The Los Angeles Kings have been devastated by injuries all season, most notably to their defense and it has cost them quite a bit so far this season, but they’re still in the playoff hunt and that’s all that matters. Still, going into the post season with their patchwork defense isn’t something the Kings were keen on, so you knew they’d make a deal before the deadline and sure enough they lifted Andrej Sekera from the humid hockey hellhole of Carolina to the royal court of the defending Stanley Cup Champions yesterday. While the move doesn’t make Sekera a must-add across all formats, he’s definitely going to see a significant bump in value from the move.
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:
Former Hobey Baker winner Johnny Gaudreau (Yahoo – 31%, ESPN – 53.4%, CBS – 73%) didn’t start the season off well with no points in his first five games but he has come alive recently with nine points in his last six games, sporting a plus-9 rating on the season to boot! He’s little and he’s young, but you have to remember that this is a guy who put up 80 points in 40 games in his final season at Boston College, so the mighty-mini playmaker has skills to spare and it’s quickly translating into success at the NHL level. I don’t think he keeps this torrid pace up, but the Flames look pretty damn solid, a lot more so than anyone really expected going into the season. He plays on a line with Sean Monahan, another guy you should own and I touch on in this post, and gets time on the top power play unit for the Flames so the chances will keep coming so long as Johnny can keep cashing them in. The word is out on CBS and he’s gaining traction fast in ESPN leagues, but of course Yahoo lags behind at just 31% owned. Why must you plague me so, Yahoo league owners? Do you have an aversion to winning or are nearly 70% of teams abandoned already? Get with the program y’all, add this guy yesterday! What’s that I hear? You didn’t get a chance to cash in on Johnny? Well scope out the rest of these guys, maybe you’ll beat the rush:
Ryan McDonagh (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) lead the way for the streaking Rangers scoring the game winner in OT. He also dished out two primary assists, ended up plus-3 and even threw in a couple PIM to make the game complete. I didn’t think he’d get there, but McDonagh is looking at breaking the 50-point/15 goal markers this season and that easily sits him among the league’s best fantasy defenseman. To give you an idea of just how quickly McDonagh has found his way into the ranks of the elite, chew on this factoid; with 13 goals in 73 games so far this season he has eclipsed his total from his previous three seasons, where he scored 12 goals over 169 games. That’s no joke! Does it mean he’s a flash in the pan? That he’ll regress back to the mean starting next year? I don’t think so. I think what we’re seeing here is a premiere defensemen coming into his own and he should, at the very least, maintain this kind of production for seasons to come. The coaching change is a big help here; John Tortarella put McD out there for less than a minute, on average, of power play time per game. You could justify that and say it’s because he was young, but come on, less than a minute? Alain Vigneault puts him out there for an average or 2:53, and he’s cashing in on that like whoa. If you were lucky enough to grab him in a keeper league on the cheap this year, enjoy the ride, because he’s not going to be cheap again until he’s aging and fading. So why does this matter right now? Could a guy like this possible be available? Why yes, yes he can! Try 31% of Yahoo leagues. He’s owned in 100% of ESPN leagues, so that does nothing for you ESPN folks, but I added him on two of my Yahoo teams just for the playoff run. Seriously. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night: