Josh Harding is hurt. Again. Wow. What a shocker. Some sources say he has a broken ankle, others say it's a foot, either way a goalie with a bad wheel and MS isn't exactly a guy you can lean on. Harding didn't even break the foot at camp, because camp hasn't started yet. He didn't break it during conditioning for the coming season, either. He broke it during an "altercation with another teammate," Uh. Yikes. If by "altercation with another teammate" they mean he kicked the wall afterwards and broke his foot, then yeah, I suppose that counts. TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted that Harding's injury is "significant" that he's likely out for "months, not weeks" and is currently rocking "a boot and crutches." Even for Harding, a guy with a long history of injuries I didn't really expect to make more than 40 starts this season, this is really a boneheaded move. How many games Harding gets into this season is so up in the air I'm not even going to try and project it, suffice it to say he's not worth drafting right now. If you already drafted and had the bad luck of picking Harding go ahead and stash him on IR, but do so expecting that he won't do much for you this season. At any rate, all this begs the question, who tends net for the Wild in 2015?
Jonathan Bernier (2 GA, 25 SV, W) got the win and looked good doing it until he was hurt when Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger checked Patrice Bergeron (1 G, 1 A, 8 SOG, +2) into Bernier. Bergeron fell awkwardly on Bernier’s leg and he left without being able to put any weight on it. He’s scheduled for an MRI today and is listed as day-to-day with an LBI. He just returned from another injury only to get reinjured and honestly I think his season is done. That’s truly a shame, he deserved more considering how outstanding he has played for the Leafs this season, a team in the process of letting themselves and their fans down in a big way. Oddly that makes me happy. It’s Toronto, what can I say? At any rate, James Reimer (1 GA, 10 SV, W) came in to a standing ovation and held fort allowing one goal on 11 shots helping the Leafs to two critical points with the win. Reimer is what the Leafs have moving forward, it doesn’t look good for Bernier’s chances of returning this season, playoffs or not, but the results of the MRI will tell us more later today or tomorrow. Any Bernier owners should have already handcuffed Reimer to Bernier, but anyone looking for some goalie help can grab Reimer now. It’s the Leafs, and you’ve seen how they have been playing lately, so temper your expectations a bit. That said, a starter is a starter right now and Reimer is talented and the schedule is fairly favorable over the last four games with matchups against Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Florida and Ottawa coming up. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Martin St. Louis (1 A, 2 PIM, +3) was supposed to help continued to struggle for the blue shirts, but managed to tally his third point in nine games as a Ranger. This is not the scoring boost that Rangers GM Glen Sather was hoping for when he moved Ryan Callahan to the Bolts for the veteran scoring monster. Cally, on the other hand, has four points in six games for Tampa. Anton Khudobin (1 GA, 46 SV, W) was put right back in net after taking a 2-1 loss and did not disappoint pushing 46 of 47 shots away for a 3-1 victory. Is there any doubt that Khudobin is the guy for the Canes? The only place there might be doubt is the Canes’ front office, but judging by the two-year deal they inked Khudobin to recently, I’d say that concept is fading fast. Cam Ward had an opportunity to take his starting job back, but he failed to do that like he has doing, well, mostly anything this season, and after this game the starters gig should be his and his alone for the next 12 games.  Gustav Nyquist (2 G, 6 SOG, +1) is really the only thing keeping the Wings from tipping completely over and missing the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. He has three goals in his last two games and that gives in 35 points in 43 games since his call up earlier this year. Can Nyquist really be the only thing keeping the Wings afloat, you might be wondering. Well, have a look at the list of guys Babs had to scratch last night: Pavel Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson, Dan Cleary, Tomas Jurco, Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson and Teemu Pulkkinen. Those are the scratches, how about guys on IR? Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson and Stephen Weiss. So, if by some insane happenstance he’s still available in one of your leagues I think you know what to do.
This has to be one of the busiest deadline days that I’ve seen in a few years with 19 trades getting completed today and  32 deals going down since the Miller to St. Louis deal kicked everything off post Sochi. We saw ten goalies change hands, two captains trade places and guys like Vanek and Halak who were traded for the second time just this season! I went through the list and picked out what I thought which moves had the biggest fantasy impact and highlighted those. If you’re looking this over and think I missed a few, check out these posts from yesterday for more trade analysis; Roberto Luongo Back To Panthers, Add Lack! Ilya Bryzgalov To Wild, Fasth To Oilers, Penner To Caps Ryan Miller To Blues For Halak, Stewart, Picks Martin St. Louis (F-TB) for Ryan Callahan (F-NYR), 2014 conditional 2nd-round pick, 2015 1st-round pick In what was perhaps the biggest deal of the day the Rangers and Bolts swapped captains moving two guys who had never played anywhere else, well, elsewhere! This move creates a few fantasy ripples and they tend to center around the return of goal scoring machine Steven Stamkos. When Stamkos broke his tibia a lot of folks though Marty’s production might slip at a bit and that’s a fair assumption to make, however, it didn’t happen. He has 61 points in 62 games with a plus-12 and 167 shots on goal and a shift to the Rangers isn’t going to slow him down either. The move could lead to a possible reunion on a line with Brad Richards, but considering how bleh Richards has been this season even St. Louis might not be able to snap him out of it. But fear not, St. Louis owners, there are plenty of places Alain Vigneault can slot in his new weapon and get the usual point-per-game production from him. Stamkos, on the other hand, may see a dip in production without Marty on his wing, and Cally isn’t going to be able to fill that gap, so expect a few fewer assists from Steve-o, but the goals should continue to pour in. In the end, both St. Louis and Stamkos are so good that their production will more or less stay the same, but Callahan becomes an intriguing option. Owned in just 44% of Yahoo leagues and ~84% of ESPN leagues, if Cally ends up playing alongside Stamkos he’s going to see a scoring boost for sure. He isn’t without offensive ability, but everyone knows he’s a grinder more than anything else. If he’s out there in your league and you need a scoring boost, you could get that on the cheap from Callahan. Anyway, here's the rest of the deals that I thought would make a splash in the world o' fantasy hockey:
At the end of the 2011-2012 season Roberto Luongo demanded a trade out of Vancouver and made it quite clear he wanted to go back home to Florida. The Panthers initially balked at the idea due to his sizable contract, but the Canucks kept trying to make it work and finally shipped him back to South Florida today for top goaltending prospect Jacob Markstrom and a player yet to be named. Aw, it's a dream come true for Lu! He goes from a team that was playoff bound to a team that's bound for golfing and watching the playoffs at the bar. Maybe he just doesn't want to work that hard? Who knows. What I do know is  now that he's headed down to Florida it will relegate Tim Thomas to the bench and I can't be the only one who is pumped to see that. Regardless of being the undisputed starter for the Panthers Lu's value takes a pretty sizable hit here as the Panthers aren't much different than they were when he was traded a few years ago. He'll go back to getting peppered every night by opposing teams and struggling to keep his peripherals in the healthy ranges and wins? Hah, don't get me started there, you can expect his wins to fall right off the table. This might make Lu very, very happy, but it makes his fantasy owners cry in their beers. If you own Lu or Thomas, go grab Eddie Lack right this moment as he becomes the de-facto starter for the Canucks. Lack is owned in just ~34% of ESPN leagues and 21% of Yahoo Leagues so you can bet he's going to be one of the hottest wire grabs down the stretch. So go go go! Add add add!
With the news that Thomas Vanek told Garth Snow “It’s not you, it’s me” when he declined an offer in the ballpark of 7 years, $50 million it has become very apparent that the Isles have no choice but to trade the pending UFA who, in all honesty, everyone knew would always test the market at season’s end. Now Vanek is back on the market and amusingly, Buffalo’s Matt Moulson is a hot commodity and the Sabres are fielding offers for him as well. Both guys are likely to end up with a contender if they go anywhere, and for Vanek I think the production stays about the same with only a minor dip in assists. For Moulson it could be a huge boom depending on where he goes, so we’ll have to pay close attention. The Rangers’ Ryan Callahan is now part of the short list as well. With his contract up at the end of the season Cally apparently wants something to the tune of seven years, $6.5-6.9 million per. Say what?! Who does he think he is? Rick Nash? I love Cally, but he isn’t worth that kind of money or with a contract that long. The Rangers front office agrees and reportedly they want to “settle Callahan’s fate” sooner than later. Sooner is today, in fact, with the Olympic roster freeze kicking in and no contract for Cally, it sounds like they might be moving their Captain shortly after the break. Right now it sounds like the Blues are the most likely destination, because, you know, they need help. Chris Stewart is the potential return for the Rangers and talk about a downgrade! Cally’s value will remain the same or get a bit of a spike if he goes somewhere like St. Louis as he’ll continue to contribute across the board in many categories, but Stewart? Thaaat's a bust. If he sees more playing time in New York after the deal his value only has one place to go, and hey, he scores goals in bunches when he cares to. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Matt Nieto (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) was drafted in the second round with the 47th pick in the 2011 draft but he could have gone much higher if it wasn’t for his defensive shortcomings that many scouts thought would limit his value at the NHL level. Fast-forward a few good seasons in the AHL and Nieto has proven that not only can he play defense, but that he can learn and adapt quickly on the big stage. So far this season he’s only posted 11 points in 38 games and that’s pretty bleh, even for a rookie. He’s young, but he’s also extremely streaky because his game is very north to south right now, so if he gets off course from his favorite scoring hotspots he can lose a handle on the game and make mistakes. Most of those mistakes are made in some poor decision-making when passing the puck if he’s out of his comfort zone, but on the other side of that coin he’s shown flashes of brilliance moving the puck at high speed, and this kid definitely flies. Once he settles in and starts making better choices with the puck his slick skating, playmaking ability and high energy will combine to make him a formidable offensive force for the Sharks and possibly an heir apparent for the aging but still effective Joe Thornton. Nieto will have to bulk up a bit to carry Thunder Joe’s mantle into the future, but he has all the tools to do the job. Is he worth much yet? No and I wouldn’t own him anywhere, but he does have five points in his last nine games. The Sharks project him to be a top-six guy and he wasn’t supposed to be getting NHL ice time yet, so just the fact that he’s logged 38 games so far this season is a good sign. Even better, he’s only now starting to produce offensively and he hasn’t been sent down yet, which means he’s doing a lot right that has nothing to do with putting the puck in the net. That’s a great sign, so keep an eye on him for seasons ahead as he could develop into one of the best playmakers in the game. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Rick Nash (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) finally showed some of his old Nashty-self potting two goals against his former team last night, aaaaand the Rangers lost anyway. It’s quickly becoming a season for Nash who was expected to score 40 goals and keep a point-per-game pace, but has come up well short of that with just 18 points in 27 games so far. When he was traded to the Rangers with his $7.8 million dollar salary he was billed as the superstar that would finally help the Rangers score goals. Well, the Rangers are near the bottom of the league in scoring and Nash hasn’t looked 100% right since his concussion, and that has to worry Rangers faithful and fantasy owners alike. Apparently all of this was overlooked by Team Canada, who added him to their Olympic squad while leaving guys like Claude Giroux  and Martin St. Louis off. I’m not sure what logic they were using making that decision but I’ve heard and read rumblings about “international experience” or some such nonsense as the deciding factor. At any rate, that's neither here nor there, but it bugs me. And just about every hockey fan in Canada I bet. Unfortunately for fantasy owners there isn’t much you can do with Nash at this point but hope for a turn around. Hey, maybe the Olympics will spark him for a solid stretch run, or maybe I’m just telling myself that because I own him. Blah. You can’t trade him for even close to the value you paid and you can’t drop him because he can go off any day and score goals like it’s going out of style, so you have to sit tight and take it. Just like Rangers fans! Aw. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
At one point earlier this season the Carolina crease was an absolutely disaster. Cam Ward was waffling from mediocre play to time on the injured list and Anton Khudobin (1 GA, 31 SV, W) was just plain out with a bum ankle. Fast forward a few months and now the 'Canes have another problem, they've got too much talent and not enough TOI to go around. Some folks just can't catch a break, eh? Ward decided to help clarify the situation and suffered an undisclosed LBI that will keep him out indefinitely, making Khudobin the defacto starter for now. Using the term “defacto” might be a bit insulting at this point with Khudobin winning all three games he has started since he returned from his own injury, which just so happened to be on the same day Ward went down again. Is it a coincidence? Perhaps serendipity? Or maybe the universe just has an awesome sense of humor. At 5’10” Khudobin is on the smaller side, but he more than makes up for that, ahem, shortcoming, with his athleticism, good positioning, steady technique and a boat load o’ Russian brand confidence. No, not Red Army Vodka, the real stuff, and why not? Even on pretty lackluster teams in the AHL (Houston Aeros) he was able to post respectable to good numbers considering the circumstances. He’s continued that success at the NHL level, but in very limited work, first stuck behind Nik Backstrom and Josh Harding in Minnesota, then Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask in Boston. Now he has his chance and he’s making good on it with a season line of 5-0-0/1.99/.940 so far. Couple that with the fact that it has become fairly clear that the ‘Canes don’t think Justin Peters is ready to take the reigns for any appreciable amount of time, and this situation becomes less muddled pretty quickly. When Ward comes back, I figure its Peters who ends up back in the AHL despite his solid season line of 7-9-4/2.38/.922/1 in 20 games, though of late he has faltered coughing up 11 goals in his last three starts, all losses. That only helps solidify Khudobin's hold on the no. 1 spot for now, so go ahead and add him anywhere he's available. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey yesterday:
Steven Stamkos (broken effin’ leg) is actually skating already. Yes, you read that right, just one month and three days after he broke his tibia Stamkos was back on the ice. He wasn’t practicing, nor did he wear any gear, but he’s on his feet and looks like he’ll actually make it back before the Olympic break. Jimmy Howard (knee) has a grain-1 MCL sprain and will be out for 2-4 weeks. I’ve been telling everyone to pick up Jonas Gustavsson for weeks now, so I hope y’all listened! If not, he’s still owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! Leagues. Yar. Shawn Thornton (assault and battery) was suspended for 15 games for his vicious attack on the Pens’ Brooks Orpik a week ago. That sounds about right.