Matt Nieto (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) was drafted in the second round with the 47th pick in the 2011 draft but he could have gone much higher if it wasn’t for his defensive shortcomings that many scouts thought would limit his value at the NHL level. Fast-forward a few good seasons in the AHL and Nieto has proven that not only can he play defense, but that he can learn and adapt quickly on the big stage. So far this season he’s only posted 11 points in 38 games and that’s pretty bleh, even for a rookie. He’s young, but he’s also extremely streaky because his game is very north to south right now, so if he gets off course from his favorite scoring hotspots he can lose a handle on the game and make mistakes. Most of those mistakes are made in some poor decision-making when passing the puck if he’s out of his comfort zone, but on the other side of that coin he’s shown flashes of brilliance moving the puck at high speed, and this kid definitely flies. Once he settles in and starts making better choices with the puck his slick skating, playmaking ability and high energy will combine to make him a formidable offensive force for the Sharks and possibly an heir apparent for the aging but still effective Joe Thornton. Nieto will have to bulk up a bit to carry Thunder Joe’s mantle into the future, but he has all the tools to do the job. Is he worth much yet? No and I wouldn’t own him anywhere, but he does have five points in his last nine games. The Sharks project him to be a top-six guy and he wasn’t supposed to be getting NHL ice time yet, so just the fact that he’s logged 38 games so far this season is a good sign. Even better, he’s only now starting to produce offensively and he hasn’t been sent down yet, which means he’s doing a lot right that has nothing to do with putting the puck in the net. That’s a great sign, so keep an eye on him for seasons ahead as he could develop into one of the best playmakers in the game. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Wayne Simmonds (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +2) is streaking and should be added anywhere you need a boost. It won’t last, but get it while the gettin’s good, ya’ll!
Shea Weber (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG, +1) put up his first three point game of the season with a goal and a pair of helpers last night against the Flyers. His plus/minus is just terrible, but he’s been consistently scoring for a bit now and despite a three game scoreless skid he’s now on pace to notch 20 goals and nearly 60 points by season’s end. We’ll see whether he keeps it up or not, I figure he’ll end up around 50 points, but still it’s good to see.
Henrik Lundqvist (0 GA, 38 SV, W) looked magnificent out there against the Wings last night and posted a shutout in a goalie duel with Jimmy Howard. For all the worry with his horrible (for him) first half, Hank has completely righted the ship now having allowed more than two goals only twice in his seven starts this month.
Jimmy Howard (1 GA, 47 SV, L) also looks like he’s righting the ship and played really well despite the loss. The only goal that managed to find its way past Jimmy was a flukey, fluttering, deflected Matts Zuccarello pass that was deflected by a Wings’ defensemen after Jimmy had already commited to breaking it up. It really wasn’t his fault at all and I’d roll Howard out there with confidence moving forward.
Jason Pominville (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +2) has started a slow decline but is still worth owning in deeper leagues. He used to have 30-goal ability but I think those days are behind him, especially since he’s playing for the Wild these days. That being said, if he was on the Sabres his value might be even lower so I guess beggars can’t be choosers? The beggars here are people picking up Pominville, by the way.
Tomas Plekanec (2 G, 3 SOG, +2) could score 30 goals this year but I doubt it, he’ll probably end up around 25. He’ll only give you another 20 or so points before season’s end, but half of that could be goals, so he’s worth a look in deep roto leagues.
Brent Burns (2 A, 5 SOG, +2) has finally started to slow down a bit, but that only means he’s aiming for a 50-point season instead of a 60 point season. Oh darn, how will his owners cope? I know! His plus-22 rating that could end up around plus-40 by season’s end will help soothe the pain of having a guy you drafted as your second or third defenseman put up elite numbers.
Mike Smith (0 GA, 29 SV, W) was nearly on the verge of losing his job, or at least that’s what I like to tell myself, to Thomas Greiss. Then he did this. You know, it makes it real hard to own him when he pulls this effin’ nonsense, but lucky for me I don’t own him. Huzzah! Anyway, it looks like he’ll remain the starter and Greiss’ value remains quite low.
Semyon Varlamov (1 GA, 33 SV, W) has entered the Vezina discussion with yet another brilliant game from the Russian netminder. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in Sochi, that’s for sure.
