With three weeks left until the NHL trade deadline the Toronto Maple Leafs started selling off some assets sending Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to the Preds for Olli Jokinen, prospect Brendan Leipsica, a 2015 first round pick and a bag of pucks. Typically a move out of the fantasy value black hole that is the Maple Leafs would be a boon to most players but unfortunately for Franson owners the move out of the barren wasteland of Toronto to the fertile fields of Nashville does little to boost his value. In fact, the move probably hurts more than it helps.
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:
When the season started everyone had high expectations for a young and extremely talented Colorado Avalanche team and why wouldn’t they? Last season Nathan MacKinnon, C (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) exploded onto big ice with a stellar rookie campaign potting 25 goals and finishing with 63 points in 82 games. Matt Duchene, C (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) returned to form and nearly put up a point-per-game with 70 points in 71 games and Gabriel Landeskog, LW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) not only returned to his rookie season form after an injury shortened 2014 season, he took a step forward and finished with 65 points of his own. All the signs were there. All the signs were pointing to a huge year from all three guys in 2015, the new core of a dynasty in the making, but when the pucks started flying they sure as hell weren’t flying into the net for any of them. Fear not, dear readers, for the end of their struggles is nigh and at the quarter season marker the Avs are finally starting to warm up! It all started a few weeks ago when Duchene had a ranty post-game interview stating that the Avs needed to get mad and stop accepting defeat after defeat, both small and large. Since then he’s put his money where his mouth is and posted seven points in his last seven games powered by four goals and apparently leading by example is a good way to go because he’s not the only one who heard the call. Landeskog has seven of his own points in his last five games and like Duche he’s just too good to keep playing as badly as he was. There may be temptation to look at try and sell now that they’re scoring, but I wouldn’t move any of these guys if you own them. Despite their recent successes they were so bad to start the year that you’ll be moving them for pennies on the dollar and in the end you’ll lose out big time. At this point it’s highly unlikely that any of them will hit their pre-season projections, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be near point-per-game forwards moving, well, forward, and I’d buy all three for a dollar (each)! Sadly, the same can’t be said for the aging Jarome Iginla, RW (1 G, 2 A, 5 SOG). Iggy isn’t the guy he once was and he isn’t going to score 30 goals again like he did last year for the Bs, but he’s going to net you 50 points ane 20 goals, so that’s worth owning. He skates on the top line with Landeskog and MacKinnon so that gives him value, anyway. If he goes on a decent streak I’d try to sell high, someone out there thinks he’s still a beast. Still, sit tight and enjoy the ride as the Avs are trending up lately, at least offensively, and should continue to roll as we move towards the halfway point in the season. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
If you drafted Mikael Granlund expecting a solid season after he burst onto the scene late last year you’re in the same boat with me so lets cry together. Eh, it’s not that serious considering his ADP, but if Mike has spurned you you might consider taking a look at his brother Markus Granlund, C (2 A, 1 SOG, +3). Markus has four points in his last two games and eight points in nine games since being called up to big ice and makes him absolutely worth a look. He’s not unlike his brother in that he’s a bit small at 5’11”, 185 lbs and generally offensively gifted, especially in dishing the puck out. He’s poised, has great hands and great vision and can be counted on for exactly what we hoped to get out of his brother Mike. The downsie is that his defensive game can make him a liability, but he wins faceoffs so that helps mitigate the problem. With sheltered minutes he could be a solid contributor while playing most of his time on a line with Johnny Gaudreau (1 A, 1 SOG, +2) and Jiri Hudler (1 G, 2 SOG, +1). That’s a unit with a solid mix of veteran stability and young talent on the rise, so it bodes well for Granlund’s continued production given he’s primarily a playmaker. That line is a microcosm of what the Flames are as a team this season and that’s not a bad thing. Moving forward I figure you can expect Granlund to keep the pace up with a bit of regression. I don’t see a 60-point season in the works, but I think around 45-50 points is definitely within reach. For those of you in deeper pools this guy has a lot of value and he’s worth taking a flier on now. If he keeps it up, those in more shallow leagues might find themselves picking him up sooner than later, so why not sooner? Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
As if losing Dan Boyle to the dreaded broken finger curse just one game into the season and John Moore to a five-game suspension wasn’t enough for the Rangers, they decided to go the next month or so on hard-mode with both Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein falling victim to their own injuries over the weekend. McDonagh suffered a separated shoulder on a hit from Evander Kane and he’s down for three to four weeks, but reports are that the Rangers expect he may be out for longer than a month. The big issue here is the injured shoulder in question is the same shoulder that Mac injured late last season, so this could turn out to be pretty bad for Mac and the Rangers. Klein suffered a foot contusion that will cost him at least a few games, but he should be back within a week or so. Regardless of how quickly Klein gets back the situation is dire on the Rangers blue line with four of their top-six defenseman now injured. How does this affect your fantasy fortunes? Well, obviously if you own McDonagh this is a fairly substantial blow. He wasn’t exactly lighting it up with just three helpers in 10 games so far, but given his ADP most of his owners were holding out hope that the points would start to flow sooner than later. The real problem here is for Henrik Lundqvist owners, who might be in a bit of trouble now too. Hank hasn’t been his normal stellar self to start the season but he’s largely been solid. Now that the Rangers defense is even more depleted it’s going to test Hank and I fear there’s going to be some ugly games in there. If you own Lundqvist all you can do is start him, but brace yourself, it could get nasty. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night: 
