Ramblings: The latest on Stamkos, Gostisbehere a scratch, more injury news.

Will the star injuries never end? We've got a bunch of injuries to get to starting with the most crushing. The latest Steven Stamkos injury update is dire:

Given that timeline, if we’re lucky Stamkos gets back around mid-March.

Without Stamkos, the Lightning took care of business in Buffalo but the Sabres were without their top two centermen so no shock there. I’ve discussed this ad nauseam, but I’ll repeat it, the Sabres drown when Ryan O’Reilly is out.

Here were the Lightning lines:






No reuniting of the Triplets, which is disappointing. Tyler Johnson does have points in back-to-back games but the more intriguing option is Vladislav Namestnikov.

Odds are these lines are changed by this time next week because John Cooper can’t help but tinker. Long term, I’d bet on Johnson being the better own. Short term, it’s Namestnikov.

No points for Ondrej Palat. He has two points in the last 13 games. His struggles are almost comical given how good his usage and exposure to top talent has been. At some point he is going to right the ship but I don’t know when that will be. I dropped him a couple of weeks ago, gave him another shot in a spot start on Monday and then dumped him again.

Note that the Lightning got Jonathan Drouin back in the lineup. He notched an assist in nearly 18 minutes of action, 2:30 of which coming on the power play. Drouin’s talent screams 70 points but his usage screams 50 points. I’m inclined to lean towards the latter.


Dave Hakstol’s explanation for scratching Shayne Gostisbehere last night:

I am not certain this needs explanation. Gostisbehere is a stud and he has performed well but the NHL season and player development are marathons not sprints. Maybe Gostisbehere can give even more than he already has. Sure, it hurts your fantasy lineup for a day but perhaps it pays dividends down the road.

Consider Michael Raffl who was scratched a few games back. He now has points in three straight since returning. Not that I think Raffl is fantasy relevant – it’s tough to be relevant skating 12 minutes per game with no PP time on the third line – but he is capable of some flashes.

The Flyers also went out and thumped the Jets 5-2. They got points from other members of their capable defense corps like Ivan Provorov, Mark Streit, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning and even the much-maligned Andrew MacDonald.

Look for Gostisbehere to draw back in and go on a hot run of play.

Third straight solid outing for Steve Mason. He looks to be turning the corner.


Marko Dano has points in three straight and six points in nine games overall. He has found a spot in the top six bouncing between the Scheifele line and the Wheeler line. This is an excellent spot to be in. I doubt it continues once the Jets get healthy but Dano has the talent to make it stick. His usage isn’t great at just under 12 minutes a night with some secondary PP time.


David Pastrnak sat out with an undisclosed injury. He has been wielding a hot stick and there is simply no replacing him in the Bruins lineup. Indeed, Riley Nash took his place on the top line but I wouldn’t dream of recommending you pick him up.

Lots of folks want to know what is up with the slow start for Patrice Bergeron. I recommend patience. His World Cup performance should be a reminder of his elite talent. He has been hampered by the lower body injury that cost him some games early on and has also simply failed to get in on the scoring from his wicked linemates: Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.

Considering Bergeron skates with those two snipers and sees time on the top PP unit, it’s only a matter of time before he pops. Also, Bergeron has been a bit of a slow starter throughout his career. Check out his points per game for each month:
















Not everyone likes split stats like this. It happens to fit my narrative here. Whether you buy splits or not, Bergeron is worth waiting on.


The Wild have assigned Joel Eriksson Ek back to his club in Sweden. He’ll have a chance to star for Sweden at next month’s World Juniors. This is a good chance for Eriksson Ek to develop playing bigger minutes than the Wild were willing to give him. Perhaps he even comes back for the playoffs as a black ace.


The Leafs are rolling three lines the way we all dreamed that the Panthers would before the injuries hit.

We saw James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner go bananas the other night. It was Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov’s turn last night. Brown notched four points skating his biggest minutes of the season. He’s coming in at around 14 minutes per game with no power play time. Not much fantasy relevance for him without a couple of injuries to open up more ice time. Solid complementary player.

Now that we have seen those two lines go off Auston Matthews and William Nylander owners are wondering when they’ll have their turn. I am certainly they’ll pop soon enough.

Travis Yost looked at superstar goal-scoring slumps and why there’s no reason to panic about Matthews or Connor McDavid. This mirrors what I have been preaching about slumping stars since the season began. Regarding Matthews specifically, my projection for him was John Tavares’ rookie season: 24 goals and 54 points. 17 games in, Matthews is on pace for 29 goals and 58 points. He’s right on target.


After three games back in the lineup, Jussi Jokinen was held out due to illness.

Vincent Trocheck had two points in the three games that Jokinen played in but was held scoreless with a minus-three rating last night. I just want to see what the Panthers look like with a healthy lineup for a few weeks so that I know what I have in Trocheck. I was projecting a big 30-goal/60-point breakout season. He isn’t that far off track so I’m hanging in there. Just frustrated at the constant speed bumps.

It sounds like Nick Bjugstad is still a little ways out from getting back in the lineup. That means more third line usage for Denis Malgin.

