One day after being traded for Victor Rask, Nino Niederreiter made his Carolina Hurricanes’ debut. He was held without a point, took four shots on goal, and skated a total of 16:57 on a line with Justin Williams and Greg McKegg along with second-unit power play time. Obviously this is a fluid situation as Niederreiter adjusts to his new team, but this doesn’t seem like the kind of usage that would motivate me to add Niederreiter right away (24% owned in Yahoo leagues). For more on Thursday’s Hurricanes/Wild trade, see our Fantasy Impact article.
Rod Brind’Amour on the Canes’ listless 4-1 home loss to Ottawa:
Rod Brind'Amour: “We were so bad, I almost dressed and got out there. I might have been as good as what we were throwing out there. We just didn’t want to play the way we were supposed to. I didn’t know what I was watching. That’s the first time all year I can say that."
— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) January 19, 2019
Could the latest hot goalie be Anders Nilsson? I’ll admit that I’ve had absolutely no interest since he was traded to Ottawa, but he’s now won four of his last five games while posting a 1.60 GAA and .951 SV% over that span. After a mainly forgettable stint with the Canucks, Nilsson has settled in as the Sens’ starter while Craig Anderson is sidelined. (Editor's note: Anderson is now off IR and is the expected starter for Saturday's game vs. St. Louis.)
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One Panthers’ scoring center returned to the lineup perhaps earlier than expected, but another one could potentially miss some time. Vincent Trocheck recorded an assist while dishing seven hits in his first game since fracturing his ankle two months ago. (I sure didn’t have that recovery time when I fractured my ankle!) Trocheck played on a line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, although he skated on the second-unit power play.
However, Aleksander Barkov received x-rays on his hand after the game. The injury occurred late in the third period, although he stayed in for the entire game. The Panthers are right back at it today (Saturday), so keep an eye on Barkov’s status. If Barkov is out, then Trocheck could very well move back to his spot on the first-unit power play.
Thatcher Demko made his season debut and looked impressive, being named the game’s first star. He was the main reason the Canucks won 4-3 over Buffalo, as the Canucks were outshot 39-23. Here’s one of Demko’s 36 saves.
Thatcher Demko denies Jeff Skinner with some lightning-quick reflexes. ⚡ pic.twitter.com/PIX3f7j7pR
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 19, 2019
With Jacob Markstrom playing perhaps the best hockey of his NHL career, and with the Canucks surprisingly in a playoff race (yes, they now hold the final wild card spot in the West), it’s unlikely that Demko is going to play a ton this season. It’s difficult for me even as a Canucks’ fan to project what the goaltending will be like next season, but I’d think that Demko should be able to get into at least 30 games. Even though it may take some time before he’s undoubtedly the Canucks’ starter, he’s still very much a blue-chip goalie prospect. The Canucks may have one of the league’s better goaltending tandems for the rest of the season.
Evan Rodrigues scored again for the Sabres, giving him goals in three consecutive games. He couldn’t score at all when he was on the top line, but now he’s scoring while on a line with Jason Pominville and Vladimir Sobotka. Go figure.
It couldn’t have gone any better for Barry Trotz in his return to Washington. Thomas Greiss stopped all 19 shots he faced in the Isles’ 2-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup champions. Greiss has struggled at times this season, but he’s allowed just one goal with a .983 SV% over his last two starts. Like Robin Lehner, he’s benefitted from the Barry Trotz/Mitch Korn influence.
Speaking of Lehner, there were plenty of comments about him on the Ramblings and Facebook yesterday. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important to bring up the drug addiction and mental illness that he has overcome as key reasons for his breakout season. Along with the Vezina Trophy, Lehner should definitely be considered for the Masterton Trophy. If you have an Athletic subscription, take the time to read this October 26 piece on his addiction and bipolar diagnosis.
