Over the past week my posts have been focused on the fact that at this point in the fantasy season it doesn’t matter what happened before this point in the season, if a guy is scoring you pick him up and if he’s cold and you’re about to get knocked out of the playoffs, or knocked out of playoff contention, the time is now to make big moves. Sometimes that means you have to drop a superstar you can’t keep for next season that’s been nothing but an anchor for the last few weeks or more, and that can be tough, but if you don’t have the stones to make those big risky moves you don’t deserve to win. It’s harsh, but it is what it is. It’s a dog eat dog world and we’re just trying to get our just deserts. If you fancy deserts you might fancy winning, and if you fancy winning you might consider picking up the newest hot hand on the blue line, Marek Zidlicky, D (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG).
It might be hard to believe but despite their struggles as a team there is still some fantasy gold yet left to find in the nearly depleted mines of the Edmonton Oilers. Though skaters like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and to a lesser extent, Jordan Eberle have spectacularly failed fantasy owners this season, as we go headlong into the stretch run for fantasy hockey a 21-year-old defensive prospect is starting to show glimmers of his potential offensive prowess. With nine points (2 G, 7 A) in his last 13 games to pair with a TOI spike to around 22-24 minutes per game and an increased roll across the board, Oscar Klefbom is making a case for a late season pick up in deeper formats.
There’s about six weeks left in the regular season and that means we’re officially in the stretch run for fantasy hockey. Given there’s only a month or so left before the fantasy playoffs kick off it’s more important than ever to keep your eye on the waiver wire for those diamonds in the rough. It really doesn’t matter what a guy has done to this point in the season, if he’s scoring now he’s worth picking up if it’s going to help you get those precious points to secure your spot in the post season and beyond. To that end I turn your attention to the the Islanders, who have become a source of fantasy gold lately with Anders Lee, C (1 G, 3 SOG, 2 PIM) and  Josh Bailey, LW (2 SOG) both making strong cases that they should be picked up just about everywhere.
Just days after news came down that Evander Kane was going to miss the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in a blockbuster deal last night that saw seven players change teams. Zach Bogosian and college netminder Jason Kasdorf get banished to the Sabres with Kane while Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, and Joel Armia are headed to Winnipeg with the rights to 2014 second-round pick Brendan Lemieux and Buffalo's first-round pick in 2015. Kane is the centerpiece of the deal despite being lost for the season, but in the immediate future the truly tantalizing piece of this deal comes in the form of the 6 foot 8 inch Tyler Myers, D (1 G, 4 SOG) who after putting up two stellar seasons to start his career has become a bit of an enigma with three injury shortened, mediocre campaigns on one of the league’s worst teams.
Normally when Alex Ovechkin is involved in a play and another player gets hurt, it’s because Ovie hurt him but this time Ovie wasn’t at fault when Kevin Shattenkirk tried to put hit on Ovie, failed, and crumpled to the ice unable to get up under his own power. It was a fluke, a freaky accident that has apparently ended the regular season for the Norris Trophy candidate and he’ll miss around six-to-eight weeks after undergoing abdominal surgery in Philadelphia last week. The Blues peg him as week-to-week but Mark Letestu and Brandon Dubinsky have both undergone the same procedure for the same problem, with the same physician, this season, and the took the full two months for either skater to return to action. Given that the final day of the regular season is April 11th, just two months from tomorrow, it’s safe to assume that Shattenkirk could be back in the playoffs for the Blues, but fantasy owners won’t be as lucky. So what do you do with a guy like Shats when the Blues list him as week-to-week and the doctors say two months? Honestly, I’d listen to history and the doctors. Unless Shats is super human, and despite his play this season, he isn’t, there’s no way he gets back in anything less than six weeks. After that, he’ll have to knock off some rust for a few games, so that takes another week. That means he could be back to form by the final week of the regular season. That’s the most optimistic scenario for Shats, and the Blues have no reason to push him back into action if it means he could reinjure himself and miss the playoffs, too. The Blues don’t care about your fantasy team, though they definitely should. At any rate, stash him if you have an open IR slot but if you get log jammed at IR because you have one of the sixty guys that suffered injuries over the last few weeks, it’s probably safe to jettison Shats to the wire to make room. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
I’m not sure if someone put a hit out on goalies in the NHL recently or there’s some there’s a really cranky Oilers fan sitting up in the bitter cold of Edmonton with a set of voodoo dolls he attacks routinely, but whatever the case may be, but life has been tough for starting goalies in the NHL lately. On the heels of the devastating news that the fantasy owners will be without the services of Henrik Lundqvist for at least the next three-to-four weeks due to a blood vessel injury in his neck two more starting goalies went down over the weekend when Frederik Andersen, G (L, 17 SV, 5 GA, .773%) took his neck to the back of the head and Steve Mason, G (8 SV, 0 GA, 1.000%) tried to stretch between plays only to have his knee buckle on him.
