It comes as no surprise that after a pretty bummer season that future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, RW (5 SOG, -1) wanted out of New Jersey and, hopefully, one more shot at a title run. It definitely comes as a surprise that he was traded to the Florida Panthers yesterday as the Cats try their hardest to catch the Boston Bruins for the east’s final wild card spot. Jagr makes for a solid addition to a young, hungry Panthers team that is loaded with talented youth looking for veteran leadership to help them take the next step forward and secure a playoff birth. Any move out of New Jersey is going to boost a player’s value, but for Jagr in particular the move should inject some new life into the aging winger and it might just be enough to inject some new juice into your fantasy team’s playoff hopes.
In seven seasons since the Flames took Mikael Backlund 24th overall he has failed to live up his draft position or the hype that followed. Not once has he topped 40 points or 20 goals, so it might seem odd to peg him as a second half sleeper now, but after he returned from an abdominal injury recently he’s been on fire. Since January 7th he’s put up three goals, two assists, a game winning goal, a shorthanded goal, 11 faceoff wins, three hits, a plus-3 rating and a block in three games. That pushes his season line to 4/5/9/+3 in just 14 games and it looks like he might finally be ready to live up to the high expectations heaped upon him nearly a decade ago.
Jimmy Howard, G (2 SV, 1 GA, 3 SA, .667%) has the worst luck. Just hours after he was named to the 2015 All-Star Game in a rebound season he was caught out of position, slid awkwardly against the far post to try to stop a wrap around chance and suffered a slight groin tear in the process. He coughed up the goal, too. After an MRI revealed the slight tear the initial estimates are that he’ll be out for at least a week now that he’s on IR, and up to a month or longer depending on the severity of the injury. We won’t know for sure how bad it is until Howie undergoes an ultrasound for a more accurate assessment, but whether he’s out of a week or a month, you have to add Petr Mrazek, G (L, 12 SV, 2 GA, 14 SA, .857%) everywhere.
It might seem like crazy talk to consider Victor Hedman a buy-low candidate, but right now, in the right situation, he is absolutely ripe for the plucking. You won’t be able to get him for pennies on the dollar but what you do have the opportunity to do is pay a whole lot less for him than you ever thought possible. After last season’s breakout 55-point performance expectations were high for Hedman going into the '14-'15 season and he answered the call early on with seven points in his first five games before breaking a digit blocking a shot with his hand. Smart. Since his return he’s posted just six points (all helpers) in 12 games and sunk to a new low last night with no points and no shots on goal in a 3-1 loss to the Isles. That masks what is otherwise a strong start this season with 13 points in 17 games so far and I've heard the beginnings of grumbles o’ doubt about whether my Sun and Stars will return to form again this season. Long story short, yes he will. There are owners out there with short memories and shorter tempers and now is the time to find them and exploit them for your gain. If you take into account that Hedman was only on the ice for five games before missing 18 over the course of a month and has now returned with lots of zeros on the score sheet, he might strike some owners as a lot worse than he really is. A bust, even? Blasphemy! The key to closing a deal for players of his magnitude is finding an owner in the right situation at the right time. Is there an owner who has Hedman but is languishing in the bottom of your league? If he’s hurting on offense Hedman’s lack of production recently will seem all the more glaring and that opens up a small window of opportunity for you to swoop in and make Hedman your number two defenseman. It might sound too good to be true, but these types of owners make great targets to snatch under performing superstars from if you offer the right package. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Goalies can be notoriously difficult to rank and project for accurately. I give each starter projections but I might not bother trying to predict what kind of numbers a backup is going to offer unless I have reason to believe that they're going to play enough to be worth owning. Most of the time, backups aren't, but there have been some gems in the understudy group in recent years. Cam Talbot's stellar work behind Henrik Lundqvist last year helped ease the pain of the wounds Jimmy Howard's 2014 campaign left me. Damnit, Howie! At any rate, Chad Johnson filling in for Tuukka Rask showed similar value. For the most part, though, backups are backups and largely worthless without a starter getting injured. Then we have the always wonderful goalie committees. Is there anything worse than goalie by committee? Yes, yes there is, but for the purposes of this post, no, no there is not. The Hurricanes look to provide a buttload of frustration for anyone willing to draft their way into that sad state of affairs again in 2015 with Anton Khudobin set for a bit of a regression and Cam Ward being, well, Cam Ward. On the flip side the duos of Brian Elliot and Jake Allen in St. Louis and Frederik Andersen and stud rookie John Gibson where if either guy is asked to go 60 starts their season would end up bleh, but limit them to around 40 starts a piece and they stay healthy and rested, the numbers stay sexy, and you stay happy with a cheap no. 2 tender. Anyhooze, lets get to the meat o' the matter, Razzball's 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Goalie Rankings: