Kris Versteeg did his best impression of Dan Boyle the other night and blocked an Eric Fehr shot with his hand. It didn’t work and predictably his hand is broken. Hawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s doubtful that the injury will require surgery, so that’s good, but Steeg is down for a month or so. That’s bad. Despite the recent slow down in production, Steeg hits the IR third in points for the Hawks with 27 in 34 games played. He was on pace for 65 points, 20 goals and a plus-32 and considering his 10.8% shooting percentage is right in line with his career average of 11.5%, it’s a safe bet that he’d have hit all those marks. All this from a guy you likely picked up for nothing. Sadface. There’s a silver lining in this dark cloud, though, and his name is Teuvo Teräväinen.
The 5’11” 180lb Finnish power play specialist has almost every tool in his belt that you’d want in a young center. His vision is peerless and he has high hockey IQ and creative mind paired with a buttery soft pair of hands that he combines to fashion fantastical feats of playmaking magic. He’s patient, too, a key component to a great playmaker and his anticipatory skills are advanced for a 20-year-old. He’s fast, too. And he’s not just fast; he accelerates like a SSC Ultimate Aero TT on steroids. That’s not to say he’s on steroids, and really a car can’t be on steroids and even if it could it really wouldn’t do anything, but you mean what I know. I digress, Teuvo (pronounced TAY-voh) isn’t a goal scorer he’s a playmaker in the purest sense of the term, think a young Nicklas Backstrom mixed with Patrick Kane. Not bad, eh?
It’s not all rainbows and birthday cakes with Teuvo, his two-way game leaves something to be desired and he’s a bit undersized so he can be a liability in the defensive zone. To be fair, he’s around the same size as Kaner was when he debuted in the NHL, but if Teuvo gets knocked off the puck easily, or on his ass a bit too much, he’s not going to be very successful early on. There’s speculation that he’ll slot right in and take over Versteeg’s minutes, but I think that’s a bit presumptuous. As expected Patrick Sharp was bumped up to the second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane so that’s good news for Sharp owners, but a clear sign that Teuvo is likely going to start on the third or fourth line and have to work his way into the top six if he can. Look for him to get a chance on the power play, though. In deep leagues he’s absolutely worth a flier if you need some offensive help and if you just lost Steeger, it couldn’t hurt to grab Teuvo and see what happens. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Nick Bjugstad, C (1 G, 3 SOG) – Goals, goals and more goals is what you can expect from Jugs and he continues to deliver with his second tally in three games. He remains on pace for a 30-goal season and while I think the skill level is there to reach that mark, he might end up a bit short, somewhere in the 25-28 goal range. He’s still a no-brainer keeper.
Keith Kinkaid, G (L, 22 SV, 3 GA, .880%) – Well, Corey Schneider was given another night off finally but Kinkaid didn’t do anything to convince Devils Head Coach Peter DeBoer to do anything other than roll Schneids out there for another 20 straight.
Michael Bournival, LW (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Bourny found time on the third line with Lars Eller, C (2 PIM, 2 SOG) and Jiri Sekac, LW (Zip, Zilch, Nada) last night and netted his first and second NHL goals. He’s a gritty two-way pivot that is mostly going to be deployed against the opposition’s best offensive players because of his shutdown defense, but there’s some offensive ability here too. In deep leagues he’s worth a look, but mostly forgettable in standard leagues for now.
Max Pacioretty, LW (1 G, 6 SOG) – Pax was rockin’ earlier and almost looked like he was going to start dishing some helpers out to really push himself to the next level of fantasy production, but alas, that didn’t last. He’s still scoring goals, though, and remains on pace for 30 or more.
P.K. Subban, D (3 A, +2) – Subs is going to give you at least 50 points, but he isn’t going to score 20 goals. Right now he’s on pace for around 18, but his shooting percentage is way inflated at 11.4% compared to his career average of 6.2%. He has the ability to take it to the next level for sure, but I don’t think he’s going to turn into a 20-goal guy. Expect a bit of a drop off in goal scoring, but not overall point production, in the second half.
