Commentary

Becker's Dozen: Kane is able

Updated: January 10, 2008, 3:55 PM ET
By Pete Becker | ESPN.com

Every two weeks, "Becker's Dozen" looks at 13 players whose value has recently gone up or down.

Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks: Follow the bouncing puck: first, Kane begins the year being dropped from the Jonathan Toews line. He responds with assists in three consecutive games. Then, Toews gets hurt, and Kane winds up skating with Martin Havlat and Robert Lang. On that line, with his setup skills, Kane can post multiple points on any given night, and since he already wasn't playing with Toews, if he clicks, he could stay there beyond the month Toews will miss. I also like the move for Havlat and Lang who should be seeing some well-placed rubber in the immediate future.

Andy McDonald, C, Blues: 10 percent of his owners lost faith in McDonald in the past week, no doubt spurred by his one-assist-in-four-games performance. Silly, impatient owners. A slump is a slump is a slump. That's all. McDonald had three points in his first two games as a Blue, then went through this little stretch, and then busted out for a three-point, plus-3 night on Tuesday. He continues to see time with Brad Boyes and also with David Perron, the solid rookie with great hands who can convert McDonald's setups. He's on a decent team with good linemates. Don't give up on him yet.

Patrick Marleau
Steve Dykes/Getty ImagesPatrick Marleau has fallen on hard times this season.
Patrick Marleau, C, Sharks: Coming off back-to-back point-per-game campaigns, Marleau was a "safe pick" this season, a mid-fifth-rounder who was a monster on the power play, having tallied 34 goals and 47 assists with the man advantage in the past two seasons combined. Not so this season. Of his 18 points in 41 games, only six of them are of the "PP" variety. There's way too much talent there to think he's lost that scoring feeling, but the entire Sharks roster, with the exception of Joe Thornton, has disappointed. I'll preach a little more patience, but if you're at the bottom of your standings looking up, you might well join the 25 percent of owners who have bailed on Marleau and start streaming some forwards into his spot.

Marek Svatos, RW, Avalanche: With Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth injured, it's the second tier of Avalanche players who have been called forth to carry the load. Svatos has responded well, with four goals in his past four games and seven in his past nine. Oh, and he even managed an assist in that span. If you're looking for a goal scorer to stream in and out of your lineup, there he is.

Antti Miettinen, RW, Stars: A popular add in December, Miettinen is being dropped like a bad habit in the new year, this despite a two-goal game on Monday. There's no big mystery here; this is the kind of player you stream into your lineup when he's hot and replace when he cools off. He's really no different than dozens of other available wingers, so don't feel like you owe him your allegiance either.

Martin Erat, RW, Predators: Erat is stuck in an up-and-down season, and right now, his ownership trend is definitely down. There's no reason it should be. The talented winger is skating with David Legwand and Martin Gelinas, who may not be all-stars but aren't chopped liver, either. Erat has four points in his past four games, including a two-point effort Tuesday. You may want to go against the trend here and snatch him up wherever he's free.

Filip Kuba, D, Lightning: On Dec. 12, Kuba was a well-owned, well-liked defenseman on an offensively-minded team. He had 16 points in 30 games, within striking distance of a 50-point season, with a very nice plus-15 to his name. On Dec. 13, the Flames layed a 9-6 beating on the Lightning, a game in which Kuba was held pointless (in both senses of the word) and took a minus-5. Since that game, he's managed just one assist while his ledger has fallen to plus-5 for the season. Ouch. However, there are signs of a turnaround. Kuba is plus-3 in his past two games, and he is still getting a ton of ice time. He's a good, solid defenseman and his offensive acumen didn't just flame out because of one bad visit from Calgary. Watch him and pick him back up the moment he shows signs of life.

Ty Conklin, G, Penguins: Hats off to my colleague Sean Allen, who called this shot roughly 12.3 seconds after the news broke that Marc-Andre Fleury was out for an extended period. Dany Sabourin, who was given the opportunity to earn the interim starter's job, hasn't played since Dec. 21. Conklin, meanwhile, hasn't been beaten in eight games and has surrendered a total of four goals in his past five starts, including two shutouts and an overtime win. It will be very interesting to see what happens when Fleury returns, but I will say that I wouldn't be selling Conklin any more than I would be selling Chris Osgood at this time.

Karri Ramo, G, Lightning: Don't give up on him yet. After receiving a healthy boost in ownership, Ramo has been dropped in all but 6 percent of ESPN leagues. What, doesn't anyone have the stomach for 13 goals in three games? Ramo got back on track Tuesday, beating the Rangers 5-3 while making 31 saves. The Lightning haven't been shy about throwing him out there, and while he may not help you too much in goals-against average, he has the skills to make some saves while the offense gives him a chance at a "W" pretty much every night.

Ladislav Nagy, LW, Kings: The Kings are missing one of their better offensive players in Michael Cammallari (See Monday's edition of "Icing It Down" for more on that) but they haven't missed a beat thanks to the offensive stylings of perpetual fantasy tease Nagy. That is to say, they're still losing more than they're winning and they're wildly inconsistent. So, for the 80 percent of you who now own Nagy, I say sell, and sell now, while his New Year's Day five-point game still appears on his "most recent games log". I'd have a hard time naming a more frustrating fantasy skater to own. The man plays like an 80-point scorer half the time and like he belongs in the AHL the rest of the time. At the end of the year, you end up with roughly 50 points and start wondering how a guy so talented could produce so very, very little.

Aaron Voros, LW, Wild: Voros hasn't so much as sniffed a point since Boxing Day and is a minus-7 in six games. That's hard to do on a team as defensively responsible as the Wild. He's received less than 10 minutes of playing time in three consecutive contests after hovering between 12 minutes and 15 minutes for most of December. This rookie has hit a wall, hard. And the wall won.

Matt Niskanen, D, Stars: He made his fantasy presence known with a three-point night on December 10, and in the 14 games since, he's managed five points, including two goals in the past four games. More encouragingly, he's got nine shots on goal in those contests, which is the same number he had in the first 21 games of the year. It looks like Dallas and Niskanen have decided to take advantage of the 2005 first-rounder's offensive acumen, and as his role in the offense expands, so does his fantasy value.

Sergei Samsonov, LW, Hurricanes:It almost hurts to put an up arrow beside this guy's name. He has the talent to be a 30-goal scorer, but just never seems interested enough to make that happen. He busted out of Chicago and hadn't played since the Sunday before Christmas. He's goalless on the season and hasn't had a point sine November. So, I guess there's nowhere to go but up. He debuted on Wednesday with linemates Rod Brind'Amour and Cory Stillman, so you know the 'Canes are willing to give him a shot. In a deep league, I guess you have to as well. Just don't underestimate the capacity of Samsanov to thoroughly underwhelm.

Pete Becker is the senior editor for ESPN.com Fantasy