Courtesy of: Andrew Bottomley – Twitter: @botts89

After a quick look around the NHL, we see that superstar Eric Staal is leading his team in points, is the hottest player in fantasy hockey and is poised to lead the Carolina Hurricanes to its second Stanley Cup in as many years.

Wait a second … it’s not 2006 anymore, but Staal is back in full force, leading the Minnesota Wild in points and leads off hard knocks.

HARD KNOCKS – A look at the hottest fantasy forward, defenceman, and goalie in the NHL this week.

Eric Staal Minnesota Wild: GP 30; G: 10, A 14, +13

Staal has been lighting the lamp like it’s his job this week (heh). In three games, he’s notched four goals, an assist and a plus-three rating. Not only has he been the hottest fantasy player this week but he’s been one of the best all year. Fun fact, he’s only 54% owned in Yahoo fantasy leagues, so go out and grab him up. You’re welcome.

Justin Schultz Pittsburgh Penguins: GP 32, G 5, A 13, +18

It’s not easy to find good consistent production from the blueline, but if you’re going to look anywhere, why not look at the Pittsburgh Penguins? Schultz managed to pot two goals over the four games he played this week, one on the powerplay and the other against Tuukka Rask. He’s got points in eight of his last 10 games, and head coach Mike Sullivan and been rewarding him with more playing time. In each of the last two games, Schultz has registered over 20 minutes of ice time, including 27 minutes against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.

Matt Murray Pittsburgh Penguins: GP 16, 12-2-1, 1.84 GAA, .938 Sv%

After a late start to his season due to injury problems, Murray has moved in to the Pittsburgh crease and has set up shop. He picked up two wins this week, including the victory against Rask, and his only loss game against the Kings in a 1-0 overtime defeat. With the NHL expansion draft approaching, the Penguins are only going to be able to keep one of Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury, so look for Pittsburgh to really push Murray and see what they have.


LEVELED – A look at the coldest fantasy hockey forward, defenceman and goalie in the NHL this week.

Jordan Eberle Edmonton Oilers: GP 33, G 8, A 15, -5

Connor McDavid has cooled off recently, which means the Edmonton Oilers have cooled off recently, which means Jordan Eberle is ice cold. The Oilers only played two games this week and Eberle effectively did nothing over that period. He got one shot in each game and two blocks against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. In the last 11 games, Eberle only has points in four of them and only one goal.

Dougie Hamilton Calgary Flames: GP 33, G 6, A 11, +2

Like the Flames, Dougie Hamilton is a streaky scorer. In two games this week, Hamilton found the score sheet zero times and was a collective minus-three. He did score four goals in four games between Dec. 4-10, but in the six games before that, he only managed two assists in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. When he’s hot he’s hot, but right now he’s cold.

Pekka Rinne Nashville Predators: GP 24, 12-8-4, 2.50 GAA, .916 Sv%

In nine games in November, Pekka Rinne picked up eight wins. Both he in the Predators were looking great. Now, it’s a different narrative. Over the last five games, Rinne has failed to register a save percentage over .900. He has allowed at least three goals in each, and four goals in two of them. If there is a bright side to his recent play, it’s that his team managed to bail him out in two of them and the Predators walked a way with a pair of wins.

PICK EM UP – Three players owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues that must be picked up immediately.

Rickard Rakell Anaheim Ducks: GP 21, G 14, A 7, +1

I’m going to make this quick. Rickard Rakell currently leads the Ducks in goals. He’s only 45% owned. Go get him. Also, he’s scored his 14 goals in only 21 games (he started his season late due to visa issues). Go get him.

Nino Niederreiter Minnesota Wild: GP 30, 8 G, 12 A, +14

Nino Niederreiter is currently only owned in 28% of leagues and could be a sneaky pickup. He has dual position eligibility (LW, RW), and while he isn’t going to knock your socks off with a huge night, he consistently puts points up on the board. In his last 11 games, he has points in seven of them, two of which were multi-point nights.


DROP THE GLOVES – If these guys are still on your roster, it’s probably best to move on.

Tyson Barrie Colorado Avalanche: GP 30, G 2, A 11, -18

(Take a look at his +/-) …

Oh, you need more? A lot of “fantasy experts” were high on Tyson Barrie this season and a lot of “fantasy experts” were wrong. He was ranked 92nd on Yahoo entering the season and is now sitting at No. 407. Somehow this guy is owned in 78% of leagues, but it’s time to move on. On Sunday night, the Avalanche lost 4-1 to the Winnipeg Jets. Barrie was -4.

Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings: GP 32, G 10, A 2, -10

After an impressive rookie campaign that saw Dylan Larkin score 23 goals and collect 45 points, it looks like Larkin will be another victim of the sophomore slump. However, he is still managing to put the puck in the net. He is on pace to score 25 this season, but with only two assists so far he’s looking at producing 15 points less than he did last year.

– Andrew Bottomley, @botts89