Ramblings: Henrik Panic? (Feb 9)

by steve laidlaw on February 8, 2018


Henrik Lundqvist’s miserable couple of weeks have fantasy owners panicked. I am currently in trade talks with the Lundqvist owner in my 14-team one-year league. His other goalie is Devan Dubnyk and he wants a piece of my Andrei Vasilevskiy/Connor Hellebuyck/Carter Hutton trio. I sense an opportunity here.

Mind you, my team is barely hanging in the playoff chase because I went deep on goaltenders and for a while the wrong ones. I need offense. Good spot for a win-win trade as he’s loaded with guys like Johnny Gaudreau, Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Marchessault (who I dropped after a slow first few games, OOPS!), Sean Couturier and Anze Kopitar. We’ll see what shakes out.

The takeaway: consider approaching the Lundqvist owner if you are loaded in goal. His apparent demise is perfectly timed with fantasy hockey trade deadlines rapidly approaching.


Brad Marchand returned from his suspension resetting the Bruins’ lines to normal:






That top line is unreal, and they’ve been able to keep it together because of the emergence of guys like Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk. These guys would be Cup favourites if they had taken Mat Barzal with one of those three straight first rounders with which they took DeBrusk, but at least they got a good one out of that group. Unless you are a Bruins fan, you thank the hockey gods that they didn’t take Barzal. The potential rookie cohort of Heinen, DeBrusk, Barzal and Charlie McAvoy would have rivalled the trio Toronto boasted last season.

Heinen, by the way, extended his scoring streak to three games, but was almost entirely shut out of PP usage.

Boston is a team I am high on in general due to a favourable schedule during head-to-head playoffs. We didn’t luck out with the Bruins/Panthers game getting injected into the standard H2H playoff window from March 5-25. In fact, with that game now slated for the day after the season was slated to end, many leagues may not extend to that extra date. That extra game may not be meaningful anyhow. The Bruins could be fully locked into their spot by then and looking to rest guys for the playoffs.

In any case, the Bruins play 11 games from March 5-25, one of just six teams with that many games. If you’re talking trades these guys are ones to load up on, though it may be too late. Bergeron is as hot a goal scorer as you’ll find with 16 goals in the last 19 games.

I scooped up Anton Khudobin this week to take advantage of Boston’s two back-to-backs. One is out of the way with Khudobin earning a win, but he’ll get one more for sure with another back-to-back this weekend. Next week is a shallow week for Boston with just two games, but you could pull this trick again on the week of February 19-25.

Khudobin would be worth more if Tuukka Rask weren’t on an incredible run having lost just two games since the start of December, neither in regulation. So take advantage of these rare back-to-back opportunities where you can.


More heroics from Frederik Andersen:


I don’t know if eyes have groins, but I think I pulled my eye groin watching that.

Freddie clearly showing no ill-effects of that skate to the head that knocked him out of Monday’s action stopping 44 of 46 shots for a shootout victory.

Some telling info on how Kasperi Kapanen will be used in the near future:


That shouldn’t instill too much confidence for fantasy owners, but at least it appears that Kapanen is here to stay. His speed dynamic fits right into today’s game and could make him a Grabner-esque threat if he isn’t going to get a more offensive role.


More magic from Connor McDavid:


The highlight reel McDavid is compiling against Drew Doughty is single-handedly going to drive him to the Leafs in next summer’s free agency.

McDavid is now alone in third in league scoring, just three back of Nikita Kucherov. Is there any doubt that he’ll catch Kucherov?

We saw a potentially lethal trio of McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Jesse Puljujarvi last night, but I have little confidence in any line sticking for the Oilers.

Stacking the lines like that won’t do any good for the ice-cold Milan Lucic who hasn’t scored a goal since before Christmas. His goalless run is up to 16 games, a stretch in which he has only three assists. This is year two of a seven-year $42M pact that everyone knew was horrible before the ink was dry. Lucic did hit the post twice last night, so he’s getting chances, but I am uninterested if he’s not skating with McDavid.


Tyler Toffoli is suffering through a similar drought now having failed to score a goal in 11 straight games. He has just one assist in that stretch. I wonder if there’s an underlying injury here, because he has been skating with Anze Kopitar quite a bit. His PP time does come and go, but he was on the top unit last night.

Toffoli started out very strong with 17 goals and 29 points through the first 41 games of the season, mostly without Jeff Carter so we can’t use that excuse. Sure, scoring has slowed after a crazy first month, but it’s not like Toffoli’s scoring came from the big PP boost we saw at the start anyhow. I’m at a loss to explain this one so perhaps the move is to try and buy off of a panicky owner.


Shea Weber skated for the first time since December, but still does not have a timeline for his return.

It’s worth mentioning how much Montreal’s power play has improved without Weber:

Since Weber was sidelined on Dec. 16, the Canadiens have iced one of the best man-advantages in the league, with a 12.7-per-cent improvement in scoring efficiency. It’s not that Weber is a bad player on the power play — in fact, he’s excellent — but the Canadiens tended to use him as a crutch during the man-advantage. With Weber out of the lineup, they’ve been forced to diversify their strategies and become a little more creative.

