Hot Hawks Without Seabrook, Lightning Strikes Again, plus more...
My eight-year-old son is currently soaking in as much hockey information as he can (as well as Minecraft and Pixel Gun 3D… but I won’t get into that here). So at the dinner table last night when my wife and I told him we took him to see the Olympic flame in Vancouver in 2010 when he was still a baby, he asked me which players played for Team Canada at those Olympics. So I rattled off a few names that I could remember, starting with Sidney Crosby and ending with… Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.
Fast forward eight years later. Seabrook was a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s game against Ottawa. This news comes as a bit of a surprise, considering the equity that Seabrook has built up as Duncan Keith’s partner along with his three Stanley Cups and his Olympic gold. This is a player who is still 53 percent owned in Yahoo leagues (66 percent owned in CBS leagues!) and who narrowly missed out on 40 points last season. So there’s something to discuss as to whether he’s still fantasy relevant.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the symptoms are present. Seabrook had not recorded a point in nine games and has scored just one goal all season, the latter of which is not that unusual among fantasy-relevant defensemen this season for some reason. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that Seabrook has exceeded 20 minutes of icetime just once in the past eight games, including just 15 minutes and change in each of his last two games. Plus he has had no power-play time in each of his last five games. This from a defenseman who has averaged at least 22 minutes per game throughout his career and nearly reached 50 points two seasons ago.
So with the Hawks spanking Ottawa 8-2 on Tuesday, will this become a case of a coach not wanting to tinker with a winning lineup, or is this simply a one-off that is intended to serve as a wake-up call? The Hawks have invested too heavily in Seabrook (six more years at $6.875 million per), so it’s not as though we’ve seen the last of him in a Hawks’ jersey. But outside of very deep leagues and/or leagues that count blocked shots (he is a top-25 option in that category), I would start looking for another blueline option. And that’s even if he returns to the Hawks’ lineup today (Wednesday).
Meanwhile, for the rest of the Chicago lineup:
Toews: 5G, 4A in last 5 games
Schmaltz: 5G, 1A in last 4 games
Hinostroza: 2G, 6A in last 6 games
Oesterle: 3G, 4A in last 6 games
Sharp: 3G, 1A in last 4 games
Saad: 2G, 4A in last 5 games
Kane: 4A in the second period
As Q would say, things "trending in the right direction."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) January 10, 2018
When all was said and done, Patrick Kane recorded the first five-point game of his career (1g-4a). Surprisingly, Kane was a minus-1 in this game, although the three power-play points had something to do with it. You can take a tiny little bit of bad with a lot of good.
With four games this week and a cluster of other teams on one-game schedules, the Blackhawks are one team to target for waiver-wire pickups. And there are a few. See the tweet above for the “last few games” streaks.
I added Vinnie Hinostroza in one league because of his presence on the Jonathan Toews/Brandon Saad line and his recent production listed above. He’s also a plus-7 over his last five games and recorded one assist on Tuesday.
Kane’s scoring explosion rubbed off on Nick Schmaltz, who scored two goals and added an assist on Tuesday.
And if you’re looking for a Seabrook replacement, you might find him on the same team. Jordan Oesterle recorded another two assists in nearly 24 minutes on Tuesday. He’s the guy pairing with Keith at the moment, which explains the heavy minutes. By the way, Keith has one fewer goal than Seabrook this season, but over twice as many assists.
Another Hawks’ roster note that received less attention (although not that much less) than the Seabrook healthy scratch: Cody Franson cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL. This in spite of a team-leading 58.46 shot attempt percentage. After watching him in an amazing WHL career, I thought he would have more staying power as an NHL defenseman.
Is it time to have faith in Tyler Johnson once again? Johnson recorded a hat trick with a plus-4 and six shots on goal on Tuesday. With 34 points in 42 games, TJ is now just outside the top 50 in NHL scoring. But things are going so well in Tampa Bay right now, they’ll stick you on any line and you’ll score. Have a look at the latest top three lines:
24.9% EV KUCHEROV,NIKITA - KUNITZ,CHRIS - STAMKOS,STEVEN
18.78% EV GOURDE,YANNI - KILLORN,ALEX - NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV
18.37% EV JOHNSON,TYLER - PALAT,ONDREJ - POINT,BRAYDEN
Johnson’s linemate Brayden Point assisted on all three of Johnson’s goals.
Below are all three of TJ’s goals. The third one in particular is worth watching, as it is pure hustle.
Looking at the above line combinations, what a golden opportunity for Chris Kunitz. Man oh man. But nothing from him on Tuesday, in case you were looking to take advantage of the opportunity. This is a clear attempt from Jon Cooper to light a fire under him. Kunitz has only one point – an assist – in his last 15 games. The zero power-play time isn’t helping matters, though. Remember when Kunitz was on the 2014 Canadian Olympic team and why he was there?
After allowing five goals against the Lightning on Tuesday, Cam Ward has a 3.89 GAA and .855 SV% in four games this month. We can’t use the excuse anymore that he’s the hot goalie in Carolina. Scott Darling owners/prospective owners should be paying attention, because he might get another crack at the starting job sooner rather than later.
Nikolaj Ehlers snapped a goalless drought of his own on Tuesday – his was at eight games. In fact, Ehlers scored twice just for good measure. He was still contributing to your fantasy lineup during that time, though, putting up five assists and a plus-5 during that eight-game stretch.
I’ve said this before, but I don’t know why Kyle Connor isn’t owned in more leagues (just 18 percent of Yahoo leagues). Playing on a line with Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine, Connor scored two goals and added an assist in the Jets’ offensive onslaught on Buffalo.
Micheal Ferland is Calgary’s version of Connor in some ways. He skates on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, and you could argue he should be owned in more leagues (24 percent of Yahoo leagues). Ferland scored a goal and added an assist on Tuesday, the third consecutive game he has done so. Calgary has a very Chicago-like schedule this week with four games (three more this week), so Ferland should be a very desirable short-term grab. He’s especially useful in leagues that count hits, which if you’ve watched Ferland is what he was originally known for.
One downside to Ferland, though: his 18.9 percent shooting accuracy will eventually regress somewhat. Plus his value will take a hit if he is moved off the top line. But don’t expect him to get moved off the top line while he is scoring and creating space for the smaller Gaudreau.
Vincent Trocheck has been firing the puck lately. And by that, I mean a lot. After coming up empty-handed on Sunday in spite of taking ten shots on goal, Trocheck scored two goals and added an assist on nine shots on goal on Tuesday. Trocheck is having a great year (40 points in 42 games), but what really makes him stand out is his shot total (151), which is in the top 10 in the league. He is also third among forwards averaging 21:35 in TOI/GP, behind only Anze Kopitar and teammate Aleksander Barkov and just ahead of Connor McDavid.
Scott Maran described Trocheck’s contributions in more detail in a recent Geek of the Week.
In case you are worried about McDavid, he snapped his seven-game goalless drought on Tuesday. From the game and highlights that I watched, the Oilers didn’t look that bad in this game against Nashville. But they still couldn’t pull off a win. I’d still like to see them make the playoffs this season just so they don’t get lucky at the draft lottery yet again and end up with Rasmus Dahlin, who could be the cure for their defensive woes. But their odds of ending up with Dahlin now seem better than their odds of making the playoffs.
Devante Smith-Pelly wasn’t just on the Capitals’ top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom today. He’s spent a considerable amount of time on the Ovechkin line this season. Almost zero power-play time, though. But if playing on that line can’t get him going (13 points in 41 games), then nothing will.
Lastly, Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts, I mean 31 Thoughts for the week. A must-read, as per usual.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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