Someone commented that they weren’t sure what Lehner’s value would be next season with him only being signed to a one-year contract with the Islanders. That’s a very good point, because the Isles also own the rights to Ilya Sorokin, who is dominating the KHL (32 GP, 1.17 GAA, .942 SV%). According to Arthur Staple, Sorokin would be on a one-year, waiver-exempt deal if he decided to come over next season (which he is reportedly interested in), although it’s no sure thing when it comes to the KHL. There are also the Sergei Bobrovsky rumors, which you can read more about in the article. Either way, it’s not looking good if you’re holding out hope that Greiss will be the starter.
Dylan Larkin had an outstanding game on Friday, scoring two goals on eight shots and logging 21:49 in icetime. Larkin now has six points over his last three games, and he is scoring at a near point-per-game pace (47 points in 49 games). He and Gustav Nyquist are carrying the Wings scoring-wise right now. I thought I might be saying that about Larkin coming into the season, but definitely not about Nyquist, who is now up to 42 points in 49 games. With the chemistry that Larkin and Nyquist have developed this season, I don’t think that Nyquist owners should get too excited about a trade at the deadline, particularly if it means Nyquist will be pushed down another team’s depth chart.
Sam Bennett scored two power-play goals and added an assist on Friday. The former high first-round pick has been playing in the Flames’ bottom six with a familiar name who has disappeared from the fantasy landscape recently. James Neal scored a goal and added an assist himself, giving him points in three of his past four games. If you’re still holding out hope for Neal (and I hope you aren’t), it seems as though a move out of Calgary would be in order. But at a $5.75 million per season cap hit through the 2022-23 season, that seems very unlikely. He is on the fast track to becoming what Loui Eriksson is to the Canucks or Milan Lucic is to the Oilers.
I know there probably aren’t a lot of TJ Brodie fans reading this. However, with a goal and two assists on Friday, Brodie now has nine points (3g-6a) in nine games this month. He’s been paired with the now point-per-game Mark Giordano (another player who has performed a lot better than I expected) for most of the season, so some of those points have to be rubbing off.
Giordano, by the way, has 13 points over his last 10 games. In spite of my lower projection for him, he still ended up on one of my teams. I have to give autopick credit for that one.
Since the team-imposed suspension on Sergei Bobrovsky, Joonas Korpisalo has started four of the past games for the Blue Jackets. A three-game winning streak might have had something to do with it, but Korpisalo had that streak snapped on Friday against Montreal. Since the Jackets are right back at it on Saturday, expect Bobrovsky to be back between the pipes against the Wild. With Bob’s future likely not to be in Columbus after this season, this is a situation worth monitoring. I don’t see Bobrovsky being traded at the deadline, though. Not with the Jackets in a battle for first place in the Metro Division (which the Islanders now lead!)
Tomas Tatar had gone ten games without a goal, but he scored two on Friday night against the Blue Jackets. Joel Armia also scored twice for the Canadiens in their 4-1 win.
I’m linking the two Friday articles, which I’ll discuss for different reasons:
Frozen Pool Forensics is back with a new author. In his debut piece, Grant Campbell discusses the defense partner of Erik Karlsson. Although Brenden Dillon typically isn’t an appealing name for fantasy teams, he has been on a roll lately with six points (all assists) over his last seven games.
As he does every week, Adam Daly-Frey previews the upcoming schedule in Looking Ahead, which includes listing the 10 teams that do not play at all next week. It is literally an entire bye week for those 10 teams because bye weeks now happen either before or after All-Star Weekend. This is a new wrinkle in the schedule, which makes things particularly tricky for leagues that don’t combine the next two weeks into one “week.” My Yahoo head-to-head league has combined these two weeks, while my CBS head-to-head league has not. Be sure to check your league settings to find out whether these two weeks are combined or separated.
The other 21 teams only play over the first three days of next week, with the last four days being set aside for the All-Star break. All the teams return to action the week after the All-Star Game, although the other 21 teams will be on their bye week and will thus take the first four days of the week off. For a full list of bye weeks, see the bye week schedule from NHL.com.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.