For the better part of the last decade Josh Harding has been stuck behind the oft injured but immensely talented Nik Backstrom in Minnesota. It kind of makes me feel for the guy, but then I remember he is getting paid an awful lot of money to sit there and wait for Backstorm to get hurt and every year which he does like clockwork. The problem is Backstrom inevitably comes back and Harding is again relegated to the bench denying him the chance to show what he can do over the course of a full season as the starter. This year Backstrom is, of course, hurt again but unlike in year’s past Harding is clearly the starter and the numbers aren’t even close. It’s likely that Backstrom, now 35, has run out of gas and it’s safe to say there’s little chance he starts more than 35 games this year, if that. Harding will get his chance to take the job and run with it and he’s doing everything he can to establish himself as the team’s new top netminder. Will he finish the year with the kind of numbers he’s posting right now? Absolutely not, but he could start around 50 games and have a very good overall season with a very strong defense in front of him. I’d say a season line of 26-15-8/2.40/.910/3 is reasonable, though the wins may not end up that high. All this and he is only owned in 55% of Yahoo! Leagues… say what? Pick him up already, people! Here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey:
Ray Emery – completely ruined Braden Holtby in a fight. Emery is a mad man and while getting trounced 7-0 he decided to pick a fight with a clearly unwilling Holtby. I guess if you can’t beat them, viciously attack them unprovoked? Wait, that’s not right. When asked why he skated from his end all the way down to the other end of the ice and, when seeing that Holtby wanted nothing to do with the fight still pressed the issue he said “He didn’t want to fight and I basically said, ‘Protect yourself,’ he didn’t really have much of a choice.” Lawds, what a dick! Apparently he won’t be suspended for his conduct but Bettman is looking into change the rules due to Emery’s little outburst. Even if he were suspended it would make no difference because Emery is awful, just awful.
Braden Holtby – stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout while Emery was busy sucking it up and throwing a tantrum and then, uh, beating Holtby senseless.
Steve Downie – has a broken eye orbit, a concussion and is out indefinitely after being quietly taken out of the arena on a stretcher following the Fyers/Caps dust up. This sounds serious and though Downie wasn’t owned widely, he was a great quick add for a PIM boost H2H leagues and that came with modest offensive numbers to boot. It doesn’t sound like he will be available for some time so you’ll have to turn elsewhere for your PIM plugin moving forward.
Radko Gudas – has avoided a fine and had his game misconduct rescinded after using his stick as a club and taking a whack at Scottie Upshall after Scottie squirted him with some Gatorade. Well, that escalated quickly! Why is this relevant? Well, with Downie, er, down… you might consider Gudas for a PIM boost if you’re in need.
Dan Boyle – returned from his brief stint on the IR to light the lamp with a PPG. He was -1 but logged 22:09 TOI and that’s a great sign. Deploy Boiler as you normally would and if anyone was foolish enough to drop him, snatch him up!
Chris Kreider – put up 3A and +2 on a line with Stepan and Zuccarello in a 5-1 victory on Saturday. Kreider has all the tools and has looked fantastic since he was called up a few weeks ago. He recently qualified for LW eligibility and now he may have found a home on a line with Stepan who is also heating up. If you need scoring help, Kreider has a higher upside than anyone on the wire in standard leagues right now and he’s only owned by 5% of teams in Yahoo! Leagues.
Derek Stepan – notched a hatty skating with Kreider. He’s had a slow start after holding out and missing training camp, but he’s getting his legs back now and showed great chemistry with his new linemates. The points will come in bunches and the window to buy low on him has closed.
Carl Hagelin – scored two goals on Saturday. What the hell? The Rangers can score now? Well that’s news. Hags is only owned in 11% of Yahoo! Leagues and is worth a flier if you’re hurting for help at LW in standard leagues and he’s absolutely worth adding in deeper/keeper leagues.
Max Pacioretty – is ready to return ahead of schedule from his weeks long stint on the IR due to a tweaked hammy. Get him back in your lineup.
Matt Moulson – has posted 2G and 2A in three games since getting traded to Buffalo for Vanek. For a few years there have been rumbles that Moulson is the type that needs a John Tavares to be successful and so far he’s proving them wrong, though in a very small sample size to this point. Still, this sort of screams sell high, doesn’t it?
Jhonas Enroth – recently stated publicly that if Ryan Miller is dealt he is more than capable and ready to take over the starting job for the Sabres, that’s good! He then promptly gave up six goals on 29 shots to the Ducks, that’s bad. To be fair, it’s the Ducks and they are on a roll right now. Enroth is talented and will likely hold is own should the starting job fall to him. Still, he has little value until Miller is moved and even then, the Sabres are just terrible.