Cory Schneider (1 GA, 37 SV, L) continues to get more nods than Martin Brodeur lately, and of course he plays brilliantly even when he loses. It’s not his fault the Devils can’t muster more than, err, zero goals to support him. He won’t get you wins, but his peripherals are among the best in the league making him ownable everywhere. He’s more valuable in roto leagues, but still. Here’s to hoping that Peter DeBoer keeps giving Schenids the nod and you might see some wins added in there. Might.
Erik Karlsson (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG, even) cannot be stopped. You could put him on the Oilers and he’d find a way to end up around 70 points. Luckily for his owners he plays for the Senators and he’s looking at 80 with 20 goals by season’s end instead. I never draft Karlsson because he’s just too expensive so I have no idea what it’s like to own him. It must be nice, I can dream! *sigh*
Mark Scheifele (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +2) has six points in his last five games and 17 points in his last 21 games dating back to the end of November. He’s streaky, he’s young and he plays for the Jets, but I’d own him right now.
Steve Mason (3 GA, 34 SV, L) is starting to look like the Steve Mason I’ve known for the past four or five seasons. I mean honestly, did you think a guy with a career 2.82 GAA was suddenly going to put up a Henrik Lundqvist like season? If you did, you must be smokin’ the good stuff. Do share.
David Legwand (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, even, 2 PIM) has five points in his last two games and swears he’s still good for 50 points this season. He’s also good for a minus-20 rating, so there’s that. I wouldn’t mind having Legwand in a deep, deep roto league that counts faceoffs, but otherwise I would run away screaming in horror.
Joe Pavelski (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) keeps on doing what he do, and he do score some goals regular-like, I tell you what.
Patrice Bergeron (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) put up his second two point night in as many games and remains pretty yawnstipating if you ask me, and you kind of are asking me just by reading my posts, so there you go.
Alex Stalock (0 GA, 24 SV, W) posted his first NHL shutout and looked good doing it. I think the Sharks are a lot like the Kings in that their D is so damn good that it makes their goalies look a bit better than they are. That being said, both he and Niemi are pretty baller, so I’m not trying to take anything away from either of ‘em. Stalock’s value remains marginal due to Niemi’s greatness.
Kevin Poulin (1 GA, 29 SV, W) rebounded nicely after an embarrassing game that saw him give up four goals to the effin’ Panthers of all teams. He’s really trying to get me to endorse him, but I just can’t yet.
Andrej Meszaros (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +1) is actually having a pretty decent season despite missing a lot of action due to injury. So far he has 12 points in 28 games and projected out for the rest of the season he should end up around 30 points in 60-some games. That’s baller for a defenseman, especially on the Flyers. Despite that apparently everyone has forgotten about him, he’s only owned in 0.6% of ESPN leagues and 1% of Yahoo! Leagues so if you want him he’s easily had.
Milan Lucic (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, even) scored the game winning goal last night but his value isn’t quite was it was pre-lockout when he posted two seasons of 60 points and 120+ PIM. Now he’s all “under control” on the ice and he’ll barely scrape 100 PIM and his scoring is down a bit, too. Sadface! This has more to do with his role on the Bs than it does his skill level and one good two-week stretch could straighten out all those crooked numbers of his just right.
Bryan Little (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) keeps on scoring and should be added where you can find him. Given that he’s owned in 100% of ESPN leagues you’re out of luck there, but he’s still available in 19% of Yahoo! Leagues, so if you need scoring help he’s worth grabbing in all formats.
Drew Doughty (1 A, 3 SOG, +3) quietly chugs along towards another solid year after a fairly disappointing lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign. He should end up with 40 or so points and a tasty plus/minus and that’s right on target. What, you wanted another 60-point season like he put up as a sophomore? Dream on!
Roman Josi (1 A, 6 SOG, +1) has good scoring chops but because he plays with the Preds that plus/minus of his is oh so bad (-17 and counting the wrong way). In H2H leagues he’s got some value, but he’ll kill your roto squad’s rating fo’ sho’.
Bobby Ryan (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) remains at perfect parity with 19 goals and 19 assists in 48 games so far. It seemed like he might have a 70 or 80-point year when he started fairly hot, but his lack of assists will again limit him to around 60-65 points. I still love owning the guy, though it doesn’t happen often because people overpay for the guy every effin’ year. At some point we all have to agree that Ryan isn’t going to do much more than he already does, and that’s okay!