Last season Henrik Lundqvist (L, 21 SV, 6 GA, .778 SV%) had a pretty terrible October finishing the month with a line of 3-5-0, 2.84 GAA, .908 SV%, 22 GA. He rebounded a bit in November but returned to blehsville in December finishing with an even worse line of 4-4-2, 3.08 GAA, .888 SV%, 29 GA. People freaked. Should I trade Lundqvist? Is he hurt? Is he past it? Ahh! Then, from January on he followed that crapfest he called a start to his season with three months of sub 2.00 GAA’s and SV% in the .930s. He finished the season with a very Hankish 33-24-5, 2.36 GAA, .920 SV% on route to a monumental run at the Stanley Cup that ended just short of success. Everything with Hank was fine. Everything with Hank is fine. Yet here we at the start of the 2015 season and again we are faced with another slow start from His Majesty. With it, of course, comes more panic from the masses and really, it’s the same story and erryone should relax, he isn’t this bad and he won’t continue to be. That being said, there is one key difference this year and that’s the Rangers defense. In that it’s not nearly as good as it was last year. Losing possession king Anton Stralman to the Bolts hurts, but what hurts more is his “replacement” Mike Kostka who was directly responsible for two of the four goals in the fourth that rolled the Rangers after the Isles took an early 3-2 third period lead on an unassisted Kyle Okposo goal. Dan Boyle being injured doesn’t help much either, but if losing Boyle does this to your team defensively there are deeper problems that need solving, but I digress. Hank should be fine and no, he won’t keep coughing up six goals a game. Still, his owners should beware. There are cracks and holes showing on the Rangers where few existed last season that may limit his value slightly relative to seasons past. This is why I do not advise using your first or second round pick on a goalie, y’all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last 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:
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…
Michael Del Zotto was finally traded away from Broadway to Nashville in a straight up deal for defenseman Kevin Klein. No, not the actor, though given that Klein has only put up three points all season he might as well be the freakin’ actor for all the good he’s doing fantasy owners (there are none). The Rangers need offense and Del Zotto sure wasn’t providing that, but Klein is a big step down offensively regardless of how poorly Del Zotto's performing, so this move boils down to money and roster considerations for both teams. How does it affect their fantasy values? Well, If you haven’t gathered already Klein has no value at all so lets move on to who really matters, eh? Del Zotto should find himself on the top pairing with Shea Weber sooner than later and that could do wonders for his production and your chances of winning. Right now the Preds have second year upstart Roman Josi playing opposite of Weber and that seems to be working quite well, but put Del Zotto on Weber’s left side and you could see sparks fly. This is a low-risk move for the Preds because Del Zotto is an RFA at season’s end and if he signs an offer sheet with another team the Preds get some draft picks and if not they re-sign him at a discount. Win-win! For Del Zotto it's a chance to get his act together and earn himself a decent contract next season. He’s shown the ability to put up monster numbers in the past with 41 points (10 G, 31 A) back in 2011-12, but hasn’t reached that point total again with his production from the last two seasons combined. Granted one of those is the lockout-shortened season but still, that’s horrible! At any rate, keep an eye on Del Zotto moving forward and if he even hints at a good streak and you need scoring help on your blue line? Add him without a moment’s hesitation. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
It all began on a cool winter’s day when the young men from Calgary came down to play the feisty fellas in Vancouver in a nice, gentlemanly game o’ hockey. That lasted less than zero seconds because when the puck dropped all the starters paired off and fought one another. What the eff happened?! Apparently Canucks coach John Tortorella saw that the Flames were sending out their fourth line to start the game. Torts flipped the hell out for no apparent reason and it didn’t end with his usual ranting and raving and turning oh so many shades o’ purple behind the bench. No, Torts decided he needed to have a few more words with those boys from Calgary so he did what every rational, level-headed adult would do; he attempted to storm into their locker room and basically challenged the entire team to a fight, or so much is what I gather in between the seemingly endless stream of obscenities from Tortorella.  In the end 204 penalty minutes were dished out with Jason Garrison, Dale Weise, Kevin Bieksa and Kellan Lain all getting game misconducts. Lain made his NHL debut that night! A short but adventurous start for the kid, eh?! Ladislav Smid, Chris Butler, Blair Jones and Kevin Westergarth also received game misconducts for the Flames. Why does any of this matter? Well, for starters it’s effin’ hilarious and I wanted an excuse to write about it. And here’s my excuse; Garrison and Bieksa racked up some baller PIM that night, so some owners, somewhere, actually benefitted from this madness. If only we could own coaches and they could earn PIM, Tortorella would have just won many a roto team's PIM category in this game alone! Torts should probably be suspended. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night on a short night o’ fantasy hockey: