For many head-to-head leagues, this week is the start of the fantasy playoffs. Alternatively, it could be the final week before the playoffs start. If you’re wondering why the fantasy playoffs start so early for some, here’s an explanation. The regular season ends on a Saturday, so many leagues have defaulted to using a two-week championship round. This extended scoring period might mean less fantasy hockey for teams already on the sidelines, but the benefit is that it reduces the probability and impact of unexpected chance occurrences crushing a deserving team’s championship hopes.
Because I am currently in a playoff round in two of my leagues, my thinking has shifted toward surviving at least one more week. Since you’ve got me for the next three days, I’ll try to sprinkle in as many thoughts as I can for those of you in the same boat. With a lighter schedule of games on Friday night, I’ll list some possible waiver-wire options over the weekend that could help you with that final push to win your week. So be sure to check back tomorrow at the same time, in case you weren’t already planning to.
Erik Brannstrom made his Senators’ debut on Thursday, playing 17 minutes while taking on second-unit power-play duties. With Thomas Chabot now week-to-week with a toe injury, Christian Wolanin assumed first-unit power-play duties, scoring an even-strength goal in 19 minutes of icetime. Wolanin, who has four goals and four assists in 20 games, is a deep-league option for Chabot owners who need the immediate stopgap. The newly acquired Brannstrom, though, is far and away the preferred keeper to own between the two. You can check out Brannstrom’s Dobber Prospects profile here.
Recent NCAA signing Max Veronneau also made his Senators’ debut on Thursday. With opportunity wide open in Ottawa, Veronneau was immediately placed on a line with Brady Tkachuk and given second-unit power-play duties. He was held without a point in 14 minutes of icetime, but he managed to fire five shots on goal.
The Sens might appear to be dead in the water at the moment, but don’t tell that to Anders Nilsson. The Sens’ goalie stopped all 35 shots he faced in earning a 2-0 shutout. Entering the game with just one quality start in his last eight games, Nilsson was not likely added in many formats. This shutout probably won’t change things, especially with him sharing starts with Craig Anderson.
Speaking of shutouts, Penguins’ backup Casey DeSmith stopped all 26 shots he faced in earning a 5-0 win over the Sabres. As the Pens are in the unfamiliar territory of trying to secure a playoff spot late in the season, Matt Murray has started each of the last nine games for the Penguins. If the Pens were planning on starting DeSmith soon, it seemed a bit odd that they wouldn’t wait until the weekend, when the Pens play back-to-back games. But that could also mean that DeSmith earns one more start this week to give Murray a bit more of a rest, now that the Pens have put more distance between themselves and the teams below the Eastern Conference playoff bar.
Ben Bishop has been money for fantasy teams this week and last, posting back-to-back-to-back shutouts. He kept the streak of not allowing a goal intact to set a Stars’ team record (230:53), but he unfortunately left Thursday’s game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Bishop is currently listed as day-to-day. Anton Khudobin stopped 14 of 15 shots in relief to secure an important win for the Stars over division rival Minnesota. The Stars play again today (Friday) against Vegas and on Sunday against Vancouver, so Khudobin is a must-add (just 19 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) if you need goaltending help this week.
Shades of former Star Patrik Stefan?
Tyler Seguin with probably the worst empty net miss of all time pic.twitter.com/wl1MX0VQj6
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 15, 2019
Dobber has a playoff draft list. It’s not just a simple list with projected playoff points for each player. It’s fully customizable if you want it to be, or you can go with Dobber’s picks if that’s easier. If you plan on participating in a playoff pool, then download yours today!
Some Canucks’ injury news, from earlier in the day:
We will need to wait at least one week for the debut of Quinn Hughes. As a result of an injury from last weekend’s University of Michigan game, Hughes has a bone bruise and will wear a walking boot for at least a week. The silver lining is that with his NHL debut being delayed, Canucks’ fans won’t have to worry about the team inadvertently sticking him in the lineup for more than ten games, which would make him eligible for the Seattle expansion draft. There should be absolutely no rush on the Canucks’ part to get Hughes into the lineup.
If you were counting on Antoine Roussel for a few points and a lot of penalty minutes, he is done for the year with a knee injury suffered during Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. Roussel was receiving second-line minutes with Bo Horvat and as of Thursday morning was second in the NHL with 118 penalty minutes.
