It’s an interesting question, JD. Thanks, self! Just how good has Carey Price, G (L, 30 SV, 2 GA, .938%) been this season? Pretty damn good, that’s how good. In 52 starts he has posted a season line of 36-13-3/1.92/.935/6 and with 18 games left in the regular season for the Habs, Carey now leads the Vezina race over Pekka Rinne and will challenge Dominik Hasek’s ridiculous 1998-99 season. That year Hasek posted arguably the best season by a goalie ever putting up a 1.87 goals-against average to go with a robust .937 save percentage. That’s absolutely ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous is the shooting gallery he faced doing it. There has rarely been a better example of a one-man show than the 1998 Buffalo Sabres, who had no earthly business making the playoffs but no one told Hasek that. Then Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff would let his entire team pinch deep offensively allowing tons of odd-man rushes leaving Hasek hanged out to dry more often than not and more often than not Hasek shut the door. The 2014 Habs aren’t nearly that bad, but it can be argued that without Price they would be struggling to make the playoffs, don’t get me started on leading the Eastern Conference. Indeed, Carey’s 1.92 goals-against average to pair with his beastly .935 save percentage have carried the Habs to first overall in the east despite sitting just 22nd overall with 2.6 goals per game on offense and sporting one of the league’s more inept power plays ranking 24th overall converting on just 16.8% of their chances. That’s pretty ridiculous and come playoff time the Habs will have trouble advancing without a potent power play, but don’t put it past Price to carry them to the Eastern Conference Finals again. Is Price putting up the best season for a goalie ever? You could certainly argue that’s the case. I know I am. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:

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It seems like every season there’s one or two breakout goalies that can help make the difference between winning and losing when it counts the most. This season is no exception, and though John Gibson’s strong play is a surprise to no one, Andrew Hammond, G (L, 36 SV, 2 GA, .947%) has been a revelation. Though the two net minders couldn’t be more different; Gibson with his blue chip pedigree and ceiling as high as the sky and Hammond, a 27-year-old no-name never-has-been with a ceiling about as high as my living room’s, both goalies have been hot enough to earn the right to split time with their respective team’s starters making them both most owns in virtually every league. 

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The trade deadline has come and gone in 2015 and we’re left with a flurry of moves that mostly didn’t matter. There were buyers, there were sellers and then there was the Buffalo Sabres who went into full tank mode and sold off every halfway decent asset they had on their roster in hopes to land Conner McDavid. Don’t believe me? They sent away Chris Stewart, Michal Neuvirth, Bryan Flynn, Jhonas Enroth, Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford and Joel Armia in deals leading up to or at the deadline and they basically took a bunch of draft picks, injured players and a few cases of Molson in return. That’s an impressive fire sale, but I’ll laugh my pucks off if they don’t land McJesus. At any rate, almost nothing the Sabres did at the deadline mattered for fantasy owners, it’s all about quality not quantity folks, but there were a few deadline deals that will shake up the landscape of a few NHL teams and might just offer some key opportunities for the savvy fantasy owner to capitalize on:

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The New York Rangers are built to win right now and general manager Glen Sather drove that point home in a big way yesterday completing a trade to bring four-time All-Star Keith Yandle to Broadway in exchange for top prospect Anthony Duclair and the few remaining draft picks the Rangers had left to give. With the move both players will see a fairly substantial jump in value and while Yandle is likely unavailable and any buy-low window on him has likely closed with the deal, the new Duke of the Desert is likely available and worth a flyer up in deep leagues if he gets called up to finish the season with the ‘yotes. That being said, if you can swing a deal for Yandle before the deadline now is the time to make it happen because as soon as he steps on the ice for the Rangers he’s going to shine.

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It comes as no surprise that after a pretty bummer season that future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, RW (5 SOG, -1) wanted out of New Jersey and, hopefully, one more shot at a title run. It definitely comes as a surprise that he was traded to the Florida Panthers yesterday as the Cats try their hardest to catch the Boston Bruins for the east’s final wild card spot. Jagr makes for a solid addition to a young, hungry Panthers team that is loaded with talented youth looking for veteran leadership to help them take the next step forward and secure a playoff birth. Any move out of New Jersey is going to boost a player’s value, but for Jagr in particular the move should inject some new life into the aging winger and it might just be enough to inject some new juice into your fantasy team’s playoff hopes.

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The Los Angeles Kings have been devastated by injuries all season, most notably to their defense and it has cost them quite a bit so far this season, but they’re still in the playoff hunt and that’s all that matters. Still, going into the post season with their patchwork defense isn’t something the Kings were keen on, so you knew they’d make a deal before the deadline and sure enough they lifted Andrej Sekera from the humid hockey hellhole of Carolina to the royal court of the defending Stanley Cup Champions yesterday. While the move doesn’t make Sekera a must-add across all formats, he’s definitely going to see a significant bump in value from the move.

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Last night fantasy owners took a huge blow when superstar winger Patrick Kane, RW (1 SOG) took a hit from behind, went awkwardly into the boards and suffered what is being called a significant upper-body injury that will keep him out for up to two-and-a-half months. It looked to me like it was a shoulder injury and those are always bad news. You can look no further than what happened to Rangers Captain Ryan McDonagh to know how long it takes for a star player to recover from a bum shoulder. Pro tip, it takes a while at best. Worse, it could be a collarbone injury and those take as long or longer to recover from. In either case there’s no word on just how badly Kane is hurt, the nature of his injury or just how long he’ll be out, but one thing is for sure you need to act now to try and fill the gap before the rush to the wire.

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In a season full of woe and dammit, Nathan MacKinnon, C (3 G, 3 SOG) decided to get his shiz together finally and put up his best game of the season posting the first hat trick of his young career in a 5-2 win last night. That’s a good sign from a guy who exploded on the scene for 24 goals and 63 points as a rookie last season and won’t come close to touching those totals this season. Does that mean the kid is a bust? Hardly! At just 19-years-old the sky remains the limit for MacKinnon and the reasons behind his sophomore slump are not only easily fixable, the healing has already begun, making him a target ripe for the plucking at the trade deadline. It might not seem like it now, but if you do find a way to bring him on as a keeper, you’ll thank me next season.

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It might be hard to believe but despite their struggles as a team there is still some fantasy gold yet left to find in the nearly depleted mines of the Edmonton Oilers. Though skaters like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and to a lesser extent, Jordan Eberle have spectacularly failed fantasy owners this season, as we go headlong into the stretch run for fantasy hockey a 21-year-old defensive prospect is starting to show glimmers of his potential offensive prowess. With nine points (2 G, 7 A) in his last 13 games to pair with a TOI spike to around 22-24 minutes per game and an increased roll across the board, Oscar Klefbom is making a case for a late season pick up in deeper formats.

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At this point in the season the waiver wire has been picked clean like the bones of so many thanksgiving turkeys and the lack of depth couldn’t come at a worse time. It’s the time of the year when the injuries begin to mount and the trades start coming and with the shake ups they create come new opportunities for fantasy managers to seize upon. The difference between winning and losing at this stage of the game is a matter of minutes; did you pick up the hot hand that will get you into the playoffs, or the next round, or did some other jerkbag beat you to it? Don’t be the guy who loses out, be the jerkbag and consider picking up Kevin Klein or Michael Del Zotto before someone else does.

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