When the Sharks moved Brent Burns to the wing last year hoping he could elevate his offensive game to the next level they were quickly made to realize that Burns isn’t a scoring forward, he’s a scoring defenseman. After a meh season on the wing he was shifted back to the blue line and wouldn’t you know it, he’s been rocking it this season to the tune of 22 points in 29 games so far. The story with Dustin Byfuglien, D (1 G, 6 SOG, 2 PIM) is much the same, but with a few twists. After three 50-plus point seasons as a defenseman the Jets, in desperate need of scoring up front, decided to conduct their own little experiment and shift Buff to the wing. The idea had merit, he’d get top six minutes and he might just make for a bruising power forward with some solid offensive upside. So here we are a third of the way through the 2014-15 season and they’ve already shifted him back to the blue line and according to Jets Coach Paul Maurice he’ll remain there “until further notice.” That’s good news for fantasy owners considering he’s scored goals in each of his last four games and has five points over that span since the transition. He’s also taken 21 shots on goal and played as much as 28 minutes the other night. Expect him to return to the top power play unit and eat up some tasty minutes there, too. The question now isn’t whether you should pick him up if a frustrated owner dropped him already, but where he can gain eligibility at D back, if he ever lost it. In Yahoo leagues he’s been listed with D eligibility since the start of the season, but in ESPN he’s listed as a RW only and according to ESPN’s site it’s going to stay that way until next season. So be aware ESPN owners, you can’t grab him now and wait for his position eligibility to change because it won’t. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
Frederik Andersen, G (W, 27 SV, 3 GA, .900%) – It’s another ugly win for Freddy as he continues to limp along in mediocrity after a stellar October may have set expectations unreasonably high going forward. I think Andersen is a solid goalie with the potential to be very good, but it’s becoming more clear by the day that when John Gibson returns to the lineup, this situation will quickly turn into a time share that leans towards the hot hand moving forward.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (L, 21 SV, 4 GA, .840%) – Since Michael Hutchinson emerged as a viable starter he has been basically alternating starts with Pavs since mid-November. With a few more games like this, Hutch might take over the starting gig sooner than later. Honestly, it was only a matter of time before Pavelec regressed from his hot start, so this isn’t shocking. The only question is whether or not Hutch is ready to take the torch or not. Either he is, or this situation stays a time-share for the rest of the season. I’d own Hutch and you know how I feel about Pavs.
Jakob Silfverberg, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – With last night’s tally Silver has four points over his last four games with goals in his last two. Is he finally starting to realize his potential? Is it just a streak? I honestly can’t say. He’s been playing with Andrew Cogliano for the entire season so far with Devante Smith-Pelly joining his line for this recent outburst, so it could be the addition of DSP, but who knows? In deeper keepers he’s worth a flier if you have room, but there’s so much unfulfilled potential here already I’m hesitant to endorse adding him until I see more.
Ryan Kesler, C (1 G, 7 SOG) – His first month was fairly meh with eight points in 12 games, but since then he’s been banging away at the pace we all hoped for with 14 points over his last 17 games. I’d say he’s a safe bet for around 65 points by season’s end.
Kyle Palmieri (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Palms seems to have found a home on Kesler’s wing, so that bodes well for his production moving forward but it’s nothing to get too excited about. He could give you 20 goals this year, but not much else. He’s worth a flier in deeper leagues.
Ryan Getzlaf, C (3 A, 3 PTS, +1) – I doubt you’ll see 30 goals out of Getz this season, but he has 10 points over his last five games and he’s on pace for 80 points again and I’d buy that for a dollar!
Andrew Ladd, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – After this two point game Ladd has six points over his last five and five over his last two. He’s on pace for around 30 goals and 60 points, both markers he’s flirted with before in his career so I see no reason why he won’t hit them both this year, or at least come very close. He’s often listed as a guy to drop for the latest hot hand, but he shouldn’t be. Hold on to him, he’s nothing flashy, but he’s good for goals and generally consistent scoring. Hell, he’s a plus-five on the Jets, now that’s impressive. Show some love, people!
Jacob Trouba, D (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Tuba is good and he’s only going to get better, so it’s good to see him get in gear after an abysmal start to the season that saw him tally just one point over his first 10 games. He has six points over his last five games and that puts him on pace for around 12 goals and 35 points, nearly identical numbers to his rookie season last year. I figure he’ll hit both of those markers, though anything else is a bonus. Sometime soon he’s going to explode, though, and that heavy shot and smooth skating of his will turn him into an elite scoring threat from the blue line. That could happen as early as next season.
