Kudos to Garth Snow and Doug Weight for turning the Islanders into this season’s fire-wagon team. These guys have played 32 games and 22 of those have had six goals or more scored in them. I’m not even shoehorning those shootout goals into the result to skew the stats like NHL.com does. These are actual goals contributing to peoples’ fantasy teams. It is glorious.
It isn’t like they are just steamrolling teams either. Everyone in Islanders games gets to have fun, except the goalies. Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak are unplayable in you have GAA or Save Percentage as categories.
The Islanders are so giving they even allowed the Blue Jackets to score a power-play goal. UNHEARD OF!
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored that power-play goal, extending his hot run to nine points in the last nine games. However, we should point out that his power play usage has slipped since Alexander Wennberg returned to the lineup. As has become a running joke, PP time in Columbus would matter more if their power play were worth a damn. Still, I think we’d all be a lot more confident investing in Dubois if he were used on the top unit.
Wennberg notched a pair of assists. Perhaps it is time that he starts producing. Oliver Bjorkstrand joined Wennberg and Cam Atkinson on the second line, bringing his hot scoring to the ice-cold duo. Bjorkstrand notched three assists last night and has seven points in the last five games. I’m not yet ready to jump on board with these guys, but start watching to see if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Nico Hischier is starting to slip from relevance. It wouldn’t take much to have him pop back up, but he is currently mired in a funk with no points in four straight and only six points in the last 14 games. He still isn’t consistently being used on the Devils’ top power play unit, even after Adam Henrique was traded. In fact, Hischier wasn’t even skating on the top unit with Taylor Hall joining Marcus Johansson and Kyle Palmieri on the list of injured Devils.
Hischier has still been skating with Hall at even strength when Hall has been in the lineup, but I am not sure there’s a Devil player worth owning if Hall misses extended time.
Hischier is still on pace for 53 points thanks to a hot start to the season, but those hot starts can force managers to hang onto players for too long. Each league is different, but a 50-55 -point centerman is waiver fodder in a lot of leagues, especially with his shot volume unlikely to reach into the 200-SOG range.
It’s probably safe to jump off of Tom Wilson now. He has been held off the board in three straight games. Sure, he’s still skating with Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin at even strength, but that won’t last much longer now that he’s gone cold. The return of TJ Oshie also looms over this situation. Sure, Oshie hasn’t yet returned, but he is expected to practice today and could be back as soon as Saturday.
Oshie’s return may not bump Wilson off the top line, but top line usage doesn’t guarantee points for Wilson. Oshie’s return will absolutely bump Brett Connolly off the top power play unit. Connolly has scored four goals in the past eight games acting as a power play specialist. Not much use for Connolly outside of daily fantasy, however.
Andre Burakovsky has languished on the third line since returning from injury with one point in four games. He has skated under 15 minutes with only secondary PP time in each game. No doubt some of this is due to getting back up to speed coming off of injury, but it’s not a good situation for folks hoping for a breakout.
Burakovsky hasn’t had much in the way of puck luck, so we should still consider him a strong producer on a per-minute basis, but we may have to wait a little longer for him to get the minutes actually required for consistent fantasy relevance.
I also worry about Burakovsky’s shot volume. It’s going to be really hard for him to breakout if he doesn’t become a willing shooter. The top two centermen on the Capitals are both extreme playmakers. They need players to shoot because they won’t do it themselves. There’s no doubt Burakovsky could play effectively with Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov, but it may not result in as many goals as putting shooters on the wings of those players would. Burakovsky may be stuck as a third-liner without more shot volume.
Finally, Burakovsky’s never going to get a bite of the Capitals’ top power play unit unless there’s an injury to Backstrom or Kuznetsov. Keep these factors in mind when projecting him forward.
Interesting dynamic for Anaheim’s lines with Corey Perry out:
#1 24.6% COGLIANO,ANDREW - HENRIQUE,ADAM - RAKELL,RICKARD
#2 23.1% GETZLAF,RYAN - ROY,KEVIN - SILFVERBERG,JAKOB
#3 17.9% BLANDISI,JOSEPH - KASE,ONDREJ - VERMETTE,ANTOINE
#4 9.7% GRANT,DEREK - SHAW,LOGAN - WAGNER,CHRIS
Kevin Roy took full advantage of the linemate bump scoring a pair of goals. I’d be more interested if he was also seeing top unit PP time, but in a deep enough league Roy has value.
Rickard Rakell has only two points in five games since returning from injury. Show some patience here, the big goal-scorer will surely get it rolling soon enough.
Brandon Montour has just three points in the last 10 games. In the never-ending game of whack-a-mole we have played with Duck defensemen he is currently on the outs with Cam Fowler standing as the lone defenseman seeing top unit PP time. Probably waiver wire time for Montour.
Colton Parayko has stepped into some big minutes with Alex Pietrangelo on the shelf, skating over 27 minutes in each of the past three games. He has yet to take advantage with just one point in three games. That’s a small sample, however. I suspect he’d flourish with an extended look.
Vladimir Sobotka was expected to see a bit of a scoring boost with Vladimir Tarasenko moved to his line, but the forward has gone three straight games without a point. Even with Jaden Schwartz out Sobotka isn’t seeing top unit PP time, so he isn’t overly interesting. Mind you, he has gotten some good looks, including missing a wide-open net against the Lightning the other night.
With Schwartz out, it is Stastny who has gotten back into the mix on the top PP unit, but he has only three points in the last nine games. Since he landed in St. Louis as a free agent Stastny has been unable to hang onto consistent top unit PP usage or time with Tarasenko. Some pairings just don’t work.