With Kyle Okposo basically out for the rest of the season big questions about what will happen in the Isles’ top six loom large. In the past no one would have cared at all beyond when Okie was getting back into the lineup, but 2015 is a new year and the Isles offense is one of the best in the league posting a heady 3.2 goals per game, good for second in the NHL. So now that question of who replaces Okie on the Isles’ top line along side superstar pivot John Tavares, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) is pretty intriguing and Mikhail Grabovski, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) wasted no time answering it by putting the biscuit in the basket on a feed from Josh Bailey, RW (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) after JT started the whole dance with a nice feed of his own. The trio looked like they had some solid chemistry and word has it that Grabby is going to be replacing Okie in role and position moving forward. He absolutely has the ability to finish, so I’d go ahead and add him where you can as he could be in line for a strong second half push. That being said, he has a history of being streaky and if he goes cold, Ryan Strome, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) could step in and fill the gap without missing a beat.
In just his second full season with the Rangers 23-year-old power forward Chris Kreider, LW (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) burst out of the gates strong and quickly faded, often looking lost on the ice. His decent culminated with a demotion to the Rangers’ fourth line, a destination that Kreider is none too familiar or comfortable with, and following that he was a healthy scratch. The Rangers claimed it was a neck issue, but it was clear to everyone he was just getting scratched. It was clear that the sophomore was listless on the ice at times, bereft of the passion and drive that had propelled him to early playoff success two years ago and a hot start this season. Kreider hadn’t lost it though; he was suffering through the death of his Grandfather, and admitted that his heart just wasn’t in it during that difficult period. Well, that period is over, and he’s currently riding a three game point streak posting four points (2 G, 2 A) over that span. He enters the all-star break riding high, showing every sign of finishing this season with a bang and breaking out in a big way next year.
The New York Islanders have one of the best offenses in the NHL, in fact they have the second best offense in the entire league. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, it’s true, the Isles sport the second best offense posting 3.2 goals per tilt and they show absolutely no signs of stopping anytime soon. In fact, they’ve been picking up the pace lately and could soon be the best offense in the league. The engine that drives this goal scoring machine is their top line, anchored by the dynamic duo of John Tavares, C (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) and Kyle Okposo, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1). The wild card has been the coveted third spot that has mostly been used by Isles Head Coach Jack Capuano to stream whoever the hot hand is at the moment, and lately with eight points (2 G, 6 A) over his last eight games that’s been Josh Bailey, LW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1).
At this point in the season players start to break down and injuries tend to be more frequent. You may have suffered through the loss of guys like Jimmy Howard or Pekka Rinne recently so you’re keenly aware of the sting that comes with losing all-world players giving you all-world seasons. The increased likelihood and frequency of injuries means adding the right replacement at the right time is critical to the overall success or failure of your season, so you have to be Johnny-on-the-spot when your studs go down. When Howie tore his groin picking up his understudy Petr Mrazek, G (4 SV, 3 GA, .571%) was a no brainer and after three strong starts since taking over as the starter for the Red Wings, last night’s breakdown against the league’s worst team might make you want to send the talented young tender packing back to the wire, but if you do you will be making a big mistake.