Catching Up

by Russ on December 12, 2017


I’m back, fresh off a two-week vacation, where I was almost completely out of touch with the hockey world. It was a nice break from work, but unfortunately, I did miss all but a couple of games and had no hockey news during that period.


I did manage to catch parts of three games, one of which was a 4-3 victory for Washington over Columbus. Defenseman Zach Werenski was especially noticeable, even though he only had one goal in the loss. He has four points over his last six games and is on pace for 44 points. An outstanding rookie season last year saw him tally 11 goals and 47 points. Werenski already has nine goals in only 30 matches this season.


Another Blue Jacket that had a good game was Pierre-Luc Dubois. The talented rookie registered two assists in 20:44 minutes of ice time, the highest number of minutes in a game so far in his young career. Over the last 10 games, he has nine points, playing more than 80 per cent of his even-strength ice time with Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson. Dubois started the season with only four points over his first 20 contests. He has dual C/LW eligibility and can provide some face-off wins. Dubois is owned in only 16 per cent of Yahoo leagues. The rookie would be a fantastic addition if he is available in any of your leagues.


The second game of that Saturday night double-header was an Edmonton/Calgary tilt. As an Oiler fan, I was eagerly awaiting this game and saw the first Edmonton goal by Jesse Puljujarvi. Shortly after that, the television feed was changed to, I kid you not, a cricket match. I may not have mentioned that I was on a cruise ship where the majority of the bridge (who controlled the television feed) were huge cricket fans. My protestations went unheeded. Ah well, at least I got to watch one full game on Saturday night and my Oilers did ultimately prevail against the Flames.


The New Jersey/Anaheim trade of Sami Vatanen for Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi came as a big surprise for me, but then again, I was not paying attention to the serious number of Duck forwards that are sidelined due to varying degrees of injury. At first blush, I like this deal for the Devils. Anytime you can grab a right-handed shooting defenseman that can play in your top four, I’m going to look at that as a win. Henrique isn’t exactly chopped liver, but he was on pace for 48 points with New Jersey. The early returns in Anaheim are looking good with six points in five matches (prior to last night’s tilt) for Henrique. Blandisi is simply a depth addition, which the Ducks are in dire need of at the forward position.


I also missed a couple of big games from the Caps bruiser Tom Wilson. That also means he was on my bench in the two leagues I own the big galoot. Over his last 10 games, Wilson has nine points and his ice time has increased noticeably. He’s received north of 16 minutes per game in nine of the last 10 contests. Don’t forget that this guy was taken with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 entry draft. In his final year of junior hockey, Wilson tallied 23 goals and 58 points in 48 games, a 39 goal, 99-point pace. He’s found himself on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Wilson will never be a natural scorer, but he sure has all the makings of a dominant roto league performer if he can continue producing on that line.


The Bolts Tyler Johnson has nine points over his last seven games. He’s been splitting his even-strength shifts playing with Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov and Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat. Interestingly, Yanni Gourde has seen his ice time decrease over the same period, yet he still has six points in his last seven contests. He has played most often with Alex Killorn and Cory Conacher. Gourde is better suited to secondary scoring, while Johnson has the offensive chops to continue putting up points in a top-six role…at least until his next injury.


Talk about a frustrating player to own. Alex Galchenyuk obviously has skill, but his numbers this season are not what his owners (and the Habs) were hoping for. With 17 points in 31 games, he is on pace for 45 points. Last year, he had 44 points in 61 contests, a 59-point pace and the season before, he recorded 56 points. His ice time over the last 10 matches has ranged from a high of 18:15 to a low of 9:18. It’s clear to me that a change of address might be the best thing for the 23-year-old forward.


Since being recalled from the minors, Daniel Carr has at least one point in each of his five contests and seven points overall. In fact, over the last two weeks, Carr has one more point in two less games than Max Pacioretty. Carr’s linemates have been Nicolas Deslauriers and Byron Froese and they are obviously not going to be relied upon to provide consistent scoring. Some of you might be able to ride the hot hand, but you had better be in a really deep league.


One player to keep an eye on could be the Panthers Denis Malgin. He has received at least 15 minutes of ice time over each of his last four contests while recording a point in three of those four matches. He has been playing primarily with Vincent Trocheck and Jamie McGinn. Malgin has 14 points in 13 AHL games this season, so the under-sized Swiss native has shown that he can put up points, but has yet to prove himself as a scorer in the NHL.


Thanks for reading.