With the news that Thomas Vanek told Garth Snow “It’s not you, it’s me” when he declined an offer in the ballpark of 7 years, $50 million it has become very apparent that the Isles have no choice but to trade the pending UFA who, in all honesty, everyone knew would always test the market at season’s end. Now Vanek is back on the market and amusingly, Buffalo’s Matt Moulson is a hot commodity and the Sabres are fielding offers for him as well. Both guys are likely to end up with a contender if they go anywhere, and for Vanek I think the production stays about the same with only a minor dip in assists. For Moulson it could be a huge boom depending on where he goes, so we’ll have to pay close attention. The Rangers’ Ryan Callahan is now part of the short list as well. With his contract up at the end of the season Cally apparently wants something to the tune of seven years, $6.5-6.9 million per. Say what?! Who does he think he is? Rick Nash? I love Cally, but he isn’t worth that kind of money or with a contract that long. The Rangers front office agrees and reportedly they want to “settle Callahan’s fate” sooner than later. Sooner is today, in fact, with the Olympic roster freeze kicking in and no contract for Cally, it sounds like they might be moving their Captain shortly after the break. Right now it sounds like the Blues are the most likely destination, because, you know, they need help. Chris Stewart is the potential return for the Rangers and talk about a downgrade! Cally’s value will remain the same or get a bit of a spike if he goes somewhere like St. Louis as he’ll continue to contribute across the board in many categories, but Stewart? Thaaat’s a bust. If he sees more playing time in New York after the deal his value only has one place to go, and hey, he scores goals in bunches when he cares to. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
As the season wears on and the Olympic break looms, a few starters are starting to get up there in TOI and their teams are contenders, so what do you think they’ll do with their starters? If you said “rest them as soon as they can to keep them fresh for the playoffs” you’d be correct and I’m putting a gold star by your name! Every year there’s one or two backups or no names that come out of nowhere to start eight or nine of a team’s last ten games and looks amazing doing it. Those guys? Those guys win you titles. This year two backups stand out with the potential to become fantasy gold down the stretch; San Jose’s Alex Stalock (1 GA, 19 SV, W) and Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen. Neither Andersen nor Stalock saw much action for the first three months of the season, but in January they both saw a spike in starts with six each, a trend that should continue as the season winds to a close. Stalock handled himself nicely for a 19 save win last night because starter Antti Niemi coughed up four goals in his last start and with 47 starts under his belt, and the Olympics starting next week, I think the Sharks want to rest Niemi and that means nothing but good things for Stalock owners. Stalock has been great with his workload slowly but steadily increasing and in that span he put up a line of 3-3-0/1.79/.949/2. That has value anywhere, y’all! Similarly, Jonas Hiller (2 GA, 23 SV, L) backup Frederik Andersen has slowly eaten into Hiller’s starts much like Stalock has in San Jose. With Hiller headed to Sochi to tend net for the Swiss, his injury history and how well Andersen continues to play, Hiller is likely to continue split starts with Andersen more evenly moving forward. Andersen started 6 games to Hiller’s 9 last month and it’s 2 to 1 Hiller so far this month. What’s he done with his time? How about a line of 5-0-0/1.86/.939 in January. Yeah, his last game was a bit of bleh against the surging Blue Jackets, but overall he remains valuable and could be huge if Hiller goes down with another LBI. Never look past backups this late in the season, you never know who will become instant fantasy gold. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The race for the Calder trophy has been razor thin from the start of the season. Early on it looked like the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl was well on his way, but then he blew out a knee and that opened the door for the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, but he has since cooled, though he’s still getting good minutes with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan and remains valuable in deeper leagues. Ondrej Palat jumps into the mix with his recent surge of 15 points in his last 16 games giving him 31 points, which actually puts him ahead of Kreider’s 30. Regardless, it’s Nathan MacKinnon’s (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) turn to be the front runner and this time the edge might not be so razor thin. MacKinnon