Last night fantasy owners took a huge blow when superstar winger Patrick Kane, RW (1 SOG) took a hit from behind, went awkwardly into the boards and suffered what is being called a significant upper-body injury that will keep him out for up to two-and-a-half months. It looked to me like it was a shoulder injury and those are always bad news. You can look no further than what happened to Rangers Captain Ryan McDonagh to know how long it takes for a star player to recover from a bum shoulder. Pro tip, it takes a while at best. Worse, it could be a collarbone injury and those take as long or longer to recover from. In either case there’s no word on just how badly Kane is hurt, the nature of his injury or just how long he’ll be out, but one thing is for sure you need to act now to try and fill the gap before the rush to the wire.
If you’re losing Kane the guy you want to target is one of my favorite secondary scoring options, Kris Versteeg. Though he excelled on a line with Kane and Brad Richards for much of the first half of the season and quickly returned to that line after missing over a month of action with a broken hand, Patrick Sharp had recently regained his place on that line. He’s also being features on the Hawks’ top power play unit as well, pushing Steeger out of the top six and down to the second power play unit. That all changes without Kane and you can expect to see Steeger move up to fill the gap, but without Kane, can he? That’s a big question. The dynamic that helped Steeger and Richards excel was based almost exclusively on Kane’s presence on that line. Not only that, the Hawks love to double shift Kane because hey, why not? It’s Patrick Kane, you’d double shift him if you were Joel Quenneville too. With that party over, Kane owners should stash him on IR and grab Versteeg before it’s too late, but if you can’t grab Versteeg there are other options, albeit with a lot less upside.
Andrew Shaw could get a promotion up into the top-six and highly touted prospect Teuvo Teravainen was recalled to big ice last night as well. Both of these options are less than optimal as Shaw has been non-existent on offense so far this season and Teuvo is too raw to make any significant contributions. That said, if either of them jump up a few lines they’re definitely worth taking flyers on in deeper leagues. The Hawks could also make a splash before the trading deadline that’s just five days away, so a new face could come in and usurp any current Hawk that’s getting an opportunity with Kane out. Yar, we’ll just have to wait and see. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
The Ducks traded Devante Smith-Pelly to the Habs for Jiri Sekac in a move that means little to fantasy owners. Both guys are bottom-six forwards and though Sekac might see a boost in value if he gets a chance to skate on the Ducks’ top line, Smith-Pelly went from almost worthless to completely worthless in the move.
Rick Nash is day-to-day with neck spasms, but it sounds like he’s really day-to-day and not the bullshiz day-to-day that teams love to tag guys who are clearly going to be out for like six weeks. So worry not, Nashty owners, your MVP candidate will return sooner than later and continue his march towards a 50-goal, Hart worthy season.
Dion Phaneuf returns to the lineup this Thursday after missing over a month of time with a hand injury. Get him back in your lineups ASAP.
Sergei Bobrovsky is on track to return to big ice this weekend, though there’s no official word that’s the case. Still, it sounds like he’s very close to returning and lets hope when he does he returns as the Bob we know and loved from last season and not the shell he’s been so far this year.
Eddie Lack, G (W, 40 SV, 1 GA, .976%) – With Canucks starter Ryan Miller out 4-6 weeks after the collision the other night Lack takes over as the starter for the remainder of the regular season. He should be picked up in most leagues, but be careful just rolling him out every game, he’s been up and down this year in limited action so there’s no telling what he’ll do on a night-to-night basis. He’s looked pretty damn solid in the last two games, anyway.
Tuukka Rask, G (L, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929%) – For the second start in a row Rage Monster kicked away 26 of 28 shots, but this time he took the loss. The big difference between the two games besides the loss was the distinct lack of reckless slashing of his opponents whenever a goal is scored against him. It doesn’t have to be the guy who potted the goal, anyone on the opposition will do for Tuukka!
