy stallion back in the day. In fact, never mind the penalties — on some nights Tkachuk no longer amasses enough plain old minutes to be a factor. Because of his fast start and name brand you may be able to get something for him in a trade — especially if he pads his stats this weekend. But if there’s a Blues man I’d feel safe dropping, it’s Tkachuk.

D Erik Johnson: Yet another Clef with seven points in seven games, including an assist and a -1 mark in last night’s stinker. The first overall pick in 2006, Johnson deserves to be a universally owned defensemen, especially because of his +4 rating on a team like this. The fact that he is a free agent in more than 50 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues is startling. If you happen to own Tkachuk in a league where Johnson is a free agent, swap one for the other straightaway.

RW Brad Boyes: With one goal and four assists in seven games, Boyes is actually on pace to match his overall scoring output in recent seasons. The question is, Can he score 43 goals again? The more I see of Boyes, the more I believe 2007-08 was an aberration born of a .208 shooting percentage. It doesn’t mean he can’t be a solid 65-point contributor from right wing; nor does it mean you should drop Boyes; but if you are counting on him to bolster your goals category, you’d be wise to trade him now. By midseason, if Boyes has (say) only 10 goals, it may be hard to get anything of value for him.

RW David Backes: Don’t judge him by his scoring (or lack thereof). His fantasy value lies in his shots on goal and penalty minutes. Yes, he scored 31 goals last year, but with 23 assists he only had 54 points in 82 games. Those numbers would not be worth a fantasy roster spot without the shots and the penalties. With 15 shots on goal and only six PIMs after seven games, Backes is behind last year’s pace. But give him the weekend. He is only one game misconduct away from paying fantasy dividends.

LW Paul Kariya: He turned 35 five days ago. And still, I feel confident betting on him to reach 220 shots and 50 assists. His track record strongly suggests that this projection is realistic. The one thing to be careful for: power play productivity. Though Kariya has lit the lamp on the PP throughout his career, he has no PP points in his last five games. Of course, the upside here is that Kariya is demonstrating he is still capable of scoring at even strength; and doing so bolsters his +/- ledger.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons