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Ice Chips: Buy Low, Sell High

November 14, 2008 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post

If this economic crisis has taught us anything, it’s that the rule of buy low, sell high will never, ever, ever change. With that in mind, there are a few players that are riding high off recent surges. Some of them will maintain that level of play, but I’m a firm believer that the following guys will all come crashing back down to earth soon.

Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins: There’s plenty to like about Staal. He’s a great skater, has a strong work ethic, and has the hands to put the puck in the net. So why would you unload him? The more I see him, the less I believe that he’ll actually put up 90 points the way his brother Eric can. Jordan is more of a two-way forward, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m beginning to think he’ll wind up being a Jere Lehtinen type: 60 to 70 points, strong on the penalty kill, and a potential Selke winner. After his monster game against Detroit, his stock is at a high, so now’s the time to move him.

Ryane Clowe, San Jose Sharks: Don’t let Clowe’s gaudy numbers fool you. While he’s a tough utility forward, his goal-scoring is notoriously streaky, and often depends on whether or not his linemates are clicking (Clowe’s a pound-in-the-rebound type of player, not the type that can create offense by himself). While fellow breakout teammate Devin Setoguchi is for real, you might be able to unload Clowe with some value right now before he hits another cold streak.

Nikolai Zherdev, New York Rangers: Zherdev’s gotten a lot of positive press over the past few weeks, and a lot of that’s riding off a stellar October. Keep in mind, though, that Zherdev is a notorious hit-and-miss player with a work ethic that’s never been noteworthy. In November, Zherdev’s only had four points. Better to move him while the aura of goodwill is still around him.

News out of LA — in addition to revealing hideous new third jerseys, the Kings got some good news in that Jack Johnson is on the mend a little ahead of schedule. Considering the Kings are overachieving right now, he might be worth picking up and sticking on your IR until he’s ready.

Need a sleeper defense pick for power play points? The travel-weary Matt Carle is getting a long look as a two-way defenseman with his new Philadelphia teammates. Look for Carle to evolve faster in Philly than he did in San Jose or in his short, bizarre stint in Tampa Bay. Why? Carle didn’t have a power play mentor in either of those instances, but he’s getting ice time with Kimmo Timonen in Philadelphia. Carle’s poor numbers so far should make him available in most fantasy leagues and he might be worth keeping tabs on. Remember, it’s all about trends, so if it looks like Philly’s power play is trending up, take Carle before he gets much notice.

While Tim Thomas has gotten the bulk of the starts during Boston’s hot run, Manny Fernandez ain’t doing too bad either. In a big fantasy league where goalies are at a premium, Fernandez is a reasonable gamble on a team that looks to be transitioning from pretenders to for-real. To put things in perspective, Thomas has started 10 games while Fernandez has started six.

In the under-the-radar category, guess who’s tied with Sidney Crosby for second-best assist total so far? Joe Thornton? Marc Savard? Nope, it’s one J.P. Dumont in Nashville. Dumont, out of the spotlight in Nashville, is quietly having a bang-up year and might still be available in smaller fantasy leagues where the bulk of drafted players have bigger marquee value.

After missing the playoffs last season, Lindy Ruff’s Buffalo Sabres stormed out of the gate like gangbusters, earning at least a point in each of their first eight games. Goaltender Ryan Miller’s play — elevated to a new level this season — helped spearhead the hot start. However, Miller has cooled of late, surrendering 11 goals in his past three games as Buffalo’s blazing start has slowed. The Sabres face a tough schedule with three straight weeks of three games in four nights, and starting tonight, Miller will rest one of those games each week, so take note, those of you in daily move leagues.

The Week Ahead

  • Can the Dallas Stars pull out of their downward spiral? Fantasy owners demand their money back from Marty Turco. He’ll give it a go against a resilient Phoenix squad and a surging Blackhawks team.
  • What will happen first in Tampa? Coach Barry Melrose is fired, captain Vincent Lecavalier begs to get out of his lifetime contract, or the entire defense is traded for more forwards that underachieve? Watch the Lightning play Carolina, Florida, and Nashville — you’ll never know who just might show up! [Editors’s note — moments after we posted this, news broke of Melrose’s firing. Something about mullets going out style…]
  • The Vancouver Canucks will take the Roberto Luongo Show on the road. They’ll hit up the Rangers and the Islanders. Why no stop at The Rock in New Jersey? Eh, maybe they just didn’t feel like going since Marty Brodeur won’t be in the lineup.
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