Ramblings: Ovechkin scores, Ho-Sang impresses, Schmaltz a good buy (Mar.15)
Lots of interesting stuff last night that I had a hard time deciding where to start. I think I’ll begin with what I had planned to begin with early on – Josh Ho-Sang.
Ho-Sang scored a goal last night and assisted on the OT winner, and that gives him six points in his last five games. He’s a high-risk, high-reward talent and at this point it looks like it’s leaning towards the ‘reward’ side. Maybe we end up with several years of a Sean Avery-type of gong show, or maybe the attitude and lack of a mouth-filter is blown out of proportion. Either way, the production is real and it looks like he can be a good fantasy asset as early as next season (or this year, if you can add players this late). He has tremendous skill, but his points in the AHL were modest because he had only Bracken Kearns and Steve Bernier to pass to down there. Now we’re seeing what he can do if you put skill guys around him. He can actually keep up! He’s been playing with Ryan Strome and Andrew Ladd, but in overtime he was out there with John Tavares. Judging by the quick goal, I wonder if he gets a look on the Tavares line. Here is the nice drop pass to J.T. :
You can read our fantasy scouting profile on Ho-Sang right here
Calvin de Haan doesn’t get a lot of power-play time, but with four points in five games he’s up to 21 on the season. He should end up with 25 or 26 this year, which is a career high. He’s also been healthy, which is also a big step for him. If healthy I think he can top 30 points next year, if you’re in a league that values defensemen that reach that mark. The former 12th overall pick was almost a point-per-game player in the OHL, and injuries wiped out one of his two AHL seasons – and then he was in the NHL. So it’s still not a foregone conclusion that he’ll be strictly a stay-at-home guy. I’d like to see how things fall next year with Ryan Pulock is up, and where de Haan fits in.
Alex Ovechkin ended his career-worst goal-scoring drought of 10 games by potting one against the Wild. Nicklas Backstrom also broke out of a slump with three assists. And this was against a top team (and a stingy one), so I suspect that things break open for those two in the near future. That being said, this happened with Kevin Shattenkirk out of the lineup and he’s back next game. I’m sure it’s nothing, but Ovechkin hast points in each of the two games that Shattenkirk was suspended…but just one point in the six games that Shattenkirk played. For Backstrom it’s four points in the two games without Shatty and four points in six with him.
Eight players are on pace for 84 points or more. Last year there were three, ditto for 2014-15 – and in 2013-14 there were four. Progress?
Artem Anisimov picked up an assist early in the game, but then left the game after taking this hit from Alexander Radulov. He was later seen with a walking boot, but officially he is “day to day”. Nick Schmaltz again slid into his slot on the top line and paid dividends quickly. Here was the play:
Look for Schmaltz to pick up some points over the next week or two.
Two teams scored seven goals last night. The Edmonton Oilers, who played a hapless (and hopeless) team with a terrible goalie. And the Florida Panthers, who played the Leafs…but it seemed to be the Leafs of two years ago.
Seven goals and McDavid only managed just one point? I’m sure there are some McDavid owners who are unhappy this morning.
When you play a hapless team, you’re able to finish some pretty sweet plays. Here’s one of them:
Maroon also scored another beauty, so he’s broken out of his slump.
I just noticed that the NHL changed Matt Benning to Matthew Benning for a game in mid-January (and then back to Matt Benning after that game). Why do you care? Well, you don’t. Why do I care? Well, it’s annoying for Frozen Pool. The name changes create new players in the database. So we have to manually pick up on it and fix it. Right now Matthew Benning has one point in one game this year, while Matt Benning has 12 points in 52 games. The correct number is, of course, 13 points in 53 games for Matthias Benning.
In his last 37 games, Patrick Sharp is minus-19.
The Penguins signed one of the more coveted college free agents yesterday in Zach Aston-Reese, from out of Northeastern University. After posting 43 points in 41 games last year, he finished this season with 63 in 38. That’s good enough to lead the nation in points this year, as well as goals (31). He also finished with 72 penalty minutes, so the potential is there for some multi-category action. He was on my list of US College free agents from the Midseason Guide, and here is his blurb:
“Aston-Reese is a 22-year-old who is fifth in the nation in scoring (edit: as noted above, he finished tied for first). He also had 43 points in 41 games last year as a freshman, so he’s been putting up big numbers for a while now. At 6-0, 204 pounds he’s a rare undrafted college free agent who actually offers size, strength and two-way ability.”
Another player mentioned in the Midseason Guide is Gavin Bayreuther, and late last night Bob McKenzie reported that the Dallas Stars signed him to a two-year deal. He was the second-highest scoring defenseman in the nation in January, but slowed a little and suffered an injury. He finished with 29 points in 30 games. Dallas is a great place for a defenseman to sign – if he’s a stay-at-home guy. So Bayreuther needs to step up his defense. Because with Lindell, Klingberg and Honka he doesn’t have a chance.
Thomas Vanek had one point in four games for his new team the Panthers. And he was also a minus-7 since joining them! Then he ran into an unprepared and rather embarrassing Maple Leafs team and picked up four assists, making his overall Florida numbers much better.
The Leafs were the Keystone Cops last night. I’ll leave this with you (start at 30 seconds):
Zaitsev went minus-4 in the game. Nazem Kadri was minus-5.