Brendan Gallagher returned to the lineup for Montreal on Thursday night, a few games following the concussion he received from an inadvertent knee to the head from a teammate. His reintroduction to the lineup pushed Ilya Kovalchuk down to the second like with Max Domi and Nick Suzuki.

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Logan Couture will be out several weeks with his leg fracture. In the meantime, Antti Suomela took his spot between Marleau and Meier. How long that lasts, we’ll see.  

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Shayne Gostisbehere will miss a few weeks with arthroscopic knee surgery. That puts him out until after the All-Star Game. Probably safe to write off his season at this point. I’ll take the ‘L’ here.

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Drake Caggiula returned to the Chicago lineup on Thursday night after missing two months with a concussion, and he was supposed to skate on the top line with Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews but started the game on the fourth line. I’m skeptical he’ll have much fantasy value with how often the Blackhawks lineup changes. More of a guy to add/drop at will.

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At Hurricanes practice on Thursday, Justin Williams was wearing a jersey the same colour as the Aho line and the Haula line. Assuming they don’t break up the Aho line, it appears that Williams will be starting on the third line rather than the top-6. It probably makes sense to give him a few weeks to get his sea legs under him given he skipped the first half of the season.

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Somehow missed this on Wednesday night but the Flames have signed defenceman Rasmus Andersson to a six-year extension worth a little over $4.5M per season.

I know some people are freaking out over the number but this is pretty much in line with what other young, apparent second-pair defencemen have received in recent seasons. Now, whether he’s an actual second-pair defenceman is another matter.

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Normally on a big slate like Thursday night, we like to post a bunch of scores and performances. Last night, however, there was one performance to discuss and it was that of Tony DeAngelo at home against New Jersey.

DeAngelo set a career-high for points in a game with three, and he accomplished this in the first 13 minutes of the game, assisting on goals by Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, while scoring one of his own. The one with Kreider was particularly heady:

 

 

He wasn’t done there.

Early in the second period, DeAngelo blocked a shot and briefly went to the room. It was his lone blocked shot of the night. The importance here? When he returned, he immediately scored to give himself his fourth point of the night. Three minutes later, he scored again, completing the hat trick. Yes, Tony DeAngelo scored a hat trick.

As far as I could tell, DeAngelo is the first defenceman to have three goals and two assists in a game in 20 years, and is just one of two defencemen (Rob Blake, 2000) to do it since the 1994 lockout. Is that good? My word. He ended the night with seven total shots on goal and… one shot blocked. 

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I would be remiss if I didn't mention PEKKA RINNE GOALIE GOAL. He even went skate-to-stick on the bad bounce: 

 

 

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I put a Twitter call out for some fantasy questions. Some specific, some vague. Let’s dig through a few of them.

 

Cap league waiver options?

This is kind of a tough question because there are so many differences between individual fantasy leagues, and that is compounded when you figure in the salary component. In general, cap leagues also have a lot of expensive players on the waiver wire, which makes this question easy by saying, “Hey, go grab Patrick Kane!” That doesn’t really help anyone so let’s dig a bit down deeper. These are five guys I’m keeping an eye on (one I’ve already added in my own cap league), and I self-imposed a limit of $5M to make sure that I’m not just recommending elite players with high salaries.

 

Pierre Engvall

One guy I’ve been incredibly impressed with over the last few weeks is Toronto’s Pierre Engvall. On Fantrax, he’s still available in 88 percent of leagues, though I imagine that number is a lot lower in cap leagues. He’s certainly earning Sheldon Keefe’s trust, as he was skating just 9:37 a game through his first 11 games this year to just a shade under 14 minutes a night over his last 12. I’ve noticed he’s also getting ice time late in close games, more indications of the team’s trust in him. He won’t blow the doors off – maybe a 40-point pace with two shots per game – but that’ll work for a guy with a cap hit under $1M.

 

Derek Ryan

To get the obvious out of the way first: this is definitely for leagues that count faceoff wins and losses as he’s traditionally been a great faceoff guy, even if that hasn’t been the case so far this year.

