John Klingberg is a name you should know. In fact, he’s a guy you should probably add while he’s hot and hold in keeper leagues because he has all the tools to be a valuable fantasy rearguard. Before getting called up to big ice Klingy put up 12 points in 10 games (4 G, 8 A) in the AHL and in seven games since being called up he has six points, all of which have come in the last four games. The comparisons are already flying with Klingberg’s hot start. Is he the next Erik Karlsson? Do we have another Sergei Zubov on our hands? Frankly, those comparisons are unfair. There is only one Erik Karlsson and comparing the kid to a (what should be a) hall of famer like Zubov after just six games is madness. At just 22 years old he’s only started playing on North American ice last season, a season that ended prematurely with hip surgery that he’s clearly fully recovered from (There is hope, Valeri Nichushkin owners!). Still, there’s a lot of promise here. Klingberg is an offense first kind of defenseman if you hadn’t gathered already, just the type we love in fantasy hockey. He’s a bit on the small side right now at 6’1”, 181 lbs so some bulking up is in order, but the slick Swede is very adept at escaping the big hits with his smooth skating and is one of the more mobile rearguards I’ve ever seen. He has exceled with the man advantage at every level he’s played at, something the Stars obviously recognize as they’ve put him on their top unit with Jason Spezza, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Is there a better place to be in the league to tally some sweet, sweet points? I can’t think of one. Not only that, he’s jumped right in to a top-four role and is skating for a whopping 23 minutes a game. There’s no chance he keeps up this scoring pace, but I could see him putting up 30 points or more by the end of the year. The Stars might be a bit of a mess defensively, but their offense has been clicking on all cylinders from the first drop of the puck this season, so if you’re looking for some help at the back end of your blue line, add Klingy while he’s hot and he might just stay that way. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Jake Allen, G (W, 28 SV, 2 GA, .933%) – Al had a few meh games in a row there before he rebounded in this one pushing away 28 of 30 for a 4-2 win over the Jets. His season line now sits at a glowing 6-2-0/2.00/.923% and he’s only allowed more than three goals once in eight starts so far. He’s getting some sheltered minutes, which is to be expected and a sign that he’s being handled well by his coaches. The future remains very bright here.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (L, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893%) – Pavs took the loss to Allen and that stretches his losing streak to five straight. The first couple losses weren’t really his fault, but over the last three he’s coughed up four goals in each game. He started the season pretty strong but you knew it wouldn’t last. Honestly I didn’t expect the strong start at all, so maybe he can snap out of this, but I’d expect him to regress to his mean as the season goes on. The window to sell high here is closing fast.
David Backes, C (1 G, 4 SOG) – Last night’s tally brings Backes’ season line to 6 G, 5 A, minus-3, 12 PIM in 20 games. That’s pretty awful, even for Backes. His primary sources of value are his goals, PIM and Hits and while he’s racked up 54 hits, he’s coming up way short in the other two departments. I wasn’t ever a big fan because his ADP was way too high this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t hit 50 points this year. 20 goals, yeah, but you were hoping for like 30.
Paul Stastny, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Speaking of underperforming Blues, Stastny finally puts something on the board potting his third goal of the season. You can’t give up on him yet, but the window is closing fast. He’s had a month to get back into the swing of it after turning from injury earlier this season, so he either came back too soon and is playing hurt or he’s just having a down year. I’d give him another few weeks, but if he doesn’t show signs of life by then, it might be time to cut bait.
Jaden Schwartz, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – On the other side of the St. Louis coin we find Schwartz who after last night’s goal has 21 points in 21 games so far this season. That’s mostly due to the fact that he plays pivot for Vladimir Tarasenko (1 SOG, -1) but the chemistry there is strong and neither guy shows signs of slowing down any time soon.
Alexander Steen, LW (2 A, 1 SOG, +1) – With a pair of helpers last night Steen is on pace to tally around 55 points this year, and that sounds about right. This near point-per-game scoring pace he set last year was nonsense, yo.
Bryan Little, C (1 G, 1 SOG) – It’s starting to seem like that 64 point performance last season was a bit of a fluke. Yeah, the Jets have been a hot mess for much of the season, but Little has to do better than 12 points in 22 games. He’ll give you 20 goals, but don’t expect much more than that this season.
Henrik Lundqvist, G (W, 21 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – The King rebounded after the 5-1 pummeling he suffered at the hands of the Bolts with a solid showing blanking the Habs 5-0. His season line now sits at un-hanklike 8-5-3/2.51/.914%, but I expect that GAA to fall and the SV% to rise. I don’t think you can expect the usual microscopic peripherals this season, but he’ll finish with strong numbers.
