Every week, or as often as I remember, I'll provide you with my poorly thought out ideas on whose stock is on the rise, and whose you should avoid like Enron. Three teams/players/things to buy, and three to sell. Simple stuff, folks. That is, if you could actually buy and sell teams and players. Oh, whatever. Never mind.
Solid Buy: Henrik Zetterberg. I'm not going to be saying anything groundbreaking here, but this kid has arrived. He's been one hell of a player for quite a few years now, but it's looking all the more like this year will be his year. Zetterberg leads the league with 25 points in 15 games and is on pace to shatter his previous career high of 85 points. Right now he's on pace for about 137 points, a pace he is highly unlikely to keep up, but to see him fall short of 100 would be surprising in my book.
Conservative Buy: The Columbus Blue Jackets making the playoffs. I know it's early, but I'm going to jump on the bandwagon right here, right now. Rick Nash and Pascal Leclaire have each been inhuman, and the BJs are getting production from everyone in the lineup. What do I like? The team is a +10 in goal differential and only two players who have played more than six games have a negative plus/minus. It's highly doubtful that Leclaire will keep up his torrid pace, but at this point, things are looking good in a Western Conference that might be worse than in the past few years. What's the most interesting part of all this? If the playoffs started today the Blues would be the only team in the central not in the playoffs, and they would finish in 11th.
Buy: The Colorado Avalanche will win the Northwest. I've been on the Stastny bandwagon all year, but I'm going to stay steady with my pre-season pick of the Avs finishing atop the Northwest Division. They are going to get a heck of a run from the Minnesota Wild, but after that the pace falls off and it's only a two team race. What is going to be crucial to the team's success will be it's goaltending, and while Peter Budaj has faltered, Jose Theodore has (rather unbelievably) been solid in relief. Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Milan Hejduk and Andrew Brunette have all been solid contributors while Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski are both on pace to have career years. For the most part, the blueliners have been solid, and that's also something that the Avs will be depending heavily on. Their offense is great, but they're going to have to hold things together on defense if they want to go anywhere. I believe they can.
Light Sell: New York Islanders. Skeptical Islander fan here. I'm not saying the sky is falling, but it's hard to believe that the Islanders are going to continue playing hockey at their current pace. Right now the team is 8-4, and has creeped into the upper echelons of many "expert" power rankings. It's obvious that the Atlantic is wide open right now, but it's hard to believe that the Islanders, Rangers, Penguins and Flyers will all make the playoffs. Out of those four teams, the Islanders are by far the most likely to be on the outside looking in, what with their negative goal differential and all. I'm not some homer saying the sky is falling, I'm simply saying that this is a pace this team may not be capable of continuing.
Solid Sell: Eric Lindros' Hall of Fame chances. A lot has been made in recent days about Lindros' chances at the Hall since it was leaked a few days ago that he would be retiring. Lindros is simply another in a long line of #1 draft picks who have yet to live up to the massive hype surrounding them. He will likely be remembered most for the shenanigans in Quebec and his uncanny attraction to concussions. What's lost in all of this is that Lindros was always a solid NHLer, who showed flashes of brilliance but due to many different reasons was never able to live up to ridiculous expectations. Much of the blame can be pointed to concussion and other injury problems that Lindros suffered from throughout much of his career, which led to him playing an average of 58 games per season. Lindros netted 115 points during the 1995-96 season, but only produced more than 80 points in two other seasons between 1992 and 2007. All in all, Lindros had 372 goals, 493 assists and 865 points in 760 career games. And those aren't numbers that can be easily ignored. Nonetheless, when they are paired up with an enigmatic career and zero hoists of the Stanley Cup, it's tough to find a place for the guy in the Hall.
Sell, oh God, Sell: Washington Capitals. Well, it looks as if the rudder has already detached from the ship and leaks are springing up quickly in the American capital. This may be a trendy pick, but the Capitals can't seem to do anything right at the moment and Alex Ovechkin's comments the other day aren't helping. The Caps are currently 0-for-4 in the month of November, and have been outscored 12-3 during that stretch. Going back a little further, they are 2-9-1 in their last twelve, after starting the season 3-0.