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Saturday, November 3, 2007
The Vicky Files: Boston fantasy value

By Victoria Matiash
Special to ESPN.com

It's an unbelievably sweet, historical era to be a sports' fan in Massachusetts. The Red Sox are World Series Champs for the second time in four years. Halfway through the NFL season, the Patriots are undefeated and appear inhuman. Many believe the drastically refurbished Celtics are capable of winning their division and seriously contending this postseason. And, well, the Bruins aren't terrible. Actually, they really aren't. Boston's hockey team is 7-4 on the year and appear relatively competitive. They're just not garnering a lot of attention at the moment.

So in the spirit of tea-tossin', swan boat-ridin' and chowder-eatin'; this edition of the Vicky Files honors the city of Boston itself, and sends a shout-out to their fourth most significant sporting franchise. Unless the New England Revolution win the MLS Cup Championship; which would drop them to fifth.

As a Boston fan and fantasy player, I was just wondering which Bruins have fantasy value this year and how well they will do. Also, how will the Bruins do in general?
Yannick from Nova Scotia, Canada

No shock here, but Marc Savard is producing well again, and should near the 90-point mark by year's end. Marco Sturm and Phil Kessel are exceeding expectations with eight points in 11 games each. Kessel is a standout for me on this squad; he plays a key role on the power play and leads the team in shots (33). Patrice Bergeron could be out for up to month with a concussion. That puts a dent in an otherwise expected 80-point season. Peter Schaefer is a decent pick as a No. 3 left winger, but he won't provide any real surprises production-wise. I'm not a big Glen Murray fan; at 35 he's slowing down and can't be relied on for a full season.

On defense, Zdeno Chara is worth owning in any league, although it would be nice to see him score a goal at some point. Aaron Ward is looking exceptionally competent with a couple of multi-point games, but don't be fooled, he's not that guy. Ward has only broken the 20-point plateau once (2003) in a 12-year career. No one else on the blue line deserves a mention.

The real drama in Boston lies between the pipes. First off, and I can't stress this enough, avoid owning a Bruins' goaltender if you can. They're just not worth the headaches. On paper, Tim Thomas looks like a superstar: 5-2 record, 1.56 goals against average and .949 save percentage. What more could you ask for? Here's the rub: Tim Thomas streaks hot and cold more extremely than most. As a former Thomas owner I can tell you: when he's good, he's almost excellent. When he's bad, playing hockey seems like the wrong career choice. "For better or for worse" takes on significant meaning in any relationship with Thomas; either as a fan or fantasy player . Enjoy the high times while they last, but prepare yourself for the excruciating lows.

With that in mind, and present numbers aside, Manny Fernandez is arguably a better goaltender than Thomas. He certainly takes the crown for consistency between the two. Once the knee heals, and Thomas takes one of his performance nosedives, Fernandez could move into the No. 1 position. Then what? Seriously, stay clear of this tandem if you can. My temples are pounding just writing about them.

And how will the Bruins do this year? They'll win a few more than they'll lose, squeak into the playoffs and go down in the first round. But you'll be paying more attention to the Celtics by then anyway.

Hey Vicky. I'm in a deep league with 16 teams. A guy offered me Andy McDonald this week for Erik Cole. I have 5 top centers: Mike Richards, Olli Jokinen, Mike Modano, Mikko Koivu and Travis Zajac. Obviously Zajac is the lesser of them; if I were to make this trade I'd have to drop him to pick up another wing player. Should I decline and keep what I have ... or make the trade and pick up one of these guys: David Vyborny, Fredrik Modin, Michel Ouellet, Jay Pandolfo or Richard Zednik. Also, what should I do with Scott Hartnell? Thanks.
Jay from Buffalo, NY

Even as a huge Andy McDonald fan, I have to admit this isn't a good trade for you. First and foremost, quality wingers are harder to come by than centers, and honestly, you're in decent shape at that position already. McDonald doesn't bring anything to the table that you don't already have. If you want to deal Erik Cole, why not approach Marian Hossa's owner with a proposal? He or she might be disgusted enough with the fellow winger's early lack of production to go for it. You stand to gain more from Hossa than Cole as the season wears on.

Why do you have Scott Hartnell? If it's for any reason other than penalty minutes, drop him and pick up Jay Pandolfo immediately. Pandolfo fancies himself a goal scorer this year, and he's taking to it more naturally than you'd think.

I'm holding onto Teemu Selanne. I'm in first place, in a fairly deep league, so I can hold him for a while longer. Any word on if, and when, he might come back?
Puck from Jackson, MI

I'm not sure if anyone, including the man himself, knows if Teemu Selanne is coming back this year. He didn't appear to feel any yearning to return at the Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony in early October. According to the Orange County Register, Selanne said, "&if I'm going to come back, it has to come from inside. So far, I haven't really found the motivation." Doesn't sound too promising, but it's still very early. At the other side of Christmas, if the Ducks are contenders again (likely), there's a good chance boredom will set in and some "motivation" will surface. Selanne is an older gentleman and he has his ring, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind playing for a second if such a chance presents itself.

However, regardless of whether Selanne returns in the next few months or not, he's still a waste of space on any fantasy roster. Too much uncertainty surrounds the situation as it stands, and first place or not, there's better use for that spot. Look to bolster your penalty minutes or take a flyer on the shadiest of dark horses instead. Feel free to keep tabs on Selanne in the meantime, and stay tuned to ESPN's Fantasy Hockey section. If he does come back, we'll be among the first to tell you.

Keep that mail coming, no question is too basic or too convoluted. I look forward to hearing from you.

Victoria Matiash is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can send her Email for potential use in "The Vicky Files" by clicking here.