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Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Are You For Real?: Roloson, Ribeiro, Souray

By Victoria Matiash and John Pereira
Special to ESPN.com

Whether it's to shed a pound or 20, stop smoking or dump some other unfortunate habit, now is a typical time to take action. With the replacement of the calendar, the slate is wiped clean and we all have a fresh start. New Year's promises and pledges usually don't stick, but that doesn't stop us from making them. It's all rosy optimism at this point.

Those in the NHL should not be immune from this practice either. There are a handful of players who might want to make some resolutions themselves.

Dwayne Roloson, G, Oilers

New Year's resolution: To reclaim Edmonton's undisputed No. 1 goaltender spot.

Roloson is clearly struggling. He's carrying the highest goals-against average of his career (3.12) and looks altogether uncomfortable. Meanwhile, backup Mathieu Garon is performing at a much higher standard. Can Roloson turn it around in the second half and re-establish himself as the go-to guy for the Oilers?

John: Roloson is having a rotten season. He sits near the top of the league in undesirable categories and at the bottom of the league in important ones. He has the second worst goals-against average of all active goalies in the NHL; only Johan Hedberg in Atlanta has a worse average. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but I want him nowhere near my fantasy team. The Oilers play poor defense, and he faces an average of nearly 30 shots per game. He has been losing playing time to a backup journeyman goaltender, and I expect that to continue. Stay far, far away.

Victoria: I agree. The guy is a fantasy nightmare. At age 37, Roloson has a history of overachieving, and it appears he finally has run out of steam. It doesn't help that he plays for Edmonton, but he's also not good enough to overcome the dismal defense in front of him. He won't steal many games and that's all there is to it. I would prefer to have Garon as a third goaltender in deeper leagues, since he seems to be the steadier hand at the moment. But honestly, I would stay away from any Oilers netminder.

Mike Ribeiro, C, Stars

New Year's resolution: To maintain his remarkable goal-scoring pace.

Now a year and a half removed from playing for Montreal, Ribeiro has settled in quite nicely in Dallas. With 21 goals thus far, he already has set a new season high (20 goals in 2003-04). Most onlookers are shocked by this sudden explosive burst of scoring power, which prompts to wonder: Is he for real?

Victoria: This goal-scoring flurry definitely will slow in the second half. There's no denying he's hot as can be at the moment, with 18 points in his past 10 games, but even the wide-eyed optimists in Dallas hoped for about 60 points out of Ribeiro this year. He already has 43 points. I simply can't see him maintaining that pace.

John: I politely disagree. Simply put, Ribeiro has been a steal for Dallas. Yes, he's on pace to tally 88 points this season, which would crush his previous career high of 65 set back in 2003-04 with the Canadiens. But he has 104 points in 119 games with the Stars, so his current point-per-game pace shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to fantasy players. I still remember all the talk about him when he broke into the league about eight years ago. He's a great offensive player who was able to collect 292 points in just 136 games in the QMJHL, two years before he was drafted. So it's safe to say he has the offensive pedigree. The difference in this breakout season is that he gets to skate alongside players like Brenden Morrow. I expect the impressive point output to continue.

Victoria: Don't misunderstand me. He won't dry up altogether. But opposing teams will focus more on Ribeiro in the second half regardless of whom he plays with, and that will have an effect on his production. I expect 30 more points or so, which is still pretty decent.

Sheldon Souray, D, Oilers

New Year's resolution: To recapture the offensive magic from seasons past.

Souray is back on the ice after missing about two months because of a shoulder injury, but he still doesn't look like his old self. He has only one goal since returning in early December, and that was during his first game back (none in eight games since). Has he lost his scoring touch -- will he reclaim it or did he leave it back in Montreal?

John: If you've held on to Souray this long, you might as well stick with him a little longer to see what happens. I mean, you ignored all common sense and drafted him even though we fantasy pundits told you not to. You even held tight when he got hurt early in the season. So what else is there to do now but wait? Souray has, to his credit, collected five points in December, but he has had no impact in the penalty-minute category. This leads me to believe he has been a bit hesitant to get mixed up in the physical portion of the game for fear of re-injuring himself. His value is hampered by the fact that the Oilers are unable to score on the power play, where he flourished last season. Give it another couple of weeks before pulling the trigger to trade this bum away. There's a reason why Montreal decided to keep Andrei Markov instead of Souray.

Victoria: So harsh! First of all, no one told me not to draft Souray, just not to draft him high, which I didn't. There was no predicting the early-season injury and no one thought he would be out as long as he was (25 games). And yes, now that he's back, I will stick with him to see what happens. Truth be told, Souray is an excellent offensive player and an elite defenseman. These guys aren't exactly a dime a dozen in the land of fantasy. No, he won't perform as well as he did with Montreal, but he will contribute points both with and without the man advantage. Since returning less than a month ago, he's already starting to look a little looser out there and he has a couple of points in his last two games. And calling him a bum? Seriously, I'll take a sub-standard Souray on a sub-standard team over another mediocre blue-liner any day. Stick with him.

Victoria Matiash and John Pereira are fantasy hockey analysts for ESPN.com.