The New York Rangers have one of the most potent offenses in the NHL this season. Lead by NHL goals leader and all around beast Rick Nash, LW (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +3) they’re fourth in the league potting three goals per game and lately they’re finding offense from all corners of their top nine. The latest Broadway Blue to find his stride is the hulking Kevin Hayes, RW (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) who extended his point streak to four games with a huge three-point performance last night against the Avs. The goal he scored was an end-to-end beauty just minutes after a nifty little pass that allowed Dan Boyle, D (1 G, 1 SOG, +4) to roll in all alone on Semyon Varlamov, G (L, 25 SV, 5 GA, .833%) who was deked out of his pads for the first goal of the game. This isn’t the first time Hayes has impressed over the last month or so and he’s starting to show fantasy owners why he was such a coveted commodity coming out college a few years ago, and why he should be on your short keeper list this season.
Hayes is big, clocking in at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds he’s a prototypical power forward who knows how to utilize his big frame to create space. Though his skating leaves something to be desired, he’s showing all the tools he put to good use winning national championships for Boston College, starting and ending with those silky soft hands of his. They’re so soft you’d think the man never worked a day in his life. The puck always seems to find Hayes and when it gets on his stick it tends to stay there until he finds someone to dish it to. Pair those hands with excellent vision, patience and the ability handle playing center, a position where the Rangers are woefully shallow and desperately needed someone to step up, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a beast in the making.
Hayes won’t break into the Rangers’ top six anytime soon and supplant Derek Stepan, C (1 SOG, -2) or Derick Brassard, C (1 A, 4 SOG, +1), but lately he’s getting more responsibility with increased TOI and a shift to the second power play unit. Given how good the Rangers offense is and how well Hayes is coming along, I woudn’t be surprised if he has 8-10 more goals and around 15-20 points left before the fat lady sings, so if you’re looking for supplementary scoring in deep leagues (who isn’t?) Hayes is worth a flier. In the long term he’s quickly becoming a guy who you should seriously consider as one of your keepers. He might not break out in a big way next year, but he will continue to improve and you can expect a monster season from him as soon as 2017. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Mats Zuccarello, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) – Hayes isn’t the only Ranger on fire lately. Zucc extended his point streak to eight games with a goal last night and has nine points (4 G, 5 A) over that span. His coaches told him to start shooting more, so he did. The goals have followed and all I can say is please, please keep shooting! He’s been skating on the top line and was recently promoted to the top power play as well. Money. He should be owned everywhere. He also makes for a good trade deadline target, but as he scores the price is skyrocketing.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 26 SV, 3 GA, .897%) – The only reason Tablot isn’t winless since taking over for the injured Henrik Lundqvist is the Rangers offense. I never thought I’d type or say that, but it is what it is. Talbot has looked somewhere between lost and awful in every game since taking over and it appears the only leads he can hold on to are three goals or more. When the Rangers get the ‘Yotes tomorrow and the Sabres next week and those are relatively safe games to start Talbot, but I’d think twice about rolling him out against the Canucks and Isles.
Semyon Varlamov, G (L, 25 SV, 5 GA, .833%) – Varly has allowed ten goals over his last two games, ballooning his goals-against average to 2.65 to go with a .920 save percentage. I imagine his save percentage will start to dip too, but not too much given the volume of shots he’s already faced this season. Still, the Avs looked horrible against the Rangers and generally look horrible every game. That doesn’t bode well for Varly or any Avs down the stretch. I wouldn’t own him with your team, but then you knew that already if you’re a regular reader.
Dan Boyle, D (1 G, 1 SOG, +4) – Boyler is pretty old, but lately he’s playing with renewed vigor and jumping into the play at just the right time like only a crafty veteran can do. His missed time early in the season with various injuries and while that seemed annoying back then, it’s allowed his legs to stay fresh for the stretch and he’s finally developing solid chemistry with his teammates. The fact that he only has 13 points in 37 games this season means he might be on the wire in your league and if he is and you need some supplementary scoring from your blue line, Boyler is worth a flier.
Carl Hagelin, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) – There isn’t going to be a ton of offensive from Hags moving forward, but he does have points in three straight and remains a fixture in the Rangers’ top nine with some time on the second power play as well. He’s worth a flier in the deepest leagues, but don’t get your hopes up for much more.F
Gabriel Landeskog, LW (1 G, 3 SOG) – After Gabe potted his goal last night he was pretty pumped up. I don’t know why. What do you have to be pumped up about, guy? Nothing, that’s what! Absolutely nothing.
John Gibson, G (W, 35 SV, 1 GA, .972%) – Gibson looked fantastic pushing away 35 of 36 shots in his first start since October 30th to help down the Canes 2-1 last night. His play provides a stark contrast with Ilya Bryzgalov’s work this season. The Ducks are in a tough spot here because Gibson is clearly the superior tender despite the experience difference, but he absolutely needs to play big minutes and the only place he can do that is in the AHL. Frederik Andersen is the starter for the Ducks unless he completely falls apart, so expect Gibson to get sent back down to Norfolk when they activate Freddy. Until then, they’ll probably give Gibson a ride as the starter for now.
Jeff Skinner, RW (1 G, 7 SOG, -2) – Once upon a time the only factor that held Skinner back was injuries. He suffered a handful, including a few concussions, and it seemed to really slow him down. The general consensus then was that he was young, strong and talented enough that he’d eventually bounce back. Yeah, that didn’t really pan out as expected. Skinner snapped a 10 game goalless streak with a tally last night, but it doesn’t matter much given it was just his 11th goal in 48 games so far this season. He’s going to finish with less than 40 points and a minus-20ish rating. I could blame his team, which has been pretty awful at times this season, but really, it’s all on Skinner at this point. I wouldn’t own him with your team.
Matt Beleskey, LW (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Look out now, Belly with a helper! Last night’s two point effort pushes his season line to 21/9/30/+13 and I’m wondering just how many goals he’s going to score before he gets that 10th assist. Either way, he’s on his merry way towards a 30-goal season and even if that’s all he does for you, 30-goals is 30-goals my friends, don’t hate.
Anders Lee, C (2 G, 7 SOG, +2) – I’ve mentioned Lee a few times recently and it was mostly to say that you should own him while he’s scoring, but don’t expect it to keep up for the rest of the season. Well, he’s scoring again with points in three straight after a two-goal game last night. While he’s skating on the top line with John Tavares, C (6 SOG, +2, 4 PIM) and Josh Bailey, RW (1 A, 3 SOG, +1) Lee should be owned everywhere.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (2 G, 6 SOG, +1) – It was just a few days ago that I was bashing most of the Oil, Nuge included, so it’s good to see a game like this form him. That said, with less than 30 games remaining he’s beyond the point of salvaging his season. He’ll be lucky to hit the 20-goal or 50-point markers this year which is well off the pace most expected of him, but then most of us expected a lot from the top line trio of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, RW (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) and Nuge coming into the season. What a disaster.
Alex Galchenyuk, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Gally isn’t going to put up more than 60 points this season, but if you consider he’s only in his third season on big ice and he posted 27 points in 48 games and 31 points in 65 games over the last two seasons respectively, the 55-60 points and 20-25 goals he’s likely to finish the season with says to me a breakout is looming next season. He’s progressively getting better at all aspects of his game every time he rolls out there and I’m a huge fan.
Robin Lehner, G (L, 25 SV, 4 GA, .862%) – This is what I get for endorsing you, isn’t it? Come on, man.
Sidney Crosby, C (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) – That’s more like it.
Mika Zibanejad, C (1 G, 2 SOG, -3) – It’s easy to get frustrated with young guys on the Sens and their lack of production, but don’t be so fast to bag on Zibachmadenijad, he’s actually taken another step forward this season. Locked up with perennial fantasy disappointment Bobby Ryan, RW (2 A, 5 SOG, -2) he’s actually shown some solid offensive chops and should set new career highs in goals, assists and points by the end of the season.
