With three weeks left until the NHL trade deadline the Toronto Maple Leafs started selling off some assets sending Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to the Preds for Olli Jokinen, prospect Brendan Leipsica, a 2015 first round pick and a bag of pucks. Typically a move out of the fantasy value black hole that is the Maple Leafs would be a boon to most players but unfortunately for Franson owners the move out of the barren wasteland of Toronto to the fertile fields of Nashville does little to boost his value. In fact, the move probably hurts more than it helps.
Since Dion Phaneuf went down with an injury a month ago Franson has been the Leafs’ go-to-guy for all things defense. He was the only rear guard on the Leafs’ top power play and played monster minutes on their top pairing at even strength, too. With 32 points in 55 games so far this season he’s well on his way to a 50-point season, and while the move to the Preds doesn’t discount that possibility, there’s no way Franson gets the same amount of responsibility and ice time on his new team. The top-pairing duo of Roman Josi and Shea Weber isn’t going to get broken up anytime soon, so you can forget any wide-eyed hopes that Franson would make his way to the top pairing with either of those studs. Similarly, there’s no chance either of them loses any power play time and with Ryan Ellis on his way back from injury and Seth Jones firing on all cylinders lately, Franson joins a fairly crowded blue line and will have to fight for his right to party on the second power play and second pairing at even strength.
It’s not all bad for Franson owners though. With his contract expiring at the end of the season and unrestricted free agent status awaiting him, Franson has a lot to play for and yes; now he gets to do it on a much, much more talented team. Given that, his opportunity to tally helpers will spike a bit and so will his plus/minus, which currently sits at a robust minus-9. I call a minus-9 rating robust because on the Leafs that’s a freakin’ miracle rating for a defenseman and a testament to just how good Franson is. Regardless, there’s no reasonable expectation that the shift from big fish in a little pond to little fish in a big ocean is going to do anything positive for his value. He remains a solid third, elite fourth defenseman with upside, but most of that upside is reserved for next season when he signs a big deal with a team that will once again push him to the top of their depth chart and let him run wild.
By now you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t said word one about Santorelli or Jokinen. That’s because they’re both hot garbage and I wouldn’t on them with your team. Santa is at best a third liner for the Preds, but more likely he’ll end up on the fourth line and do little of consequence during his tenure in Nashville. As for Jokinen, well, the bag of pucks was probably more valuable. That all being said, there is someone out there that benefits from this deal and it’s sophomore defenseman Morgan Rielly who becomes the defacto number one defenseman for the Leafs with Double Dion on IR. He isn’t going to blow up anytime soon, but a bump in TOI and responsibility could translate to a few more points. Yay? Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
If you hadn’t already heard the timetable for Tyler Seguin turned out to be pretty damn awful and he’ll be out for 3-6 weeks following one of the dumbest plays I’ve seen in a while. Dmitry Kulikov pulled some straight BS and clipped Seguin as Seguin brought the puck into the offensive zone and it effed up Seguin’s knee in a bad way. Kulikov was suspended for four games, but frankly, I think he should be suspended for 3-6 weeks. He’s a huge jackass and my public enemy number one for the foreseeable future.
Ales Hemsky is out with a lower-body-injury and that’s a surprise to exactly no one. He was actually fairing pretty well lately, but he’s been so erratic and injury riddled all season (or was that his career?) I can’t imagine many fantasy managers are shedding tears over his injury.
Sami Vatanen went down with an undisclosed upper-body injury in the first period of last night’s game and didn’t return. There’s no word yet on how bad it is, but expect to be without him for at least a few games.
Matt Beleskey also left early in the first period of the Ducks’s last game and he too is out with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Just like Vats, the Ducks are mum on how badly Belly is hurt so expect to be without him for a game or two at least.
Robin Lehner, G (W, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – The only wins Lehner has managed in his last five came against the Oil and the Sabres with losses to the Jackets, Caps and Pens. It’s clear that if you own Lehner and want to start him you should do it carefully and against weaker opponents. It’s not that Lehner can’t handle better teams, it’s that his team can’t handle better teams. Overall he’s been stellar since taking over for the injured Craig Anderson, who recently skated with the team in practice but doesn’t appear to be doing much if any stick work, so Lehner will continue to be the starter for the foreseeable future.
Kyle Turris, C (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Turris has two straight, two-point games and six points (3 G, 3 A) over his last five games. That’s quite a hot streak for a guy who put up six points (2 G, 4 A) in 12 games last month. In fact, he hasn’t put up more than nine points any month this season, so he could keep this up for a bit longer, but I wouldn’t put good money on it continuing for long.