Check out their top scorers from this 20-game stretch:





Max Pacioretty




Jeff Petry




Alex Galchenyuk




Brendan Gallagher




Paul Byron




Jonathan Drouin




Charles Hudon





I doubt anyone will argue that getting Weber back would help the Canadiens. I do wonder if getting him back and deploying him back on the power play is a mistake. This could drastically reduce Weber’s fantasy value, but could help some of their forwards, particularly if Weber can help the team improve at 5-on-5. This could be particularly helpful to power-play reliant guys like Drouin and Galchenyuk.


Here’s the skinny on the Panthers’ goaltending situation:


I was a noted non-believer in Harri Sateri, but I always note that ANY goaltender can go on a hot run. With only six goals allowed on a four-game winning streak, this has been his.


Jonas Brodin is set to miss 3-4 weeks with a broken hand. He hasn’t been overly relevant for fantasy owners but had scored eight points in 14 games since the start of January. That mini hot streak is dead now and the options to replace him (Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson) leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps we will simply see more of Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter.


Alex Burrows was suspended for 10 games for his fit of insanity against Taylor Hall the other night. Fully deserved. Burrows isn’t particularly fantasy relevant, but his absence could be enough to keep Colin White in the lineup as Mark Stone and Derick Brassard appear set to return soon.


Goodies from Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts:

19. Opponents can see that Ryan Kesler is really gutting it out.

We all knew it would take Kesler some time to get back to full speed, but we’re over a month into his return and it is not yet working out. His minutes have dropped significantly from 21:18 to 17:49 per game, the latter being the fewest the multi-purpose forward has averaged since his early Canuck years.

His peripherals remain strong averaging roughly 1.0 PIM, 1.0 blocked shots, 2.0 hits and 2.0 SOG per game, but the latter two categories have typically been stronger. Where fantasy owners have really felt it is in a lack of scoring, where he has only seven points in 18 games. That’s a sub-40-point pace, although not far enough off to be damning. In a lot of leagues even a 40-point pace will send you to the waiver wire, but in multi-category settings he offers enough that even just that level of scoring will have him relevant.

Particularly damning against Kesler is a reduction in power play time, where he scored 20 points, a third of last season’s total production. Adam Henrique has effectively grabbed those minutes and may not give them up.

The real concern is long-term, however. Father time comes for every player, and it is impressive that Kesler had as good of a season as he did at age 32. Now 33 and gritting through coming off of hip surgery, is Kesler pushing himself towards a debilitating condition that won’t go away?

I’ve got Kesler in a keeper league where I am rebuilding, and I’m just going to hang onto him unless I get a return reflective of the multi-category monster that Kesler can be. It’s a better gamble than accepting the reduced offers reflective of his injury situation.

As for one-year folks. If Kesler’s strong floor of multi-category offerings aren’t doing enough for you, then he’s looking more like waiver fodder.

11. Three others to keep an eye on: Chicago needs cap relief. With Brandon Saad dropped down the lineup, wonder if they look to give him a fresh start somewhere else. Another who fits the same profile is Boone Jenner of Columbus. He’s shooting 4.4 per cent, by far the worst of his career.

I’m wary of giving up on unlucky players, but the Blue Jackets have major contractual decisions to make and he’s up after this season. He’s arbitration-eligible, too. Arizona’s Tobias Rieder is another arbitration-eligible player. His numbers are down and he was a healthy scratch on Tuesday, but there’s more there. Not sure those are in-season moves, but they stick out to me.

I’m not so interested in Rieder, but both Saad and Jenner are buy low options I’ve discussed all season.

Like Kesler above, both Saad (shot-volume) and Jenner (shot-volume, hits and PIM) have a history of decent scoring and tremendous multi-category value. This year may not be the year for them, but both are plenty young enough (25 and 24 respectively) to bounce-back big.

The Blackhawks decision to trade Artemi Panarin to get Saad back isn’t looking great, but it’s worth mentioning that both players are suffering through sub-standard performance, at least in terms of 5-on-5 production:














The main difference for these two has been in power-play production where Panarin leads the Blue Jackets with 13 PP points, while Saad has just one PP point.

Perhaps this was predictable. Saad has never been a strong power play guy, while Panarin put up 41 PP points in two seasons with the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have tried Saad a ton on their power play, but it hasn’t worked. Outside of the loss of Corey Crawford, the main contributing factor to the Blackhawks’ dwindling playoff odds is a feeble power play sitting at 29th in efficiency.

I’d contend that the theory behind the deal still holds. Power play performance can vary quite a bit from year to year, so struggles in this area shouldn’t hinge on the impact of one player. Plus, the Blackhawks had plenty of skill guys like Nick Schmaltz, Alex DeBrincat and Vinny Hinostroza capable of filling in for a good chunk of Panarin’s special teams value.

Saad was brought in to help elevate Jonathan Toews, and while he hasn’t held up his end of the bargain, there was no foreseeing a player who scored at a first-line rate for his entire career suddenly falling off at 25. The fact that Saad is under contract for three more years versus Panarin’s one made this a longer-term bet for the franchise as well. It would seemingly be myopic for them to now consider flipping him at the lowest level of his career, not dissimilar to what the Oilers did with Jordan Eberle.

I would bet strongly on Saad rebounding to above 2.0 points/60 at 5-on-5 next season. He may even get back to offering some modest value as a secondary PP guy (think 5-10 PP points). That would be enough to push him back into the mix as a 50-55 -point guy with 200+ shot value. That type of production is relevant in most every league.



Typically, teams have to hit unsustainable lows for a coach to get fired. I wonder if GMs have caught on?


Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.