Ramblings: Elias Lindholm is a top waiver wire option.
Sidney Crosby literally hacked the tip of Marc Methot’s finger off last night. Do not watch the clip of it if you are squeamish. The slash is no different from the 100 other ones you’ll see on any given night, most of which do not even draw a penalty, but the result here certainly gets your attention. This is the second straight game with some notable stick work by Crosby so you wonder if the Department of Player Safety gets involved, even with a fine.
With Jake Guentzel out, Scott Wilson joined Crosby and Conor Sheary on the top line. They were held scoreless. Wilson might provide some value or he might get shuffled off in favour of Bryan Rust, who is getting close. Wilson isn’t so good that he’s a must-add. Neither is Rust, mind you.
Mark Borowiecki was also stretched out skating 19 minutes and leveling 11 hits. Borowiecki is the NHL’s new hits king. He has 34 hits in the last four games. You know where to turn if you need to do some streaming for hits this weekend.
After returning for one game Aaron Ekblad is out once again:
Aaron Ekblad out of #FlaPanthers lineup tonight; woke up with a sore neck, said unrelated to concussion— George ?Richards (@GeorgeRichards) March 23, 2017
Whether this neck injury is BS or not, I was surprised to see Ekblad come back as quickly as he did. The Panthers have him signed to an eight-year $60M contract that hasn’t even kicked in yet. You figure that if they were ever going to use the bubble wrap, now would be the time.
Jonathan Marchessault scored a pair of goals last night. He has 14 points in 23 games since Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov returned, which is just enough production to keep you hanging on but not good enough that you should.
Some line shuffling for the Oilers as they went down 4-2 heading into the third period. Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle jumped up with Connor McDavid, leading a five-goal third period comeback. It was against the Avalanche, with a couple of empty-netters so we shouldn’t get carried away but it’s possible we see Eberle on the top line once again. He scored three points last night.
That kind of shuffling would be bad for Patrick Maroon who found himself on the fourth line once it all shook out. Stay tuned.
The Oilers’ schedule isn’t particularly favourable coming up. They do have another matchup with Colorado on Saturday but they have only three games next week, all on the densely-packed Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday slate. You might find you don’t have a way of fitting a guy like Maroon into your lineup the rest of the way.
Even after being split off from McDavid, Leon Draisaitl put up a pair of points for his sixth straight multi-point effort. He has 13 points in the last six games.
It’s not happening nearly enough for these guys but Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon combined for a pair of goals last night and looked dangerous throughout. Sven Andrighetto rounds out that line. I wouldn’t mind seeing that trio again next season, with a better team surrounding them.
MacKinnon is a bit perplexing. He has all the tools but he’s got that Evander Kane problem where he just doesn’t finish at a high percentage, despite the volume and quality of the chances he can generate. But we’ve seen MacKinnon finish at a high-enough rate during his rookie season. He has the ability to produce fireworks when paired with the right linemates and Rantanen has LEGIT upside.
As disappointing as MacKinnon has been for three years now, he will still only be 22 when next season kicks off. You have to keep giving a guy like that chances. It’ll be interesting to see where I rank him next season. A lot of it will depend on the moves the Avalanche make.
I didn’t expect that the Bruins would make for a good matchup for the Lightning given the ability of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to smother opposing top lines and the Lightning being a one-line show. But the Bruins made the cardinal sin of taking penalties against Tampa Bay, which led to a Nikita Kucherov hat-trick, his second in the past month.
Kucherov is unattainable unless you drafted him but Ondrej Palat (three assists) and Braden Point (one goal, one assist) remain available in a bunch of leagues, providing exposure to the Kucherov supernova.
Alex Killorn has two points in the last three games after going scoreless in 12 straight. He is not seeing exposure to the Kucherov supernova.
Since returning from injury Ryan Spooner has four points in five games, three of which coming on the power play. For all the love that the Blue Jackets have gotten for turning Sam Gagner into a power play specialist, this is essentially how the Bruins have used Spooner his entire career. Last year we saw how it can go well as he provided excellent depth scoring at 5-on-5 (2.01 P/60). This season Spooner’s 5-on-5 scoring has tanked (1.35 P/60). Injuries have been a factor this season and it hasn’t helped that Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey (his most common linemates from last season) have fallen off a cliff.
It will be interesting to see where Spooner winds up this summer as he’s been rumoured to be on the trade block and will hit restricted free agency. Offer sheets don’t exist but the Bruins may still let Spooner walk instead of paying up. We’ve seen how effective Spooner can be in a sheltered 5-on-5 role with top PP minutes. That’s not the type of player you want to pay up for. Not when teams are finding similar production on the cheap like Gagner or Marchessault. But there is a situation where Spooner gets back to fantasy relevance. Maybe it’s back in Boston with a revamped bottom-six.
I don’t know how we wound up in this world where Brandon Dubinsky is the only forward that you want to own off the Blue Jackets but we are here.
Alexander Wennberg didn’t score, AGAIN. Cam Atkinson has been held off the board in three straight and has 13 points in 24 games since the All-Star break. Over the same stretch Nick Foligno has eight in 23, while Brandon Saad has 14 in 24.
Dubinsky, meanwhile, has quietly put up 19 points in 24 games, including points in four straight. And he has maintained his excellent peripheral numbers in categories like Hits, PIM and FOW. This dude is altering rotisserie leagues and many are sleeping on it because he didn’t have a strong first half.
Only on a team as bad as the Devils does John Moore have a shot at hitting double-digit goals.
No one outside of Taylor Hall or Kyle Palmieri is fantasy relevant on the Devils. Sure, go deep enough and we can find time for Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac or Damon Severson but 90% of folks are only concerned with those first two names.
I am excited for year two of Pavel Zacha. He’s got points in six straight games but isn’t used reliably enough that I’d trust picking him up in one-year leagues. Keepers, he should already be owned but I trust that he’s going to make his way into regular relevance soon enough. Even if Zacha isn’t getting top unit PP time or minutes alongside Hall/Palmieri I like the potential of him paired with Miles Wood.
Ever since getting roasted by Bill Peters, Eddie Lack has strung together five straight quality starts, winning four of them and not conceding more than two goals in an outing. Not bad, although that’s pretty well the last bullet in the gun for a head coach.
Cam Ward is still the #1 guy anyhow so you can’t use Lack for more than a spot start and even then I’d only do it out of desperation. They do have two back-to-backs next week so there may be a chance to use him.
Line changes for the Hurricanes last night:
#1 23.7% MCGINN,BROCK – STAAL,JORDAN – TERAVAINEN,TEUVO
#2 23% RYAN,DEREK – SKINNER,JEFF – STEMPNIAK,LEE
#3 20% AHO,SEBASTIAN – DI GIUSEPPE,PHILLIP – LINDHOLM,ELIAS
#4 16.7% BROWN,PATRICK – NORDSTROM,JOAKIM – RASK,VICTOR
Elias Lindholm extended his scoring streak to nine games. He’s still available in a bunch of leagues and if you’ve been reading my H2H playoff primers, you know that the Hurricanes play five games again next week. HIGHLY recommend scooping Lindholm up. His linemate Sebastian Aho is pretty good too. Aho has points in five straight now.
Victor Rask is back on my shit list. He skated only 12 minutes on what amounts to a fifth or a sixth line.
Like Carolina, Nashville plays five games next week. They don’t have much in the way of depth options to snag off the waiver wire however. My #1 target was Mike Fisher but he had to sit out with a lower-body injury, which Peter Laviolette is being quite secretive about:
Coach Laviolette declines to update Mike Fisher's status for tonight's game: "We don't talk about our lineups." #Preds— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) March 23, 2017
I wonder about Fisher’s availability for next week. Obviously, the Predators are battling for their playoff lives so if he can play you assume that he will but they’ve got five games in seven nights to contend with. If it’s a nagging issue, you could see how he might not be able to play in all of them.
If Fisher’s not available, I’m at a bit of a loss for widely available waiver scoops. Calle Jarnkrok is kind of interesting but I don’t trust him. Craig Smith has four points in the last four games but I’m not taking that bait.
The obvious guy is Juuse Saros. With two back-to-backs on tap you can count on two starts from Saros in the H2H finals. I trust Saros more than I trust most starters.
Zach Parise has points in four straight and has eight points in 10 games since returning from the mumps. Colour me intrigued but I’ve also been getting roped in by Parise all season.
New lines in Chicago:
#1 22.1% HAYDEN,JOHN – PANIK,RICHARD – TOEWS,JONATHAN
#2 18.6% HOSSA,MARIAN – KRUGER,MARCUS – SCHMALTZ,NICK
#3 18.1% HARTMAN,RYAN – KANE,PATRICK – PANARIN,ARTEMI
#4 7.5% KERO,TANNER – RASMUSSEN,DENNIS – TOOTOO,JORDIN
Nick Schmaltz notched an assist last night but has become MUCH less interesting.
Suddenly, Ryan Hartman is a person of interest. He was already a decent multi-category option in deep leagues but adding faceoffs and exposure to Panarin/Kane is something else.
Patrik Berglund has snagged Paul Stastny’s top PP minutes with Stastny on the shelf. He has three points in the past two games but we’ve seen flashes from Berglund all season. It never seems to last. None of their centermen seem capable of sustaining fantasy performance. At times Stastny has looked like he’d be returning to the 60-point plateau. Jori Lehtera always teases with the supposed “chemistry” he has with Vladimir Tarasenko. Berglund sometimes looks like a 30-goal man. It never holds up.
If you want to climb on board with Berglund, I can understand why. Exposure to Tarasenko is tantalizing. I just can’t get there. Even in a sprint situation like the fantasy playoffs, I can’t trust that Berglund will get it done.
Jake Allen is smoking me in a couple of leagues. For the fantasy owners whose seasons he didn’t ruin, it’s all paying off.
It turns out that Ryan Strome broke his wrist and is done for the year. That means more top unit PP time for Andrew Ladd, although I could see a varying cast of characters grab these minutes, perhaps even Josh Ho-Sang.
The Islanders have recalled Jaroslav Halak. With three back-to-backs remaining including tonight/tomorrow, you can expect Halak to get some games. This should help ensure that Thomas Greiss doesn’t become more burnt out than he already is but it is also a threat to Greiss’ #1 status. It’s win or go home for the Islanders so you can imagine they’ll ride whoever wins.
Rasmus Ristolainen, on the other hand:
Buffalo's Rasmus Ristolainen suspended three games for interference on Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 23, 2017
I was recommending you drop Ristolainen with a one-game suspension. Three makes it a no-brainer. He won’t play again until April 2nd.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.