Today is the NHL trade deadline (more on that later!) but there’s a good chance that the biggest name that moves went yesterday. After being with Carolina since they drafted him in 2003, Eric Staal was traded away from his brother Jordan to join up with his brother Marc for the New York Rangers. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine. That's the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season. Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night. Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings. That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser). Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties. Regardless, he's blown away my expectations this season. Now, it's not all rosy for fantasy. The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game. On the other hand, he's 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it's hard to complain. There's a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal's future if he can get that shot rate up. Regardless, he'll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it's only going to get better from there. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
1989-90. That's the last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs. The streak was in serious jeopardy last season as Detroit didn't have a point to spare finishing in a tie for 3rd in the Atlantic but getting in on a tiebreaker; no team in the Eastern Conference made the playoffs with less points. Following the departure of Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings are faced with their toughest challenge yet to keep the streak alive. From a fantasy point of view, their roster is loaded with players who have great upside but also a low floor. Let's take a look!
The story of the weekend around the league was the goaltending performances. There were quite a few duds and a bunch of outstanding starts, including 3 shutouts Friday, 4 shutouts Saturday and one more on Sunday. The best of the bunch was a 38 save shutout by Fredrik Andersen in the 4-0 win against the Bruins on Friday. It's rare for the Ducks to be outshot but they buried their chances and were continually bailed out by Andersen. We all know that Andersen is very good at this point so the most telling thing was that in their next game, John Gibson received the start despite Andersen coming off a shutout. Bruce Boudreau is giving both of his goalies plenty of action and seemingly has a set schedule so you have to pay attention every day and start whoever gets the nod. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend, starting with Friday's games:
On Wednesday, I said the following about Patrick Eaves: "He played on the first line and first power play unit right now so Eaves is a top end streamer while that’s the case. You could even hold him." Well, he showed why that's the case on Thursday night as Eaves had a hat trick in the first period against the Blackhawks. He finished the game with those three goals and six shots on goal. He has to be held now or picked up where available as long as he's on the first line. Here's what else I saw the last two nights around the league:
Atkinson from Dubinsky and Jenner. Atkinson from Dubinsky and Jenner! Atkinson from Dubinsky and Jenner!!! That was the theme Monday night in Columbus as Cam Atkinson scored a hat trick on seven shots with Brandon Dubinsky getting the primary assist and Boone Jenner the secondary assist on all three goals. In recent games, the goals haven't been there but the shots have. He now has 21 shots in the last 5 games and more importantly, he's up to 16 goals and 14 assists on the season. Dubinsky keeps thriving in his increased role under Torts and almost has 30 points himself along with 39 PIM. Jenner has been the best of the bunch with almost identical stats to Atkinson, only with Dubinsky-level PIM (42). All 3 were already owned in the majority of leagues but if some reason any of these guys are out there, grab them. Here's what else I saw around the league on Monday night:
One of the most important variables to consider when making moves during the fantasy hockey playoffs is games remaining. How many games are your guys playing this week? You might be feeling confident with Vladimir Tarasenko slotted in on your right side, but he only plays two games this week and one of them is already done and gone so unless Vladdy blows up against the Jackets on Saturday he isn’t going to do much for you this week. Ah, head-to-head, she’s a fickle beast. Does that mean you should you drop the Tarasenko Express? Absolutely not, especially if you’re in a keeper league, but it does illustrate a point cannot be ignored at this point in the season; you absolutely must pay attention to games to be played on a weekly basis and how many games are left to be played in the second half of the week. When you can’t beat them with quality, beat them with quantity. To aid you in this effort I’ve compiled a list of the games remaining for each team this week (including today): THREE GAMES LEFT – Anaheim, Boston, Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Isles, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Washington. TWO GAMES LEFT – Arizona, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg. ONE GAME LEFT – Edmonton, Philadelphia, St. Louis. Clearly you want to avoid guys that skate for the Oil, Flyers and Blues for the rest of the week. That’s a bummer considering how beastly the Oil’s top line has been playing, but it is what it is. Manage your guys well and make sure you get more games in than the other guy and you should be okay. Next week I’ll post a more comprehensive list like this at the beginning of the week and update again mid-week with remaining games to keep y’all on track. Don’t fall apart now; the championship is within your grasp! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Through nine seasons with the Buffalo Sabres Drew Stafford has mostly been a yawnstipating, forgettable skater that shows intermittent flashes of solid play but quickly regresses to his usual bleh. He did have a couple 20-goal seasons and even a 30-goal year back in 2010 when he potted 31 goals in just 62 games and it seemed like he might be poised to take a step to the next level. Alas, he never did and the Sabres didn’t help much by getting worse and worse until they hit rock bottom in 2014. Luckily for Staff he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in the Great Tank for McDavid campaign and with 12 points (6 G, 6 A) in his last 11 games he’s playing at a level that he may never have achieved before on big ice.
Amidst all the hoopla around the 27-year-old upstart Andrew Hammond and his unbelievable stretch of play filling in for the injured Craig Anderson it has been easy to overlook the rest of the Sens, but if you’re falling prey to that mistake, it’s to your own detriment. Hamrew isn’t the only Sen who is making noise lately; Mika Zibanejad extended his point streak to seven games with a helper this past Sunday and has seven points (3 G, 4 A) over that span. He’s had a somewhat disappointing year overall given the hype the 21-year-old center came into the season with, but don’t let the higher than reasonable expectations fool you, this kid is good and should only get better with time and right now he's playing like the guy everyone hoped he would be back in October.
The trade deadline has come and gone in 2015 and we’re left with a flurry of moves that mostly didn’t matter. There were buyers, there were sellers and then there was the Buffalo Sabres who went into full tank mode and sold off every halfway decent asset they had on their roster in hopes to land Conner McDavid. Don’t believe me? They sent away Chris Stewart, Michal Neuvirth, Bryan Flynn, Jhonas Enroth, Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford and Joel Armia in deals leading up to or at the deadline and they basically took a bunch of draft picks, injured players and a few cases of Molson in return. That’s an impressive fire sale, but I’ll laugh my pucks off if they don’t land McJesus. At any rate, almost nothing the Sabres did at the deadline mattered for fantasy owners, it’s all about quality not quantity folks, but there were a few deadline deals that will shake up the landscape of a few NHL teams and might just offer some key opportunities for the savvy fantasy owner to capitalize on: