Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland is a pretty solid GM as far as GMs go. He always manages to pluck these unknown Swedes out of, well, Sweden and the Wings system turns them into legitimate players in fairly short order. This time he set his sights on a gifted Canadian winger out of Longueuil, Quebec by the name of Anthony Mantha and you’d do well to track his progress in the AHL because he has all the tools to be a top six player for the Wings sooner than later. Before he went down with a broken leg in the pre-season Mantha had a shot to crack the Wings’ NHL roster, alas it wasn’t meant to be, yet. Well, he’s healed up now and the 6’5” 206lb scoring threat is healthy and recently made his AHL debut and he set to work right rining the puck off two posts, but didn’t find the back of the net. No worries, he potted his first goal in his second game. That’s going to be a theme for the youngster and it can be argued that he’s one of the best pure goal scorers to come up since Steven Stamkos. Yes, you read that right. He sports a heavy wrister that he can fire off before you even considered he was going to shoot and man, it’s accurate. Beyond his ability to shoot the puck he uses his big frame to force through traffic with general ease and knocking him off the puck is no easy task. He’s proven himself to be a great positional player with outstanding on ice awareness, but there are of course some negatives as with any young player, and the big fella might be a bit too offensively focused leaving his defense as the weakest part of his game. There has also been some criticism that he lacks consistency, but hey, he’s young and nobody’s perfect (except Victor Hedman). Word has it that the Wings would rather he spend his time getting solid minutes with the Griffins than sitting on the bench for the Wings, but considering the fragility of their key top-six forwards (We’re all looking at you, Pavel Datsyuk) I wouldn’t be surprised if the kid gets a shot at big ice this year. While he’s not worth adding outside of deep dynasty leagues for the time being, keep an eye on him because he’s going to be something special. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Pavel Datsyuk, C is skating again trying to heal from his latest groin problem. He may be ready to go by this weekend, but who knows.
Slava Voynov, D has officially been charged with ne felony count of ”corporal injury to spouse with great bodily injury” and he faces possible deportation if he’s convicted of the crime. Given the NHL’s swift action to suspend him given what they knew then and now this being announced I’d say you’re safe to drop him everywhere. If someone wants to stash him for the second half if and when he’s reinstated, if and when he beats the charges, let them, but for now he’s not worth owning anywhere and he may never be worth owning again from the sounds of it.
Alexander Semin, RW is a healthy scratch tonight. Yeah, it has reached that point for Semin who may end up getting released sooner than later. I wouldn’t own him with your team.
Andrew Shaw, C is out tonight with a minor UBI, he’s considered day-to-day and should return to the lineup soon.
Victor Hedman, D has been skating with a split on his broken finger, so no puck drills yet but he’s on the ice, so that’s good. Word has it he’ll be back in one or two more weeks.
Brad Marchand, C remains day-to-day and didn’t fly with the team. He’s questionable for Saturday’s tilt, so it sounds like he might not be back until next week.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 31 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – So far Talbot has been shaky between the pipes but he put his season back on track with a stellar performance against the Flyers last night stopping 31 of 31 for a shutout. Starting Talbot here was a no-brainer given how poorly the Flyers were playing and despite his recent struggles. If the Rangers are going to be successful they need a rested Henrik Lundqvist by the time the playoffs roll around, so Talbot is going to get his starts. I don’t think he’s going to replicate the ridiculous numbers from last season, but he’s going to be a serviceable backup at worst and a stellar backup at best, so he’s worth owning in deep leagues.
Steve Mason, G (L, 32 SV, 2 GA, .941%) – Mason actually played a great game here, but he was out played by Talbot and took the 2-0 loss. It says something when another team’s backup who had previously struggled in all four of his starts this season out plays the starter from the other team. Oh, Steve Mason, will you ever not be terrible? The answer is no, there will not be a time when he isn’t terrible.
Rick Nash, LW (1 G, 3 SOG) – Nashty continued his push for a 50-goal season with another power play tally last night that put the Rangers up 2-0 for a bit o’ insurance as they cruised to a 2-0 victory. He’s now on pace to pot 56 goals and for almost any other guy I’d scoff and say no way, but Nash is more than capable of meeting that marker. If he does it would be a career high, I just hope the Rangers don’t waste what could be the best offensive performance of Rick Nash’s career in a year that they don’t go deep into the playoffs again, which his totally doable for the Rangers. Totally doable as in it’s totally plausible that they’d fall on their collective faces and squander an amazing year from their best forward.
