We lost a daredevil of iconic stature this past week. After habitually defying death throughout the 1960s and 70s, Evel Knievel quietly passed away at the age of 69. Whether you appreciated his airborne motorcycle stunts or not, there's no denying Knievel embodied the spirit of high-risk living. His name is synonymous with throwing caution to the wind and performing ludicrous challenges. Now, it would be preposterous and disrespectful to equate Knievel's potentially fatal risks to those we make in fantasy sports. Gambling on a young, unproven forward is obviously not in the same universe as propelling oneself on a rocket-powered motorcycle over a canyon. But we can still take a lesson from Knievel's philosophy on life, both on and off his bike. Playing it safe all of the time is dreary. Occasionally we have to take a high-risk/high-reward approach to even the safest of activities, including fantasy hockey. When the risks pay off, the returns can be exhilarating. And when they don't, well, it won't ever compare to the pain of lying crumpled aside the fountains at Caesars palace.
I'm in a very deep league (H2H, 18 teams, 30 players each). We have nine stats for goalies and 13 for skaters. We need to make four goalie appearances or we lose all goalie stats for the week. My goalies were Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Gerber, Jaroslav Halak and Alex Auld. I recently traded Cory Stillman, Matt Stajan, Gerber and Halak for Mark Bell and Miikka Kiprusoff. I still have Marian Hossa, Vincent Lecavalier, Brian Gionta and Simon Gagne (when he comes back, hopefully) to carry my offensive load. I'm just wondering, did I make the right decision to trade all those players for essentially just Kiprusoff?
Sarah from Providence, RI
Sarah, this harsh league of yours hurts my head. There's simply no competing without everyday starters in net. With so many teams, and a limited number of top netminders to go around, I imagine several of your leaguemates are losing goalie stats regularly. So, as lopsided as it appears initially, you made the right gamble. numbers-wise, Gerber currently trumps Kiprusoff in all categories. But Kiprusoff is the undisputed No. 1 in Calgary whereas Ottawa's situation in net is more cloudy. Gerber is stumbling as of late, with only one win in his past five starts. If that trend continues, the Senators will give Ray Emery a shot to re-emerge as the everyday guy. In your league, Gerber's value would plummet. Even Ottawa's use of Gerber and Emery in tandem could be harmful. It would be a shame to lose Henrik Lundqvist's stellar stats in a week when Gerber starts once and Lundqvist makes only two appearances, pending a light Rangers' schedule. With Lundqvist and Kiprusoff on your roster, at least you're in the game, week in and week out.
Losing Cory Stillman is unfortunate, but you probably wouldn't have been able to make the deal without giving up some hot hand on offense. No point in mourning that loss now. As an aside, drop Auld. For anybody. He's currently playing for San Antonio in the AHL. With Ilya Bryzgalov and Mikael Tellqvist as the Coyotes' respective No. 1 and No. 2, Auld won't likely play another game in the NHL this year.
With Evgeni Nabokov and Chris Mason as my goalies and Mason's early season struggles, I picked up Chris Osgood when Hasek went down with a sore hip. I enjoyed his wins and continued starts, even with a healthy Hasek, but decided it was time to sell high and try to pick up a No.1 goalie. I orchestrated Osgood for Marty Turco straight up. But with both Hasek and Turco struggling, I am now second guessing my decision. Turco has been benched recently and Mike Smith has been hot, hot, hot. Did I make the right move, trading Osgood for Turco?
Brent from Utrecht, The Netherlands
First, the good news: Mike Smith lost his first game since November 2nd Friday. Perhaps not a huge deal, but it's something to grab a hold of. It's also worth noting that despite Smith's recent outstanding play, Marty Turco is still getting regular opportunities for the Stars. Other than that, I have nothing to offer in terms of reassurance. Chris Osgood is starting and winning for Detroit. He leads the league in goals against average (1.78) and ranks second in wins (12). Dominik Hasek looks just awful with three straight losses, despite playing for the best team in the Western Conference. There's no reason to believe the Red Wings will put their faith in Hasek over Osgood anytime soon.
However, if it's any consolation, I would have most likely made the same move. Selling high and buying low are keys to success in fantasy play. That's what you did. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out as of yet. All you can do now is wait for Osgood to (hopefully) cool off.
On the upside, Nabokov is performing splendidly in San Jose and Mason is improving after a wretched start for Nashville. Your situation is still far from tragic.
Thornton and Alfredsson are essentially on par with one another in the fantasy world, with 29 and 32 points respectively. They're equally valuable in terms of plus/minus and power-play output. The only difference is Alfredsson plays on the top line of a high-scoring team and Thornton is almost carrying the Sharks' offense on his shoulders alone. Ottawa ranks third in goals per game, whereas San Jose sits 19th. Fortunately, as long as Thornton doesn't mind doing most of the work himself, that doesn't concern you.
Now to address the secondary part of this trade. Is it worth dishing off Havlat for Malkin? Absolutely. With 30 points to his credit, Malkin is a consistent threat. He failed to register a point in only three of 24 games this year. Playing alongside Sidney Crosby provides Malkin with the opportunity to near the 100-point barrier. There's no denying Havlat is a supremely talented player, or that he could flourish on Chicago's newly-spirited offense, but injuries are a massive concern. The guy just can't stay healthy. Following surgery in the spring, it took less than one game for him to re-injure his right shoulder. And that's the latest in a long list of ailments. Havlat hasn't managed 60 regular season games since 2003. Now that he's back on the ice, make this deal before it's too late. It's only a matter of time before he goes down again.
Victoria Matiash is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.
You can send her e-mail for potential use in "The Vicky Files" by clicking here.