Mike Cammalleri, LW (1 G, 2 SOG) – I hope you sold high on Squids when you had the chance. Yeah, he’s still on pace for 30 goals, but I doubt he gets there.
Thomas Greiss, G (W, 32 SV, 3 GA, .914%) – Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t needed much help from Greasy, but he’s been solid in eight starts so far this season sporting a line of 4-2-2/2.58/.919% in eight starts. I figure he ends up with around 18-20 by season’s end, so he has some value in deep leagues where goalies come at a premium.
Evgeni Nabokov, G (L, 16 SV, 2 GA, .889%) – Ben Bishop does need some help from his backup but there doesn’t seem to be much help coming by way of Nabby, who dropped another one coughing up a pair of goals on just 18 shots last night. I figure sometime later in the season when Andrei Vasilevskiy has enough starts under his belt in the AHL he’ll end up getting the call back to big ice. The Bolts are being smart with but it still seems like Nabby has been bad enough and will continue to be bad enough that they’ll almost have to make a move here.
Victor Hedman, D (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Last night’s two point performance was his second such game in his last three and he has five points (1 G, 4 A) over his last five games. That puts my Sun and Stars back on track for a 50-plus point season. It’s all system’s go after a bit of a slump after returning from a broken hand, but that’s to be expected. What little buy-low window existed here has been slammed shut.
Steve Downie, RW (2 G, 3 SOG, +2) – The Pens are rife with the mumps and Steve went Downie with them a few weeks back and returned in a big way last night with two goals on three shots, a plus-two, two PIM and three hits. The two goals and largely be attributed to him playing with Sidney Crosby, C (4 A, 2 SOG, +3) and that won’t last, but Downie can contribute across the board and will continue to lead the world in PIM, so get him back in your lineups and keep him there.
Chris Kunitz, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, -2) – Kunitz isn’t going to score 38 goals again, but he’s still on pace for 30 and he has five points (3 G, 2 A) over his last five games. He can get to 30, but anything else is a bonus.
Christian Ehrhoff, D (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – As conventional wisdom goes if you get traded to, or signed by the Pens, you’re going to see a bump in offensive production. That is often the case, but Ehrhoff is doing his best to disprove the theory. After a pair of very solid years in Vancouver that saw him post 44 and 50 points respectively, he signed a deal with the Sabres and looked like hot garbage for a few years. The thought was he would return to his Vancouver form when he joined the Pens, but it doesn’t appear that he’s going to contribute much more in Pittsburgh than he did in Buffalo, though his plus/minus is definitely better, so there’s that.
Cam Ward, G (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .958%) – I have to give it to Ward, he’s putting together a solid season in a rough situation. After beating Steve Mason, G (L, 24 SV, 2 GA, .923%) and the Flyers 2-1 last night he’s pushed his season line to 10-15-2/2.34/.916% in 27 starts. The record is bleh, but that’s mostly the fault of the Canes as a while, but those peripherals are looking very nice. I don’t know that he can maintain it, but his value may never be higher, so if you own Ward you might want to try and sell high-ish and add him to a package to sweeten the deal, maybe to another owner who is hurting in GAA/SV%.
Eric Staal, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – Last night’s goal gives Staal goals in three straight games and points in four straight. People were asking if he should be dropped, I said hold, he’s been too good for too long to give up on now and if you listened you’re getting your just rewards. If Staal is finally 100% healthy, and it looks like he finally is, he’s good for a point-per-game in the second half. Buy low while you still can.
Darcy Kuemper, G (W, 34 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – Kuemps looked solid pushing away 34 of 35 Leafs shots for the victory last night, so much so that he’s getting the start again tonight in the back end of the back-to-back set for the Wild. That’s a huge vote of confidence and maybe the Wild are done with the consistent mediocrity of Niklas Backstrom and they’re going back to Darcy for a stretch. He’s capable of putting up solid numbers in the second half and regaining his early season standing as a strong number two fantasy goalie.
John Tavares, C (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Believe it or not, Tavares is a buy-low right now, buy-low for a player of his caliber underperforming like he has to this point, anyway. With just 34 points in 38 games he’s well off the pace that his owners expected when they took him with their first pick, but fear not, it’s only a matter of time before he blows up in a big way. There are signs of life with two, two-goal games in his last four contests and five points (4 G, 1 A) over his last five. Still, for the owner that sees less than a point-per-game pace from their star center and may be languishing just out of the playoff race as the second half of the season gets underway, Tavares might be ripe for the plucking via trade.
Johnny Gaudreau, C (1 G, 3 SOG) – Johnny Hockey keeps giving you reasons to not drop him for David Perron and I think you should listen. He has 31 points in 39 games so far and while it’s entirely possible and somewhat likely that he’ll fade in the second half like most rookies, he’s still good for another 30 points or so, and that’s probably what Perron has in the tank for the second half as well. In keeper leagues you have to hold on to Johnny, it’s a must.
Jaroslav Halak, G (W, 22 SV, 1 GA, .957%) – The Halakness Monster rises from the deep to swallow another win, his 21st in just 27 starts. That’s ridiculous. His peripherals are also ridiculous (2.21/.918%). Dare I say that he’s a top ten goalie right now? I dare, I dare.
Jonas Hiller, G (L, 22 SV, 2 GA, .917%) – Since Kari Ramo decided he wasn’t so big on starting for the Flames and started sucking it up a bit, Hills has returned to early season form and put together a solid stretch as of late. It’s going to waffle back and forth all season with these two. I wouldn’t want to be in on the Flames’ goalies, and hey, I’m not! Yay!
Semyon Varlamov, G (W, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – Varly wins his second straight and third in his last four with a solid showing last night. That said, it was against the Oilers, so it hardly counts. I remain skeptical of Varly and the Avs in the second half. If Reto Berra remains his backup, which looks like the case, he has no danger of losing his starting job or even any time despite any struggles he may continue to have in the second half. If Calvin Pickard somehow gets back to big ice, however, Varly could lose a start here and there. For now, though, it’s all Varly.
Martin Brodeur, G (L, 29 SV, 4 GA, .879%) – The Blues can’t carry three goalies for long and Marty didn’t exactly make a strong case to stay with this stinker. He coughed up four goals on 33 shots but ultimately fell to the Ducks 4-3. That being said, Jake Allen was a healthy scratch and despite his strong record (11-5-2) his peripherals are fugly (2.76/.899%) and he might be getting a few more nights off after shouldering the load for the Blues while Brian Elliott, who is slated to start tonight, was down with his knee injury. It remains to be see who sticks with the club; Marty or Allen, but as we get into the second half if Marty can string together a few good games, they’ll probably go with the veteran down the stretch and send Allen down to the AHL to work on his game. Stay tuned.
Alexander Steen, LW (1 G, 1 A, 11 SOG) – Steen poured a whopping 11 shots on goal last night and came away with two points to show for it. He has four points (1 G, 3 A) over his last five and has been having had his best month of the season in December posting 8 points in 11 games. He’ll be good for 20-25 goals and 55-60 points by season’s end, that’s solid, but the 265 shots he’s likely to finish with is beast. It’s a shame more of them don’t find the back of the net.
Kevin Shattenkirk, D (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Shats continues his ridiculous season with two more points last night. The Blues might be struggling a bit as of late, but this guy keeps pouring it on from the blue line and now sports a season line of 6/25/31/+15/36 PIM in 38 games played this season. While I doubt he can keep this pace up, he’ll definitely finish with north of 50 points and 10 goals with a robust plus/minus and plenty of shots on goal. He’s a top 10 guy this year.
Matt Beleskey, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – I’m not a huge fan of Belly, but he’s up to 16 goals on the season and could very well end up with 30 by the end of the season. He seems to be clicking with Ryan Kesler, C (2 A, 4 SOG, +2) and Kyle Palmieri, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, +2, 4 PIM) so he’s worth adding in deep leagues.
T.J. Oshie, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Osh has points in four straight after his goal last night, but he’s only on pace for 37 points by season’s end despite the mini-streak. I thought he was overvalued on draft day but I didn’t think it would be this bad. Yeah, injuries play a part here, but man alive, it’s brutal out there for him so far this season. He could have a solid second half, but I doubt it.