When asked whether or not Anthony Duclair (1 G, 2 SOG) was going to stick with the Rangers or get sent back to juniors, Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault quipped, “Talent has no age.” True enough, but the question isn’t whether or not Duke is talented, it’s whether or not he’s ready for big ice. Few dispute Duke’s promise as a potential top-six forward in the NHL. Over the last few seasons in the QMJHL he ate up the competition to the tune of tune of 215 points in 183 games. Last season he nearly tallied 100 points in 59 games falling just short with 99 powered by 50 goals. Yeah, the QMJHL is known for inflated scoring numbers, but still, that’s baller. He’s shown himself to be useful at the NHL level already too, getting his NHL career off to a hot start with five points in seven games, points in three of his last four and sporting a healthy plus-five rating over that span. It sure seems like he belongs with numbers like that, but really, he probably belongs in the AHL.
It was a rough weekend for defenseman in the NHL and a rougher one for the poor saps that own the newly fallen. The biggest blow due to injury fell from the heavens like Mjölnir and smashed me right in the face when my sun and stars Victor Hedman broke his finger while trying to block a shot. He’s out 4-6 weeks after successful surgery to fix his mangled digit. Now where can I go to get successful surgery on my broken heart? Nowhere?! What a world. I guess I’ll just have to pine away and gaze longingly at his stat line over the last week plus and wonder what could have been had he not tried to block a slap shot with his damn hand. The Rangers lost Dan Boyle to a similar injury and it makes me wonder, why the hell are these guys trying to block shots with their hands? Have they not seen the fastest shot competition? Do they not know they’re trying to use their hands to stop a frozen piece of vulcanized rubber flying at nearly 100mph in their direction? I’m all about sacrificing the body for the good of the team and some of us totally need those blocks, but come on! Suffice it to say there is no replacing Hedman but Anton Stralman is reportedly moving to the Bolts’ top powerplay unit with Jason Garrison slated to get time on the second unit, so the value of both jumps a bit with this news.
Unfortch for fantasy owners broken fingers (and hearts!) weren’t the only issue that plagued some of fantasy hockey’s defenseman since last week. Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely today due to a domestic violence incident that apparently left the victim hospitalized. I won’t joke about this because there is nothing funny about it. I also don’t know the details of the situation, but what I have read says that whoever he attacked (assuming he did) was rushed to the hospital and the extend of their injuries was such that the hospital staff called the cops on Voynov. This doesn’t sound good at all, but details are scant right now so if you can afford to, I’d try to hold off on dropping him until we get a clearer idea of how long he could be out. That being said, since this is non-hockey related absence he won’t be eligible for IR or IR+, so if you can’t afford to have a deadweight defenseman clogging up your bench, drop Slava and add whomever you can to fill the void. Luckily his season started somewhat slowly so the void isn’t that big. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
And so it goes and so we goes! I've already covered our top 10, top 20
and top 50
for 2015, so with 30 days left before the first puck drops here's the next 50 to round out the top 100 for our 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Rankings:
51) Jordan Eberle
– has quietly established himself as one of the most consistent options on the right side in fantasy or otherwise. He’s only missed six games over the last three seasons, scored more than 30 goals once, nearly hit the mark again last year with 28 and so long as he stays on the Nuge/Hall line, he’s going to put up another solid 30 goal year. His plus/minus drops him out of the top 50 by a smidge, but just a tiny smidge. 2015 Projections: 30 G, 41 A, 71 PTS
52) Ryan Johansen
– is capable of being a top 25 player but his contract concerns have me, well, concerned. He’s missing camp and that’s not good for team chemistry or his conditioning. Yeah, I’m sure he’s taking care of his conditioning on his own, but it’s just not the same. I’d have ranked him much higher if he was signed a while ago, but with just over a month left before the season all reports are that he isn’t close to signing a deal. His projections will get adjusted if he misses games due to the contract dispute, but if he starts the year and gets a chance to play 82 games, he’s going to take another step forward this season. 2015 Projections: 30 G, 42 A, 72 PTS
The fantasy season is over and the real playoffs have been fantastic but just because the fun is done in fantasyland doesn’t mean we log off and skate into the sunset until next season, oh no! After a short hiatus I’ve returned to drop more hockey knowledge and start preparing you for victory next season. Before we look ahead, we must look behind and see who did what in the 2013-14 season. Without further ado I present to you the Razzball Fantasy Hockey Player Awards!
