Commentary

Becker's Dozen: Malkin, Selanne rising

Updated: January 31, 2008, 3:46 PM ET
By Pete Becker | ESPN.com

"Becker's Dozen" is a look at 13 players whose value has recently gone up or down.

Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins: When you're a first-round draft pick, be it in fantasy or reality, there's really nowhere for your value to go but down. Malkin, with an assist to Sidney Crosby's ankle, is bucking that trend. Given his turn to lead a Penguins offense short a Hart Trophy winner, Malkin has been everything you want in a No. 1 player. He scores, he sets up his teammates and he leads. He's been held off the score sheet only twice in his past 12 games. It's entirely possible that Malkin will rank second only to Crosby in my rankings for next season. Is that crazy? Well, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr used to be drafted 1-2 in the early '90s, so why can't it happen again? As a side note, I hope you Penguins fans know how lucky you are. Dynamic duos like these aren't supposed to come along to a franchise twice in a 20-year span. Sure, there's an incredible amount of losing that must be done to get the high draft picks required to acquire such talent, but, well, it was worth it, wasn't it? I seethe with jealousy.

[+] EnlargeTeemu Selanne
Shelly Castellano/Icon SMITeemu Selanne should produce when he returns, but how will he affect the stats of his Ducks teammates?
Teemu Selanne, RW, Ducks: Gee. The suspense had been killing us, eh, guys? Selanne, who has been owned in better than 80 percent of leagues throughout his supposed retirement, is back practicing and will make his season debut sometime next week. On the plus side, the guy scored 88 goals the past two seasons, so you know he still has a nose for the net. And you also know he'll be better rested than his competition, which is great for a guy whose game is built on speed and finesse. The downside, however, is that there's a new top Duck in town, and his name is Ryan Getzlaf … and so far, I have not seen the two names bandied about as linemates. Todd Bertuzzi has been skating with Selanne in practice, according to the Los Angeles Times. I just don't see the Ducks breaking up the London Knights connection of Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Just call it the gray lining to the silver cloud.

Todd Bertuzzi, LW, Ducks: See above. Bertuzzi will come cheap right now, and you never know, Selanne could be the catalyst that propels him back into fantasy prominence. If you're looking to catch lightning in a bottle, this one's as good a bet as any.

Dan Boyle, D, Lightning: Finally. That's pretty much all we can say about the big Lightning defenseman who had been held off the ice by wrist trouble. How's it affecting his offense? He scored twice in his return on Jan. 24 and set up a pair in his follow-up effort Tuesday in Buffalo. So, yeah, he's back, and I wouldn't hesitate to trade for him, especially since he's in his walk year and the bottom-dwelling Lightning may well trade him to a contender in the coming weeks, which could only help his plus/minus.

Mark Recchi, RW, Thrashers: A three-game pointless streak in which he was minus-7 has sent Recchi owners scrambling to the waiver wire to replace him. Now owned in less than a third of leagues, Recchi is a nice, sneaky waiver-wire pickup, or, at the very least, a guy you want to grab to fill out your roster on a slow night. Before the slump, Recchi had a four-game point streak going, and anyone spending any time centering Ilya Kovalchuk is worth at least a second chance.

Scott Hartnell, LW, Flyers: There are few players hotter than Scott Hartnell right now. Since Jan. 8, he's had at least one point in nine of 10 games, racking up 17 points in the process. Now, let's not kid ourselves. This isn't a 140-point pace, but the fact remains that he and fantasy heartthrob Mike Richards have a good thing going right now, and there's no reason Hartnell can't act the part of a point-per-game player the rest of the way.

Braydon Coburn, D, Flyers: Hartnell isn't the only Flyer on a tear. In fact, the whole team is doing well, averaging five goals per game in its past 10, winning eight. Coburn has been a big part of that, with a five-game point streak going, and nine points total in those 10 games. Considering he has all of 23 points in 49 games, that's quite an upswing in production. Can he keep it up? The pedigree is certainly there. He was Atlanta's No. 1 pick in 2003 -- eighth overall -- and tallied 22 goals and 52 assists in 115 games (better than half a point per game) during his last two seasons of junior hockey before being drafted. He's not going to be your No. 1 defenseman, but there's enough offense -- and quite a bit of penalty-minute potential -- in that 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame to be a solid NHL and fantasy defenseman.

Chris Drury, C, Rangers: Drury? More like dreary this January. Juvenile puns on his name aside, it's not been a good stretch for the pride of Trumbull, Conn. He has three points and a minus-5 in his past 10 games and has seen his ice time decline, all while watching Sean Avery gallivanting about with Jaromir Jagr and Scott Gomez. Drury has too good a track record to be expected to continue to slide, so I'll call "buy low" on him right now and expect him to shake his January doldrums in the second half.

Peter Mueller, C, Coyotes: One of the most added players in the new year, Mueller is doing everything but self-immolating at center ice in order to get our attention. With four multipoint efforts in his past six games, the soft-handed Minnesota native is showing the skills that made him the eighth overall pick of the 2006 draft. Yup, he's still just 19 years old, and he's taking the Coyotes on his shoulders -- with a little help from Ilya Bryzgalov -- and carrying them kicking and screaming toward respectability and -- how unlikely would this sentence have been in September -- a potential playoff berth. I'm buying.

Nicklas Backstrom, C, Capitals: The-one-with-a-C had quite a showing back on Jan.19 and 21, registering four assists in back-to-back games. That's four assists in each of them. Call it fluky, as most eight-points-in-two-games performances are, but it really does look as if Backstrom and Viktor Kozlov have developed some chemistry, which is fantastic when you consider that they regularly line up with that Alexander Ovechkin kid. That's not a bad talent to hitch your star to.

Wojtek Wolski, LW, Avalanche: The injuries to Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny have opened the door for Wolski and the other Avalanche understudies to step up and show what they've got. Wolski has shown, well, really not very much at all. Despite receiving basically a third more ice time than he was getting at the beginning of the season, Wolski has chipped in all of five points in 12 January contests. Boo! He's off my list of acceptable roster fodder, and I'm not taking him back, even when the team gets healthy again.

Joni Pitkanen, D, Oilers: It's not that Pitkanen's done anything different recently. He's been consistently mediocre and a borderline option who has been owned mostly due to name recognition and a lack of better options. Now, Sheldon Souray is back on the shelf and the Oilers are reeling. Pitkanen is a minus-5 in his past five games and, with the emergence of better fantasy defensemen, is an easy toss-away. He's lost about a third of his owners in the past week, and one wonders what it's going to take to lose the half of you who still own him. Come on, people. There's no reason to roster him anymore. Not this season. There's still a bright future ahead for him, but it's not now.

Daniel Carcillo, LW, Coyotes: Looking for a fight, or at least someone who gets into them? The Coyotes' big bad winger is back from his knee injury that cost him a month of action, but he remains the league's penalty-minutes leader by 20 over Jared Boll and 52 over No. 3 man Chris Neil, despite playing 16 fewer games than each of them. And he's got 12 points, to boot. Not bad for a 5-foot-11, 202-pounder.

Pete Becker is senior editor for ESPN.com Fantasy.