Pekka Rinne is headed to the AHL for a rehab assignment and should be back in the crease for the Preds sometime over the next two weeks. That’s great news for fantasy owners and Preds fans alike, but what can Rinne give you when he returns? Frankly I’d expect every ounce of what he normally would give you if he hadn’t been hurt. When asked about how he was doing Rinne said “So far I feel really comfortable, I’m happy how things have gone in practice and how things have gone so far. I think I’m actually a little bit surprised it’s been going so well. But like I said, it’s still a process but for sure I feel like I’m really close to game shape and now it’s just a final couple of games before I jump on the ice with the Nashville team.” You have to love the sound of that if you’re a Rinne owner. With Devan Dubnyk keeping the bench warm for de facto starter Carter Hutton (2 GA, 14 SV, W) you’d think that Hutton would get the backup job once Rinne returned, but Hutton’s two-way deal and Dubnyk’s one way deal say otherwise, so expect Hutton to be sent back down to the AHL so Dubnyk can continue to collect a salary on the bench. While most Rinne owners held him, IR slot or not, he is only owned in 75% of ESPN leagues and 84% of Yahoo leagues, so there’s a slim chance he’s out there for you to grab, so go scope out your wire and if he is? Grab him now, now, yesterday! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Johan Franzen (3 G, 4 SOG, +3, 12 PIM) not only made me look good with a hatty just hours after I told you to grab him where you could, but he also threw in a dozen penalty minutes for good measure! Oh, Mule, I heart you so. My predictions that he could offer you 20 more points before the end of the season remain, though expect these points to come in streaks making him a dangerous H2H grab, but roto gold.
Gustav Nyquist (2 A, 2 SOG, +2) is quickly becoming one of my favorite young players. How could I not love a guy who I endorse and then immediately pays dividends? No Henrik Zetterberg? No Problem, Gustav helped The Mule to his hatty and ended up plus-2 for his trouble. I’m sticking to my prediction from yesterday for 20 more points from Nyquist.
Joe Pavelski (3 G, 3 SOG, +2) was apparently saving these goals during the Olympics when Team USA really needed them. Maybe his coaches talked to him and made a solid case that hey, Joe, you’re only going to score so many goals in a given year so why waste them on international play? Either way, expect Pavs to give you another 20-25 points this season.
Jonas Gustavsson (1 GA, 37 SV, W) still has some value in deeper leagues given how up and down Jimmy Howard has been all season and this game only bolsters that assertion. Expect Howard to get most of the starts going forward unless he really bombs, but the Monster should still get in for back-to-back games.
Jonathan Quick (0 GA, 25 SV, W) returned to the crease to show Martin Jones how it’s done, and allowing four goals does not do it. With another shutout under his belt he carries his magnificent play from the Olympics back to the NHL. I mean, if you toss out the Bronze Medal game vs. the Fins, anyway.
Cam Talbot (1 GA, 31 SV, W) was given the opportunity to shine against the powerhouse Blackhawks and man did he ever. Talbot has really calmed the fears of Rangers fans that collectively shat a brick when Tomas Hertl drove Martin Biron into early retirement at the start of this season. King Henrik reigns supreme, and this start mostly had to do with the heavy workload that Hank handled as the Swedes marched their way to silver in Sochi.
Daniel Briere (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) had a game like he thought it was 2006! Don’t expect more of this from Briere, the fork has been stuck in him for years, he’s done, baby! I’m feeling generous, so I’ll say he can give you another 10 points, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being more around 5ish.
Jamie Benn (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) scored his lone goal on the penalty kill and man it was a beaut. Coming into the offensive zone at full speed Benn splits two defenders, uses a quick deke to throw Anton Khudobin off balance and he deftly put the biscuit in the basket. Brilliant! Benn is another guy you can expect 20-25 points from for the remainder of the season.
Nicklas Backstrom (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG, +2) fresh off failing his doping test and perhaps costing the Swedes a real chance at that gold medal, he comes back to the NHL and does this. Well, that’s easy when you’re juiced, isn’t it Nick?! To be fair, they claim he tested positive because of his allergy pills. Yeah, and the dog ate my homework. Is that fair? Maybe I’m just cynical at this point when I hear about any pro athlete doping. Ryan Braun and Lance Armstrong did it, as did so many others, Expect needles to give you another 20 points as well, though if he ups his dose, it could be 30!
Adam Henrique (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) hasn’t scored more than eight points in any month this season, but he did pot two goals last night against Sergei Bobrovsky and the Bluejackets. Here’s the thing, he’s young and he plays for a team that isn’t very offensively centric, so, expect like 5-8 more points out of him. He has the ability to push 15, but I seriously doubt it.
