Out of all players, Devan Dubnyk was on the most fantasy hockey championship teams last season. Dubnyk went from waiver wire fodder to start the season to arguably the best goalie in the league once he went to Minnesota. He started off slow this season in the percentages while accumulating wins but has started to turn things around, including a 23 save shutout against the Predators on Saturday. His numbers are starting to improve and should only get better behind a strong Wild team. He won’t approach last year’s totals, those are completely unsustainable, but he should still push towards being a top 10 goalie come the end of the season. Here’s what else happened on an action packed weekend:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Welcome to the second edition of Assume the Position. Today we’ll be looking at a few defensemen that can help you fill out your roster. There are only a few elite level defenders out there; after them, if you want to gain an advantage, you’re going to have to make some sneaky pickups along the way. In shallow leagues, you’re looking to ride the hot hand with your defensemen. Keep track of not only which players are getting the power play minutes, but of those players, who is actually producing at any given time and ride their momentum. In this type of league, most teams should be able to roster four D-men that contribute in several categories. And if you lose one to injury, your replacement will likely be a lesser version but still contribute. Going deeper, however…Please, blog, may I have some more?
For most of the year, I’ve been talking about how good the Winnipeg top 6 is. They keep chugging along, putting up solid performances with the occasional big game. On Wednesday, it was Mark Scheifele’s turn to have a big game, scoring two goals with an assist and four shots. The former 7th overall pick is starting to round into form. He now has a solid shot rate, 7+5 in 20 games with a +7 rating and 6 PIM. That’s close to a 30 goals and 20 assist pace for the season which is excellent, especially for a 22 year old. In dynasty, I think he’s safely in the top 50 going forward. For season long leagues, he’s pushing the top 100.
Here’s what else I saw in Wednesday and Thursday’s games:Please, blog, may I have some more?
As far as fantasy disappointments go for this hockey season, Evgeni Malkin may have been right at the top going into this week. In 17 games, he had 12 points, which is far below his normal standards. On Tuesday, Malkin single-handedly beat the Wild, scoring two goals and adding two assists in the 4-3 win. Now, 16 points in 18 games with 18 PIM and a +5 doesn’t look as bad. One more big game and Malkin is back to his normal levels. I assume this game kills the chance to buy low but I’d look to add as many of the top Penguins as possible in trades; you can’t keep these superstars down.
Here’s what else I saw on Tuesday night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
It’s isn’t rare for a goalie to steal a game in the NHL. That said, I don’t think anyone does it more than Roberto Luongo does. Luongo puts up crazy 35 save performances with regularity and on Monday, Luongo posted a 39 save shutout against the Lightning, winning 1-0 on an Aaron Ekblad goal with 21 seconds left (I told you to target him yesterday!) The Panthers were outshot 39-20, the Corsi was 55-34* Tampa and had only one player have a positive Corsi in the game, yet Luongo shut down the Lightning and stole two points for the Panthers. His numbers on the season are about what you’d expect, winning half the time but with a solid goals against average and an elite save percentage. His owners have to be happy so far with his overall performance and thrilled with the great start to the week.
Here’s what else happened on Monday night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
In my preseason defenseman rankings here, I included a detailed breakdown on why I liked John Klingberg so much for this season. Almost everything I said has come to fruition. Klingberg is definitely a top 10 defenseman next year and is going forward this year, the Stars power play is amazing, he’s well on his way to double last year’s 12 power play points (he has 10 already) and with 20 points in 18 games, he’s well on his way to getting 60 points. He’s also exactly at two shots per game so there’s no limit to how good Klingberg can finish this season. On Saturday night, Klingberg was involved in all 3 Stars goals, assisting on both goals in regulation before scoring the winner in overtime. He’s the #1 defenseman so far this season based on ESPN’s player rater, which isn’t perfect by any means, but it illustrates just how good he’s been. I’d say the number 10 overall player and 5th best skater is even better than what I thought his best case scenario was. I hope you drafted him on some teams because you won’t be able to acquire him now.
Here’s what I saw in the games this weekend:Please, blog, may I have some more?
For the past two weeks or so, I’ve been talking about Jason Zucker as someone to pick up in fantasy hockey. The second line on the Wild was dominating possession and it was only a matter of time until they broke out. On Thursday, despite the Wild being dominated by the Hurricanes, they persevered and won 3-2 in OT behind two goals by Zucker, who also contributed five shots. He’s up to 13 points so far in 15 games so if it was for debate, it isn’t anymore; he’s a must add in all leagues.
Here’s what else I saw on the big Thursday night slate:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Marv: I’ve always been told to start my stud players. Whether one of my studs is having a cold streak, their team has a strong schedule, they’re playing a hot goalie or is coming back from injury, they’re in my lineup. FYI I went against this and sat Michal Neuvirth for Saturday night’s game where he got a shutout, which definitely would have helped me out in this week’s matchup. I know a lot of fantasy managers play the matchups, and I’m definitely not encouraging you to ignore these items listed above or ignoring advanced stats (Corsi, etc.) but I, myself, play them not matter what. So maybe don’t go as hardcore and follow my lead, but try not to throw away a stud on a down week or with at least high potential for turning things around to grab a hot, unproven player on the wire. This might work out half the time, but more than likely you will see this stud get picked up off the wire by your competition. Losing the year is bad (for obvious reasons) but the loss is that much harder to swallow when you lose to a team who grabbed your stud who managed to turn things around.
Marv: This week we’re starting off with some Studs who have fallen out of love with their old fantasy managers and find themselves available in under 50% of leagues.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Petr Mrazek was the goalie waiting in the wings, for the Wings, for a couple years until the end of last season. He took over the job and played well through the playoffs until they lost to the Lightning in 7 games. Now, he’s on the better side of the Wings platoon in net and he showed why he should get the majority of the starts on Tuesday, stopping all 38 shots against Washington in the 1-0 win, including a whopping 15 shots from Alex Ovechkin. Ideally, you would still own Jimmy Howard with Mrazek but Mrazek looks to be on the better side of the split right now.
Here’s what else I saw on the massive slate on Tuesday:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Welcome to Assume the Position, a new weekly feature that will focus on one specific player position each week. On a personal note, I love a good, deep league, the kind in which it’s actually helpful to know who the backup goalie is in Buffalo. We’ll be wading deep into the player pool on most weeks, so dynasty and deep redraft league owners, take note.
We’ll start things off with a look at the goaltenders, breaking them up into four tiers, with comments on each.
Below, goalies denoted in parentheses are the clear backup, while teammates that are hyphenated play in a more balanced timeshare. Rating goalies by the numbers alone is tricky business. We’ll revisit the chart throughout the season and hopefully give you a leg (pad?) up on the competition that goes beyond the numbers.Please, blog, may I have some more?