Thomas Greiss was placed on IR yesterday with a lower-body injury. It was retroactive to the 16th so we could see him back sooner than later. Christopher Gibson was recalled, but it’s doubtful he sees much action. Gibson’s now 25 and his AHL numbers leave something to be desired. Any goalie can go on a run though.
Jaroslav Halak was the number one for the Islanders before the Greiss injury and will continue in that role. Halak got beat up by the Wild in matinee action yesterday. This after a 50-save shutout over the weekend. The Islanders’ defense is so porous that it’s impossible to accurately judge the Islanders’ goalies. Halak and Greiss have not offered much value to fantasy owners though.
Joel Eriksson Ek scored his first goal in 50 games. He has been well buried in Minnesota skating just 13:10 per game with next to no power play time. He’s also been the victim of shooting percentage swoons clicking on just 2.2% of his own shots and an on-ice shooting percentage of 4.7%. He’s only 21. Seems like a good post-hype buy in keeper leagues.
Brad Marchand ends it in overtime:
David Rittich had a strong outing despite taking the overtime loss, turning aside 30 of 32 shots. This was his first strong start since Mike Smith went down but we are dealing with such a small sample size that we don’t want to get carried away. That said, these small samples are all we (and NHL decision makers) get to make evaluations on. Rittich figures to be in the mix for any goaltending openings this summer, and a strong run could be enough to earn him a starting gig. So far, you’d have to bet against him.
This strong start does mean Rittich is likely to get the next game, rather than us seeing Jon Gillies get another shot. The Flames have a back-to-back Wednesday/Thursday though. If Smith isn’t ready by Thursday, perhaps Gillies gets a look!
Since Christmas, which is right around when he was put onto the top power play unit Matthew Tkachuk has 22 points, nine of which coming with the man-advantage, in 24 games. He’s still a 5-on-5 beast on the 3M line, but the extra PP use kicks him from 55-point threat into the 70-point range. He won’t get there this season because of a slower first half but keep this pace in mind as you head towards the fantasy playoffs and also for drafts next season.
Minor trade for the Capitals yesterday sending one of their third-round picks to Chicago for depth defenseman Michal Kempny. Kempny won’t sniff the top-three mix of John Carlson, Matt Niskanen or Dmitry Orlov, so we aren’t talking much fantasy relevance here. He could bump veteran Brooks Orpik out of the lineup for the odd game to give the 37-year-old a rest, which would hurt folks rostering Orpik in hits/blocks leagues.
The bigger fallout is that this might be the end of the buying for the Capitals. They are down to six picks in this draft and had only four (none in the top three rounds) after pushing all-in with trades last season. They do sit atop the Metro standings and have an aging roster running out of chances to win, but there’s still time for one more group of youngsters to come up and push this roster in a couple of years. That won’t happen if they sell off another draft class to help now. They also don’t really have the cap space to make any more additions.
This is good news for Carlson owners as rumours of Mike Green being dealt back to Washington have been out there. Carlson’s slot as the #1 defenseman is safe. He has enjoyed a well-timed bounce-back in a contract year scoring 11 goals and 47 points (third among defensemen). He looks like a good bet to top his career high of 55 points.
Yesterday’s goal was just Evander Kane’s fourth since the start of January. He has one assist in that span. The only thing keeping him on my fantasy roster is his potential post-trade, assuming he even gets moved. The Sabres have a tough needle to thread here. They should be showcasing Kane as much as possible, but they also have to avoid injuring a player with an extensive track record in that department. Most teams should know what Kane has to offer so I think injury prevention takes precedence. At the same time, the coach is trying to win games.
Kane skated over 22 minutes yesterday. His role had slipped in the second half but seems to be trending upward. He was attached to Ryan O’Reilly all game, which is as good as it gets in Buffalo. Still no top unit power play usage though, which is what could really make a difference in Kane’s numbers.
Thomas Chabot skated 20:52 last night, which is the bump in ice time we expected to see after the Dion Phaneuf trade. The previous two games were down around the 16-minute average he has carried all season. Eventually, Chabot is going to be a top-two guy for Ottawa. Moving Phaneuf expediated that. Not sure it’s happening immediately though.
The guy who sees a bigger bump is Cody Ceci who now should see consistent second unit PP time. He’s been used in that role for the past 10 games and has four points. We’re on the cusp of fantasy relevance.
Two PP points for Ryan Ellis last night. That’s one dimension that has been missing from his production coming off of a career high 11 PP points last season. He appears to be heating up with six points and 28 SOG in the past eight games.
Craig Smith may be heating up again with points in four straight games.
John Gibson went down in what looked to be a massive acting job, but indeed he would leave the game after two periods:
Definitely clips his skate a bit, but not quite sure the stick needed to be hurled into the air. pic.twitter.com/d3nrLiqafi— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) February 20, 2018
As excellent as Gibson is, he cannot seem to avoid injuries. Part in parcel with owning Gibson is the risk he could go down at any time. He was in the midst of shutting out the best team in the Pacific.
Nick Foligno is out 1-2 weeks with a lower-body injury. This isn’t overly relevant for fantasy folks as the forward is having a mediocre season. He has been in the mix of Columbus’ rejuvenated power play but hasn’t recorded a PP point in over a month and has only three on the season.
This opens up room for Boone Jenner to get back into the PP mix, but he also has been mediocre.
It could also potentially move Josh Anderson back into the top six. The forward has fallen off in the second half with just four points in 19 games since the start of January.
The Habs sent Nikita Scherbak back to the AHL after a nine-game cameo. He barely played, averaging just 12:52 per game, with secondary power play time. He scored three points in nine games, two of which came on the PP. This wasn’t a large enough sample to be certain of his ability to sink or swim, but he sure looked like a PP specialist if nothing else. In 12 career NHL games Scherbak has three PP points.
More excitingly, Scherbak has scored 30 points in 24 AHL games. He’s too good for that level. Look for him as an intriguing option next season if Montreal can balance out their roster better, moving some of the oodles of wing talent they have out of Scherbak’s path. Read more about Scherbak here.
The Canadiens also extended Nicolas Deslauriers for two more years on a one-way deal. The cap hit is an unconfirmed $0.95M, so it’s a cost-effective signing. While the deal isn’t particularly expensive you do wonder if the depth forward would have gotten it if not for his shooting percentage nearly doubling to 14.3%.
Deslauriers fills a role. He plays a bit on the penalty kill and certainly makes an impact physically. In particular, he is averaging over 4.0 hits per game, which puts him into the realm of being the new Matt Martin. The issue is that Deslauriers roster spot could go to a guy like Scherbak who could make a difference offensively. The league is moving away from the Deslauriers and towards the Scherbaks.
If you’re in a league scoring hits Deslauriers getting a one-way deal is big news, as it makes it more likely that he’ll be sticking around. Will he get remotely the same usage when his goals dry up? Perhaps not, but he looks to be one of the best niche options available to fantasy owners.
Here are the elaborate conditions on the picks that Detroit acquired:
DET guaranteed no less than a 4th round for Mrazek. If PHI makes playoffs and Mrazek wins 5 games for PHI in reg season, 4th becomes a 3rd. If PHI advances to CF, and Mrazek wins six playoff games, the 3rd becomes a 2nd. If PHI re-signs him next season, DET gets PHI 3rd in 19.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 20, 2018
The fact that Philadelphia put more effort into the protections on their mid-round picks than Ottawa did on a first-rounder should tell you all you need to know about the disparity in skill level of the general managers in this league.
Here’s an update on Michal Neuvirth’s status:
Ron Hextall on Michal Neuvirth's injury status: "It's not days, it's weeks."— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) February 20, 2018
The Flyers recalled forward prospect Oskar Lindblom from the AHL. It’s tough to see him slotting into the top six as the winger slots are locked down by Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, but Simmonds was demoted to the fourth line in their last game. There may also be an injury at play here, so stay tuned.
Lindblom could offer some depth scoring if given some secondary PP time. He has been very good in his first full season in North America scoring 16 goals and 34 points in 54 AHL games. This after scoring nearly a point-per-game as a 20-year-old in Sweden’s top league. Read more about Lindblom here.
Check out my latest fantasy hockey stock market post.
Here’s some low down on some of the new technologies being experimented with at the Olympic games:
At these Olympics, data on speed, acceleration, stopping, distance traveled, shift lengths and ice time is available to teams in what could be the next step for puck and player tracking across hockey, including the NHL. Referees even have whistles digitally connected to the clock so it stops immediately without the need for a timekeeper's quick reaction that will always be a step slow.
I remain flabbergasted that we can’t get actual time-of-possession numbers like are available in the EA Sports games, and most other sports. Forget proxies like Corsi or Fenwick. Actual data on offensive zone time, time with puck on stick, etc. would be immensely valuable.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.