If you recall, I lamented the Oilers’ PP woes last week, emphasizing how this is the main reason for the struggles of guys like Leon Draisaitl (who is back on track) and Oscar Klefbom. Both got in on the PP action last night, which would help their fantasy stocks tremendously. We need to see a lot more from the Oilers PP before buying in entirely though.
Ryan Strome notched a pair of PP assists, giving him five points in the last three games. No, I am not buying any stock in this hot run. However, I fully support it. Play the crap out of Strome. Hopefully he can stay hot until the trade deadline and the Oilers can move him for a small fortune to save face on that horrific Eberle trade. Of course, knowing the dunces in that front office, they’ll use this hot streak as a reason to extend Strome.
McDavid truly was brilliant last night, but this was his piece de resistance:
MCDAVIDDDDDDD!!!! pic.twitter.com/JsVNlaZwRx— Stephen Laidlaw (@SteveLaidlaw) February 6, 2018
Corey Perry drives to the net and (inadvertently, I'm hoping and assuming) kicks Frederik Andersen in the face. Andersen is leaving the game. pic.twitter.com/GDjJC7ORRa— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 6, 2018
It sounds like Andersen will be fine, but don’t breathe that sigh of relief until we get an update. If Andersen misses time Curtis McElhinney might be able to start a couple in a pinch, but I’d be more interested in one of Calvin Pickard or Garrett Sparks for an extended run.
🚨holy gardiner stretch pass!!!! holy nylander finish!!!!!🚨 pic.twitter.com/C40VTS1NVo— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) February 6, 2018
Gardiner is up to 13 assists in the last nine games. He was supposed to slow down with Morgan Rielly back in the lineup, but he remains hot! Rielly, however, has proven to be the better power play option, so if you were picking between the two I’d lean Rielly.
Some clarification regarding Josh Leivo’s trade request, it’s not that he wants to be traded, but rather that he needs to play. He isn’t wrong, having played just 30 games between the NHL and AHL over the past season and a half has been a waste of his prime years.
It’s tough peg exactly what Leivo is considering he has such a small sample size of NHL performance, but he was a point-per-game player in the AHL at 22 and has scored at a first-line rate 2.03 P/60 at 5-on-5 in nearly 500 minutes across five seasons of NHL action. That scoring rate is buoyed mostly by last season’s brilliant 10-game run with nine points. These are all positives, and we can’t necessarily hold his lack of playing time against him. NHL teams undervalue players all the time.
Unfortunately, Leivo doesn’t have much leverage, having signed an extension with the Leafs in the fall. Had he held off, he might be headed towards unrestricted free agency. This is not all that dissimilar from the situation with Jonathan Drouin a couple of years ago, although obviously we’re dealing with a lower profile player. If you recall, it took a while before that trade sorted itself. In fact, perhaps the worst thing you can do as a player is demand a trade. As soon as that gets out trade value is lowered, plus it puts the team in a situation where if they acquiesce then they have to bend to every player demand. A well-run organization is not going to hand over that kind of leverage.
For fantasy owners of Leivo this means that the wait will likely continue beyond this season.
For more on the Leafs and some others check out my latest fantasy hockey stock market post.
Huge night for Corey Perry (four assists) and the rest of the Ducks’ top line. That trio can really run folks over, although it’s worth noting that Perry does not consistently skate with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell and has suffered accordingly.
My big waiver wire pickup for the week was Kevin Fiala siting a favourable four-game slate that kicked off against the porous Islanders. He scored two goals last night, giving him seven goals and night points in the last nine games. What a dynamic talent. He’d be a first-liner on a lot of teams.
Anders Lee ended a five-game scoreless drought with an assist. That was his first assist in 21 games, a drought stretching back to December 16th. Yikes!
Lee’s assist came on the power play where he is a fixture, but it should be noted that he was bounced back onto the second line with Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal. That’s not a huge drop off from the top line, but it’s undeniable that Lee has performed far better when paired with Tavares. I doubt this lasts too long.
That switcheroo means Anthony Beauvillier is skating with Tavares and Josh Bailey. Beauvillier has now gone five straight without a goal and I’m wondering if we’ve seen the end of his rush. You can’t completely give up hope until he is bounced from the top-six. This line swap is the step in that process.
Rick Nash has officially submitted his no-trade list to the Rangers so now they can go shopping. He’s still got plenty to offer, although probably less to fantasy teams than to NHL teams. He seems to haven fallen out of the mix of even being a 50-point player. Still, he’s got enough goal-scoring and shot volume ability to have value in deep settings, but for the most part I’d steer clear beyond using him for short-term pickups.
There’s some scuttlebutt out there that the Rangers are intent on selling off their rentals, but then trying to re-sign them come the off-season. We’ll see how that works out. The Coyotes pulled off this move with Antoine Vermette getting a first-round pick out of the eventual Stanley Cup champions and then bringing Vermette back in the summer. Of course, they wound up buying Vermette out so perhaps this didn’t go quite according to plan.
Poor Henrik Lundqvist is going to have to be a hero every night (even more so than over the past decade) with all these injuries and the rebuild now engaged. Lundqvist stopped 39 of 41 shots. He’s good enough to remain valuable to your fantasy roster, but he could come a bit unglued here. It’s not like Lundqvist hasn’t had some bad stretches over the past couple of seasons.
One of the teams rumoured to be in on Nash is the Dallas Stars, who could use some secondary scoring, especially with Jason Spezza having turned into a pumpkin. Mind you Spezza does have points in three straight games. Could Nash rejuvenate Spezza? Seems like a stretch, I’ve written Spezza off. I do like the idea of a Nash/Radek Faksa combo that could be quite the shutdown line.
Have you kicked the tires on Max Domi in your keeper league yet? It’s no secret that this season has been horrible, but it’s been bad for everyone in Arizona. Their situation is reminiscent of Colorado last year, where things just spiral out of control. Sure, the players take some of the heat for that, but there is potential to be much better. That starts with Domi who scored like a lower-end first-liner through his first two seasons averaging roughly 2.0 P/60 at 5-on-5. That rate has plummeted this season thanks to a shooting percentage that has fallen off the face of the earth. He has only two 5-on-5 goal this year, and only three goals total. He’s shooting just 2.9%. That won’t hold up. Next year is his fourth season – can anyone say breakout?
If you aren’t sold because you think that the situation in Arizona is too bleak that’s all the more reason to kick the tires. You want to zig when conventional wisdom says you should zag. It’s how you find real value.
Other guys suffering from horrific shooting:
Joel Eriksson Ek – 1.3%
Boone Jenner – 4.4%
Artturi Lehkonen – 4.5%
Pavel Zacha – 4.7%
Mikko Koivu – 4.9%
The main impact will likely be Jack Roslovic heading back to the AHL. The Jets do have some other injuries that open up a lineup spot, but Paul Maurice draws a very clear line between his scorers and his checkers and the other guys out for Winnipeg are checkers, which may not be a role they want Roslovic filling just yet.
Patric Hornqvist is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury. I wish we had something more concrete, but no such luck. The time is now for Jake Guentzel to start producing if he is ever going to. Generally, Guentzel has done well with Hornqvist out or demoted because he moves onto the top PP unit as the net-front man.
Knowing how lethal the Penguins’ PP is Guentzel makes a decent option to jump back onto. He skated 18:10 in their last game, his most in over a month, and even saw some time alongside Sidney Crosby at even strength.
One mild concern with this option is the Penguins’ relatively light schedule. Over the next four weeks they play 12 games, only the Dallas Stars play fewer. It won’t matter if Guentzel gets on a roll, but you might find it difficult to use him much if he doesn’t catch fire.
Brian Elliott has been activated off injured reserve. Despite a winning record, Elliott’s numbers went into the tank in January, likely compounded by the injury situation. Hopefully he is back to full health and can provide some consistency, but that has never been Elliott’s MO.
I highly recommend checking out this long read from The Athletic on a road trip spent with the ECHL’s Brampton Beast. It’s unlocked for those who don’t have subscriptions.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.