Ramblings: Barkov/Huberdeau Return, Ribeiro Waived (Feb 4)

by Ian Gooding on February 4, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Barkov/Huberdeau Return, Ribeiro Waived (Feb 4)

Barkov/Huberdeau return on Friday, Ribeiro placed on waivers, plus more…

Panthers fans and fantasy owners received some unexpected good news on Friday morning, as both Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau were cleared to play in time for Friday’s game against Anaheim. Huberdeau is owned in just over half of Yahoo leagues, so check your waiver wire immediately regarding his availability in case your fellow owners are asleep at the wheel.

One of my teams has received all of Kris Letang, Max Domi, and Huberdeau back from IR this week. So far I have only activated Letang, but as per league rules I will need to activate the other two for next week. If you’re in a similar position with at least one or two important players returning from injury, it’s even better than making a trade in my opinion. You receive an added boost to your lineup, and all you need to give up is your worst player, if you need to drop someone at all.

As for the game against Anaheim, Huberdeau wasted no time shaking off the rust, scoring a goal in the second period that happened to be assisted by Barkov. We know that the Panthers haven’t performed up to expectations this season, particularly their own. But this infusion of talent will have the team feeling more confident in their playoff chances.

Let’s take a look at their lines on Friday.







You could interpret these lines as the way that things were supposed to be for the Panthers entering the season, until Huberdeau’s freak long-term injury. Jonathan Marchessault goes back to being the odd man out, which is too bad considering his early-season surge and his recent stats (five-game point streak entering Friday’s game). Unfortunately, Marchessault was held without a point on Friday, skating just 12 minutes. The good news is that Marchessault got to skate with the top line on the power play. Still, I’d be looking to sell if possible.


After being scratched for each of his last three games and five of last 11 games, Mike Ribeiro has been placed on waivers. Technically, he had asked for a trade earlier, so it sounds like there weren’t any takers.

I’ll check back tomorrow, but I’m going to predict that he clears. No one took Jaroslav Halak with a $4.5 million cap hit. So although $3.5 million is a slightly smaller cap hit, there are only a handful of teams that could probably make room for Ribeiro.

Whether a team would remains a whole other story. Ribeiro isn’t used defensively at all, and he is viewed as too slow in today’s NHL. So his real-life value runs parallel to his fantasy value, where he provides decent assist totals (21 this season) and little else (just four goals).

Here are Nashville’s line combinations over the last three games, minus Ribeiro:





One potential beneficiary of Ribeiro’s removal from the Nashville roster is Calle Jarnkrok, who has scored five points over his last four games. Jarnkrok’s icetime has increased from around 13-14 minutes per game early in the season to around 17 minutes per game over that four-game stretch. Jarnkrok has also received over two minutes of power-play time over two of his last three games, so he’s one that could fill the void of those minutes that Ribeiro will give up. Having a sharpshooter linemate such as James Neal won’t hurt either.


Shayne Gostisbehere fits the trend toward smaller, puck-moving defensemen. Unfortunately, when those defensemen don’t score with the regularity that we expect (21 points in 48 games), reduced icetime or no icetime may result. So with the Flyers bolting the door in allowing just one goal on Thursday, Ghost Bear is expected to be a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game on Saturday. He’ll be back in the lineup soon enough, but skaters who hold a healthy scratch risk become borderline owns in shallower single-season leagues. The minus-19 isn’t helping his cause either.

Although fantasy owners will consider these defensemen to be a hot commodity, real-life teams will be cautious with how they deploy them. The Canucks, for example, signed Philip Larsen in the offseason in an attempt to improve their power play. Troy Stecher, who they expected to play in the AHL, emerged as a NHL-caliber defenseman, but size-wise it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to dress both Stecher and the defensively weak Larsen.

The presence of both Larsen and Stecher has been holding Jordan Subban back. Subban has been lighting up the AHL (23 points in 36 games), but he could not enter the Canucks’ lineup during a week-long callup. I don’t expect Larsen to be a Canuck beyond this season, but it’s difficult to fathom a defense that regularly sends out both the 5’10” Stecher and the 5’9” Subban, despite the upside of both.

So defensemen like Gostisbehere, Stecher, and Subban all have tremendous fantasy upside. But if they’re not scoring, they’re going to be on a shorter leash than their larger blueline counterparts. Many NHL coaches are more interested in preventing goals than scoring goals.

I still like Ghost Bear by a slight margin because he has an additional year under his belt over Provorov. I could see him being sneaky good next season, given how his ranking could drop after this season.


I play this joke because Groundhog Day for Phil Kessel owners isn’t ugly at all. Kessel scored two goals and added an assist on Friday, giving him an even 50 points in 50 games on the season.

One concerning stat regarding Kessel: He’s taken just 142 shots over those 50 games, which is on pace for 232 shots. Over the last five seasons we’ve become accustomed to Kessel taking around 300 shots, plus or minus 25. The good news is that his 33 assists has already equaled last season’s totals, so we may need to refer to Kessel as Playmaker Phil from now on.

I took a leap of faith and suggested the little-owned Matt Cullen in my Sportsnet Waiver Wire article, so let’s see where he landed in his return to the Pens’ lineup:





Yup, there he is. On a line with Crosby and Patric Hornqvist. It won’t be forever, but Cullen is there. And he assisted on the Pens’ other goal from Hornqvist.


Anthony Mantha was a popular drop after a six-game pointless slide. But with a goal and an assist on Friday, he has three points and a plus-4 over his last two games. He might be worth looking into again.

Thomas Vanek has been amazingly consistent this season. But his recent four-game point drought put him out of near point-per-game territory. He managed to break that slump on Friday with an assist.


Friday was not Thomas Greiss’ strongest start (five goals allowed), but we should cut him some slack after a very strong January (1.99 GAA, .935 SV%). Those that invested in Greiss after Jaroslav Halak was waived made a smart move. Plus coaching changes always have a great short-term effect on players (or as Steve likes to call the dead cat bounce).


With four assists on Friday and first-unit power-play time, I was surprised as to why T.J. Brodie isn’t having a solid season, with just 22 points and a minus-19 in 54 games. But then again I’ve been puzzled with some of Glen Gulutzan’s coaching decisions in Calgary (Alex Chiasson on the top line?)

But Mark Giordano hasn’t made a strong case for himself either. That’s no points in seven games and counting for Gio. I certainly expected much better than that off the heels of a 21-goal, 56-point season. With just six goals, Giordano is shooting far less, on pace for over a 20 percent reduction in shots (212 last season to projected 160 this season).

After looking dismal for much of January, the Flames have stepped it up with three wins in a row as they attempt to hang onto a wild card spot. As Johnny Gaudreau starts to find his game again (five points in his last three games), maybe some of that starts to rub off on Brodie and Giordano.


With a minus-2 on Friday, Damon Severson is down to a minus-25, a number that is only surpassed for the wrong reasons by Tyson Barrie. He also hasn’t scored a point in six games. Clipping your toenails is a better use of your time than searching for a Devils’ defenseman for your fantasy team.


Finally, another one of my Sportsnet Waiver Wire picks added to his growing total on Friday. Sebastian Aho scored another goal, giving him four in his last three games. Since Christmas, the rookie has been on an amazing run, scoring 14 points in his last 17 games. So if you didn’t read the article, go pick him up. Or you can read the article and I’ll tell you more.


Enjoy your Saturday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.