The Roussel news seemed to be overshadowed on Vancouver sports talk radio by the topic of Loui Eriksson’s first healthy scratch as a Canuck. There’s a very short list of players that have less value than Eriksson in a salary cap league. If you can think of any, feel free to list them in the comments below. Mercifully, this could be the beginning of the end for Eriksson in Vancouver, though a buyout this offseason will hardly help the Canucks financially. Eriksson also has a full no-trade on his contract, which has a $6 million cap hit. Ugh.
Brett Connolly scored two goals and added an assist with a plus-3 in the Capitals’ 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Thursday. Connolly is just one goal away from reaching 20 for the first time in his career, while he has already set a career high with 39 points. The 2010 sixth overall pick hasn’t lived up to his draft-day potential and is already on his third NHL team, but he’s still showing signs of having a productive career (though I’m not as sold on him for fantasy purposes as others might be).
With two goals and two assists on Thursday, Nikita Kucherov has now reached 115 points in 71 games. To give you an idea as to how outstanding this season total is, it is already the highest point total since Sidney Crosby scored 120 points in 2006-07. With 11 games left, Kucherov should have no problem surpassing that total, as he is currently on pace for 133 points. Hand him the Hart.
It’s not often that Mark Scheifele goes four games without a point, as he was entering Thursday’s game. Wait a second, he also went five games without a point in February. His cold stretches appear to be a reason for the Jets’ so-so play since the All-Star break. His fantasy owners will be encouraged by his goal and two assists in the Jets’ 4-3 win over Boston. In other words, not even Zdeno Chara launching Scheifele’s stick as high as humanly possible could stop Scheifele.
That stick went flying. 👀 pic.twitter.com/qMEsBmqdXc
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) March 15, 2019
In spite of his recent struggles, Scheifele has now established a career high with 33 goals. In addition, Scheifele is on pace for 91 points, which would also be a career high. Nothing to worry about.
You may remember Dobber dropping this pearl of wisdom nearly two weeks ago:
My goodness, Hinostroza is on firehttps://t.co/aDSDgtBtIZ
— Dobber (@DobberHockey) March 3, 2019
I grabbed Vinnie Hinostroza shortly after that in one league and added him to my lineup, literally forgetting about him until tonight. Hinostroza recorded a hat trick while firing eight shots on goal, leading the Coyotes to yet another win. Sometimes forgetting is a good thing, because I could have just as well removed him after he went four games without a point earlier this month.
Since January 20, Hinostroza has 11 goals and 21 points in 24 games, which easily makes him the highest-scoring Yote during a stretch where the Coyotes have fought their way into a Western Conference playoff spot. So that means he’s been playing with the Coyotes’ big guns (whoever they may be), right? Sure, if their names are Brad Richardson and Michael Grabner. The Coyotes don’t offer much else when it comes to scoring, though.
Darcy Kuemper continues his impressive run with back-to-back wins this week, including a 6-1 win over the Ducks. Perhaps more impressively, Kuemper now also has assists in back-to-back games. I know this because I play in a league where goalies are credited with assists. He’s literally doing it all for the Coyotes right now.
If you’ve been carrying Kyle Turris this long, you’re safe to drop him for any more immediate help. Turris was a healthy scratch on Thursday against Los Angeles. With just seven goals and 22 points in 46 games, Turris has produced less than half a point per game. Surely you can do better for your fantasy team, particularly at the center position. This is not the kind of production that the Predators should expect from their second-line center as they near the playoffs.
It might be a little too late for the Panthers to make the playoffs, so the Panthers are seeing what they have with young goalie Samuel Montembeault. The rookie not only made his third consecutive start on Thursday, but he earned his third consecutive win, this one on the road against a sharp-toothed Sharks’ scoring attack. Montembeault has allowed just five goals over that span.
Unless the Panthers find a way to get out of either Roberto Luongo’s or James Reimer’s contract this offseason, it’s difficult to forecast where Montembeault fits in long-term. But in the here and now, the Panthers play back-to-back games this weekend against Pacific bottom feeders Anaheim and Los Angeles. Montembeault is in a great spot to earn one more win this week.
Finally, some extremely heartbreaking news regarding Evander Kane:
A message from my family and I pic.twitter.com/q8sPXQkWh8
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) March 14, 2019
Kane has not played since February 26, which is a span of seven games including Thursday’s game. There isn’t much else that can be said, except to offer condolences to Kane and his family during this difficult time. This serves as a solemn reminder that there are things more important that fantasy hockey.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.