Ramblings: The Lightning’s Trades, Shattenkirk to the Caps, Wild catch the mumps and more.
What a response by the remaining Lightning players. Just when you thought that the Lightning were waving the white flag, they go out and smack the Senators 5-1. They dealt Ben Bishop for Peter Budaj and some stuff, then moved Brian Boyle for a second-round pick. They could still contend if one of Budaj or Andrei Vasilevskiy could pull out of their current tailspins but going into last night’s action, the Lightning had just a 9.9% chance of making the playoffs.
Vasilevskiy got his first win in over a month, stopping 39 of 40 to take out the Senators. Check out this wicked save:
TREMENDOUS save by Vasilevskiy with the goalie stick! pic.twitter.com/o5Q0ehUldK— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) February 28, 2017
One good start does not a hot run make but this is a good sign for Vasilevskiy. He is the goalie of the future for the Lightning but this is his chance to also be the goalie of the present. I don’t like what the Lightning did but there is still plenty of talent on this team.
Nikita Kucherov continuing to produce like a superstar would go a long way for Tampa Bay. He just had his second four-point outing in the past three games. The Lightning haven’t done this every night but they loaded up their top unit last night giving the following group the bulk of the minutes:
#1 84.2% DROUIN,JONATHAN – JOHNSON,TYLER – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ – HEDMAN, VICTOR
That’s an awesome top PP unit. I hope they stick with it.
They’ve also got the Triplets skating together for the past few games. Check out their lines from last night:
#1 30.9% ERNE,ADAM – FILPPULA,VALTTERI – NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV
#2 26.4% DROUIN,JONATHAN – KILLORN,ALEX – POINT,BRAYDEN
#3 21.3% JOHNSON,TYLER – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ
#4 12.4% BROWN,J.T. – DUMONT,GABRIEL – PAQUETTE,CEDRIC
Tyler Johnson has 13 points in the last 12 games and warrants grabbing. He’s still available in nearly 50% of all Yahoo leagues.
Ondrej Palat, meanwhile, has six points in his last eight games. Not quite as prolific but intriguing.
Last guy worth considering is Brayden Point. He’s outside that top PP quartet but has been a dynamic producer depth producer. He has 10 points in the last 12 games.
Obviously, Steve Yzerman is trying to get something for his expiring assets but his discussion with the media on Monday morning was awfully illuminating. These deals aren’t just about getting value for players they weren’t going to keep. They have an eye on next season as well:
The Lightning are doing quite the balancing act trying to keep their core together and competitive as long as possible. It’s a delicate dance and obviously required some tough decisions.
One question people are curious about is what this means for Steven Stamkos. Being a seller doesn’t mean the Lightning have given up entirely. Also, players coming off of serious injuries look to get into games to build confidence going into the summer. Even if Tampa Bay is eliminated by the time Stamkos can return, I’d bet he still gets into some games. No guarantee he’ll recover in time to return but if he’s ready, he’ll play.
Last week I mentioned that Eugene Melnyk’s mandate for GM Pierre Dorion to get the Senators to the playoffs is how you make mistakes. Welp, the Senators traded intriguing prospect Jonathan Dahlen for Alex Burrows. As per usual, the Senators added a player with a back-diving deal paying him less than his cap hit. Even when adding they look to pinch pennies. They also appear set to give Burrows an extension, even though he turns 36 this spring. This deal is looking bad!
Some folks are comparing it to the Filip Forsberg/Martin Erat swap. I think that’s a little over the top but there’s no question that Burrows is on the way out and Dahlen is a good prospect. Read more about Dahlen here.
Give some credit to Jim Benning. He sat out the rental season last year, moving neither Dan Hamhuis nor Radim Vrbata despite their expiring deals because people wouldn’t meet his asking prices. Almost a year later he gets a really nice return for Burrows on an expiring deal. The strong return has more to do with Ottawa’s desperation as Benning holding firm but it’s interesting to see some payoff.
Before getting too excited, remember that Loui Eriksson is 31 years old, has five more years left on his deal at $6M per and has only two more points than Burrows this season. Eriksson has only one point in the last 15 games and is still owned in a third of all Yahoo leagues.
At the end of the day, Burrows is still an upgrade for the Senators. Their thin forward group needed help and Burrows can provide it, even if he isn’t fantasy relevant any longer. Burrows spent much of the season skating with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi and still failed to produce. It’s unlikely that he’ll do much with JG Pageau and Tommy Wingels.
My goodness the Capitals are loaded after trading for Kevin Shattenkirk. That’s two teams, leading their respective conferences who said they would stand pat at the trade deadline, and instead moved their first-round pick for the top rental at a specific position. At least part of the motivation for both was blocking their competitors from making a similar addition.
That’s food for thought in your fantasy league. I recently had some negotiations for Mike Fisher in one of my keeper leagues. He’s a top player in this format because we count FOW among other scoring categories. But he’s also 37 so I drew a line in the sand refusing to part with a first-round pick only to watch him go to a competitor willing to pay the price.
Should I have pushed in? I tend to find head-to-head playoffs to be a bit of a crapshoot. You get to the dance, you try to game the system as best you can by loading up on players trending upward and playing a denser schedule but ultimately you could have an All-Star team and still get beaten if your players don’t perform over a seven-day period. Same can be said for the Stanley Cup playoffs. I don’t begrudge the system and I’m certainly not afraid to push the chips in for the right deal. With the specific offer above, I drew my line. Maybe it’ll cost me a title or maybe I’d have lost no matter what. The point is, if you are being offered a win-now deal, you can bet the other contenders in your league have a similar offer on the table. How much are you willing to risk?
Anyhow, the Capitals defense looks absolutely silly at this point with Shattenkirk, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov. Any one of those four could conceivably be a 50-point guy if deployed as a #1, although Carlson is the only one among them to have actually done it, and he’s only done it once.
The possibilities for PP combinations are endless but I would plop Shattenkirk onto the #1 unit. He’s the second best PP producer in the league behind only Nicklas Backstrom, at least on a per-minute basis. He offers a shooting dynamic that the other guys don’t offer. He has as many PP goals this season as the other three have combined over the last two. And yes, the #1 option for any Capitals PP is going to be getting Alex Ovechkin a shot from his office but it’s not like Shattenkirk is a stranger to feeding the puck to a big-time sniper: see Tarasenko, Vladimir. If anything, Shattenkirk’s threat to score makes Ovechkin more lethal because it forces the defense into impossible problems.
Remember the Caps PP when Mike Green was at his peak? Those were among the most efficient power plays in the history of the league. They have that kind of potential here and that is not hyperbole. The only issue is the time necessary to develop chemistry. And at the end of the day, the Caps’ PP is already good but Shattenkirk could make it look like the ’78 Canadiens.
I suspect that Carlson loses his spot on the top unit again. Niskanen might be off the power play entirely. There’s still room for some productivity here but not on the level we’ve seen at times this season.
The bigger end of this deal is the fallout in St. Louis where it may be time for Colton Parayko to emerge. I’m not ruling out the possibility that they give the #1 PP gig to Alex Pietrangelo but we’ll see what Mike Yeo prefers. Long-term, Parayko has to be the guy. Unfortunately, Parayko is already owned in most leagues so if you want to bet on him, you’ve got to make a trade.
The Minnesota Wild had both Martin Hanzal and Ryan White in the lineup last night but their lines got tossed into the blender because both Zach Parise and Jason Pominville are out with the mumps. This could seriously derail Pominville’s hot streak, if the bye week already didn’t.
This is the second team to come down with the mumps in the past week with Vancouver also suffering. The Wild visited Vancouver three weeks ago but I don’t think mumps have that kind of latency period so perhaps this is just a coincidence. Whatever the case, fantasy playoffs start next week in some leagues and I have some serious concerns. I mean, if I go down because a squirrel-cheeked Devan Dubnyk can’t stop his fair share of shots, I’m going to be cursing the fantasy hockey gods. I am getting upset just thinking about it.
For what it’s worth, Hanzal was scoreless in 16 minutes of action with some secondary PP time. White scored a goal and an assist, making a cameo appearance on the Wild second line alongside Eric Staal and Nino Niederreiter. I doubt that deployment will continue.
Mikael Granlund with some sick moves in overtime:
Granlund 12 seconds into overtime. My goodness. pic.twitter.com/alAQSAZ9IO— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) February 28, 2017
Marian Gaborik responded to getting healthy-scratched with a pair of points in his return. Third line deployment for him though, not exactly promising. The Kings should still be looking to bring in some offense.
Tanner Pearson scored his 20th goal of the season. One of the lone bright spots for the Kings offensively. He has 12 points in his last seven games.
Superstar performances from the Canadiens’ big guns last night as Alexander Radulov woke from his slumber with a four-point game. He had just one point in his previous nine games. Meanwhile, Max Pacioretty scored his 30th and 31st goals of the season. He is wrecking teams of late with 10 goals and 16 points in the last 13 games.
The problem is that Pacioretty’s linemates aren’t drawing off his flame. Radulov’s prior struggles were already mentioned, and Phillip Danault has but two points in his last 10 games.
The key to Alex Galchenyuk’s fantasy relevance is producing on the power play. He scored the OT winner with the man-advantage last night. He could use some help from Brendan Gallagher but Gallagher doesn’t look right coming off of injury. Gallagher is scoreless in six games and has 10 SOG in that stretch. Small sample, I know, but Gallagher was averaging nearly three SOG per game prior to his injury. He is typically a shot-volume hound. That’s not the Gallagher we are seeing.
Not much to get excited about on the Devils but Kyle Palmieri has seven points in the last four games. More importantly, after struggling with nine points in the first 20 games through October and November, Palmieri has 31 points in 40 games. He’s producing like a 60-point guy, even though he’ll fall short because of a slow start. Palmieri is available in a third of all Yahoo leagues but can’t quite shake the slow start stink off of him. Or maybe it’s the Devil stink? Whatever the case, he’s got value!
Linemate, Travis Zajac is worth looking at as well. Zajac has a five-game scoring streak going with eight points on that run. He’s less reliable but you could find worse options floating on the waiver wire.
Expect to see Mitch Marner back in the lineup:
Marner: "I feel perfectly fine for tomorrow."— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 27, 2017
Van Riemsdyk hasn’t scored a goal since February 4, a run of a 11 straight goal-less outings, during which he has just four points. This run stretches to before Marner got hurt but getting the electric rookie back in the lineup will help all the same.
The loser here is Josh Leivo who had five points, 15 SOG and averaged almost 15 minutes a night in the six games since Marner got hurt. He is likely headed back to the fourth line or perhaps even to the press box given the Boyle addition.
One factor I am curious about: The Leafs have been giving their fourth line under 10 minutes a night on the regular. Boyle will see more than that because of his usefulness on special teams but will they trust that line more than usual now that Boyle is centering that group? Could be useful for Matt Martin who has skated just 8:46 per game and has fallen off his perch as the NHL’s hit king, now in second to Mark Borowiecki.
That’s only fantasy relevant to folks in leagues scoring hits, but more minutes for Martin would provide a boost for that category specialist.
Andrew Hammond is done for the year:
Andrew Hammond has a torn labrum in his right hip and will need surgery. He will not play the rest of the season Expected 12 week recovery— Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally) February 27, 2017
Ultimately, Hammond’s likely going to be on another NHL team next season and I believe that if recovery goes well he could be a good back up with potential to steal starts. As bad as he performed this season, Hammond still has a 0.923 save percentage across 53 career appearances.
The Coyotes picked up Teemu Pulkkinen from the Wild in a minor trade for future considerations. The expectation is that Pulkkinen will indeed play for Arizona, and perhaps he’ll even get a shot at some top-six minutes. The Coyote forward group is thinning and it could get worse if Radim Vrbata is dealt:
#1 20.1% DOAN,SHANE – DVORAK,CHRISTIAN – PERLINI,BRENDAN
#2 13.7% CROUSE,LAWSON – JOORIS,JOSH
#3 13.2% HOLLAND,PETER – MCGINN,JAMIE – RIEDER,TOBIAS
#4 11.4% DOMI,MAX – MARTINOOK,JORDAN – VRBATA,RADIM
I would expect Pulkkinen to be in a minor role unless Vrbata is indeed traded but picking up Pulkkinen means the Coyotes don’t have to force any of their youngsters up from the AHL. Although, I must say, it would be interesting to have a look at Christian Fischer who is dominating with 19 goals and 39 points in 43 games as a 19-year-old AHL rookie. Read more on Fischer here.
Will there be any deals left for deadline day? We saw this happen last year and deadline day was mostly a bust, even as we got the usual 20 or so, none of them were big time. The biggest rentals at the center, defense and goalie position are off the board. I’m stoked for deadline day regardless. I’ll be at home in my PJ’s taking in the endless hours of coverage, sipping coffee and eating chicken wings. Hopefully there will be some trades for us to cover. Make sure you make us your deadline day destination for a breakdown of all the deals with our fantasy spin.
Be sure to check out our trade deadline tracker for our takes on all the deals that have gone down thus far.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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