Just over a month after fracturing his foot, Andrei Vasilevskiy returned to game action on Thursday night at home to the Leafs. Those that rostered Louis Domingue, as I’ve stated earlier, should hold on to him for the time being. The chance for re-injury is always present and my hope is they back off Vasilevskiy’s workload a bit. Just hang on for a week or so.
Kyle Turris returned for the Nashville Predators on Thursday, skating on the second line with Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok. The result of Turris returning was Eeli Tolvanen returning to the AHL. Presumably, Tolvanen is available for the World Juniors but whether they release him to play remains to be seen.
Joe Thornton was a game-time decision for the Sharks on Thursday night. This is likely something that will persist all season.
We got an update on Alex Pietrangelo: hand surgery. The report from Jeremy Rutherford says he’ll be evaluated in a couple weeks. Fantasy owners will have to make do until then (double-check that Colton Parayko is not available in your leagues).
The listless Kings lost again, being on the wrong end of seven of their last nine games, falling 4-1 to Columbus. Artemi Panarin had a pair of goals (one on the power play) to help lead the charge. Josh Anderson also scored, his 13th of the season, just a couple nights after that cross-check from behind. He’s quietly turning into one of the top scorers in the league, at least on a per-minute pace at five-on-five.
Drew Doughty played after leaving the game Tuesday night against Buffalo. Seems like he’s ok.
Jeff Skinner scored his 22nd goal of the season to help lead the Sabres 3-1 over Arizona. Casey Mittelstadt scored less than a minute into the game, his fifth of the year. With six shots on goal, Skinner is now averaging over three per game on the year. He has been over three shots per game every season of his career since his rookie 2010-11 campaign.
I will say one thing: I was very high on Clayton Keller coming into the year and it’s not quite panning out. I mean, it’s all relative, right. He’s on a 57-point pace after failing to register one on Thursday night. Realistically, for a 20-year old, that’s a good season. I thought it’d be a lot higher, though. I guess he’s only one hot streak away from being a 70-point pace player, just unfortunate we haven’t really seen it yet.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made a triumphant return to the Tampa Bay net as the Bolts took a 4-1 win on the back of a 48-save performance from the young netminder. Tampa’s (very good) third line chipped in a pair of goals with both Anthony Cirelly (SHG) and Alex Killorn marking tallies. Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov scored the others.
Kasperi Kapanen scored the lone goal for Toronto.
The Marner-Tavares-Brown line combined for 16 shots themselves.
With a pair of assists, J.T. Miller is now up to 25 points in 33 games, 11 of those coming on the power play. It sure seemed at times earlier this year fantasy owners weren’t content with his production but he’s doing just fine.
It was nice to see Vasy come back and look like himself. I’m sure Leafs fans weren’t too pleased but it’s hard not to root for a guy coming off an injury like that.
Jeff Petry had a pair of goals in the Canadiens’ 6-4 home win over Carolina.
Even in a losing cause, the story of the game was Andrei Svechnikov. He scored a pair of goals, one of them of the highlight variety:
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) December 14, 2018
That’s Shea Weber he roasted. Svechnikov looked dangerous all game and he seemed poised to finish off the hat trick but time just ran out. It was just a glimpse of the player he will become. This is a superstar in the making.
Phillip Danault had a pair of assists in the win. Believe it or not, even playing with Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher, that’s just the second multi-point game of Danault’s season, and the first in over a month. Can he surpass 40 points for the first time in his career? We’ll see.
It also appears the ‘Canes will be calling up Alex Nedeljkovic, possibly to start Friday night.
Minnesota walked all over Florida by a 5-1 margin. Nino Niederreiter scored a pair of goals, giving him back-to-back multi-point games. He added an assist for good measure, which now puts him at 16 points in his last 20 games. The top-6 for Minnesota is absolutely humming right now.
Part of that top-6 is Zach Parise. He had a goal and an assist, which pushed him to 15 goals and 29 points on the year. He has 30 goals in his last 72 games. It sure feels like Parise’s resurgence is something not often getting discussed.
Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 of 31 in the win.
Ryan Suter had three assists in the win. He is now sitting with 26 points in 31 games to start the year. If he can maintain this pace he’ll smash his previous career-best of 51. That’s a big if, though.
Ryan Hartman had one goal on five shots in Nashville’s 4-3 overtime win over Vancouver. He should get to 20 goals this year, which is a quietly nice season for a middle-six winger. For fantasy, though, he’s not hitting nearly as much as he has in previous seasons, being credited with just one in that game he’s at 23 in 32 games. Each of his first two seasons saw him cruise past 110 hits. That doesn’t seem feasible now. Though, if the trade-off is more scoring, I’m sure fantasy owners will take it.
We had a predictably high-scoring affair in Winnipeg, with the Jets winning 5-4 in overtime.
