Rick Nash (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) finally showed some of his old Nashty-self potting two goals against his former team last night, aaaaand the Rangers lost anyway. It’s quickly becoming a season for Nash who was expected to score 40 goals and keep a point-per-game pace, but has come up well short of that with just 18 points in 27 games so far. When he was traded to the Rangers with his $7.8 million dollar salary he was billed as the superstar that would finally help the Rangers score goals. Well, the Rangers are near the bottom of the league in scoring and Nash hasn’t looked 100% right since his concussion, and that has to worry Rangers faithful and fantasy owners alike. Apparently all of this was overlooked by Team Canada, who added him to their Olympic squad while leaving guys like Claude Giroux and Martin St. Louis off. I’m not sure what logic they were using making that decision but I’ve heard and read rumblings about “international experience” or some such nonsense as the deciding factor. At any rate, that’s neither here nor there, but it bugs me. And just about every hockey fan in Canada I bet. Unfortunately for fantasy owners there isn’t much you can do with Nash at this point but hope for a turn around. Hey, maybe the Olympics will spark him for a solid stretch run, or maybe I’m just telling myself that because I own him. Blah. You can’t trade him for even close to the value you paid and you can’t drop him because he can go off any day and score goals like it’s going out of style, so you have to sit tight and take it. Just like Rangers fans! Aw. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
John Tavares (3 G, 2 A, 6 SOG, +3) sure is good at hockey.
Paul Stastny (1 G, 2 A, 1 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has five points in three games this month and if his first half is any indication that’s going to be just about all he gives you in January. Stas has failed to score more than 8 points in any month this year, remains on pace for barely 60 points and may not even hit that. He only has value in very deep leagues.
James Wisniewski (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) showed some signs of life again after an injury shortened, miserable December that saw him post just two points in seven games. Since returning from injury he has five points in seven games and remains on pace to hit the high 40s before season’s end. He’s worth owning in most formats, but in deep leagues that count stats like hits, blocks his value is even higher.
Brandon Dubinsky (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) continues his career year with another good game, though for Dubs a career year means high 50s for points with a smattering of goodness from just about every other category you can think of. His worth is limited to deep, stats heavy leagues and I figure he returns to his days of 40-45 point production next year.
Nathan MacKinnon (2 G, 6 SOG, even) scored two goals in back-to-back games and has six goals in his last five games with seven points over that span. I’ve mentioned MacKinnon before, and I keep telling you to pick him up, so I’ll say it again. Pick him up. ESPN people listen, he’s owned in 100% of leagues there. Yahoo!? Just 51%!
Thomas Vanek (2 A, 3 SOG, +2, 4 PIM) had a monster December putting up 14 points in 14 games and has continued his stellar play in the new year with five points in his last three. Vanek has always been a goal-scoring machine, but playing with John Tavares sure does make him look like a more complete player, doesn’t it? To be fair, I’d look like a more complete player on a line centered by Tavares.
Mike Cammalleri (1 G, 5 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) is one of those guys that seems like he’s been around forever but really, just ten long years. Why long? Because this dude is always freakin’ hurt! Oddly enough he’s on pace for 28 goals this season, but that’s about it, and his value outside of that is nil. If you really, really need a few extra goals he might give you some, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Max Pacioretty (1 A, 9 SOG, +1) assisted on David Desharnais’ first period goal and its always news when Max gets a helper. So far he has seven in 32 games and is on pace for 15 on the year. He’s also still on pace for 40 goals. Yeah, 40 goals and 54 points overall. While that’s great for building an actual hockey team, it hurts fantasy owners. He should be a 70 point guy.
Andrew MacDonald (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) extended his points streak to five games with eight assists over that span. Not one goal? Puh! Still, five of those assists came on the power play and guess who scored them all? I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t Vanek. Anyway, I always confuse this guy with Andy MacDonald, and it’s not just the name that causes the confusion.
Jiri Hudler (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +1) has remained remarkably consistent so far this season posting 13 points in each of the first two months. He followed that up with 10 points in 14 games played last month and now has 2 points in two games this month. He remains on pace for damn near 70 points and that’s freakin’ remarkable all things considered. I honestly didn’t expect him to maintain a steady pace like this, but hey, I’m not complaining.
Valeri Nichushkin (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) started the season slowly but had a great December with 12 points in 15 games playing along side Tyler Seguin on the top line. He has two goals this month in two games and should already be owned in all keeper leagues. He’s a decent second half sleeper in standard formats, but given his youth he’s likely to give us one more solid month, then fade, and hopefully come back next year even stronger.
Brian Gionta (1 G, 4 SOG, even) has goals in back-to-back games now, but has little fantasy value. He also suffers from the same condition Mike Cammalleri does; you see his name and think “That guy is still around?!” thinking it’s been like 18 years since he was a rookie, more like 11. Unlike Cammalleri, Gionta has been largely injury free, but so bloody boring he’s easy to forget.
Brian Strait (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) is a big, young defensive defenseman and isn’t worth your attention. He will become a steadying influence on the Isles’ blue line if he pans out, though.
Ryan Strome (1 G, 5 SOG, even) finally scored the first goal of his career in his eleventh game on the big stage. Strome was absolutely destroying the AHL, but hasn’t done much since getting called up with just four points in 11 games so far. If he gets time playing with Tavares and Vanek look out, the kid could explode, but otherwise it seems he still needs time to adapt to the speed of the game before he can tap into some of those tasty offensive talents of his.
Cam Atkinson (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) is a hard working, fast skating, quick shooting young winger that has all the tools to succeed in the NHL. He knows how to find the back of the net and is on pace for 40 points in 80 some games this season. That’s not great, but despite his diminutive size (5’9”) he’s steadily improved at the NHL level and is likely to stick around. He has little value now, but he could be solid breakout candidate next year.
Jamie Benn (1 G, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) keeps doing what Jamie Benn always does – score points! He’s not going to hit that coveted point-per-game pace, but he looks to end up in the mid-70s and that’s fantastico! Tyler Seguin, Valeri Nichushkin and he make up the offensive core and future of the Dallas Stars and any of the three make a great addition to any fantasy lineup.
David Desharnais (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) is trying like mad to not be as yawnstipating as I labeled him before, but I’m still not on board. He’s doing well lately with 14 points in his last 17 games playing along side Max Pacioretty and I suspect he’s capable of around 10-12 points per 15-18 games played moving forward. Yawn.
Sean Monahan (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) continues to be streaky, but what young player isn’t? He’s on pace for a 26 goal rookie season, so like I said before, keeper leagues, yes. Standard leagues, no.
Brad Richards (1 A, 6 SOG, even) scored a point for the second straight game and is probably the most overpaid player in the league other than Cam Ward. He’s on pace for just 54 points and he’s a drag on the Rangers and fantasy owners alike. If you are stuck with Richards, he’s more droppable than say, Rick Nash, but he’s still good enough not to dump for nothing. That being said, if fantasy playoff time comes and he’s not hot, dump his sorry butt for someone who’s scoring.
Thomas Hickey (1 A, 4 SOG, even) has the potential to become a power play specialist and QB, but is largely forgettable fantasy wise this year. We’ll keep an eye on him moving forward though.
Michael Del Zotto (1 A, +1) wasn’t a healthy scratch for once! Once upon a time (just two years ago) he put up 41 points in 77 games and averaged around 22 minutes a game. It seemed like Del Zotto arrived as a top offensive option on the blue line for fantasy owners, but now he can’t even find enough love to dress and sit the pine. What a shame. The Rangers are not only open to trading him, they’re actively shopping him around the league but are demanding a top-four defenseman in return. Glen Sather is truly out of his mind.
Sergei Bobrovsky (3 GA, 40 SV, W) returned from his LBI to outlast the Rangers 4-3 in OT. This was a great return to action for Bobrovsky. I doubt I have to say it again, but just to be safe, he’ll be getting most of the starts moving forward regardless of what Curtis McElhinney did in Bobrovsky’s absence. Deploy him as you normally would. Which is carefully, because he plays for the Blue Jackets. Gross.
Tim Thomas (2 GA, 33 SV, L) belongs in the hockey hell of south Florida, don’t you think? I sure do.
Henrik Lundqvist (3 GA, 36 SV, L) really needs to get it together as he took his second loss in a row and now sports a season line of 12-16-3/2.78/.906/2 and is not playing at all like the highest paid goaltender in the league should. You could blame it on the lackluster play of the Rangers, but their D is solid and they rank high on the PK and in most overall defensive categories. No, this is on Hank. He’s either playing hurt or, honestly I don’t know. If you can pry him away from his owners on a buy-low bid he’s well worth the gamble for a second half run, his value has never been lower.