It might seem like crazy talk to consider Victor Hedman a buy-low candidate, but right now, in the right situation, he is absolutely ripe for the plucking. You won’t be able to get him for pennies on the dollar but what you do have the opportunity to do is pay a whole lot less for him than you ever thought possible.
After last season’s breakout 55-point performance expectations were high for Hedman going into the ’14-’15 season and he answered the call early on with seven points in his first five games before breaking a digit blocking a shot with his hand. Smart. Since his return he’s posted just six points (all helpers) in 12 games and sunk to a new low last night with no points and no shots on goal in a 3-1 loss to the Isles. That masks what is otherwise a strong start this season with 13 points in 17 games so far and I’ve heard the beginnings of grumbles o’ doubt about whether my Sun and Stars will return to form again this season. Long story short, yes he will. There are owners out there with short memories and shorter tempers and now is the time to find them and exploit them for your gain. If you take into account that Hedman was only on the ice for five games before missing 18 over the course of a month and has now returned with lots of zeros on the score sheet, he might strike some owners as a lot worse than he really is. A bust, even? Blasphemy!
The key to closing a deal for players of his magnitude is finding an owner in the right situation at the right time. Is there an owner who has Hedman but is languishing in the bottom of your league? If he’s hurting on offense Hedman’s lack of production recently will seem all the more glaring and that opens up a small window of opportunity for you to swoop in and make Hedman your number two defenseman. It might sound too good to be true, but these types of owners make great targets to snatch under performing superstars from if you offer the right package. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Anze Kopitar, C (3 A, 2 SOG) – For those of you who held on to Igor your just dues have arrived. Saying “for those who held on” is probably a bit disingenuous considering how awful he’s been up to this point, you kind of had no choice but to hold on and pray to the hockey gods that he’d find his way out of the darkness and into the light. Well, he found the light with a whopping nine points in his last three games. His explosion has coincided with the return of the most fragile man in hockey, Marian Gaborik, RW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +1) who has eight of his own points (6 G, 2 A) over his last four games with at least a goal in each game with back-to-back two goal shows. This line woke up when Jeff Carter, C (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) joined the fun and the trio have 18 points in their last three games. Lawds have mercy, I have never seen a sell high screaming so loudly at me than Gabby is right now. Both of these guys are known quantities and what’s known is Igor will produce and Gabby will get hurt. Hold Kopitar and Carter, Sell Gabby.
Calvin Pickard, G (W, 34 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – Avs Head Coach Patrick Roy was quick to peg the injured Semyon Varlamov as the Avs’ starter when asked about what they plan to do with Captain Pickard when Varly returns from his 47th groin injury this year. He also said they wouldn’t be sending Pickard down despite the “95%” probability that Varly will be activated and start Tuesday’s game. That puts Reto Berra‘s future with the Avs in question despite his one-way deal. I’m honestly not too sure how this will play out so hold Pickard for now. In either case, when Varly comes back if he can play well it sounds like he has Roy’s vote as the starter in a pretty firm way, relegating Pickard to backup duties and he’ll have the most value in deeper leagues, that is until Varly hurts that groin again.
Petr Mrazek, G (L, 22 SV, 1 GA, .957%) – Mrazek is another young backup that is playing very well but might get the short end of the stick when the guy he’s filling in for returns to the lineup. Jonas Gustavsson is on pace to recover from his shoulder surgery by February and after a conditioning stint in the AHL he should be back by the beginning of March at the latest. I imagine regardless of how well Mrazek plays he’ll end up back in the AHL when the Monster returns. In the meantime he’s been stellar and should be owned in all deep leagues where goalies come at a premium.
Erik Johnson, D (1 G, 1 SOG) – Johnson is having a beast of a week with five points (4 G, 1 A) in his last five games with points in back-to-back games. He’s on pace for 20 goals and 46 points by season’s end and you can’t ask or hope for much more than that from the young defenseman. He should set career highs in goals and points this season.
Pavel Datsyuk, C (1 G, 7 SOG) – Dats snaps a three game skid with the lone goal for the Wings in a 2-1 loss to the Avs last night. He was bound to slow down after returning from injury and posting 15 points in 13 games in late October and early November. It’s not surprise that he’s put up 24 points in 23 games, the only question is when is he going to get hurt and how long he’ll be out this time. I love Dats, I think he’s one of the most gifted offensive forces in the game, but he’s made o’ glass y’all! I’d move him for someone who will match is production but not his fragility.
Kari Lehtonen, G (L, 15 SV, 4 GA, .789%) – Ugh, just when it looked like Lehtonen would actually start playing to his ADP, he goes and gets bombed out of a game against the hapless Oil about midway through the second. Anders Lindback, G (L, 9 SV, 1 GA, .900%) came in to hold fort until the shootout and get the Stars a point, but fell short in the shootout. Bench Lehtonen, in some shallow leagues he might even be droppable right now.
