When the season started no one expected much from Thomas Vanek, RW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) after he crash-landed to end his 2013 season with the Habs. It was so bad by the end that the Habs were giving Vanek fourth line minutes or just flat out benching him during the Eastern Conference Finals, so if you expected a move to Minnesota to instantly fixed what ailed him, you were cray cray. Shockingly, the move did little to help matters but come to find out he was having some serious off-ice troubles that were at the heart of his sudden departure from the NHL’s goal scoring elite. Well, that nonsense has been cleaned up, he’s been rocking it for almost two months and now Charlie Coyle, C (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) is joining the party.
Normally good for a handful of faceoff wins (285) and hits (113) Coyle has started to find the offensive upside that made him a first round pick (28th overall) back in 2010. He has eight points (4 G, 4 A) over his last nine games and the surge correlates pretty closely with getting paired on the third line with Vanek and the two have hit it off big time. Do I hear wedding bells in the future? Maybe not, but hey, I’m not one to judge when it comes to matters of the heart. When it comes to matters of the puck, I am one to judge and I can’t find any reason not to love this top-nine duo, especially considering what it has been doing for Vanek who has 10 points (6 G, 4 A) over his last 10 games. He’s really turned his season around after dealing with his off ice gambling drama and over his last two months he’s posted a robust 19 points (10 G, 9 A) in 24 games. Yeah, sign me up for some of that.
Okay, so maybe Vanek’s production isn’t tied to Coyle like Coyle’s is tied to Vanek, but the fact of the matter remains; they’re white hot and if either is available in your league they’re worth owning. If you already own Vanek, make sure to keep him in your lineup. I can’t say what you can expect from Coyle in 2015, it’s anyone’s guess, but from what I’ve seen of Vanek over the last few months I’d wager he’s back on track and will be undervalued at the draft table next season. Don’t sleep, he could return to his old 30 to 35-goal self and be a very valuable sleeper pick in mid-rounds next season. In the sort term he could help carry you to a title. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Pavel Datsyuk has been ruled out for tonight and remains day-to-day moving forward. Hey, just in the nick of time! Thanks, Pavel! Ugh.
Rene Bourque is out for tonight’s game as well. There’s no word as to why, but it’s a bummer given he was skating well and scoring alongside Ryan Johansen on the Jackets’ top line.
Henrik Lundqvist is slated to get a start this weekend as the Rangers play another back-to-back set, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be available to make a big difference for his owners until the next round of the playoffs. Cam Talbot will get three more starts this week; tonight, Thursday and one of the games this weekend.
Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien both remain out for at least the next two games. Big Buff didn’t skate in practice until late and he was in no-contact mode, so that doesn’t bode well for a return to action this week.
Jon Quick, G (W, 19 SV, 1 GA, .950%) – JQ puts up another solid game steering aside 19 of 20 shots the lowly Devils could muster his way. He’s supposed to do this against teams like the Devils, so he gets no props. It’s his job. Lets see how he fares against the league leading Rangers who put up a seven spot on the Ducks this past Sunday. If he does well there, he earns some props.
Cory Schneider, G (L, 30 SV, 3 GA, .909%) – Schneids’ record is awful but that isn’t his fault. If you owned him in a league that counts losses, he killed you. If you owned him anywhere else, he helped big time. Expect more of the same next season.
Andrej Sekera, D (1 G, 2 SOG) – When Sekera was traded away from Carolina to the Kings there were a lot of ‘perts who were singing the praises of the move and claiming a return to last season’s form. I wasn’t one of them. Three points (1 G, 2 A) in 12 games since the deal and I’m sticking with the sell. Sekera had the best season he’ll ever have last year; it’s all down hill from here. Hey, that rhymes!
Tyler Toffoli, RW (1 G, 4 SOG) – Last night’s tally gives Toff 20 goals on the season and that’s pretty damn baller for the second year man. He’s going to flirt with 50 points by season’s end and will try to pot a few more before the fat lady sings, but by and large this season was a success for the young winger. Look for a step forward next season into the 25-goal, 60-point range.
