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Fantasy Hockey: Why Phil Kessel is a stud, Mike Ribeiro is a dud

Getty ImagesDobber checks in every Thursday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.

We're starting to see some deals go down as the Olympics trade freeze approaches. But sadly, any traded player with fantasy relevance has been a dud thus far. This flies in the face of the general belief that a change of scenery will often help a struggling player.

Devan Dubnyk gave up five goals in his Nashville debut. Ben Scrivens hasn't been bad, giving up six goals in two games with Edmonton - but he wasn't a 'struggling player', and those games were both losses anyway. John-Michael Liles? Despite all the power-play time he can shake a stick at, he has just two points in nine games for Carolina.

Speaking of Scrivens, he appears on this week's chart. This is a list of the top goalies, by save percentage (minimum five games played), on shots taken within 15 feet of the net.

Courtesy of Frozen Pool:

For what it's worth, Dubnyk's number is 0.814. That puts him about 40th.

Studs...

These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...

Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks (3-6-1-7, plus-4, 0 PIM, 10 SOG, and 2 PPPts) - Pavelski has established a production expectation in that 55 to 65 points window. And in every one of his past several seasons he's had hot streaks in the first half that made you think that he could reach 75 points, but he always seems to hit a wall. Well, we're 50 games in and he's not slowing down. In fact, he's among the NHL's Top 10 scoring leaders. Pavelski has already signed the big contract…yet, shunning the advice of Alexander Semin, he's continued to produce.

Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs (7-6-8-14, plus-2, 0 PIM, 25 SOG, and 5 PPPts) - The steady-point-per-game player was way off that pace three weeks ago. Now he's back on it, so Leafs fans can relax and wipe some of the froth from around their mouths and look for something else to drive them nuts. Here, I'll get you started - David Clarkson.

Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche (16-5-14-19, plus-4, 10 PIM, 36 SOG) - The Avalanche have a surprising amount of high-end forwards who were mostly underrated prior to the season. This is even more magnified if Stastny truly has returned to the Stastny of old, when he tallied 79 points in 2009-10.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers (7-2-1, 2.00 GAA, 0.937 SV%) - King Henrik's slump seemed to drag on forever, and even the most patient fantasy owners were tempted to trade him. They're kicking themselves now if they made the move, especially in keeper leagues.

Getty ImagesDuds

Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...

Mike Ribeiro, Phoenix Coyotes (19-3-5-8, minus-2, 14 PIM, 29 SOG) - He's not in Kansas anymore, that's for sure. A decline was bound to happen, once he left Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals to play under Dave Tippet's Coyotes. But Ribeiro is on pace for 55 points and that's low for him by any standard.

Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (12-1-4-5, minus-5, 6 PIM, 25 SOG) - Speaking of the Capitals, it's no secret that they're struggling - just three wins in the last 15 games. Backstrom was well on his way to a second 100-point season…when this happened. His minus-9 on the year is a career low.

Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes (5-0-0-0, minus-2, 0 PIM, 22 SOG) - Hey - wasn't he in this column just two weeks ago? Indeed he was, but it was in the 'Studs' area. The amount of shots that he is still taking would indicate that this particular slump will be short-lived.

Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings (9-1-0-1, even, 10 PIM, 8 SOG) - In four of those nine games Kronwall was held without a shot. But here's one reason for the slump - his defense partner Jonathan Ericsson has been out of the lineup for eight of those nine games. Ericsson returned Wednesday so things should start to turn around.

The Wire...

Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...

Jesse Winchester, Florida Panthers (3-2-3-5, plus-5, 2 PIM, 7 SOG) – Yeah, I had to dig pretty deep to come up with this one. Winchester doesn’t get any power-play time, but his ice time at even strength is increasing, as well as the quality of his linemates as he continues to produce over his head.

Jiri Tlusty, Carolina Hurricanes (2-1-2-3, even, 0 PIM, 6 SOG) – Tlusty had several really good chances to pick up where he left off last year playing with Eric Staal. But he was snakebitten and by Game 20 he had stumbled his way down the lineup. Now he's back on the top line and this time the numbers are showing it. Get in on this early.

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings (2-1-1-2, plus-1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG and 1 PPPt) – Another example of trying to catch the trend early. I have Nyquist in here because he has averaged 20 minutes per game of ice time the last four games - while playing with Henrik Zetterberg again. He's also on the top power-play now and I could be wrong but I don't remember that ever being the case so far in his young career.

Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets (19-6-12-18, plus-5, 4 PIM, 39 SOG) – The 20-year-old (!) is on pace for 45 points, but it says here that he makes it to 55 (which means 27 points in his last 31 games). Why is he only 9% owned in Yahoo! leagues?

Mark Letestu, Columbus Blue Jackets (6-4-2-6, plus-3, 2 PIM, 14 SOG, and 3 PPPts) – Letestu is part of that whole 'Nathan-Horton-is-here-so-our-whole-team-kicks-ass-now' thing that's going on in Columbus.

Matt Beleskey, Anaheim Ducks (11-3-7-10, plus-5, 12 PIM, 26 SOG) – The latest in a long line of Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry linemates, Beleskey is doing well with his hundredth the opportunity. His spot on that line is ideal for the Ducks as it allows them to keep productive lines 2-through-4 intact. Here are the line combos, and you can get these free courtesy of Frozen Pool:

Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals (3 GP, 0-1-0, 1.78 GAA, 0.932 SV%) – I don't remember ever putting a goalie here who has been winless, but here we are. Other than the lack of W's, Holtby has strung together three solid appearances. I know firsthand that his owners are sick of him, so you could get him for a song, sit him as your No.3 goalie and see what happens.

Heating Up?

Here's where I'll fire off a few names of players who may be at the very beginning of a nice little run. Just a gut feeling, but worth looking into and/or taking a chance on:

Tomas Tatar, Detroit; Andrej Sekera, Carolina; Jason Spezza, Ottawa; Ray Whitney, Dallas; Sam Gagner, Edmonton; Tommy Wingels, San Jose; Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida

For more fantasy hockey tips, take a gander at DobberHockey. And while you’re at it, follow Dobber’s fantasy hockey musings on Twitter.

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