has eight points in his last five games with goals in three straight until last night, but he figured he’d keep the trend going and chipped in a helper. With less than 30 games to play MacKinnon leads all rookies in goals (20), assists (21) and points (41) putting him on pace to finish with a Bobby Ryan-esque 30 goals and 31 assists in 82 games. It’s not every day that you get a rookie that can score 30 goals, it’s even more rare to find a kid who will match his goal scoring with assists and a decent plus/minus to boot! You’d think given his recent streak and general good play all year he’d be owned in 100% of leagues everywhere, but alas, Yahoo fails us once again and his ownership sits a platry 68% as we approach the stretch run to the playoffs with Palat coming in at just 16%. ESPN sits at 100% for MacKinnon but just 81% for Palat. These are the guys that give you the edge moving forward, so if you’re in a league where either is available, do yourself a favor and pick them up yesterday. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Riley Sheahan (1 A, 1 SOG, even) has five points in his last five (2 G, 3 A) and is currently on pace for 10 points in 15 games this season since being called up from Wings’ AHL affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins. It will be interesting to see which of the Wings’ dynamic young forwards will get sent down when Pavel Datsyuk returns after the Olympic break, but Sheahan is making a serious case that it shouldn’t be him. Gustav Nyqvist is making a similar claim with his play, so it might be Tomas Jurco that gets the boot given his inability to generate consistent offense in his time with the big club. I’ve mentioned Sheahan before, and it probably went something like this: “This kid has some serious offensive chops with a big shot and great playmaking ability. He has all the tools to become a top-six power forward in the NHL and already knows how to use his big frame to help his puck possession game, which is pretty damn good to begin with. He can play both ends of the ice, has a solid hockey IQ and should be on everyone’s radar as we come down the stretch this season in fantasy hockey.” Wow, sounds like that guy knows what he’s talking about, you should listen to him. I’d grab Sheahan in deeper leagues if you need a scoring boost with the caveat that he may end up drawing the short stick and heading back down to the AHL at some point this season, but if not, he’s well worth owning for the remainder of this season if nothing else. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on a seriously short night o’ fantasy hockey:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Going into this season one of the bigger questions in goaltending was who would start for the Devils; perhaps the greatest goalie of all time or Cory Schneider (2 GA, 14 SV, W)? Sounds like an easy call, right? I figured it’d be Schneider. Why else did the Devils bring him in but to grab the torch from Martin Brodeur and run with it? And had anyone seen this guy play in Vancouver, stuck behind Roberto Luongo? It was a bittersweet symphony that Cory conducted, showing that he was all too capable of handling the starting job somewhere. While Marty is a legend, he’s over 40 and most guys don’t last until they’re 40 so don’t get me started on being productive in your forties. So I drafted Schneider everywhere, and as the season started and Marty came out of the gates hot my heart sank. Still, I stuck with Schneider and preached you do the same as often as it made sense, secretly hoping Brodeur would break down and Schneider would get his chance, and ho ho! It has happened. Schenider has started 10 games this month after only seeing a combined 16 starts in the first three months of the season. What’s more, he’s been absolutely stellar, Vezina worthy, with a season line that now sits at 10-10-7/ 1.87/.926/3 compared to Brodeur’s 13-11-4/2.52/.899 line. Marty’s implosion against the Rangers in the Stadium Series game his grip on the starting job had completely slipped away. Now Marty is saying he wouldn’t be surprised if the Devils traded him. Oh come on, old man, what’s this? A pity party?! I doubt very highly the Devils move him, but it’s safe to say Schneids is the man for the Devils moving forward. I said it before, Ill say it again, if you have a question that starts with “Who do you like ROS, Cory Schneider…” and you can stop there, the answer is always Cory Schneider. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
