The Detroit Red Wings are one of the few teams so well built that they can sustain a playoff run despite missing four of their top players, two of which are point-per-game guys or better. How, you might wonder, is this feat possible? That’d be solid drafting, a commitment to player development and a fantastic scouting department, all of which Wings GM Ken Holland has in spades. The idea that the Wings roster is loaded with wire gold is not a new theme for me, but right now it’s more important than ever to remember. Tomas Tatar (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) now has three straight two-point games and seven over his last five. I’ve been preaching to y’all to pick up any Red Wings that are scoring due to their ridiculous injury woes and Tatar is high on that list. At times he can look like a weak option compared to his high flying Swedish buddy Gustav Nyquist, but Tatar has solid value right now and should be owned everywhere. Riley Sheahan (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +3) is another one of those newly valuable Wings that I keep saying you should add. Sheahan has the potential to be something special pretty soon, but you can say that about most of the incredible crop of youth the Wings sport thanks to GM Ken Holland’s deft moves over the years. With six points over his last five and nine points in 13 March games, he’s definitely worth a stream. Sadly, Tomas Jurco (1 A, 5 SOG, +3) isn’t among the new elite just yet, but returned from a broken rib to help out with an assist, but I don’t think he’s worth an add at this point. He might be the best of the bunch for the Wings youth in terms of pure talent, but right now that’s not resulting in many points. He remains very raw and needs more time to develop, and while this is that time, with just 11 points in 27 games so far this season I can’t really recommend him, even to stream. It’s a shame, really, I thought Jurco would be the one to burst onto the scene like Gustav Nyquist has. The moral of the story here is when in doubt, look to the Red Wings roster for scoring help, you can’t go wrong! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Mathieu Perreault (1 G, 2 SOG, even) is Anahiem’s version of Martin St. Louis, the only difference is Perreault is actually scoring! It wasn’t always so, though. Maty, not to be confused with Marty, was playing really well to start the season with 11 points in 13 October games but then fell completely off the map for a few months scoring just 8 points over his next 23 games. Then January rolled around he put up 9 points in 11 games. Now this month he’s got six points in seven games and has scored a point in six straight. I’ve mentioned Perreault a few times this season and that’s because I really like the guy. Right now he’s penciled in as the Ducks’ second line center with Patrick Maroon and Kyle Palmieri on his wings and while those names may not overwhelm you to the point that you rush to the wire to add Perreault, they do have some solid chemistry going and Maty is starting to see some time with the Ducks’ second powerplay unit while averaging around 16 minutes TOI a game lately. The smooth skating, shifty playmaker has some solid offensive upside, plays for the Ducks and is scoring right now, so do you need another reason to add him to help keep your title hopes alive? I sure hope not, because you’re playing the wrong game if you do. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Ryan McDonagh (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) lead the way for the streaking Rangers scoring the game winner in OT. He also dished out two primary assists, ended up plus-3 and even threw in a couple PIM to make the game complete. I didn’t think he’d get there, but McDonagh is looking at breaking the 50-point/15 goal markers this season and that easily sits him among the league’s best fantasy defenseman. To give you an idea of just how quickly McDonagh has found his way into the ranks of the elite, chew on this factoid; with 13 goals in 73 games so far this season he has eclipsed his total from his previous three seasons, where he scored 12 goals over 169 games. That’s no joke! Does it mean he’s a flash in the pan? That he’ll regress back to the mean starting next year? I don’t think so. I think what we’re seeing here is a premiere defensemen coming into his own and he should, at the very least, maintain this kind of production for seasons to come. The coaching change is a big help here; John Tortarella put McD out there for less than a minute, on average, of power play time per game. You could justify that and say it’s because he was young, but come on, less than a minute? Alain Vigneault puts him out there for an average or 2:53, and he’s cashing in on that like whoa. If you were lucky enough to grab him in a keeper league on the cheap this year, enjoy the ride, because he’s not going to be cheap again until he’s aging and fading. So why does this matter right now? Could a guy like this possible be available? Why yes, yes he can! Try 31% of Yahoo leagues. He’s owned in 100% of ESPN leagues, so that does nothing for you ESPN folks, but I added him on two of my Yahoo teams just for the playoff run. Seriously. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
