Evgeny Artyukin, Lightning
Six-foot-5, 250 pounds and full of potential, Evgeny has all of seven points and 50 PIM in 29 games this season. However, the past two games have shown just what this behemoth is capable of as Evgeny has scored twice, recorded a +2 rating and produced 24 PIM. The club is intrigued with the possibility of this big body clogging up the crease area on the power play, so if he receives some ice time with the man advantage, he could produce points at a rate that is much greater than his current pace. He's a long shot to be a fantasy factor, but he is a tantalizingly gifted bruiser with decent hands.
Colby Armstrong, Thrashers
We advised you last week to pick up this guy, so hopefully you listened. Armstrong hasn't scored in two games, but he does have five goals in his last seven games as his offensive game has been a full go of late. The 2001 first-round draft pick has never bettered his total of 16 goals in 47 games as a rookie in '05, but he is on pace to better that overall mark this year thanks to his little hot streak. Overall, he has nine goals in 36 games.
Jonathan Cheechoo, Sharks
The Cheechoo train must have a full load of coal because this once prolific scorer is back on track with a four-game point streak (2 goals, 3 assists). Cheechoo has spent the last two games skating with Joe Thornton, which would elevate anyone's game, but it would be a surprise if he stayed on his line once Devin Setoguchi returns to the team (he has been away for a couple of days to deal with a family matter). Still, Cheechoo should continue to see copious amounts of ice time, and he is always a threat for some substantial power-play time. One of the league's most prolific streak scorers, Cheechoo could be ready to take off after a dreadful start (6g, 7a in 24 injury-filled games).
Brendan Morrison, Ducks
With Teemu Selanne out of action because of a quadriceps injury, the Ducks needed players to step up. Bobby Ryan has certainly done his part with points in five-straight games (2g, 6a), and veteran Morrison has also lent a somewhat unexpected hand, given his slow start to the year after his surgically-repaired knee took a while to come around. While Morrison's overall numbers look poor (8g, 5a in 36 games), the bulk of his points have come in recent weeks with four goals in three games and six goals in his last nine contests. It would be a shock if he kept this up, but that doesn't mean he isn't capable of consistently producing points if given ice time.
James Neal, Stars
A rookie who picks up a hat trick gets everyone's attention, and when you toss in the fact that Neal has six goals and an assist in his last nine games, well, you can see why he is on this list. Neal, an '05 second-round draft pick, has 16 points on 12 goals and four assists over the course of the year, and if he continues to skate on a line with Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen, one would imagine that his rough plus/minus (-9) would also improve.
Brent Burns, Wild
Burns broke out last season with 15 goals and 43 points from the blue line, but this year things have gone terribly wrong. First, he dealt with injury, and then out of necessity he played some forward for the Wild, but nothing appears to be working of late for Burns, who has, brace yourself, a mere point in his last 12 games, during which time he is a (-6). A player of his talent level cannot get much worse than that. Down, but not out, like others on the list below, now is likely the time to strike a trade offer for the talented Ontario native.
Milan Michalek, Sharks
Michalek scored one of the prettier goals of the season Monday night as he jacked the puck up over Marty Turco's shoulder while on one knee, but he has been ineffective (one goal in 10 games) and injured of late. After averaging 25 goals the past two seasons, he is on pace for roughly 20 this year. Given his established baseline, and the overall excellence of the Sharks, he would appear to be a solid target to set your sites on despite the recent struggles.
Dion Phaneuf, Flames
We mentioned him last week, but honestly, he has been so bad, we felt the need to mention him again (sorry, Dion). We would venture to guess that this might be the worst he has ever played, statistically, in his life; he hasn't lit the lamp in 19 games, hasn't recorded a point in seven games and is a (-5) in his last eight games. This slump simply cannot last; an eruption is likely right around the corner, so go out and beg his current owner to move him to your club. You will not be sorry.
Vaclav Prospal, Lightning
It's really amazing. The guy is an every-other-year wonder. Look at his point totals the past few years: 55, 79, 54, 80, 55 and 71. So where does he sit this year? Well, of course, his production is down with only 17 points in 35 games, meaning he is on pace to just barely reach 40 points this season. Over his last nine games he has produced zilch, zip, nada. You could try to pick him up on the cheap since he should rebound somewhat, but this being an even-numbered year, well, you have seen what you can expect and it isn't pretty.
Wade Redden, Rangers
Redden recorded 28 points last season in Ottawa, and this offseason he signed a huge contract to head the Rangers. The results haven't been awful, with 16 points in 38 games, but he is a (-5) this year and he hasn't scored a goal since the third game of the season. In addition, he has one measly point in his last eight games and has produced a mere four PIM in 11 December games. At this point his name is much bigger than his production.