Logan Couture (2 G, 6 SOG, +1) was robbed by the Toronto War Room of his third goal of the night, denying him a hatty in his first game back from a lengthy absence due to a hand injury. It was clearly a goal, Emery was beat, but what else is new? It’s clear that his hand is fine, so that’s good news, anyway and two goals is great, so we can’t complain. Well, we could, but who would listen? Now that he’s healthy expect another 20-25 points with 10 more goals from Logan.
Alex Ovechkin (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG, even) was feeling extra generous last night and dished out two helpers to go along with his customary goal. At this point I figure the league should just give Ovie a goal for every game he plays regardless of the outcome, you know he’s going get his. Do I need to predict what he’ll do for the remainder of the year? 30 more points with 20 more goals isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Kari Lehtonen (1 GA, 29 SV, W) looked good again, so lets keep repeating the mantra, and say it with me now! “Please stay healthy, please stay healthy, please stay healthy…”
Darcy Kuemper (0 GA, 21 SV, W) proves that there must be something in the water in Minnesota that makes for pretty solid goaltending. Then again, Niklas Backstrom sort of ruins that hypothesis before it gets out of the gate, bummer. Backstrom is done, so stick a form in him. Josh Harding is dealing with his MS and that’s a huge wildcard, but if he comes back before the end of the year he’s absolutely going to slot back into the no. 1 job. Until then it’s all Kuemper. A word of caution as we approach the fantasy playoffs, relying on Kuemper is dangerous because of how quickly he could lose his job if Harding returns, so try and shore up your goaltending before the trade deadlines pass if you’re holding out hope that he finishes the year as the Wild’s starter.
Dustin Brown (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) now has three points in his last two games and hey, maybe I was wrong yesterday and Brown’s Olympic failures have spurned him to return to form in the NHL as the season wind’s down. I still wouldn’t count on any offensive production from him, but if you’ve braved holding Brown this long, here’s your reward.
Patrik Elias (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +1) has only played in 45 games this year and he has quietly amassed 36 points over that span. Like Johan Franzen, he’s skating on relatively fresh legs, albeit old legs, but relatively fresh regardless! He’s not nearly as streaky as The Mule, though, and could provide another 15-18 points for his owners this season.
James Neal (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) will only end up playing in around 60 games this season due to injury and kneeing people in the head, but over that span he’s capable of flirting with 80 points, no lie! If he stays on this pace, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t, you can expect another 30 points and 15 goals from Jimmy.
Brad Boyes (2 G, 3 SOG, +2) gets a mention because he had a good game, but playing in South Florida and only putting up 28 points in 57 games so far means I won’t even predict what he could give you for the next six weeks, because who cares? Its Brad Boyes on the Panthers. Yawn.
Anders Lee (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) was recalled by the Isles from their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport and promptly scored 2 goals. John who?! Thomas what?! The Isles are saved! Lee is on pace to score 44 goals! But no, seriously, like many of the Isles youth this kid has talent. He sports a big frame at 6’2”, 213lbs, skates well, has a booming shot and shows great puck possession skills. He wasn’t expected to see NHL action this year, but considering the position the Isles are in right now, why not? They aren’t going to make the playoffs, Tavares is done this season and Vanek is all but out the door, that sure sounds like a great time to get some development minutes in for the kids. I wouldn’t bother with Lee this year unless he really blows up and even next year he’s an iffy draft.
Robin Lehner (6 GA, 15 SA, L) looked terrible against an injury depleted, but still dangerous Wings squad giving up six goals in just over a period before getting pulled for the rookie Hammond. I’m still a fan of Lehners, but I can’t deny that he has been hot garbage for a bit now. I still also contend that you can’t expect a young netminder to perform well if there’s a two-week or more gap between each one of his starts. That said he couldn’t expect to play if he can’t play well, so it seems like a vicious cycle. I’ll blame it all on Craig Anderson.
Alex Stalock (3 GA, 27 SV, W) received a whole buttload o’ offensive support and won the game despite coughing up three goals. Anton Khudobin is not amused. Stalock was in there because Niemi played a lot in the Olympics and needed some rest, you know the drill. He’ll be back in there next game.
Anton Khudobin (3 GA, 30 SV, L) looked a hell of a lot better in this loss than Cam Ward did in the one prior, but now it’s completely up in the air who is going to get the next start. I’m leaning towards Khudobin, but since he didn’t do a whole heck of a lot with this start, who knows? Damn you, Carolina! If Ward gets hot, Khudobin owners are going to be out in the cold real fast, so like Darcy Kuemper you should be aware that he could lose his value pretty rapidly over the next month and change. That said, Ward will probably get hurt again, so there’s that.
Phil Kessel (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) continues to have a stellar year and he’s good for another 25 points and 10-12 more goals.
James van Riemsdyk (3 A, 2 SOG, +1) loves playing with Kessel and it continues to make him a better player game by game. Normally he’s focused on putting the biscuit in the basket, but last night he was feeling generous. So long as he plays with Kessel, and I don’t see why he wouldn’t, he’s capable of putting up another 15-20 points and 10 goals this season.
