Jay Bouwmeester has been around the league for a while now, and once upon a time he was a reliable offensive threat from the blueline for the Panthers of all teams. Then he moved on to Calgary and he went from a top 5 guy to a fantasy non-factor overnight, not once hitting the 30 point mark for the Flames in three and a half seasons after averaging 42 points a year in the four years prior to being dealt. Since joining the Blues he’s decided to change colors again and pulled a full 180 (dig the mixed metaphors!) and now he’s on pace for an insane 64 points this season. At first I thought “Puh! Not bloody likely…” but then I started thinking about how ridiculous the St. Louis offense really is this season. Shall we break it down? Let’s shall; the Blues are 2nd in Goals Per Game with 3.4 (just 0.1 shy of league leading Chicago and 2nd overall with the man-advantage at 25.5%(!) putting their GA/GF DIFF at +35. Jay has just two goals but 19 assists and there’s plenty more where those came from. Paired with Alex Pietrangelo he has climbed into the top five in scoring for defensemen with his performance last night (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) and now has 21 points in 29 games overall. He has 11 points over his last 12 games, a plus-15 rating for the season and you should go ahead and pick him up if he’s still available in your league. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey:
Tobais Enstrom (1 SOG, -3, 2 PIM) will be lucky to hit 25 points at this rate. In his final season with Atlanta he had 51 points in 72 games, the second straight 50-point season for him and he looked like a budding perennial elite on the blueline. He was solid in limited action last year, so I’m not entirely sure what the problem is. If you own him you’re best off holding onto him for a bit longer before cutting bait.
Marc-Andre Fleury (1 GA, 44 SV, W) continues to play extremely well, but I have to think he’ll regress a bit and end up around his usual 2.30 GAA / .915 SV% by season’s end.
Jonathan Bernier (2 GA, 48 SV, W) shrugged off 48 of 50 shots for the OT win which is impressive, but terrifying if you own him when you consider how often his SA approach that 50 shot marker. So long as the Leafs porous D is allowing their goalies to get peppered so frequently, they are both huge risks to start on any given night.
Henrik Lundqvist (1 GA, 27 SV, W) signed a big ole’ contract extension with the Rangers and then promptly showed everyone why he’s worth 8.5 million a season with another good game. Right now Carey Price and Tuukka Rask are playing better hockey, but not by much, and Hank’s slow start is fading to a distant memory. By season’s end he could be the top ranked tender again.
Sidney Crosby (3 A, 2 SOG, +3) is on pace for 112 points powered by 41 goals. This I believe.
Devan Dubnyk (2 GA, 33 SV, W) probably feels a bit better about himself being on this side of a 8-2 victory after letting in 6 goals on 33 shots against the ‘yotes in his previous game. If you’ve read any of my posts over the last few weeks you know how I feel about Dubnyk.
Chris Kunitz (2 G, 2 SOG, +3) is playing above his head. A point-per-game guy he is not, but it’s nice while it lasts.
Jaroslav Halak (1 GA, 22 SV, W) continues to show the world that he’s the better option between the pipes for the Blues than Brian Elliot.
Ryan Smyth (3 A, +2) joined the party last night and I neglected to add the old dog to the list of Oilers who cashed in on Varlamov’s destruction. He is in no danger of becoming a player you want to own again.
Tim Thomas (2 GA, 29 SV, W) is a hard guy to like. He lost his effin’ mind when he bailed on the Bruins after their 2012 season, Thomas’ 5th consecutive good season at the time. If he thought for a moment that he could take a year off and then just waltz back into the league and perform well at age 40, he is truly mad. I figure this makes him the perfect netminder for the Panthers, bleh.
Derek Roy (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) seems to have found a home in St. Louis. He has eight points in his last eight games and is showing glimpses of his successful Buffalo self from a few years ago. He’s worth grabbing if you need scoring help.
Nazem Kadri (2 G, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) came into this season with high hopes for some fantasy owners after his “breakout” season last year. So far he’s coming up a bit short of what I thought were inflated expectations anyway and is on pace to come in just under 60 points. That seems about right! Anyway, he scored a few last night, assisted by…
Phil Kessel (2 A, 5 SOG, +1) decided to share with his buddy Nazem last night. Phil the Thrill is nasty, but could use some help. Looks like Kadri was happy to lend a hand.
Dylan Olsen (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) is a big kid that mostly finds his worth on the defensive end, so there’s not much to see here.
Erik Gudbranson (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG , +2) is a lot more interesting than Dylan Olsen for deep keeper leagues. His initial three year deal with the Panthers is almost up and if he gets signed somewhere that isn’t South bloody Florida, he could actually start to develop some of the offensive chops scouts have claimed he has.
Tuukka Rask (2 GA, 25 SV, L) looked human for a change and took the loss, though even in losing he only allowed two freakin’ goals.
Justin Peters (2 GA, 20 SV, W) won his second straight game shutting down the Preds in a 5-2 W last night. I like Peters a lot, but it’s hard to say what the Canes will do with their logjam in goal. Obviously Cam Ward gets the benefit of the doubt as the no. 1 but with Peters’ strong play and Anton Khudobin returning, we’ll have to just wait and see what Carolina decides to do.
Carter Hutton (0 GA, 9SV) came in to relieve Marek Mazanec and didn’t allow a goal, but faced just nine shots. I don’t think this indicates anything more than a down night for Mazanec. I still don’t like Hutton much.
Marek Mazanec (4 GA, 9 SV, L) didn’t come out for the third period yesterday as the Hurricanes, of all teams, notched four goals on just 13 shots. He’s a rookie tender and he’ll have ups and downs like any developing player. Don’t panic.
Ryan Miller (3 GA, 28 SV, L) just can’t win, literally. He’s far too good to be stuck on a team so bad and now I’m hearing that Ted Nolan wants to “build around Ryan Miller.” That was a great idea 8 years ago, Ted.
James Neal (2 A, 4 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) decided to take a break from scoring goals and instead helped his teammates out a bit with 2 dimes. Neal has seven multi-point efforts over his last nine games; I guess he’s trying to make up for lost time.
Ryan McDonagh (2 A, 2 SOG, +2) extended point-scoring streak to five games, has seven points in his last seven games and is only owned in 52% of Yahoo! Leagues. He’s been known as more of a defensive defensemen so far in his career but he’s always had a decent offensive upside waiting to emerge. So far he’s on pace for 52 points and while I doubt he hits that milestone, 40 isn’t out of the question. Pick him up!
Ondrej Palat (2 A, 2 SOG, +2) assisted on both of St. Louis’ goals playing on the top line for the Bolts. He’s a talented offensive threat but is another somewhat small guy (5’ 11” and just 174lbs) so he needs to bulk up a bit. He’s not really worth owning at the moment, but if he keeps seeing time with St. Louis and produces while given the chance the story may change.
Brad Richards (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, even) has vastly improved since the return of Nash and has six points over his last five games. Sadly, you can only reasonably expect 60ish points from him these days.
Mats Zuccarello (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, even) is an interesting option for secondary scoring in deep leagues. The diminutive winger followed up a horrible October (1 G, 2 A, -2) with a vastly improved November (2 G, 10 A, +5). He will always be a risk due to his size, but he has soft hands, good vision and he’s seeing time on the power play now as well.
Shawn Horcoff (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +1) is still around? I’ll be damned.
Jared Spurgeon (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) is just 5’ 9” and is a defensemen. That’s a tough sell and the Isles didn’t buy it so they let him go to the Wild. He isn’t particularly athletically gifted, mostly relying on playing smart, not hard. That’s not to say the kid doesn’t hustle, he plays in the NHL at 5’9” so he must have busted his hump. Interesting(?) bit of trivia about Spurge, his PIM total is the lowest in the league for guys that have played at least 100 games over the last three years. Meh.
Philip Larsen (1 A, +4) is worth paying attention to. He isn’t as lauded as the rest of the Oil youth brigade, but he’s probably as good as most of them. Relaxed and deliberate on the ice he seems older than his years. It often takes young defensemen more than a few seasons to find their offensive touch, so keep an eye on him as he develops.
Kris Letang (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) is currently on pace for just 38 points. JUST 38 points for a d-man? When it’s Letang, it’s just 38. He could streak and easily get into the mid-40s by season’s end.
Kevin Connauton (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) is yet another young defenseman that the Stars are developing. The rookie has a monster shot and thrives on the powerplay and has a future as the Stars’ PP QB in a few years, or sooner, if he plays his cards right.