When Ben Scrivens (0 GA, 59 SV, W) was traded to the Oilers a lot of Oil fans rejoiced, and why not? Ilya Bryzgalov had been recently signed but almost immediately hurt after Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin rang his bell and sent him to IR and Devan Dubnyk had long been a bleh option for them. I didn’t think this did much for the Oil in the short term given the ease with which Martin Jones displaced Scribbles before Jon Quick returned in L.A., and because the Oiler defense is one of the worst in the league. Last night they proved that was still the case allowing 59 shots to reach Scribbles, who amazingly pushed every last shot aside to shut the Sharks out 3-0. Today people are going wild over Scrivens and I swear I’ve heard some chants of “Scrivezina! Scrivezina!” quietly rolling over the Canadian tundra from Edmonton. When I look at what happened last night I see the fact that the Oiler D allowed 59 shots on goal as the real indicator of what’s going to happen moving forward for Scribbles than his ability to stop them all. How often is that really going to happen? And by “that” I mean both the fact that he faced that many shots and stopped that many? Well, if the Oiler D is any indication, he’ll be facing tons of shots a lot more often than he can stop most of them. Broken down further, the Sharks launched 100 shots last night. 59 made it on net, 22 were blocked and the rest missed. Still, I have to give Scribbles his props; he was absolutely amazing all game and he deserves credit for his performance. Before last night the previous record for most shots against in a shutout belonged to Mike Smith, who pushed away 54 in 2011-12 for a 2-0 win vs. the Blue Jackets. Scribbles shut down the Sharks, there’s a big difference there. Dominik Hašek holds the record for more stops in a playoff game with a whopping 70, but that game went to four OTs, more than double the length of Scribbles’ insane game. So what does this mean for fantasy owners? Nothing. You should still avoid the Edmonton goalies because, uhm, their D allowed 59 shots on goal! Come on! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Jacob Trouba, the ridiculous rookie beast on the blue line that’s been so good the Jets were able to shift Dustin Byfuglien to wing and not only have they not missed a beat, the experiment seems to be a success given the Jets’ recent offensive surge. How beastly you say? 16 points in his last 26 tilts, and when you break it down his line over the last two months goes a little something like this; 6 goals, 10 assists, a plus-10 rating, 15 PIM and 49 SOG. Damn, son! That’s some solid production from the back end, eh? Normally it takes young defensemen a few seasons to get into gear offensively, mostly because they’re defensemen and they need to, you know, focus on learning to play defense. But Trouba decided he’d debut in the NHL and not only bring home the bacon, but the whole damn pig. Ryan McDonagh is a perfect example of the natural course of evolution of the elusive, complete package defenseman. This is McDonagh’s third season and he’s only starting to realize his offensive potential with 29 points in 54 games so far, on pace for around 45 by season’s end. Trouba has the potential to flirt with that point total right now, and he’s five years younger than McDonagh. Why on earth do I need to sell this kid this late in the sesaon? The fact that he’s owned in just 18% of Yahoo! Leagues boggles me mind! I can usually count on ESPN Leagues to offset that, he’s still available in well over a third of leagues there! Well, that actually sounds more reasonable, but it could be higher. It’s time to make the moves that either get you into the playoffs or leave you waiting for next season for another chance to not suck! Do you want to win? Do you need points from the blue line? You in trouble?! Then add my boy Trouba! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Ryane Clowe (1 A, 0 SOG, -2) had some pretty solid seasons as a member of the San Jose Sharks from 2008 to 2012 and after getting dealt to the Rangers last year because there was just no room for him on the Sharks, he signed a $24 million deal with the Devils. His first five or six games this season were just awful, and then rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba elbowed him in the head and he fell like a sack o’ potatoes. After missing the last two-and-a-half months with a concussion he’s returned with a vengeance quickly establishing himself as an important cog in a seemingly rejuvenated Devils offense for the second half of the season. He’s everywhere out there right now; clearing space, getting shots on goal, creating offensive chances where earlier in the season the Devils couldn’t buy an opportunity and what’s more, he’s scoring consistently since returning from injury with 10 points in his last 10 games. While I don’t expect he can keep that pace up, the Devils brought him in to win battles and help generate offense and it appears that’s exactly what he’s doing while healthy. Even on nights where the Devils have struggled (like last night) he still manages to look good out there with line-mates Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. While