Derek Stepan, C (1 A, 5 SOG) – Since returning from his broken leg Steps has been nothing short of fantastic. He’s not scoring goals, but that’s not his game. He has one goal and five assists for six points in seven games. I see no reason why he won’t continue to produce bouncing around the Rangers’ top six.
Martin St. Louis, RW (1 A, 3 SOG) – Marty has three goals in his last five games with five points over that span. He’s on pace to hit 60 points and 30 goals by season’s end and I think that’s the ceiling for the aging winger. I know he was a point-per-game guy as recently as last year when he was with the Bolts, but the Rangers aren’t the Bolts and age has to catch up with the mighty-mini-scoring-machine sooner or later. It’s sooner.
Ryan Miller, G (W, 28 SV, 4 GA, .875%) – After the first month and change of the season there was a lot of talk about Miller getting Comeback Player of the Year honors by season’s end, but after a recent four game skid his peripherals (2.74/.900%) look like they deserve anything but awards. I call it a skid despite the fact that he’s 2-2-0 over that span, but after allowing no more than two goals in seven straight starts he’s coughed up 16 in his previous four. What’s worse is that he’s giving up all those goals to the likes of the Oilers, Coyotes and Senators. It’s hard to say whether this is a bump in the road or what you can expect moving forward. I’m inclined to believe it’s somewhere in the middle of those two options. I’d said all along you’ll get good wins and bleh to meh peripherals from him, so there you go.
Ben Scrivens, G (L, 26 SV, 5 GA, .839%) – Another game and tough another loss for Scribbles the Goalie Professor. Maybe he should go back to teaching instead of doing. I suppose we can’t place all the blame on him given how poorly his team plays defensively, but damn, what a rough year he’s had and we’re only about a quarter of the way through the regular season!
Justin Schultz, D (1 A, 3 SOG) – Believe it or not Schultzy is on pace for 40 points by season’s end and that’s a baller year for a defenseman. The bummer is his plus/minus is minus-four and it’s only going to get worse. I could stomach owning him in H2H leagues, but his horrible rating would make me sadface in roto leagues. A shame, on most other teams he’d be a top 25 rear guard.
Taylor Hall, LW (1 A, 3 SOG, 2 PIM) – My boy Taylor just keeps on rolling regardless of what happens around him. With a helper last night he extends his scoring streak to six games with 11 points in his last 10 games. His knee is clearly fine, so that’s good. He still plays for the Oil though, so that’s bad.
Mark Acrobello, C (1 A, 1 SOG) – Honestly there isn’t much that Acrobat can offer you, but it was a short night and I figured I’d give him a mention because he does do one thing well; win face offs. So, if you need to stream for some FW he’s a decent option, but beware the Oiler plus/minus curse.
Chris Higgins, LW (1 G, 7 SOG, -1) – There’s a moment in every season where I endorse adding Higgy while he’s hot and then he immediately goes cold and I look like a jackass. Thanks, man. At any rate, he’s posted three points in his last five and he’s pouring shots on goal to the tune of 52 in 19 games played so far, so there’s value here in deeper leagues if you need some scoring help. No guarantees, though.
Radim Vrbata, RW (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) – After starting the season with 11 points in his first 10 games Vrbata has come back down to earth and put up just four points (3 G, 1 A) in his last seven. This type of lull is expected, but it should also be expected that Vrbata will get going again and a two-goal game is just the type of game he needs to light the fires again. I would expect to see him get in the scoreboard more often moving forward, but you can’t expect him to give you 80 points this year, playing with the Sedins or not. It might not be an awful idea to sell high here when he gets on a decent streak again.
Daniel Sedin, LW (3 A, 2 SOG, +1) – Last night’s three helper performance gets Dannyboy back to a point-per-game pace with 19 points in 19 games played so far. He hasn’t looked this good since 2010 and unlike Vrbata, I see no reason to sell high here as he’s fully capable of giving you a point-per moving forward. I imagine there’s going to be some lulls in scoring that prevent him for hitting the 80-point mark, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out, either.