Normally I’d start one of my daily rewind posts with a blurb about a guy who is notable for his production and well worth your attention, but this struck me as far too karma conspiracy to not lead off with today, also, its actually really important news. James Neal is out indefinitely with a concussion. Yes, Neal owners, you read that right, try not to cry too much, your tears are made of salt water and that shiz can really eff up your computer/phone/tablet/whatever you damn kids are using these days. Why do I think this is karma catching up with him? Lest we forget, earlier this season Jimmy was suspended for nealing Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head while he was down on fall fours trying to get back to his feet. It was a henious move by Neal’s part, but he has no real history of dirty play (well, excessively dirty, anyway) so we can forgive it given the tone of that game prior to the incident. Still, it’s hard not to see this as cosmic payback for the move. I won’t call this a schadenfreude moment for me because I don’t wish head injuries on anyone, even if they absolutely ruin my team every time they face Neal and the Pens. At any rate, this weakens the Pens significantly and fantasy owners even more. There is no way to replace Neal, so the best you can do is scope out the wire and hope perhaps one of these guys is available:
Jeff Skinner (1 G, 13 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) extended his points streak to four games by pouring a ridiculous 13 shots on goal, but that number becomes slightly less impressive when you realize he tallied that many against the oh-so-porous Buffalo defense. Still, Skinner has explosive scoring ability and this looks like the start to another one of his streaks, and just in time for the fantasy playoffs! We heart you, Jeff, but only so long as you keep scoring. We’re fickle; it is what it is!
Cam Ward (2 GA, 21 SV, W) has started over Anton Khudobin for three straight games and he’s won the last two and looked solid doing it. Regardless of what Khudobin has done to this point, the ‘Canes are paying Ward a ton of money, so if he’s playing well he’s going to get the starts over Khudobin unless it’s the second game of a back-to-back. Sorry Anton owners! If you can spare the room, I’d handcuff these two for sure.
T.J. Oshie (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +1) is now just one point away from breaking his single season best of 54 points set back in 2011-12. Not bad for the (short lived) Olympic hero and it’s not going to stop there and I expect he’ll hit the 65-point mark by the end of the season. Oshie is owned in 100c% of ESPN leagues, and justifiably so, but he’s only owned in 80% of Yahoo leagues, so it’s worth scoping out the wire in your league for the slim chance that he’s available.
Jaden Schwartz (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) added a pair of goals to continue his own stellar season and I’d say his numbers are going to line up pretty closely with Oshie’s, so if you want to know what I expect from Jaden, scroll up!
James Reimer (0 GA, 31 SV, W) looked magnificent filling in for the injured Jonathan Bernier, who left the last game with a lower body injury and did not return. Yes, the dreaded LBI for Bernier right at the worst possible time for his owners. There’s no word on how long Bernier is going to be out, so unless someone better is available on the wire, if you own Bernier, or you need a solid starter for the playoffs, grab Reimer. He isn’t a lock to give you what Bernier would, but he’s definitely lock to give you a hell of a lot more than Bernier now, isn’t he?
Steven Stamkos (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +1) finally gets on the board after returning from his broken tibia, but I’m sure he still misses Martin St. Louis. There was no way Stamkos was going to return at full speed, so we can chalk his mini-slump on return to shaking off the rust, but the absence of Mighty Marty is definitely a factor to consider. Obviously it doesn’t matter either way, if you own Stamkos and somehow managed to make the playoffs, you have to roll him out there every game and hope for the best. I didn’t think I’d ever say that about Stamkos, but here we are!
Vladimir Tarasenko (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2, 4 PIM) extended his own points streak to four games and continues to shine in his rookie season with 42 points in 63 games so far. He should finish in the top five for Calder voting, but come in behind Chris Kreider and Nathan MacKinnon, but still, he might be the most dynamic player of the bunch. His ADP for next season is already on the rise, so if you’re in a keeper league and you own Tarasenko, he’s a no brainer. He’s also a no-brainer add if he’s available in your league, so go scope the wire and grab him if you can.
Valtteri Filppula (3 A, 1 SOG, +1) is another guy on a decent streak with points in his last four games, and he’s available in 49% of Yahoo leagues and at this time of the year it doesn’t matter where your points come from, big names don’t win titles, goals and assists do, and say hey! Flip is offering those up like whoa lately, so say hello to another solid streaming option.
Alexander Semin (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, even, 2 PIM) has 23 points in his last 25 games and if he is available in your league, Sweet Zombie Jesus, pick him up! He isn’t a streaming option, he’s playing like a top six goal scorer that he should always be, but he’s Russian, so you have to expect ups and downs. I’m not biased against Russians, don’t get me wrong, they produce a ton of elite hockey talent, but they can be a bit unpredictable. If you doubt me, check out what’s going down in Ukraine right now! Did anyone predict that crazy shiz? I bet not! Does that have anything to do with hockey? Not really, but it sort of supports my argument so I’ll go with it.