Dustin Tokarski, G (L, 29 SV, 5 GA, .853%) – Oof, Toker took it on the chin in this one as the Rangers potted five goals on 34 shots. He’s been absolutely fantastic until this game and it was bound to happen sooner or later. He’s young but immensely talented, so no worries.
Rick Nash, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – And the march towards 50 goals continues with goals in back-to-back games bringing his season total to 14 in 20 games. Add seven helpers to those goals and Nash on a point-per-game pace that I’m pretty positive he’ll continue all season. Derick Brassard (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) has found his way up to centering Nash, so that boosts his value as well.
Derek Stepan, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) – Steps continues his strong play with a goal to stretch his points streak to three games with four points in his last five. He has seven points in eight games overall skating on a line with Chris Kreider (2 A, 7 SOG, +2) and Martin St. Louis.
Martin St. Louis, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – I’ve been dubious on whether Marty would regain his old form given that he’s well, old. I may, however, have to eat some crow as he has five points over his last four games and 17 points in 20 games overall this season. Given how good he looks out there and the chemistry he’s developing with Stepan, I’d say he’s good for 30 goals and around 70 points this year if he can stay healthy. Never bet against Marty, I guess.
Carl Hagelin, LW (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) – Hags has a lot of promise, but he plays such a reckless game sometimes it’s really infuriating. He has blazing speed, in fact he’s probably one of the fastest forwards in the game today, but he makes some bad decisions and he doesn’t finish as cleanly or as often as I’d like. He potted a goal on six shots last night and that gives three points over his last four games, but hasn’t played well enough to warrant top-six minutes so he hasn’t played well enough to warrant my recommendation, either.
Mats Zuccarello, RW (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) – I like Mats, I want to love Mats, but I just can’t do it. He’s a great playmaker and with vision and great hands, but he just seems more like a 45 point guy than a 65 point guy. He started slow last year and picked it up like whoa later in the season, so the same could happen this year, but I’m skeptical.
Frederik Andersen, G (W, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963%) – There’s nothing better for a struggling goalie than a start against the Arizona Coyotes.
Mike Smith, G (L, 28 SV, 2 GA, .933%) – 4-11-1/3.22/.893% in 16 GP.
Keith Yandle, D (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – The rest of the ‘yotes might not be scoring by Yandle sure is. In fact, Yandle leads the team in scoring with 15 points in 22 games. That puts him on pace for 56 by season’s end, a total I expect him to at least flirt with by season’s end.
Patrick Maroon, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – I don’t expect much from Maroon this season, but he has three points in his last four games, so there’s that. Once he was penciled in for a top line slot with Ryan Getzlaf (2 SOG, -1) and Corey Perry (3 SOG, -1) but that’s a thing o’ the past as he’s spent most of his time on a line with Ryan Kesler (2 A, 3 SOG, +2) and Kyle Palmieri (1 G, 3 SOG, +2). That’s a significant downgrade (despite the solid game from that line last night) and it significantly downgrades his value accordingly. That said, if Kesler gets his act together he could pull Maroon and Palmieri up with him.
Ryan Miller, G (W, 24 SV, 1 GA, .960%) – Miller allowed 16 goals in his previous four starts before this solid effort against the Blackhawks. What’s that sound I hear? Oh, I believe it’s his chances of winning that Comeback Player of the Year award falling down, down… down.
Corey Crawford, G (L, 26 SV, 3 GA, .897%) – Crawdad doesn’t need a comeback he’s been here for years. He takes the loss in this one but he’s been so solid leading up to this game that allowing three goals doesn’t push his microscopic GAA (1.98) over 2 or lower his save percentage (.926) below .925. The GAA will rise, the SV% will drop, but neither is going to stray too far from their current values. He’s a beast.
Kris Versteeg, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – I told you to pick up Versteeg and this is why. Seven points over his last five with goals in three of his last four including a back-to-back that he capped with his tally last night. He’s healthy, talented and he’s on a great team bouncing between two great lines. Add him. Do it. Do it now.
Radim Vrbata, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Verbs has four goals in his last three games with at least a goal in each contest. He has 17 points in 19 games so far and it’s still really hard for me to envision him doing this well for the remainder of the season. I know he hasn’t had much opportunity to play with the kind of talent he can now, but I still think he’s a great sell high candidate, especially now.
Jannik Hansen, RW (3 G, 4 SOG, +3) – You see a hatty and five goals in his last two and you justifiably get pumped up, but not so fast. Hansen is a fourth liner who gets zero time on the power play. You can add him while he’s scoring in deep leagues, but don’t expect much and anything you get is a bonus.