Scott Gomez, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Heh, Scott Gomez.
Corey Crawford, G (W, 43 SV, 1 GA, .977%) – After coughing up four goals on 29 shots to the Stars this past Saturday Crow rebounded in a big way to shrug off 43 of 44 shots to help down the woeful Canes 3-1 last night. That’s what he’s supposed to do against teams like the Canes, so like his good buddy Jon Quick he gets no props for this one. It’s his job.
Anton Khudobin, G (L, 22 SV, 2 GA, .917%) – Dobby would probably be a decent goalie to own if he didn’t play for Carolina. Alas, he plays for Carolina. You can put two and two together here.
Patrick Sharp, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Sharp continues to enjoy his top line role with another two-point game last night. That marks his third multi-point effort in his last five games, he has six points (3 G, 3 A) over that span with a power play goal mixed in for flavor. Dude’s getting his groove back at the right time so don’t sit him for any reason, he’s the kind of hot that can carry you deep into the fantasy playoffs.
Victor Rask, C (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – If you can absorb the horrible plus/minus, Rask isn’t too bad of a pick up in deeper leagues. He’ll win some faceoffs, score a few points and he might even give you a hit or two. I’d buy that for 50 cents!
Devan Dubnyk, G (W, 35 SV, 1 GA, .972%) – Oh Doobie, how do I love you? Let me count the ways. One, two… fifty billion! Keep on with your bad self and win me a title you big, goofy lookin’ wall.
Andrew Hammond, G (W, 29 SV, 2 GA, .935%) – The Hamburgler might be stealing more than some wins ‘n burgers in 2015 if he keeps this up. He might not be holding opponents to two goals or less every single game, but he extended his win streak to a whopping nines games with last night’s win. His season line now sits at 14-0-1/1.67/.946 and I’d buy that for a dollar!
Antti Niemi, G (L, 32 SV, 4 GA, .889%) – It says a lot that the Sharks keep going with Niemi over Alex Stalock. I mean, Niemi has been pretty bad (28-22-7/2.60/.914 in 57 GP) this season and if Stalock couldn’t find his way into the mix and steal some starts this season I’m worried he never will. I’m probably off the Stalock Express come next season. Sadface.
Mika Zibanejad, C (2 G, 3 SOG, +2) – I told you not to ignore Mika down the stretch and this is why. He extended his point streak to four games with two goals last night and has five points (2 G, 3 A) over that span. What’s more, he has 10 points in 12 games this month and is fighting to hit the 50-point mark by the end of the season. I don’t know that he’ll get there, but the way he’s going, he could. Expect another step forward next season on what looks to be an underrated Sens team in 2015.
Bobby Ryan, RW (3 A, 2 SOG, +3) – A trio of helpers for his line mates and Ryan moves in on a 60-point season. He could get there, but I doubt it. 20 goals from Ryan this year is about 10 less than you drafted for, but I think his game is changing with his role in Ottawa. Still, the Sens’ top line trio is one to be feared moving forward.
Mike Hoffman, LW (1 G, 2 A, 1 SOG) – There’s some solid talent on the Sens. They just need a steady goalie and a better defense.
Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893%) – Of course the day after I say pick the guy up he coughs up three goals on 28 shots, but hey, at least he held on for the win. In defense of Let-one-in, he was beaten by a few deflections and dirty goals in this one, so it wasn’t like he was giving up softies. He’s still hot and still worth picking up if you’re hurting in the crease.
Anders Lindback, G (L, 35 SV, 4 GA, .897%) – Now Lindy, Lindy was giving up soft goals. Benn’s second was a laughable goal, it didn’t even look like Benn put much juice behind the shot, yet it still found the back of the net. The Sabres.
