Becker's Dozen: Thrashers down
Every week, "Becker's Dozen" looks at 13 players whose value has recently gone up or down.
Atlanta Thrashers: Bob Hartley was as fantasy-friendly a coach as they came. The anti-Jacques Lemaire. He'd win by packing as much offense as he could on the top lines, and damn the torpedoes. The Thrashers are reeling, the panic button has been pushed, and that's not good for anybody. I don't think this team turns it around just yet, so expect less offense and worse plus/minus than you thought you were getting when you drafted your Thrashers, at least for another few weeks. The news is especially bad for struggling rookies like Bryan Little, who appeared to be a terrific sleeper in the preseason, but will now need to impress a new coach in order to save his job. You can go right ahead and drop him if you need the bench room.
Brad Isbister, LW, Canucks: Now riding shotgun for the Sedin twins on the No. 1 power-play unit, No. 27, Brad Isbister! With the Canucks having farmed out Ryan Shannon and now Mason Raymond, and with Taylor Pyatt having the misfortune of being a left-handed shot, it's Isbister who, according to The Province, will get a shot at the coveted role of 5-on-4 wingman for the Sedins. With that role comes a spot on the No. 2 line with what appears to be a rejuvenated Markus Naslund-Brendan Morrison duo. Friday will be the unveiling of the new lines, so act now to see how it all works out, but I'll say that I like Isbister's chances. Once upon a time, he was a pretty good power forward in training.
Martin Brodeur, G, Devils: Brodeur is 1-4, and he's given up five goals in back-to-back starts, marking the first time he's allowed 10 goals in two games since well, since just about exactly this time last season. Brodeur had a similarly miserable October in 2006, giving up 23 goals in six games, which he followed with back-to-back shutouts, and then another five-goal game. The next time he gave up more than three goals was Dec. 23. Take this down arrow not as an indictment of Brodeur, but rather as an opportunity to find out just how nervous his owner is right now.
Nik Antropov, C, Maple Leafs: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your NHL leader in plus/minus. No, I'm serious. In his career, Antropov has never gotten out of the early teens in term of plus/minus, but here he is with a plus-9 in seven games, without a single "minus" game on his record this season, his only zero coming in a game in which the Maple Leafs were trounced 7-1 by Carolina. Antropov is as likely to find himself on the top line with Mats Sundin and Jason Blake as he is to grind it out with Chad Kilger and Johnny Pohl. That sort of versatility and reliability combined with hints that he is finally tapping into his considerable offensive potential makes Antropov an across-the-board contributor that is worth more than the sum of his parts in fantasy.
Dick Tarnstrom, D, Oilers: With Sheldon Souray out four to six weeks with a separated shoulder, the time is now for Tarnstrom to make his presence felt on the power play. Tarnstrom was already playing close to 20 minutes per game and is the clear No. 3 defenseman on the power-play chart. He'll play second fiddle only to Joni Pitkanen for the next month or so. Of course, there's a substantial caveat emptor attached to this recommendation: Tarnstrom's plus/minus will only get more glacial with added ice time.
Martin Gerber, G, Senators: You can't blame the Senators if they fall in love with Gerber. Their once-and-future backup is 5-1 with a .944 save percentage and a 1.99 goals-against average. Every game he's played was decided by two or fewer goals, so it's not like he's just riding the offense to an easy victory, though it certainly helps. Ray Emery will be back shortly, but until we find out what happens as far as playing time in Ottawa, Gerber shouldn't be on any waiver wire whatsoever.
Ladislav Nagy, LW, Kings: As if being relegated to the checking line wasn't bad enough, Nagy was a healthy scratch Tuesday, punishment for his poor play, according to coach Marc Crawford, as quoted in the L.A. Daily News. Nagy has already been dropped in about 25 percent of ESPN.com leagues, but his 65 percent ownership rate is still way too high. Bail on him, and invest in Michael Cammalleri instead. He's owned in the same number of leagues, and that ownership number needs to climb.
Cory Murphy, D, Panthers: Your chance to land this power-play specialist is quickly evaporating. Murphy is on a three-game point streak, with five assists, four of them with the man advantage and all of them involving either Olli Jokinen or Nathan Horton. Here's some NHL logic for you: If you're constantly getting the puck to your team's big guns, you're going to get a lot of ice time with them.
Manny Fernandez, G, Bruins: The Bruins have played five games this season. Fernandez has started two, but finished only one. His GAA is 5.00 and his save percentage is a laughable .796. Meanwhile,
|Want your question answered by an ESPN fantasy expert? Check out The Answer Guys ... a new service exclusive to ESPN Insiders, with a 24-hour response guarantee!|
Justin Williams, RW, Hurricanes: Like most of his teammates, Williams had a bit of a regression in 2006-07. He's firing on all cylinders right now, getting prime power-play ice time with Eric Staal and enjoying plenty of even-strength chemistry with Rod Brind'Amour (the most underrated player in the NHL since Ron Francis). Williams will get close to the 80-point mark, register his third straight 30-goal season and make you forget last season's minus-11. Buy with confidence.
Miroslav Satan, RW, Islanders: Satan has one measly assist in six games this season, but this smells more of a slump than it does of a sudden loss of skill. Satan is 32, which isn't excessively old by NHL standards, and he's had between one and three shots on goal in every game this season. He's no longer the top scoring threat on his team, and he's not the main man on the power play, but he has scored at least 25 goals in eight straight seasons, averaging 32 in that span. They will start going in. About that plus/minus, though? Well, there's no cure for that except maybe a trade off the island.
Brian Campbell, D, Sabres: So much for the Sabres' five-man power play killing Campbell's value. Campbell leads all NHL defensemen in scoring with nine points and is fifth on the Sabres in total power-play ice time this season. Campbell has a goal and four assists with the man advantage and is the primary blue line weapon on a team that is still very dangerous, be it 5-on-5, 5-on-4 or 4-on-4.
Jonathan Bernier, G, Kings: OK, it's actually Jonathan Bernier, G, MAINEiacs. The Kings had the option of giving Bernier nine games before deciding whether to return him to his junior team, the Lewiston MAINEiacs -- I'm sorry, I just love that name -- but they only needed three to decide that he just wasn't ready for prime time. He's still got some worth in keeper leagues, but everywhere else, let him go.
Pete Becker is senior fantasy editor for ESPN.com
FANTASY TOP HEADLINES
- Matthew Berry's fantasy football top 200 for Week 13
- Karabell: 2014 rankings update
- Harris: Week 13 free-agent finds
- Cockcroft: The 'December performer' myth