In an extremely frightening event, Jay Bouwmeester collapsed on the St Louis Blues bench during action on Tuesday against the Ducks. Medical personnel was hastily called over and he was stretchered away from the field of play. Obviously, this was a traumatic moment for players on both sides and the decision was made to postpone the match.

The entire hockey community is pulling for you, Jay.

**

We might as well get all of the bad news out of the way early. On Tuesday morning, Oilers’ GM, Ken Holland announced that Connor McDavid would be sidelined for around 2-3 weeks with a quad injury. Obviously, this is a huge blow to fantasy teams and to the Oilers hopes of challenging for the Pacific Division title.

Edmonton plays 10 games over the next three weeks. Here are their opponents:

  • VS CHI
  • @ TBL
  • @ FLA
  • @ CAR
  • VS BOS
  • VS MIN
  • @ LAK
  • @ ANA
  • @ VGK
  • VS WIN 

There are a few winnable games in there without 97, but the entire offensive burden now rests of Leon Draisaitl’s large, German shoulders. The big question is whether he can step up his game ala Geno Malkin when Sidney Crosby is on the shelf or if he withers a bit without the insulation of the best offensive player on the planet.

He began that answer with a bang as he produced a goal and three assists in the win against the Blackhawks on Tuesday. It’s February 12th and he’s already at 88 points. That’s more than Jamie Benn had (87) when he won the Art Ross in 2014-15.

Edmonton sits just one point back of the Canucks for tops in the Pacific, but also just two up on the Coyotes who sit fifth. They’ll need to squeeze every point out of this stretch without McDavid to keep a grip on the tenuous playoff spot.

**

As far as trying to replace McDavid on your fantasy roster, good luck. However, here are a few decent streamable centers that could be kicking around your league’s waiver wire:

Brock Nelson – 14 in his last 12

Paul Stastny – 10 in his last 9

Robert Thomas – 6 in his last 6

Kirby Dach – 6 in his last 7

Roope Hintz – 4 in his last 4

 

**

Speaking of the Pacific Division, with an OT loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, the Arizona Coyotes are 2-5-3 in their last 10 games and find themselves outside of a playoff spot. It will be extremely interesting to see what the club does with Taylor Hall if the slide continues.

I have a feeling they’ll do all they can to get him to agree to an extension over the next few weeks. But if the product on the ice doesn’t match up, you’d have to believe they’ll dangle him out for another trade.

We can’t put this on Hall though. Since being traded to AZ he has 20 points in 24 games while averaging over three shots per contest.

If they do decide to keep him and still miss the playoffs, at least the chances of them jumping up and winning the lottery are exponentially higher.

 

**

Mathew Barzal popped three helpers in the Isles win over the Flyers. It’s just his second three-point game of the season. The 22-year-old hasn’t taken off the way many expected when he waltzed into the league and put up 85 points en route to a Calder Trophy.

The power-play production is the main cause of this. He had 27 PPPs that first season when the Isles had the sixth-best unit in the league. Last year that dipped to 18 PPPs when the team’s effectiveness on the man-advantage nearly split in half, falling all the way to 26th.

This year, he has just nine through 55 games – a 13 PPP pace. The Islanders are back in the middle of the pack for conversion rate, but Barzal’s PPTOI is all the way down to 2:21 per game – nearly a full minute below his rookie deployment.

Personally, I hate owning Islanders players because they so often play a stingy style, but you’d think Barzal would be someone immune to that. Maybe in year four.

 

**

How about Kevin Fiala? After being a sexy breakout pick heading into the season, he disappointed many (myself included) by posting just one point in his first eight games and finding himself in the press box for the Wild and the waiver wire in many leagues.

However, since November 2nd, the 23-year-old has been clicking at a high-end rate. With a goal and two helpers on Tuesday, he’s up to 37  points in 43 games over that span – a 71-point pace. He’s ramped that up even further in the last week or so with 10 points in five games.

