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I have to admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for Thomas Vanek.  I saw him win the NCAA Championship as Minnesota’s best player as a freshman and fell in love with his offensive abilities before the Sabres drafted him 5th overall.  Vanek was excellent for many years in Buffalo and while his game isn’t where it once was, he can still put up points at a fairly high level.  Vancouver switched their lines recently with Vanek playing with Brock Boeser and Sam Gagner.  They exploded against Chicago on Thursday with Vanek leading the way.  In the 5-2 win over the Blackhawks, Vanek scored two goals and three assists with five shots and two PIM finishing +5.  Vanek now has 10 points in his past 4 games giving him 12+16 in 38 games this year.  The shot rate has been up over the past ten games (3 per) so I’d grab Vanek while he’s on fire, at least as a streamer.  I’m sure his name will be discussed as a trade target again at this year’s deadline and unlike last year in Florida, I think Vanek will make a difference.  Injuries really hurt Florida and Vanek was mostly relegated to 12 minutes on third line duty.  We’ve seen in Detroit last season and Vancouver this year that Vanek is still capable of putting up points.  Let’s take a look at what else happened Thursday night around the league:

Andrei Vasilevskiy – 31 saves on 32 shots in the 3-1 win over Montreal.  He just keeps rolling and is the #1 overall goalie by a fairly large margin as we near the halfway point.

Steven Stamkos – Two goals on seven shots.  As crazy as it sounds, Stamkos’ season could get a bit better since his shooting percentage will go up a bit, especially if he maintains his recent surge in shot rate.

Ondrej Palat – Two assists with a shot.  Solid streamer but unless you need the plus-minus boost, I wouldn’t hold Palat.

David Backes – Two goals on five shots.  I wrote this on Backes yesterday: “Lackeydrinksonme has been talking about Backes for a while, most recently in his latest post.  I agree with him that Backes would be a nice add if he’s still available.  I wouldn’t call him must own but if you need PIM, Backes is a great choice since he’s due for some positive regression in the goals department.”  And that’s me quoting me!  And there’s that positive regression.  I’d grab Backes now.

Dalton Heinen – Two assists with three shots.  Heinen is really pushing towards being a hold.

Lars Eller – Goal and an assist with five shots.  Eller has little fantasy value outside of the deepest of leagues.

Nick Bjugstad – Two assists with two shots.  The minutes are dropping so Bjugstad is a bottom end streamer at the moment.

James Reimer – 29 saves on 31 shots in the 3-2 win over the Flyers.  He’s started 11 straight with Luongo out and has put together a nice stretch.  I’d own Reimer right now in all formats.

Patrick Marleau – Two goals and an assist with four shots.  I’d stream Marleau but I wouldn’t hold him.  He didn’t have an assist in ten games before this and he’s not exceptional in any category.

Mitch Marner – Goal and two assists with two shots.  Here comes the heater for Marner.  That buy low window has shut completely.

Morgan Rielly – Two assists with four shots.  The minutes aren’t great and it’s a big AAGNOF but Rielly should be owned everywhere.

William Nylander – Goal and an assist with two shots.  That’s a four game point streak for Nylander who is starting to get rolling again.  I expect Nylander to finish right around last year’s totals (22+39).

Tobias Rieder – Two assists with two shots.  He doesn’t have the role at the moment to have much fantasy value.  Rieder is an RFA at the end of the season and while the Coyotes definitely don’t have to trade him, he could be an interesting trade target.

Jordan Martinook – Goal and an assist with two shots.  Meh, nothing to really see here.  Martinook showed some signs last season but he hasn’t taken any steps forward this year.

Reilly Smith – Two assists with two shots.  I’d lean towards holding Smith for the raw point total but the shot rate is getting extremely troubling (2 shots or less in 8 straight).

Marc-Andre Fleury – 26 saves on 28 shots in the 3-2 OT win over the Kings.  Fleury has a great chance to be a #1 the rest of the way with how Vegas is playing.

Drew Doughty – Goal and an assist with five shots and two PIM.  Doughty has been even better than usual this year.  Amazingly, he’s pushing towards being the #1 fantasy defenseman.  I’d consider selling high if you could.  Obviously he’s not going to fall off a cliff but Doughty won’t finish as the #1D either.

Anton Forsberg – 26 saves on 31 shots.  I’d look to stream guys against Chicago every game while Forsberg is starting.  The Blackhawks are in serious trouble if Crawford misses any significant time.

Brock Boeser – Goal and three assists.  That’s a goal in four straight and eight of the past ten for Boeser.  What a season he’s having.

