Marred by injuries and a general inability to put the biscuit in the basket the first half of the 2015 season has been a huge disappointment for the Boston Bruins, but all that may be changing with the arrival of their newest weapon David Pastrnak, RW (2 G, 7 SOG, +4). They call him Pasta but he should be called butter because he’s on a roll (R.I.P Stuart Scott, you will be missed.) with five points (4 G, 1 A) in his first eight games on big ice including back-to-back two goal games. Not only that, the Bruins have one all three games that Pasta has suited up and he has a plus-5 rating over that span. It sure seems like the Bs have found their spark, but given the kid is just 18-years-old and he’s about to burn a year of his entry-level contract, fantasy owners and the Boston brass alike aren’t entirely sure what to do with him. Luckily for you, dear readers, I do! Pick him up, now.
At just 18-years-old standing 6 feet, 170 lbs. the featherweight pivot out of Havířov, Czech Republic is flat out electric on the ice. He’s overflowing with individual skills starting with his immense speed, continuing with his silky soft but strong, quick hands and finishing up with his uncanny ability to make magic while handing the puck. He has mesmerizing moves on the rush and can dangle with the best of them, though he’s probably better off leaving those tricks in the minors because at just 170 lbs. he can get eaten alive if he doesn’t keep his head up. While he bulks up he can and does up for his lack of size with fantastic vision, crafty stickhandling and elite quickness and agility, so it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to his wiry frame. Does it get better than that? It does! He’s a creative playmaker too. Add all these qualities together and you have a young superstar in the making. That might sound like hyperbole, and maybe it is, but Pasta is clearly showing that he has all the tools needed to play at a high level on big ice.
So this begs the question, what do you do with David Pastrnak? The Bruins are facing a tough decision as Pasta approaches his tenth game in the NHL this season. Once he plays in ten games the Bs lose a year of his entry-level contract and he moves ever closer to the coveted unrestricted free-agent status that a guy with Pasta’s skills could really cash in on. They’d rather avoid that, but their anemic first half says it might be worth losing the year of eligibility, and the spark he’s provided to a team that so desperately needed it lends further credence to the assertion that he should stick around beyond that tenth game. The Bs are clearly trying to give him that opportunity slotting him in along side Milan Lucic, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) and David Krecji, C (2 A, +3, 2 PIM), so they’re not starting him slowly in the bottom six, they’ve vaulted the rookie right to their top line and it’s paying dividends right away. He’s bound to slow down from his current torrid pace, but if his time in the AHL this season is any indication (27 points in 24 GP) he’s ready for the big show.
The bottom line is that Pasta is an all-world talent that is a must own in keeper leagues, and despite the questions surrounding his chances of sticking on big ice you can’t pass him up in redraft leagues either. Grab him everywhere and wait to see what the Bs brass decides to do with him. If he gets sent back down to the minors drop him. If he sticks with the Bs hold on tight and enjoy the ride. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Pekka Rinne, G (W, 20 SV, 1 GA, .952%) – Oh god help us all, Rinne is hurt, but no one knows how badly yet. I saw the play and it didn’t look too bad and word has it he went to the bench, did some stretches, didn’t favor either leg in the process and it was decided he wouldn’t go back in, so that’s good. The Preds are calling it an LBI and listing him as day-to-day, which makes me sadface, but I haven’t seen or heard anything that says he’ll be out for any more than a few games to a week. More updates as more information becomes available.
Colin Wilson, C (2 G, 2 A, 2 SOG) – I mentioned Wilson yesterday and he just keeps on scoring. A deeper dive into his numbers shows that not only is he putting a lot of shots on net he’s also consistently getting better scoring chances than just about any other forward in the game. Add those two variables together and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a four game point streak good for eight points (3 G, 5 A) and likely more to come. Add him everywhere yesterday.
Filip Forsberg, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – It was bound to happen and it has, Fil The Thrill is starting to slow down a bit. The good news is he isn’t slowing to a crawl, just edging off that torrid point-per-pace he was on for the first half of the season. He’ll remain valuable moving forward but I wouldn’t expect a second half as good as the first, the kids always get tired more quickly than the vets as counter intuitive as it might seem, so his pace will likely slow even more as we move towards 82 games, but not enough to be concerned.
Anders Lindback, G (W, 34 SV, 2 GA, .944%) – Lindy had to spell Kari Lehtonen, G (3 SV, 2 GA, .600%) again because Kari looked like hot garbage out there, again. I can’t recommend you roll Kari out there with any confidence in the second half and I wouldn’t race to add Lindy, either. This whole situation is a disaster.
Robin Lehner, G (L, 24 SV, 5 GA, .828%) – It seems all Lehner has to offer this year is sadness and disappointment, this game was nothing different. Thus proving that Craig Anderson’s investment in that voodoo doll was sound.
Mike Hoffman, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – There are so many rookies blowing up in such a big way that guys like Hoff are often overlooked, but he most definitey has value. The Hoff has been solid for the last few months putting up 8 points each month respectively and has 15 goals so far on the year. He’s getting top six minutes skating on the Sens’ second line with Mika Zibanejad, C (2 SOG, -1) and Bobby Ryan, LW (2 A, 4 SOG, -1, 2 PIM) but still lacks the power play time that would really elevate his value. Still, he’s worth owning in deeper leagues, he could give you another 10 goals in the second half.
Ales Hemsky, RW (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – I was a big fan of Hemsky’s going into the season, I figured he finally found a good place to realize his immense talent along side Jason Spezza, C (Zip, Zilch, Nada) on the Stars’ second line and top power play unit. Yeah, not so much. Through 39 games Hemsky has just 17 points, but the upside here is that five of those points (3 G, 2 A) have come in the last five games and seven in his last eight games with five goals total over that span. I’m not saying he’s going to blow up in the second half, but he might actually be worth adding for a bit and that bit is right now.
Mikkel Boedker, LW (1 G, 2 SOG) – I’ll keep the theme of “I loved these guys in the preseason, but…” going with another Boedacious plug. He has goals in three straight games now with four points (4 G, 1 A) over that span and should still be good for another 12-15 goals and 25-30 more points in the second half. That would put him at about 25 goals and 55 points, which is only five points off my pre-season predictions for him, so I’ll take it. Add him if he’s available or trade for him, you’ll likely get him for pennies on the dollar though that window is closing fast.
John Klingberg, D (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Remember Klingy? He’s the young defenseman that put up eight points in his first 10 games on big ice and went a bit cold since. He only put up three points in 12 games in December but has rebounded in January with four points (2 G, 2 A) in six games so far. He’s on pace for around 15 goals, 35 points, 50 PIM, +20 and just a bit over 100 shots on goal and that’s worth owning just about everywhere. In fact, when I think of a solid fourth defenseman with upside, Klingberg is high on the list. In keeper leagues he’s a must own.
Ben Bishop, G (L, 30 SV, 4 GA, .882%) – Big Ben got burned in this one. Through nearly two periods the Bolts and Bs were tied at two but Anton Stralman, D (1 SOG) knocked a rebound by Bish to make it 3-2 going into the third. There was no excuse for the fourth goal, but Bishop was visibly angry when that third goal squeaked by after he made the initial save. His season line is looking less and less stellar by the game and now sits at 21-7-2/2.41/.909%. That’s a far cry from the elite numbers he was putting up last year, but I think he’ll rebound and salvage his season in the second half.
Milan Lucic, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Lets put those worries about Lucic’s offensive production, or lack thereof, to bed. He has six points (3 G, 3 A) in his last five games and that matches his total for all of December. He had a brutal first half on the offensive side of the puck, but remember, he never stopped providing PIM (69), Hits (133) or a solid rating (+8) while he struggled, so now that the points have started to flow, I hope you’re among the many who held him and waited for the eruption.
Brad Marchand, C (1 G, 1 SOG, 14 PIM) – Marchand is likely going to set a career high in PIM and that pairs well with the 25 goals and 50 points he’s on pace for. What’s not to like about a guy who offers solid goal scoring and PIM? Nothing, that’s what.
Petr Mrazek, G (W, 25 SV, 1 GA, .962%) – In his first start since Jimmy Howard went down with a torn groin (ow) Mrazek was gifted a start against the league’s worst team and performed accordingly pushing 25 of 26 Sabres shots away for a 3-1 victory. Mrazek will face much stiffer competition in his next few starts facing off against the high powered Blues on Thursday and the Predators on Saturday. To this point Petey hasn’t faced competition of that caliber, so you may want to think twice about rolling him out there blindly if your peripherals are looking good for this week. In roto leagues I’d start him with similar caution. If he can’t handle the Blues, it stands to reason that the Preds won’t be much easier. This week will be a big test for the youngster.
Gustav Nyquist, C (1 G, 3 SOG) – After last night’s tally Gus has five points (1 G, 5 A) over his last five games pushing his season line to 16/14/30/-6 in 43 games played. He’s going to score 30 goals, but whether or not he works his way very far beyond 50 points is debatable. That plus/minus could use a boost, too. I like Nyquist, I think he’s going to get better, but at 25-years-old I doubt we’ll see a huge jump in production unless it happens within the next season or so.
Tomas Tatar, LW (1 G, 2 SOG) – Here’s another Wings forward on his way to a 30-goal, 50-point season. I could see Tatar slowing a bit in the second half, but he’ll end up with at least 27 or 28 goals and at most around 30 or 32. Still, for a guy most owners picked up off the wire you can’t complain. Unless you’re like me and missed the boat on Tatar, then you’re more than welcome to complain, I know I do!
Jaroslav Halak, G (W, 27 SV, 1.000%, 27 SA, SHO) – I’m hearing complaints that peeps sat The Halakness Monster last night. Why would you do such a thing? Despite the Rangers’ recent surge and their newfound ability to put the biscuit in the basket on the reg, there was no reason to sit Halak, he’s been too good for too long this season. Moving forward start him every game he’s on the ice, it doesn’t matter against whom, the Isles are solid and Halak gives them a chance to win every night.
Henrik Lundqvist, G (L, 29 SV, 3 GA, .906%) – Hank gives his team a chance to win every night, too, but not last night. One goal against was short handed on a turnover that allowed Frans Nielsen, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) to streak in and sneak one by Hank, so there’s no excuse there. Another was just a weak goal that trickled between Hank’s wickets, a puck he normally stops, so there’s that too. Combine a less than stellar night from Hank with bleh defense and zero offensive support and this is what you get.
Niklas Backstrom, G (L, 29 SV, 6 GA, .829%) – Darcy Keumper isn’t looking too bad right now, is he?
David Perron, LW (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – With last night’s stellar performance Perron has four points (3 G, 1 A) in four games since getting pardoned from the Oil in a trade. There were a couple of goose egg games between his first, when he scored a goal, and last night, but he’s put 20 shots on goal over that span and continues to skate on the Sidney Crosby, C (3 A, 3 SOG, +1) line, so the points and hits will keep flowing from Perron for a bit. He will likely be key to a lot of championship runs in the second half, though I wouldn’t be against trading him for a more reliable piece towards the deadline.
Anton Khudobin, G (W, 28 SV, 2 GA, .933%) – It took Dobby 10 games to win his first game and since he’s won three straight starts all in shootouts, but he looked great in all three games. Unfortch for him and his owners Cam Ward has played well enough compared to Dobby’s horrible start that if there were to be a change in the crease in Carolina, it would only come after a solid month of superior play from Dobby and bleh from Ward. It could happen, but I wouldn’t bet on it. In fact, I bet Ward plays just well enough to both infuriate those hoping Dobby will take over but not bad enough to lose his starting gig. Just say no to Carolina goalies this year, y’all!
Calvin Pickard, G (L, 44 SV, 2 GA, .957%) – Captain Pickard took the loss here, but it was no fault of his own. He pushed away 44 of 46 Canes shots proving once again that the Avs defense is basically non-existent and any goalie who laces up for them is going to face a ton of shots. Pickard will stick with the Avs for a few more games while Reto Berra completes his rehab assignment. If Berra continues to look listless in the crease in the minors, Pickard might stick on big ice for the remainder of the season.
Matt Duchene, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Prove me wrong. Please.
Michael Hutchinson, G (W, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – Hutch stood tall in this one but he could have coughed up five more goals and still took home the victory. We’re all glad he didn’t, but the Jets were on fire last night in a big way. Hutch continues to prove he’s the better tender in Winnipeg and that clearly hasn’t been lost on Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice, who has yet to declare Hutch the starter, but is sure treating him like one lately. As I said before, Hutch should be owned everywhere.
Dustin Byfuglien, D (2 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – Please, for the love of all that’s holy, keep this guy at D, eh? When he was a forward he did eff all, now that he’s back on the blue line he’s an absolute beast in all aspects of the game again. He has six points (2 G, 4 A) over his last three games with at least a point in each game. He sports a plus-3 over that span with six PIM and 15 shots on goal, too. That puts him on pace for 20 goals and 50 points with over 250 shots and 160 PIM by season’s end. Yeah, that’d make him the top five fantasy defenseman we all expected him to be this season.
Evander Kane, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, -1) – It has been a brutal ride, but now that the Jets seem to be 100% healthy and, for the most part, clicking offensively, Kane should be part of the party moving forward and is worth a look in all leagues. I know, I know, it’s the same old story again with this guy, but despite the horrible injury luck, the skill is still there and he’s still young. He has goals in back-to-back games now and skates on the second power play now, so there is some upside here. If he’s out there on the wire and you need some offensive help, he’s worth a flier.
Mathieu Perreault, C (4 G, 7 SOG, +4) – After last night’s insane game Maty has seen his ownership numbers jump 10-15% in most formats, but he’s still available in 3 out of 4 leagues, so if you haven’t picked up on his crazy streak then get on board now, though there’s little chance that this isn’t his peak. He showed some signs of this kind of production late last season with the Ducks and despite the slow start he could have a strong second half, though don’t expect a point-per-game pace for the remainder of the season, he should be owned everywhere right now.
Jake Allen, G (W, 13 SV, 2 GA, .867%) – Allen didn’t get challenged much in this one, I mean it’s the Oilers, what do you expect? That said, he allowed two goals to Benoit Pouliot, LW (2 G, 3 SOG, 6 PIM) on 15 shots overall, so that’s not good at all. He’s done little so far to demonstrate to the team that he can carry the load for Brian Elliott if and when Elliott tires and stumbles as we approach the playoffs. That being said, Allen can’t be sent to the minors without clearing waivers, which he obviously wouldn’t, so this is the duo you can expect moving forward. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Marty Brodeur, but I don’t think there’s room for him in the St. Louis crease unless Elliott gets hurt again.
Alexander Steen, C (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) – All right, I picked wrong on Steen. I didn’t think he would recover from an abysmal first half, but with ten points (4 G, 6 A) in his last five games and 13 points in his last seven he’s basically back on track for a stellar 70 point season. I guess it really did take him 10 years to find his scoring touch, go figure?