Just days after news came down that Evander Kane was going to miss the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in a blockbuster deal last night that saw seven players change teams. Zach Bogosian and college netminder Jason Kasdorf get banished to the Sabres with Kane while Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, and Joel Armia are headed to Winnipeg with the rights to 2014 second-round pick Brendan Lemieux and Buffalo’s first-round pick in 2015. Kane is the centerpiece of the deal despite being lost for the season, but in the immediate future the truly tantalizing piece of this deal comes in the form of the 6 foot 8 inch Tyler Myers, D (1 G, 4 SOG) who after putting up two stellar seasons to start his career has become a bit of an enigma with three injury shortened, mediocre campaigns on one of the league’s worst teams.
It doesn’t really matter who the player is, if they’re getting moved away from arguably the league’s worst team to one in the playoff hunt there’s going to be a bump in value. That begs the question, how significant can it be for Myers? The two biggest limiting factors on Myers are injuries and playing for the Sabres. The latter of those two problems has been solved but that doesn’t fix the injury bug at all. Since starting his career with 48 points in 82 games and 37 points in 80 games, Myers played in just 55, 39 and 62 games respectively for the next three seasons and his offensive output suffered accordingly. That’s not a good track record and a move to the Jets doesn’t skyrocket his value, but it should give him a solid boost. Expect to see him on one of the Jets’ top two pairings, but don’t expect him to be paired up with big Dustin Byfuglien, D (1 G, 3 SOG, +2), both he and Myers sport right handed shots.
When it comes to Kane it goes without saying that he has zero value in redraft leagues and if you had him pegged as one of your keepers for next season despite the shoulder injury, think again. A move to the Sabres does nothing but kill his value for 2016 which was already a big question given the nature of his injury. Kane plays a physical game, in fact he needs to be physical to be effective, and that’s a tough task when you have a bunk shoulder. Sure, it will be healed up in time for training camp next season, but the rust will be thick and the team around him will be significantly weaker.
The Sabres are clearly trying to build for the future but the future isn’t next year, it’s two or three years from now and that’s when the real winner of this deal will be crowned. In the end the deal isn’t such a blockbuster for fantasy owners but Myers is worth a flier in most leagues, especially deep formats but don’t expect him to heal what ails your offensively struggling blue line, so don’t expect miracles. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Brandon Pirri was going to get a mention today given he’s been hot lately, but 17 seconds into the game he left the game after his shoulder and did not return. There’s no word on how bad it is, but shoulder problems are always a big deal in hockey. Punt until further notice.
Colin Wilson will miss his second straight game with an upper-body injury. The Preds are listing him as the dreaded day-to-day but there’s nothing to indicate his injury is serious. He could be back as soon as Thursday against the Jets.
Dustin Byfuglien, D (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) – Good news, everyone! Big Buff is back on D where he belongs after the big trade. Lets hope he stays there because this is what he offers along with hits, PIM and everything else a healthy fantasy hockey team needs.
Devan Dubnyk, G (L, 32 SV, 2 GA, .941%) – Even when Doobie sees his six game win streak snapped he steps up and gives the Wild a chance to win it. He pushed away 32 of 34 shots last night but there was no offensive help in sight with Michael Hutchinson locking down the net at the other end of the ice. Doobs remains the undisputed starter for the Wild, but now that he’s lost expect to see Darcy Kuemper get a start here and there to get him back up to speed on big ice, maybe as soon as the Wild’s next game.
Michael Hutchinson, G (W, 29 SV, 1 GA, .967%) – Hutch continues to prove that come next season he should be the undisputed starter for the Jets. Until then, he’ll continue to split games with Ondrej Pavelec. It’s not so much the talent disparity between them that dictates the time split, it’s the fact that Hutch is a rookie and they don’t want to burn him out or hurt his, or their future prospects. He remains a must own in all formats despite the time-share, though.
Jamie Benn, RW (2 G, 5 SOG, +2) – Benn snapped a five game goal skid with two tallies last night after it came out that he said some really mean things about the Sedins. Clearly that’s what helped him get his edge back and put the biscuit where it belongs, back in the basket, so I fully endorse a continuance of hostilities between Benn and the Sedins. The two factors are clearly connected, right? Right.
Erik Cole, RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – Since the second line of Cole, Jason Spezza, C (1 A, 1 SOG, -1) and Ales Hemsky, RW (1 SOG, -1) finally settled in after three freakin’ months Cole has seemingly exploded with three goals in his last five games and 13 points (9 G, 4 A) over his last 14 games, but don’t get too excited. The goal surge is being fueled by an inflated shooting percentage of 18.3, which sits a bit over 5 points above his career average of 12.3. Considering goal scoring fuels most of his recent surge and his pace is clearly unsustainable I can’t recommend adding him in hopes that he’ll be a savior, but he can provide added scoring depth while he’s putting the puck in the net.
