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Five for Fantasizing: At Least it Ended Well

The Coyotes have played four games so far, and while there have been a couple of good performances, there has been far more disappointment when it comes to fantasy hockey.

Gregory Shamus

Last week, we previewed the fantasy prospects for the Coyotes most likely to be drafted in standard fantasy hockey leagues. Moving forward, we'll take a look at the performances of three players every week, for good or bad, and provide some analysis into what those numbers mean. There will also be a quick rundown of any potential adds or drops to your roster and finally, a quick preview of the next week's slate of games.

Let's start with three players whose impact this week (or lack thereof) made or broke your opening week.

1. Radim Vrbata

Radim Vrbata

#17 / Right Wing / Phoenix Coyotes



Jun 13, 1981

2013 - Radim Vrbata 4 3 1 4 0 0 1 0 1 16

Vrbata started the season as good as you could hope for, notching a natural hat trick against the Rangers. In the three games since, he's only mustered a single assist however.

Don't hold that against Vrby though, as the Coyotes played about as awful as possible in two of those games and last night against Detroit, he actually had a fairly productive fantasy game despite failing to register a point. He added six SOG and played 21:27, which is high for a forward in Dave Tippett's system. He's clearly still the engine that drives the Coyote offense. There was an interesting development in the Detroit game that we'll get into shortly that could elevate his value even higher.

2. Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

#23 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes



Jul 17, 1991

2013 - Oliver Ekman-Larsson 4 1 1 2 1 2 0 0 0 10

The young Swede continues to evolve into the unquestioned fantasy defenseman extrodinaire for the Coyotes. He has a goal and an assist on the season but is also playing a ton of minutes, averaging 23:25 of ice time per game, two minutes more than any other Phoenix defenseman. He leads all Coyotes d-men with 10 SOG and is second in blocked shots (if you're in a league that credits that) behind Zbynek Michalek.

There is no doubt that OEL should be owned in your league but at the moment, he's available in approximately 10% of Yahoo leagues (he's 100% owned in ESPN leagues). IF this is true in your league, what's wrong with you? Add him now!

3. Mike Ribeiro

Mike Ribeiro

#63 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes



Feb 10, 1980

2013 - Mike Ribeiro 4 0 1 1 -2 4 0 0 0 7

Now for the disappointing. Ribeiro has started slow as a Coyote, scoring no points in his first three games and skating to a -2 with only four SOG. Against Detroit last night, he got off the slide, getting his first assist as a Coyote on Michael Stone's GWG, just missing it also being a powerplay point by about a second.

The biggest thing to take away from the Detroit game (and which should color your evaluation of Ribs going forward) was the line shuffle that coach Tippett implemented. Ribeiro was added to the line with Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata and there was certainly an increase in Ribeiro's effectiveness. Beside the assist, he also added three shots and led all Coyote forwards in powerplay time. Putting a proven goal-scorer like Vrbata on the same line as Ribeiro should be a boon to both of them if the unit stays together.

The awful games in San Jose and New York left the first week of performance pretty bad for many Coyotes, and especially Ribeiro. The Yotes had very little zone time, the offense was non-existent and more importantly, they weren't drawing penalties. Hopefully, the increased effort that was evident against Detroit becomes the norm for the team moving forward, which should help Ribeiro immensely. Don't expect numbers approaching those he put up in the shortened 2013 campaign, but look for a bounce back in the weeks ahead.

4. Skating with the Pack: Add/Drop Advice

  • Mikkel Boedker was certainly drop worthy after the first 3 games, with only an assist and a puny total of 2 shots. However, yesterday's line shuffling helped him as well. He skated with Shane Doan and Antoine Vermette and showed more aggressiveness, scoring a goal with an assist, adding 3 shots and playing to a +3. I'd still keep him on my roster, but if you're pressed for production now, he could be dropped. But if he can play more like Detroit Bods than first 3 games Bods, he'll be a very useful player.
  • Martin Hanzal has been arguably the best Coyote forward for fantasy depending on your needs. He's got 1 goal, 3 assists, 7 PIMs, 12 SOG and is playing over 18:40 a night. He's also got 16 hits and 3 blocked shots. He's available in 93.9% of ESPN leagues and almost all Yahoo leagues.
  • Michael Stone made his regular season debut last night against Detroit and made an immediate impact. He scored a goal, had 4 SOG, added 2 hits and played 17:19. The biggest take away is that he led all Coyote skaters in powerplay time with 1:53. His slap shot will keep him on the point on the powerplay, and as long as he gets into games, he will provide value. You don't need to add him now, but certainly keep an eye on his usage moving forward. If he's consistently playing, he'll be worth an add if you need help from your defense or are in a deep league.
  • You're not dropping Mike Smith or Keith Yandle. Don't overeact to one week's worth of games.

5. The Trail Ahead: The Next Week of Games

The Coyotes have 3 games in the next week, starting tonight in Philly. They then finish the road trip in Carolina on Sunday and will come back home for a date with the Ottawa Senators next Tuesday.

  • Currently, the Flyers are 12th in goals against, but the duo of Steve Mason and Ray Emery shouldn't scare you from using your rostered Coyote players against them. The Flyers offense was stagnant to open the season and will hopefully remain so for one more game.
  • The Hurricanes are 16th in goals against through 4 games and should be another team the Coyotes can have success against. The Hurricane offense is ranked 21st in goals per game, so play Mike Smith with confidence if he's starting.
  • Finally, the Senators are 14th in goals against through 3 games played. Craig Anderson was one of the best goalies in the league last season, but has been merely mortal to start the season. The Senators offense is also middle of the road so far, ranking 17th. Here's hoping that's another trend that continues for another week.

There you have it, the week that was in Coyote fantasy hockey. Come back next Friday and check out the spirit guide for all Coyote fantasy hockey players.

Have fun and good luck.