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Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland is a pretty solid GM as far as GMs go. He always manages to pluck these unknown Swedes out of, well, Sweden and the Wings system turns them into legitimate players in fairly short order. This time he set his sights on a gifted Canadian winger out of Longueuil, Quebec by the name of Anthony Mantha and you’d do well to track his progress in the AHL because he has all the tools to be a top six player for the Wings sooner than later. Before he went down with a broken leg in the pre-season Mantha had a shot to crack the Wings’ NHL roster, alas it wasn’t meant to be, yet. Well, he’s healed up now and the 6’5” 206lb scoring threat is healthy and recently made his AHL debut and he set to work right rining the puck off two posts, but didn’t find the back of the net. No worries, he potted his first goal in his second game. That’s going to be a theme for the youngster and it can be argued that he’s one of the best pure goal scorers to come up since Steven Stamkos. Yes, you read that right. He sports a heavy wrister that he can fire off before you even considered he was going to shoot and man, it’s accurate. Beyond his ability to shoot the puck he uses his big frame to force through traffic with general ease and knocking him off the puck is no easy task. He’s proven himself to be a great positional player with outstanding on ice awareness, but there are of course some negatives as with any young player, and the big fella might be a bit too offensively focused leaving his defense as the weakest part of his game. There has also been some criticism that he lacks consistency, but hey, he’s young and nobody’s perfect (except Victor Hedman). Word has it that the Wings would rather he spend his time getting solid minutes with the Griffins than sitting on the bench for the Wings, but considering the fragility of their key top-six forwards (We’re all looking at you, Pavel Datsyuk) I wouldn’t be surprised if the kid gets a shot at big ice this year. While he’s not worth adding outside of deep dynasty leagues for the time being, keep an eye on him because he’s going to be something special. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Seven years ago Kris Versteeg, RW – (1 G, 2 A, +3, 7 SOG) started his career in Chicago with high hopes and what seemed like a higher ceiling. Initially all the signs looked good; he notched 20 goals in each of his first two full seasons and ended up with 53 and 44 points in each season respectively. Despite the slight drop-off in production many expected a breakout season in 2010, but alas, it didn’t happen. In what would become a theme for throughout his young career Versteeg went down with a knee injury. Over the next few seasons he struggled with more knee problems and after failed stints in Philly and Toronto he landed in Florida where it looked like he regained his form setting a career high in goals with 23 and points with 54. Again, a breakout was expected the following season and again knee problems knocked him down, but if Kris Versteeg has shown us anything in his time on big ice, it’s that you can knock him down but he’s going to get right back up. Fast forward three more years and it’s 2014, Versteeg’s knee is doing well and since joining a line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane he’s been scoring to the tune of five points in his last four games. You might pause in terror seeing Richards’ name here, but he seems to have found a home on this line and he’s is scoring too, so worry not for now. Vertseeg might leave a lot of owners gun shy after years of disappointment, but he was battling knee issues that prevented him from, you know, skating properly. Those knee problems seem solved for now and the talent was always there, so if you want in on a guy who could score 60 points and 25 goals on the cheap, now’s the time to buy in. I already did. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in the world o’ fantasy hockey:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In October Cam Ward (W, 22 SV, 1 GA, .957%) started four games. In those four games he allowed 16 goals on a 100 shots, good for a .840 SV%. I suppose saying it was “good” for anything is a lie, as that kind of effort is good for nothing. Flip the calendar over to November and Ward is a different man all together. In five starts this month he’s faced 130 shots and pushed 123 of them away, good for a .946 SV%. That’s not just good, that’s absolutely sparkling and wholly unsustainable for most, especially Ward. Still, a five game win streak while allowing no more than 2 goals in any tilt while mixing in a shutout cannot be ignored. So, is Cam Ward in danger of becoming a good goalie again? I doubt it. If you take a look at what he’s done it’s easy to say yeah, he’s getting back on track, but when you look at whom he’s doing it against, then the cracks start to appear. He’s compiled this run against the likes of the ‘yotes (25th in Goals Per Game), the injury devastated Blue Jackets (18th in GPG) twice, the Kings (24th in GPG) and the Flames (8th in GPG). Of all those teams the Flames are the only team clicking on offense right now. By contrast, in his opening four games in October the Isles, Sabres, Flames and Canucks spanked him. Yeah, those Sabres, from Buffalo. I’ve seen a lot of peeps talking about adding Ward because he’s suddenly found his form again. I won’t deny that he looks good right now, and if you need goalie help you should add him, but don’t expect this to last. Yeah, the Canes’ defense doesn’t help his situation much, but that only lends credence to the assertion that the well will dry up sooner than later with Ward. Ride him while he’s hot and drop him like a bad habit when he gets blown up, because he will. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As if losing Dan Boyle to the dreaded broken finger curse just one game into the season and John Moore to a five-game suspension wasn’t enough for the Rangers, they decided to go the next month or so on hard-mode with both Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein falling victim to their own injuries over the weekend. McDonagh suffered a separated shoulder on a hit from Evander Kane and he’s down for three to four weeks, but reports are that the Rangers expect he may be out for longer than a month. The big issue here is the injured shoulder in question is the same shoulder that Mac injured late last season, so this could turn out to be pretty bad for Mac and the Rangers. Klein suffered a foot contusion that will cost him at least a few games, but he should be back within a week or so. Regardless of how quickly Klein gets back the situation is dire on the Rangers blue line with four of their top-six defenseman now injured. How does this affect your fantasy fortunes? Well, obviously if you own McDonagh this is a fairly substantial blow. He wasn’t exactly lighting it up with just three helpers in 10 games so far, but given his ADP most of his owners were holding out hope that the points would start to flow sooner than later. The real problem here is for Henrik Lundqvist owners, who might be in a bit of trouble now too. Hank hasn’t been his normal stellar self to start the season but he’s largely been solid. Now that the Rangers defense is even more depleted it’s going to test Hank and I fear there’s going to be some ugly games in there. If you own Lundqvist all you can do is start him, but brace yourself, it could get nasty. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night: 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When asked whether or not Anthony Duclair (1 G, 2 SOG) was going to stick with the Rangers or get sent back to juniors, Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault quipped, “Talent has no age.” True enough, but the question isn’t whether or not Duke is talented, it’s whether or not he’s ready for big ice. Few dispute Duke’s promise as a potential top-six forward in the NHL. Over the last few seasons in the QMJHL he ate up the competition to the tune of tune of 215 points in 183 games. Last season he nearly tallied 100 points in 59 games falling just short with 99 powered by 50 goals. Yeah, the QMJHL is known for inflated scoring numbers, but still, that’s baller. He’s shown himself to be useful at the NHL level already too, getting his NHL career off to a hot start with five points in seven games, points in three of his last four and sporting a healthy plus-five rating over that span. It sure seems like he belongs with numbers like that, but really, he probably belongs in the AHL.