Ben Scrivens, G (W, 40 SV, 5 GA, .889%) – Oh Scribbles, even in a win you cough up five. The Oilers are a disaster. How bad is it? They told top prospect Leon Draisaitl that he was needed on big ice and couldn’t join Team Germany at the World Juniors, then promptly sat him in the press box as a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. Ah yes, that’s some top-notch prospect development strategy right there. Keep up the good work guys!
Jamie Benn, LW (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – Benn has quietly maintained a near point-per-game pace all season long and for some reason people are trading him like he hasn’t been and that boggles my mind. He has 30 points in 32 games and is on pace for around 80 by season’s end. That’s elite. Stop trading him for pennies on the dollar you crazy people.
Tyler Seguin, C (2 G, 1 A, 9 SOG) – Seguin seems unstoppable this season and his goal scoring madness is putting even the best Ovie season to shame if he can keep up the pace. With 25 goals in just 32 games Seguin is on pace for 65 goals by season’s end and that’s madness wrapped in crazy bundled in lunacy. I highly doubt he gets to 65 but well into the 50s seems like a foregone conclusion. If I had to choose between owning Sidney Crosby or Seguin right now, I’d take Seguin without a moment’s hesitation.
Taylor Hall, LW (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – It’s good to see Hall remembered how to play the game. Also, bonus points, he remembered to put the puck on net! Wow. Much skill. Such scoring.
Mark Acrobello, C (2 G, 2 SOG, +1) – This was a rare offensive outburst for Acrobat and you can’t count on him to do much of the same moving forward. He does win a decent amount of faceoffs if you’re into that sort of thing though.
Tuukka Rask, G (W, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893%) – Rage Monster’s middling season continues as he let the streaking Sabres force him into OT, but held on for the 4-3 victory.
Jhonas Enroth, G (L, 33 SV, 4 GA, .892%) – Here’s a fun fact that might scare the ever loving crap out of Rask owners; Enroth’s season line to date is 10-11-2/3.05/.912% and Rask’s is 13-10-2/2.56/.913%. If I told you at the start of the season that Enroth’s numbers would be this close to Rask’s as we approached the halfway mark of the season you’d have slapped me and called me a madman, but here we are. Ah the risks of taking goalies early. It’s not worth it, y’all!
Loui Eriksson, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – With five points (3 G, 2 A) in his last five games and six in his last seven Loui is trying like hell to make himself fantasy relevant again and as a streamer he’s definitely hit the mark. If he’s available in your league don’t be shy about adding him while he’s scoring. Fun fact! Loui’s goal last night came in OT and he currently leads the NHL in OT goals. He’s coming through when it counts, anyway.
Dougie Hamilton, D (2 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – This three point effort saved what would have been an otherwise beh month for Hamebone after he posted eight points in 12 games in November. Still, overall he’s stepped up and is on pace for around 50 points by season’s end. That would double his point total of 25 from last season, so I’m thinking he’ll end up shy of the 50-point mark by season’s end, but not by much.
Zdeno Chara, D (2 A, 4 SOG, +2) – Hambone was filling in the gaping hole left by this big fella who clearly looks healthier than he did to start the season now. His season will be a disappointment by Chara standards and I think the injury bug is one of many indicators that he’s in decline, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a solid 2nd or 3rd defenseman for the remainder of this season, anyway.
Antti Raanta, G (W, 31 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Raanta is showing why the Hawks decided to keep him on big ice while sending Scott Darling back to the AHL when Corey Crawford, G (L, 17 SV, 2 GA, .895%) returned from his latest injury. Crawdad didn’t look awful but not spectacular stopping 17 of 19 shots for a 3-2 SO loss to the Jackets in his return to action this past Saturday and of course Raanta took the back end of the back-to-back games. Expect Crawdad to be back in the crease and back in control of the Hawks’ starting gig moving forward though Raanta retains value in deep leagues.
James Reimer, G (L, 30 SV, 4 GA, .882%) – Rhymes came in to relieve Jonathan Bernier, G (L, 34 SV, 7 GA, .829%) in the end of a 7-4 blowout loss to the Flyers on Saturday then promptly sucked it up in this one coughing up four goals to the Hawks for the loss. Bernie was solid for a while before getting tagged for seven goals and he should return to form quickly enough, though I maintain that I wouldn’t own Leafs goalies with that defense in front of them. Yeesh.
Kris Versteeg, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) – If I were asked whom I thought my best wire pickup so far this season would be it has to be Versteeg. He was virtually forgotten on draft day and even after working his way onto the now stellar second line for the Hawks skating with Patrick Kane (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) and Brad Richards (4 SOG, -1, 2 PIM) he still languished on the wire needlessly. Fast-forward to now and he played most of his minutes last night on a line with Patrick Sharp (3 A, 4 SOG, +2) and Kane. If that somehow sticks, it’s definitely the Hawks’ top unit and Versteeg should flourish there. Even if that line doesn’t stick he’s clearly in the top-six mix for the Hawks no matter what. Given that he’s on pace for 25 goals and 65 points with a plus-44 by season’s end no, you shouldn’t drop him and yes, he can definitely hit those marks.
Brent Seabrook, D (2 A, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) – I drafted Seabiscuit for his shots, blocks, hits and plus/minus and looked at getting 40 points from him as a bonus. After last night’s two helpings o’ helpers he’s on pace to tally nearly 50 by season’s end while continuting to put up the shots (74), hits (52), blocks (53) and solid rating (+5). Everyone welcome Seabrook to the ranks of the fantasy elite.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 18 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – I own Talbot in the RCL and he’s given me three wins, all three were shutouts. I’ll take that and then some! Digging deeper, 40% of all of Cam’s NHL victories have come by way of the shutout. That’s not sustainable, obviously, and is a testament to both how well the Rangers manage his minutes and just how good he can be. You can expect 20-25 starts by season’s end with stellar numbers. In deep leagues where goalies are scarce, Talbot has a lot of value and should remain valuable throughout the season.
Anton Khudobin, G (L, 30 SV, 1 GA, .968%) – Dobby really can’t buy a win and this time it absolutely wasn’t his fault. He pushed away 30 of 31 Rangers shots but the Canes provided zero offensive support and he watched his record fall to 0-8-2. I can think of no better image to describe his season than his attempt to get off the ice for the extra skater towards the end of regulation last night. Stay strong, buddy! It can’t get much worse than that.
Ryan McDonagh, D (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Mac Truck hasn’t been what we expected him to be this season, or has he? It looked to me as if he started the season with the same shoulder problem that cost him the last few games of last season. Now that he’s fixed that issue he seems to be on track with what could reasonably be expected of him at this point with 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in 20 games played so far. That puts him on pace for around 35 points though with a burst here and there he can hit 40. If you take away the injury time he’d be pushing 50 at least, so don’t sleep on Mac. In fact, he’s a great buy low candidate and will likely be undervalued at the draft table in 2015 unless he really steps it up in the second half of this season.
Rob Zepp, D (W, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893%) – Led Zepp isn’t going to be the savior the Flyers or Steve Mason owners are hoping for. The 33-year-old netminder out of Scarborough, Ontario made his first ever start on big ice last night becoming the oldest goalie to make his NHL debut since 1926. While handled himself well and the Flyers totally let him down on defense, I don’t forsee Zepp stepping up to eat up a significant enough portion of the starts for the Flyers to make him worth adding. I mean would you want to own a Flyers goalie even if he did? You shouldn’t.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (L, 19 SV, 4 GA, .826%) – For the last week and change I’ve had the crazy idea in my head that Pavs would remain the starter for the Jets for the rest of the season so the club could handle Michael Hutchinson’s development slowly and correctly, but with the two netminders alternating starts for a few weeks now and Pavs largely sucking it up and Hutch looking like the starter I’m not quite so sure anymore. Hutch should be owned everywhere at this point. Even if he doesn’t win the starter’s gig outright, he’s clearly earned a 50/50 split for now and I’d buy that for a dollar!
Jakub Voracek, RW (2 G, 3 SOG, +2) – What Jake is doing this season is one part cray and two parts insane. With seven points in his last three games his season line now sits at a miraculous 14/30/44 in 33 games played so far. I didn’t expect this, you didn’t expect this, but if you own Jake in a keeper league, he’s your freakin’ keeper for next season, that’s for damn sure.
Mark Streit, D (1 A, 2 SOG, +4, 2 PIM) – Believe it or not the 37 year old is on pace for another 50 point campaign with a plus-20 rating to pair with it. He spends a lot of time on the Flyers’ top power play unit and shows no signs of slowing down as 2015 marches on.
Dustin Byfuglien, D (1 G, 2 SOG, -2) – Big Buff continues to roll since getting pushed back to the blue line with three points (1 G, 2 A) in his last four games putting him on pace for 43 points by season’s end. With every passing game it seems more likely that Buff can push the 50-point mark by then, too. ESPN recently went against its published policy of not updating position eligibility mid-season and gifted ESPN users that beautiful D next to Buff’s name so the buy-low window on him has closed, but there might be some clueless owners out there that would still move him for pennies on the dollar.
Mathieu Perreault, C (1 G, 2 SOG, 2 PIM) – Perrier pushes his point streak to seven games with 9 points in his last eight to boot! He isn’t an offensive powerhouse so this is just a hot streak, but ride it while it lasts. The Jets aren’t as awful as they looked to start the season.