Ryan, like Engvall, is earning the new coaching staff’s trust. This season, under Bill Peters, Ryan was averaging just 14:19 per game, but that has risen over 16 minutes a night under the new regime. His shot rate has stayed relatively the same, but skating so many more minutes, often with Johnny Gaudreau, has led to 11 points in his last 17 contests (going into Thursday night). That pro-rates to around 55 points over a full year. The extra ice time has afforded him an extra faceoff win per game, to boot. He’s about $3.1M for a cap hit so it’s harder to fit him in than Engvall but for anyone needing faceoff wins with decent point production for relatively cheap, this is a guy to target. Just beware: Calgary reunited their old top line on Thursday night. Let’s see how long it lasts.

 

Wayne Simmonds

The big reason for using Simmonds is his promotion to the top line in New Jersey. Outside of some Blake Coleman shares, there isn’t much need to roster guys not on the top line for the Devils given the lack of talent down the lineup. Simmonds’ glory days are behind him but that doesn’t mean he can’t be valuable; he’s shooting just 4.7 percent this year compared to his three-year rate of 12.9 percent. That portends a massive shooting rebound and playing on the top line will help accelerate that. Throw in the massive amount of PIMs and hits and there’s a good chance that Simmonds is going to start pumping his value here soon. Just keep an eye on line combinations.

 

Matt Grzelcyk

This could be something very short-term as Torey Krug has been battling the flu, and battling injuries in general this year. When Krug is out of the lineup, it’s Grzelcyk that joins the top PP unit, giving him immense value at a cheap price. Now, he’s probably not even with rostering if Krug is in the lineup so this is a situation where cap league owners could add and drop him six times between now and the end of the year. Just be vigilant on the waiver wire.

 

Adam Gaudette

This is another short-term fix as Brock Boeser has been yeeted to the second PP unit in favour of Adam Gaudette joining the top unit, with the two united at even strength. I’m not quite sure why they’re doing this as their PP was great early in the year and even the most recent skid since Christmas has the team in the middle of the pack in generating goals at 5-on-4. If your team’s PP skid is “well, we’re league average now,” I would submit that it is indeed a good power play just in a small rough patch, but I digress.

Beware of the type of league you’re in and what categories you need. Outside of a couple faceoff wins a game, Gaudette brings absolutely nothing to peripheral stats. This is all about power-play production, and as soon as he’s off the top unit, he loses his value. But for $1.4M, it’s worth rostering for now if you need a potential STP boost.

 

How many dmen do you keep in a keeper league?

I will say that, despite Brent Burns’s decline this year, I’ve come around on the idea of keeping more defencemen in keeper leagues than I have in years prior. It’s just a function of what elite defencemen provide over just very good defencemen, and how those guys are harder to find than an under-valued winger or centre. But at the end of the day, it all depends on your specific keepers, keeper conditions, and the setup of your league. I’m in a home league where we keep eight and I’ve had years where I’ve kept three defencemen and years I’ve kept none. It just depended on the rest of my roster. Sorry, I don’t have a better answer than that at this moment in time.

 

Trocheck’s fall from grace

I’m not sure it’s a fall from grace, just more the Panthers have a lot of top-end forwards to use on the top PP unit, and with the deeper forward group, both those things mean a loss in ice time. To that end, though, he had 53 points four years ago, 54 points three years ago, played to a 51-point pace last year, and is playing to a pro-rated 52-point pace this year. That’s remarkably consistent, showing us his 75-point season was the outlier, not the other seasons. As with all counting stats like shots and hits, the per-game rates will take a massive hit when you lose four minutes of TOI per game. If anything, I think now is a nice time to buy-low on him in dynasty leagues because at least one of Mike Hoffman or Evgenii Dadonov is likely to be gone next year, opening a spot on the top PP unit again for Trocheck. By some underlying metrics, this is Trocheck’s best season yet on a per-minute rate, so all he needs is more ice time to regain former glory. That ice time should come next year. I’m not sure it’s a fall from grace, more our expectations were too high.

 

What’s with the proliferation of bottom-6 players in the top-6?

While I believe outright your best players should log the most ice time, a lot of coaches are clearly moving towards pairs of players (think Kucherov/Point, Strome/Panarin, Radulov/Seguin) and then slotting a lesser player with them to help balance their lines. This isn’t always the case (Winnipeg, Boston) but it certainly happens a lot. It just seems to be the way NHL coaches want to construct their lines these days.