The Columbus Blue Jackets have had a rough year. Before the season even started they lost their entire first line to injury and a contract hold out that ended in the nick of time, but wasn’t enough to help them avoid stumbling out of the gate. Mix in a horrible season by franchise goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, G (W, 38 SV, 2 GA, .950%) and down years by just about everyone else and there wasn’t much to cheer for in Columbus this season, that is, until now. The Jackets are mostly healthy now and after a few deadline deals trimmed some fat there was room for a recall of talented rookie pivot Marko Dano, C (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) who has wasted no time making his mark on big ice and could absolutely be an asset to many fantasy teams in the playoffs.
Dano, a first round pick (27th overall) in the 2013 draft is a hardnosed, gritty player that fits well into the Columbus system, so it’s no surprise to see him doing well in the short term. At six-foot and 215 lbs. he’s an average sized center with a knack for finding the open man in traffic with solid hands. He’s a good two-way forward that plays solid defense in his own zone so he’s going to get decent TOI unlike some of his less defensively responsible rookie peers. That gives him more opportunities to put the biscuit in the basket and he’s doing just that lately with seven points (3 G, 4 A) over his last five games and 12 points (6 G, 6 A) in 17 games since getting recalled from the minors. He’s currently skating on the Jackets’ third line with the white-hot Scott Hartnell, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +3) who scored yet another goal and extended his point streak to six games. He has 11 points (8 G, 3 A) over his last 10 games since getting paired with Dano. That bodes well for the rookie not only sticking on big ice for the remainder of this season, but also returning to start the year with the big club in 2015.
In the short term Dano is a fantastic, cheap option for secondary scoring in deep leagues. Hell, he might even be worth a flyer in more shallow/standard leagues if you’re hurting for offense and Hartnell isn’t sitting on the wire, so don’t wait to add him if you’re in need of some offensive help, but don’t hold out hope of miracles here, either. He supplies short term supplementary scoring, he’s not going to win you a title. In the long run Dano’s strength is his two-way game so he’s likely a third line guy, but that hasn’t stopped him from producing this season and I doubt it will hold him back much next season. If he keeps his scoring up he could easily end up in the Columbus top six so keep an eye on him for next season. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Ondrej Palat returns to the lineup tonight after missing a few games. Make sure to get him back in your lineups as well.
Brandon Dubinsky didn’t play again last night and I’m starting to wonder if he’s going to play again anytime soon. That’s four straight he’s missed while labeled with the dreaded “day-to-day” tag. Isn’t Dubs always day-to-day?
Dustin Byfuglien didn’t play last night either, but it sounds like he should be ready for Saturday’s tilt so keep a close eye on his status tomorrow morning.
David Krejci didn’t play last night either; hey it’s a trend! Word has it he’s pretty close to a return to the lineup so he could see some action in one of the two back-to-back games the B’s have this week.
Jaroslav Halak will be available for Saturday’s tilt but there’s no word on whether he’ll start. If not, expect to see him back between the pipes for the Isles’ next game after that.
Andrew Hammond, G (W, 31 SV, 4 GA, .886%) – The Hamburgler’s streak is finally over. No, not the win streak, he maintained that for another game by steering aside 31 of 35 shots he faced for the 6-4 victory last night, but he coughed up more than two goals for the first time in 13 starts. He tied the old record but he couldn’t beat it. Alas. This could signal the end of the epic run and the start of a bleh stretch for the 27-year-old rookie. That’s the key here, folks, he’s a 27-year-old rookie. There’s a reason he didn’t make it on to big ice until now and it’s not because he was too good. Don’t drop him, but don’t be surprised if the wheels come off soon.
Ryan Spooner, C (2 G, 7 SOG, -1) – Spoons snaps a three game cold spell with a two goal show last night and remains a guy worth owning in most formats until David Krejci returns from his bum wheel and it sounds like that may happen soon. Expect Spooner to get demoted to the third line when that happens. His value becomes a bit more suspect if and when that happens.
Melker Karlsson, RW (1 G, 5 SOG) – It seemed like Melky fizzled out after a hot, goal riddled start to his NHL career earlier this season but he’s continued to contribute here and there over the last few months. Last night’s goal extends his point streak to three games while skating on San Jose’s top line with Jumbo Joe Thornton, C (2 A, 4 SOG) and the goal happy Joe Pavelski, C (1 A, 2 SOG, +1), though he’s not seeing any power play time for now. In any case, while he’s on the top line he’s absolutely worth a flyer in most leagues.
Logan Couture, C (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Everyone keeps expecting Couture to turn into an 35-goal, 80 point forward but I’m starting to seriously doubt whether or not that will happen. It’s not that he hasn’t steadily improved his numbers, he has, I just haven’t seen the flashes of greatness that we’re supposed to be seeing. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a top 100 forward with tons of value, but I’m still waiting for him to return to his 2010 form.
Carey Price, G (W, 31 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Just another day at the office for Carey. His season line now sits at a mind boggling 39-15-4/1.90/.937 in 58 starts. What more is there to say? Vezina (Sorry Pekka!).
Anton Khudobin, G (L, 18 SV, 4 GA, .818%) – Another start for Dobby and another chance for Canes fans and his owners to be disappointed. Did you expect anything else from a Carolina goalie?
Roberto Luongo, G (W, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963%) – Lu returns in grand form and doesn’t miss a beat pushing aside 26 of 27 shots to help down the Wings 3-1 in his return from a minor shoulder injury. Clearly he’s just fine so start him with confidence. The Cats are going to try like hell to ride him into the playoffs, so expect him to get a lot of starts over the next 10 games.
Petr Mrazek, G (L, 29 SV, 3 GA, .906%) – It wasn’t a horrible game for Pete, but it wasn’t a great game either. Ah the trials and tribulations of a rookie tender, you never know what you’ll get, but at least with Pete you always know he’ll give you a chance for the victory. Expect to see Jimmy Howard back between the pipes for the Wings in their next tilt, but he could see more rest down the stretch once the Wings lock up their playoff spot making Mrazek a valuable streaming option during the fantasy playoffs.
Jaromir Jagr, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – After a dismal 58 games in New Jersey that saw him put up just 29 points (11 G, 18 A) in steadily diminishing ice time Jagr has dug deep once again and is putting up solid numbers for the Cats. In nine games since the trade he has seven points (2 G, 5 A) and seems to be gelling quite well with his young line mates. It might be hard to tell yourself this after the season he’s had to this point, but make sure you keep him in your lineup.
Brandon Pirri, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Another goal for Pirri and he extends his newest goal streak to four games. This on the heels of a game where he fired 10 shots on goal and, of course, potted another goal. He’s worth owning in all formats right now and showing that come next season he’s well worth a late round selection. He’s not really a goal scorer, he’s a playmaker, so I wouldn’t expect a ton of goals next season but that’s next year. Right now, he’s scoring goals, so you should own him.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – With just 30 points (9 G, 21 A) in 70 games played you might think this season was a bust for Kooze, but I’d argue it was anything but. Yeah, the hype had this kid scoring like he’s Johnny Gaudreau but that didn’t happen and honestly how often does it ever? Instead we get a solid but unspectacular season of growth for a budding superstar. Come next season I could see him step it up and score 20 goals to go with 50-plus points, so don’t sleep. The talent is there; the hype train just left the station a bit too early.
Devan Dubnyk, G (L, 24 SV, 3 GA, .889%) – Doobie lost?! Everything I know about life is a lie!