Good read on the front office shakeup that has taken place in the Panthers’ organization.


Mike Condon got shelled and perhaps it was about time. The Senators have been playing fast and loose with the percentages while getting some excellent goaltending from Condon and Craig Anderson. They need more goal support, which is crazy when you think about the offensive talent this team boasts.

Mike Hoffman had to sit out last night due to an undisclosed injury. I wish I had more info but all we know is that he is day-to-day.

Bobby Ryan went down mid-way through the game and had to be held out due to an upper-body injury. I read that he had to have his hand stitched but was unable to grip his stick. It doesn’t sound too optimistic that he’ll be able to play tomorrow:

With Hoffman and Ryan out, the Senators lines found the blender. The previously hot line of Mark Stone, JG Pageau and Zack Smith was broken up.

Silver lining: Derick Brassard scored his first power-play goal of the season. I expect at least 50 points from Brassard when all is said and done but I figured he and Erik Karlsson would work wonders together on the power play. Hasn’t happened thus far.


Pontus Aberg scored his first career NHL goal. He has two points in three games since being called up, which is a good way to make sure you stick around for a while longer. I think Aberg has potential long term but I can’t advocate for him in any one-year leagues. He is just too far down an ocean deep roster.

Pekka Rinne returned after a night off and showed no ill effects of the injury that held him out. Sunny skies ahead for Rinne owners.


Matt Duchene is nearing a return but he is still out after a concussion last week.

The Avalanche were also without Gabriel Landeskog who sat with a lower-body injury.

They rotated virtually everyone through opportunities on Nathan MacKinnon’s wing. Ultimately, Mikhail Grigorenko scored his first goal of the season, while AJ Greer assisted for his first NHL point. I have to admit to not knowing much about Greer but he has 14 points in 14 games in his first season at the AHL level, which is a great start.

MacKinnon had a two-point night. It’s unfortunate that it took until his star teammates were out of the lineup before MacKinnon popped but it finally happened. MacKinnon has been skating huge minutes thus far. He ranks 14th among forwards in the league at just over 20 minutes per game.

A big reason for the spike in ice time is an increased penalty killing role. That doesn’t always bode well for fantasy numbers. MacKinnon did score a shorthanded goal last night and he certainly has the potential to be a weapon on the counter-attack while down a man but overall, I do wonder if the added responsibility is hurting more than helping.


There were questions about the availability of Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Steen prior to last night’s game. Steen was held out with an undisclosed injury. I’ve been saying that he doesn’t look right all season. I wonder if he is still recovering from his off-season shoulder surgery.

Tarasenko did play but was limited to 15:36. Reduced ice time isn’t necessarily notable for Tarasenko as we know that Ken Hitchcock will often limit his star’s ice time when protecting a lead as the Blues were for the entire third period.


Good look at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ early offensive struggles and how he is becoming more of a defensive force:

Another strong improvement is Nugent-Hopkins’ ability to win loose pucks, with the biggest improvement there coming in the neutral zone — a key area to drive possession but also a mark of a great defensive forward. Winning neutral zone pucks prevents a lot of controlled entries against, and even if a player can’t turn that into offensive rushes for their own team, it has value. As it happens, Nugent-Hopkins can turn those neutral zone pucks into offence with his ability to enter the offensive zone with possession, even if his offensive game is still lagging slightly.

It should be a bit concerning for fantasy owners that RNH is becoming more of a defensive guy but we’ve seen other players succeed when given defensive deployment so this shouldn’t be crippling. Rather, it shows he’s becoming a complete player who can produce in these situations. We just haven’t seen the production yet.

Some of his struggles are a result of the Oilers’ lack of depth, some of it is that chances simply are not going in for him and his linemates. His shooting percentage of 4.1% is less than half his career average. His linemates have done no better with an on-ice shooting percentage of 4.2%. This stuff will balance out, and RNH will be trending closer towards a 50-point pace.

He could probably score more if the Oilers could figure their power play out. It could be a personnel issue but I am inclined to believe coaching is a factor as well. The Oilers haven’t had a good power play since Ralph Krueger was fired. They also still don’t have a defenseman to run the PP, which is an issue but a good coach should be able to make something out of the top end forward talent available.


Minor trade to discuss with Michael Sgarbossa being dealt to Florida in exchange for Logan Shaw. Sgarbossa had some fleeting value while the Ducks were dealing with injuries but that dried up in a hurry. He’ll need more injuries in Florida to have value.


There’s a solid opportunity for Scott Wilson to get back into the lineup and potentially skate with a superstar once again. He has flashed chemistry with Evgeni Malkin. I consider him more of an option for daily fantasy than for standard pools.

What we are all really hoping for is for Jake Guentzel to get called up and given some run. Guentzel has 33 points in 35 AHL games, including playoffs. He has tremendous upside in this lineup if he does get the call.


Alexander Radulov is still battling illness and will miss Friday’s game. Here’s hoping he doesn’t have whatever Jiri Hudler does.


Since we could all use some good injury news:


Great profile on Marc Savard, his post-NHL career and dealing with concussions.


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