With the news that Thomas Vanek told Garth Snow “It’s not you, it’s me” when he declined an offer in the ballpark of 7 years, $50 million it has become very apparent that the Isles have no choice but to trade the pending UFA who, in all honesty, everyone knew would always test the market at season’s end. Now Vanek is back on the market and amusingly, Buffalo’s Matt Moulson is a hot commodity and the Sabres are fielding offers for him as well. Both guys are likely to end up with a contender if they go anywhere, and for Vanek I think the production stays about the same with only a minor dip in assists. For Moulson it could be a huge boom depending on where he goes, so we’ll have to pay close attention. The Rangers’ Ryan Callahan is now part of the short list as well. With his contract up at the end of the season Cally apparently wants something to the tune of seven years, $6.5-6.9 million per. Say what?! Who does he think he is? Rick Nash? I love Cally, but he isn’t worth that kind of money or with a contract that long. The Rangers front office agrees and reportedly they want to “settle Callahan’s fate” sooner than later. Sooner is today, in fact, with the Olympic roster freeze kicking in and no contract for Cally, it sounds like they might be moving their Captain shortly after the break. Right now it sounds like the Blues are the most likely destination, because, you know, they need help. Chris Stewart is the potential return for the Rangers and talk about a downgrade! Cally’s value will remain the same or get a bit of a spike if he goes somewhere like St. Louis as he’ll continue to contribute across the board in many categories, but Stewart? Thaaat’s a bust. If he sees more playing time in New York after the deal his value only has one place to go, and hey, he scores goals in bunches when he cares to. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Kris Letang suffered a stroke last week and he’s going to be out for at least six weeks, and that’s probably great news considering his career and his life, as he knew it could have swiftly come to a very unceremonious end. Apparently Letang has a tiny hole in the side of his heart and his doctors think that’s what caused the stroke.
Ben Scrivens (1 GA, 35 SV, W) recovered from a four goal lashing from the Bs last week to hold the surging Rangers to just one goal in a 2-1victory last night. Scribbles is doing great overall, much better than I expected, but he’s still facing a ridiculous amount of shots every night. It seems like he’s going to be stable enough to help some teams in need of goaltending help, but on any given night the Oil D can and will allow like 50 shots on goal, and Scribbles can’t stop ‘em all.
Jonathan Bernier (1 GA, 33 SV, W) seems to be a living “eff your analysis regarding how many shots I face and how well I can handle it, JD” statement. He keeps getting peppered and he keeps playing well. He must be watching Oiler games to gain some perspective. Seeing 35-45 shots a night seems like nothing when other goalies are forced to stop 60. It’s all about perspective, and Bernier’s got it.
Max Pacioretty (3 G, 6 SOG, +2) potted a hatty last night against the Canucks to help the Habs to a 5-2 victory. Of course he didn’t have any assists, but when he gives you three goals there isn’t much room for complaint. One was the game winner, another came with the man advantage. Delicious.
Milan Michalek (2 G, 6 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) will have a massively disappointing season no matter what he does moving forward, but here’s two goals for you anyway. Add in the goal from the game before this one and he has three in his last two games, and that puts him on pace for 14 by season’s end. Yup.
Dennis Wideman (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) seems to have woken up a bit and with last night’s showing he has five points in his last four games. His plus/minus is horrible (minus-15) and counting the wrong way, but he might eek out 30-some points in 66 games this season, so his production isn’t really that bad all things considered.
Drew Stafford (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +2) now has goals in back-to-back-to-back games and swears he’s trying to be useful to fantasy owners as we stare down the post-Olympic break stretch run. Stafford can score goals, but who knows if he keeps it up after the break. The safe bet is no, he won’t.
Tyler Ennis (1 G, 9 SOG, +2) poured nine shots on goal last night and finished the night with a goal for his efforts. I mentioned him in yesterday’s post and everything I said still applies, but nine shots is nothing to look away from. He has four points in his last five games and he might be stepping up to fill the fairly wide offensive gap left by the injured, and soon to be traded, Matt Moulson. Ennis could be a sweet wire grab for your stretch run.
Brendan Gallagher (2 A, 2 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) might have contended for the Calder trophy this year with his numbers (14 G, 16 A, +7, 57 PIM in 57 GP), but guys like Chris Kreider and Nathan MacKinnon tearing it up, there’s no chance. Still, he’ll factor into the voting and he could factor into your chances of success if you own him. I’d expect around 5 goals and 5-10 assists from him for the rest of the season.
Nino Niederreiter (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) was acquired by the Wild in a draft day trade for a bag of pucks last season, and what a horrible deal for the Isles! But hey, it’s the Isles. This kid is pretty solid all around with good speed, good size and good skills in general. This is his second season and so far he’s put up 29 points in 59 contests, and that’s pretty underwhelming, but considering it’s the Wild that’s actually pretty amazing! He’ll likely fall in the 40-45 point range by season’s end making him a keeper for next season for sure. I’d expect him to take a step forward next year and move up to the 60-point range and a far bigger role in the Wild’s offense.
Sean Couturier (2 A, 2 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) looks like a rich man’s Nino Niederreiter. He plays on a much more crowded, offensively capable team, so who knows if he has the room to step up next year like Nino will but he definitely has the size and skill to be an offensive force sooner than later.
Nail Yakupov (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) currently sits at minus-29 and he’s on pace to end up at minus-41. Wow, that’s pretty horrible. Maybe he makes up for it with points? What? 20 points in his first 51 games, you say? Uh, well, he has two points in his last three, so there’s that!
