It’s at the point of the season where I start off posts with guys who aren’t trivial holds and can make a difference down the stretch run. I’ve always been enamored with Nick Bjugstad‘s potential, especially after his 24 goal season three seasons ago. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Rick Nash, the vice president of The Round Face Hockey Club, was traded to the Bruins as they look to make a deep run this postseason. I'm going to have a live trade deadline post again this year updating all of the trades throughout tomorrow. I'm also going to be recording a podcast with Reid right around 3 pm tomorrow to give our thoughts on everything that happens. I have the feeling it's going to be crazy. For Nash, I think he's a solid speculative add if you need the shots. He played on Sunday against Buffalo on the second line, recording five shots on goal in 17:27. He's over three shots per game on the season, the plus-minus should improve on Boston, and everyone can use goals on their team. I don't think he'll be a world beater, but with only 20 games left, it's certainly possible that Nash gets hot with his shot volume. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
We've been talking up Jaccob Slavin over the past couple of weeks on the podcast as someone who can help your team if you're in need of assists. The increased workload as the season has progressed has push Slavin onto the fringe but his playoff schedule was enough to justify grabbing him. Well, if you were fortunate enough to do so, he just started off the fantasy playoffs with the game of his career. Slavin scored more goals than he had in the first 65 games of the season, registering his first career hat trick and added an assist in the 8-4(!) win over the Islanders. Look, despite this game, it's not going to be anything incredible down the stretch, but Slavin just had a five game assist streak. Add in that he's +18 and as mentioned above, the Hurricanes have more games left than anyone else the rest of the way, and I'd grab Slavin if you need defenseman help. Here's what else happened on a randomly busy Monday night around the NHL:
On the last podcast, Reid and I looked at a bunch of players who were under 50% that I thought were must-own. I made a massive oversight leaving somebody off that list: Conor Sheary. I just looked and saw that he's 45% owned which absolutely blows my mind (I thought he was in the 70's or 80's). Sheary had an excellent weekend scoring twice on three shots on Friday and then getting two goals and an assist with four shots on Sunday. That brings Sheary's totals to 17+17 while being +17 in 39 games. Seventeens are wild! Anyways, Sheary is on pace for 35+35 over 82 games with an excellent plus-minus and decent enough shots. That's closer to a top 50 player than someone who is on the waiver wire. We've seen guys in the past be excellent fantasy values being a passenger on Crosby's line so if you're in one of the leagues where Sheary is available, pick him up immediately (I'd put him ahead of everyone discussed on the podcast). Then come back and read what else happened around the league this weekend!
I certainly didn't think I'd be writing about Peter Budaj at any point this year. After all, he played in a whopping one game over the past two seasons combined. Alas, we're here in December with Budaj being a major talking point of the NHL season. After Jonathan Quick went down, the expectation was that offseason signing Jeff Zatkoff would get the majority of the starts but when he went down as well, Budaj stepped in and has kept the job. He had arguably his best two performances over the weekend. Budaj posted a 39 save shutout in the 1-0 OT win over the Penguins before making 29 saves on 30 shots in the 1-0 loss in Boston. Budaj is currently #12 in the ESPN player rater among goalies making him a bottom end #1 or elite #2. With the news that Quick is going to be out until at least March, it's Budaj's job going forward. Despite that, Budaj is still available in over 40% of leagues. Can I explain it? No, not one bit. If you don't already own him and he's available in your league, grab Budaj. Let's take a look at everything that happened around the league the last three nights:
I think most fantasy hockey players would agree that Antti Raanta is worth streaming every time he gets the start. The problem has been that Raanta rarely plays because he's behind one of the best goalies in the world, Henrik Lundqvist. A healthy Lundqvist never sat three games in a row while healthy. Until this weekend. After a game on Thursday, Vigneault turned to Raanta again and he posted a 26 save shutout in the 1-0 win over his former team in Chicago. To the surprise of everyone, Raanta started again on Sunday and posted another shutout, this time an easy 5-0 win over the Devils in which Raanta posted 19 saves. If you streamed Raanta on Sunday, hold him until Tuesday to see if he gets another game. This certainly isn't going to last, this is Lundqvist's team, but ride the hot wave while you can. At the least, Raanta is a must-stream every time he gets the nod. Let's take a look at everything else that happened over the weekend:
On Thursday, for the third time this season, Zach Parise scored his third hat trick of the season, adding an assist and six shots in the 6-2 win over the Flames. While he's a step behind his usual pace, 22+25 in 64 games is nothing to sneeze at, especially with elite shots. However, I'll probably be staying away from him next year given where I suspect his ADP will be. He plays a heavy game, he turns 32 in the summer and is starting to miss chunks of the season more regularly. That's not to say I don't like his game but his days of a top 50 player, for me, are over. Here's what I saw around the league the last two nights:
It's an unpopular opinion but for my money, Erik Karlsson is the best player in the NHL. He makes a bigger impact on a game to game basis than any other skater in the league; it's scary to think about where the Senators would be without him. Karlsson had another one of his big games on Tuesday night with the game winning goal in overtime on his third shot while adding two assists in regulation. The Swede now has 60 assists (60!) to lead the league and 13 goals in 71 games with over three shots per game. He's even been a bit unlucky; his shooting percentage is its lowest since his rookie season. Karlsson came into this year as somebody to go around the turn in 12'ers but he's a slam dunk first rounder now. Here's what else I saw around the league Tuesday night:
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: