When asked whether or not Anthony Duclair (1 G, 2 SOG) was going to stick with the Rangers or get sent back to juniors, Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault quipped, “Talent has no age.” True enough, but the question isn’t whether or not Duke is talented, it’s whether or not he’s ready for big ice. Few dispute Duke’s promise as a potential top-six forward in the NHL. Over the last few seasons in the QMJHL he ate up the competition to the tune of tune of 215 points in 183 games. Last season he nearly tallied 100 points in 59 games falling just short with 99 powered by 50 goals. Yeah, the QMJHL is known for inflated scoring numbers, but still, that’s baller. He’s shown himself to be useful at the NHL level already too, getting his NHL career off to a hot start with five points in seven games, points in three of his last four and sporting a healthy plus-five rating over that span. It sure seems like he belongs with numbers like that, but really, he probably belongs in the AHL.
At just 19-years-old the 5’ 11” winger needs to bulk up like whoa. His slick skating and good vision keep him largely untouched by the opposition’s big hitters, but at just 176 lbs he could do with adding 10-15 pounds of muscle so he doesn’t get hurt. That’s the key here; I mean how often to teenagers come up to big ice and perform well? Rarely, that’s how often. He needs more time to mature and grow, both figuratively and literally, and the NHL isn’t the best place for young players to cut their teeth like this as it tends to lead to them being rushed and either stunting their growth and potential or, wait for it, they get hurt. He can’t go to the AHL where he belongs because of contract BS, so it’s sheltered minutes in the NHL or more time in the QMJHL where he seemingly has little left to learn.
Despite it not making a ton of sense to send him back to the QMJHL, the Rangers might not have much choice. Derek Stepan is on the mend and Duclair is currently occupying his roster spot. To add fuel to the speculative fire, Duke was a healthy scratch for two games last week and has since appeared in two more games scoring the game-tying goal in the third period last night on the way to a 5-4 Rangers victory. It’s really hard to say what the Rangers plan to do with him at this point, but if he keeps scoring like this they really have little choice but deploy him in the NHL with sheltered minutes. They’re going to burn his ELC either way, so he might as well get solid minutes in the NHL instead of going back to junior. I’d say add him where you need offensive help but be warned, it’s only a matter of time before Derek Stepan is healthy and needs a roster spot and Duclair currently occupies that spot. So pick him up, stream him and enjoy what production you can get, but expect him to disappear again sooner than later. He’s absolutely worth owning, but whatever you get is a bonus. I love bonuses! Don’t you? Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Sergei Bobrovsky joined the broken finger club and he’ll be out for 1-2 weeks with a, well, broken finger. I’d say go ahead and grab Curtis McElhinney while Bob is out, but do you really want to do that to yourself?
Ben Lovejoy is out for 6-8 weeks with a fractured finger, a finger he broke while smashing his fist into the face of Joe Pavelski the other day. Ah yes, dealing out the love like only The Reverend can. This one doesn’t hurt many, but those of us who own him for his hits and blocks in deep leagues will feel the loss. What the hell, NHL fingers? Stop breaking already.
Mason Raymond was put on IR yesterday with a banged up shoulder and he’s week-to-week. Ugh, not more of this week-to-week BS.
Olli Maatta is expected to miss a month after he undergoes surgery next week to remove a tumor from his thyroid gland. He’s expected to make a full recovery and will play until he goes under the knife as it isn’t hindering his ability to skate.
Nick Foligno has been diagnosed with a stinger after running into a linesman the other day in a freak accident that occurred during a hit along the bench. He’s considered day-to-day for now. X-Rays and MRIs showed no significant damage to his head or neck, so it’ll just be a matter waiting for him to feel healthy enough to roll. No word yet on who takes over his slot on the top line in the meantime.
Mike Cammalleri didn’t travel with the team on their current road trip after taking an elbow to the jaw a few days ago. X-Rays didn’t reveal any breaks or fractures, so he’s currently day-to-day while on the mend.
Valeri Nichushkin is skating again, but he’s about a week or more away from returning.
Darcy Kuemper (L, 15 SV, 5 GA, .750%) – Yesterday afternoon I couldn’t quite decide whether I had set my lineups or not. I wasn’t entirely sure, had I? Why wouldn’t I? I’m sure I set them. I always set my lineups. I didn’t set my lineups. Kuemper was on the bench in every league I owned him. Aw yeah! Keumps held strong after two periods going into the third up 3-0 with the Wild dominating play from the first drop of the puck, but the Rangers would have none of it pouring in five goals in the third to snatch victory from the jaw of the Wild 5-4. He had to come back down to earth some time, but this was a particularly hard fall. It will be interesting to see if he gets the next start or Niklas Backstrom gets a shot. Either way, one bad period isn’t going to cost Kuemper the starting job.
Henrik Lundqvist (W, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) – A bit of a rough game for Hank but not too bad so don’t panic. Since allowing 14 goals in his first two games he’s really righted the ship holding opponents to just seven goals over his past four games (not including last night) with three of those tallies coming on the power play. You might want to try and buy low on Hank, peeps have been freaking out about a lot less these days than bad numbers from Lundqvist to start the season. He’s going to be fine despite a weaker Rangers D this year.
Rick Nash (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – That’s nine goals in nine games for Nashty and 11 points over that span. He’s a plus-six, too. The nine goals is good for the league lead. Could we be looking at a career year for Nash? I think so. He could top 50 goals this year.
Derick Brassard (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) – A lot of folks were a bit miffed that the Rangers spent so much money on Brass, but this game is why. He now has seven points in nine games this season with four goals and six PIM. Not a bad line considering his ADP. As the Rangers’ second line center I can see him reaching for 60 points, but that’s a fairly optimistic prediction.
Mats Zuccarello (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG) – With his goal tonight he not only snaps a cold streak he also became the NHL’s number one Norwegian goal scorer. Wow, super. This three-point effort gives him four points in eight games so far. That’s pretty horrible, but despite the rough start I think he’ll bounce back sooner than later, and this game might be the start. Last season he started with a big ole’ goose egg in his first seven games and still managed to finish with a team leading 59 points, so I wouldn’t freak out about Zucc just yet. In fact, I think he’s a great buy low candidate.
Matt Cooke (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – BOOOOOOOOOO!
Jason Pominville (1 G, 5 SOG) – That’s six points in seven games with a plus-five rating now. He has points in three straight and seems to be clicking well on the top line with Mikael Granlund (1 A, 1 SOG, -1) and the hardest workin’ man in hockey Zach Parise (4 SOG, -1). No chance he keeps the near point-per-game stuff up, but 30+ goals seems like a lock if he stays healthy, which he has a habit of doing.
Jason Zucker (1 G, 1 SOG, -1) – Zuckerberg isn’t a top-six guy but he’s absolutely a top-nine guy. I don’t see the goal scoring continuing, but the speedy winger is a pretty talented guy. Highly athletic with a long reach and an explosive first step he often relies on his speed to develop plays, not unlike the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin (1 A, 1 SOG, +1). He has a nose for the net, a solid wrister and he knows when it let it go. I wouldn’t drop anyone valuable for him, but as a streaming option he’s well worth adding while the Wild are hot.
Marco Scandella (1 A, 3 SOG, +1) – Last season Scandella was looking great as a rookie rearguard but he was felled by a concussion, his second in two years, after which he faded fast and ended up getting sent down to the AHL. He’s back now, healthy and looking very confidant once again. The Wild love to have their defensemen jump up on the attack and early on Scandella seems to be benefitting from the philosophy. I only have him pegged for about 20 points this season but with how well the Wild are playing he could flirt with 30. He’ll bring about 100 blocks and 80-100 hits with those points, too, so he’s worth adding if you’re hurting for a fourth or fifth dman.
Ben Scrivens (W, 29 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Don’t look now but the Oilers suddenly realized the regular season started. This marks four straight wins for Scribbles and he’s looked good winning allowing just eight goals in his last five starts. I still don’t like any Oil goalie because that defense is woeful, but they’ve been playing better lately and that’s helped Scribbles here immensely. We’ll see if both he and the Oil D can keep it up, but I’m not overly optimistic.
Dustin Tokarski (L, 16 SV, 2 GA, .889%) – Last night’s start was the first in nearly two weeks for Toker and I doubt that schedule changes much as the season progresses. Carey Price is the crowned prince o’ the crease in Montreal and that’s not changing this season, next season, or any time in the foreseeable future.
Taylor Hall (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – When the Oilers win you can bet that Hall had a hand in it. This game makes points in two straight and eight points over his first nine games. That’s a bit low for a guy who I think still has another level to reach this season, but he’s sporting a surprisingly solid plus-four rating right now, so that’s good. The points will come, and if his plus/minus stays in the plus, his only fantasy weakness will be gone.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) – The top line for the Oil are finally getting their shiz together and the Nuge has points in four straight. He had a three game goal-scoring streak going before this one, too. He’s still very capable of 60+ and even 70 or so points this season if they really get going.