It comes as no surprise that after a pretty bummer season that future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, RW (5 SOG, -1) wanted out of New Jersey and, hopefully, one more shot at a title run. It definitely comes as a surprise that he was traded to the Florida Panthers yesterday as the Cats try their hardest to catch the Boston Bruins for the east’s final wild card spot. Jagr makes for a solid addition to a young, hungry Panthers team that is loaded with talented youth looking for veteran leadership to help them take the next step forward and secure a playoff birth. Any move out of New Jersey is going to boost a player’s value, but for Jagr in particular the move should inject some new life into the aging winger and it might just be enough to inject some new juice into your fantasy team’s playoff hopes.
With just 11 goals and 18 assists in 57 games this season for New Jersey this season seemed like it may finally be the last for Jagr. Since the coaching change it has only gotten worse for him and he’s seen his TOI sink to career lows recently. It should come as no surprise, then, that limited TOI on a woeful offensive team like the Devils means little to no production and over his last eight games he’s has produced eff all, so he’s not exactly rolling into Florida on a hot streak. That shouldn’t change how the Cats deploy him, though, and once he does arrive in South Florida there’s no reason to think that the Cats traded for the guy to sit him on the bench and dispense sage wisdom about mullets and other hair care techniques. No, you can expect to see Jagr jump into the Cats’ top six and top power play unit and get big minutes on a young team desperate for leadership. With that you can also expect to see an uptick in production, from both Jagr and whoever is lucky enough to be paired with him, so this move is definitely worth your attention. What you’ll get from him is completely up in the air, but there is still a modicum of upside here despite his age.
You can’t expect a 43-year-old, however talented he might be and however successful he might have been before, to come in and light it up like the fourth of July, but you can expect to see him improve his numbers and like he’s done so often in the past, improve the numbers of those around him. I wouldn’t rush to trade for Jagr, but if he were on the wire in your league you’d be foolish not to take a flyer and hope for some fun in the sun down the stretch. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Michal Neuvirth, G (W, 28 SV, 3 GA, .903%) – It has become a rarity for Neuvi to give up more than a couple goals in a game and on a team like the Sabres you’d expect when he does that, he’d lose, but that wasn’t the case last night. What he’s doing is pretty amazing all things considered.
Eddie Lack, G (L, 18 SV, 5 GA, .783%) – So I told you to roll Lack out in sheltered minutes and there is no better shelter than playing the Sabres, but man alive he got killed out there. Lack coughed up five goals on just 23 Sabres shots and took the 6-3 loss in the process. I don’t like Lack and this is why.
Jannik Hansen, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – With just 26 points (12 G, 14 A) in 60 games so far this season Hansen has been pretty yawnstipaing, but that’s a surprise to absolutely no one. His recent stretch of five points (1 G, 4 A) over his last five and eight points in his last 14 games is kind of surprising, though. Still, he’s a fourth-liner on a sub-par offensive team and has little value outside the deepest of the deep leagues.
Chris Stewart, RW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Stewart’s rating is minus-30. That is all.
Curtis McElhinney, G (L, 22 SV, 4 GA, .846%) – And so the return of McMeh has come on strong with news that Sergei Bobrovsky is nearing a return from his latest injury. McMeh was never very good despite the short stretch of strong play and he’ll be relegated to riding the pine for the majority of the Jackets’ remaining games when Bob is back in the lineup.
Brandon Dubinsky, C (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Dubs has been doing it all since he returned from abdominal surgery earlier in the year and he continued the trend last night scoring the game typing goal only to get upended by a sliding Tom Gilbert, D (1 SOG, -1) a split second after the goal lamp lit up. Dubs left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. There’s no word on the nature of the injury or how severe, but at this point there’s no replacing a guy who delivers so much across so many categories. All his owners can do is hold their breath and hope he can get back on the ice soon. *Starting holding his breath* Don’t worry guys, I’ll be fine! *passes out*
Cam Talbot, G (W, 37 SV, 3 GA, .925%) – Talbot was pretty shaky early on and coughed up three goals in the first period before shutting the door for the rest of the game and allowing the Rangers offense to once again carry the load. To be fair Tally coughed both goals during ‘yotes power plays, one of which was a two-man advantage, so we can forgive it for now. That being said, he seems to give up three or more goals habitually, so like I’ve said, start him with caution.