Joe Thornton (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) actually scored a goal, how about that?!
Tyler Seguin (2 A, 4 SOG, even) still hasn’t quite gotten back on track after his entire team slumped out for like a month, but he has three points over his last two games, so that’s a good sign. They’re all assists, so that’s not a great sign. I guess that makes it a sorta-good sign? Either way, he’ll get it going again sooner than later.
Blake Wheeler (2 A, +2) scored 10 goals last month and has 19 points over his last 21 games, and somehow you haven’t picked him up yet? Don’t give me that “Oh but JD, he’s owned everywhere already!” crap either, he’s free to own in 21% of Yahoo! Leagues, so go get him. He should be owned in all formats when he’s scoring like this. Anyone should be.
Kari Lehtonen (3 GA, 37 SV, L) returned to his losing ways again after finally getting a win after a decent sized losing streak. It’s a down time for Lehtonen who has always had problems staying healthy, so it may be that the workload is catching up to him. With only Dan Ellis to back him up Lehtonen’s second half is starting to look scary. I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to struggle and hits the disgraceful list with an “injury” soon.
P.K. Subban (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) snapped a personal five game scoreless streak after his monster four-point night against the Stars earlier this month. He had a really rough December but has nearly matched his points total Scoring defenseman can be streaky and Subban definitely is, so you just have to take the dry spells with the ridiculous scoring outbursts.
Slava Voynov (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) had his first multipoint game since the middle of November and he’s really disappointing his owners this season who expected a big step forward from the dynamic Russian blue liner. He should still manage to have his best season as a pro and breach the 30 point barrier, but I know I was among the many who though Voynov could hit 40 this year, but that isn’t happening. I dropped him in a H2H league, but I wouldn’t be so quick to do so in deeper/keeper/roto leagues.
David Desharnais (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, even) is so freakin’ boring, seriously, how can any Habs fan seriously endorse this guy? He’s on pace for 40 points, that’d be great if he was Slava Voynov, but he isn’t, and he isn’t worth owning anywhere.
Jonathan Quick (1 GA, 28 SV, W) held the Blues, of all teams, to just one goal. Good D and all aside, Quick is nasty. I can’t wait to see him lead Team USA to the goal medal game in Sochi. Yeah that’s right, I said it!
Chad Johnson (2 GA, 32 SV, W) snapped a personal four game losing streak that dated back to the beginning of December, but remains marginally valuable at best due to Tuukka Rask being so Tuukka Rasky.
Ben Bishop (1 GA, 29 SV, L) has been the best goalie in the league, statistically speaking, so far this year. I expect he’ll see his numbers dip a bit, but not in a big way. The Olympic break will either help him with rest or hurt him with rust, but in either case it will be interesting to see how the rookie copes with the time off.
Darcy Kuemper (1 GA, 20 SV, W) might look like he’s starting to pull away with the no. 1 job from Nik Backstrom with Josh Harding still out dealing with his MS, but his wins have come against Edmonton last night and his shutout was against Nashville a few nights ago, with a 4-1 loss to the Sens mixed in. Lets see some teams with teeth on offense show up and then I’ll let you know what I think of Kuemper. For now, I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon just yet.
Carey Price (4 GA, 40 SV, W) is really starting to piss Ryan Miller off. He lets in four goals and still gets the win? Must be nice!
Eddie Lack (1 GA, 22 SV, L) can’t buy a win lately, eh? A few guys only let one in bu took the loss last night but Lack has been pretty bad since re-taking over for the re-injured Re-berto Luongo, so this is actually a good sign.
Tim Thomas (3 GA, 36 SV, L) lost and that’s what I like to report about Thomas, his failures.
Ondrej Pavelec (2 GA, 20 SV, W) got the win! How about that?! He only had to face 20 shots to get it and it came against the Flames, but hey, his owners will take what they can get. Wait, he has owners? Sorry guys, that’s rough.
Jaroslav Halak (3 GA, 27 SV, L) took the loss and now Brian Elliot will start 10 games in a row and log shutouts every other game further confusing the goalie situation in St. Louis which will never, ever be clear with both of these guys in tow. The Blues are too good for their own, uh, good.