Hey, everyone. Working in higher ed admissions means my workload has picked up significantly, but I’m setting time aside to throw some fantasy hockey streaming advice your way! As you might know by now, my managing style and what I discuss in my advice column is maximizing games played and putting more skaters on the ice that your opponent. I use data pulled from my own league as well as the two RCL’s to give this idea some supporting data, so let’s dive right in!!
In my preseason rankings, I wrote the following about Chris Kreider: "He’s good for 20+20 with strong penalty minutes but I’m not expecting much more even though he has a ton of potential." What I meant to include was 20+20 at the halfway point! For years, Kreider has been talked about as an elite talent but somebody who hasn't been able to put it together. Like a few other players on the Rangers, Kreider has seemingly put it all together at this point and the results are outstanding. In the 6-2 win over the Avalanche on Saturday, Kreider scored a hat trick on six shots extending his point streak to 4 games (8 total points). In 33 games, Kreider now has 15+14 with 19 PIM and 91 shots. Add in Kreider being +6 and you're looking at a contributor in all categories. At this point, we're looking at a guy who should push towards the top 50 at the end of the season and going forward; he's still only 25 years old. Let's take a look at what happened to close 2016 and the opening day of 2017:
We are only a few days away from the trade deadline and the first big trade piece is off the market. The Jets moved their captain Andrew Ladd and sent him to the team they acquired him from in 2010, Chicago. The Blackhawks paid a massive price for the rental sending a first round pick, a conditional third, and Marko Dano. If you remember in the preseason, Dano was my favorite sleeper after he came on strong at the end of last season in Columbus. With Bryan Little out for the season, I expect Dano to be in Winnipeg right away. If that's the case, he's immediately worth consideration in 12'ers because his upside is through the roof. Ladd will go on the first line in Chicago on Jonathan Toews' wing which is also a big boost to his value. This is another trade, like the Columbus and Nashville blockbuster, that is a win for all players from a fantasy perspective. Here's what I saw on the ice the last two nights around the league:
Will using The Force actually make your team better than picking up Justin Schultz would? Well, no. Not exactly. But it will stop you from making blind spec pickups and dropping guys who might actually be helping you already in some way. In either case, I’m going with “D”, which by the way is the subject of this week’s column. Here’s all the “D” you can handle – if you want to improve your team NOW instead of waiting for the fallout of all the deadline deals – all neatly sorted into three categories: Scoring help, Keepers only, and Peripheral Vision (which help in those “other” stats).
Goalies can be notoriously difficult to rank and project for accurately. I give each starter projections but I might not bother trying to predict what kind of numbers a backup is going to offer unless I have reason to believe that they're going to play enough to be worth owning. Most of the time, backups aren't, but there have been some gems in the understudy group in recent years. Cam Talbot's stellar work behind Henrik Lundqvist last year helped ease the pain of the wounds Jimmy Howard's 2014 campaign left me. Damnit, Howie! At any rate, Chad Johnson filling in for Tuukka Rask showed similar value. For the most part, though, backups are backups and largely worthless without a starter getting injured. Then we have the always wonderful goalie committees. Is there anything worse than goalie by committee? Yes, yes there is, but for the purposes of this post, no, no there is not. The Hurricanes look to provide a buttload of frustration for anyone willing to draft their way into that sad state of affairs again in 2015 with Anton Khudobin set for a bit of a regression and Cam Ward being, well, Cam Ward. On the flip side the duos of Brian Elliot and Jake Allen in St. Louis and Frederik Andersen and stud rookie John Gibson where if either guy is asked to go 60 starts their season would end up bleh, but limit them to around 40 starts a piece and they stay healthy and rested, the numbers stay sexy, and you stay happy with a cheap no. 2 tender. Anyhooze, lets get to the meat o' the matter, Razzball's 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Goalie Rankings:
Apparently all the free agents got together and decided that today was the day to sign a deal. Also, everyone had to sign with a central division team. Or demand a trade to a central division team. If I'm a fan of the Wings, Blue Jackets or any other team lucky enough to have escaped the west, I'm counting my lucky starts tonight because baby, the central is loaded. Normally I’m used to hearing news about a big contract here, a big name move there, but since the draft there have been tons of moves that sent ripples through the fantasy hockey world like so many pebbles being tossed into a still pond. Zen! Anyway, it goes without saying then (though I’ll say it) that y’all need to know who went where and for what and why. When? Yesterday! Today? Who’s on first?! The biggest non-contract move so far has to be Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson going to Dallas for Alex Chaisson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill, a 2015 second round pick and a bag o’ pucks. Couple that with Ales Hemsky inking a 3-year, $12M deal with the Stars today and they might have found a recipe for success in the west! When I initially found out about this deal I saw it as “Spezza/Karlsson traded to Dallas” and my damn jaw dropped. Come to find out its some guy named Ludwig. Really? People are actually named Ludwig? That’s too bad. Anyway, these moves should make the Stars an offensive powerhouse and I’d say Spezza (if he can stay healthy) and Hemsky (if he can stay healthy) get a decent boost in value for next season. Kari Lehtonen (if he can stay healthy) might be a goalie to target in 2015 now, too. I’m sensing a theme here. Huh, anyway, here are the rest of the big moves that matter so far this offseason…
Beau Bennett (1 A, 2 SOG, +2) is an intriguing option that many folks have likely long forgotten. Once upon a time Bennett was slated to start the season on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and everyone’s favorite player James Neal. Say what you will about Neal (I do!) but that was a choice place to land for the youngster who had everything to prove and the skills to do it. Well, he broke his damn hand, or his wrist, or some such nonsense that kept him out for most of this season and now he’s back, healthy, and has the space to play. Malkin’s down, so he won’t be playing along side the big Russian, but Bennett has points in three of his last four games with two goals mixed in for flavor. He’s only seeing around 12-13 minutes of TOI right now, but that’s enough for him to leave a mark and considering the Pens have locked up their playoff spot, I don’t see any reason they won’t let Bennett roam freely over the next week or two to get him up to speed for the post season party. All that adds up to him being a pretty viable scoring option for those in need whilst chasing those sweet sweet league championships. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
As the season wears on and the Olympic break looms, a few starters are starting to get up there in TOI and their teams are contenders, so what do you think they'll do with their starters? If you said "rest them as soon as they can to keep them fresh for the playoffs" you'd be correct and I'm putting a gold star by your name! Every year there's one or two backups or no names that come out of nowhere to start eight or nine of a team's last ten games and looks amazing doing it. Those guys? Those guys win you titles. This year two backups stand out with the potential to become fantasy gold down the stretch; San Jose's Alex Stalock (1 GA, 19 SV, W) and Anaheim's Frederik Andersen. Neither Andersen nor Stalock saw much action for the first three months of the season, but in January they both saw a spike in starts with six each, a trend that should continue as the season winds to a close. Stalock handled himself nicely for a 19 save win last night because starter Antti Niemi coughed up four goals in his last start and with 47 starts under his belt, and the Olympics starting next week, I think the Sharks want to rest Niemi and that means nothing but good things for Stalock owners. Stalock has been great with his workload slowly but steadily increasing and in that span he put up a line of 3-3-0/1.79/.949/2. That has value anywhere, y'all! Similarly, Jonas Hiller (2 GA, 23 SV, L) backup Frederik Andersen has slowly eaten into Hiller's starts much like Stalock has in San Jose. With Hiller headed to Sochi to tend net for the Swiss, his injury history and how well Andersen continues to play, Hiller is likely to continue split starts with Andersen more evenly moving forward. Andersen started 6 games to Hiller’s 9 last month and it’s 2 to 1 Hiller so far this month. What's he done with his time? How about a line of 5-0-0/1.86/.939 in January. Yeah, his last game was a bit of bleh against the surging Blue Jackets, but overall he remains valuable and could be huge if Hiller goes down with another LBI. Never look past backups this late in the season, you never know who will become instant fantasy gold. Anyway, here's what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently:
Steven Stamkos (broken effin’ leg) is actually skating already. Yes, you read that right, just one month and three days after he broke his tibia Stamkos was back on the ice. He wasn’t practicing, nor did he wear any gear, but he’s on his feet and looks like he’ll actually make it back before the Olympic break. Jimmy Howard (knee) has a grain-1 MCL sprain and will be out for 2-4 weeks. I’ve been telling everyone to pick up Jonas Gustavsson for weeks now, so I hope y’all listened! If not, he’s still owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! Leagues. Yar. Shawn Thornton (assault and battery) was suspended for 15 games for his vicious attack on the Pens’ Brooks Orpik a week ago. That sounds about right.