When I took a look at the box scores from yesterday’s tilts all I saw was a bunch of yawnstipating schmohawks filling the score sheets! Outside of a handful of regulars like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf getting their usual helpings o’ goals and assists, guys like Damien Brunner and Patrick Maroon were all I saw! Seriously, Maroon? What is this guy, from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon? These guys are boring as eff and you’d have to be a maroon to pick most of them up, so to kick this round up off I’m going to go over a few key free agent grabs that didn’t play last night, but could actually help you win starting with Boston’s stellar backup Chad Johnson. Johnson’s season has been absolutely stellar posting a season line of 16-3-0/2.04/.925/2 in 23 starts this season, so his track record is solid and his team is ridiculous. Despite the fantastic numbers Johnson is only owned in 60% of ESPN leagues and 20% of Yahoo leagues so he’s most likely available if you want to take advantage of Boston’s back-to-back game riddled schedule over the next few weeks. You know Boston want to keep Rask healthy and fresh and with a playoff spot already locked up Johnson might see starts even on nights that aren’t typical rest days for Tuukka. What does all this mean? It means you need to cash in on that shiz right now and add Johnson before someone else does. Mike Cammalleri is another key guy to grab like, yesterday, and if you’ve been living under a rock for the past week you might not have noticed that he’s posted 16 points over his last 12 games and nothing else really matters save that he’s posted 16 freakin’ points over his last 12 games. Big names don’t matter right now, goals and assists do, and Calamari is providing much o’ that! Add him? Yes. When? I already told you like four lines up, yesterday! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Patrik Elias (3 A, 3 SOG, +2) was automatic at one point in his career, in fact he was almost always a sure thing and as recently as 2011-12 he was just shy of a point-per-game player. Fast-forward a few years and father time is finally catching up with Elias this season as he’s struggled to stay healthy and stay consistent. Still, a bad season for Elias means he’s going to top the 60-point marker by season’s end, even at his age, so he retains some value in most formats. Right now he’s absolutely on fire with 12 points in his last 10 games. Some speculate the recent birth of his second child has given Elias new life, and that might be true, but I think it has more to do with his pairing with surging rookie Adam Henrique (3 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) instead. Henrique exploded after the Olympic break with 14 points in 12 games and that coincided with his being shifted to a line with Elias, so there you go! The trio of helpers he tallied last night serve as more evidence that he is going to keep producing, trying to get his team into the playoffs, so if you enjoy winning you might want to add Elias. It shouldn’t be hard if you’re a Yahoo player as he’s only owned in 58% leagues there, but sad news for you ESPN people, he’s at 100% ownership there. It’s kind of ironic that ESPN has all but abandoned any semblance of decent coverage for the NHL and yet their fantasy hockey system seems to be far more active than Yahoos. Not that Yahoo has been a pillar of support and good coverage for the NHL, but ESPN really has been that bad. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world of fantasy hockey yesterday:Please, blog, may I have some more?
EDIT (21/2/14): Kane is now on LTIR and is out for the rest of the regular season. You can safely drop him in any yearly leagues.
Patrick Kane (1 A, +2) apparently injured his left knee in a 4-0 victory over the Blues last night and it sounds like he’s going to be about for the rest of the regular season, or at least long enough to make sure he contributes nothing to his fantasy owners’ hopes and dreams of winning their leagues. Some reports say two weeks, others say three weeks, I say the rest of the regular season because why would the Hawks tempt fate and rush Kane back before the playoffs? Pro tip: they won’t. I guess Brendan Morrow accidentally rolled into Kane’s knee after a hit from the Hawks’ Sheldon Brookbank. Well that’s great; it’s good to know two mostly worthless guys took one of the most valuable fantasy assets off the board for the playoffs. Can you sense my bitterness? Oh, I’m bitter. Like sour patch kids bitter. What, that’s sour? Fine, I’ll happily donate some of my bitterness to bitter it up further. So what do you do if you just lost Kane? Drink and cry, my friends, drink and cry. Before you get too deeply into the bottle, though, consider that Kane’s absence opens up TOI for some of the younger guys and will demand a reshuffling of the lines. It’s hard to say who will end up where, the Hawks have a ton of options, but Andrew Shaw (1 G, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has goals in back-to-back games and has seven points in nine games this month, so he might be worth a flier. A former Blackhawk now turned Panther is also worth a look as Brandon Pirri has been a roll since being traded to South Florida with seven points in his last eight games. Right now Kane owners are looking at this advice and cringing, thinking; “Shaw? Pirri? These are the guys you expect to replace Kane?” No, bitter Kane owner, I don’t! You can’t replace him, but you might be able to mitigate the impact to your hopes by looking into some of these guys, they might just be available to save your (and my) skins:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Martin St. Louis (1 A, 2 PIM, +3) was supposed to help continued to struggle for the blue shirts, but managed to tally his third point in nine games as a Ranger. This is not the scoring boost that Rangers GM Glen Sather was hoping for when he moved Ryan Callahan to the Bolts for the veteran scoring monster. Cally, on the other hand, has four points in six games for Tampa.
Anton Khudobin (1 GA, 46 SV, W) was put right back in net after taking a 2-1 loss and did not disappoint pushing 46 of 47 shots away for a 3-1 victory. Is there any doubt that Khudobin is the guy for the Canes? The only place there might be doubt is the Canes’ front office, but judging by the two-year deal they inked Khudobin to recently, I’d say that concept is fading fast. Cam Ward had an opportunity to take his starting job back, but he failed to do that like he has doing, well, mostly anything this season, and after this game the starters gig should be his and his alone for the next 12 games.
Gustav Nyquist (2 G, 6 SOG, +1) is really the only thing keeping the Wings from tipping completely over and missing the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. He has three goals in his last two games and that gives in 35 points in 43 games since his call up earlier this year. Can Nyquist really be the only thing keeping the Wings afloat, you might be wondering. Well, have a look at the list of guys Babs had to scratch last night: Pavel Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson, Dan Cleary, Tomas Jurco, Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson and Teemu Pulkkinen. Those are the scratches, how about guys on IR? Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson and Stephen Weiss. So, if by some insane happenstance he’s still available in one of your leagues I think you know what to do.Please, blog, may I have some more?
What is it with Russians named Evgeny? Is there some sort of magic in the name? Maybe it’s the Vodka? Either way, Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 A, 2 SOG, even) has arrived and y’all best take notice as the kid has four points in his last two games and now plays on the second line for the Caps alongside Casey Wellman and Troy Brouwer. I know, those names don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents but when you consider he just left the fourth line with Tom Wilson and Jay Beagle, it starts to sound a lot better, right? Either way, the initial chemistry Evgeny has with his teammates can’t be denied after back-to-back solid games on his new line. What’s better, he’s getting time on the Caps’ second power play unit and saw time with Alex Ovechkin. The only limit on Kuzentsov is Kuzentsov, and like many young Russians he’s passionate and highly skilled but who knows what that translates to over time. His weakness as defensive liability can cost him TOI at times, but most young offensively minded players suffer there and he’s improving steadily. His playmaking skills, however, are on par with Nicklas Backstrom’s (sans the PEDs, err, allergy meds!) and his wicked fake-slapper, slap-pass to Tom Wilson for a goal a few days ago against the Stars is evidence of that. He’s wildly creative with the puck, has soft hands, great vision and is an all around offensive force. He lacks strength, but that’s something he can improve on over time. It’s crunch time and there’s no reason to overthink snatching up a guy like Kuznetsov, so go get while the gettin’s good! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
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:Please, blog, may I have some more?
We the fantasy playoffs starting next week for most of us it’s time to make those last grabs before the dance that make all the difference. Over the last week I’ve been pushing Anders Lee and I’ll continue to do so, but if you can’t get on board with Lee because he plays for the Isles (I understand, we all do) you might find some love for Bs rookie Carl Soderberg (1 G, 3 SOG, +1), or at least I think you should. Soderberg is another one of the many talented young Swedes flooding in to the league in recent years and like many of his countrymen, he’s pretty damn solid! He’s been labeled “explosive” by many and when you watch him play it’s pretty clear that’s accurate. He can do just about anything you want in the offensive zone and baby, we want it all! Carl can shoot, pass, skate and chew gum, rub his stomach and pat himself on the head all at the same time! He’s a big, strong guy that moves like greased lightning with a puck taped to its stick and frankly, I’m bullish on him for next year’s drafts. Overall this season he’s been limited by limited playing time, but lately he’s getting it done with five points over his last four games. This isn’t a wholly recent phenomenon for the rookie who has been putting it home fairly often over the last month and change with 11 points over his last 12 games. So that begs the question, who do you have on your bench that’s scoring like that recently? If you’re just starting blankly at screen trying to come up with an answer the answer is probably no one, so stop drooling and staring blankly, you look ridiculous. Soderberg is owned in just ~15% of ESPN leagues and %9 of Yahoo leagues he’s an easily obtainable commodity, so if you’re wondering how you’re going to shore up your bench for the playoffs, consider Carl! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?