When you think of the Sabres lately one name generally comes to mind and he isn’t even in the league yet, yes I’m talking about McJesus himself, Connor McDavid. The Sabres are well on their way to winning the McDavid sweepstakes by bungling their way through the 2014-15 season looking like hot garbage from top to bottom, save one bright spot; Zemgus Girgensons. Girgs was the Sabres’ second first round pick in 2012 and he’s paying off pretty quickly for a team that desperately needs someone to do something positive. I mean the fact that the Sabres had two first round picks should say something in-and-of it self, but I digress, the 20 year old Latvian pivot works his butt off out there from whistle to whistle. He’s hard to knock off the puck, isn’t afraid to fight for position in traffic and while he isn’t a traditional dangler, he definitely has solid hands and fore-checks like whoa. He’s now the Sabres top line center and spends time on their top power play unit as well. Given that it’s the Sabres you can’t expect him to score a ton, but he’s posted a respectable season line so far with 8 G, 6 A, +3 (on the Sabres!), 48 SOG and 9 PIM to date. Wait, that doesn’t look as sexy as I made it sound, does it? Well! That’s because his real value comes from his ability to win faceoffs (161), deliver hits (57) and even block shots (24). There’s basically not much this guy doesn’t do and in roto leagues that’s pure gold. In deep category H2H leagues he has value too. ROS I expect him to end up with around 50-55 points, he has tremendous upside over the long term and it’s clear that the Sabres envision him as a team leader moving forward. Those in keeper leagues would do well to grab him and hold on tight. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Eddie Lack, G (W, 21 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – In a rare start Lack finally did something right this season and shut down the high-powered Pens pushing away all 21 shots they fired his way. Ryan Miller will continue to be up and down for the remainder of the season, but even if he struggles for more than a few starts Miller’s leash is so long that Lack has almost no chance of stealing more starts from him. The Canucks went all in on Miller Time and they’re sticking to their guns.
Thomas Greiss, G (L, 28 SV, 3 GA, .903%) – Flower needed a rest so Greasy took this one and did nothing to demonstrate he should be given more starts.
Braden Holtby, G (W, 29 SV, 1 GA, .967%) – Holts rebounded in this one after a few rough outings including coming in to relieve Justin Peters and getting rocked for three goals in the 20 minutes he was on the ice. I like Holtby, I think he’s good, but he’s starting to seem like he’s just middle of the pack; a serviceable netminder, but nothing special. He’s a solid number two, anyway.
Anton Khudobin, G (L, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929%) – Man, Dobby can’t buy a win and with this loss his season line to 0-6-2/2.88/.903%. His starts are few and far between and when he does get a shot he’s been wholly ineffective most of the time. Dobby is best left on the wire for now. He might be able to recapture some of last season’s magic if Cam Ward gets hurt, but until then he’s wire fodder at best.
Alexander Semin, RW (1 G, 5 SOG, 2 PIM) – Speaking of wire fodder, here’s Semin with his first goal of the season and it only took him 20 games! Considering he used to derive most of his value from scoring goals, this presents a problem for his owners. Wait, he has owners still? Drop him yesterday, y’all!
Ben Bishop, G (W, 13 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Big Ben seems to get better and better with each passing start. I still worry a bit about his workload, but I suppose if the Bolts run him out there for 65-70 games it’s going to be in the playoffs that fatigue becomes a factor and that doesn’t matter in fantasy, so score!
Jhonas Enroth, G (L, 30 SV, 5 GA, .857%) – Don’t let his .913 SV% fool you, there’s no reason to torture yourself by owning a Sabres netminder. That’s not to say that Enroth isn’t a solid goalie, it’s just that he plays for the Sabres. I mean honestly.
Jason Garrison, D (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) – With a goal in last night’s game Garrison pushes his season line to 3/12/15 in 27 games and that keeps him on pace for around mid-40s by season’s end. I think he’ll get there, but with the return of my Sun and Stars Victor Hedman, he’s going to lose time on the top power play unit so that will limit his value a bit moving forward.
Radko Gudas, D (1 G, 6 SOG, +2) – It’s Rad to be Gud, yo. He’s a hits and blocks machine, but every now and then you’ll get a goal or a point from him and just in time for the Christmas season! What a guy.
Brendan Morrow, LW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Wow, of all the guys I bag on for being old and encouraging retirement Morrow has to take the cake. He’s only been in the league for 14 years but it seems like 25 for some reason. He has goals in two of his last three games but don’t get excited, it’s Brendan Morrow and this isn’t 2005.
Cory Schneider, G (W, 29 SV, 3 GA, .906%) – If there’s one thing you can count on from the Devils this season it’s that Cory will be between the pipes when the puck drops. The Devils have played 27 games so far and Cory has started 25 of those tilts. I have no idea why they think this is a viable strategy, what’s the guy going to do? Start 80 games?
Jonathan Bernier, G (L, 21 SV, 5 GA, .808%) – Usually it’s easy enough to pass the blame of off a Bernie loss on to the Leafs horrible possession game, but not last night. He faced 26 shots and was only able to stop 21 coughing up five goals to one of the worst offensive teams in the league so far this season. His season line now sits at a very mediocre 9-6-3/2.76/.912% and I don’t know that it will get much better moving forward, especially if he can’t take these light nights and turn them into wins.
Mike Cammalleri, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – I hope you sold high when I was preaching it, because the point-per-game streak is done and it isn’t likely that there will be a repeat of it moving forward. In October Squids put up seven points in eight games, he followed that up in November with seven points in 10 games. In both months he posted identical numbers, five goals and two assists. There’s no chance he scores five goals a month and with that, his value evaporates. If you haven’t cut bait yet, try to sell while you can still get some value for him.
Adam Henrique, C (1 G, 3 SOG) – I like Henrique, he’s a solid young pivot with a lot of promise. With a tally last night he now has 15 points in 19 games which puts him on pace for around 30 goals and 60 points, both marks I think he can hit. He might come up just shy of the 30-goal mark, but shouldn’t miss it by much if he can stay healthy.
Eric Gelinas, D (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – With all the early season hype focused on Damon Severson folks forgot about Gelly, who is a serviceable sophomore rearguard capable of delivering around 30-35 points this season and not murder your plus/minus in the process. That’s a solid fourth defenseman right there.
Mike Santorelli, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Alright, so I know I’m not real high on this guy and this game doesn’t change much, but a hot hand is a hot hand, so grab him while you can.
Nazim Kadri, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Kadri’s goal was short handed for those of you who count SHG, which I hate. Why? Because it’s so fluky. I’m not a fan of GWG as a category either, mostly for the same reason. Can you really draft for game winning goals other than drafting high goal scoring forwards, which you should target anyway? It ends up being pure luck, really. Anyway, Kadri has six points in his last four games and while I’m not a huge fan of his, I think 20 goals and 50 points are both reachable milestones for him this season.
Jaroslav Halak, G (W, 20 SV, 1 GA, .952%) – This win stretches his personal win streak to a whopping 11 games. He hasn’t lost a game since November 1st. Seriously. I did not expect a streak like this, but who did? After a pretty rough October Halak has turned in what might be the best month of his career allowing just 14 goals in 10 games in November. His season line is now a beautiful 14-4-0/2.05/.926%. I have no idea when the ride will end, but it’s going to end eventually. The Isles look like the real deal, so the wins should keep coming even as the peripherals ultimately regress a bit.
Craig Anderson, G (L, 23 SV, 2 GA, .920%) – Anderson’s save percentage sits at a heady .930% and that’s just not sustainable. Expect the SV% to drop, the GAA to slowly creep over 2.50 and the wins? Well, there aren’t any wins now and there won’t be moving forward, so, there you go.
Brock Nelson, C (1 G, 1 SOG, 2 PIM) – Maybe Nelson sees my doubting his ability to keep up a point-per-game pace all season as a challenge because he put up his second consecutive two point game last night pushing his season line to 12/11/23 in 26 games so far. He’s a beast.
Mika Zibanejad, C (1 G, 3 SOG) – On the other end of the spectrum from Nelson is Zibachmadinejad, who many (including myself) figured would end up with at least 50 points this year. Yeah, not so much. His tally last night was just his fourth all year and he has just eight points in 23 games so far. It’s the Sens, what can you do? Oh, I know! Not draft them.
Jimmy Howard, G (W, 22 SV, 2 GA, .917%) – Howie hasn’t been as untouchable recently as he was to start the season but he’s still putting up solid numbers and winning more often than not. Petr Mrazek needs to take this opportunity and play will in the limited starts he’s going to get, which will be more frequent now that Howie has come back to earth. He could supplant Jonas Gustavsson from the backup role by the time The Monster returns from the IR, but not if he keeps playing like he has been.
Jussi Rynnas, G (L, 24 SV, 5 GA, .828%) – Anders Lindback was put on waivers and the Stars recalled Ryannas to try and stem the bleeding. It failed and he coughed up five goals on 29 shots. It’s almost as if the goaltending isn’t at the heart of the issue for a Dallas team that offers up 33 shots a game, good for 25th overall. Yeah, Kari Lehtonen has been bad, but he’s also getting hung out to dry by his defense a lot more often than he did last season. I wouldn’t bother adding Rynnas, he isn’t going to do well in this situation, but who would?
