Draft day is one of the most important moments in any fantasy season. It can make or break your chances and though a bad draft isn’t a death sentence for your season, it definitely puts it on death row early on. One of the big mistakes I see a lot of owners make is taking goalies too early, especially in the first round. Henrik Lundqvist and Tuukka Rask were the usual suspects this season and neither has or will live up to their ADP this year and it’s likely that if you drafted either your team is hurting because of it, but goalies aren’t the only position to be wary of taking too early. Defensemen are a bigger gamble early on than people give them credit for and so far Erik Karlsson, D (1 A, 2 SOG) is doing his damnedest to make that point clear as day to all.
So far this season Karlsson looks entirely human and that’s a stark departure from season’s past. At this point it’s safe to say he won’t live up to his ADP. Normally a lock for at least 60 points on the low end and 70-plus on the high end, it’s going to be a struggle for Karlsson to reach his typical counting stats by season’s end and honestly, at this point I think any thoughts his owners have of a 70-point campaign have to be put to bed. While 20 goals and 55 points are still possible, nay probable, he’s going to bring an atrocious plus/minus with it that really limits his value over season’s past. I think he illustrates the dangers of going after the top offensive defensemen early on fairly well, but he isn’t the only example shedding light here this season, either.
Dustin Byfuglien and P.K. Subban both look like they’ll also come up short of the lofty expectations that folks had for them going into the season. Buff is going to struggle to hit 50 points and P.K. looks like he’ll end up around 55 points, not the 65-70 that some peeps were calling him for. Yeah, I’m among the ‘perts that listed Subs for 65+ points, but that doesn’t mean I drafted them early to get those points because I just don’t trust defenseman to consistently put up huge seasons like that. The heart of the matter is this; you need to make your early round picks count and if you’re going to be successful they have to pan out. Right now, would you rather have Karlsson or Tyler Seguin? How about Subban or Phil Kessel? Skaters early all the way, baby! That’s my mantra and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Ben Bishop didn’t practice today and that’s a strong indicator that he won’t be ready to return by this weekend. That means you can expect top prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy to get at least another start in the Bolts’ coming back-to-back set this Friday and Saturday and, of course, Evgeni Nabokov will suck it up for the other game.
David Krejci returns to the lineup for the Bs tonight, so activate him and get him back in your lineups as well.
Craig Anderson, G (W, 34 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – It’s games like this that keep Anderson’s save percentage as inflated as it is. I still expect it to drop and his GAA to rise to around is career levels (2.70/.910%) by season’s end. I wish I could say that would give Robin Lehner a chance, but Lehner would actually have to play well, consistently, to earn that opportunity.
Cory Schneider, G (L, 14 SV, 1 GA, .933%) – Coming off of a rare day off Schneids was only able to push 14 of 15 shots away while the rest of his team ran into the brick wall that is Craig Anders—wait just a damn minute, was I actually going to complete that sentence? It can’t be so, it must not be. At any rate, Schneider has been really solid for the last month plus after starting the season with a 2.90/.906% in 10 starts in October he’s followed up with 2.35/.922% in 13 starts in November and sports a line of 2.43/.922% in seven starts so far this month. Keith Kinkaid has looked pretty solid in limited work and may be earning enough trust to regularly spell Schneider, which bodes well for his continued health and solid play moving forward.
Kyle Turris, C (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Turris was all the offensive punch the Sens needed last night in the 2-0 win over Cory Schneider and the Devils. He has come alive as of late with five points (2 G, 3 A) in his last five games with a four game point streak mixed in for good measure. He’s a minus-two over that span, however, but that’s par for the course with Sens skaters. He’s only on pace for 16 goals in 81 games, but he’s also sporting a shooting percentage (7.7%) that’s two points below his career average (9.7%) so while he won’t match last year’s 26 goals, it’s very possible that he can reach 20 goals and set a new career best with 60 points by the end of the year.
Niklas Svedberg, G (W, 35 SV, 2 GA, .946%) – I wonder if at some point the Bruins will consider trading Tuukka Rask sometime in the next year or two given just how talented their rookie backup is. Svedberg has been stellar in 8 starts and 10 games sporting a season line of 4-4-0/2.25/.925%. The record isn’t pretty, but like I always say, that’s more of a team stat than anything else.
Niklas Backstrom, G (L, 22 SV, 3 GA, .880%) – This start was supposed to go to Darcy Kuemper but apparently he’s sick (oh god, another case of the mumps) and it went to Backs, who promptly looked like hot garbage as you would expect. Unfortunately for the Wild Josh Harding has yet to return to practice following a hospital stay for dehydration that knocked him out of the game back on December 6th. Harding still hasn’t returned to practice and word has it the entire episode is MS related. I feel bad for Harding; he’s an immensely talented goalie and really only limited by his condition. Sadly it’s enough that he shouldn’t be owned anywhere as there is no word on if or when he’ll return to the NHL this season. Stay strong, Josh!
Patrice Bergeron, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – At this point it’s safe to say that a return to the 30-goal form of last season is not going to happen. He was never really a 30-goal guy to begin with, but with his recent uptick in production since Reilly Smith was moved to his line I’d say 20 goals and 60 points are both reachable milestones for the Bs’ top line center this season. That being said, if you’re relying on Reilly Smith’s offensive prowess to prop up hopes for a decent return on Bergeron this year, that might not be the best sign.
Loui Eriksson, LW (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Last night’s two point showing gives Loui four points (3 G, 1) over his last five games, but he remains largely useless in most formats. He’s worth streaming in deeper leagues if he’s available, but that’s aboot it.
Carl Soderberg, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Sods has been pretty consistent so far this season tallying 8 points (3 G, 5 A) in 12 games in October and 9 points (2 G, 7 A) in 12 games in November and 4 points (1 G, 3 A) in eight games so far this month. I doubt you’ll see much more than 8-10 points a month from him and he’ll likely finish with around 55 points for the season. The ceiling is 60.
Zdeno Chara, D (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) – Since returning from his long stint on the IR Chara has 2 A, 8 PIM, 9 SOG, 7 Hits and 5 blocks in 8 games while averaging around 23 minutes TOI per game. I’d say he’s back on track and should deliver a fairly strong season moving forward barring further injury, which at 37 years of age is quite possible. I’d say the decline started last season and should continue at a fairly rapid pace of the next year or two.
Kyle Brodziak, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – Cool story, bro!
Jason Pominville, RW (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – PomPom is so remarkably consistent and so consistently boring because of it and can be overlooked as a result. He only has seven goals in 30 games so far and that puts him on pace for just 16 by season’s end, well below the expected 25-30 goals he’s provided fantasy owners since 2006, but that’s largely attributed to his low shooting percentage of just 6.6% which sits a whopping five points below his career average of 11.5%. He’s actually on pace to put a career best 290 shots on goal this season, so a few are bound to start finding their way to the back of the net. He makes for a decent buy-low candidate in the second half.
Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 27 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – I’m wondering just how many people actually started Kari for this one and my feeling is not as many as wished they had. Kari finally looked like the goalie you expected when you drafted him and pushed aside all 27 shots the Canucks fired his way for a 2-0 shutout victory. Lets hope this is a sign that he’s getting back on track. I’d speculate as to whether it is or not, but who the hell knows with him this season?
Eddie Lack, G (L, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – Even though Ryan Miller has started 13 more games than Lack has, Lack is starting to look like the better option in net for the Canucks moving forward. After a hot start for Miller his season line has degraded to a mediocre 16-7-0/2.69/.900% and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better soon. That said, they paid Miller good money to come tend net, so I doubt that Lack is going to get more starts in the near future.
Antoine Roussel, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Roose is normally a guy that I wouldn’t bother owning with your team, but lately he’s been on a bit of a roll with four points (2 G, 2 A) over his last four games. Though he only has 16 points in 30 games, he has solid value in roto leagues offering 62 PIM, 50 SOG, 42 Hits and 25 Blocks to go with those points. He has an outside chance to finish with 50 points and 175 PIM and that’s worth owning in most deep leagues.