Drew Stafford, RW (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) – Like Jagr, Stafford is loving life since getting dealt out of the basement of the league. After putting up just 24 points (9 G, 15 A) in 50 games with the last place Sabres he’s put up 11 points (6 G, 5 A) since joining the Jets and is worth attention in most formats. He’s always had a goal scoring touch but playing with the Sabres is, well, you know. There’s nothing good about it. Give Staff some love; he could be a solid secondary scoring option for you in the playoffs, especially in deep leagues.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (W, 32 SV, 1 GA, .970%) – The goalie see-saw tips the other way yet again for the Jets with A Clockwork Ondrej’s recent streak of solid to stellar play. It was inevitable that rookie tender Michael Hutchinson would hit a wall and he hit it hard. What wasn’t inevitable was the return of Pavs to even semi-decent play, but over the last five games he’s beaten St. Louis, San Jose and Tampa Bay. He barely lost to the Blues 5-4 last Tuesday but that was in relief of the crumbling Hutch and over that span he’s stopped 107 of 112 shots he’s faced for a robust .955 save percentage. That’s stellar play and it can’t be ignored. If you’re hurting in the crease, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Pavs can provide some relief for now.
Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 1 SV, 1 GA, .969%) – Kari Let-one-in is turning the corner as well, or at least he was until I just jinxed it by saying that. In seven games this month he’s posted a line of 5-1-0/2.13/.916% in what is by far and away his best month of the season. He’s still a very risky start, but you can’t deny that he’s not nearly as bad as he’s played for most of this season and it’s quite possible that he’s righted the ship at the best possible time for his owners. If he’s out on the wire because a frustrated owner dropped him long ago and you’re suffering through injuries in net, he’s actually worth a flyer now. Yeah, he is.
Johnny Gaudreau, LW (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) – Early in the season all the focus and hype was squarely on Filip Forsberg and for good reason. He seemed like a shoe in for the Calder Trophy by the end of the season but with eight points (4 G, 4 A) over his last five games and 12 points (5 G, 7 A) in his last nine Johnny Hockey has stepped into the front-runner’s seat for rookie of the year. He’s a no-brainer keeper and he’s only going to get better next season. Sophomore slump? Ha, not this guy.
Sean Monahan, C (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) – I was on the fence as to whether or not Money was going to pot 30 goals this year but with another tally last night pushing his season total to 28 I’d say it’s basically a lock now. A 30-goal rookie year and he’s going to lose the Calder to his teammate. That just goes to show you how thick with talent this year’s rookie crop is and next year we get Connor McDavid. Expect another 30-goal season or better from Monahan next season, too.
Dennis Wideman, D (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Wideman continues his ridiculous season with another goal, his 13th of the season. Mostly he’s been a source of helpers but he’s likely to finish the year with 15 goals as well. I doubt he can repeat this performance next year, but for now he’s worth owning in most leagues if he’s available.
Matt Duchene, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) – Of course he scores a goal when I sit him. The bastard. That goal stretches his modest point streak to three games and pushes him ever closer to 20 goals on the year. That’d be great for a guy people drafted in the eighth or ninth round, not the second. He looked okay for the last few months with 20 points (6 G, 14 A) over 26 games, but he’s back to his yawnstipating self in March with just four points (2 G, 2 A) in seven games. Oi.
Gabriel Landeskog, LW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – In stark contrast to the underwhelming Duche, Landy has left his horrible first half behind with a stellar stretch in the second half. He’s put up 19 points (10 G, 9 A) over his last 20 games and looks like the guy you drafted hoping or 75 points and 25-30 goals from back in October. I have no idea what to expect from Duchene next season but I fully expect a full, solid season from Landy in 2015.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D (2 G, 9 SOG, +1) – Poor OEL, he’s basically the last man standing on a woeful Arizona team in the middle of a rebuild. He’s put up a whopping 19 goals in 71 games so far this season to lead all defenseman in that catgory, but he has just 16 assists to go along with those goals and a frighteningly bad minus-20 rating tagging along for the ride. He’s probably in for another season like that next year as the Coyotes look to get younger and keep rebuilding.
Louis Domingue, G (L, 24 SV, 4 GA, .857%) – Dom might be good sometime down the road but I wouldn’t start an Arizona goalie if you paid me. Well, maybe that’s not true, it depends on how much I’d get paid. Hey, everyone’s got a price.