Mike Hoffman, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, -2) – The Hoff is the third piece of the top line puzzle in Ottawa and he continues to roll with 18 goals and 30 points in 50 games so far this season. With four points (1 G, 3 A) over his last five games he’s on pace for close to 30 goals, but his shooting percentage is a bit inflated at 15.3%, about 4 points above his career average, so I figure he’s good for another 7-8 goals. He should be on your radar for next season.
Ben Bishop, G (L, 29 SV, 5 GA, .853%) – Bish continues to shed doubt on whether or not last season was a fluke allowing five goals on 34 shots to the Blues last night. To be fair the Blues sports some ridiculous offensive firepower, but Bish has been struggling for a bit now and last night gives me little confidence that he’s on his way back to form anytime soon.
Brian Elliot, G (W, 26 SV, 3 GA, .897%) – Over his last five games Elliot has stopped just 123 of the last 137 shots he’s faced, good for a woeful .898 save percentage. In fact, over his last six games he’s held the opposition to fewer than three goals just once. Now we’ll get to see if this is just a slump or he’s starting to hit the wall a bit as he approaches his career mark for starts in a season.
Devan Dubnyk, G (W, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963%) – Spark the Doob, Devan won yet another game in convincing fashion shrugging aside 26 of 27 shots to help down the Panthers 2-1 last night. Doobie has been magnificent sign joining the Wild and has already established himself as one of the season’s most valuable wire grabs. To think, I was trying to trade him a few weeks ago, now I’m holding on tight and hoping his hot hand lasts for the next two months. It’s totally possible, have you seen him lately? He’s a wall.
Nick Bjugstad, C (1 G, 5 SOG, 2 PIM) – The march towards a 30-goal rookie season continues as Jugs pots his second goal in two nights and threw in some penalty minutes for flavor. If you didn’t know already, I’m a huge fan of Jugs and I think he’s probably the best young player the Cats have that isn’t Aaron Ekblad, D (2 SOG).
Zach Parise, LW (1 G, 3 SOG) – The hardest working man in hockey puts another biscuit in the basket, but he’s fallen off a bit from his early season pace. I don’t think he’ll ever have a full season where he’s as dynamic and dangerous as he was before the knee injury, but he remains one of the most valuable guys to own on the left side.
James Neal, RW (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Last night’s tally gives Neal goals in back-to-back games and he has the ability to get hot, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Pekka Rinne, G (W, 32 SV, 1 GA, .970%) – I think Rinne finish can finish the season with a sub-2.00 goals-against average. It’s not going to be easy, but given his level of play this season I’d say it’s possible. Probable? No, but it’s definitely possible. Also, Vezina.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (L, 23 SV, 3 GA, .885%) – Honestly, at this point every time I see Pavs put up a typical Pavs start I’m happy, it only helps Michael Hutchinson. If you own Pavs still, I’m sorry.
Jon Quick, G (W, 15 SV, 3 GA, .833%) – I didn’t expect there would be a day that I wouldn’t trust Quick enough to start him blindly, but that day was like two months ago. He continues to struggle with a struggling team in front of him and I don’t see that changing much down the stretch unless the Kings make a splash at the trade deadline.
Jonas Hiller, G (L, 35 SV, 5 GA, .875%) – Did you sell high when I told you to? He’s allowed 11 goals over his last three games, ten of which came in just two of those games. The hot streak is over and his value is going to start to plummet again until Karri Ramo gets another chance.
Mayson Raymond, LW (2 G, 4 SOG) – I mentioned MayRay has a possible flier in deep league for goal scoring just the other day and here we are again. He’s put up over 20 goals in a season before so it’s entirely possible this is the start of a streak. Don’t miss it if you need cheap goals, y’all!
Tyler Toffoli, C (3 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – Of all the Kings, I like Toffy the most. He has 35 points (18 G, 17 A) in 48 games so far this season and has only been limited by injuries that are very behind him. He has six points (5 G, 1 A) over his last three games with at least a point in each of those games. He could finish with close to 30 goals and around 50-55 points and is poised for a breakout season in 2016.
Jeff Carter, C (3 A, 8 SOG, +3) – Did this line ever need Tanner Pearson? Seems That 70s Line doesn’t really need that last 70, eh?