Tyler Arnason, T.J. Hensick, Avalanche
The Avalanche are without their top two centers in Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny, and both are expected to miss at least the next six weeks (Sakic will likely be out at least a month longer). As a result, the Avalanche are simply desperate for players up the middle, and it appears that Arnason and Hensick will both be thrust into more prominent roles. Hensick might end up on the third line with the team going with Ian Laperriere on the second line. And given that he has scored just one goal in 23 games this season and seven in 54 career games, Hensick shouldn't draw anyone's attention. As for Arnason, he, too, has been a scoring flop with only 10 points (two goals) in 35 games this season, but he did score 16 times with 49 points as recently as '06, and skating with Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk on the first line should boost his production. You are taking a big risk here if you roster either player, but if you feel like rolling the dice, target Arnason.
Curtis Joseph, Maple Leafs
Vesa Toskala, the Leafs starter, has been a mess for most of the season. Besides owning a .882 save percentage in 32 starts, his December work has been putrid (3.65 GAA, .875 SV%). As a result, the Leafs will turn to CuJo to try and stop the bleeding in net; he will make the next two starts for the club against Atlanta and Buffalo. One win away from 450 in his career, Joseph is 0-4 this year with a .843 save percentage, so this may be his last chance to show that he still deserves to be in the NHL. It would be hard to think that the Leafs would ultimately turn away from Toskala, but the truth is that they just aren't receiving NHL-caliber goaltending at the moment.
Joey MacDonald, Islanders
Rick DiPietro returned to the ice, but apparently his groin is now giving him trouble. It isn't clear how much time he will miss, but it likely means MacDonald should continue to see a fair amount of starts, though at this point, that may not be a good thing. Over his last 11 starts, MacDonald hasn't won a game at 0-9-2, and his GAA of 3.96 is simply ghastly. If you are desperate in net you could look Joey's way, but otherwise, you are much better off going in another direction for depth in your net (such as the next guy on the list).
Jamie Quick, Kings
Erik Ersberg is injured (groin) and Jason LaBarbera is struggling (.893 SV% on the year), so out of the minors comes Quick who has, pardon the pun, quickly ingratiated himself into favor with the Kings. Quick, who has started the last five games for the Kings, has allowed three goals in his last four starts and overall he owns a 1.72 GAA and a .937 save percentage (thanks to two shutouts) in six appearances. Do yourself a favor and run, don't walk, to your waiver wire as Quick is a must add while this hot.
Dwayne Roloson, Oilers
The Oilers' Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers was sent to the AHL on a conditioning assignment to get some work in. Why? Well, Roloson has played so well the past month (five wins, 2.26 GAA and a .929 SV%) that JDD hasn't seen much time in net (he hasn't started since Nov. 30), and with Mathieu Garon still on the roster, there is a logjam in Edmonton. As we have been saying all year, at some point one of these three simply has to be moved (the club cannot send any of them to the AHL without having to expose them to waivers -- a conditioning assignment not withstanding). One of the tenders will likely be moved and who knows what type of situation they will end up in, but for now the goalie to own in Edmonton is Roloson.
* Twelve teams play four games this week: Atlanta, Calgary, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Islanders, Tampa Bay and Vancouver. Some names you might want to keep in mind from these squads would include the following.
Matt D'Agostini, Canadiens
This rookie has come out charging with six goals and eight points in 13 games, and he has scored twice in five games. He has slowed since a blazing start to the year (4g, 1a in his first five games), but he still has some offensive flair.
Alexander Edler, Canucks
With the injuries on the Canucks' blue line, this third-year player from Sweden has really stepped up his game of late with nine points, six on the power play, in 13 December games. As long as Sami Salo is sidelined, look for Edler to keep racking up time on the power-play.
Michael Frolik, Panthers
With 15 points in 33 games, this rookie first round draft pick from '06 is starting to make waves, especially when you realize that he has 13 points in his last 14 games. He may not warrant a pickup if he only qualifies at center, but if you need help down the middle he could be a short-term fix.
Kyle Okposo, Islanders
Four goals and nine points in 24 games, and we are recommending you pay close attention to him? Huh? Well, over the past three games he has scored two goals while dishing out two assists as he has been seeing a lot of time on the second line. As a result, we just thought we would point that out for those of you in need of some depth.
* Three teams play only two games this week: Dallas, Los Angeles and the NY Rangers.