Mikael Granlund (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) is a rookie I haven’t mentioned yet and shame on me for that. A natural playmaker with incredibly soft hands, he was largely disappointing in his North American debut last season with the Wild, so he flew under my, and many other ‘perts radar. Still, that’s no excuse for overlooking a guy who before coming to North America dominated the Finnish leagues with 20 goals, 31 assists, plus-20 and 18 PIM in 45 games for HIFK Helsinki in Finland’s SM-Liiga. His subpar debut with the Wild was fueled in part by a bum ankle and a log jam that kept him to third line minutes. Well, that log jam is gone and his TOI has spiked and would you look at that? So has his production! He has all the tools needed to be an All-Star in the NHL and he’s showing it this season posting 32 points in 49 games so far. He has four points (1 G, 3 A) in his last three games he’s going to give you more assists than goals, but he’s going to get his regardless, so why should you be left out? He’s only owned in 10% of Yahoo leagues and ~53% of ESPN Leagues, so grab him if you need some help at center. Then there’s his brother Markus Granlund (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) who didn’t want to be left out, so I tailored this post just to include him. Not really, I actually think Mikael is a great sleeper for next season and a solid add for the stretch run this season, I just think it’s cool when brothers get to play in the NHL together. Sadly Markus isn’t worth owning this season or next, but hey, he tallied a helper last night and it was just his third game on the big stage, so congrats to the Granlunds for their night o’ family hockey fun. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
It’s not often that a second year defenseman ends up on the top pairing for a cup contending team, but Dougie Hamilton (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) broke that mold and earned a place along side Zdeno Chara (1 SOG, even) on the Bs top pairing for a few games in a row now and the results have been very positive at both ends of the ice. When asked about his new weapon on the blue line Bs head coach Claude Julien had nothing but glowing remarks for Hammy’s performance of late; “He’s been good. He’s been steady. He’s moved the puck well. He’s got good vision. He’s got good size, good reach. This is a player that with time will get stronger. He’s a big body. He’ll get stronger. He’ll probably be more impactful than he is right now. But his game has been really good. I think he’s handled it well.” All of this bodes well for his chances of staying on that pairing moving forward, and that also bodes well for his ability to give you those tasty blue line points down the stretch. “Bodes” sounds like a word a sufer would use, doesn’t? “Oh man, Hammy’s gnarly bodes rocked last night!” Come to think of it, that doesn’t sound too family safe. Hmn. Anyway, Hammy contributed in just about every way you could hope for as a fantasy owner and given his choice new home next to Chara, you can expect more of this moving forward from the rookie defenseman. So far he has 18 points in 44 games which puts him on pace for around 28 points in 66 games by season’s end and I think it’s probably that he’ll hit that mark, so look for another 10-15 points from Hammy, so if you need help on your blue line down the stretch here’s a great option as he’s only owned in 12% of ESPN leagues and 26% of Yahoo leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Pekka Rinne is headed to the AHL for a rehab assignment and should be back in the crease for the Preds sometime over the next two weeks. That’s great news for fantasy owners and Preds fans alike, but what can Rinne give you when he returns? Frankly I’d expect every ounce of what he normally would give you if he hadn’t been hurt. When asked about how he was doing Rinne said “So far I feel really comfortable, I’m happy how things have gone in practice and how things have gone so far. I think I’m actually a little bit surprised it’s been going so well. But like I said, it’s still a process but for sure I feel like I’m really close to game shape and now it’s just a final couple of games before I jump on the ice with the Nashville team.” You have to love the sound of that if you’re a Rinne owner. With Devan Dubnyk keeping the bench warm for de facto starter Carter Hutton (2 GA, 14 SV, W) you’d think that Hutton would get the backup job once Rinne returned, but Hutton’s two-way deal and Dubnyk’s one way deal say otherwise, so expect Hutton to be sent back down to the AHL so Dubnyk can continue to collect a salary on the bench. While most Rinne owners held him, IR slot or not, he is only owned in 75% of ESPN leagues and 84% of Yahoo leagues, so there’s a slim chance he’s out there for you to grab, so go scope out your wire and if he is? Grab him now, now, yesterday! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Red Wings have been plagued by injury all season and when news that Henrik Zetterberg needed to have his herniated disc removed and was down for at least eight weeks, Wings fans and fantasy owners alike cried in their Molsons. You shouldn’t cry into your Molson though, no one likes watery beer; if we did we’d drink PBR or some shiz. Though Zetterberg is down his line mates remain good options for late season scoring boosts and if last night’s game was any indication, I’m not just blowing smoke here. Both Gustav Nyquist (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) and Johan Franzen (2 A, 3 SOG, +1) are skating on relatively fresh legs and though Z’s absence is a loss, it could open up more chances for both of them. Nyquist scored the game winner with OT winding down on a rebound when Peter Budaj kicked away a Franzen shot from the top of the circle and it was a nice display of soft hands by the young Swede. Though he’s returning from his own groin injury, Nyquist is immensely talented and he should sieze the opportunity to help drive the Wings’ offense in Z’s absence. He’ll need to put up more than two shots a game to do it, but he has the ability and could put up 20 more points down the stretch. As for Franzen, he isn’t without talent and opportunity either. He assisted on both goals for the Wings; first on a nice pass to Todd Bertuzzi and then on Nyquist’s game winner. The assist for the game winner was a bit fluky, but everyone knows that when in doubt put the puck on net and hope for the best, and here’s proof positive that’s a solid maxim to live by! The Mule has only played in 32 games so far due to injury but is 100% healthy now and has the potential to give you 20 or so more points before season’s end. He’s only owned in 61% of Yahoo leagues, and ~87% of ESPN leagues, so if you need a late season scoring boost, he’s among the better options available. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Hallelujah the NHL has returned and so have I! With only 24 games left in the regular season our first taste of post-Olympic hockey featured Ryan Miller (2 GA, 38 SA, W, 2 A) picking up right where he left off before the break carrying the Sabres to a 3-2 victory over the Canes. It must be a nice feeling for Miller to come back and cleanse the bitter taste of defeat out of his mouth after the Bobby Ryan-less US team didn’t even medal. To be fair, they totally phoned in that bronze medal game against Finland after a terrific effort against the Canadians in the game prior, so they probably didn’t give a rat’s ass about anything but the gold. I don’t endorse that attitude, but it is what it is. Miller looked absolutely brilliant all night stopping shot after shot because man that Sabres D is something awful. Hell, to even have a chance at winning Miller had to throw in a pair of helpers, too! Put this guy on a team with a halfway decent defense and a bit more scoring and he’s top 5, so where will he go? No one knows. Every other day it seems the Buffalo front office flip flops on whether they want to focus on signing him or trading him. Let’s be real here; the guy is a UFA after this season and why on earth would he resign with the Sabres? They have to rebuild, Miller is 33, he wants a cup and he’s not going to get it in upstate New York. With the trade deadline looming the Sabres have a week to move the franchise tender and new Sabres GM Tim Murray claims to have “between two and 10 teams” who have inquired about Miller. Sounds promising, and if you own the guy you’re dying for news that he’s been traded to St. Louis. It’s hard to imagine a team so mediocre that it can make a top 5 goalie give you the stats of a guy ranked ten or so slots below him, but it could be worse, you could own Ondrej Pavelec! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the first game back from Sochi:Please, blog, may I have some more?
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:Please, blog, may I have some more?
As the season wears on and the Olympic break looms, a few starters are starting to get up there in TOI and their teams are contenders, so what do you think they’ll do with their starters? If you said “rest them as soon as they can to keep them fresh for the playoffs” you’d be correct and I’m putting a gold star by your name! Every year there’s one or two backups or no names that come out of nowhere to start eight or nine of a team’s last ten games and looks amazing doing it. Those guys? Those guys win you titles. This year two backups stand out with the potential to become fantasy gold down the stretch; San Jose’s Alex Stalock (1 GA, 19 SV, W) and Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen. Neither Andersen nor Stalock saw much action for the first three months of the season, but in January they both saw a spike in starts with six each, a trend that should continue as the season winds to a close. Stalock handled himself nicely for a 19 save win last night because starter Antti Niemi coughed up four goals in his last start and with 47 starts under his belt, and the Olympics starting next week, I think the Sharks want to rest Niemi and that means nothing but good things for Stalock owners. Stalock has been great with his workload slowly but steadily increasing and in that span he put up a line of 3-3-0/1.79/.949/2. That has value anywhere, y’all! Similarly, Jonas Hiller (2 GA, 23 SV, L) backup Frederik Andersen has slowly eaten into Hiller’s starts much like Stalock has in San Jose. With Hiller headed to Sochi to tend net for the Swiss, his injury history and how well Andersen continues to play, Hiller is likely to continue split starts with Andersen more evenly moving forward. Andersen started 6 games to Hiller’s 9 last month and it’s 2 to 1 Hiller so far this month. What’s he done with his time? How about a line of 5-0-0/1.86/.939 in January. Yeah, his last game was a bit of bleh against the surging Blue Jackets, but overall he remains valuable and could be huge if Hiller goes down with another LBI. Never look past backups this late in the season, you never know who will become instant fantasy gold. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The race for the Calder trophy has been razor thin from the start of the season. Early on it looked like the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl was well on his way, but then he blew out a knee and that opened the door for the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, but he has since cooled, though he’s still getting good minutes with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan and remains valuable in deeper leagues. Ondrej Palat jumps into the mix with his recent surge of 15 points in his last 16 games giving him 31 points, which actually puts him ahead of Kreider’s 30. Regardless, it’s Nathan MacKinnon’s (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) turn to be the front runner and this time the edge might not be so razor thin. MacKinnon has eight points in his last five games with goals in three straight until last night, but he figured he’d keep the trend going and chipped in a helper. With less than 30 games to play MacKinnon leads all rookies in goals (20), assists (21) and points (41) putting him on pace to finish with a Bobby Ryan-esque 30 goals and 31 assists in 82 games. It’s not every day that you get a rookie that can score 30 goals, it’s even more rare to find a kid who will match his goal scoring with assists and a decent plus/minus to boot! You’d think given his recent streak and general good play all year he’d be owned in 100% of leagues everywhere, but alas, Yahoo fails us once again and his ownership sits a platry 68% as we approach the stretch run to the playoffs with Palat coming in at just 16%. ESPN sits at 100% for MacKinnon but just 81% for Palat. These are the guys that give you the edge moving forward, so if you’re in a league where either is available, do yourself a favor and pick them up yesterday. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Riley Sheahan (1 A, 1 SOG, even) has five points in his last five (2 G, 3 A) and is currently on pace for 10 points in 15 games this season since being called up from Wings’ AHL affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins. It will be interesting to see which of the Wings’ dynamic young forwards will get sent down when Pavel Datsyuk returns after the Olympic break, but Sheahan is making a serious case that it shouldn’t be him. Gustav Nyqvist is making a similar claim with his play, so it might be Tomas Jurco that gets the boot given his inability to generate consistent offense in his time with the big club. I’ve mentioned Sheahan before, and it probably went something like this: “This kid has some serious offensive chops with a big shot and great playmaking ability. He has all the tools to become a top-six power forward in the NHL and already knows how to use his big frame to help his puck possession game, which is pretty damn good to begin with. He can play both ends of the ice, has a solid hockey IQ and should be on everyone’s radar as we come down the stretch this season in fantasy hockey.” Wow, sounds like that guy knows what he’s talking about, you should listen to him. I’d grab Sheahan in deeper leagues if you need a scoring boost with the caveat that he may end up drawing the short stick and heading back down to the AHL at some point this season, but if not, he’s well worth owning for the remainder of this season if nothing else. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on a seriously short night o’ fantasy hockey:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Going into this season one of the bigger questions in goaltending was who would start for the Devils; perhaps the greatest goalie of all time or Cory Schneider (2 GA, 14 SV, W)? Sounds like an easy call, right? I figured it’d be Schneider. Why else did the Devils bring him in but to grab the torch from Martin Brodeur and run with it? And had anyone seen this guy play in Vancouver, stuck behind Roberto Luongo? It was a bittersweet symphony that Cory conducted, showing that he was all too capable of handling the starting job somewhere. While Marty is a legend, he’s over 40 and most guys don’t last until they’re 40 so don’t get me started on being productive in your forties. So I drafted Schneider everywhere, and as the season started and Marty came out of the gates hot my heart sank. Still, I stuck with Schneider and preached you do the same as often as it made sense, secretly hoping Brodeur would break down and Schneider would get his chance, and ho ho! It has happened. Schenider has started 10 games this month after only seeing a combined 16 starts in the first three months of the season. What’s more, he’s been absolutely stellar, Vezina worthy, with a season line that now sits at 10-10-7/ 1.87/.926/3 compared to Brodeur’s 13-11-4/2.52/.899 line. Marty’s implosion against the Rangers in the Stadium Series game his grip on the starting job had completely slipped away. Now Marty is saying he wouldn’t be surprised if the Devils traded him. Oh come on, old man, what’s this? A pity party?! I doubt very highly the Devils move him, but it’s safe to say Schneids is the man for the Devils moving forward. I said it before, Ill say it again, if you have a question that starts with “Who do you like ROS, Cory Schneider…” and you can stop there, the answer is always Cory Schneider. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?