Sam Gagner – Two goals and an assist with three shots.  I’d stream Gagner as well as he’s heating up playing with Boeser and Vanek.

Jacob Markstrom – 30 saves on 32 shots in the 5-2 win over the Blackhawks.  He’s been hit or miss so I’d only use Markstrom if you’re desperate.

Martin Jones – 32 saves on 34 shots in the 3-2 SO win over the Flames.  After a really rough stretch, Jones has had two quality starts in a row.  I would try to buy low if his owner is still worried about his dreadful run of 4+ against in 6 straight.

David Rittich – 30 saves on 32 shots losing in the shootout.  He looked kind of awkward in this game but he got the job done.  Unfortunately, the Flames missed some glorious chances in overtime.  Rittich has played well in all four of his starts so I’d stream him going forward until he struggles.

That’s all for now guys.  I will be back on January 2nd recapping all of the action between now and then.  As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below.  I am going to the USA-Canada World Juniors outdoor game today so I will answer any questions posted before I leave around noon and then get to everything from the afternoon and early evening when I’m home.  After that, I’ll be able to answer all weekend and Monday like normal.  I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year’s.  Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in 2018!

  1. Alfred E. Naujocks says:
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    deep enough league, max 3 active goalies. guessing we can drop stalock for dubnyk now? have dubnyk in IR slot (cluttering up any ability to make moves), with stalock, the good SJ guy (backup, not jones) and rask. want to add jarry before somebody else does, him over the SJ guy

    • Alfred E. Naujocks says:
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      @Alfred E. Naujocks: dell, had a brain fart. dell or jarry, after dropping stalock to activate dub’s.

      • Alfred E. Naujocks says:
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        @Alfred E. Naujocks: we have categories for goalie mins and saves. h2h.

        • Lackeydrinksonme

          Lackeydrinksonme says:
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          @Alfred E. Naujocks:

          What’s up man?

          Dell is probably a better long-term option for goalies. His peripherals are much better relative to the rest of the league, and I trust the SJ defense to hold the line in front of him.

          What are rest of goalie cats?

          • Alfred E. Naujocks says:
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            @Lackeydrinksonme: normal goalie cats other than mins and saves also added. the 2 ratios and wins, shutouts.

            • Lackeydrinksonme

              Lackeydrinksonme says:
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              @Alfred E. Naujocks:

              If you’re playing minutes and saves along with SAA, Wins, Sv% and So I might just take Dell and look to stream goalies. SAA and Sv% are going to be a crapshoot week to week, you might want to try and just ramp goalie starts to maximize 3-4 of those categories.

              • Alfred E. Naujocks says:
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                @Lackeydrinksonme: well i’d thought of that and the streamers are pretty weak. jarry appears to be the starter for now, but the other options are thusly:
                subban
                rittich
                kuemper
                saros
                lehtonen
                guessing if you are advising dump dell (who’s clearly the best backup in entire league to this point) to stream dumping for a starter is obvious (jarry). hard to stream though as we only get 7 moves per week and i generally use those for hits/blocks/faceoff streaming or other stuff. we also have D man points as separate categories so holding onto D men weak in hits/blocks but strong in points is usually good, necessitating the hits/blocks streaming. i have krug/klingberg so i do well in D man points.

                • Alfred E. Naujocks says:
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                  @Alfred E. Naujocks: yes i know they are calling murray DTD but how often does that end up being like at least a few weeks if not more, maybe 25% of the time or so? wasn’t price supposedly DTD when he went out for like 6 weeks? murray too last time.

                  • Alfred E. Naujocks says:
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                    @Alfred E. Naujocks: also d.hamilton, he’s good for points (at some point) too, but awful for hits/blocks. with that many hits/blocks near dead D men streaming the hits/blocks is a necessity, but of course they are the easiest things to stream.

                    • Lackeydrinksonme

                      Lackeydrinksonme says:
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                      @Alfred E. Naujocks:

                      Hey man, sorry for the delay.

                      I wouldn’t advise dumping Dell, if you have the stomach for holding onto an only-occasional starter. Having three active goalies max meaning starts per night or slots on your team for goalies?? If you can only have three goalies max (most leagues have four) I might make sure you have two starters, to ensure volume, almost certainly at the expense of dropping/streaming a talent like Dell. Your goalie cats basically necessitate volume.

                      As for the other guys Saros and Kuemper are solid and play for solid teams. I’d stream them in good matchups, but it sounds like you have your own streaming rhythm.

                      I’ve never had complaints about keeping Hamilton around, he’s one of those guys that gets kinda cold but once you consider dropping him he’ll have a reasonable game.