Mark Arcobello, C (1 G, 3 SOG) – The diminutive Arcobello has bounced around the league all season, playing for his fourth team this season but if his short tenure in the Arizona is any indication of anything, it’s that maybe, just maybe, he’s found a good home finally. Arco has goals in four of his last five games and five goals total since joining the ‘yotes. He’s not going to keep doing this for long, so stream him while he’s scoring and drop him flat the moment he starts putting up goose eggs again. That, and be careful, his plus/minus is going to be brutal skating in the desert.
Chris Kreider, LW (2 G, 5 SOG) – I’m a big, big fan of this kid going into next year. If you can trade for him to keep him, do it.
Jonathan Bernier, G (W, 47 SV, 2 GA, .959%) – Of course the Leafs asked Bernie to push away nearly 50 shots and he kindly obliged with a monster effort. This marks his second win in as many starts after losing 13 of his previous 14 starts through January and February. That’s brutal. The Leafs are brutal, but hey, they got rid of that awful David Clarkson, RW (1 SOG, 2 PIM) contract, so there’s that.
Dion Phaneuf, D (1 G, 4 SOG) – The big fella wasted little time making an impact for the Leafs upon his return from the IR and potted just his third goal of the season last night. Expect less of this and more hits, blocks and PIM moving forward. Everything you love about owning Double Dion.
Steve Mason, G (8 SV, 1 GA, .889%) – Mase had to come in to stop the bleeding after Rob Zepp, G (6 SV, 2 GA, .750%) coughed up a couple goals on just eight shots. It wasn’t enough to beat the lowly Leafs, but this is the lowly Flyers we’re talking about here, so all-in-all the game was really a big waste of everyone’s time. Mason is the starter moving forward and he’ll give you decent peripherals, but don’t expect much else.
Tyler Bozak, C (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Bozo the Centre has been a bust with just 39 points (17 G, 22 A) in 61 games so far this season, but trade rumors are swirling around him as we approach next Monday’s trade deadline. He’s recenty been linked to the Rangers, and if he ends up going to one of the elite teams in the league, his value is going to jump like whoa. It will be difficult for the Leafs to move Bozo to a cap team like New York, but it sounds like they’re trying. His owners can only hope.
Brayden Schenn, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – Over the last few seasons Schenn’s offensive production has been on a steady uptick and it looks like he’s already set a career high in assists (23) and will likely set a new career high in points as well, but he’s going to fall short of the 20 goals he potted in 2013. The heart of his value was found in the faceoff wins and hits, and while the hits (143) are still coming in bunches, he isn’t taking face offs anymore and that hurts. If he can continue to grow offensively and keep delivering hits, he’s going to remain valuable, but if he tapers off as a 45-point player, that’s going to be a problem. Next season is a big year for him and I’m not really sure which way he’ll go.
Cory Crawford, G (W, 20 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – A day after the Hawks lost their heart and soul, Patrick Kane, Crow took it upon himself to carry the load and broke out of his funk in a big way with a 20 save shutout. There’s no reason to think he’s anything but healthy and ready to lead the Hawks and fantasy owners to many victories down the stretch. Start him with confidence.
Teuvo Teravainen, C (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Teuvo Time started on the third line between Andrew Shaw, C (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) and Bryan Bickell, RW (1 SOG, +1) last night and wasted no time making his presence known with a goal. I don’t expect much out of the raw rookie this season, but he’s something special and should be a target in keeper leagues next season. He’s not going to break out for a few more years, but you’ll want to own him on the cheap before he does.
Brandon Saad, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Saad not only retained is top line role after the Kane injury, he’s playing on the team’s top power play unit as well and cashed in with a goal and an assist on two shots last night. He should finish the season with 25-30 goals and 55-60 points, which would constitute a nice step forward for the young winger. Look for a breakout next season.
