Ramblings: Anisimov Hurt, Evander Kane Returns (Nov 10)

by steve laidlaw on November 10, 2016

Anisimov hurt, Evander Kane returns, Steen, Stastny and Stone slumping, and more.

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I had an interesting conversation regarding Artem Anisimov. My buddy has him and was offered Patrice Bergeron. To me, this is a no-brainer but he expressed some concern that this might be a late breakout for Anisimov similar to what Nick Foligno put together a couple of years ago. Perhaps, but Bergeron is good enough that even if this is a breakout for Anisimov, he should still perform at a similar level. A lot of times, what you can actually accomplishing selling high isn’t up to snuff but I don’t see much downside in getting Bergeron here.

Of course, Anisimov was hurt last night and did not return to the game. I hope my buddy pulled the trigger in time. This is a pretty miserable way for Anisimov’s 11-game scoring streak to end. I hope it isn’t serious and that it doesn’t derail his breakout.

Then again, I have Anisimov in zero leagues, so it would be to my benefit if he did fall off.

Artemi Panarin picked up the slack scoring the overtime winner and adding an assist on Marian Hossa’s opening goal.

Hossa is off to an outstanding start. I thought he might be done as a fantasy asset but here he has seven goals through 13 games. Sure, he won’t continue to shoot 21.2% but his 12.3% career average is attainable going forward. At that rate he’ll finish with around 25 goals.

I am a bit amazed how much of Hossa’s production has come via the power play considering how little usage he sees. Five of his 12 points have come with the man advantage despite skating just 2:17 per game on the second power play unit.

I am still not buying Hossa stock. At best I think he’s getting to 55 points. Sure, he is capable of more but age, injuries and usage are all working against him. Those factors also make him undervalued but there are some risks I won’t take.

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After a hot start Paul Stastny’s production has dried right up. I thought his promotion to the top power play unit would buoy him to another level but he has been held scoreless in seven of the last eight games. He still has nine points in 14 games on the season but his recent run has him in droppable territory with the depth of the center position.

Stastny could easily snap out of this. His most common linemate, Robby Fabbri, is caught in one snake-bitten funk. He did score his first goal of the season the other day against Colorado but he has just four points on the season. Fabbri is too talented to stay quiet all season so you figure Stastny’s assist numbers pick up a bit.

However, Stastny’s shooting percentage is on the high end at 18%. He is playing as the net-front man on the top PP unit, so his shooting may remain elevated. He has always been a high percentage shooter with a 12.6% career rate. Playing as the net-front guy does mean he’ll get less opportunities to touch the puck overall, which might mean fewer PP assists than you’d hope for. The top PP role is a positive but maybe don’t expect 40+ assists out of Stastny.

Another common linemate for Stastny is Alex Steen. Steen was on a different line last night, with Dmitri Jaskin on Stastny’s wing. I bring this up as a reminder of my concern regarding Steen this season. He did just rattle off a three-game assist streak but he still doesn’t look right. His shot rate has fallen below 2.0 SOG per game, which is cause for concern. He is also not shooting well on the shots he is taking. Perhaps we are seeing the lingering effects of off-season shoulder surgery. Shoulder surgery has derailed many a player.

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Mike Condon has continued his hot start for the Senators. I’d love to recommend picking him up but we just don’t know what Craig Anderson’s availability will be. Anderson is going to start whenever possible but there’s no concrete schedule here. All I can advise is to monitor GoaliePost and to use Condon when he is confirmed and it makes sense for your squad.

I don’t know what to make of Mark Stone’s struggles. He has been one of the best even-strength scorers over the past couple of seasons. He doesn’t do it with shot volume, instead he is a clever playmaker and gets into knife-fighting range for the shots he does take.

Stone’s shooting percentage sitting at just 5.0% as a career 15.3% shooter is certainly a factor, but I’d like to think he’d have enough assists to make up for any deficit. Not so far. We also can’t blame usage as Stone has been skating with the best that Ottawa has to offer for much of the season:

35.4%    HOFFMAN,MIKE – STONE,MARK – TURRIS,KYLE

27.5%    BRASSARD,DERICK – RYAN,BOBBY – STONE,MARK

21.5%    PAGEAU,JEAN-GABRIEL – SMITH,ZACK – STONE,MARK

9.3%      BRASSARD,DERICK – HOFFMAN,MIKE – STONE,MARK

6.3%      SMITH,ZACK – STONE,MARK – TURRIS,KYLE

It is worth noting that Stone is down almost three minutes of nightly usage from last season. Some of that comes on the power play where he has split time between the top unit and the second unit. The bulk of his minutes drop comes on the penalty kill, where he has scarcely been used. The lack of PK time would presumably be to his benefit as he’d remain fresh but perhaps it is an indication that he is still banged up.

Stone has missed some time with a neck injury but was also diagnosed with a concussion during the pre-season. Is he still feeling some symptoms? Is he playing shy? I have to admit I haven’t watched enough Senators action to do anything but speculate.

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Evander Kane returned for the Sabres, skating over 22 minutes on the top line and second PP unit. Solid opportunity here. While he didn’t score, Kane did have two SOG, two hits, and two PIM. He is a stat stuffer, and an okay scorer. I am fine with using Kane in multi-category leagues. Just don’t expect a ton of offense or anything close to 82 games played.

While Kane returned, Ryan O’Reilly was held out with an undisclosed injury. He opened the season with a back injury so we can probably assume it is related. Sam Reinhart jumped up to the first line to fill O’Reilly’s role.

Tyler Ennis was also held out. He is dealing with a mid-body injury. No timetable for him yet.

Robin Lehner is quietly putting together an effective season for this banged-up Sabres team. His 4-4-2 record is acceptable but his 0.929 Sv% and 2.19 GAA are outstanding. These numbers are an improvement on what he did last season but are also very much in line. He now has 31 games of really effective play across two seasons. That’s not a resume I would be completely comfortable with but it appears positive.

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People need to get over their biases towards John Tortorella. Yesterday there were whispers that he might make Brandon Saad a healthy scratch. Without confirmation, Twitter was ablaze in outrage. Ultimately, Saad played, on the top line, no less and scored a goal and an assist.

Tortorella is playing his young players. He is using in situations that are allowing them to breakout offensively. The Blue Jackets are also winning. What’s there to complain about?

Zach Werenski scored the overtime winner for Columbus. His ownership is up to 66% on Yahoo but it really aught to be much higher.

Brandon Dubinsky sat out last night due to illness.

Boone Jenner scored his first goal of the season but isn’t seeing the sort of usage that would propel him to build on last season’s 30-goal breakout. You can hardly blame the coaches for not using him, not when their power play is clicking at a league-high 35.5%.

That power play is going to slow down at some point. 25% is the max I can see a team scoring at over 82 games. That’s going to mean some of the offense dries up for Werenski and Alexander Wennberg. But in the meantime, these two are some of the most exciting young players in the game:

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No surprise here, although I did think Barzal would see a couple more games. End of the day, they were not prepared to use him. Great prospect though, definitely one you want in keeper leagues.

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The latest on Justin Faulk is still vague:

Earlier word on Faulk was that he was week-to-week. Perhaps he can return sooner? I am a big fan of Faulk but the injuries are becoming a nuisance. He has played one full season in his career. Trending into Kris Letang territory.

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The Canucks have assigned Jake Virtanen to the minors to get him some more run but it sounds like he’ll be back for next week. Either way, he doesn’t appear to have much fantasy relevance.

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My latest for Puck Daddy discusses the many goalie tandems throughout the league and what to expect from each.

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Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. Follow him on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.