The New York Rangers are built to win right now and general manager Glen Sather drove that point home in a big way yesterday completing a trade to bring four-time All-Star Keith Yandle to Broadway in exchange for top prospect Anthony Duclair and the few remaining draft picks the Rangers had left to give. With the move both players will see a fairly substantial jump in value and while Yandle is likely unavailable and any buy-low window on him has likely closed with the deal, the new Duke of the Desert is likely available and worth a flyer up in deep leagues if he gets called up to finish the season with the ‘yotes. That being said, if you can swing a deal for Yandle before the deadline now is the time to make it happen because as soon as he steps on the ice for the Rangers he’s going to shine.
The centerpiece of this deal is Yandle that much is for sure. With 41 points in 63 games and a horrid minus-32 rating Yandle owners have been pulling their hair out all season wondering “Why, God?! WHY?!” as his rating dipped lower and lower and all you had to show for it was a heaping helping o’ helpers. That’s going to change now and you can expect to see Yandle take over the QB duties on the Rangers’ top power play unit, a role that they signed Dan Boyle to fill in the off season. Boyle hasn’t been able to stay healthy or effective enough to lead the Rangers’ 11th best power play this season so Yandle becomes the obvious choice to handle those duties moving forward and that’s going to be a boon for his owners. It won’t help his plus/minus much, but you can expect to see his rating start to rise towards 0 with the move and you can expect some goals will start to pile up as well. Like I touched on earlier, the buy-window is probably closing fast now that he’s a Ranger, but you can probably still get him for cheaper than you normally would from owners who are likely out of the race by now or just sick of seeing that minus-50 billion rating of his. It’s worth a shot, anyway.
The other big piece to this puzzle is the 19-year-old golden prospect Anthony Duclair. Duke has been stellar at every level he’s played at and really he should be in the NHL already but the Rangers just didn’t have room for him. That’s the big bit here; Duke is ready to produce at the NHL level and he showed as much earlier this season, but he’s also a prospect that needs big minutes to develop properly. He’s going to get those in Arizona and he could get called up to finish the season with his new club. If he does he’s absolutely worth a flyer in deep leagues, but if he doesn’t you can expect to see him start the season on big ice in 2015 and he’s going to do so alongside former Team Canada line mate Max Domi, another highly touted prospect expected to make a big impact for the ‘yotes next season. Add in the possibility of adding Connor McDavid to the mix and the Coyotes are looking real solid in the near future. At this point there’s no word on whether Duke is getting the call, but if he does snatch him up, he’ll get big minutes and can absolutely produce right away. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Brandon Dubinsky is out indefinitely with a concussion and his season could very well be over because of it. While he was healthy Dubs was a monster multi-category contributor as usual, but he just couldn’t stay healthy this season. After dealing with off season abdominal surgery that cost him two months of the season he was solid and this was a flukey play, so he should be good to go next season, but you shouldn’t expect to get him back this year. Don’t drop him just yet, stash him on IR if you can, but don’t hold your breath waiting for him to return. Sadface.
Michael Hutchinson, G (W, 18 SV, 2 GA, .900%) – I recommended that you roll Hutch out in sheltered minutes moving forward and he goes and downs the Stars, Blues and Kings in convincing fashion in his last three starts. As a Hutch owner all I can say is it’s good to be wrong.
Jon Quick, G (L, 17 SV, 4 GA, .810%) – Don’t worry, this was one bad game amidst a late season run of vintage Quick that should continue on as the season winds down. He’s still worth targeting in trades and absolutely worth keeping if you burnt a high draft pick on him. His season isn’t going to be worthy of his ADP, but he can make up for it with a crazy hot run that wins you a title.
Tyler Myers, D (1 G, 1 SOG, 2 PIM) – Myers wasted no time getting settled in on the Jets and has six points (2 G, 4 A) in eight games since the trade that brought him out of the cold, barren wasteland of Buffalo to the cold, barren wasteland of Winnipeg. That’s pretty harsh; the Jets aren’t that bad, but it is pretty damn cold up there anyway. Myers always had this level of skill; he just played for the wrong team in the wrong system. It started to look like he just didn’t care anymore out there, but since the deal he’s a man possessed and should be a solid source of scoring from the back end of your blue line down the stretch.