The top line for Edmonton did their thing, combining for one goal and five assists. Darnell Nurse also scored for Edmonton and played over 30 minutes. Expect these sort of minutes to continue for the d-man as long as Oscar Klefbom is out of the lineup.
Nikolaj Ehlers scored his just his 10th of the season, but it’s his ninth goal and 17th point in his last 19 games. He played over 20 minutes skating on the top line. Playing with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler continues to do wonders for his fantasy value.
Josh Morrissey scored the overtime winner adding an assist as well. That gives him 17 points in 29 games. He had just 26 points all of last year. With his peripherals, a 40-point season would be a monster roto performance, especially considering his ADP.
With fewer than two weeks until Christmas, I thought today would be a good day to have a bit of fun. In the holiday spirit, here’s my wish list for the unofficial second half of the season.
More ice time for Sanheim
Oddly enough, on a team with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, it’s not those two blue liners who’ve stood out for me for the Flyers this year. Rather, it’s Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim who’ve been very impressive basically from the start of the season. As far as the latter is concerned, there is reason to believe that he’s turning into a bona fide top-four defenceman:
PHI's best three pairing options are:
So, clone Sanheim. pic.twitter.com/Nz4pm0nG8s
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) December 10, 2018
This point was hammered into my brain on Wednesday night as we watched the Flyers blow a late two-goal lead. In that game, Sanheim (8:49) had about half the five-on-five minutes of Andrew MacDonald (16:21). Remember, MacDonald has been so bad in recent seasons that they sent him to the AHL despite his $5-million cap hit. I get a coach’s hesitation to use a 22-year old defenceman heavily, but as Micah Blake McCurdy once said, it’ll be a glorious day when coaches start playing young players who *might* be bad rather than veteran players who are *definitely* bad. Sanheim/MacDonald fit this to a tee. Let the kid play some bigger minutes.
All I’ve wanted from Anaheim for basically a year now is a line of Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ondrej Kase. They wouldn’t do it (much) last year with Corey Perry around, and this year’s been difficult on the team injury-wise. Kase started the season out of the lineup and lately it’s been Rakell. We have no firm timeline on Rakell’s return, but when he does, I would like to see these three together.
Over the last few seasons, when those three have skated together, they’ve been utterly dominant, putting up an expected goal share near 60 percent (per Corsica). For reference on how good that is, over the same span, the line of Guentzel-Crosby-Hornqvist is ahead of them by 0.01%. Having those three together would allow the checking line of Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg to stay together while giving Adam Henrique a scoring winger when Perry returns. Something like this:
Of course, I say all this as a greedy owner of Kase in all my leagues. Please, Santa.
Hurricanes trade for Tarasenko
It came out a couple days ago that basically everyone in St. Louis could be on the trading block, Vladimir Tarasenko included. Now, trading Tarasenko, arguably a top-5 winger on the planet on a team-friendly deal at the age of 27, would be a bad decision by St. Louis. On the other hand, we’ve seen GMs do way, way dumber things so I don’t want to dismiss this out of hand.
The natural fit for me would be Carolina. They were linked to William Nylander and their owner has made it clear he wants more scoring on the team. Were Tarasenko made available, I’d assume that Carolina would be one of the teams interested.
The Blues would likely, and rightly, be asking for Andrei Svechnikov in return. That would be a non-starter for Carolina, but just about everyone and everything not on the current roster should be available. A package of Martin Necas, Jake Bean, and draft picks could be their starting point.
Carolina desperately needs more scoring, and the sooner the better. Maybe Tarasenko is available, maybe he isn’t. But Carolina being able to run a top-6 of Teravainen-Aho-Ferland and Svechnikov-Staal-Tarasenko for the foreseeable future, with that blue line, is very dangerous. If there’s even a chance that Tank is on the block, I hope the Hurricanes are moving Heaven and Earth to get him on the roster.
Charles Hudon earns some games
It’s a small thing, but I hope Charles Hudon gets another crack with the Canadiens. He’s been sitting in the press box an awful lot for them lately. I’ve reached the point with him where I’ve accepted that he probably won’t be more than a third/fourth-line winger, but I think he’s a better third/fourth line winger than some of the players the Habs trot out regularly. Maybe he doesn’t have the punchiness of Nicolas Deslauriers, but Hudon could be a guy you can get 10-15 goals from on the fourth line with secondary power play time. That has value. More value than, say, 10 fights.
Dallas trade for Jeff Carter
It probably won’t be long until the fire sale in Los Angeles begins and Jeff Carter’s name is floated constantly. I know he’s off to a bad start this year but the same could be said about his entire team. He’s getting to the latter stages of his NHL career but his cap hit is very reasonable at just over $5.2-million and the Stars have both Jason Spezza and Marc Methot coming off the books after this season. It would give them a very good second-line centre that the team hasn’t really had in three years. They could then justifiably move one of Jamie Benn or Alex Radulov to the second line, giving them a balanced top-6 for the first time in, well, a really long time.