Ramblings: Finding Value on the Island, Natural Hat Trick for Faksa (Nov 29)

by Ian Gooding on November 29, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Finding Value on the Island, Natural Hat Trick for Faksa (Nov 29)

Finding Value on the Island, Natural Hat Trick for Faksa, plus more…

The 2017 version of the Islanders is definitely not the juggernaut with Bossy, Trottier, and Potvin of the early 1980s, but you can’t call this team the Island of Misfit Toys anymore. These Islanders entered Tuesday’s action third in goals for per games played, and they helped their cause with five more goals on Tuesday against the Canucks.

John Tavares and Anders Lee each scored a goal and added an assist. With 16 goals, Tavares trails only Alex Ovechkin and Nikita Kucherov in the goal department. If you combine Lee’s 13 goals this season with his 34 goals from last season, Lee is a top-10 goal scorer over that span. He should be owned universally if he isn’t already.

Another Islander who is also approaching universal ownership is Josh Bailey. At least we can now say he is beyond ownership of “a few weeks” or “as long as he’s on the Tavares line.” Only Steven Stamkos has more assists than Bailey, who is tied for second with two others with 23 assists. If you’re worried that Bailey’s value will disappear if Tavares signs elsewhere this offseason (TO – gasp!), remember that the Isles also have that Mathew Barzal kid scoring at a point per game on their second line. More on that second line with Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ladd in this week’s Lining Up.   

We’re approaching the end of November and Nick Leddy has been one of fantasy hockey’s top value picks. I don’t know how this could happen with a defenseman with back-to-back 40-point seasons, but on average Leddy was drafted outside the top 50 among defensemen in Yahoo leagues. I knew this and picked him in one of my leagues, while a friend who lives in New York drafted him in my two other leagues. Leddy is currently tied for second among blueliners with 20 points, even though he was held without a point on Tuesday in spite of firing five shots on goal.

If the Islanders can find some upper-echelon goaltending, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the competitive Metropolitan Division. Maybe they could bring back Battlin’ Billy Smith.

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Just when you thought Loui Eriksson had disappeared from the fantasy landscape, he has nine points in 13 games. His career stats show that he needs at least a season to warm up to a new team, but after that he turns into a 30-goal, 60-point scorer. The Canucks would be thrilled if they could get that kind of return from their $6 million investment.

Nikolai Goldobin was recalled by the Canucks, although he was a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s game.

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Now that Matt Murray is week-to-week with a lower-body injury, Tristan Jarry makes a solid short-term pickup. In Tuesday’s Ramblings, Steve gave you a pretty good idea as to who you could drop if you wanted to add Jarry. Obviously the deeper the league, the more likely you are to pick him up. Jarry is already at 28 percent ownership and climbing in Yahoo leagues, so you don’t want to wait if the need is there (especially if you’re a Murray owner).

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Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 34 shots he faced in a 2-0 shutout win over Buffalo. Those who took a chance on him due to his lack of experience as a starter have been rewarded. He leads the NHL with 16 wins with some solid ratios (2.33 GAA, .933 SV%). You could maybe argue that Sergei Bobrovsky has had a better season among fantasy goalies, but so far Vasilevskiy is in the discussion for fantasy’s top goalie.

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The Panthers chased Henrik Lundqvist from the net in the first period with three goals on just six shots. Eventually the Rangers tied the game at 4 after trailing 3-0 and 4-1, but Denis Malgin’s goal with just over a minute left in regulation sealed the win for the Panthers.

Leading the Panthers’ offensive charge was Jonathan Huberdeau, who scored a goal and added two assists with a plus-2. Dating back to his injury-shortened 2016-17 season, Huberdeau has scored at a 0.927 PTS/GP pace, which over a full season puts him at 76 points. He’s never reached 60 points in a season, but that’s a mark that he seems due to surpass. More on Huberdeau in this week's Cage Match.

Chris Kreider scored two goals and added an assist in a losing cause. Kreider is holding a hot stick with five goals in his last four games. Kreider lined up with Pavel Buchnevich and David Desharnais, who each also had three points. Desharnais was inserted on this line in place of Mika Zibanejad, who was a late scratch because of an upper-body injury.   

The Rangers seem to be a team that rolls three scoring lines. Alain Vigneault seemed to divide the top 9’s power-play time very evenly with the exception of Michael Grabner, who didn’t receive any and hasn’t all season.

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With a goal on Tuesday, Noah Hanifin has five points in his last five games. He’s showing his offensive upside, but I’d like to see the power-play time more consistent before recommending him in shallower formats.  

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With his 11th and 12th goals of the season on Tuesday, Anze Kopitar has now scored as many goals as he had all of last season in – get this – 51 fewer games. John Stevens’ and Pierre Turgeon’s commitment to offense has had a positive effect on both Kopitar and linemate Dustin Brown. Jeff Carter’s injury has also forced Kopitar to shoulder a greater load, as Kopitar’s icetime is up nearly two minutes per game from last season.

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But hey, at least Auston Matthews assisted on Nikita Zaitsev’s goal. You don’t need to record a shot on goal to record an assist.

With all of Frederik Andersen’s inconsistencies this season, he’s 7-1-1 in his last nine starts. The team playing in front of him hasn’t made it easy for him, though, as he leads the league with 741 shots against. Mike Smith, his opponent on Tuesday, is second with 685 shots against.

I recognize that part of that is the amount that these two teams ride their starting goalies. But the Leafs and Flames are 5th and 7th in team shots against with approximately 33 shots allowed per game. Both goalies deserve an uptick in value in leagues that count saves as opposed to save percentage.

It’s always an adventure watching Smith outside of his net. Watch out for the banana peel!

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In his first game since his recent callup, Dylan Strome was held without a point in 11:43 of icetime, playing on a line with fellow rookie Clayton Keller and veteran depth forward Brad Richardson. Keller recorded an assist in this game, but he entered the game with just three points in his last ten games.

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Radek Faksa and Ben Bishop made the Vegas Golden Knights’ Twitter, which has been having a good time for most of the season, say this:
 


Faksa scored all three Stars’ goals to record a natural hat trick in the second period. These were goals 6, 7, 8 on the season, the last two coming in a span of eight seconds. Faksa now has five goals in his last six games, although at a deep center position and with scarce power-play time he should not be rostered in anything except the deepest of leagues at the moment. But on a team with a gaping scoring dropoff after Benn, Seguin, Radulov, and Klingberg, it's promising to see a secondary scorer step it up.

 

Bishop stopped all 34 shots he faced in handing the Knights just their second home loss of the season. The shutout is the second of the season for Bishop, who has been average at best as a fantasy goalie with a .907 SV% and 2.76 GAA entering this game. This in spite of the Stars allowing just 29.3 shots per game, the second-fewest in the league.

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Here’s Elliotte’s 31 Thoughts this week, including his thoughts on whether the media is really tough on players. Some interesting stuff, as per usual.

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For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.