Blake Wheeler, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – After missing a few weeks with an injury Wheels was activated and instantly returned to form with a two point effort last night. I’ve always been a fan and remain one; he should be good to go for the next month and a solid contributor down the stretch. I figure he’s good for 5-8 more goals and around 15-18 points.
Andrew Ladd, LW (2 G, 7 SOG, +2) – Everyone always forgets about Laddy, but you do so at your peril. He’s a consistent scoring option that continues to impress with with five points (2 G, 3 A) over his last five games as he continues his march towards a 30-goal, 70-point season. He’ll probably come up just shy of both of those marks, but the word on Ladd at this point and 2014 was probably the last year you had to get him in later rounds.
Ben Bishop, G (L, 22 SV, 4 GA, .846%) – When you look at Bish’s season line of 31-11-3/2.39/.913% it’s not that bad, but it’s not that great, either. We expected greatness out of him this season and he hasn’t delivered and now word has it that Bolts Head Coach Jon Cooper is going to give rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy one or two starts a week for the remainder of the season. That’s to get Vas some starts and keep Bish fresh for the playoffs both mentally and physically. That’s great for the Bolts but bad for fantasy owners. Adjust your goalie strategy for the playoffs accordingly; the Bolts have no plans to ride Bish down the stretch.
Tyler Johnson, C (1 G, 5 SOG) – On the list of guys who have the most points-per-twenty minutes of play TJ is number two in the league behind Evgeni Malkin and just barely ahead of teammate Nikita Kucherov, RW (1 A, 1 SOG). Johnson is legit and he’s going to continue to excel for years to come so like Ladd, this was the last season you’ll find him in later rounds. Hell, it’s the last time you’ll be able to snag him in the middle rounds, too. If you can keep him for next year, do it.
Jaromir Jagr, RW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Jagr’s first game with the Cats was nothing to write home about, but last night he put up a couple points in a 4-2 victory over the Bolts. That’s following a 5-3 win over the Sabres and the Cats are 2-0-0-0 since they picked up the future hall of famer. He’s skating on their second line with Jonathan Huberdeau, C (3 A, 2 SOG, +2) and Aleksander Barkov, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) with positive early returns. One surprising bit here is that Jagr didn’t get an immediate spot on the Cats’ top power play unit, he’s still getting power play time, but it’s on the second unit instead. That’s a bit of a bummer, but I’d say all three skaters get a boost in value and if any of them are on the wire in your league scoop ‘em up.
Aaron Ekblad, D (1 G, 3 SOG) – I had the chance to draft Ekblad in every league I was in and in a few keeper leagues I was really, really tempted but he went so early that I just couldn’t justify the pick. I’m okay with letting him go, but I have to say I didn’t expect a 40-45 point season out of the kid this soon. He won’t hit 50, but just north of 40 when the fat lady sings sounds about right. What a stud, the Cats are going to be so beast in a few years. They’re going to be so good Florida really doesn’t deserve them.
Curtis McElhinney, G (L, 36 SV, 5 GA, .878%) – Ah McMeh, you had me worried for a minute there with that stretch of solid play. Back to normal then, eh? Sergei Bobrovsky was activated recently so expect McMeh to get back to riding McBench and Bob to get the majority of starts for the rest of the season, good or bad.
Evgeni Malkin, C (2 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – If I could go back in time and take Geno over Crosby, I would. Yeah, Crosby is having a solid year, but not for Crosby. Geno on the other hand is doing better than I expected. Not that I doubted his ability to put up massive points, I was just worried about the injury bug biting him yet again this season but so far he’s managed to stay healthy, even during the time of the great NHL mumps epidemic. Figures. I’ll draft him next year and he’ll blow out a knee or something.
