We've finally made it to team 30. The Anaheim Ducks are the last team to preview for the upcoming season following a Pacific Division title. They ended up losing in game 7 to Nashville in the first round leading them to make a pair of horrible coaching decisions. Firing Bruce Boudreau and hiring Randy Carlyle is an absolute disaster for this team going from one of the best to one of the worst. I suspect that the change alone costs this team at least 10 points. Anyways, there's still plenty of talent here at different age points that are worth looking at so let's get to it!
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).
Just what the doctor ordered for the start of your stretch run, there's a bunch of key guys out with injuries and almost no one who can replace them. We all knew about Sergei Bobrovsky's injury going into the break, but the big news is that Kyle Okposo is going to be out for the next two months with an upper-body injury. The Isles are mum on what exactly happened to Okie, but some fan accounts say it's likely a wrist problem. That sounds terrible. This is terrible and there's no replacing him. Ryan Strome might get a shot at the top line, Brock Nelson could see a promotion and Mikhail Grabovski is on his way back to the lineup after missing some time with an injury, but regardless of who ends up playing on John Tavares' wing, the slot isn't going to provide the value boost to whomever gets the bump up without Okie there. Josh Bailey and his newfound value also take a hit here, as defenses will be able to clamp down on him and he's going to lose the space that Okie and JT created for him, which was a large part of his recent success. All in all this is a crushing blow for the Isles and fantasy owners alike. All you can do is stash him on IR and hope for a speedy recovery, but if it's his wrist, and that two month timeline is because he needs to recover from surgery we're in trouble fellow Okie owners. Even if he does get back before the playoffs if he has to shake off rust, get back into game shape and get his shot mechanics back to normal there just isn't going to be enough time for him to get back up to full speed and his value will be nil for the rest of this season. If that isn't enough to start your week with a "Dammit all!" here's the skinny on a few more key guys who are down for a while with injuries:
The beginning is nigh! Yes my dear readers we’re drawing near to the start of the season so I won’t waste your time with a long blurb to kick this post off. I will say that this list is pretty comprehensive and if you can’t fill out your D based on this list you’re either playing in the deepest of leagues of you’re not very good at this fantasy hockey thing and should take up knitting. I covered as many guys as I could, but when I hit around the 65th rearguard there wasn’t much to say about the last ten guys so they became the honorable mentions. I guess that makes this a top 65 in some ways, but whatevs. There’s 75 names and sets o’ projections so I’m sticking to my guns. Plus, 75 sounds so much better than top 65, you know? As usual if I missed your guy or you have any questions, hit me up in the comments! At any rate, without further ado (there’s that word again), here are the 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Top 75 Defensemen:
Ryane Clowe (1 A, 0 SOG, -2) had some pretty solid seasons as a member of the San Jose Sharks from 2008 to 2012 and after getting dealt to the Rangers last year because there was just no room for him on the Sharks, he signed a $24 million deal with the Devils. His first five or six games this season were just awful, and then rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba elbowed him in the head and he fell like a sack o' potatoes. After missing the last two-and-a-half months with a concussion he's returned with a vengeance quickly establishing himself as an important cog in a seemingly rejuvenated Devils offense for the second half of the season. He's everywhere out there right now; clearing space, getting shots on goal, creating offensive chances where earlier in the season the Devils couldn't buy an opportunity and what's more, he's scoring consistently since returning from injury with 10 points in his last 10 games. While I don't expect he can keep that pace up, the Devils brought him in to win battles and help generate offense and it appears that's exactly what he's doing while healthy. Even on nights where the Devils have struggled (like last night) he still manages to look good out there with line-mates Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. While most owners probably hoped he'd see more time on the top line with Jaromir Jagr, he seems to be doing just fine on what appears to be New Jersey's new second line so don't hope to fix what isn't broken. By this point in the season the wire is pretty thin getting thinner making finding fresh legs almost impossible so that gives Clowe a bit more value than he might otherwise have had at this point in the season. That being said, 10 points in his last 10 games, are you going to ignore that? Well, you go right ahead, but the rest of us are paying attention. While everyone else is going to be digging deep after the Olympic break Clowe is going to be churning on fresh legs and that could help him score more and you win more. He's not sexy, he's not fast, he's not going to wow you, but when other guys are slowing and getting hurt when you need them the most, Clowe is likely to be happy, healthy and fairly productive. Would you buy that for a dollar? Doesn't matter! Clowe's probably out there for free, so cash in now y'all! Anyway, here's what else I saw last night in the world o' fantasy hockey:
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: