Normally I take a wait and see policy on Russian prospects because they often come highly touted but fail to impress when given the opportunity (We’re all looking right at you, Nail Yakupov) but in the case of Dmitry Orlov (1 G, 3 SOG, +2), I think I can make an exception. Last night he may have locked up a roster spot after scoring his first goal of the season in a magnificent all around effort for the young defenseman. Since his debut Nov. 30th his TOI is hovering around 18 minutes a game and last night against the Panthers he was out there for a whopping 20:04 with 2:42 in OT, the most of any Caps d-man. Orlov was everywhere last night, deking his way through the offensive zone and creating scoring chances, and of course cashing in as well. When asked if he thought this was Orlov’s best game this season Caps head coach Adam Oates had this to say “Yep. I think so, but I still think we saw the offense, we see those plays he made in overtime. I’ve talked to him all along. I know that. You gotta do the job in our end.” That’s the one knock on Orlov to this point, he’s offensive minded to a fault. His penchant for over-reaching to push for an offensive chance makes him a liability in his own zone, but he is so deadly in the offensive zone that he’s likely to continue with the Caps moving forward. That’s a risky prediction on my part because he’s been sent down and recalled five effin’ times in the last month! Is the Caps front-office bi-polar or what? If Orlov stays up with the Caps this time he’s a risky add in standard formats unless he really explodes, and if last night’s game was any indication he has the potential to do just. However, Oates and the Caps want to win, and if his possession numbers skew too far into the negatives he’ll get sent back down like whoa. Or he’ll get sent down for no earthly reason. Honestly, I don’t know what the Caps will do at this point but the kid has made his case to stay this time around, that’s for sure. Regardless, he’s a special kind of player with the potential to post Mike Green-esque point-per-games seasons early on in his career, so he should be owned in all keeper leagues. Anyway, he’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey yesterday:
Mike Green (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) continues a solid fantasy campaign despite his increasingly ugly -9 rating. He’s on pace for 42 points, which is great for a d-man, but it’s hard not to hope for a return to his point-per-game form of the past. Actually, it’s not, because it won’t happen. Let go of the dream, but hold on to Green.
Antti Raanta (1 GA, 21 SV, W) has played really well since taking over for the injured Corey Crawford. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect this level of play from Raanta, but did recommend he be picked up by any Crawford owners. Now I’ll go ahead and say if he hasn’t been picked up in your league for some reason, go grab him. Remember, though, when Crawford returns Raanta heads back to the pine.
Ben Scrivens (3 GA, 37 SV, L) got his first start in net in almost two weeks! Everyone was all about Scrivs before the magical Martin Jones came on the scene and performed, well, almost exactly as well as Scrivens did when he took over for the injured Jon Quick. It’s the Kings’ D that’s making these guys look this good, I’m telling you. The biggest question in my mind is who stays on to serve as Quick’s backup when he returns? Only their play between then and now will tell that tale.
Ben Bishop (0 GA, 28 SV, W) seems to get better and better as the season goes on. His season line after 25 starts is 17-5-2/1.97/.933/3 and if you were one of the lucky ones to snatch him up, you’re loving it now. He won’t keep up at this pace, no one can, but he should continue his stellar play more often than not.
Henrik Lundqvist (3 GA, 18 SV, L) is fast becoming a fantasy bust as hard as it is to believe. Most who ended up with King Henrik did so by drafting him in the first round, but after 26 starts his season line sits at 10-14-1/2.71/.909/2. Those peripherals are a far, far cry from his career average of 2.27/.920 so the highest paid goaltender in the land really needs to step up his game. You have to expect those numbers will come down, but with the Rangers not able to get more than a game or two over .500 all season, Hank’s 2013-14 campaign is starting to look like the poster child for why you should never draft a goalie in the first round.
Karri Ramo (3 GA, 29 SV, L, 2 PIM) beat Lundqvist AND has better numbers than the King. Yikes.
Claude Giroux (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) is finally producing at a point-per-game pace for the first time this season, but only over his last seven games. His shots on goal in October were abysmal with just 23, then he poured 48 on net in November and is on pace for about that many in December, too.
Michael Raffl (3 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) signed a three year entry level deal with the Flyers this offseason and he’s sure playing like a guy only worth an entry level deal. After scoring just one point in his first 14 games (an assist) he’s posted seven points in his last seven games and I don’t see this continuing much past tomorrow. The Flyers didn’t win a Raffl here, he has a lot to prove at the NHL level and by all accounts, he’ll likely end up in the AHL by season’s end.
Alex Ovechkin (2 G, 7 SOG, even, 2 PIM) doesn’t seem to like scoring just one goal in a game anymore and is now on pace for 72 goals on the season. Uhm, damn.
Derek Stepan (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) continues to disappoint everyone, even his mom. No, that’s not nice, I’m sure she’s quite proud, but we sure as hell aren’t. It looked like Steps would get it going after a bounce back in November (5 G, 7 A, +8) after a horrible start in October (0 G, 7 A, -8), but has followed that up with just 3 point in seven games this month. Two of those points are from last night. Blech.
Curtis Glencross (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) has some value in very deep leagues this year, believe it or not. Glengarry Glencross has been limited by injury, but in 18 games he has 11 points. Okay, that’s not very valuable, but I did say very deep leagues.
Jonathan Toews (2 A, 5 SOG, even) always seems like he should, and is, producing at point-per-game pace, but he isn’t and he never has. He’s always right on the lip of that cup, but oddly hasn’t maintained it for an entire season yet
Jiri Hudler (2 A, 1 SOG, +2) has really surprised me this season. I figured he would have value, but he keeps on posting points and I can’t say that it will stop anytime soon anymore. I can say he won’t keep up a point-per-game pace, but now that I have I’m sure he’ll prove me wrong. You’re welcome, Hudler owners!
Scott Clemmensen (1 GA, 17 SV, W) has won back-to-back starts while filling in for the injured Tim Thomas. Hell, if he keeps this up the old vet could seriously challenge the, uh, old vet Thomas for the starting job. Honestly, who cares? It’s the Panthers.
Jakub Voracek (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) scored a goal last night stretching his points streak to four games. Voracek was expected to be a beast this year, but so were a bunch of other Flyers *cough*Giroux*cough* and has really bombed to this point. This recent showing might be a sign that he’s starting to wake up, as has Giroux, so it might be a good time to try and buy-low here. That being said, he’s available in 34% of Yahoo! Leagues and ~18% of ESPN leagues, so he might be available in your league.
Kris Versteeg (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) was absolutely terrible in Florida and has been quite the opposite since returning to Chicago. He should be added in most formats while he’s scoring.
Chris Kreider (1 G, 3 SOG, +2, 6 PIM) posted a magnificent November (4 G, 9 A, +9 in 15 GP) and had done nothing in seven games this month until last night. Youth is streaky and the Rangers offensive is, well, pretty terrible. Still, Kreider is set for success so if you’re in a keeper league he is and remains an absolute must own.
Tyler Johnson (1 G, 3 SOG, +1, 4 PIM) keeps finding ways to get mentioned in my roundups.
Jonas Hiller (2 GA, 23 SV, W) won his fourth straight start with a 3-2 W over the Oil last night. Sell high on this guy, seriously, he’s begging for it.
Dustin Penner (1 G, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) might be starting to fade breaking a three game drought with a goal last night. With three points in six December contests I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Penner to go back to his streaky, unproductive ways. He had a good month in November (7 G, 9 A, +7 in 15 GP) but I just can’t buy it for a whole season.
Sean Monahan (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) beat Penner to it and has faded already. He’s a rookie, though, so we can excuse it for now. After 10 points in 12 GP to start the season he has just six points in his last 14 games. Keeper leagues, yes. Standard leagues, no.
Hampus Lindholm (1 A, 2 SOG, +2) has points in two straight now, both helpers. Hamper isn’t going to give you a ton of offensive production this year, but if you’re in a very deep league he is worth owning. If you’re in a keeper, you’re lucky to have him, unless no one does, in which case you totally should.
Mikael Backlund (1 G, 4 SOG, even) now has points in three straight but remains fantasy meh.
Joel Ward (2 A, 1 SOG, even) is having a surprisingly good season on pace for 25 goals and 25 assists this season. Ah, the Bobby Ryan-esque parity of it all makes my OCD senses tingle. Anyhoose, Ward spends a ton of time in the sin bin and if he can keep that pace up he’ll easily be the most valuable non-Steve Downie Steve Downie out there. Even more valuable than Steve Downie himself!
J.T. Brown (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) is nothing special.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) seriously needs to bulk up. Someone get this kid some musical milk, stat!
P.K. Subban (1 A, 4 SOG, even) needs to get it together with just two points in his last eight games. This assist snapped a six game scoreless drought, no less. He’s still elite, but 60 points isn’t happening.
Petr Mrazek (2 GA, 24 SV, L) is only up while Howard is hurt. He will immediately be sent back down to the Griffins when Jimmy returns. I expect Jonas Gustavsson to get most of the starts in his absence, but even the Monster needs a break.