Tomas Jurco (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) is one of many young Red Wings getting a chance to shine due to all of their injuries, and here he is with two points! Jurco didn’t explode onto the NHL stage this season like I thought he might, but that doesn’t mean I was wrong about his skill level or ability, just a bit off on the timing. The fact that he’s getting these minutes this season bodes well for next year’s production and he’s going to be one of my sleepers for sure. It’s hard to predict what the kid will do, so I’ll go conservative and say 10 more points this season. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on, uh, booze.
Artem Anisimov (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) showed a lot of promise when he was on the Rangers, but the longer he’s in the league the more I understand why Slats moved him out of New York while he could. He’s just so yawnstipating and easily moved off the puck. He might give you another 8-10 points this season, but if you own him you probably aren’t contending unless it’s a pretty deep league, so it kind of doesn’t matter what he does going forward barring some miracle streak.
Michael Grabner (2 G, 6 SOG, even) scored goals in bunches in the Olympics and carried that momentum back with him to the NHL and man do the Isles need it. For a guy that scores goals, he sure hasn’t scored many this season, though. With just 11 over 57 games, you can’t expect Grabs to start potting goals left and right while the Isles get dismantled via injury and trade. 5 more goals, 10 more points at best.
Max Pacioretty (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, even) started this season well but he has really disappointed overall. He’s still going to give you another 10 goals and maybe 12 or 13 points before the end of the season, but if you throw out his goals he’s basically done nothing. Just 20 or so more assists and he’d be an elite forward, it’s so tantalizing and thus, so very disappointing.
Niklas Kronwall (3 A, +1) is one of the few defenseman you can count on to give you a decent load o’ points over the next month and a half and he showcased that ability again last night with a trio of helpers. He can give you another 15 points, most of which will come as assists, but from the blue line that’s money.
Tomas Tatar (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) hasn’t been a scoring stud by any means, but he seems to be developing some chemistry with Tomas Jurco, and that could mean big things down the stretch for both of them. It’s really hard to predict these guys, but if they click Tatar could give you another 10 points with 5 or 6 goals mixed in there.
Olli Maatta (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +1) continues his stellar rookie campaign and has four points over his last two games. Maatta is not only going to play in 80+ games he’s going to pot around 35 points doing it, which means he’s good for another 10 points this season, but he could end up matching guys like Nik Kronwall and hit the 15 point marker, which would give him 40 points this season. Nice!
Martin St. Louis (2 G, 2 SOG, +1) went back to doing what Marty does best, playing fantastic hockey and scoring mad points, y’all! It remains to be seen whether Stevie Y can find a good home to ship St. Louis off to, and right now the leading rumor has him going to New York in a straight up deal for Ryan Callahan, though that sounds like a stretch if you ask me. Regardless of where he goes, or not, he’s going to give you another 20-23 points and 10-12 more goals.
Raffi Torres (2 G, 2 SOG, +1) tore his ACL back in September and debuted this season with two goals, aaaand that’s about all you’ll get from him offensively. I mean, he can probably put up another 5-8 points and a few goals, but that’s about it.
John Carlson (2 A, 3 SOG, +1) started this season a bit slow but I’m betting he finishes with 12-15 goals and 22-25 assists before all is said and done. On the conservative side I’ll say he’s good for 5-8 more points, on the high side? 10-12.
Ondrej Pavelec (2 GA, 34 SV, W) seems somewhat motivated by my random chides and barbs hurled his way, but can you blame me?
Mike Smith (2 GA, 27 SV, L) keeping Thomas Greiss on the bench is about all Smith is accomplishing this season. How rude.
Andrew Hammond (0 GA, 11 SV, L) came in to relieve Robin Lehner who was terrible and Craig Anderson was unavailable because his wife gave birth to their second child. Ugh, Anderson, can’t even show up for a game? Where’s your commitment?! Hambone stopped all 11 shots he faced, but expect him to head back down to the AHL when Anderson returns from maternity leave.
Joni Ortio (2 GA, 22 SV, L) looked pretty solid in his NHL debut but had the bad luck of facing the Kings and Jon Quick, who shut out the Flames and made Ortio cry in his cornflakes a bit this morning. This was another case of an Olympian (Reto Barra) needing a bit more rest before getting deployed again. Ortio will stay up with the Flames until Karri Ramo returns from his sprained knee. None of this really matters, though, because you shouldn’t own any of these guys.
Braden Holtby (4 GA, 30 SV, W) won in ugly fashion, but he has been bad enough for long enough that I wouldn’t own him with your team. The goalie situation in Washington is almost always in disarray and has been for as long as I can remember.
Ben Bishop (3 GA, 26 SV, L) had to lose sometime, you know? He’s fine, we’ll call this a bit o’ rust that he had to shake off due to his Olympic snub.