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.

  1. Scott says:
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    Spot on JD. That was my newb mistake, Rask and Karlsson. Way too many Defensemen, besides.

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @Scott: It happens. Live and learn as they say! Just don’t over compensate next season and let defensemen fall off your radar. I generally take two elite forwards, a goalie and the best defenseman I can find in the fourth round, which this season meant I ended up with Victor Hedman more often than not. Sometimes I’ll wait even longer. In one 18 team league that I’m dominating my picks were as follows: Seguin, Duchene, Rinne, Simmonds, Lucic, Shattenkirk, Burns. Shats and Burns are both top 5 now. The drop off in talent on the blue line is highly over rated. There’s tons of talent there, it’s just not worth blowing first, second or even third round picks on (format depending, of course).

  2. Well, I just read that Jordan Staal took his brother Eric’s spot (maintenance day) on the ice, so thinking maybe you are right that Eric Staal is suffering some sort of injury. What are your thoughts on Holzer JD? He is really racking up some points in our league’s scoring system Last 15 days, 55 points, 7.9 average. Will Polak return soon and will that affect Holzer? I would love to stream him, even if Polak is returning soon, but I like the guys I have right now. Also, do you think Mikko Koivu is turning it around? He has a great face-off percentage and 54 pts, 7.7 avg for the last 15 days in our league. I was streaming him and decided to hold on.

    I had 2 keepers; Seguin & Karlsson, but already thinking maybe I will keep Tarasenko or Voracek over Karlsson next year.

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @madden_curser: Something is definitely not right with Staal. He’s been one of the best forwards in the game for a decade and he isn’t ready to break down like this at just 30 years of age. He’s been injured a few times this year already, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

      I think Holzer is well worth streaming and Polak is slated to return soon. Yeah, I think Holzer is going to lose some TOI when Polak comes back, but he’s played well enough to earn his own TOI so it shouldn’t be too dramatic. That said, there’s enough uncertainty there that if you like the guys you have now stick with them.

      As for your keepers, dude, Tarasenko and Seguin all the way. Two of my three keepers on my best team are those two, it’s a ridiculously powerful duo to have. Tarasenko will outpace Karlsson by miles over the next few years, definitely keep him.

      • @JD: Well, Eric Staal ended out playing and had 2 assists. Go figure. JD, would you offer up Martin St. Louis for McKinnon as a buy low opportunity? Seems like Mac’s upside and young age would be worth an aging veteran performing at a mediocre to good level. Maybe McKinnon can be the next Stamkos up the road? Kucherov hasn’t stopped being an offensive stud since birth. Look at his numbers every league he was in. He’s only 21!.Thanks for that advice! Kuch has a coach who lets him play.

        • JD

          JD says:
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          @madden_curser: That’s a good sign. Hopefully he’s healthy and this game sparks a run. I don’t think I’d get on board with MacKinnon as the next Stamkos, that’s craycray talk. He does have a ton of upside and his deep numbers show he can definitely break out at any time, he’s still an effective player on the ice even if he isn’t scoring. I’d keep Marty between the two in a redraft, but I wouldn’t be wholly against it if this is a keeper league and you’re looking to trade up for high upside youth, then it makes more sense. I’m a huge fan of Kucherov, he is indeed a beast.

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @madden_curser: along with mine, that’s like the 4th polak vs holzer playing time question in 2-3 days.

  3. goodfold2 says:
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    test. my posting ability went out yet again.

  4. mark says:
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    Should I deal stepan for pacioretty? I did see max go face first into the boards earlier tonight…

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @mark: That hit from Stoner was brutal and apparently Max has been hospitalized because of it, so I wouldn’t be making any deals for him right now. I would imagine he will at least have a concussion from this and who knows how long that lingers.

  5. paz says:
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    I’m in a deepish league where good backup goalies have value

    that said…think i should try and sell Hutchinson real quick?

    Jets top four D-men are all out for extended periods and I’m guessing that will lead to weaker results from Hutch

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @paz: Yeah, the top four missing would hurt any goalie, especially a rookie like Hutch. If you think you can get a solid return for him and don’t need the help, by all means move him. I think Pavs remains the starter for the majority of the season, at least, so it’s not like you’re moving a backup in a Jake Allen situation.

  6. Scott says:
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    Ugh. 0 fantasy pts from Mike Santorelli yesterday.

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @Scott: Yeah, it will be feast or famine with Santa. I think you should be prepared for him to go cold and stay cold for a decent stretch. Don’t be afraid to drop him if he stops scoring, there’s little in his past that says he’ll keep this scoring pace up for very long.

  7. Quack Attack is Back says:
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    Rickard Rakell has 4 points in 6 games since he was recalled from AHL. What do think is in store for him in the future?

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @Quack Attack is Back: He’s a solid two-way, top nine guy that’s filling in while Corey Perry nurses his knee back to health. That said, he’s been a point-per-game guy at every level he’s been at so far, so there is definitely some offensive upside there. It will be interesting to see if he can survive the cut and stick with the Ducks when Perry gets activated. He’s worth streaming until then in deeper leagues.

  8. Gio says:
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    18 team keeper. Middle of the pack now and not a fan of playing for next year. Looking to acquire depth for any of the following players. Do you have any advice as to what type of return I should get or if I should hold on any?

    -Landeskog (3rd forward keeper)
    -Hornqvist (not a keeper)
    -Zetterberg (not a keeper)
    -Doughty (not a keeper)

    In addition to standard categories we also use hits, FW, blocks, PPG, PPA, PPP, shots.

    • Gio says:
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      @Gio:

      Kucherov and Koivu for Hornqvist?

      Kucherov has keeper potential as does Hornqvist but I could use his dual eligibility as well as Koivu’s face-off wins.

      • JD

        JD says:
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        @Gio: Love Kucherov and I’d rather have him over Hornqvist. I don’t know that you’ll be able to get Kuch and Koivu for Horny, though.

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @Gio: It depends on what you need. Goals? Hits? PPP? Where are your team’s weaknesses?

  9. jal179 says:
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    Everyone would agree you can’t win with bad goal tending unless tenders are super de-valued depending on scoring format.

    I’m beginning to think my traditional approach of tender in rd 2 or 3 might not be worth it. I went Benn 10th overall and Quick 15th overall which has been OK but certainly not overwhelmingly good. I overvalued the well-rounded types this year taking Backes in the 3rd and Lucic in the 5th and Buff in the 7th.

    Hindsight is 20/20, but if i were to redraft today I’d take a Kessell or Pavelski type in rd 2 and a Marleau or Max P type in rd 3. There are so few quality scoring shooting forwards these days that I think you have to pass up goalies until the 4th and 5th rd and hope you guess right on a Rinne or Halak type– even Schneider I think would do.

    As for Dmen, I NEVER take one until Rd 6 or 7 especially if blocks hits and PIMs are part of the scoring format. I landed Buff in 7, Giordano in 9, Phaneuf in 11 and Radko in 18– value can be found late and I don’t think its worth reaching for a Keith or Weber type in rd 4.

    Similar to baseball, elite O production is scarse and I think my new strategy will be scoring forwards in first 3 rds of 12 team + leagues. Goalie in 4 and 5, then a D rd 6 or 7..

    The key is to snag value at G in the mid rounds will avoiding the major flops like Lehtonen and Steve Mason– but Id’ argue those types likely were going to play behind poor defensive squads anyways.

    If you guess right at F, add a few wire gems early like Kucherov or Phil Forsberg, u can always deal a scorer for a G if you’ve guessed wrong in rds 4 and 5.

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @jal179: Yeah, one of the dangers of going after a goalie in the first three rounds is that it puts all your offensive hopes into one guy. You can’t win without good goaltending and you can’t win without an elite scoring forward to lead your offense, either. I always wait until the 4th or later to take a goalie and I always end up with good goalies. There’s always a backup ready to take over a starting job, always a starter that gets hurt, always a fight somewhere in the league for starts. Plus in today’s NHL you need two solid goalies to win, and your backup should ideally start 20-25 games to keep your starter fresh for the playoffs, so drafting the right backups in later rounds turns big profits if you pick correctly. It’s a bit of a risky strategy to some, but it has yet to fail me.

      • jal179 says:
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        @JD: @JD:

        Like most posters on here, I’ve won my fair share taking the odd elite goalie but I agree– gotta have some elite scorers leading the charge. There have also been a lot of land mines when it comes to early forward picks— think of Kopitar, Sharpe, Hall, Duchene and MacKinnon– all of whom where legit rd 2-3 types (granted some of their woes have been injury related) who have greatly disappointed.

  10. goodfold2 says:
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    test, it hasn’t worked in a few days yet again.

  11. goodfold2 says:
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    16 team dynasty CMB owner is coming at me again, he seemingly only trades for STL players to try to get johansen off me. I’ve already told him that i have no interest at all in brodeur (dude is old and slow). but even if we cut vasilevskiy i’m thinking about this one.
    his schwartz/lehtera/shattenkirk/brodeur
    for my
    johansen/perrault (i was streaming him for the 2nd or 3rd time this year and noticed he’s about a pt per game now on the 2nd line with schefelelele/frolik) and kept him for now/scandella/vasilevskiy. Johansen is clearly best player in this, but shattenkirk just might be the 2nd best. I still really don’t believe Lehtera has much value without Shenko

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