Fantasy MVP - Sidney Crosby
This is a pretty easy call; after all there was only one guy who managed to eclipse the elusive century mark with 104 points in 80 games. Yes, Sidney Crosby gets the MVP crown as much as I don’t like it, and I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I think Crosby is the best player in the world right now, and I’d draft him and profit from that talent, but even then I’d find it hard to root for the guy. I’m not sure if it’s Pierre McGuire’s creepily boundless adoration for Sid that makes me think ill of him, or maybe it’s the flops. Yeah, I said it! He flops more often than M. Night Shamalamablahblah flicks, y’all! Who funds that man’s movies by the way? Why? Is anyone watching them? These questions vex me. I’m terribly vexed. At any rate, Crosby had one hell of a season! In 80 games he potted 36 goals, good for 7th in the league and no one matched his league leading 68 helpers to go with those delicious goals. Need power play points? Sid’s got you covered with 11 goals and 27 assists on the man advantage. Sprinkle in 46 PIM, a plus-18 rating and a whopping 259 shots and you’ve got yourself an MVP! He’s a floppy MVP, but an MVP nonetheless. I would compare his numbers with Giroux or Getzlaf, but there is no real comparison to make, Crosby was that far ahead of the pack. So, I’m forced to say We Hart You, Sidney Crosby! (Not really)
Runner up: Claude Giroux
A lot of other ‘perts are going with Corey Perry as the runner up here, but I’m a different kind of ‘pert and I say it’s Giroux. Folks might be thinking his horrible start disqualified him from contention, but I think it’s the reason he belongs here. Claude didn’t put his first biscuit in the basket until November 9th in his 16th game of the season. During October he posted just 6 assists with an anemic minus-6 rating. From there he decided to get his shiz together and he exploded scoring by month; 12, 19, 13, 7 (Olympics) 21, 8 (in just 8 games in April). In his first 26 games he was only able to muster 18 points, he then posted 59 points in his next 56 games to finish with 86 points in 82 games played with a plus-7 on 223 shots on goal. If Giroux didn’t get back on track the Flyers would have never made the playoffs, hell they wouldn’t have even sniffed at the chance, and for that, he comes in second in my fantasy MVP voting.
Honorable mention: Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Tyler Seguin
Elias Lindholm (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG, +2) was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 Entry Draft and at the ripe old age of 19 made his NHL debut this season. The 'Canes were kind enough to loan him to the Swedes for the WJC, but he just got back and decided to throw a party with three points to help the surging Hurricanes crush the Leafs 6-1 last night. Just before he did that, he scored nine points in seven games (2 G, 7 A) in the World Junior Championship helping to drive the Swedish team to the gold medal game; sadly they fell to the Fins 3-2 in OT. Lindholm then almost immediately flew back to the states, crossing who knows how many time zones, to make practice and take his place on the Carolina roster. After practice Wednesday morning he worried he would be too tired to play well, saying he hoped he would "feel better tomorrow." Welp, it looks like he was feeling just fine! Impressive, maybe the Swedish media wasn't going insane touting him as the next Peter Forsberg last year. So what's this kid all about? Well, Lindholm plays like he’s much older than his 19 years, and not in a bad way. His hockey IQ seems to be at least above average and given his age the hope is he'll only get smarter and better as he continues to play. He displays a strong set of great qualities to see in a guy his age with superb hands, good vision, and very tasty playmaking and passing abilites. He keeps his head up, can play both ways, works hard, has a great attitude and gets results on the ice. What more could you want? Plant fields of this kid! So far he has 10 points in 22 games and despite his recent surge I don’t think he’s worth owning just yet. That being said, he could see his worth skyrocket and fast if he brings some of his overseas success back to the NHL. The 'Canes called him up in hopes that he would help their fight for a playoff spot and if he does he'll stick around. He's young, and he might get tired fast, but by the time your fantasy squad is gearing up for the playoffs, he may end up as a key guy you stream to win. Until then he’s keeper league material and a must own there for sure. Anyway, here's what else I saw in the world o' fantasy hockey last night:
Will the real Henrik Lundqvist please stand up?
In the fantasy community we’re used to Lundqvist being a reliable and dominant goaltender. He’s one you could build a team around and feel confident with. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Alexander Ovechkin scored twice as the Washington Capitals erased a 3-0 first-period deficit and downed the Calgary Flames 5-4 in the shootout. Ovehckin now has three goals in two games and is not suffering from a slow start that plagued him last season. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Brandon Sutter’s second goal of the game came 52 seconds into overtime and gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a wild 7-6 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz each scored twice for Pittsburgh while Sidney Crosby also lit the lamp. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson had his 2012-2013 season cut short, literally, in Ottawa’s 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Karlsson took a skate to the back of his left foot from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke and the blade of the skate tore Karlsson’s Achilles’ tendon. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Chris Kunitz’s hat trick powered Pittsburgh to a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals Sunday afternoon. Kris Letang and Matt Cooke also had a goal and an assist each in the win. Please, blog, may I have some more?