Ramblings: Boudreau Fired, Kassian Suspended Seven Games, Zucker Impressing in Pittsburgh (Feb 15)
First time posting on the new-and-improved site. Let’s see how it goes.
Another day, another coach firing. This time, the axe fell on Bruce Boudreau as coach of the Minnesota Wild, who replaced him with assistant Dean Evason. Mike Clifford filled you in on the Fantasy Take.
I'm with Mike and a whole lot of others in that Boudreau wasn't the problem in Minny. This was a team that went for it all back in 2012-13 when it inked both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to mammoth long-term deals. Since then, the Wild have remained in the league's "mushy middle" – not strong enough to be a Western Conference power, yet not weak or fortunate enough to benefit from a franchise player at the top of the draft.
Now they're stuck with an aging core, which includes four players 30 or older signed for at least four more years after this one, and a group of young players that lacks a high-end gamebreaker (Kirill Kaprizov notwithstanding). Yet BB managed to get his team to 7-3-1 in its last 11 games and still within striking distance of the last Western Conference playoff spot. This is probably about new GM Bill Guerin wanting to bring in his own guy, possibly long-time teammate Doug Weight.
Do you want to keep your job as an NHL head coach? It might all depend on your team's goaltending.
Wyshynski continues with Toronto (23rd), then mentions higher-end save percentage teams Dallas and Calgary made their coaching changes for non-hockey reasons. If you're also wondering why Paul Maurice received an extension…
I'll add that the first thing I usually watch for after a coaching change is the goaltending situation. The last eight games of Wild hockey have been Devan Dubnyk for two games, followed by Alex Stalock for two games, then repeat. I've received a question or two recently about whether it's worth it to add Stalock, who has been better than Dubnyk this season. While Evason gets used to the head coaching job, I'd expect him to simply ride the hot hand, which is what Boudreau had been doing himself. So I don't think this changes much goaltending-wise, at least in the short term. That should make Stalock a decent option as a third goalie if you need one.
For what it's worth, Evason did not make any line changes during Friday's practice. Here are Minnesota's last game lines. One Wild player to target regardless of the coaching change is Kevin Fiala, who has ten points over his last six games while playing on the top line with Zach Parise and Eric Staal. Over those six games, no player has recorded more points or has fired more shots (29 SOG). I added Fiala about a week ago as an injury replacement and he's not going anywhere even as injured players return.
The verdict is in on Zack Kassian and his skate-blade kick to Erik Cernak. Kassian has received a seven-game suspension, which will put him out of action until Saturday, February 29. That could be roughly the same amount of time that Connor McDavid misses, which if you add in James Neal puts the depth-challenged Oilers without three top-6 forwards for the foreseeable future. Not a wise move by Kassian, who the Oilers recently extended for four more seasons after this one.
On Thursday, the Oilers featured a top line of Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Kailer Yamamoto. This is obviously great for Yamamoto, who already has seven goals and 14 points in just 16 games since his callup. With the injuries, Yamamoto has also received an increase in power-play time, furthering his case for an increase to his 23 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues. I wouldn't worry about him being sent back to the AHL at this point.
Jim Rutherford is already reaping the rewards from his pre-deadline day acquisition. In his second game as a Penguin, Jason Zucker scored two goals to go with a plus-2. His center? None other than Sidney Crosby, who assisted on both of Zucker's goals and collected three assists in total on Friday. Needless to say, this trade could help Zucker. Fantasy Impact: Penguins Land Zucker.
You could argue that the Penguins gave up too much for Zucker, but this is a team that has to live in the here and now while Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are still productive. Plus the asking price for such a player will only increase as the trade deadline gets closer, so you can't fault Rutherford for getting an early start on the deadline-day craziness (or is that just a lot of hype now?)
This is quite the goal from Kyle Connor:
Next, some injury news, which seems to be happening on a daily basis.
Jay Bouwmeester has undergone a "successful" (there's that word again, Dobber) Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator procedure. The Blues will be providing an update on his status early next week, but for now he is out for the foreseeable future. His overall health takes precedence over his playing career at this point.
Andreas Johnsson will be sidelined for at least eight weeks, as he will undergo knee surgery. He hasn't been able to build on last season's 20-goal, 40+ point rookie campaign despite playing significant minutes alongside Auston Matthews.
In his first game on an AHL conditioning stint, Micheal Ferland suffered another setback. Ferland left the game due to concussion-like symptoms. At this point, I wouldn't expect Ferland to return at all this season. In fact, Ferland's career could be in serious jeopardy at this point, since the physical element is such an important part of his game.
Tony DeAngelo missed Friday's game with what was described as an upper-body injury. Fortunately, David Quinn has stated this isn't a long-term injury.
Saturday goalie starts, according to Goalie Post:
Tuukka Rask (vs. DET): Even though Rask has lost his previous two meetings with the Red Wings, this should be a no-brainer, given Rask's numbers and the opponent. If I had to rank all the goalies starting tomorrow, I highly doubt I would find one that I would start over Rask.
Carter Hart (@ TB): Before you automatically bench Hart for this hellish matchup, note that Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Anthony Cirelli are all game-time decisions for this game. Even with the injuries, the Lightning just keep rolling, having won nine consecutive games. So this game could be lower-scoring than you might think.
Martin Jones (@ MIN): I gave up on Jones a while ago and so should you. The Wild will be playing their first game under a new coach, so the extra motivation could have a positive short-term effect.
Jack Campbell (@ OTT): Since joining the Leafs, Campbell has a 2-0-1 record with a 2.52 GAA and .918 SV%. I'm comfortable starting Campbell here. His presence might give Frederik Andersen some much-needed rest (Andersen is expected to start Sunday versus Buffalo).
I'll also let you know that I'll be updating the Top 100 Roto Rankings sometime this weekend. As a teaser, I'll provide a list of players that I'm adding to and dropping from the top 100. Feel free to leave feedback on anyone else you think should or should not be on the top 100 list.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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