Jamie Benn, C (2 G, 1 A, 8 SOG) – Speaking of Benn, he had a monster game with two goals and a helper added for flavor last night. He’s been the Stars’ most consistent player all season and has 70 points in 73 games so far. Given how hot he is right now, he could easily reach for 80 points, but it’s a bit of a stretch. Still, he’ll finish with a near point-per-game pace in a season where so many of the staple offensive giants shrunk just a bit and came up short of their expected output.
Cody Eakin, C (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – Eakin isn’t going to score many goals like this, or really, give you many points at all. What he does offer is faceoff wins. I own him in a deep league for that and nothing else, because that’s really the only reason to own him. This was a bonus.
Matt Moulson, LW (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Remember when Moulson was on the Isles playing along side John Tavares and doing really well? Remember how most of us in the know said as soon as he’s off JT’s wing he’ll sink like a stone? Yeah, well, here we are.
Karri Ramo, G (W, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – Ramo is going to keep getting some starts down the stretch but it’s anyone’s guess on a given night what you’ll get. He’s mostly holding opponents under four goals, so that’s good, but it’s not great.
Semyon Varlamov, G (L, 23 SV, 3 GA, .885%) – I really can’t believe he’s going to finish with a save percentage north of .920 this year, but his current .922 says he will. Beyond that he was serviceable, but don’t expect him to return to his 2014 form anytime in the future. 30 wins, a 2.50 goals-against average and a .915-.920 save percentage is what you’ll get from Varly. That’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but don’t reach for him in drafts next season like many did this season.
Gabriel Landeskog, LW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – I don’t know what Matt Duchene, C (5 SOG) is going to do in 2015 but I can tell you what I think Landy will do; blow the eff up. Through the first 48 games of the season he put up a paltry 28 points (9 G, 19 A) and everyone was moving to panicville. He has 23 points (12 G, 11 A) in his last 24 games since that horrible start and he’s showing the kind of leadership and scoring ability that can make him a superstar if he takes a step forward next season. If you haven’t already gathered, I’m pretty sure that will happen. Don’t sleep on Landy next season; he’s going to be fantasy gold.
Jiri Hudler, LW (1 G, 1 SOG) – I’m continually blown away whenever I see Hudler’s name on the score sheet this late in the season. He’s never done will in the second half but that trend may be over.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (W, 33 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – Pavs is getting hot at the right time for Pavs owners and the wrong time for Michael Hutchinson owners. It looks like Hutch will get a start tonight in the second-half of a back-to-back set and take on Eddie Lack and the Canucks, but Pavs has been so solid I figure the Jets go right back to him in the next game unless Hutchinson plays some unreal hockey. This means little for next season though, when I assume Hutch will get a chance to earn the starting job and will likely win it.
Tyler Myers, D (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) – What a difference a change of scenery can make. In 47 games with the Sabres Myers put up just 13 points (4 G, 9 A) to go with a minus-15 rating. That’s so bad it gave me lupus. It’s never lupus, though. Anyway, he has 11 points (3 G, 8 A) and a plus-8 rating in just 13 games with the Jets. Myers had some injury troubles in the past and, you know, playing for the Sabres will hurt a man’s soul something awful, too. All that’s over now and you should consider Myers a potential elite option on the blue line in 2015. Could he be top 10? Probably not. But could he be top 20? Mayhaps, mayhaps.
Drew Stafford, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Moving away from the Sabres is the best career move any hockey player can make, clearly. In 50 games with the Sabres Staff mustered just 24 points (9 G, 15 A) and a minus-18 rating. In 17 games with the Jets he has 14 points (7 G, 7 A) and a plus-4 rating. Yeah, pick him up. He doesn’t have the upside for 2015 that Myers does, but he’s definitely going to be a serviceable, late round, secondary scoring option that can give you 20 goals and 45-50 points and that’s worth owning in most formats.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – The Nuge continues his late season surge with another goal on two shots last night. Over his last two months he has 24 points (11 G, 13 A) in 23 games. That’s fantastic. He has 16 points (7 G, 9 A) over his last 10 games. That’s ridiculous. The bummer here is most owners who have Nuge are probably out of contention already anyway, but hey, there’s hope for 2015.