My thoughts on the Pickard vs. Varlamov situation. And much more …


It’s getting close to that time when Calvin Pickard begins cannibalizing starts from Semyon Varlamov. We’re always looking for a goalie to help our fantasy team because they’re only a small number of decent players who play that position and can actually help – and most of them get scooped up at the draft. So the two or three goaltenders who crop up during the season and suddenly have value, well, they’re gold. Pickard is coming off a shutout Saturday, whereas Varlamov gave up five goals on Sunday and got the hook (Pickard came in and stopped the three shots he faced). For Varlamov, it marks five consecutive losses and three straight games of giving up four or five goals. He’s given up five goals on four different occasions this year.

What’s more, if you look at Varlamov’s numbers (hint: click his name and scroll down to the side-by-side chart), he has a 0.962 SV% on the 133 shots that he’s faced from 31+ feet away. That means that his overall 0.881 SV% is getting a huge boost from all the long-range ‘fluff’ shots.

Varlamov has three years left in his contract, and he’s getting paid a crap load. So he’ll keep getting thrown out there and I think he eventually gets somewhat back on track (the way Kari Lehtonen and Ondrej Pavelec occasionally got on track over the years). For this year and next, I can see Pickard being the better goaltender – but it will frustrate fantasy owners because he won’t get enough starts (35? Maybe?). Until the last year of Varlamov’s contract when the Avs Pavelec him down to the minors. Or maybe they can lose him to expansion (I doubt Las Vegas would take him if his play continues to be mediocre at best, not at that contract).

So that’s the lowdown on Pickard’s future. Barring a Varlamov injury. You’ll see Pickard do well, steal some starts, but hockey politics (in this case a giant contract) will hold him back for a couple of years.


Tough news on Sunday as it was reported that former NHLer Marek Svatos has passed away. He was only 34 and had apparently died from a medical condition, though a cause of death wasn’t officially announced. He left behind a wife and two kids. Just far too soon.

Svatos had 172 points in 344 career NHL games with Colorado, but he’s well known in the fantasy hockey community because he teased us with his potential. He started off with 32 goals and 50 points in 61 games as a rookie, but it turns out that it was his best season. Two years later he had 26 goals and 37 points, again hinting at what he could do. But he was unable to get going after that, even after short stints with Nashville and Ottawa.


Another struggling goalie, Jake Allen, actually put it all together on Sunday. Though he only faced 23 shots, he allowed just one goal. In the Ken Hitchcock system, Allen has yet to face 28 shots in a game (10 games).

Kevin Shattenkirk had three assists and was plus-4 in the game. He always has hot starts that generally go on for 40 games. His second half always slides quite a bit. Injuries also play a role with him. But for now enjoy the ride, it should continue for another month or two.


The Oilers finally gave somebody else a start. Man, they really are gonna play Cam Talbot as much as possible. If he stays healthy I think he gets 70 starts! But it was Jonas Gustavsson who played on Sunday and stopped 22 of 23 for the win.

And hey, Oscar Klefbom picked up his first point on the power play. It took him nearly 30 minutes of PPTOI.


Jimmy Howard continued his strong play. He took the loss, but stopped 26 of 28. He has a 1.12 GAA and 0.965 SV%. Petr Mrazek is still Detroit’s starter, but has 3.18 and 0.904 numbers so I wouldn’t feel too comfortable owning him.


Mike Cammalleri hasn’t reached 51 points since 2009 and he kicked off this year with zero goals and three points in 10 games. I think we all know that he’s in decline, but his pace was still far too low. The market correction happened Sunday as he scored three times. Six points in 11 games is a better reflection of his expected pace. Here were New Jersey’s line combos last night:





Beau Bennett, The Forgotten One, has been struggling all season trying to click with Devante Smith-Pelly and Pavel Zacha. Getting a chance with Cammalleri seems to have worked. Don’t expect miracles, but it’s a start. Hell, just playing 10 games in a row without getting hurt is progress, no? His 5on5 SH% is 1.82, so his numbers are definitely due for a market correction.

Taylor Hall has just one assist in his last four games.


Justin Faulk left the game late with an undisclosed injury. The Hurricanes didn’t update his status, but last year he missed 18 games with lower-body injuries. Let’s hope this isn’t a trend and he doesn’t join a certain club (that starts with a ‘B’).


Prospect Gemel Smith had two goals last night and has three points in his last two games. He’s getting more ice time thanks to the Patrick Sharp injury, the Jason Spezza injury, and the Jiri Hudler…uh…illness. But Smith doesn’t have a lot of upside as his pedigree indicates that of a bottom sixer.

Speaking of Hudler’s illness, what the hell is it? Three weeks with this “illness”. Who gets six for three weeks other than teenagers with mono?


As expected, Richard Panik has slowed considerably with just three points in his last seven games. He’s still getting PP time. There was line juggling like crazy on Sunday by the Blackhawks, but Panik is pretty much off the Toews line, which is concerning. I still like him for over 40 points, but how much over will very much depend on who he plays with. He’s not good enough to do it alone.

Tyler Motte was injured – lower body. He’s expected to miss “some games”, per Coach Q. And there’s your reason for all the line juggling…

Artem Anisimov has points in 11 straight games and leads the NHL in points with 17 in 13 contests. Who knew?


Connor Hellebuyck got yanked after giving up four goals on 16 shots. I consider Hellebuyck a future stud goaltender and am quite surprised that he’s struggling this year. Ondrej Pavelec is 3-1-2, 3.15 and 0.915 in the AHL. I wonder if the Jets should swap the two goalies and give Hellebuyck a month in the AHL to get tons of actual and regain his confidence. It would mean entrusting the season on Pavelec. But if he could just keep the Jets within range heading into the New Year, then bring Hell Boy back to lead them down the stretch. Just thinking aloud, as I hate seeing a top prospect goaltender struggle.

Here is a save last night that shows that he’s still got it:


Another day another Kevin Hayes point. Give him points in five straight now. He has 10 points in his last seven games and 12 in 13 on the season.

But while Hayes, JT Miller and Chris Kreider are surging, another player in his early-to-mid- 20s is struggling. Mika Zibanejad has just three points in his last eight games. In two of his last three games he saw less than 14 minutes of ice time – something that didn’t happen in the 10 games prior.

Okay, well, I have to call a spade a spade here. Brady Skjei is putting up fantasy-worthy numbers already. He has points in five straight games.

The Rangers didn’t get a single power play Sunday night.


Cam Fowler has just one point in his last five games.

Ryan Kesler is on fire right now with points in four straight games (six points). Usually he’s a second-half player, so getting off to this kind of start bodes well for his full-season outlook.

Jonathan Bernier stopped 25 of 26 shots for his first win in an Anaheim uniform.