Michal Neuvirth, G (W, 45 SV, 2 GA, .957%) – I can’t believe I’m about to tell you to do this, but Neuvirth is so hot he’s worth owning right now. Don’t pick him up and start him willy-nilly, there has to be some control here, like there should be with Eddie Lack. That said, he’s stopped 192 of the last 201 shots he’s faced over his last five games and that’s good for a .955 save percentage. He’s allowed more than two goals just once over that span in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers, which was expected. You can’t deny the sexy peripherals he’s offering, but don’t rely on him to win you goalie categories in your H2H matchups, that could easily backfire in a big way.
Anton Forsberg, G (L, 27 SV, 4 GA, .871%) – With the recent and inexplicable stellar play from Curtis McElhinney there’s no reason to consider picking up Forsberg, but then even if McMeh was still being his usual meh self, Forsberg has been hot garbage since getting recalled to big ice and clearly isn’t ready for the show just yet.
Chad Johnson, G (W, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – Don’t look now, but CJ has put up four straight solid starts where he allowed no more than two goals in any game over that span. He’s not going to usurp starter Jaroslav Halak anytime soon, but if you’re looking for a streaming option CJ isn’t too bad despite his woeful season line of 8-7-1/2.95/.890 to this point.
Mike Smith, G (L, 34 SV, 5 GA, .872%) – There should be a mercy rule in the NHL. We’ll call it “The Mike Smith Rule.” It states that in any game Mike Smith starts, his team gets spotted a four-goal lead to start the game. Even with that handicap, I doubt much would change, but hey, it’d give the ‘yotes a fighting chance and we’re all about parity for competition, right guys?!
Anders Lee, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) – Lee bounced around the lines for the first half of the season and really didn’t settle in anywhere until Kyle Okposo went down with a bum peeper and he was promoted to the top line with John Tavares, C (1 A, 2 SOG, 2 PIM) and Josh Bailey, RW (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) where he continues to thrive with 14 points (7 G, 7 A) over his last 13 games. I’d imagine when Okie gets back, Bailey will be the odd man out and JT, Okie and Lee will become the new top line on the Isles and one of the best in hockey moving forward.
Brock Nelson, RW (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – We can’t forget about Brock Nelson, can we? Yes, yes we can. After exploding out of the gate with 12 points in his first 10 games he’s fallen completely off the map and I doubt he’s going to recover much over the next month and change. He should see an uptick in production over the course of the season in 2015, but for now he’s mostly forgettable outside of the deepest leagues.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 21 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Since taking over for the injured Henrik Lundqvist Talbot has gone 7-1-2. That’s good! Only after his 21 save shutout last night did he see his save percentage uptick over .900 to .903 over that span. That’s bad. He hasn’t been stellar, but with every passing game he does seem to be getting more comfortable. Keep rolling him out against teams like Calgary, but beware next week when the Rangers face the Predators, Red Wings and Blackhawks.
Karri Ramo, G (L, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) – He took the loss, but it wasn’t Ramo’s fault. He made a brilliant save on J.T. Miller, C (2 SOG, 5 PIM) in the first few minutes of the game and that set the tone for what would be come a defensive goalie showdown that was ultimate won by Talbot and the Rangers 1-0. Still, he was so good I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Flames roll him out as their starter in their next tilt over Jonas Hiller.
Kevin Hayes, C/RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – The rookie does it again and potted the only goal behind Karri Ramo to help down the Flames 1-0 last night. Hayes has 10 points (6 G, 4 A) over his last 12 games and last night he was promoted to the second line between Mats Zuccarello, RW (5 SOG, +1) and Chris Kreider, LW (3 SOG) due to the absence of the injured Rick Nash. Worry not Nashty owners, his injury isn’t serious and he could be back on the ice as soon as the Rangers’ next game. As for Hayes, he continues to impress and will remain an integral part of the high octane Rangers’ top nine and their second power play unit this year and should continue to mature and impress in 2015. Consider him a keeper for sure.
Cam Ward, G (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .958%) – Cam Ward is having a good season. There, I said it. I feel dirty now, but I said it. Despite the 16-19-4 record that’s not really his fault because he pairs that bleh record with a solid 2.35 goals-against average and a decent .914 save percentage. They aren’t great numbers, but they’re pretty damn great compared to what Ward’s given his owners over the last few seasons, anyway. I still wouldn’t own him with your team, though.
Robb Zepp, G (L, 31 SV, 4 GA, .886%) – Yeah, that’s more like it.
Jeff Skinner, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – To this point in the season there has been no reason to keep Skinner on your roster other than upside, hopes and dreams. As the games go by and the zeros mounted your hopes and dreams were crushed, but oddly enough the upside hasn’t gone away. He has goals in back-to-back games now and can be bought for pennies on the dollar, but mostly because he’s worth pennies. There’s no keeper value here, but if you’re looking for an ultra cheap, ultra risky buy low before the deadline, Skinner is a possibility.
Justin Faulk, D (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – On a team that has no business sporting a 50-point blue liner Justin Faulk is on his way to doing just that this season. With goals in two of his last three games and on the heels of his two point performance last night he remains on pace to top 15-goals and 50-points on the year. If only he played for a real hockey team, his plus/minus wouldn’t be in the dirt. Faulk is immensely talented and will continue to be one of the more gifted offensive defenseman for years to come, but unless the Canes get their shiz together, his rating will continue to suffer mightily and drag his value down accordingly.
Jake Allen, G (L, 18 SV, 5 GA, .783%) – In the vain attempt to keep starter Brian Elliott healthy and fresh for the playoffs the Blues are going to have to give Allen some starts, but like this one, they aren’t going to be very pretty most of the time. The rookie remains one of the top goaltending prospects in the NHL and will find great success in his career, but don’t expect much from him down the stretch as the Blues look to rely heavily on Elliott one way or the other.
Alex Galchenyuk, C (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Gally returned from injury with a boom last night potting two goals and adding a helper for good measure. He’s set career highs in goals, assists and points and we’re still a five weeks away from the end of the regular season. He should remain at the top of your keeper list going into next season because baby, he’s going to blow up like whoa in 2015.
T.J. Oshie, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – So here’s the thing about Oshie. He wasn’t ever a huge point producer and he probably won’t develop into one despite his massive second half this season. He came in over valued at the draft this year due to his Olympic successes last year and looked like hot garbage over the first three months of the season. Through the last two months he has 26 points (11 G, 15 A) in 23 games, however, and continued to roll last night with another two points. The Blues are jacked enough on offense to expect him to keep this pace up for the rest of the season to a degree, but at more than a point-per-game? I seriously doubt that.
Nathan MacKinnon, C (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – I know I list him at center, and so does everyone else, but isn’t it clear that the kid should live on the wing? It’s okay that Natty Mac excels as a winger Patrick Roy, just accept lay back and accept it and enjoy the ride, eh? That or face the wrath of fantasy owners everywhere who are relying on the kid to pick it up down the stretch, which I think he can and will. Come next season he’s going to get back on track, too, so if you can pry him from a disgruntled, out of contention owner and keep him for 2015, do it.
Filip Forsberg, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Speaking of keepers for 2015, despite his oh-so-expected slow down in the second half the leading contender for the Calder Trophy this season should be your top keeper choice if you’re lucky enough to have him on your roster this season.
Roman Josi, D (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – I know Josi has been healthy and Victor Hedman hasn’t been, but I’m seriously torn on who I like better for next season. I own them both in multiple leagues and going into the season I looked at Hedman as a no-brainer keeper, but now Josi is making a strong case to take his place. I’m fickle. It’s a personal problem.
Calle Jarnkrok, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – There’s no reason to pick Callin’ Ragnarok up, I just really like his name. It makes me think of the show Vikings, which is supremely badass and I highly recommend to all.
