Hey there, it's Ian, not on my usual days. I'm filling in for Cam today. 

The league’s hottest scorer post-Christmas was scratched on Tuesday because of an injury. Artemi Panarin missed Tuesday’s crosstown match with the Islanders because of an upper-body injury. Panarin will also not be participating in this weekend’s All-Star Game, as teammate Chris Kreider has been selected to replace him. The Rangers don’t play again for another ten days (January 31), so the Bread Man will have plenty of time to rest. Since December 27, he has been the league’s top point-getter with 23 points (6g-17a) in just 11 games.

Panarin’s injury meant that Pavel Buchnevich was elevated to the top line and first-unit power play. He made the most of the opportunity, scoring a power-play goal while firing six shots on goal in 24 minutes of icetime – a jump of over eight minutes from his previous game. If Panarin’s injury is more than a short-term thing, then Buchnevich might be worth an add.

With Semyon Varlamov stumbling recently, Thomas Greiss has been given back-to-back starts. He’s made the most of his opportunity, posting quality starts in both games. On Tuesday he earned the win, stopping 40 saves in a 4-2 win. Don’t be surprised if Greiss receives a third start in a row, although that start wouldn’t happen until Saturday, February 1, with the Islanders going on bye week after the All-Star break.

He’ll never reach the lofty totals of his days riding shotgun with John Tavares, but Josh Bailey has been producing reasonably well recently. With a goal and two assists on Tuesday, Bailey now has seven points (3g-4a) over his last seven games.

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On a day when @Cdnmooselips33 was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the goalie nicknamed Moose pitched a shutout against the Penguins. Brian Elliott had a relatively easy time, though, stopping just 19 shots. Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations when I added him in one league when Carter Hart went on the shelf. But since then, Elliott has won all three of his starts, allowing just four goals with a .954 save percentage.

Elliott has thrived when he’s been the backup or in a timeshare, but he hasn’t succeeded when he’s been elevated to a starter’s role. He could cut into Hart’s workload when Hart returns (expected to be in 1-2 weeks), but it’s better to assume that Elliott will be a short-term option than one that will carry the mail for the rest of the season.

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This would have been a crusher for Connor McDavid owners in keeper leagues with championship aspirations, had this actually happened.
 


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If you read your Midseason Guide, you would have noticed that Frank Vatrano was mentioned as a potential second-half riser. At the time of writing, his 5-on-5 shooting percentage sat at 5.3%, which was “dreadfully low.” Well, that shooting percentage has corrected itself in a big way. With a hat trick on Tuesday, Vatrano now has five goals and nine points with a plus-6 over his past five games. That 5-on-5 shooting percentage is now 6.5%, which is more in line with his career average.

Vatrano is not getting huge minutes and probably won’t see the first-unit power play on a stacked Florida scoring attack. Yet he’s holding a hot stick and could be a sleeper in deeper formats down the stretch. He’s currently 24 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, which might be higher than normal because Florida is not on its bye week yet. I added him as a streamer this week and am considering holding on to him even while his team is on bye week.

Sergei Bobrovsky owners are finally receiving some return on investment. Bob has now won four consecutive games, the last two on back-to-back road games in Minnesota and Chicago. The Panthers’ defensive issues might prevent him from providing top-notch ratios for your squad, but he’s a strong bet to earn the W for your squad as long as the Panthers simply outscore their opponents. They have been doing that recently, scoring at least four goals per game on their current six-game winning streak.

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You may not have wanted any part of Erik Gustafsson when he was in his early-season slump (just four points in his first 16 games). Yet as the Blackhawks have been lighting the lamp recently (at least three goals in each of their last six games), Gustafsson has been finding his way onto the statsheet again. With two assists on Tuesday, Gustafsson has posted two points in each of his last three games.

If you’re looking for Gustafsson on the first-unit power play, though, that’s not happening. Currently Adam Boqvist has been given that responsibility, yet with no points in seven games he hasn’t been able to make anything happen. Boqvist is no doubt being groomed for the role, but Jeremy Colliton might have no choice but to give it back to Gustafsson if Boqvist’s slump continues.  

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When I was looking at potential streaming options for this week, I had considered Justin Williams, yet I was concerned that he’d need a bit of time to become reacclimatized to the NHL pace. Williams didn’t seem to have any issues with that on Tuesday, scoring two goals while firing five shots on goal in the Hurricanes’ 4-1 win. Williams played just 11:45, but that included over four minutes of power-play time on a unit with the big guns (Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen).

The now-38-year-old Williams might still need time to get back in the swing of things, but he’s coming off back-to-back 50-point seasons with the Hurricanes. He’s just 5 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, so he’s a viable option for deeper leagues.

Speaking of Teravainen, he scored a goal and added two assists. He now has seven points (2g-5a) over his past six games. As well, he also leads the Canes in scoring as a near-point-per-game option (48 points in 50 games). Imagine trading a player like that just so that another team will agree to take on your team’s ugly contract. Sorry, Chicago.

For every Vatrano as a streamer add today, there’s an Erik Haula. With no points in his last five games and no goals in his last nine, Haula was made a healthy scratch on Tuesday. Imagine your disgust when the player you just added is announced as a healthy scratch! Yes, a hat trick and a healthy scratch are my adds for the week. Talk about extremes.

Bad news, if you’re hoping that Dougie Hamilton will return this season: Rod Brind’Amour doesn’t expect him to return this season.
 


Insane icetime totals on Tuesday:

Kyle Connor – 26:19

Mika Zibanejad 25:51

I’m guessing that with these teams going on bye soon, maybe coaches are trying to play the crap out of these players? Connor played 25 minutes the game before, and the Jets play again on Wednesday. So it will be interesting to see how much Connor plays on the second of a back-to-back.

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Back to Larry Walker. This isn’t hockey, I know. Yet before he became a baseball icon, Walker was aspiring to become a goalie. As a proud Canadian and British Columbian and onetime Expos fan, I’m glad he chose baseball over hockey. If the likes of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens and so many more had been fine with what they could accomplish without juicing up, we probably don’t see Walker in the Hall of Fame. Especially since he just barely got in. This shouldn’t take away from Walker’s outstanding career, though.
 


Congrats to #2 on the Yankees as well, by the way.

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.