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It was a rough weekend for defenseman in the NHL and a rougher one for the poor saps that own the newly fallen. The biggest blow due to injury fell from the heavens like Mjölnir and smashed me right in the face when my sun and stars Victor Hedman broke his finger while trying to block a shot. He’s out 4-6 weeks after successful surgery to fix his mangled digit. Now where can I go to get successful surgery on my broken heart? Nowhere?! What a world. I guess I’ll just have to pine away and gaze longingly at his stat line over the last week plus and wonder what could have been had he not tried to block a slap shot with his damn hand. The Rangers lost Dan Boyle to a similar injury and it makes me wonder, why the hell are these guys trying to block shots with their hands? Have they not seen the fastest shot competition? Do they not know they’re trying to use their hands to stop a frozen piece of vulcanized rubber flying at nearly 100mph in their direction? I’m all about sacrificing the body for the good of the team and some of us totally need those blocks, but come on! Suffice it to say there is no replacing Hedman but Anton Stralman is reportedly moving to the Bolts’ top powerplay unit with Jason Garrison slated to get time on the second unit, so the value of both jumps a bit with this news.

Unfortch for fantasy owners broken fingers (and hearts!) weren’t the only issue that plagued some of fantasy hockey’s defenseman since last week. Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely today due to a domestic violence incident that apparently left the victim hospitalized. I won’t joke about this because there is nothing funny about it. I also don’t know the details of the situation, but what I have read says that whoever he attacked (assuming he did) was rushed to the hospital and the extend of their injuries was such that the hospital staff called the cops on Voynov. This doesn’t sound good at all, but details are scant right now so if you can afford to, I’d try to hold off on dropping him until we get a clearer idea of how long he could be out. That being said, since this is non-hockey related absence he won’t be eligible for IR or IR+, so if you can’t afford to have a deadweight defenseman clogging up your bench, drop Slava and add whomever you can to fill the void. Luckily his season started somewhat slowly so the void isn’t that big. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Honestly folks this is getting ridiculous. If you care about your star players please, do the right thing, lock them up somewhere safe, padded and guarded, because we haven’t played a single game that matters yet and key guys are dropping like flies.The pain train continues to chuggeth along around the league and picked up not one, not two, but three new passengers guaranteed to make their owners bust out the sadface. I’m not sure what the hell is going on this preseason but it seems like everyone and their mama is getting hurt before a single game that means anything is played! At any rate, all we can do is take it in stride and not get stuck drafting the wrong guys and the wrong guys start with Derek Stepan. Step broke his leg in an apparent non-contact injury during a conditioning drill. So not only did the Rangers no. 1 center break his leg at a time where nothing counts, he wasn’t even in a game. He couldn’t be in a game because he missed the previous tilt with the Devils due to a foot injury. Yikes. He followed that up by fracturing his fibula and unfortunately there is no timetable for his return. It sounds like he could easily be out 4-6 weeks and possibly as long as two months or more. I know his deal was way out of whack for what he could contribute, but you have to think that Brad Richards stings the Rangers just a little bit right now. This injury really leaves them in a bind and J.T. Miller seems like a possible replacement for Step on the top line with Rick Nash and Chris Kreider. Whoever it is it’s someone you don’t want to bother with. Drop Stepan off your draft sheets because baby, he isn’t even worth drafting right now unless you’re in a very deep league with IR slots to burn.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

First Josh Harding kicks a wall, breaks his foot and/or ankle and gets suspended. Then the Flyers lost Claude Giroux to a “lower body injury” that will cost him at least two weeks of camp. Then the Red Wings lost highly touted prospect Anthony Mantha for six-to-eight weeks to a fractured tibia. Then we hear that Evgeni Malkin is dealing with a “minor” injury that will cost him all of camp, though he’s expected to be ready for the Pens’ season opener. And lets not forget when everyone held their breath in Florida when Panthers top pick Aaron Ekblad suffered a concussion that he has since recovered from. And now the pain train chugs along through it’s next stop in Tampa Bay as everyone’s Calder favorite and newest hockey Jesus Jonathan Drouin will be out for three-to-four weeks with a “slightly fractured thumb.” Ah yes, tis the preseason o’ pain and misery for players and fantasy owners alike.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Today was the day that the sky fell on Isles fans everywhere when it was announced that John Tavares destroyed one of his knees tearing his MCL and meniscus requiring major reconstructive surgery and is, of course, done for the season. What really has to sting is Tavares was doing eff all in the Olympics so far posting no points in four games with a plus-3 rating with six shots on goal; hell, he was only averaging 10:39 of ice time to begin with. Hmn, seems like I’m just rubbing salt in the wound there, but I’ll go with it! This injury affects three types of people; Isles fans, Tavares owners and Kyle Okposo owners. What does it do to Tavares owners? It basically cripples your team unless you made some killer trade or ended up getting really lucky with solid wire grabs earlier in the season. You can’t replace his production, you can’t even get close, but feel free to drop him and add whoever you can to make up some of the loss. I’m sorry to say it, but that’s how it rolls. You have my condolences, y’all. As for Okie owners this one is easy, trade him immediately. I don’t think Okie’s production is going to fall off a cliff, but it’s going to take a hit regardless, it’s only a matter of how much. Before anyone gets a whiff of just how badly it will affect Okie you have to move him while his value is this high. As I type this it’s falling ever so slightly and slowly with these questions now looming over him for the last 30 games of the season. To make matters worse for Okie owners it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Thomas Vanek is going to get traded when NHL play resumes next week and that will really erode Okie’s value. He is as talented as he has been playing this season but lets not fool ourselves into thinking that losing Vanek and Tavares on his line won’t hurt his value. You don’t move him for a bag of pucks and a sixer, but you definitely want to try and move him before Vanek is gone and the world gets a look at lonely Okie on a line with, uh, Mike Grabner and, er… Frans Nielsen? Yikes. Act quickly, but not foolishly. Anyway, this isn’t all the injury news from the Olympic pains, err games:

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Steven Stamkos (broken effin’ leg) is actually skating already. Yes, you read that right, just one month and three days after he broke his tibia Stamkos was back on the ice. He wasn’t practicing, nor did he wear any gear, but he’s on his feet and looks like he’ll actually make it back before the Olympic break.

Jimmy Howard (knee) has a grain-1 MCL sprain and will be out for 2-4 weeks. I’ve been telling everyone to pick up Jonas Gustavsson for weeks now, so I hope y’all listened! If not, he’s still owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! Leagues. Yar.

Shawn Thornton (assault and battery) was suspended for 15 games for his vicious attack on the Pens’ Brooks Orpik a week ago. That sounds about right.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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