Chris Kreider (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) was having a fairly quiet rookie campaign until recently, but the quiet is fading quickly behind a wall of cheers from Rangers faithful as he settles in on the top line for the Rangers with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. Kreider burst onto the scene immediately following his senior season with Boston College, diving head first into 2011-12 playoffs scoring a handful of key goals for his team early on, finishing with 6 points (5 G, 1 A) in 18 playoff games that season. There’s one hell of a way to start your career and get some experience, eh? No pressure! He had a rough year in the lockout shortened season and he didn’t start the year with the Rangers in 2013 because of it. Regardless, it didn’t take him long to get called back up this season when the Rangers started out flatter than the funny pages and were desperate for some scoring. Well, they found some in the 22 year old as he continues to have a Calder worthy season and he’s currently on pace for 51 points in 75 games and currently sits at plus-11, ten points higher than any other Ranger with Carl Hagelin coming in second with a plus-one. He’s a big (6’3” 240lbs) fast skating prototypical power forward with incredible hands, vision, a great slapper and a nasty wrister. He can can hit hard, and does so often, plays both ways and, well, frankly the kid can do it all. While there’s bound to be ups and downs given his age and the fact that the Rangers are so awful offensively, he’s so good he remains an absolute must own in every keeper league and at this point it’s probably wise to own him everywhere because his upside in the second half is huge. Despite that he’s owned in just 38% of Yahoo! Leagues? Come on, really? What the eff is wrong with Yahoo managers?! The 73% ownership mark in ESPN leagues sounds more in line with what he’s done and capable of so if he’s available in your league and you need a scoring boost, pick him up already! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Ryan Miller (1 GA, 28 SV, W) continues to impress the hell out of me with yet another win and another improvement to his season line that now sits at 12-18-1/2.58/.928. That’s an effin’ miracle line given just how bad the Sabres are this year. I doubt he gets traded, so if you own him you just have to hope he can keep standing on his head and doing what he’s doing. Lucky for you, he’s talented enough to keep doing it.
Philipp Grubauer (1 GA, 30 SV, L) would seem like he’s been a bit shaky over the past few weeks because he has lost five of his last seven starts. That being said, three losses were in OT, two went all the way to the shootout and is peripherals remain a beautiful 2.16 GAA and .934 SV%. Braden Holtby seems to be less and less a threat as time goes by. I mean, if the Caps keep losing and Grubi keeps starting despite that, I’d say that says a lot about who Adam Oates and company think is their guy between the pipes.
Kyle Okposo (2 G, 5 SOG, +3) posted a line of 9 G, 8 A, -4, 10 PIM, 38 SOG in the month of December and he hasn’t slowed down a bit in the new year with five points in his first five games this month. Okie will remain an elite fantasy option this season and for years to come. If you can snag him from an owner who has no faith that he can keep it up, do it.
John Tavares (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +3) should break the century mark this season with the help of Kyle Okposo and Thomas Vanek. Or maybe without them, Tavares needs no man to dominate, but I’m sure he welcomes the help. To give context to just how good Tavares is, Okie posted 17 points last month, a great month; Tavares has 11 points in his last five games.
Thomas Vanek (2 A, 3 SOG, +3) rounds out the three guys on the Isles that really matter fantasy wise save Evgeni Nabokov, who is so up and down and oft injured it’s hard to say he matters, but he still does. Anyway, this is about Vanek, who has seven points in his last five games and what’s this? Lots o’ assists in the mix! He’s on pace for 70 points in 79 games this year and if he’d started the season along side Tavares you have to figure he’d end up in the high 80s.
Dany Heatley (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) used to be elite and that wasn’t even a good enough term for just how potent he was in the offensive zone. Welp, this year he’s on pace for just 29 points in a full 82 games played. Yeah, you read that right, 29 points in 82 games. Yikes. He currently sits at just 17 points in 48 games so far after his recent “outburst” of five points (1 G, 4 A) in his last five games. The only reason anyone owns this guy is based on name recognition at this point and if you’re one of those poor saps, you best recognize this guy is done. I wouldn’t own him with your team.
Ales Hemsky (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) has four points in six games in January but hasn’t done much at all this season, and what a shame. If Ales wasn’t made of glass his career would be a different story right now, but he is made of glass and the story reads how it reads, poorly. I thought he might have a pretty decent year using his playmaking abilities with the kind of talent around him this year, but it seems both he and the Oil youth are falling well short of the modest expectations most of us had for them this season.
