Droppable players, Ekblad concussion, plus more…
As usual, I’ll cover the news and significant happenings from the boxscores. But as we head into the final month of the season, I’ve sprinkled throughout today’s Ramblings a few players that you should consider dropping at this point.
Henrik Lundqvist will miss the next 2-3 weeks with a muscle strain in his hip. Antti Raanta usually would warrant a pickup, as I mentioned in my most recent waiver wire piece for Sportsnet. But if you’re looking ahead to head-to-head playoff matchups, you may want to look elsewhere. In fact, it wouldn’t be out of the question to drop Lundqvist completely in single-season leagues.
Over the last two weeks of the season (March 27 through April 9), the Rangers have a brutal schedule as one of three teams to play fewer than seven games (New Jersey and Winnipeg are the others). The six games feature matchups mainly against high-scoring teams, including San Jose, Pittsburgh (twice), Philadelphia, Washington, and Ottawa.
Last week in the Ramblings I briefly mentioned a trade that I made to improve my goaltending. That trade had me shipping Lundqvist and John Klingberg and receiving Craig Anderson and Tyson Barrie. I realized that the dropoff from Klingberg to Barrie could be significant, but with the fantasy playoffs a certainty in this league, I wanted to rid myself of Lundqvist with his brutal playoff head-to-heads looming. This is also a single-season league, so the damage to my plus-minus and power-play points wouldn’t be prorated over anything close to a full season.
A day or two after I made the deal, I was sweating a bit with the possibility that Anderson could leave the team again if his wife’s cancer situation worsened. So I used a waiver claim to pick up Mike Condon as an insurance policy. So things worked out well for me, since I would be looking at a goaltending trio of injured goalies Lundqvist and Roberto Luongo with Ryan Miller as my only healthy goalie. Not a good situation to be in if you’re gunning for a fantasy title.
With his 28th goal of the season on Saturday, David Pastrnak now has goals in back-to-back games and and eight-game point streak. We might just have to get used to him being a streaky performer, as he had scored 19 goals at mid-December and a seven-game pointless drought and a 17-game goalless drought after that. In spite of the peaks and valleys, Pasta owners should be happy with the overall return.
So far life in Boston is working out for Drew Stafford. With his buzzer beater goal on Saturday, Stafford has now scored four points (2g-2a) in four games as a Bruin.
Another player that you might have to consider dropping as the season gets shorter and the games get more important is Matt Duchene. The Avs’ center has now reached ten games without a point, which is the longest drought of his career. With a minus-3 on Saturday against Ottawa, Duchene has now reached a minus-28 for the season. His fantasy owners had better hope that he is traded somewhere this offseason, since no one on the Avalanche is having a good season fantasy-wise.
With two assists on Saturday, Erik Karlsson has five points over his last two games. His recent success goes back even further.
Bad news for the Sens, though. Mark Stone missed Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury and will have an MRI soon.
Hopefully you held on to Brian Elliott as he struggled mightily earlier this season, or you were able to grab him after an impatient owner dropped him. With a 31-save shutout, Kid Ells has now posted back-to-back shutouts and eight consecutive wins. In fact, if you look at the Top 10 Goalie Big Board for the past month on the Report Generator, Elliott is tied for the lead in wins to go with a 1.80 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. Elliott has benefitted from the Flames’ recent turnaround, which you can read in the latest 30 Thoughts.
After he was listed as a game-time decision with a lower-body injury, Dougie Hamilton had a nice game, recording three assists (two on the power play) on four shots. Having Hamilton on my team as an all-around contributor helps soften the blow of losing Klingberg (although I should mention that I also own Brent Burns on that team). Hamilton holds his own in peripheral categories such as penalty minutes and power-play points, and he’s a top-5 blueliner in shots on goal.
That’s some solid consistency, particularly from a rookie. With 54 points, Mitch Marner would normally lead the league in rookie scoring at this time of season. But we haven’t seen a crop of rookies this strong in a while. There are already six rookies that have reached 40 points, and that’s with at least 15 games to go for teams.
After an absolutely brutal stretch (no points and a minus-11 in eight games), Morgan Rielly has points in back-to-back games. Watch his overtime goal on Saturday, which is only made possible by 3-on-3.
More bad news for Aaron Ekblad…
Ekblad has been snakebitten offensively, and now he’s dealing with his second concussion this season. If you’re in a pure points league, Ekblad’s lack of production (21 points in 67 games) has been a massive letdown. In a multicategory league, though, it depends on which categories are counted. Ekblad’s minus-22 was completely unexpected, but only Brent Burns has a higher shots on goal total than Ekblad (223). If you’ve invested in Ekblad, all you can do is hope that next season is better.
The Devils as a team lost their tenth consecutive game on Saturday. All this losing has been putting a dent into Cory Schneider’s fantasy value. Schneider was pulled against the Coyotes on Saturday after allowing four goals on ten shots, and he’s failed to record a victory in his last eight tries. Over that span Schneider has a 3.24 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage. Park him on your bench for now.
Although the goal and assist totals won’t show it, the Sidney Crosby – Conor Sheary – Jake Guentzel line was absolutely dominant on Saturday. Each recorded two points, but the more eye-popping number was the shots on goal total. Crosby fired nine shots on Ryan Miller, while breakout performer Sheary took eight and Guentzel took four. If Sheary and Guentzel can stick with Sid into next season, then they are players you need to target in single-season drafts.
Daniel Sedin now has no points in his last six games. He was dropped in one of my leagues at the same time as brother Henrik Sedin, as both happened to be owned by the same fantasy team. I think it was over ten seasons ago when I last saw Sedins on a league waiver wire, and it was a relatively shallow one. They’ve had a great run during that time, but it appears that this season is the one where Father Time has caught up to them.
Miller was a goalie that I went out of my way to bench facing the Penguins. But he saved the Canucks’ behinds most of this game, making 32 saves before he allowed the Penguins’ first goal. When all was said and done, Miller stopped 45 of 47 shots in ensuring that this game didn’t get out of control. Not much was expected out of Miller entering the season, but his decent play for a now-rebuilding Canucks’ team should generate interest in his services once free agency season begins.
Adrian Kempe, listed as the top prospect of the Kings on Dobber Prospects, scored his first NHL goal in his 11th NHL game. He has already recorded four assists in somewhat limited icetime (averaging 12 minutes per game).
Finally, in case you hadn’t noticed, Alex Ovechkin has not scored a goal in nine games and just a single assist over his last eight games. But he has taken 17 shots over his last three games, so not to worry. Don’t drop him. J
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.