The first quarter of the season is in the books. We’ve seen the West dominate the East. Tampa Bay was looking real good until Steven Stamkos broke his leg. The Pacific Division looks like it’s going to be a race to the end of the season.
But what about the crappy teams? There has to be some value there, right? Let’s take a look at the bottom-feeders and where value might be found or moves to make.
Edmonton has recalled goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. No, that is not a typo. Nor is the fact that Edmonton is 5-15-2 with a -30 goal differential.
I get the fact that the season has gone off to a poor start for the Oilers, but this screams of desperation. Devan Dubnyk didn’t get it done (4-10-1 3.54 GAA). Jason LaBarbera is a career backup and Richard Bachman is the best goaltender statistically on the team. He’s 0-2-1 with a 3.03 GAA and a save percentage over .900.
And now you add Bryz to the mix and I’m about ready to pull the plug on the Oilers. I’m also willing to trade away my Oilers to try and get guys who, you know, produce.
We’re 22 games into the season and nobody on the Oilers has more than five goals. Really, what the hell Edmonton? What is the problem? They’ve had three consecutive number one draft picks and still look like they’re a whisker or two above the AHL.
Jordan Eberle is the lone bright spot with 16 points in 22 games. Nail Yakupov has been worthless at even strength; all of his goals have come on the power play. And don’t get me started on his -14 rating. He’s one five Oilers with a -10 rating or worse. Taylor Hall, David Perron and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each have 5-8—13 this season but it’s just not enough to make me want to keep them in anything other than keeper leagues.
And don’t pick up Bryzgalov unless all of your other goaltenders are on injured reserve. Apparently no one can thrive behind the Oilers’ defense and they’re getting outscored by more than a goal per game.
The Oilers make me want to puke. We expected Calgary to be crappy and they’ve lived up to it.
The Flames are awful on defense (29th), power play (23rd) and penalty kill (28th) and it’s no surprise. They’ve beaten Chicago in overtime for their only win of the month, going 1-6-1 in November. They’re only scoring two goals a game most night and that won’t be good enough when your goaltenders are allowing three per night.
Overall, it looks like they should rename the province Albert-ugh with how bad their hockey teams are.
In Nashville, I’m buying low on Pekka Rinne. He’s supposed to have a follow up MRI later this month and might be back in early December as opposed to late December. When he comes back from that infection in his surgically-repaired hip, He’s going to be dropped right back in between the pipes for the Predators and get ridden hard by the coaches.
This is the right time to trade for him and if you can pull it off, your team is going to be that much stronger for the rest of the season.
Philadelphia looks like a hot mess on ice. Let’s start with Claude Giroux. He was projected to be one of the better centers in hockey and has gotten off to a poor start. One goal, Claude? Really? One goal? If not for your ten assists, you’d be cuttable. He’s starting to remind me of guys like Henrik Zetterberg last season who had a handful of goals and a bunch of assists.
Kimmo Timmonen used to be a force on the power play but two assists in 19 games is just a disgrace. At least Jakub Voracek (3-6—9) and Wayne Simmonds (2-6—8) are trying. Giroux and Timmonen are in danger of falling to the name-value-only zone.
I’d try and buy low on both of them. At some point they’re going to snap out of it and you want them on the roster when they do. Because it’s going to be a big offensive explosion like when they dropped a seven-spot on the Islanders last season to wake up the offense.
The Flyers have shown some signs of life with a three-game winning streak over Edmonton, Ottawa and Pittsburgh. They should be able to get it going with their next three games being all at home with Ottawa, Buffalo and the Islanders.
The Sabres are a total mess. They make the Flyers look like the San Jose Sharks. Buffalo has a league-worst two wins in regulation. Buffalo still has six games in the next 11 days so they’re going to be a tired bunch of Buffalo at the end of the month.
Cody Hodgson has been the only Sabre with anything resembling consistency. Mikhail Grigorenko has been a promising second-year player and scored twice against Anaheim. But those are his only goals so far in 15 games. He was also a healthy scratch on Friday against Toronto so maybe he just needed a day off. I won’t read too much into it. He’s the emblem of the problems in Buffalo: young talent that’s inconsistent and untrustworthy in fantasy.
Until they make more moves, it’s hard to really say who to own on the Sabres. The rebuild is certainly on but I’m interested to see where Ryan Miller lands. With a new set of management, it’s hard to know for sure which way this is going to play out. Ted Nolan gets another shot behind the bench in Buffalo and Pat LaFontaine is the new team president. The GM position is still open and so is the rebuild.
Florida continues to flounder for another season as they’ve started off 5-12-4. Brad Boyes is widely available and leads the Panthers with seven goals. Aleksander Barkov is also worth a look. The rookie has a 4-4—8 start this season but three of his four goals have come on the power play. Jesse Winchester is also at 4-4—8 but has the slight added dimension of PIMs with 25 on the young season.
Columbus sits below .500 with a 7-10-3 mark through 20 games. Guys like Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky and James Wisnewski are off to good starts this season. For an under-the-radar pick up, look at RJ Umberger. He’s off to a 5-6—11 at the quarter pole and has five points on the power play. Umberger has goals in three of his last five games so it’s time to pick him up while he’s hot.
Lastly, the Islanders are just a hair under .500 with a mark of 8-10-3. John Tavares is being himself with a 9-16—25 line and 11 points on the power play. The big deal with them is that Evgeni Nabokov has been put on the IR today and will be there for the next four weeks with a groin problem.
Kevin Poulin will get the lead goaltender duties and Anders Nilsson has been called up to back Poulin up. Poulin is 3-5-0 this season with a 2.52 goals against average and a .909 save percentage so far. His numbers are good but not great. He won over Detroit in a shootout and beat Nashville too. His losses in the least four games have been to the Kings by a goal and a 4-2 loss to Montreal.
So do you pick him up?
Poulin won’t blow the doors off your team but will be able to get the much-needed starts that are valuable this time of the year. It’s not going to be easy though as the Isles have this for the rest of November: @TOR, @PHI, @PIT, WPG, DET, WSH.
December could be rather tough with a West-Coast swing since the West has been so much better than the East in head-to-head games this season. December offers: PIT, @STL, @LA, @ANH, @SJ, @PHX in the first half of the month.
The answer is you can pick up him up now if you need it but be ready to bench him during the first half of December.
There still is value on every team when it comes to fantasy hockey. The question is can you find it or can you buy it on the cheap in a trade?