Tyler Seguin, C (1 G, 1 SOG, -1) – Seguin is about the only bright spot for a Dallas squad that has limped to a 9-12-5 record so far. Despite his team’s troubles Seguin is on target for over 100 points and 50 goals and I fully expect him to hit both marks by season’s end.
Pavel Datsyuk, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Dats has come back from his latest injury with a vengeance and last night’s two point effort marks three of those in a row and four in his last five games. He has eight points over that span (6 G, 2 A) and is currently on pace for 50 goals and 90 points in 71 games. He’s talented enough to reach both, but he’s also made of glass. When he’s healthy he’s good for better than a point-per-game without question.
Stephen Weiss, C (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) – I didn’t expect much from Weiss this season, I figured he’d be a solid role player but not much else and despite the nine points in seven games so far, I still feel that way. Regardless of how I feel, points are points and right now Weiss is scoring them right now. He plays on a line with Tomas Jurco (1 A, 4 SOG, +2), who I’m a big fan of over the long term, and Riley Sheahan (2 A, +2) so there’s talent to work with, but that’s the third line, so temper your expectations. I’d add him and then sell high.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (W, 52 SV, 3 GA, .945%) – Despite letting in three goals this was one hell of a performance for Bob as he pushed away 52 of 55 shots for a 4-3 OT win over the Cats. Normally I’d make some joke about how bad the Cats are and how bad that makes this game for the Jackets, but man, the Cats are pretty solid and getting better by the game. The Blue Jackets? They’re going in the other direction.
Roberto Luongo, G (L, 17 SV, 3 GA, .850%) – This wasn’t a bad game for Lu but it wasn’t great, either. He’s fine.
Nick Foligno, LW (1 G, 1 SOG, -1) – I can’t believe Foggy has 23 points in 24 games, but here we are. This is a 40-45-point guy not a 75-80-point guy so don’t forget that. He’s riding hot with Ryan Johansen on the Jackets’ top line and should set career marks in all offensive categories this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hedge your bets and sell high if you can.
Cam Atkinson, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Early in the season when Atkins was going off I warned against the eventual regression and now that we’re 24 games in and he only has 12 points, I’d say it happened. After last night’s two point game he’s on pace for around 40 points and a minus-30. Punt.
Nick Bjugstad, C (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Everyone loves Jugs! Three more points, two more goals and he’s at 15 points in 24 games on the season. That doesn’t tell the tale of his season to date, though. After scoring just one point in his first eight games he has exploded in November with 11 points in his last 13 powered by eight goals. His recent outburst puts him on pace for 35 goals and 50 points and given how well he’s playing right now and his talent level, I’d say he could very well hit or exceed both marks.
Pekka Rinne, G (W, 29 SV, 3 GA, .906%) – He won the game and coughed up three goals in the process. Why is that important? Because even after giving up three goals his GAA only rose to 1.88 and his SV% dropped to a paltry .931%. What’s that I hear? It’s the Vezina Trophy calling.
Martin Brodeur, G (L, 20 SV, 4 GA, .833%) – In his first start of the season Marty looked very ordinary and honestly it pains me to see it. I know the guy wants his 300 wins, but I hope he doesn’t Willie Mays his way to retirement. This is the greatest goalie in the history of the NHL; I hate to see him end his career with a pot mark. Jake Allen is in no danger of losing starts to Marty if this is the kind of performance we can expect from the 42-year-old legend.
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (2 G, 5 SOG) – The Tarasenko Express stops for nothing and no one! He’s like that train in the movie Snowpiercer just without the inequality, bugs and torture and all that. Hmn, I guess he’s nothing like the train from Snowpiercer. What a weird movie though, right?
Filip Forsberg, C (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – After a ridiculous run to start the season Fil the Thrill only has five points in his last nine games. There was no earthly way a rookie was going to maintain a pace that had him aiming for a Sidney Crosby-esque 100-plus point season. I don’t know how far the regression will take him, but if he puts up another two weeks of meh production, it’ll be time to sell while you can still sell relatively high. Honestly, unless I own him in a keeper league I’d move him now if I could bring in a more predictable, high scoring vet in return.
Colin Wilson, C (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – Wilson isn’t going to hit the 50 point mark, but he could come close and he has four points over his last five, so he’s worth a look in deep leagues.
Mike Ribeiro, C (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG) – Three points and a tally push his goal-scoring streak to three games now. He has 22 points in 25 games and as long as Forsberg keeps producing, Ribs will keep producing. In fact, it seems like now that Fil has regressed a smidge Ribs is stepping up to fill the gap. I’m impressed.
