Let’s cut right to the chase here. There seemed to be a higher-than-normal number of injuries on Thursday, so let’s try to sort these out.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, Dougie Hamilton needed help getting off the ice after twisting his left leg while falling. You can watch, but it looks very painful.
Hamilton would be a significant loss, and judging by the look of this one, I’d expect him to miss time. Based on this season’s performance, Dougie has been a top-5 fantasy blueliner. Among defensemen, he currently sits tied for second with 14 goals and fourth with 40 points. His value is further supplemented in multicategory leagues, where his 170 shots lead all defensemen and his plus-30 is second among all players. Needless to say, this is a bad turn of events for fantasy owners that have been riding his success and waiting for him to finally reach his full potential.
The Hurricanes play again today (Friday). Assuming Hamilton doesn’t play, I’ll keep you posted on what his injury means to the defensive pairings and power-play combinations. The Canes didn’t have a power play after his injury, so we didn’t get to see exactly how things would play out. Jake Gardiner would be the easy guess for first-unit power play time. He’s just 10 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, so he might be the way to go for Hamilton owners that don’t play in shallow leagues.
Hamilton wasn’t the only blueliner to suffer an injury on Thursday. Miro Heiskanen left Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury after taking a stick to his head. The second-year blueliner is not having the same level of fantasy success that Hamilton is, especially considering that he has just three points (including an assist on Thursday) over his past 16 games. Heiskanen is one of the league’s best young blueliners who is averaging 24 minutes per game in his sophomore season, so any time missed would be significant for the Stars.
The injury bug also hit the goalies on Thursday. Chris Driedger, who had been giving the Panthers some surprisingly strong goaltending, left in the first period after appearing to tweak something. Sam Montembeault took over midway through the first period and backstopped the Panthers to a win. Before everyone starts adding Montembeault, keep in mind that Sergei Bobrovsky is currently day-to-day, and a Dreidger injury could mean that he is fast-tracked back.
In case you have to rely on a New Jersey goalie, Louis Domingue left his game after the first period with a lower-body injury. That meant a Cory Schneider in a relief role for the second time in as many games. I would love to see Schneider revive his career, and it looks like he might have the opportunity to do that if both Domingue and Mackenzie Blackwood are out of the lineup. Unfortunately, Schneider should be considered a risky play.
William Karlsson missed Thursday’s game and was announced as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. His absence meant that Chandler Stephenson was moved up to Karlsson’s usual spot with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, with Paul Stastny moving up to what has been Stephenson’s spot with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. Those were Peter DeBoer’s top-6 lines in his first game as the Vegas coach (Fantasy Take here).
The DeBoer era got off to a strong start, as the Golden Knights won his debut 4-2. Stephenson scored a goal, and Stone scored a goal and added an assist with a plus-3 in his return to Ottawa. The coaching change seemed to catch the hockey world off guard, and let’s see if it has the positive short-term effect that many coaching changes have.
— Nick Alberga (@thegoldenmuzzy) January 17, 2020
One Vegas player I’d watch, and not necessarily because of the coaching change, is Paul Stastny, who isn’t even on a 40-point pace at his current rate. Stastny scored a goal and added an assist on Thursday in a top-6 role, although he’s been the odd man out at various times this season. Add to that the Karlsson injury, and Stastny could be in a good spot as a waiver-wire pickup (19 percent owned in Yahoo leagues).
It wasn’t all doom and gloom on the injury front, as Cam Atkinson returned to the lineup after missing the past 12 games with an ankle injury. Atkinson returned with a goal and an assist with four shots while playing on a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Emil Bemstrom.
Elvis Merzlikins won again. For more, I’ll refer you to Dobber himself, who told me to tell you he told you so.
Elvis Merzlikins since #CBJ lost Korpisalo to injury:
7-2-0, 1.68 GAA, 0.949 SV%
2 SO, 8 QS, 88.9 QS%
— Dobber (@DobberHockey) January 17, 2020
Ho hum. Just another hat trick for Alex Ovechkin. He now has 15 straight 30-goal seasons. Ovie should pass Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, and Mark Messier in goals before the end of the season. With 689 goals, he’s only 205 goals away from all-time leader Wayne Gretzky. The more he continues to score at this rate, the more I like his chances at passing Gretzky. In fairness to the Great One, that’s still a lot of ground to make up, though.
The Phillip Danault – Ilya Kovalchuk – Tomas Tatar line combined for eight points on Thursday. Tatar now has eight points over his last seven games, while Danault has five points over his last five games. Meanwhile, Kovalchuk has probably found himself a home in Montreal for the rest of the season, scoring seven points in seven games. This after nine points in 17 games with the Kings. In addition, he’s averaging nearly 20 minutes per game in Montreal, over four minutes higher than in LA.
Montreal still has a way to go to get back into a playoff spot, so there’s the possibility that he could be a trade chip should the Habs decide to bail. If not, he at least seems to be enjoying life in Montreal, so he could at least provide some positive vibes in Montreal down the stretch.
With his two goals on Thursday, Nikita Kucherov has now scored seven goals in nine games this month. No need to worry anymore, as he’s now well over the point-per-game mark again. Over his past five games, Kuch has fired 26 shots, an average of over five shots per game.
Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves in shutting out the Sharks on Thursday, which was his first shutout of the season. Grubauer entered the game with just a 2-5-2 record in his last nine games, so this was much-needed for his fantasy owners.
Dekes for dayyyyyyyyyyys pic.twitter.com/Ljjyyvwo5B
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 17, 2020
Speaking of Hughes, only four defensemen have more power-play points than the rookie Hughes (18) this season. That’s one reason that I made a point of including him in the Top 100 Roto Rankings for January, which you can view here. Want another reason? Hughes is now in the top 10 in scoring among defensemen. It looks like he’s going to earn some votes in the Calder Trophy race.
Over his last nine games, Bo Horvat now has 13 points (6g-7a).
With a goal on Thursday, Tony DeAngelo now has 37 points in just 46 games. Only five defensemen currently have more points, which isn’t something we expected entering the season. It seems as though these offensive-minded d-men who need to work on their defensive game can either bust out like DeAngelo has, or they can end up like Derrick Pouliot, who is now racking up points in the AHL.
In DeAngelo’s case, he has made the most of his opportunity, as only John Carlson has a higher points/60 than DeAngelo (2.6). That high points/60, along with a high shooting percentage and IPP, might suggest a sell high, which you could consider if you could consider if you’d like to add a more established name in a single-season league.
I’ll be back tomorrow night to pick up the slack of anything important that I’ve missed, plus possibly some injury updates.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.