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.
Kris Versteeg did his best impression of Dan Boyle the other night and blocked an Eric Fehr shot with his hand. It didn’t work and predictably his hand is broken. Hawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s doubtful that the injury will require surgery, so that’s good, but Steeg is down for a month or so. That’s bad. Despite the recent slow down in production, Steeg hits the IR third in points for the Hawks with 27 in 34 games played. He was on pace for 65 points, 20 goals and a plus-32 and considering his 10.8% shooting percentage is right in line with his career average of 11.5%, it’s a safe bet that he’d have hit all those marks. All this from a guy you likely picked up for nothing. Sadface. There’s a silver lining in this dark cloud, though, and his name is Teuvo Teräväinen.
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:
By the end of October it looked as if the opportunities for Alex Stalock to carve out the 40 or so starts I predicted he’d get this season were dwindling fast. Antti Niemi (L, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) was rolling strong on five straight starts, it seemed like the deal was sealed and Stalock would have to wait until next year to get his chance. Luckily for us Stalock owners, Niemi has provided ample opportunity once again for Alex to get back in the picture. Last night’s loss marks three in a row and four of his last five for Niemi who now owns a yawnstipating 6-5-1/2.79/.911% season line. Those numbers look like they belong to Ondrej Pavelec, and before this season that would be a grevious insult, but hey even Pavelec is looking better than Niemi this year. I digress, I was never a huge fan of Niemi’s so this doesn’t surprise me one bit. Alex Stalock is the goalie of the future in San Jose and despite some early struggles in limited work (that game against the Sabres haunts me still) I still believe he’s going to get his starts and Niemi may not even finish the season as the Sharks’ starter. During his current losing streak Niemi has coughed up 15 goals and the Sharks have lost four of those five contests. By contrast, Stalock sports a 2-2-1/2.38/.925% line is looking a hell of a lot better than what Niemi has offered up despite the fact that it has been built over seven fewer games. Stalock was supposed to start last night against the Cats but at the last minute the call was made to start Niemi. Bad call, San Jose. Lets get with the program and get Stalock so more starts, eh? If he’s healthy and he performs well in his next few games I’d say Stalock would be well on his way to making this thing a fight again. If that’s the case, he’s worth adding. If you still own him, hold him for now. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
In October Cam Ward (W, 22 SV, 1 GA, .957%) started four games. In those four games he allowed 16 goals on a 100 shots, good for a .840 SV%. I suppose saying it was “good” for anything is a lie, as that kind of effort is good for nothing. Flip the calendar over to November and Ward is a different man all together. In five starts this month he’s faced 130 shots and pushed 123 of them away, good for a .946 SV%. That’s not just good, that’s absolutely sparkling and wholly unsustainable for most, especially Ward. Still, a five game win streak while allowing no more than 2 goals in any tilt while mixing in a shutout cannot be ignored. So, is Cam Ward in danger of becoming a good goalie again? I doubt it. If you take a look at what he’s done it’s easy to say yeah, he’s getting back on track, but when you look at whom he’s doing it against, then the cracks start to appear. He’s compiled this run against the likes of the ‘yotes (25th in Goals Per Game), the injury devastated Blue Jackets (18th in GPG) twice, the Kings (24th in GPG) and the Flames (8th in GPG). Of all those teams the Flames are the only team clicking on offense right now. By contrast, in his opening four games in October the Isles, Sabres, Flames and Canucks spanked him. Yeah, those Sabres, from Buffalo. I’ve seen a lot of peeps talking about adding Ward because he’s suddenly found his form again. I won’t deny that he looks good right now, and if you need goalie help you should add him, but don’t expect this to last. Yeah, the Canes’ defense doesn’t help his situation much, but that only lends credence to the assertion that the well will dry up sooner than later with Ward. Ride him while he’s hot and drop him like a bad habit when he gets blown up, because he will. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
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.
Patience is a virtue, that’s what they always said. Who are they? They don’t matter. What matters is the idea. As I’ve grown and aged like a fine wine I’ve discovered that patience is indeed a virtue. It doesn’t really matter what aspect of life you want to touch on, being patient is going to help you get where you want to go, and get what you want to get. So what do you need to achieve fantasy hockey glory? Say it with me now class, patience! Yes ladies, you need to relax and be patient. Every season some guys start slow. Every season some guys start hot. Every season the guys who started hot but had no business doing so, by and large, slow down or just stop scoring. Every season the guys who started slow but had no business doing so, by and large, start scoring. I’m fielding a lot of questions about whether or not to trade Nathan MacKinnon away for pennies on the dollar. Brock Nelson seems to be the guy everyone is willing to add and they don’t care who they drop to get him and Valeri Nishushkin is actually getting dropped after just two games. Two games, people. Are you kidding? Nelson has no track record, Nishushkin is playing sick and MacKinnon? You want to call what MacKinnon is doing a slow start already? You cray! If you want to throw away your fantasy season before it starts make those knee jerk moves now. If you want to win, sit tight and wait at least a few more games to see how the cookie crumbles. And for the record, no don’t trade MacKinnon. No, don’t drop Nuke for whatever wire fodder had a decent two game start and no, Nelson isn’t going to be the next big thing. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
Chris Pronger was recently hired by the NHL to join the league’s Player Safety Department. Wow. Really? Uh. No. Wait. Really? What's next? Announcing the new head of the NHL’s Driver Safety Department, Ray Charles! He’s not only blind, he’s dead! Perfect! I suppose hiring a guy responsible for so many injuries and damage over the years (dem elbows) might make the perfect hire, I mean, the government hires hackers that are good enough to get into their systems to show the government how to secure said systems again, right? So it all makes sense that way. Right? The weird/illegal/BS aspect of this is that Pronger is still under contract with the Flyers for two more years. That's right, he's still technically a player in the league. And now he's going to be part of a league office? We all know he'll never skate again, but still, come on. How on earth is this legal? Can you imagine if this sticks? This just in! The entire top-six of the Devils and Rangers were just suspended for, uh, violating player safety. Yeah, that’s it. Player safety. What a crock. None of this has anything to do with fantasy hockey, but something had to be said. Chris Pronger? Player Safety? With his deputy Todd Bertuzzi, right? Jesus. Anyway, here’s what I saw in the first full night of action in the world o’ fantasy hockey:
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…
Jonathan Bernier (2 GA, 25 SV, W) got the win and looked good doing it until he was hurt when Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger checked Patrice Bergeron (1 G, 1 A, 8 SOG, +2) into Bernier. Bergeron fell awkwardly on Bernier’s leg and he left without being able to put any weight on it. He’s scheduled for an MRI today and is listed as day-to-day with an LBI. He just returned from another injury only to get reinjured and honestly I think his season is done. That’s truly a shame, he deserved more considering how outstanding he has played for the Leafs this season, a team in the process of letting themselves and their fans down in a big way. Oddly that makes me happy. It’s Toronto, what can I say? At any rate, James Reimer (1 GA, 10 SV, W) came in to a standing ovation and held fort allowing one goal on 11 shots helping the Leafs to two critical points with the win. Reimer is what the Leafs have moving forward, it doesn’t look good for Bernier’s chances of returning this season, playoffs or not, but the results of the MRI will tell us more later today or tomorrow. Any Bernier owners should have already handcuffed Reimer to Bernier, but anyone looking for some goalie help can grab Reimer now. It’s the Leafs, and you’ve seen how they have been playing lately, so temper your expectations a bit. That said, a starter is a starter right now and Reimer is talented and the schedule is fairly favorable over the last four games with matchups against Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Florida and Ottawa coming up. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday: