Sergei Samsonov

One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. It’s no different in fantasy hockey. Some people look at a player and don’t see any value. Others realize that it isn’t only talent that players need, but often they need an opportunity or even a change of scenery to produce. All players who make it to the NHL are talented, but to succeed in the best league in the world, many players need to be in the right situation.

Take Sergei Samsonov for example. He’s a former seventh overall pick, NHL Rookie of the Year winner and he’s even played in an NHL All-Star game. The shifty Russian left winger has seasons of 70 and 75 points to his credit. He’s recorded 426 points in 624 career NHL games, which works out to 56 points for every 82 games played. Samsonov had a great playoff with Edmonton in 2006, where he scored 15 points in 24 games.

Then the wheels fell off. Samsonov looked out of place in Montreal after signing a two year deal. In a move that was considered a salary dump at the time, Samsonov was dealt to Chicago last summer. He just didn’t seem to fit in with either team and his NHL career appeared finished.

With Justin Williams likely gone for the season, Carolina was looking for some offensive help and they see a player essentially thrown to the curb. They pick him up (from waivers), brush off the rust, plug him in to one of the top two lines and so far the returns have been positive.

Samsonov is getting top six minutes, averaging around 19 minutes of ice time over his first five games with the Hurricanes. It doesn’t hurt that Carolina sits fifth in the NHL in goals scored. Samsonov is also being given major power play minutes on a team that has scored the fifth highest number of power play goals in the NHL.

Interestingly, current ‘Canes head coach Peter Laviolette was an assistant coach for Boston during Samsonov’s “glory days”. If you are looking for a quick fix at LW, why not give Samsonov a whirl?

Another player seizing the moment is Pittsburgh goalie Ty Conklin. His numbers so far have been stunning; 10-0-1, 1.72 goals against average, 0.949 save percentage and two shutouts. Not too shabby on a team that isn’t known for its defensive prowess. The Pens are still giving up way too many shots on goal, but Conklin thus far has just been incredible.

If Conklin is somehow still available in your league, it might be wise to pick him up as it looks like Marc-Andre Fleury is still another two to four weeks away from returning from his ankle injury. The way Conklin has been playing, Pittsburgh will not rush Fleury back.

At some point this season, I do see Fleury reclaiming the number one job, but until Conklin cools down or Fleury heats up, the Pens will likely end up splitting the starting duties.

Don’t forget to check the fantasy recycle bin every now and then. Sometimes if you dig deep enough, you can discover some real finds. Pick them up and use them while they are playing well. Once they stop producing, dump them back into the recycle bin and look for the next one. There you have it, the disposable fantasy hockey player. Some fantasy owners keep a spot on their rosters just for guys like this.

Green Gaining Steam
I know I keep bringing this guys name up, but I just can’t help myself, the kid just keeps getting better and better with each passing week. Washington’s Mike Green has scored 12 points in his last eight games and is on pace for 50 points this season. His 14 goals lead all NHL defensemen and only four blue-liners have more shots on goal than Green.

Now that Ovechkin is under contract for the long haul, consider what the Caps power play could look like for the next couple of years: Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Green and Poti. That is truly a fantasy worthy squad capable of putting up some rather large numbers.

Olaf Kolzig has compared Green to Sergei Gonchar and said that there’s not much of a difference between the two offensive defensemen. What we are witnessing is the coming out party for a top-flight fantasy defenseman. Going Green is good for your fantasy hockey environment.


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