Carter Off, Devil Is In the Details, rookies, plus more…
Death, taxes, and injuries. And more injuries. The latest one affecting fantasy owners is that of Jeff Carter, who is expected to be out multiple weeks with possible tendon damage, which by my estimation could be more like months. I say this because you may recall Jonathan Huberdeau, who missed over half of last season after his Achilles tendon was cut during a preseason game. But if you believe I’m wrong about the severity of the injury, I’ll let you know in advance that this is a case in which I hope I’m wrong.
In a related move, the Kings have signed Brooks Laich to a one-year, $650,000 contract. Obviously Laich won’t help in fantasy leagues, but who could? One obvious name might be Adrian Kempe, who posted a hat trick and an assist in the same game that Carter was injured. Yet those were Kempe’s first points of the season and he’s averaged just over 12 minutes per game, so he’s not at a must-add point. He is worth keeping an eye on, though.
According to LA Kings Insider, Nick Shore was centering Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli at practice on Thursday. You could take that as meaning Shore receives an uptick in value. Or that Toffoli and Pearson receive a slight downgrade in value. As for power-play time, Mike Cammalleri could take Carter’s spot on the first unit.
So what should Carter owners in fantasy leagues do? I’ll speak in terms of the league that I own Carter in. Currently there are a group of veteran centers to choose from, which includes Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Derick Brassard, Mikko Koivu, Tyler Bozak, and Henrik Sedin. Your league format won’t exactly replicate mine, but the commonality is that you shouldn’t expect to replace Carter’s goal total from the waiver wire. The best you can do is look for someone who may come close to his point total, even if that point total is assist-heavy.
But if it’s goals you need and nothing else, you could consider acquiring someone like an Anders Lee, who scored 34 goals last season and is available in over half of Yahoo leagues (assuming you don’t require another center). Or else look on the bright side: This could be an opportunity to add that player you’ve thought about adding but simply haven’t had the room. You just have to get creative.
One of the best stories of the season thus far has to be the sudden emergence of the New Jersey Devils. Thought to be a fantasy wasteland, the Devils are now 6-1 and are one of two teams to average more than four goals per game (the Leafs are the other). Will Butcher and Jesper Bratt have been brought into the fantasy discussion, although Thursday’s win against Ottawa was more about two names that were more familiar to fantasy owners entering the season. Obviously they won’t average four goals per game from here on out, but they are clearly better than we thought.
Nico Hischier scored his first two goals of the season while adding an assist in 18:20 of icetime. With points in three consecutive games, Hischier is officially looking like a big leaguer. He’s also available in over half of Yahoo leagues. Another possible Carter replacement?
Hischier’s recent spurt can be attributed to being matched up with Taylor Hall, who had four assists in this game. I mentioned Hall as a player to target in my most recent offering for Sportsnet because of the recent scoring surge in New Jersey. If you read it and reacted immediately, congratulations. But guess who acquired Hall this week, only forgetting to move him to the starting lineup for this game? Yup, me. That’s why I’m sometimes floored when people call me an “expert.” Do as I say, not as I do. LOL.
Is reality finally setting in for Jesper Bratt? After a smoking hot start out of nowhere, he has failed to record a point in four consecutive games. His icetime has been reduced to 11-12 minutes per game over the past two games as well.
If your league somehow rewards overtime goals, particularly for defensemen, John Moore is your guy. Stat courtesy of my former writer at fantasyhockey.com.
Since 3-on-3 OT was implemented in 2015-16, John Moore's 5 OT goals are more than any other defenseman. Burns and Gostisbehere each have 4.
— David Satriano (@davidsatriano) October 20, 2017
Another “first two goals” night, this one from Mikhail Sergachev. I like Sergachev, but I’d be conservative about estimates for his production this season. Although he has six points in eight games and has been receiving second-unit power-play time, he has been averaging just 12 minutes per game on a Tampa squad that has been sending out seven defensemen on a regular basis. But his long-term upside on a team like the Lightning is tremendous.
No goals for Nikita Kucherov, so his seven-game goal streak to start the season ends. But he now has an eight-game point streak thanks to his two assists on Sergachev’s goals. Kucherov now has multiple points in six of his eight games while leading the league in scoring with 14 points.
Andrei Vasilevskiy worked hard for his shutout on Thursday, stopping all 43 shots he faced. That’s his fifth consecutive win and sixth in seven games. If the Bolts are a true contender then Vasilevskiy could be in for a huge season. Peter Budaj has been held to one start this season, so he might not be your guy if you’re searching for a backup goalie to fill out your roster.
Patrice Bergeron must have felt like it was 2011 all over again (sorry Canucks fans, my heart aches too writing that). Bergeron scored a goal and added three assists in his season debut on Thursday, playing on a line with Anders Bjork (who wasn’t around in 2011) and Brad Marchand (who was definitely around in 2011). Marchand and Bjork each posted three points in this game, which was sparked by a five-minute boarding penalty to Erik Gudbranson that resulted in three power-play goals for the B’s.
For playing on a top-notch line, Bjork is sure available in a ton of leagues (only 5% owned in Yahoo leagues). Thursday’s performance should increase that number, so now might be the time to get on board now that Bergeron is back.
One mildly interesting Bruins’ player that is flying under the radar is Kenny Agostino, who recorded an assist on Thursday while receiving over seven minutes of power-play time (third among Bruins’ forwards). The AHL looks too easy for Agostino, who has seven points in three games there this season and a league-leading 83 points in just 65 games last season. But can he stick in the NHL, even after the Bruins get through their rash of injuries? The 25-year-old Agostino was a free agent signing by the Bruins this past offseason after spending time in the Blues’ and Flames’ organizations.
Hopefully you didn’t think Anders Nilsson’s start would turn out just like the last one. After shutting out the Senators on Tuesday, Nilsson lasted just 11 minutes on Thursday after allowing four first-period goals. It’s looking more and more like goaltending will be an issue for the Canucks this season, among many other things.
The Michael Del Zotto icetime watch: 26:31 on Thursday. He is averaging close to 25 minutes in his first season with the Canucks. He’s now chipping in offensively with four assists in his past three games. Take note if your league counts icetime as well as points.
We’ve mentioned some rookies with strong starts here: Butcher, Hischier, Bratt, Sergachev, and Bjork. But the rookie leader in goals happens to be Clayton Keller, who with his two goals on Thursday is now up to five goals on the season.
While fellow top prospect Dylan Strome has been sent to the AHL, Keller is already thriving in the NHL in playing on the closest thing the winless Coyotes have to a scoring line with Max Domi and Derek Stepan. Keller is averaging close to 20 minutes a game, which is considerable for a rookie, and he’s receiving first-unit power-play time. Yet he’s still owned in less than a third of Yahoo leagues.
I know it’s early, but look at the top 5 of the scoring race. You’ll find Jaden Schwartz. Off the heels of his hat trick against Chicago on Wednesday, Schwartz scored a goal against Colorado on Thursday, giving him 12 points (6g-6a) and a plus-7 in just eight games.
Another rookie worth noting: Alexander Kerfoot, who scored two goals and added an assist on Thursday. Kerfoot now has five points (3g-2a) and a plus-4 in eight games. He’s been playing on an interesting line with Matt Duchene and Nail Yakupov.
Connor McDavid recorded two assists as the Oilers snapped their losing streak. Although your first overall pick hasn’t scored a goal in five games, one of those assists was amazing.
Connor McDavid with one of the best assists you'll see this season pic.twitter.com/uRazZRGcPp
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 20, 2017
This clearly wasn’t Kris Versteeg’s shift. At least he was able to return to the game.
Rest in peace Gord Downie. May you shake Bill Barilko’s hand in heaven.
— CBC Radio 2 Drive (@CBCR2Drive) August 10, 2016
The Tragically Hip is playing in the background as I type this edition of the Ramblings, of course.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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