Mason Raymond (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) is scoring goals now, and yesterday I said punt because lawds he’s been brutal for some time now, but he has shown the ability to score 30ish goals a season in the past, so if he’s getting into a groove you should stream him while he’s scoring.
James Wisniewski (1 G, 5 SOG, +2) is probably having the best offensive campaign for a defenseman that no one is talking about. What am I talking about? I’m talking Newski’s beautiful season line of 6 G, 33 A, 39 P, 55 PIM, +2, 133 SOG to date. He’s going to finish with 50 points this season, I bet. Is he available in your league? In ESPN, no (99% owned) but in Yahoo leagues he’s available in about 21% of leagues, so go comb that wire again, he might just be there.
Alexander Steen (2 A, 5 SOG, even, 2 PIM) was rolling to start the season and went most of the year at a point-per-game pace until he got leveled and ended up with a nasty concussion. He had a horrible February with just one goal in six games played with a minus-1, but he’s turned it around in March with 6 points in 7 games. You’ll note that his goal scoring has fallen off considerably and I don’t think that’s going to change, Steen isn’t and never was a goal scorer and that wave has crashed on the rocks o’ despair. He’s not droppable, but don’t expect him to carry you to a title.
Alex Pietrangelo (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) is only going to finish with four or five more points than James Wisniewski. Considering Pietrangelo’s ADP vs. Newski’s and you have to wonder to yourself, why did I pay this much for a defenseman!? I have no idea why you did, honestly. What am I? Clairvoyant? Just try not to do it again next season, eh?
Eric Staal (1 A, 5 SOG, +2) has fallen off considerably after a two-and-a-half month run that made us all think he might fight his way to a respectable season line by the time the fat lady started to sing. Well, four points (4 A) in seven games this month and just seven points in his last 13 games says thaaat’s not gonna happen. Cue the fat lady!
Marian Gaborik (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, even, 2 PIM) got on the board for the first time with the Kings and his game line was pretty sexy all things considered. I don’t trust Gabby to do much, it’s not his skill that I doubt, just his health. Has there been a season when this guy didn’t go down with an injury? It’s a sad thing, honestly, because if he ever stayed healthy he’d be scoring 40 goals a season with ease, but the injuries caught up to him big time in Columbus and they’re going to follow him to LA.
Brandon Dubinsky (2 A, 5 SOG, even, 2 PIM) will probably finish with about 50 points in 75 games this season, and that’s not great, but when you look at everything else he brings to the table he’s a gem in deeper leagues with big stats.
Jordan Staal (2 A, 1 SOG, +1) scored two points for the third straight game, his fourth straight with points, and he now has seven over that span. What did I say earlier about big names not winning titles? Yeah, add Staal where you can while he’s scoring.
Nazem Kadri (2 A, 1 SOG, +1) came into the season with huge expectations after a killer, but lockout shortened 2012-13 season that saw him maintain a point-per-game pace over 48 games. Well, that didn’t hold up over a full season this year and honestly I’m not that surprised. He was great in October and February, but otherwise bleh. So what’s the lesson here? Wait until he has a big month and sell high, y’all!
Logan Couture (2 A, 1 SOG, +1) isn’t having as bad a season as it may seem he is at first glance. It feels like he’s been a disappointment because the expectations were so high, and until he hurt his hand, he was meeting them and then some. He’s going to finish the season around 55 points, but that comes in just 65 some games, so it’s not that bad. Give this kid a full, healthy season and you’re looking at a point-per-game and 35 goals, no doubt. He’s still good for another 15 points and 5-8 goals.
Tyler Ennis (1 G, 4 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has nine points over his last 11 games and 20 in his last 23. Yeah, you read that right. Ennis has always had a ton of talent, but he was stuck on lower lines for the Sabres for years now. You might be wondering “JD, if he’s so good, why was he a second or third liner for Buffalo of all teams?” and to that I say… I’m not really sure. Whatever the case may be, he’s been scoring for a few months now, so you know what to do.
Ryan Callahan (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) scored his first goal with the Bolts and extended his points streak to three games. Cally seems to be settling in nicely down in Tampa, unlike Martin St. Louis who seems to not be settling in nicely up in New York. Did Stevie Y know something we didn’t? Probably.
Michal Neuvirth (3 GA, 51 SV, L) is getting absolutely bombed in Buffalo, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. You know what is slightly surprising? How well Neuvirth is playing. He’s stopped 94 of 99 shots he’s faced as a Sabre and yet still hasn’t won a game. Well, at least Jhonas Enroth won’t feel as bad about himself as he has been this season. You’re not alone, Jhonas! It’s not just you.
Darcy Kuemper (1 GA, 29 SV, W) seems completely unfazed by Ilya Bryzgalov’s presence or the fact that Josh Harding is skating in practices again. There’s no timetable for Harding’s return, and if there was I doubt they would have made the deal for Breezy in the first place. Kuemper is the man in Minny for the rest of the season.