Robin Lehner, G (W, 35 SV, 1 GA, .972%) – My boy Lehner started slowly after taking over for the injured Craig Anderson, but he has really picked up his game over his last five starts pushing away 143 of 153 shots for a .935 save percentage. He’s allowed more than two goals just once over that span. I’ve argued repeatedly that the only thing holding Lehner back beyond playing for the Senators was a lack of consistent playing time. He’s getting it, he’s getting into a groove and he’s worth picking up now. You won’t get many wins, but he’s showing he can provide solid peripherals in spot starts.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 30 SV, 4 GA, .882%) – Tablot pulled in a win with this game but he didn’t look good doing it. There were a few goals last night that he could, and should have easily stopped but didn’t. Never have the Rangers missed Henrik Lundqvist more than in a game like this. They repeatedly staked Talbot to two goal leads only to watch Tablot let them evaporate. The Leafs eventually tied the game 4-4 in the third. The Rangers owned the Leafs in every other aspect of the game but Talbot looked lost. I wouldn’t roll him out blindly moving forward despite playing on one of the league’s best teams. Start him with caution.
James Reimer, G (L, 34 SV, 5 GA, .872%) – It was Reimer that kept the hapless Leafs in this game as the majority of scoring chances went to the Rangers early on. As the game waned there was nothing he could do, however, as the Rangers piled up 39 shots and he was only able to push 34 of them away. Reimer, like his good buddy Jonathan Bernier was hanged out to dry yet again by his teammates and continues to be worthless in fantasy hockey.
Mats Zuccarello, RW (2 G, 5 SOG, +2) – In his short career it seems as if Zucc starts slow and picks it up in the second half. That’s the show he put on last year and that’s the show he’s putting on again this year. He has seven points (3 G, 4 A) over his last five games and stretched his points streak to six games after finding the back of the net twice last night. If last season is any indication he should continue to rack up the points, especially considering he’s spending most of his time on the Rangers’ top line alongside Derick Brassard, C (2 A, 1 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) and NHL goals leader Rick Nash, LW (3 A, 2 SOG, +2).
Kevin Hayes, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – It took a bit to get the big fella on big ice, but now that he’s here Kevin Hayes is looking better by the game. He has four points (2 G, 2 A) over his last five games while skating on the Rangers’ third line with J.T. Miller, C (2 SOG, +1) and the speedy Carl Hagelin, LW (1 A, 5 SOG, +2). That line has been looking solid for a bit now and seems locked in, so Hayes should continue to offer up decent scoring in deeper leagues. He also has some value as a keeper, but not much. That being said, I wouldn’t sleep on him for next season, the ceiling is high here.
Ray Emery, G (L, 39 SV, 2 GA, .951%) – You’d think just by looking at his line from last night that Emery had a good game, but think again, he had a fairly typical Ray Emery night. Through two he shut down the Habs but he allowed a third period goal to Tomas Plekanec, C (1 G, 3 SOG) and then another to the white hot David Desharnais. Emery will split starts with Robb Zepp while Steve Mason is on the mend, but he could get the next start based on a few solid periods of play. Yeah, the Flyers are probably that desperate.
David Desharnais, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Desi worked his way back on to the Habs’ top line again as he streaks like whoa with eight points (2 G, 6 A) over his last five games. He’s worth owning while he’s scoring, but don’t expect this to continue and really, owners in points-only leagues will get the most out of the diminutive pivot as he offers next to nothing in terms of peripheral stats.
Aleksander Barkov, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – So have you picked up Barkov yet? No? Okay, I’ll wait. How about now?
Nick Bjugstad, C (1 G, 4 SOG, 2 PIM) – Man, the Cats are going to be pretty good in a few years, right?
Aaron Ekblad, D (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Or maybe they’re already that good? Lawds have mercy, there’s so much young talent in South Florida I’m actually getting excited about what this team can do as early as next season. One thing is for sure, it’s a roster chock-full o’ fantasy gold.
Jonathan Huberdeau, C (3 A, 2 SOG, +1) – I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned so many Cats in a row before. Hoob is in the middle of a meh season, but he does have five points (5 A) over his last five games skating on a line with Barkov and Brad Boyes, RW (1 A, +1).
Jimmy Hayes, RW (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – It doesn’t stop! Have we fallen into some alternate opposite universe? If so, where’s my evil me goatee? I was promised an evil me goatee. If I had to choose between the Hayes brothers I’d go with Kevin, but Jimmy is no slouch. He notched his 16th goal of the season last night and added a helper to help the Cats spank the Frederik Andersen-less Ducks 6-2. Still, if you need some supplementary goal scoring it couldn’t hurt to tap the Jimmy Fund.
Ilya Bryzgalov, G (L, 5 SV, 3 GA, .625%) – I told you to avoid Breezy and this is why. I love the spaceman, but there’s a reason he hasn’t been signed to a team out of camp for the last two seasons. He coughed up three goals on eight shots before giving way to John Gibson, G (L, 15 SV, 3 GA, .833%) who didn’t fare much better. Regardless, it has to be abundantly clear that Gibson should be between the pipes for the Ducks’ next tilt. As for Breezy? I can’t imagine he’s long for the NHL at this rate, and given how poorly he’s played for the Ducks this season, his NHL career could simply be over after he gets released.
Nikita Kucherov, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, -1) – Goals in four straight now with five points over his last five. I’m all about Kooch right now and next season. He’s a beast. He’s broken out. He’s the real deal.