Brian Elliott, G (W, 30 SV, 1 GA, .968%) – It’s no secret I don’t trust Elliott as the starts mount and my worries about fatigue haven’t faded a bit, but now I have a new concern. I worry, I’m Italian, and it’s what we do. Wait, that’s complain. I’m Italian and we complain a lot. Maybe it’s because we worry so much? I digress, Elliott’s had two solid games in his last five; last night against the Jets and last week against the Cats. He got rocked by the Stars, Pens and Bolts for three or four goals a pop and loses along the way. I’d like to see him stand up strong against some stiffer competition before I ease my worrying ways here.
Michael Hutchinson, G (L, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) – He might have taken the loss last night, but it marked two straight games that he’s allowed two or fewer goals after a three game stretch where he couldn’t do anything but give up four a game. Ah the ups and downs of a rookie tender. He remains a no-brainer keeper and a pretty valuable 1B to own down the stretch this season.
Mark Scheifele, C (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – I expected a bit more out of Scheifelelelele than he’s delivered, but to be fair, the start of the season was a complete disaster for the Jets and it killed his entire team’s production. Every one is back on course now and last night’s tally gives the mighty Scheif four points (2 G, 2 A) over his last three games with at least a point in his last three contests. What’s better, three of those four points (1 G, 2 A) came on the power play, so he’s worth streaming for now.
Devin Dubnyk, G (W, 27 SV, 2 GA, .931%) – I was a big fan of Doobie’s when he was traded to the Wild and my love was proven true when he put up brick wall-esque numbers after the deal. My main concern was the lack of quality competition since the deal, but coming up against the league leading Nashville Predators and coming away with a 4-2 victory puts a thick layer o’ calm-the-hell-down-JD on those concerns. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hold the starting job for the Wild all next season, too. I’d own him with your team and in fact, I’ll do you one better, I own him with a few of mine.
Pekka Rinne, G (L, 26 SV, 3 GA, .897%) – Still Vezina, though.
Nino Niederreiter, RW (2 G, 2 SOG, +2) – There was a slow down in the middle of the season for Nino, but he’s picked up again and continues his march towards a 30-goal season. He’ll probably come up just short of that by the time the fat lady sings, but the hands are there and the goals will continue to flow. I liked Nino this season and I’ll like him again next season.
Kyle Brodziak, C (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Cool story, bro!
Andrew Hammond, G (W, 35 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – A hot goalie is a hot goalie regardless of who he is. Pick Hammond up, but don’t be surprised when this comes crashing down in a big way.
Mike Hoffman, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – The Hoff with another goal. Here’s another kid I’m pretty high on for next season and you should be too. He sports a plus-22 rating on the freakin’ Sens. How’s that for baller? It’s pretty ball, that’s how.
Jonathan Quick, G (L, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – It must be nice for Quick owners to know that they’ve got the guy they finally have the goalie they drafted so many months ago. I won’t be a bit surprised to see a lot of championship teams sporting Quick in net despite the rough start.
Jimmy Howard, G (W, 20 SV, 2 GA, .909%) – Howie hasn’t looked nearly as strong as he did before the injury, but we’ll give him a few more starts to get his shiz together before I start harping on him. In any case he is in no danger of losing his starting job unless he completely implodes, which I highly doubt. Still, start him with caution for now.
Antti Niemi, G (L, 32 SV, 3 GA, .914%) – His goals-against average is 2.61. That pairs with a .913 save percentage. What exactly are the Sharks going to do in net next season? You can bet your ass they aren’t going to give Niemi a new deal after a season like this, but did anyone expect anything more? I did! I expected a lot more from Alex Stalock and he broke my hockey heart.
Teemu Pulkkinen, LW (1 G, 6 SOG) – When this kid learns how to create space for himself and utilize his Brett Hull-like cannon of a shot, he’s going to be a goal-scoring machine. That’s not going to be this season, but you absolutely need to keep an eye on this year’s AHL goals leader and newest fixture in the Red Wings lineup. The Wings are going to give Teemu every opportunity to stick on big ice now and next season, but remember, this is the Red Wings and they take their time developing talent, so don’t expect him to see big minutes anytime soon. That all being said, he’s skating on the team’s top power play right now, so he’s worth a flyer in deep leagues.