Phil Kessel (2 A, 4 SOG, +1) joins the Bobby Ryan All-Parity Team (BRAPT) after these two helpers moved his season totals to 21 G and 21 A in 47 GP so far. Faaantastic, now if only the rest of the Leafs squad would follow Kessel’s example, they might not be so terrible.
James van Riemsdyk (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) wanted to be down with Kessel and with his recent goal he too joins the BRAPT sporting a season line with 17 G and 17 A in 45 games so far.
Rick Nash (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) has four goals in his last three games including a dandy game winning goal against the Stars that he scored while falling after getting checked a few feet in front of the crease. Maybe the selection to the Canadian Olympic squad has boosted his confidence, or maybe he’s finally fully recovered from that concussion he suffered earlier this year, but in any case he’s always dangerous with the puck in the offensive zone. If you own him, you might consider selling high if he strings together a solid stretch before the Olympic break.
Ryane Clowe (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, even) has barely played this season with just eight games in the first two months due to a rash of injuries, but he seems to be getting his act together lately with five points in his last four games. Clowe has good skills all around, and while he isn’t an offensive dynamo, he can be a great value grab off the wire for secondary scoring down the stretch.
Charlie Coyle (2 A, 3 SOG, +1) is a big guy with a lot of solid skills across the board. The Wild expect him to become a top-six power forward with increasing time on the power play, but he isn’t quite ready for the limelight yet. He only recently joined the Wild and given how inept they are offensively there isn’t a lot that encourages me to think Coyle will be valuable this year. That said, moving forward after this season he’s one to keep an eye on.
Marian Hossa (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, even) always gives me reasons to keep my mancrush on him alive and well, last night there were two more! His production is down this year, but he’s still going to give you 30-plus goals and around 70 points. Next year, sadly, I will advise folks to stay away from Hossa as he’s always been injury prone and he’s getting older, but for now, we all heart you, Marian!
Marco Scandella (1 G, 1 SOG, +3) is actually doing pretty well offensively for a young defenseman on a horrible offensive team. Still, he’s a stay-at-home guy who finds his hockey value in his considerable defensive skills, but offensively? Meh.
Brad Richards (1 A, 8 SOG, even) has been looking good in the recent surge by the Rangers that has lead to three straight wins for them for the first time in, uh, I don’t know, a long effin’ time. No matter what Richards does it’s not going to justify his ridiculous contract, unless he scores 50 points in the next few months, anyway.
Brent Seabrook (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) put up 12 points in 14 games last month and hasn’t slowed down a bit in the New Year with 4 points (2 G, 2 A) so far. This is the best season he’s ever going to have as he works on finishing with 50-plus points. He’ll remain productive over the coming years, but I’m willing to bet he goes into a rapid decline when it starts, and in either case I don’t expect him to hit the 50-point mark again if he does get there this season.
Brandon Saad (1 A, 3 SOG, +2) continues to have one of the quieter, and better seasons for a youngster this season and remains on pace for mid-fifties in points by season’s end. I figure he’ll hit that and he might even hit 60 given how potent the Hawks offense is. Next year, as Marian Hossa fades further, Saad could step up and fill the gap.
Jason Zucker (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) is a quick skating, versatile forward that can make a home on a checking-line as well as a scoring line, so it remains to be seen how he’ll pan out. Like other young guys on the Wild, it’s pretty hard to tell what they’re going to be capable of, but he had a great rookie season in the AHL and has quickly and effectively made the transition to the NHL last season. He’s another guy not worth owning now, but well worth keeping track of next season.
Andrew Cogliano (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) continues to have a decent year, but I think it says a lot that on a team with an offense as ridiculous as the Ducks the guy is putting up elite defenseman scoring numbers rather than solid forward numbers.
Duncan Keith (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) added another assist and while it’s hard to say if the helpers will keep coming, he’s currently on pace for 75 points in 82 games with just 5 goals. Despite the fact that Keith stands to outscore most or all other defenseman this year, that assist riddled season line gives me pause. Still, I wouldn’t kick him off my team.
Petr Mrazek (1 GA, 22 SV, L) has lost all buy one game so far this season and he kept that streak alive last night in a 1-0 loss to the Ducks. Wait, the kid held the Ducks to 1 goal on 23 shots? Not bad at all! His value is transient at best with Jonas Gustavsson getting ready to return from his groin injury sooner than later. There’s no way they send the Monster down to the AHL and obviously Jimmy Howard isn’t going anywhere, so that makes Mrazek the odd man out.