most owners probably hoped he’d see more time on the top line with Jaromir Jagr, he seems to be doing just fine on what appears to be New Jersey’s new second line so don’t hope to fix what isn’t broken. By this point in the season the wire is pretty thin getting thinner making finding fresh legs almost impossible so that gives Clowe a bit more value than he might otherwise have had at this point in the season. That being said, 10 points in his last 10 games, are you going to ignore that? Well, you go right ahead, but the rest of us are paying attention. While everyone else is going to be digging deep after the Olympic break Clowe is going to be churning on fresh legs and that could help him score more and you win more. He’s not sexy, he’s not fast, he’s not going to wow you, but when other guys are slowing and getting hurt when you need them the most, Clowe is likely to be happy, healthy and fairly productive. Would you buy that for a dollar? Doesn’t matter! Clowe’s probably out there for free, so cash in now y’all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in the world o’ fantasy hockey:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Craig Anderson (3 GA, 35 SV, L) lost again last night and does that surprise anyone? He helped the Sens stay with it through the shootout but came out on the losing end with the Bolts’ Ben Bishop standing tall for another win. During the post game interviews Anderson was a bit cranky about his recent performance and who wouldn’t be? I mean, if I was Craig Anderson, I’d feel pretty bad about myself on a daily basis, but I digress. When asked about the outcome Anderson dismissed the shootout as just a “skills competition,” uhm, isn’t the entire sport a skills competition? How is that a valid argument against the format? Wow. Unfortunately for him he kept speaking, adding ”Flip a coin and call heads. That might be a better way to settle it.” Awww, who needs a diaper change?! Maybe it’s nap time, too! Give me a break, Anderson. You think the shootout is the problem? Take a look in the mirror and you’ll see your problem. I’m sure his comments have nothing to do with the fact that he’s 20-26 all time in shootouts with an embarrassing .625 save percentage to go with it. Just when I thought Anderson couldn’t find a way to be worse, here it is! Unfortunately for him everyone loves the shootouts, hell even most of the players do, the only guys that really complain about it are the goalies who get burnt more often than not. I don’t know what he’s complaining about, it’s not like there’s a huge difference in the quality of his play in the game before the shootout or during, it’s all bad. He’s bad. At this point I’d have one thing to say to the Ottawa coaching staff; start Robin Lehner for crying out loud! And wouldn’t you know it? Lehner is slated to start tomorrow night. Don’t make me look bad, Robin! On the upside, even if you do, none of us will ever look as bad as Anderson does out there. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Michael Del Zotto was finally traded away from Broadway to Nashville in a straight up deal for defenseman Kevin Klein. No, not the actor, though given that Klein has only put up three points all season he might as well be the freakin’ actor for all the good he’s doing fantasy owners (there are none). The Rangers need offense and Del Zotto sure wasn’t providing that, but Klein is a big step down offensively regardless of how poorly Del Zotto’s performing, so this move boils down to money and roster considerations for both teams. How does it affect their fantasy values? Well, If you haven’t gathered already Klein has no value at all so lets move on to who really matters, eh? Del Zotto should find himself on the top pairing with Shea Weber sooner than later and that could do wonders for his production and your chances of winning. Right now the Preds have second year upstart Roman Josi playing opposite of Weber and that seems to be working quite well, but put Del Zotto on Weber’s left side and you could see sparks fly. This is a low-risk move for the Preds because Del Zotto is an RFA at season’s end and if he signs an offer sheet with another team the Preds get some draft picks and if not they re-sign him at a discount. Win-win! For Del Zotto it’s a chance to get his act together and earn himself a decent contract next season. He’s shown the ability to put up monster numbers in the past with 41 points (10 G, 31 A) back in 2011-12, but hasn’t reached that point total again with his production from the last two seasons combined. Granted one of those is the lockout-shortened season but still, that’s horrible! At any rate, keep an eye on Del Zotto moving forward and if he even hints at a good streak and you need scoring help on your blue line? Add him without a moment’s hesitation. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?