This is the type of player you snake off of the wire and roll out to a playoff round victory. Keep in mind too that Minnesota has a favorable schedule during the most common playoff weeks.

I’m buying.

 

**

Evgeni Kuznetsov is day-to-day with a UBI. He’s been reduced to the second line and second power-play unit for some time now and unsurprisingly, his metrics have fallen off a bit. This despite him shooting about six percentage points above his career norm. Not ideal.

I’m sure many people will view this summer like a nice opportunity to buy-low on Kuzya. He’ll likely finish with less than 70 points for just the second time in five seasons and that will naturally lower his perceived value. Couple that with his chemistry with the burgeoning Jakub Vrana and it will be easy to peg him for a rebound.

Adding fuel to that fire is that Nicklas Backstrom isn’t getting any younger. He continues to rage against the dawning of the light, but Father Time remains undefeated. However, I see Backstrom’s game continuing to age gracefully. His production is predicated on precision rather than speed and force. He thinks the game ahead of most and that trait does not disappear easily.

As such, I see the team continuing to use Backstrom with Alex Ovechkin in all-situations for the foreseeable future. That leaves Kuznetsov battling with Vrana for the last spot on PP1. Kuz can be the QB on the second-unit. Vrana can’t.

Seems to me that the 65-70 point pace is likely where Kuznetsov lives for the remainder of his 20’s.

 

**

This is another big blow to the Avs who have suffered through some bad injuries to core players. Kadri has found a home as the team’s second-line center and was rolling with eight points in his last six games.

In Tuesday’s match against the Sens, J.T. Compher was elevated into that spot to play alongside the Joonas Donskoi and Gabriel Landeskog. That left the formerly red hot, Andre Bukovsky to skate in the juiciest of juicy spots next to Nate MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen at even-strength.

It was Donskoi who pulled the plum net-front gig on the top PP unit.

Burakovsky has been extremely streaky this season. He’s gone through spells of 12 points in six games, nine points in five games, and seven points in five games. He’s also gone on several three-game pointless streaks and a season-high six gamer that occurred during a spell of two points in 13.

Despite the inconsistencies, the recently-turned 25-year-old has already tied his career-high in goals (17) and set a new high for points (41) and power-play points (9). That last metric is especially promising considering Burakovsky has seen just a whisper below 90 seconds of power-play time in the last 10 weeks – although he did grab a PPA on Tuesday.

It’s unlikely that he can carve out a full-time gig on the first unit in Colorado, but if he can continue to be a 50-point+ even-strength producer, then he’ll have a home on fantasy rosters. The trick is to get him while he’s hot.

 

**

Jamie Benn notched a hat trick against the Canes on Tuesday and boy did he ever need that. The 30-year-old’s game has fallen off of a cliff since being a consistent point-per-game player between 2013-14 and 2017-18. He came into the night with just 28 points.

The power forward still has a bit of magic left in his mitts, but the sun has already set on his productive campaigns.

 

**

Chris Kreider kept things rolling by scoring a couple of goals in the Rangers 4-1 victory over the Jets. The soon-to-be unrestricted free agent has 25 points in his last 25 games and can already taste that next big contract.

For the second consecutive game, Igor Shesterkin stopped 43 of 44 and came away with yet another victory. He was even pulled by the concussion spotters for a moment after taking a bump but returned a few minutes later no worse for wear.

Make it 6-1-0 with a sparkling .941 save percentage for the rookie netminder. I’m quickly running out of superlatives for this young man. But just for fun, here are some interesting facts about the Rangers’ new star.

  • The first goalie in NYR history to win six of his first seven career NHL games
  • The first goaltender in NHL history (since saves were first tracked in 1955-56) to post three 40-save wins in his first seven career NHL games.
  • Has won 102 of the last 127 starts spread across the KHL, AHL, and NHL. He has a .937 save percentage over that span.
  • His name is super fun to say.

**

Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson