- Tim Kavanagh, Fantasy and Insider
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With several key stars kept out of Sunday's All-Star Game, the game had a little less sparkle than the league would've liked, but the event was special nonetheless. You've read here about Dany Heatley, who would've received a raucous ovation thanks to his phenomenal work with the host Atlanta Thrashers before the trade that sent him to Ottawa, as well as the league's biggest superstar, Sidney Crosby, who certainly would've brought an even larger star aura to the event.
The list doesn't stop there. Both starting goalies, Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur, were excused for personal obligations, and fellow starter Henrik Zetterberg was kept out as a precaution after he missed some time last week (more on that below).
It's business time
Dan Boyle, D, Lightning: On Friday, Boyle was still a free man in 9.4 percent of ESPN leagues. That number is down to 3.7 percent as of Sunday night, and I think I speak on behalf of the entire ESPN fantasy hockey staff when I say he deserves an active roster spot in every single league, no matter the league's size or format. Boyle scored twice in his first game back, and he is likely better than at least one of your defensemen from here on out, as long as his wrist doesn't come unhinged again, which is unlikely.
'Tis but a scratch
Henrik Zetterberg, LW, Red Wings: Z-Train started his All-Star break a week early because of a sore back, and it's a bit disconcerting given the fact that he already has missed time this season because of back spasms. It's also disappointing because we didn't get to see what type of trickery he could bring to the shootout contest on Saturday night. The Wings play three games this week, and I think in spite of the back history, you have to start Zetterberg, inasmuch as one productive game from him can equal three from a replacement.
Alexander Steen, LW, Maple Leafs: The latest entrant in the "Play Alongside Mats Sundin" game sustained a separated shoulder after crashing into the boards last week and will miss two weeks. Steen is owned in just 14.1 percent of ESPN leagues, so he might be a good candidate to add once he overcomes this injury (unless Sundin is traded before he gets back on the ice, that is).
Sheldon Souray, D, Oilers: Souray exited Thursday's game early on after aggravating his shoulder. To call this season wildly disappointing would be hyperbole, but given his draft status, many owners were certainly expecting a little bit more from Sheldon after last season's astounding display. The eight-year vet scored 35 and 39 points in 2003-04 and 2005-06, respectively, before last season's 64, so anyone expecting another 60-point season, especially given the relative impotence of the Oilers' offense compared to the Canadiens', did not do their homework. The other benefit of Souray's play, from a fantasy perspective, is his contribution to penalty minute totals; therefore, his absence from the ice has removed that component since he doesn't have a chance to commit penalties when he doesn't play. While the extent of the injury is not yet known, keep Souray benched for this week and wait till he's back to full health.
Anders Eriksson, D, Flames: Eriksson, noted here as a reasonable replacement for Adrian Aucoin, also sustained a shoulder injury and missed the Flames' last game before the All-Star break. The Flames play three games this week, so Eriksson might return during that span, but his production likely can be equaled by a healthy member of your free-agency pile.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, LW, Maple Leafs: A more serious shoulder injury than teammate Steen's befell Ponikarovsky on Wednesday, and he will miss six weeks. A head-to-head league owner's nightmare, Ponikarovsky has a knack for scoring in bunches, tallying points in just 16 of his 45 games this season, and going a month (!) between scoring points (Dec. 15 to Jan. 15). In other words, he's a good candidate for a deep rotisserie league but is not a great candidate for a head-to-head league. The Leafs likely will be a much different team by the time the Poni is back on the trail, so be cautious if you're considering an addition.
Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.
4hBy Jackie MacMullan