Kari Ramo, G (W, 26 SV, 3 GA, .897%) – For the first month of the season the Flames alternated goalies for a while, then Jonas Hiller took off running and I told you to sell high. Hiller regressed and now it’s Ramo’s turn as he takes his fourth straight start and fifth in the last six games to a 4-3 OT win. Ramo has a personal six game win streak while Hiller has lost four of his last five. It’s clear that the Flames are going with the hot hand, whoever that is, and right now it’s Ramo. Add him everywhere.
Semyon Varlamov, G (L, 21 SV, 4 GA, .840%) – Varly comes back from injury and picks up right where he left off allowing four goals and losing the game. I’m hearing talk about him as a buy low candidate. Yeah, that’s a big negatory there, Ghost Rider. I warned against drafting Varly and expected a regression, but a GAA over 3.00? I didn’t see that coming. The Avs let their goalies get peppered by shots on a nightly basis and Varly hasn’t looked very good all season, so run him out there at your own risk.
Matt Duchene, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – The Duche is rolling now with give points in his last five games and points in three straight. If you looked at his season line of 9/9/18 in 26 games you’d say he was on his way to a bust season, but really it amounts to one bad month. If he keeps this up, which I think he will, he’ll get back to a point-per-game by season’s end fo’ sho’.
Alex Tanguay, LW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – The old man continues to produce with six points over his last five games. That pushes his season line to 9/8/17 in 24 games, which is just one assist shy of matching Duchene’s production. Unlike Duche, I doubt Tanner ends up around a point-per-game, but 60 points and 25 goals is totally doable.
Sean Monahan, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – With the OT winner last night Monahan gest to 10 goals in just 27 games so far this season. That puts him on pace for 30 and if you asked me before the season I’d have scoffed a bit at the idea of Money scoring 30 goals, but now? I can see it. I figured 20-25, but 30 is a very reachable goal for a guy that should be owned everywhere and is a no-brainer in keeper leagues.
Dennis Wideman, D (2 G, 2 SOG) – Wideman has no business with 17 points in 27 games, but here we are. I have no idea what he’s going to do moving forward because he’s really not this good, so I would expect it to stop sooner than later. Sell high if you can, ride him until he goes cold if not.
Curtis Glengross, LW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Four points over his last two games means you should add Glengarryglencross while he’s scoring, but I only expect him to hit his usual 40-45 points. He’s worth a look in deeper leagues as he might surprise us like the rest of the Flames and end up with 50-55.
Martin Jones, G (W, 26 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Jones is one of the best back ups in the league and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get traded sometime in the net year or so. Jon Quick isn’t going to relinquish control of the LA crease for years to come and I’m sure the Kings are going to field some tasty offers for their backup goalie sooner than later. If he moves to a team and gets a chance at a full time gig, I’ll be on board the S.S. Jones with gusto.
Mike Smith, G (L, 17 SV, 3 GA, .850%) – Heh, Mike Smith.
Alec Martinez, D (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Martinez celebrated signing a big contract extension with a goal and an assist last night pushing his season line to 3/6/9 in 19 games so far. He’s good for 10 goals and 35 points, anyway.
Jaret Stoll, C (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – The only reason to own Stoll is for his prolific faceoff wins, so you’ll take the two points. They’re a gift. ‘Tis the season and all that.
Antti Niemi, G (W, 20 SV, 4 GA, .833%) – Why on earth are the Sharks settling for Niemi’s mediocre play every night? They had to score seven frakkin’ goals to get the win as Niemi coughed up four on just 24 shots. He’s given up nine goals in his last three games, his season line now sits at a bleh 10-7-3/2.56/.914% and for the love of god can you please give Alex Stalock a chance? I hate you, San Jose.
Tuukka Rask, G (L, 37 SV, 7 GA, .841%) – This will scare Rask owners, but it’s a reality so here we go; Antti Niemi has better numbers than Tuukka so far. Ouch.
Torey Krug, D (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Krug has been a big disappointment so far with just eight points in 23 games so far. He’s struggled with injuries slowing him down, so hopefully last night’s goal is the start of a solid streak. Zdeno Chara is reportedly almost ready to return and that will help Krug out immensely as most of his success last season came when he was paired with the hulking Czech rearguard.
Tommy Wingels, C (2 G, 4 SOG, -1) – Pickles is tearing it up lately with eight points over his last five games. Unless you’re in a hits league, sell high. Seriously, sell high now.
Tomas Hertl, C (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – Hertl is going to be good, but as the games roll by it doesn’t appear that he’s going to be very good this season. He’s only 21 and this is his first full season in the league, so you have to temper your expectations. That’s difficult given he was so nasty before his knee injury he drove Martin Biron into early retirement, but it is what it is. He’s worth holding in keeper leagues, but totally droppable in re-drafts.