  2. Shitwolf says:
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    good morrow viz! was hoping that you would be able to help me with my D…. Drs have tried… my wife has tried… but my D remains short!!! I have 3/4 d filled, but I want a full D. who doesn’t want a full D right. don’t tease me with only 3/4. ok enough bad D jokes I’m such a nerd… anyway the D available are… Justin schultz (I think he’s back next week), maatta, spurgeon, fowler, Theodore, hannifin, Brodie.. .

    I’m looking for a D that will score me the most points and have some blocks. I’m pretty covered on the hits department but more is always better ya haha.

    • Shitwolf says:
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      @Shitwolf:

      also guentzel got dropped so I scooped him up by putting Kadri on IR… what are your thoughts on him Ros? appreciate you man.

      • Lackeydrinksonme

        Lackeydrinksonme says:
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        @Shitwolf:

        Thats quite a list of available guys.

        Right away I like Hanafin and Maata for their shot rate. Hanifin spends more time on PP by about 30sec/game, Maata gets about 1.42 blocked shots a game against Noah’s 1.06. Hanifin is ahead by a solid amount on possession numbers and overall general production. Depends how much you value blocks, but Hanifin is who I grabbed in my league thanks to this question.

        If you really want blocks, then grab Spurgeon, with a slightly lower shot rate but the best Bks/GP out of the bunch you mentioned (2.39/GP).

        Hope this helps.

        • Shitwolf says:
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          @Lackeydrinksonme:

          hey thanks for taking your time to respond lackey… what are your thought on Schultz?

          • Lackeydrinksonme

            Lackeydrinksonme says:
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            @Shitwolf:

            I like him as a loose hold coming off of IR. Great TOI and PPTOI. I’m surprised to see so many ESPN leagues dropping him… if your league counts PP points, he’s definitely an above-average talent, or trade bait based on name value.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Shitwolf: Hey man, sorry for the delay. Really depends what categories you are looking for. I’d have to go with Spurgeon if you want the blocks.

  3. What’s up with Kopitar, one goal in last 7 games? I suppose he has to be a hold until he thaws out, but someone did just cut Couture and also Backstrom loose to waivers. Also, I was thinking drop Mike Hoffman for Marner, Nylander or Aho? What do you think? The offense has dried up with no goals and just 4 points in the last 11 games, but he’s still on pace for 56 points. He is seeing career highs in minutes & PP time, but is also being tasked with JG Pageau and Tom Pyatt as his most common linemates. Thanks Viz.

    • @madden_curser: I could cut Granlund, as opposed to Hoffman. It may be that Granlund simply maintains his below-expectations value for the duration of the campaign. Last season’s 14.7 percent is looking like the outlier. Granlund was projected to be a playmaker as opposed to a scorer, so perhaps last season’s 26 goals will go down in the books as a career mark?

    • @madden_curser: Also could drop Barzal for Backstrom. Barzal has been playing better lately, but thinking ROS. I currently have Seguin, MacKinnon, Barzal, Barkov & Kopitar all Center only, but Backstrom seems enticing…

      • Lackeydrinksonme

        Lackeydrinksonme says:
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        @madden_curser:

        Hey man

        Picking up Backstrom sounds like a win in my book ROS, but you’re pretty loaded at center.

        Granlund missed a month or so, but everything I’m seeing (backed up by ESPN, gross) says he’s playing at the same pace last year. I like Granlund’s shot rate especially, he pretty much fires off 3-4 times a game if the Wild isn’t being run into the ground.

        Finally I could see cutting Hoffman for any of those three. I’m still high on Nylander, but Marner might be better to bank on for the time being. I also love Aho and watching CAR in general produces some pretty fun, high-scoring games. Hoffman for Marner first, Aho second.

        Hope this helps.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @madden_curser: Man that’s crazy. I wouldn’t want to cut Kopitar, could you grab Backstrom for Hoffman instead? The main thing is I would be streaming constantly with this type of quality on the waiver wire.

  4. Shea Weber & Jaden Schwartz in my 2 IR slots. Now Letang is IR. Schwartz is till a month away. Should I cut him loose to IR Letang and open a player slot? I can always try to get him back once is return approaches. Like I said, guys like Marner, Nylander Pierre-Luc Dubois or Aho are available.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @madden_curser: Letang will be back this week so I wouldn’t cut him. I’d cut Weber who has a ton of uncertainty around his injury and is worse than Letang.

  5. Quick Sycamore says:
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    Hey Viz! Hope you are enjoying the holidays. Watching the world Juniors right now! It looks wild down there, so much snow! Go Canada!

    • Quick Sycamore says:
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      @Quick Sycamore: I jinxed them!

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Quick Sycamore: Thanks man, hope your holidays were good as well! That game was incredible, what a blast

  6. Jump on it says:
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    Happy NYE! In a 14 team H2H non keeper with hits and blocks, would you rather have Zib or Krejci?

    • Lackeydrinksonme

      Lackeydrinksonme says:
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      @Jump on it:

      Zib with the advantage in blocks/hits per game as well as TOI.

      • Jump on it says:
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        @Lackeydrinksonme: Thanks for that! One more question – if you had to pick 2 of the 3 who would it be: Montour, Fowler, Russell?

        • Lackeydrinksonme

          Lackeydrinksonme says:
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          @Jump on it:

          Montour, if he’s available, would be a great pickup. After that I like Russell more than Fowler.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Jump on it: Zib and Montour for me as well unless you desperately need the blocks from Russell

  7. fleeced says:
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    Viz,

    I’m juggling defensemen again. Klefbom came back and Faulk showed signs of life. Pick 4 please.

    Butcher, Yandle, Faulk, Dumba, Klefbom, Vatenen and Theodore.

    Goals (G), Assists (A), Plus/Minus (+/-), Penalty Minutes (PIM), Powerplay Points (PPP), Shots on Goal (SOG)

    • Lackeydrinksonme

      Lackeydrinksonme says:
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      @fleeced:

      PIM keeps this from being easy, but it’s definitely Faulk and Klefbom based on SOG and TOI. After that I might take Yandle for the PIM chances and PPTOI.

      The fourth is tough. Butcher and Dumba will get you points, but Dumba is better for PIM.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @fleeced: Faulk, Yandle, Dumba, Theodore for me. Butcher and Vatanen aren’t doing enough across the board for me and unless you really need the extra shots from everyone, I’m passing on Klefbom.

  8. JJ says:
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    Im a little confused. I wrote a post in here yesterday and it said “your comment is waiting moderation” or something like that. I go and look this morning and its gone?!? I don’t understand that. This has happened before as well.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @JJ: Not sure what happened there, apologies for that.

  9. JJ says:
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    So I’m wondering whether or not its time to cut bait on Darling, He done more harm than good on my team this year and seems to have lost the starting gig now. The only real replacements I see out there right now are C.HUTTON, A.FORSBERG/J.GLASS, J.SAROS, I know that those guys don’t look like much of a replacement but Darlings stats have been pretty bad for awhile. At least Hutton and Saros put up good numbers when they play. I guess i could play goaltender roulette as well and pick up backups for spot starts when the play back to back but that is pretty time consuming.
    Also, I grabbed D.Backes this week as a temporary replacement for Scheifele. I know that he won’t come close to replacing him but I could use the PIMs. A couple of other guys are out there that I could grab instead. M.Granlund, R.Kesler, T.Johnson.
    Lastly, I held R.Ellis in my IR slot and now that his return is imminent, would you drop any of M.Rielly, C.Parayko to put him in the lineup?
    Thanks

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @JJ: I think you’re best off playing goalie roulette and picking spot starts if you can. Otherwise, I guess I’d grab Saros or Hutton for when they play.

      If you need the PIM, I’m good with just keeping Backes while he’s hot. If you’re looking long term, I’d go Granlund.

      Ellis is close to both of these guys but I think I’d rather have the two guys you currently have in the lineup

  10. Jon says:
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    When Byfuglien comes back, who should I drop? G A +/- PPP FOW SOG HIT DEF W GAA SV%

    Ehlers, Mantha, JT Miller, Skinner, Arvidsson, Toffoli, Aho, Stepan, or Stalock

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Jon: Stalock, Dubnyk is back so Stalock will be getting 1 start a week max.

      • Jon says:
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        @Viz: Awesome. Would you drop any of the other skaters I mentioned for Erik Johnson or Stralman?

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          @Jon: Hmm, I’d probably hold although Johnson is tempting because of the massive shots, PIM, hits and blocks. With Barrie out, you might get more offense too. I just don’t know who I would cut to grab him. Miller is probably the closest guy on the list but I’m on the fence there. Really depends on your team needs.

        • Jump on it says:
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          @Jon: Week of Jan 8 is a weird one with teams either playing 4 games or 1 game – with the Wild having two back to back games, do you think Stalock will get two starts that week?

          • Viz

            Viz says:
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            @Jump on it: I’d say it’s more likely than not but not a guarantee. It depends on how much action Dubnyk faces in those games and how Stalock performs in his start (I assume he’ll get a start on the first set of back to backs and no guarantee on the second one).

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