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?
What's the worst spot for a goaltender to start right now? Probably against Toronto on the road. Well, Matt Murray had that exact spot on Thursday, and did the exact opposite of what most expected. In a game where Toronto's expected goal total was pushing 4, Murray stopped all 38 shots he faced, shutting out the powerhouse Maple Leafs 3-0. Murray's upside is undeniable; it's just a matter of keeping him on the ice and the defense in front of him not being a total mess. For now, expect the Pens to give him the vast majority of the starts, meaning you can safely cut Casey DeSmith. The Penguins schedule is fairly soft over the next couple of weeks, so feel safe rolling Murray. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's Christmas in February! I'm going to hit on all of the trades that I haven't discussed to this point and then update this post with every trade that takes place today. These are all my instant thoughts from both a real life and fantasy perspective. Let's get right to it!
The Minnesota Wild are one of the most interesting teams to watch this coming season. They have a strong older core that is supplemented by an up and coming young group ready to make a consistent impact. Their defense is among the best in the league and they have a goaltender who has settled in as a true #1 goalie since his arrival. Add in the hiring of Bruce Boudreau, one of the best coaches in the league, and you have a team that could surprise in the best division in hockey (and it's not even close). Let's take a look at what the Wild are working with from top to bottom:
We are only a few days away from the trade deadline and the first big trade piece is off the market. The Jets moved their captain Andrew Ladd and sent him to the team they acquired him from in 2010, Chicago. The Blackhawks paid a massive price for the rental sending a first round pick, a conditional third, and Marko Dano. If you remember in the preseason, Dano was my favorite sleeper after he came on strong at the end of last season in Columbus. With Bryan Little out for the season, I expect Dano to be in Winnipeg right away. If that's the case, he's immediately worth consideration in 12'ers because his upside is through the roof. Ladd will go on the first line in Chicago on Jonathan Toews' wing which is also a big boost to his value. This is another trade, like the Columbus and Nashville blockbuster, that is a win for all players from a fantasy perspective. Here's what I saw on the ice the last two nights around the league:
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).