Evgenii Dadonov has not scored in two games since returning from injury. He was also trending downward with just two points in his previous six games before injury. At least he was seeing top unit PP time before getting hurt. Since his return the Panthers have stuck with the two-defenseman look giving both Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad top unit PP time.
Dadonov is now spending his even strength shifts alongside Vincent Trocheck, who is awesome, but is not up to par with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. He isn’t seeing top unit PP time. I really question why he’s on my roster. Dadonov will likely end up on the top line and top PP unit again at some point, but who can afford to wait with juicier options on the waiver wire? I don’t think Dadonov has done enough to earn our faith in shallower formats.
The latest on Devan Dubnyk:
NEWS: #mnwild goaltender Devan Dubnyk is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) December 14, 2017
The timeline on Dubnyk still feels a bit up in the air. He was walking around fine on Wednesday, and all Bruce Boudreau has indicated is that Dubnyk won’t play this weekend. There is speculation that he will travel with the team for their road trip starting on Sunday. Could he be ready by Tuesday in Ottawa? No information was provided on the results of Dubnyk’s MRI on Wednesday, so we remain highly in the dark.
Alex Stalock has been mildly intriguing. Outside of a 7-2 drubbing against the Jets, Stalock has been adequate in all of his starts. His career numbers aren’t particularly flattering, but you should know by now that any goalie reaching the NHL is capable of putting together a good string of starts. Obviously, he’s on your radar after shutting out the Leafs, but I don’t consider him one of the league’s stronger backups.
The Wild have also called up Steve Michalek from the minors. Michalek’s AHL numbers are strong, but I question why he spent five games in the ECHL this season. Michalek may get a start this weekend simply because it would be awfully demanding on Stalock to have him start three games in four nights, but coaches have been known to eschew such notions if they don’t trust the guy coming up from the minors.
Juuse Saros remains one of the most intriguing backups in the league, but there are a few hiccups in his fantasy stock. He is barely playing averaging a start once every couple of weeks. Sure, they have had him racking up the miles going back and forth between Nashville and the AHL club in Milwaukee to keep fresh, but those AHL starts can’t help your fantasy team. He has also been bad. Heading into last night’s action his save percentage was below .900 in both the NHL and AHL. His 46-save shutout certainly cured that issue at the NHL level.
If you knew you could get more starts out of him, Saros would likely be of great value. However they have only one back-to-back between now and the start of February.
After losing 10 in a row, the Flyers have now put together a five-game winning streak. Credit Brian Elliott for settling in to provide some effective goaltending, but we should also give some credit to the coaching staff for splitting Jakub Voracek off the top line to giving them a couple of effective lines.
Voracek has eight points in the last five games skating on the second line with Valtteri Filppula and Michael Raffl. Raffl has six points over these five games, while Filppula has five. Neither are fantasy relevant in most leagues, but you could surely take advantage of their hot streaks in daily fantasy or in deep formats.
The Flyers have a loaded Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday slate next week with favourable matchups against the Red Wings and Sabres. This is an opportunity to optimize your roster for the week ahead.
Wayne Simmonds had a four-game scoring streak snapped, but he remains a person of interest, especially since being bumped onto the second line.
Ryan O’Reilly snapped a 12-game goalless drought. It also served to extend his point-scoring streak to three games. Small victories are all you can hang your hat on with struggling players.
O’Reilly’s point total (20 in 31 games) isn’t even that bad. He is on pace for 53 points. Considering the Sabres’ power play has vanished, this is a solid pace. It would take much for him to get back into the 55-60 range we have come to expect. Although, it is getting harder to have any faith that the Sabres’ power play will turn things around. I am hanging in there with Jack Eichel, Evander Kane and Rasmus Ristolainen. No one else, though.
Kane should not be dropped, but is a guy I am advising you to shop. No guarantee his trade destination has him skating 20+ minutes a night.
The latest Blackhawk PP combos have Brandon Saad on the outside looking in with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook paired on the back end of the top unit and Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov up front.
Will this new formation stick? Unlikely! This may be enough to nudge Saad off your fantasy roster depending on the depth of your league. Saad is still an elite 5-on-5 scorer, despite the poor results thus far, and his shot volume remains high-end.
let’s take a moment to appreciate Seabrook regaining some relevance. He has skated 20+ minutes in four of the last six games, has three points in those six games as well as 17 SOG. This is also with Cody Franson out so don’t overreact here, but perhaps the veteran could help you for a short spell.
TJ Brodie has gone ice cold with just two points in the last 12 games. He is still skating on the top PP unit, giving you exposure to Calgary’s best offensive weapons, but with PP chances going down so too will his production. He is now on pace for 41 points and 120 SOG. That makes for waiver fodder in your average league.
To be clear, Brodie has value and will finish among the top 40 or so in defenseman scoring. It’s just that of those top scoring defensemen typically only 25-30 are worth actually keeping on your roster for the full 82 games. Brodie’s 41 points don’t offer enough value above replacement to be worth keeping around all year. Use him while he is hot, and then cycle him out when he is not. If someone else decides to grab him and hold on for all 82 that’s an advantage to you.
Just think about all the games that Brodie isn’t going to score any points in. If he finishes with 41 points, that means at least 41 games where he didn’t produce much. And his shot volume isn’t so high that he is offering much value when he isn’t scoring. He’s in a similar camp as Jake Gardiner, who fantasy owners are also clinging to against better judgement.
Assuming you have enough moves, you’d get a lot more out of this roster spot bouncing from hot option to hot option. Matt Dumba, for instance, offered fantasy owners a ton of value over the past couple of weeks with Jared Spurgeon on the shelf. Take advantage of enough of these injury fillers and you could turn that Brodie slot into a 55-point player, rather than settling for Brodie’s 41.
Check out Cam Robinson’s latest prospect ramblings previewing Pool B of the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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