Last night fantasy owners took a huge blow when superstar winger Patrick Kane, RW (1 SOG) took a hit from behind, went awkwardly into the boards and suffered what is being called a significant upper-body injury that will keep him out for up to two-and-a-half months. It looked to me like it was a shoulder injury and those are always bad news. You can look no further than what happened to Rangers Captain Ryan McDonagh to know how long it takes for a star player to recover from a bum shoulder. Pro tip, it takes a while at best. Worse, it could be a collarbone injury and those take as long or longer to recover from. In either case there’s no word on just how badly Kane is hurt, the nature of his injury or just how long he’ll be out, but one thing is for sure you need to act now to try and fill the gap before the rush to the wire.
In a season full of woe and dammit, Nathan MacKinnon, C (3 G, 3 SOG) decided to get his shiz together finally and put up his best game of the season posting the first hat trick of his young career in a 5-2 win last night. That’s a good sign from a guy who exploded on the scene for 24 goals and 63 points as a rookie last season and won’t come close to touching those totals this season. Does that mean the kid is a bust? Hardly! At just 19-years-old the sky remains the limit for MacKinnon and the reasons behind his sophomore slump are not only easily fixable, the healing has already begun, making him a target ripe for the plucking at the trade deadline. It might not seem like it now, but if you do find a way to bring him on as a keeper, you'll thank me next season.
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.
The Arizona Coyotoes did a strange thing yesterday when they traded their best goalie, Devan Dubnyk, to the Wild for a third round pick. On the surface this might sound like a fairly yawnstipating deal. The Wild are getting killed in goal this season and it’s one of the few parts that don’t work for them, but adding a guy who has a career GAA of 2.88 might seem like the wrong direction to take to fix those woes, but if you take a deeper dive into his numbers you’ll find a goalie who has been burned by playing on some of the worst possession teams in the league for his entire career, and this season is no different. With Niklas Backstrom clearly past it and Darcy Kuemper both injured and clearly not ready to handle a starter’s workload, Dubs will get every opportunity to win the starting job right now and that means if you need help in the crease, he’s is definitely worth adding.