Mike Hoffman, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – The Sens might be a bit of a mess right now but they are slowly building a solid contender for the future and The Hoff is a big cog in that machine. With goals in back-to-back games he remains on pace for a 30-goal rookie season, a mark I think he can at least flirt with by the end of the season. He remains a no-brainer keeper.
Michael Hutchinson, G (W, 25 SV, 4 GA, .862%) – I benched Hutch for this one and this is why. He’s still a rookie and needs to be handled like one. Don’t just roll him out there regardless of the opponent, the Jets are solid this year but they’re still far from a cup contender and they’re going to get lit up by teams that are on a semi-regular basis.
Jimmy Howard, G (L, 34 SV, 4 GA, .895%) – This was Howie’s first start since returning from his long stint on the IR and he was predictably rusty. Petr Mrazek served as Howie’s backup while Jonas Gustavsson was a healthy scratch for this one. I doubt that’s how it remains moving forward, but regardless of who backs up Howie, they’re going to be keeping the pine warm more often than not with Howard healthy.
Nick Foligno, C (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – At this point Foggy has put up career bests in goals, assists, points and shooting percentage. That last one is a red flag. He’s currently shooting at an astronomical 19% with 22 goals on just 116 shots on goal. That’s wholly unsustainable and it’s leading me to believe pretty strongly that for a guy who has failed to tally more than 18 goals or put up more than 47 points in any of his six previous season in the NHL, he’s playing way over his head. He can probably keep it up down the stretch, more or less, but come next season he’s going to be wildly over valued at the draft table.
Anton Forsberg, G (L, 40 SV, 6 GA, .870%) – The Jackets really need Sergei Bobrovsky back and fast. Fantasy owners would do well to avoid any of his backups.
John Tavares, C (2 G, 2 A, 9 SOG) – There were some folks who were getting worried about JT earlier this season when he wasn’t putting up his usual point-per-game or better numbers. Those were silly people. With this monster four point performance he’s right about where he should be with 55 points in 56 games so far this season. He’ll finish with 30-35 goals and around 80-85 points and remains one of the most valuable skaters to own now and for years to come.
Ryan Strome, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – With a goal on Saturday Strome snapped his nine-game scoreless streak but remains on pace for a 50-point rookie campaign. He’s more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, so those types of dry spells will be somewhat common early in his career, but the ceiling is sky high for Strome and he should be very high on your keeper list.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 34 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – Talbot looked solid pushing away 34 of 35 shots for a 5-1 victory against the lowly ‘Yotes this weekend. It almost doesn’t count because it’s Arizona, but the game was tight through two and the Rangers didn’t blow it open until late in the third, so credit goes where credit is due for a solid game. That said, my previous warnings about Talbot remain firmly in place. Yeah, he’s won three straight now, but credit for the previous two victories rests squarely on the shoulders of the Rangers potent offense.
Mike Smith, G (L, 27 SV, 5 GA, .844%) – Is there a mercy rule for this sort of thing? It used to be funny, now I just feel bad for Smith. He’s terrible, yeah, but his team is terrible too and now there are rumors that they’re going to trade Keith Yandle at the deadline. That’ll help!
Rick Nash, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – 15 more to go! Also, he should be right at the top of the list in MVP voting by the end of the season. He’s the alpha and the omega of the Rangers offense and without him they’d be lost.
Kevin Hayes, C/RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Hayes extended his goal-scoring streak to three games with another goal this weekend. Lately his TOI has spiked up to around 16-17 minutes a game and the chemistry on the Rangers’ third line between Hayes, Carl Hagelin, LW (1 SOG, 2 PIM) and J.T. Miller, RW (3 SOG) is palpable. I doubt Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault will be breaking this line up anytime soon and Hayes should provide solid supplemental scoring for fantasy teams for the remainder of the season.
Chris Kreider, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) – Kreids is on pace to spend 120 minutes in the box this season, but you can expect that number to drop over the next few years. He’s a bit wild out there and his speed, though a great asset, often gets him in trouble as he crashes the net a bit hard at times. That’s probably a pretty forgiving portrayal of a guy who barrels in on goalies like they owe him money. A breakout should come as early as next season. Don’t sleep.
Devan Dubnyk, G (W, 24 SV, 3 GA, .889%) – A rough game by Doobie’s standards since he joined the Wild, but he managed to hold on for yet another win. He’s 10-1-1-1 since getting traded to Minnesota and shows no signs of slowing down. Ride him all the way to your league title.
Thomas Vanek, RW (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – This was easily Vanek’s best game of the season and with six points (3 G, 3 A) over his last seven games, he’s on pace for his best month of the season by far. It has to be noted that to start the year Vanek had serious off-ice trouble stemming from a gambling habit and debts owed. He was being blackmailed, apparently, and that’s going to eff up your head. With a lot of that nastiness behind him he seems to be waking up, so don’t over look him as the trade deadline comes up, you could end up getting him for pennies on the dollar and he remains talented enough to put up a near point-per-game pace for the next 4-6 weeks.
Jason Spezza, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – I was pretty much done with Spaz just past the mid-way point of the season, but he’s really turned it on of late and has seven points (3 G, 4 A) over his last five games and 18 points over his last 20 games. That’s more like it, dammit.
Semyon Varlamov, G (W, 24 SV, 1 GA, .960%) – After getting spanked to the tune of 10 goals on 59 shots in his previous two starts Varly came back strong in this one pushing away 24 of 25 for the 3-1 victory over the Stars on Saturday. I still don’t like Varly or the Avs and if you can move him before the deadline, do it.
Jhonas Enroth, G (L, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) – In his first start with the Stars Enroth showed he’s pretty much exactly the goalie he was in Buffalo. He’s not bad, mind you, but like I said when he was traded, Dallas isn’t exactly a huge upgrade from Buffalo defensively so expecting Enroth to save the day for the Stars or your fantasy team was a pipe dream. He won’t be this bad all the time, but don’t expect him to do what Devan Dubnyk is doing in Minnesota.
Karri Ramo, G (W, 28 SV, 2 GA, .933%) – I figured Ramo would get a start after Jonas Hiller’s hot streak ended and here we are. Ramo was solid if not unspectacular pushing aside 28 of 30 shots for the 3-2 victory over the Canucks. Expect Ramo to get the next start against the Bs, but don’t expect it to be pretty.
Sean Monahan, C (2 G, 3 SOG) – These two biscuits snap a minor five game scoreless skid for Money, who remains on pace to flirt with 30 goals by the end of the season. I figure he makes it to at least 25-28 and could definitely offer up another 10 goals before the season is done. He’s going to be something special as soon as next season.
Corey Crawford, G (W, 36 SV, 1 GA, .973%) – Yeah, he’s just fine.
Ben Bishop, G (W, 33 SV, 2 GA, .943%) – Bish has been up and down all season, but it has to be said that the Lightning defense has been rocked by injuries all season and that has really hurt his numbers. I feel like this year will lower Bish’s perceived value moving forward, but really, he’s just as good as he was last year, the Bolts just need to get their act together on defense.
Antti Niemi, G (L, 28 SV, 4 GA, .875%) – Aw yeah, that’s the stuff.
Justin Peters, G (W, 30 SV, 3 GA, .909%) – I used to be a big fan of Peters and figured he was only held back being stuck in that Carolina log jam behind Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, but really, he just isn’t that good. He managed to hold on for the win here on the strength of Alex Ovechkin, LW (2 G, 2 A, 7 SOG) and company, but otherwise he’s pretty yawnstipating. I wouldn’t own him with your team, even if Braden Holtby gets hurt.
Andre Burakovsky, C (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) – He didn’t break out this season, but he’s going to over the next few. There have been games like this here and there that hint at his pending greatness, it’s up to him to get there and I think he can. Keep an eye on him in the later rounds of next season’s drafts.
John Gibson, G (L, 23 SV, 5 GA, .821%) – I’d say that Ilya Bryzgalov is probably in line for the next start after this stinker by Gibson, but then the Ducks have no real reason to trust him out there despite Gibson’s poor performance last night. At least they can attribute that to his rookie status, what the hell can they attribute Breezy’s play to?
Ondrej Palat, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – With all the fireworks going off on the Tampa offense this season Palat has been lost on the shuffle, but make no mistake, he’s still getting his and remains on pace for a 60-point sophomore campaign. Unlike a lot of his peers his shooting percentage is actually a few points below his career average, so you could reasonably expect a modest uptick in goal scoring over the next two months.
Valtteri Filppula, C (2 A, 2 PTS, +2) – Flip extends his points streak to four games with a pair of helpers last night as he continues to bounce between the top line with Steven Stamkos, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) and the third line with the recently hot Cedric Paquette, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1). I’d be much happier if he stuck on the top line at regular strength, but he does continue to get time on the top power play unit for the Bolts, so he’s holding on to some value in deeper leagues for now. He could be a good asset to package in a trade before the deadline while he’s streaking.