Petr Mrazek, G (W, 34 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – His record might be 3-0-0 but he hasn’t looked overly solid in the first two starts. That changed last night when he pushed 34 of 35 Carolina shots away for a 3-1 victory. So long as Jonas Gustavsson is out Mrazek will continue to get a start or so a week.
Cam Ward, G (L, 19 SV, 3 GA, .864%) – Ward’s season has been all over the place so far. He opened up with five bleh starts and an injury that cost him 10 days or so. Then he came back from injury and reeled off five straight victories only to drop six of his next nine. His peripherals are around what I’d expect from a solid season out of Ward with a 2.51 GAA and .909 SV% but the wins are going to be scarce. I wouldn’t own him with your team, but if you do have him, it could be a lot worse.
Pavel Datsyuk, C (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG) – Dats now has nine points over his last five games, 14 over his last 12 and 22 points in just 17 games overall so far this season. That puts him on pace for 92 points in less than 80 games. That’s ridiculous. Despite that, he’s talented enough to meet those totals, but he’s made of glass so I’d expect right as you really, really need him to keep scoring he’s going to get hurt and leave you in a pool of bitter tears and regret. If you wanted to trade him now, his value will never be higher, so I’d advise it. Otherwise, hang on and hope and enjoy the ride in the meantime.
Tomas Tatar, RW (2 G, 2 SOG, +2) – It’s no coincidence that Tatar’s scoring started when he joined Dats’ line and if he’s moved off that line or Dats gets hurt, expect it to stop abruptly. Tatar is good, but he’s more of a role player than a scoring forward and he’s definitely living on the space that Dats creates for him. That’s not to say he shouldn’t be added everywhere while he’s scoring, just don’t get too excited over the long term. His production seems line dependent and Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock loves to shuffle his lines.
Craig Anderson, G (W, 30 SV, 3 GA, .909%) – Whenever I see that Anderson has a SV% of .927% I start to feel a bit sick to my stomach. Is everything I know about hockey a lie?! No, but Anderson really is handling the mountain of shots he faces fairly well so far. I have zero confidence in him so far, the wins will come few and far between on the Sens for any goalie and his GAA (2.50) is about where I’d expect it, so I suppose it’s just a matter of sitting back and waiting for him to implode again.
Eddie Lack, G (L, 41 SV, 4 GA, .911%) – Oh Eddie, you’re always the bridesmaid and never the bride. He came in to spell Ryan Miller on Saturday and stopped all 13 shots he faced, so naturally he earned himself a start the next night annnnnd he allowed 4 goals on 45 shots for the loss. To be fair 45 shots is a ridiculous onslaught and he did fairly well handling it, but four goals allowed is four goals allowed. It’ll be Miller Time in the next tilt for the Canucks fo’ sho’.
Radim Vrbata, RW (1 G, 1 A, 8 SOG) – Have you seen this goal? It’s absolutely gorgeous; the hands, the patience, the vision. And is there anything better than seeing Craig Anderson get deked out of his pads? The answer is no, no there isn’t.
Mika Zibanejad, C (2 G, 2 A, 5 SOG) – It’s possible that Zibachmadenijad is finally living up to the hype, but I doubt it. Still, he’s scoring like whoa to the tune of seven points in his last five, so he should be added anywhere while he’s scoring and dropped flatter than the funny pages when he stops, and he will stop. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this four-point performance is the zenith of his current streak.
Erik Karlsson, D (1 G, 8 SOG, -1) – Wow, the Sens have made Erik Karlsson look human. That’s pretty bad. For both his fantasy owners and for the Senators, I mean who else do they have? Bobby Ryan (3 A, 5 SOG, +3)? Don’t get me started. There isn’t much you can do with Karlsson but hold him and hope. The minus-10 isn’t going to improve much, but his scoring touch should kick in sooner or later. We hope.
Ben Scrivens, G (W, 20 SV, 1 GA, .952%) – Oh! The Oil finally win a game after dropping 12 straight! That’s a horrible losing streak, but of course this had to come at the expense of Alex Stalock (22 SV, 2 GA, .917%) who in his first start back after recovering from knee surgery looked very solid. I doubt very seriously that this is the start of anything positive for Scribbles or the Oil, but lets let them have their moment in the sun.
Nail Yakupov, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – It was Yakupov’s third period goal that sealed the deal for the Oil last night so he gets a mention. It’s the only time all season I’ve had reason to mention him at all considering he has eight points in 25 games so far. What’s that I hear? The KHL calling? You better pick up, Nail, because your time in the NHL is running out fast.
David Perron, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Perron has four points in his last four games and that puts him on pace for around 45 points by season’s end. That’s not bad for him considering he’s an Oiler, but that might change soon as trade rumors have begun to swirl around with his name coming up often. If he moves to a contender he’ll be worth a look in a lot of leagues but for now he’s meh.
Aaron Ekblad, D (3 A, 3 SOG, +3) – Ek has six points over his last four games with at least one point in each contest over that span. The rookie is showing veteran poise and maturity out there and its translating to points on the board. At this point Ekblad should be owned everywhere.
Nick Bjugstad, C (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) – Jugs keeps on rolling with another two points on Saturday. That gives him five points over his last two games and puts him on pace for 35 goals and 50-plus points by season’s end. I doubt he gets to the 35 goals, but 25-30 is a doable number for him. 50 points sounds about right. This kid is going to be something special; he remains a no-brainer in all keeper leagues.
Dougie Hamilton, D (2 A, 5 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) – I speculated that Hambone might be the guy to step up and fill the sizeable gap that injuries to Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara left on the Boston blue line and for a bit it didn’t seem like he would. That’s no longer the case. He has five points over his last five games and is now on pace for 50 points and 15 goals. I can see 12-15 goals, but 50 points? Eh, that’s a stretch. We’ll have to see how the pairings shake out when Chara returns later this month, but Hambone remains a must own everywhere regardless.
Scott Darling, G (W, 1 GA, 32 SV, 97.0 SV%) – Darling picks right up where he left off the last time Corey Crawford went down with an injury and pushes away 32 of 33 Nashville shots for a 3-1 victory on Saturday night. Antti Raanta has looked stellar in the two starts before this, so at best we’re looking at a 50/50 time-share at the moment, with Raanta holding a slight lead. That could change and expect Joel Quenneville go with the hot hand, so we’ll keep a close eye on this situation as it develops. Both goalies should be owned while Crawdad heals up.
Joffrey Lupul, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, 1 SOG, +4) – Well, go ahead and pick him up where he’s available, but don’t expect this to last. He’ll get hurt or go cold, as per the usual, but when he does get going he tends to score like a madman, so don’t miss the rest of this avalanche while it’s still rolling down hill.
Paul Stastny, C (2 G, 3 SOG, even, 4 PIM) – As the games roll by it’s starting to seem like a lost season for Stas. He has three points over his last two games after these two goals, but just 14 shots on goal in his last five games. He’ll have to start shooting the puck more if he’s going to generate more offense, but I have faith that he can recover for a strong second half. He’s a solid buy-low candidate for now.
Brad Marchand, LW (2 G, 4 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) – Not too long ago I answered someone’s questions and another commenter asked me why I like Marchand so much. I replied and said I didn’t (which I don’t) but that he’s good for 25 or so goals, and that shouldn’t be ignored. With these two he’s on pace for 25 goals. You see?
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (W, 1 GA, 33 SV, 97.1 SV%) – That’s three straight wins and three straight solid games for Bob who might be finding his form again, but the team around him still has a lot of work to do.
Marian Hossa, RW (2 G, 7 SOG, +3) – Hoss is a legend and he’s probably worth Hall of Fame consideration, but he’s definitely getting old. He was always injury prone and aging doesn’t exactly help much with that, so it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy for the entire season. I doubt it. He’s good for 60 points if he’s out there for the entire year, so you might want to try and sell highish while he’s still upright on skates.
Martin Brodeur, G (W, 14 SV, 1 GA, .933%) – Marty didn’t have to do much work in this one facing only 15 shots from an Isles team that usually pours it on, so it remains to be seen what he’s capable of this season. Jake Allen had started three straight games so it’s not surprising to see Marty get two in a row. The telling bit will be the next game vs. the Cats; if Marty gets rolled out there again we may be seeing a sign of things to come until Brian Elliott gets healthy, if Allen gets the call then it’s likely a more even time share. Stay tuned.
Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 16 SV, 1 GA, .941%) – It’s good to see Kari get a win, but he has a lot of work to do to repair those awful peripherals he’s accrued allowing 16 goals over his previous four starts. If you own Kari in a roto league you have my condolences.
Kari Ramo, G (L, 27 SV, 3 GA, .900%) – So Ramo’s seven game win streak is finally snapped in a 3-2 loss to the Sharks and now we’ll have to wait and see whether Jonas Hiller gets a start or they go back to Ramo for a sixth straight start. If it’s Ramo, then any questions about who the starter in Calgary is should be shelved, it’s Ramo. If it’s Hiller and he plays well, we’re back to a 50/50 split with streaks riding the hot hand. If it’s Hiller and he plays poorly, look for Ramo to get a chance to finally steal the starting job outright.