Michael Hutchinson, G (W, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929%) – After coughing up four goals in three straight games, and worse four goals in two straight games to the likes of the Oilers and the Leafs, Hutch gets back on track with a solid game pushing away 26 of 28 shots to help the Jets to a 4-2 victory over the Stars. I’m always wary of rookies late in the season, especially rookie tenders, but Hutch is going to keep getting starts and you should definitely roll him out there in sheltered minutes. Don’t start him against the Preds or the Rangers and expect good results though.
Jhonas Enroth, G (L, 21 SV, 3 GA, .875%) – The Stars definitely picked the wrong goalie to take from the Sabres.
Erik Cole, RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – As the Stars lose more and more games the chances that they’re going to rush Tyler Seguin back this season dwindle with them. The less chance that has of happening, the more the chances increase that Cole will remain on the top line with Jason Spezza, C (1 A, 4 SOG, 2 PIM) and Jamie Benn, RW (1 A, 1 SOG, +1). The longer that remains the case, the longer he’ll remain a solid secondary scoring option in deeper leagues. Don’t sleep, if you need some points on the cheap, Cole is providing lately.
Ben Scrivens, G (W, 33 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – Yay Scribbles, a win for you! Have you ever looked at his headshot on ESPN? He looks so sad. I’d be that sad if I played for the Oil too, Scribbles. Keep your head up, buddy! It’s not your fault.
Jordan Eberle, RW (2 A, 3 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) – With six points (6 A) over his last five games Eebs remains one of the only rays of light in an otherwise dismal season for the Oilers and fantasy owners who were unlucky enough to buy into their top line guys. I pegged him for a 70-point season and that’s not going to happen, but despite the rough start, he could finish with 60 point and at this point, I’ll take it and you should too.
Devan Dubnyk, G (L, 17 SV, 2 GA, .895%) – He may have only allowed two goals, but this is the second straight game that he’s done so on fewer than 20 shots against. That’s not a great sign, but he continues to man the Minnesota crease and should do so for the remainder of the season. As bigger and badder opponents roll through over the next month we’re really going to see what Doobie has and it could go either way, though I’m cautiously optimistic that he’s going to continue to play well enough to help you win.
Thomas Vanek, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – I can see myself tagging Vanek as a sleeper for next season. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I think his off-ice troubles were at the heart of his sudden on-ice mediocrity this season and late last season too. If he really has his off-ice shiz together going into the 2015-16 season he could be in for a solid rebound campaign. Remember, this is a guy who used to score 30-plus goals regularly and it wasn’t too long ago.
Scott Darling, G (W, 34 SV, 2 GA, .944%) – Scott has been a Darling both in the NHL and AHL this season and with Corey Crawford struggling again they figured they’d give the guy a go and he rewarded them with a strong 34 save effort for the win last night. I don’t know how long he’ll remain on big ice, but Hawks Coach Joel Quenneville seems willing to go with whoever is going to win hockey games for him this season and right now that could be Darling. If you picked him up for this start hold him for now.
Vincent Trocheck, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – I touched on Trocheck earlier this season and despite his up and down season I’m still pretty high on the kid. He has points in two straight games skating on the Cats’ third line, so he isn’t worth adding this season, but keep an eye on him early next year. If he has a solid camp and makes the team he has all the tools to be a solid sleeper pick.
Jonas Gustavsson, G (L, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963%) – In his first start in over two months The Monster acquitted himself well pushing away 26 of 27 shots but couldn’t best the rejuvenated Jon Quick and the LA Kings last night. One game means little, but it’s definitely encouraging to see Gus have a stellar game like this coming off of shoulder surgery. If you need help in the crease Gus isn’t a bad streamer, just make sure you start him against the right opponent.
Jon Quick, G (W, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963%) – January was the low point for Quick, he posted a 3.18 goals-against average to go with a .878 save percentage in 10 starts that month but he has since returned to his old form and reeled off 10 straight solid to stellar starts in February. His overall season isn’t going to be Quick-like when the fat lady sings, but it looks like he and the Kings D are getting their shiz together at the right time to help fantasy owners. If you own him, don’t sell him. If you don’t, the window to buy low has closed.