Nick Foligno, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – I like Flamingo, I think he’s pretty awesome, but I don’t think he’s point-per-game (PPG) awesome and he’s showing that lately. After exploding out of the gate and maintaining a PPG pace until last month he’s finally tapering off. I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of this season in 2015-16 and I think that’s going to make him over valued at the draft table. Beware.
Steve Downie, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – For a long time there was no one better at giving you a handful of points and a buttload of penalty minutes and his name was Steve Downie. He’d left that crown behind for a few injury-riddled seasons, but with 191 PIM and 24 points so far this season he’s back in the thick of the scoring goon race this season. I doubt he finishes with more than 30 points, but with over 200 penalty minutes to add to that he has value in just about every format.
Ryan Johansen, C (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – It has been a forgettable season for Joey and the Jackets. That sounds like a great name for a horrible 80s band, doesn’t it? J-J-J-Joey and the Jackets, Duh Duh, Dum Dah Dum, Yeah! Anyway, if you can keep him do it, but don’t expect him to carry your team in the playoffs. He can, but I doubt he will.
Braden Holtby, G (W, 32 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – You have to feel for Holtby. He’s finally having the season he was destined to, a stellar year, a Vezina quality year, and it has been glorious. Of course Carey Price and Pekka Rinne are actually having better seasons and will get stronger consideration for the Vezina despite Holtby’s pristine 30-15-9/2.16/.925/55 GP season line. That just goes to show you how beast Rinne and Price have been, but I’m willing to bet the only trophy Holts gives two B’s about is the Stanley Cup and he’s giving his team every chance to play for it this season.
John Gibson, G (W, 39 SV, 1 GA, .975%) – One thing is clear in Anaheim, Gibs is going to keep getting starts if he keeps playing this well. The hot hand rules here despite the recent activation of starter Frederik Andersen the other day. Expect this to be a 1A/1B situation moving forward with a pretty even split on starts unless one or the other gets really hot. Given Gibson’s recent play, I’d expect to see him between the pipes more often than not for the time being, but you can expect Freddy to get some starts soon, they need both of these guys healthy and strong for the playoffs.
Jhonas Enroth, G (L, 19 SV, 3 GA, .864%) – Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff said that his team’s goaltending was a “point of frustration for us this season” in a post-game interview recently. You don’t say, Lindy? Those are some stellar observational skills you’re putting on display for us there. This is why he gets the big bucks, folks.
Corey Perry, RW (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – If you switch Perry’s numbers and injury problems this season with Geno Malkins, my pre-season predictions for both guys would have been spot on! If only.
Eddie Lack, G (W, 34 SV, 5 GA, .872%) – After giving up five goals to the Sabres in his last start if you rolled Lack out against the high octane Blues you got what you deserved. Consider Lack Cam Talbot light.
Jake Allen, G (L, 21 SV, 4 GA, .840%) – Allen is going to be good, but he’s clearly not ready to take over the reigns as starter. I’d expect to see another 1A/1B situation in goal for the Blues next season with Brian Elliott leading the way yet again.
Alex Pietrangelo, D (1 G, 2 SOG, 2 PIM) – Yeah, it has been a “down” year for Petro, but down for him is around 45 points, which is where he’ll end up. He’s clearly developed into a Ryan Suter type “offensive” defenseman and is going to put up tons of assists and a few goals each season. That makes him prone to these “down” years so when you draft him next season adjust your expectations accordingly. He does play for the Blues, so there’s a lot of opportunity to rack up the helpers, but any skater or defenseman that you count on for points that relies on the scoring of others to be valuable is a somewhat risky pick.
Jannik Hansen, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Hansen continues to excel on the Canucks’ top line skating along side the Sedin twins and extended his point streak to four games with a tally last night. While I seriously doubt he’s going to continue his recent play, he’s worth a flyer in deep leagues while he’s on that top line and scoring. You’ll notice pretty quickly that there’s a strong correlation between his being on that line and the scoring, so as soon as he’s bumped down, drop him like he’s hot. Wait, that reference doesn’t work for fantasy hockey, does it? Drop him like he’s cold! Hmn, that just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Bah, you know what to do.