Craig Smith (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) has gotten better steadily as the season moves along and remains one of the few bright spots in the Preds’ offense. By month he’s scored 7, 8, 8 and 12 points respectively and has three points in two games so far this month. He’s scoring, he’s young and he’s good. What’s not to pick up?
Jason Spezza (2 A, 4 SOG, +1) has five points in his last two games after his helpers from last night. He has the ability to explode for an incredible amount of offensive output in a very short span, so he still has a chance to not be horribly disappointing this season. Even with this little outburst he’s on pace to notch just 22 G, 42 A, 63 P, -29 in 76 games. Injuries are all that ever holds Spezza back, and it seems like he’s been playing injured a lot this season.
Claude Giroux (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) now has nine points in his last five games and sits just three points away from reaching that coveted point-per-game pace that seemed all but impossible for him to reach earlier this season.
David Desharnais (2 A, 1 SOG, +2) put up three points in his last two games, but he’s still a center that’s going to give you around 40 points. That’s fantasy blehsville, population Desharnais.
Tomas Plekanec (1 G, 4 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) can also join Desharnais in fantasy blehsville, so lets bump up the population numbers in Blehsville to two.
Gustav Nyquist (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) now has 15 points in his last 16 games and should be owned everywhere. Also, he is now the Mayor of fantasy Wowsville.
Jaden Schwartz (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) was bleh in October, awesome in November and December, slumped hard in January and now he has five points in his last three games. He’s young, he’s good and he plays for the Blues. All that and he’s only owned in 49% of Yahoo leagues, so go grab him if he’s available.
Braden Holtby (2 GA, 34 SV, W) can’t seem to find any semblance of consistency, but stopped 34 of 36 for the win against the Jets last night. This game comes on the heels of allowing nine goals in two games to the Blue Jackets (that’s not so bad…) and then the Sabres (Oh god why?!).
Jimmy Howard (1 GA, 23 SV, W) has put up two solid games in a row now; first blanking the Canucks for a 2-0 victory and then holding the Panthers to one goal for a 3-1 victory there. Howie is elite, but he has been hurt all year, whether he was on the ice or not. We saw him round into form for a short stretch just before his latest LBI, and it seems like he’s getting back to that again. If you own him, start him.
Craig Anderson (2 GA, 30 SV, W) just makes me angry.
Mikael Backlund (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, even, 2 PIM) after three months of doing nothing (15 points in 51 games) he started playing out of his mind in January and has 14 points in his last 17 games. Even though this is his fifth year in the league he was a top prospect that was lauded for his incredibly soft hands, outstanding vision, great speed and elite playmaking ability. He seems to have finally started to tap into some of those resources and while he’s scoring he should be added everywhere.
David Krejci (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) has 27 points in his last 29 games and man did I underestimate what Krejci would do in the second half of the season. He could easily hit 70 points before the end of the season now and if you’re thinking of asking “Who do you like better ROS, Krejci or…” the answer is almost always going to be Krejci.
Alex Ovechkin (1 G, 5 SOG, even) put another biscuit in the basket as he guns for another 60-goal season.
Carter Hutton (3 GA, 33 SV, L) helps keep the Preds fans painfully aware of Pekka Rinne’s continued absence from the lineup. That being said, he returned to the ice for practice this week but hasn’t been cleared to play yet. He should be back in there sooner than later it sounds.
Darcy Kuemper (2 GA, 16 SV, W) allowed two goals on just 18 shots, but held his ground for the OT victory. He was probably bored and those two slipped by while he was taking a nap in the crease.
Tuukka Rask (3 GA, 24 SV, L) had a bit of a down month in January and it seems to have crept into February a bit as well with this loss. He’s fine, but Chad Johnson’s value is going to take a bit of a hike as we get towards the stretch and Rask starts to get a bit of rest.
Erik Karlsson (1 G, 5 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) always goes way too early and costs way too much for me to go after in drafts. So, for those of you who own Karlsson, what’s it like to get elite forward production from a blue liner? Inquiring minds want to know.
Tyler Bozak (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) has 16 points in his last 18 games despite the fact that I didn’t think he could keep the pace up. Speaking of pace, he’s looking to finish with about 50 points in 58 games played this season and that’s effin’ incredible considering how little he has done to this point in his career. The 50 points would be a career high and set him up to be overvalued in next year’s drafts. That’s next year, though, and if you play on Yahoo he’s available in 66% of leagues there. So, you know, go get him.
Marcus Johansson (2 A, 1 SOG, +1) remains on pace to post his own career best of 51 points in 82 games this season. I’m not a huge fan of Johansson, but a third year guy hitting a new career high sounds like he’s got some promise moving forward.
David Clarkson (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) gets another mention because I need you to understand that his 30-goal season was a fluke. No, you shouldn’t pick him up.
Michael Raffl (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) is way too streaky for me to recommend, but he does have four points in his last five, so there’s that.
Steve Mason (1 GA, 38 SV, W) seems like he might be back on track after two horrible months of play that came on the heels of two stellar months of play to start the season. He’s 3-0-0 in his last three with a 1.00 GAA, .969 SV% and one shutout for good measure. Y’all know how I feel about Mason, but I’ll say it again, bleh.
Reto Berra (2 GA, 28 SV, W) is the de-facto starter for the Flames with Karri Ramo down. I wouldn’t own Berra anywhere, honestly. Ramo was a tough sell but he settled in nicely after a few months, but Berra? He might as well be Yogi Berra for all the good he’ll do your fantasy team.
Tim Thomas (2 GA, 30 SV, L) lost and I like seeing that, so here it is!
Jhonas Enroth (3 GA, 33 SV, L) keeps on doing what he does best, losing! His record now sits at horrible 1-12-5. Ryan Miller he is not.