The New York Islanders are struggling to score goals. Shocking. They’re struggling to win as a result because, you know, you need to score goals to win hockey games. Outside of their top line of Thomas Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, no one else is producing much of anything and with top prospect Ryan Strome decimating the AHL with 33 points in 23 games so far, they decided to call him up. A smooth skating, playmaking center with a nose for the net Strome is the next big hope for a team that has just one playoff berth since 2007 and hasn’t won a Cup since 1983 and he could be the next big thing in fantasy hockey, too. Last year Strome absolutely ruined opponents in the OHL posting 94 points with a +43 rating in just 53 games played for the Niagara Ice Dogs, so he was called up to Bridgeport and put up 7 points in 10 games for good measure. At every level he has shown the ability to adapt and excel so there’s reason to believe success awaits the dynamic young centre in the NHL. He’s got nothing but space to work on a weak Isles team and there’s is talk that he’ll debut on the second line for the Isles and I don’t know if that’s more of an endorsement of Strome’s skills or an indictment of the Isles as a team. Either way, if he can pair with someone like Michael Grabner he has the potential to produce for fantasy owners immediately. He’s owned in just 8% of Yahoo! Leagues and 4% of ESPN Leagues, so if you’re looking for a stellar keeper, snatch him up! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey yesterday:
Jonathan Bernier (2 GA, 18 SV) relieved Reimer in the first and is fading under the constant barrage of shots the porous Leafs D allows night after night.
James Reimer (3 GA, 12 SV, L) was pulled just 16 minutes into the game after allowing 3 goals facing 15 shots in 16 minutes as he, too, fades under the barrage of shots the porous Leafs D allows night after night.
Craig Anderson (1 GA, 40 SV, W) beat the Sabres 2-1, biiiig freakin’ deal. He’s still Craig Anderson and my grandmother could shut the Sabres down.
Carter Hutton (1 GA, 33 SV, W) won his second straight game lowering his GAA to 2.84 and raising his SV% to .909. It’s going to be all ups and downs for the young duo in Nashville until Pekka Rinne returns. I’d avoid it if you can.
Chad Johnson (2 GA, 39 SV, W) only got the start over Tuukka Rask last night because Tuukka has the flu. The Bs clearly need a team hygiene retreat.
Mike Ribeiro (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +3) is a guy I don’t talk about much because it frightens me to look at his profile picture, but really is there a more boring guy in the league that will offer consistent production like Ribs? I think not.
Antti Niemi (1 GA, 29 SV, W) snapped a personal three game losing streak with this gem against the Wild last night.
Karri Ramo (1 GA, 29 SV, W) has won three of his last four starts, but they remain few and far between.
Ben Bishop (1 GA, 28 SV, W) rebounded nicely with a 2-1 SO win against the Wings after taking it on the chin on Tuesday giving up five (four from Ovie) goals on 26 shots to the Caps.
Keith Yandle (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +4, 2 PIM) has a handle on just about everything last night against the Isles. Keith has points in four of his last give, goals in three out of his last five and remains an elite fantasy blueliner.
Matt Duchene (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) looked pretty solid last year and he looks even better this year. If you stuck with him after his awful 2012 season you’re being rewarded now as he’s on pace for 41 goals. He probably finishes more around 30-35, but still, that’s money and so is Matt.
Alex Grant (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) has goals in back-to-back games that just so happen to be the first and second games of his young NHL career. He’s got some offensive upside and a cannon of a shot, but he can be liability in his own end and for a defenseman that’s, uh, not a good thing.
Slava Voynov (1 A, 2 SOG, +1, 4 PIM) is trying like hell to produce for his owners, but it’s not really coming, is it? We all expected a bit more out of the young Russian defenseman, and if he doesn’t get it going this season you can bet he’ll be a great sleeper next year. Peeps can be fickle, you must capitalize on their impatience, Grasshopper(s).
Daniel Winnik (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) has hilarious hair and points in three straight. I covered him before, he’s among the least of the Ducks available right now, but a reasonably exciting young talent to watch.
Hampus Lindholm (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) is having a good year, but he’ll have a great year next season. He should be owned in every keeper league.
Tyler Toffoli (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) should be picked up.
Jaden Schwartz (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG, +2) is quickly developing into a mainstay for the Blues in just his second year. He’s a solid two-way guy with good offensive upside and is a must own in deeper/keeper leagues. He’s owned in just 21% of Yahoo! Leagues and 96.3% of ESPN leagues. The hell is that about? I have to join some ESPN leagues next year to see what this all about.
Jarome Iginla (2 G, 4 SOG, +3) tallied two goals and must have been feeling pumped up after his return game to Calgary on Tuesday. Iggy’s barely ownable, but always likeable anyway! I hope he gets his cup.