Jiri Hudler – has seesawed from decent to bad over the course of his last five games posting a -4 over that span. Hudler has never scored at the pace he started this season and there’s no reason to think he will continue to. The time to sell high on him was two weeks ago, y’all!
Claude Giroux – called his team’s performance on Friday “embarrassing.” The Flyers are always embarrassing, that goes without saying, but man Giroux has been horrible so far. You have to wonder just how badly his hand was hurt while golfing in the offseason, and whether it’s part of the issue so far. No goals, Claude? Get it together! He remains an excellent buy low candidate.
James Reimer – allowed four goals on 47 shots and still has a .949 SV% and 1.99 GAA over 6GP. He’s good, but facing 177 shots in five games (one game he left after facing just 1 shot, so we’ll toss it out) is going to wear anyone down. Reimer is going to regress back to the mean, and it’s going to be a hard fall if he keeps getting peppered like this.
Mike Smith – faced 50 and stopped 48 of them, speaking of getting peppered! His 2.87 GAA isn’t great, but his .917 SV% is there and he’s looking solid so it should come down a bit.
Carter Hutton – has started to slip after a hot start. In his last three games he has allowed five, four and three goals respectively. If that trend continues he’ll be allowing negative goals per game in four starts! More likely he keeps allowing around 3-4 goals per game and loses all value when Rinne returns next month.
Kyle Okposo – is playing with Tomas Vanek and John Tavares now. He’s also posted 13 points in 14 games and continues to score in bunches and so long as he stays on that top line they’ll keep coming. I’d grab him in most standard 12 team leagues.
J.S. Giguere – is posting good numbers so far and is worth a handcuff add if you own Varlomov. I don’t think anyone knows what will come of the domestic violence charges Varlomov faces, but until he’s done with that off-ice mess, Giggy will likely see an increased role for the Avs.
Semyon Varlamov – is apparently going to start this Friday amid the domestic abuse charges he’s facing. It will be interesting to see if the off-ice drama affects his performance, but I’d deploy him as you normally would. He’s healthy physically, so you should expect him to perform as he normally would. On an amusing side note, according to a Russian politician these charges are apparently part of a conspiracy to “weaken” the Russian national team for the upcoming 2014 Winter Games. Heh.
David Legwand – has five points over his last three games with 3G/2A over that span. On the season he’s at 12 points in 10 GP. You might think to yourself “Self, you should pick Legwand up, he’s really clicking right now!” and you’d be right. But lets face it, he’s never produced at a PPG pace over a full season and he won’t start now.
Cory Schneider – is tentatively slated to return and start tomorrow’s game vs. the Wild. The Devils are awful and can’t score, so Schneider isn’t likely to help you much in the Win column, but his peripherals are still very solid at 2.15 GAA / .915 SV%. Marty Broduer is perhaps the greatest goalie of all time, but he’s ancient and even he said Schenider is clearly the no. 1, so take that for what it’s worth (It’s worth a lot).
Gabriel Landeskog – is picking up where he left off in 2011-2012 with five points and +3 over the last week and 11 points 12 GP so far. The lockout shortened 2012 campaign was a bit of a disaster for the youngster, but can you blame a sophomore for poor performance after all that bullshiz and no training camp? No, no you can’t. He’s good and he’ll keep getting better.
Alex Killorn – has five points in his last two games while skating on the top line with Stamkos and St. Louis. You know who the only two guys on the Lightening that have more than Killorn’s 12 points so far this season? Stamkos and St. Louis. Pick him up.
Sean Monahan – has six goals and three assists in nine games this season and will be staying with the Flames. The youngster has tons of talent and the Flames are looking halfway decent so far. No brainer add in keeper and deep leagues, still a rookie and prone to fits and spruts, so keep an eye on him in standard leagues but I wouldn’t drop anyone more established but struggling for him just yet.
Alex Chaisson – is now skating on the top line with Tyler Seguin with Jamie Benn moving down to the second line. This isn’t about Benn as much as it is about Chaisson, who should continue to score goals especially skating with Seguin. If he is available I’d add him in most standard leagues as he could be in for a 25+ goal campaign and fine overall season with some time on the top PP unit as well.
Derek Morris – has 10 points in 13 games this season. You’d be foolish to not take notice of that kind of production from the blue line, right? Right, but you’d be more foolish to ignore the fact that number is just one point shy of his 2011 and 2012 point totals of… 11 points. He may very well not score another point all season, don’t be fooled.
Shane Doan – scored a goal and an assist on Thursday against the Preds with youngster Carter Hutton between the pipes. Doan is a steady vet that’s only owned in 30% of Yahoo! Leagues and he’s worth an add in deeper leagues, but I’d still avoid him in standard leagues for now.