Cory Schneider (2 GA, 23 SV, L) looked great again despite taking the 2-1 loss to the Leaf last night. This was Cory’s second straight start and it was in back-to-back games, he beat the Panthers 2-1 in OT on Saturday. Is he starting to pull away with the no. 1 job now? I honestly don’t know, while Schneider clearly looked like the no. 1 to start the year, and even had Martin Brodeur’s endorsement in that regard, he has struggled to find starts regardless of Marty’s level of play. Still, this streak is a good sign as his numbers remain elite save his lack o’ wins.
Kyle Palmieri (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) is pretty much on par with his production from last season, which was meh, but forgivable for a sophomore season in a lockout shortened year. We’ll see how he does moving forward, but if he replicates last year in a full season this year, I don’t have a ton of confidence we’re going to see a huge step forward from him in the coming years.
Sergei Gonchar (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) has to be like 57 by now, right? Probably older and it’s showing. He’s still going to end up around 30ish points for the season, but from a guy who routinely flirted with 60-70 points a year in a time when that was unheard of from defenseman, it’s clear to see that he’s over-the-hill now. Still, he remains immensely talented and if he goes on a surge, grab him if you need help at the back-end of your blue line.
Eric Gelinas (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) was having a great rookie season despite his team’s offensive woes when last I mentioned him and hey, would you look at that, nothing has really changed! Well, save the fact that the Devils don’t look nearly as bad offensively as they did to start the year and Gelinas’ scoring pace is slightly below what it was, he’s now on pace for 37 points in 71 games this season. That’s still fantastic, especially for a rookie, making him a must own keeper with value in all formats right now. So, go ahead, pick him up. Do it. You know you want to.
Derick Brassard (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) scores a goal every now and then just to remind us the world that he exists. And now that I’ve helped Derick in that goal, we move on!
Jeff Petry (1 A, 1 SOG, +2) boasts a tasty mix of size, skill, vision and when you mix in his cannon of a shot from the point, a quick wrister, good passing skills and the ability to play two-ways, this young defenseman is well worth your attention. He can contribute in almost any situation on the ice, too. It doesn’t matter if it’s the penalty kill, the power play or even strength, he finds a way to make himself useful. Like many of these talented Wild youth, he holds little value this season but I want to make sure you’re aware of him moving forward. And there we have it, you’re aware.
Henrik Lundqvist (1 GA, 37 SV, W) has joined the rest of the Rangers in their recent three game surge and appears to have finally pulled himself together. After coughing up five goals on 28 shots against the Pens back on Jan 3 he’s allowed more than 2 goals just once pushing his season line to 15-16-3/2.68/.910/2. It should be all system’s go for King Henrik for the rest of the season and if he gets hot in the Olympics, he could carry Team Sweden far.
Darcy Kuemper (0 GA, 23 SV, W) is tempting you to pick him up and you can if you want, but once Josh Harding returns he’s going back to the AHL. One way or the other his starts will be limited, so don’t go rushing to drop some other goalie that’s more established to grab him thinking he’s the new hot netminder, he isn’t, this is just a few good games.
Kevin Poulin (2 GA, 29 SV, W) has horrible peripherals sitting at 3.08 GAA and .897 SV% but despite that he has won five games in a row and six of his last seven dating back to Dec 10. It looks like Poulin will get the starts while Nabby is down with his latest injury, though Nabby travelled with the team, so he isn’t far from returning. I wouldn’t own Poulin just yet; I mean it’s the Isles right? His win streak is undeniable but I think the Isles are fairly committed to trying to win with Nabokov between the pipes.
Antti Raanta (2 GA, 18 SV, W) picked up the win in his just his second start since Corey Crawford returned from injury on Dec 2. Crawford has lost all four starts since returning from the IR, but those losses aren’t really his fault for the most part. I don’t see Raanta taking too many starts from Crawford unless Corey really falls on his face. Regardless, Raanta retains value in deep leagues.
Dan Ellis (3 GA, 27 SV, L) started the season well in limited action and has fallen flat since then in limited action. Does this surprise anyone at all? Probably not. Moving on.
Ray Emery (4 GA, 31 SV, L) used to back up Craig Anderson. How awful does that sound? Pretty awful if you ask me. Hey, look! Emery was awful again. Just awful.