Rob Klinkhammer (2 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) took some time away from being the most German Canadian ever to pot a few biscuits in the basket, a rarity for the two-way beast. Klinky is worth owning in deep leagues that count hits, he’s got 81 so far. He’s also sporting a +15 rating.
Claude Giroux (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) still isn’t quite right and while he’s scoring, it’s still not a point-per-game pace. I’m starting to wonder if he’ll get back into form at all this season. He’s on pace for just 59 points, easily making him the biggest bust so far this season.
Chris Stewart (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +3) once had such potential. I drafted him every year saying “This is the year! 40 goals for Stewart!” yeeeeah, no. You’d think on a team like the Blues he’d be tearing it up, but with just six goals in 30 games so far, I wouldn’t own him with your team.
David Legwand (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) abra cadabra’d his leg around for a goal and an assist against in a 3-1 win against the Stars last night. Yep, he’s Legwand.
Jonas Gustavsson (1 GA, 26 SV, L) took the loss but not because he wasn’t his usual magnificent self. Jimmy Howard is down for 2-4 weeks, so Gustvasson is a must own everywhere. Hell, Howard might not get his job back when he is healthy if the Monster keeps going like he is.
Mikkel Boedker (2 G, 2 PTS, 5 SOG, +1) is on pace for his best year by a long shot clocking in at 21 points in 31 games so far this season, that would give him 56 points in 24 goals on the year if he keeps pace. He’s got a ton of speed and though the start to his career has been somewhat disappointing, he’s clearly taking a step forward this year. He’s almost worth owning in deep leagues, almost.
Bobby Ryan (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) has 15 goals and 15 assists now. Parity. There must always be parity for Bobby.
Semyon Varlamov (3 GA, 35 SV, W) had a really hot start to the season and has gradually cooled until he really hit the skids giving up eight goals to the Oil earlier this month. He won his first game of the month last night edging the Jets 4-3 in a shootout and you have to wonder how deeply his off-ice troubles are affecting him.
Steve Mason (1 GA, 20 SV, W, 4 PIM) has recovered nicely after two straight horrible games where he coughed up eight goals with a solid effort against the Habs last night, albeit only on 21 shots. Mason. Meh.
David Backes (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) is so playing over his head it’s ridiculous. Oddly, I don’t think it stops, this season at least. Next year he’ll easily be one of the more overvalued guys on draft day. You read it here first, y’all!
Jakub Voracek (2 A, 3 SOG, +2) has points in three straight games but continues to have a dismal season with just 16 points in 32 games so far. I don’t think there’s a single Flyer playing well this season save Steve Mason. Meh.
David Perron (2 G, 6 SOG, even) continues to be one of the pillars for the Oil, and who would have thought that going into this season, looking over that roster? He’s on pace for 73 points and he’s definitely got a shot at it. Why, then, is he only own in 70% of Yahoo! Leagues? Come on, people!
Joe Pavelski (2 G, 6 SOG, even) is having his career year, enjoy it while you can! It’s all downhill for him after this season. The decent may be slow, but it shall begin shawtly.
Alexander Steen (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has not slowed at all like I expected. There’s no way he scores 96 points this season, right? Nah.
David Savard (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) is more of a defensive defenseman, but he does have a nice shot. He’s worth knowing about, but not worth owning yet.
Ryan O’Reilly (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +2) must have picked up the yoga again with goal and an assist against the Jets last night. This snaps a four game scoreless skid for O’Reilly who could flirt with 30 goals this season.
Kyle Turris (2 A, 1 SOG, +2) is another guy on pace for a career year with 25 points in 33 games so far. At that rate he’ll end up in the mid-sixties by season’s end, but we’ll see if he can actually make it to season’s end in one piece. He’s available in 29% of Yahoo! Leagues, so if you need some secondary scoring or backfill for an injury, Turris might still be out there.
Nathon MacKinnon (1 A, 5 SOG, +2) is quietly having a strong rookie campaign with 18 points in 30 games so far and it’s not a fluke, this kid is a complete player. He has problems in his own zone and that limits his ice time, but as he solves his defensive woes, the offensive upside is tremendous. He’s a must own in all keeper leagues.
Paul Byron (2 A, +2) is another one of those tiny fellas that are invading the league. He’s nothing special, really, and I think he finishes his season in the AHL.
Shea Weber (2 A, 4 SOG, -1, 2 PIM) will likely finish this year with his lowest point total since 2008 when he had just 20 points in 54 games. He’s currently sitting at -7 and the Preds aren’t looking much better as the games go by. If you drafted Weber you were expecting 50 points, but it’s not going to happen this year.
Jeff Skinner (1 G, 7 SOG, even) exploded for nine points in seven games this month with seven goals in his last six games to boot! That puts his season tally at 22 points in 20 games, but just 20 effin’ games played so far. He always gets hurt right as he starts looking good and it’s a damn shame, I really hope he stays healthy for the rest of the year and if he does he can maintain a point-per-game pace.