Ramblings: Anisimov hurt, Triplets rolling, Duclair recalled and more.
Did you enjoy trade deadline day? It was kind of a dud. Much like last year, the big deals went down the weekend before deadline day. I wonder if they’ll do something about that in the future. They probably can’t. The logistics of it would be difficult. The day went as I expected, and of course the late flurry of deals was exciting. I was satisfied. It was a day spent talking and thinking about hockey. What else can you ask for? If you missed any of our coverage on the deadline dealings, be sure to check out our trade tracker. Of course, we’ll also be providing details in upcoming ramblings and columns as we see exactly where players are fitting in with their new teams. There is still plenty of tinkering to be done as we head towards the end of the fantasy hockey season.
The Blackhawks are on some kind of roll. Since the start of February, the Blackhawks have won 10 of 11 with their lone loss coming after the dreaded bye week. Aside from their loss, they have scored four goals or more in every single game. That’s best in the league stuff. Considering this is a team we lamented for only having one line for much of this season, I’d say they are changing the notions about them.
It starts with Jonathan Toews’ resurgence. He was held off the board for just the second time in the past 11 games. Even with the goose egg, Toews is on a run of 18 points in his last 11 games. If he even continues at a point-per-game pace he’ll alter some fantasy leagues.
Getting Toews onto the top power play unit in lieu of Artem Anisimov has been a big factor in this run, but the return of Nick Schmaltz after a productive stint in the AHL has helped a lot. Schmaltz extended his scoring streak to five games with a pair of assists.
Schmaltz jumped up to play center between Patrick Kane (who had a hat-trick) and Artemi Panarin after Anisimov went down. Whether it’s with Toews or it’s with Kane, Schmaltz is in a good spot and warrants consideration.
Anisimov might be out for a little while:
Quenneville said Anisimov could miss a little time with a lower body injury. #Blackhawks— Eric Lear (@BHTVeric) March 2, 2017
Anisimov had been trending downward until this 11-game run. Now he might miss time. Hopefully he is back before fantasy playoffs. But more than that, hopefully you sold high when he was scoring at a point-per-game rate.
Richard Panik scored a beauty:
Panik with a FILTHY goal 🙌🏻 pic.twitter.com/mFrL92y1My— Hockey Central (@HockeyCentraI) March 2, 2017
Panik has been in on this hot streak and definitely warrants scooping up again. We know he’ll cool off eventually but maybe not as much as you’d think now that he’s skating on the top PP unit.
It’s not all peach and cake for the Blackhawks. Marian Hossa has a modest seven points during this 11-game run, while Brent Seabrook has five and Brian Campbell has two. It would be asking a lot for the Blackhawks to have three lines worth of fantasy relevant players going at once though.
They have managed to boast two fantasy relevant goalies though. With Corey Crawford battling the flu, Scott Darling has started, and won, four of the last seven games. His numbers this season are off the charts and he appears headed towards being the next Cam Talbot. He is more than useful as a spot starter if he’s even available on the waiver wire.
Marc-Andre Fleury got a rare start for Pittsburgh. The Penguins are going to use him a good deal down the stretch to help keep Matt Murray from getting over-extended before playoffs but there are only three back-to-backs remaining on Pittsburgh’s schedule so there aren’t a ton of natural openings for Fleury to get into the lineup.
I hung in there with Fleury for most of this season and he carried me while Murray was hurt early on but I recently made the move to upgrade to Devan Dubnyk. It cost me a good deal to do it too but the opportunity came available and I had to jump on it. If the price was too high, I was willing to ride it out with Fleury. If you’re facing a similar choice, I’d suggest you draw a line in the sand at how much you are willing to pay. If it doesn’t work out, the Pittsburgh tandem should still be productive for you.
You might even get away with dropping Fleury outright and going with an extra skater if you reach a point where you need more production elsewhere that you can risk losing your insurance policy. That’s pretty well what Fleury is at this point – for both fantasy owners and the Penguins.
Tampa Bay is tilting their lineup in a way that has to be very exciting for fantasy owners. They are giving the Triplets line all the minutes they can handle. I know that the game went to overtime, but each of the Triplets were over 20 minutes of action. No other forwards came close. That’s how you get maximum production out of a specific few individuals. If you’ve got Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and/or Ondrej Palat, you are going to cash in over the next few weeks.
Johnson and Palat kill penalties so it’s easier for them to get up to that 20-minute plateau. For Kucherov, it took some double-shifting on the power play, which is even more exciting. This line doesn’t work without Kucherov turning into a superstar but his hit that level.
Now, loading up one line doesn’t work if a team can shut it down but that hasn’t happened recently. Kucherov is up to 12 points in the last four games. Johnson has 16 points in his last 13 games – finally producing at the level we thought he might. Palat is coming along a little slower but has eight points in the last nine games.
Victor Hedman is slaying through all of this. He’s up to 53 points on the year, just two behind Erik Karlsson for second among defensemen, and just two behind his career high that he is set to obliterate. Hedman is on pace for 71 points. I don’t think he’ll quite get there but it wouldn’t surprise if he did.
The big question is whether or not this is the new normal. The impact Todd Richards has had in improving the Lightning’s PP to second in the league is a big factor but those stats can fluctuate from year to year. Hedman was doing this even when Steven Stamkos was in the lineup but we all know the handedness issue that cost Hedman a lot of productivity over the past couple of years. Because he’s a lefty on the point he doesn’t mesh as well with setting up Stamkos for one-timers on the left. With Kucherov as the one-timer option on the right, he fits more smoothly but they might just be better off forcing it with talent.
I feel more comfortable suggesting that Hedman is a 50-55 -point guy who can crank it up or crank it down depending on the bounces. That still makes him a locked in top-10 option. So the question is how high we want to push him within the top-10. The golden trio is still Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and Kris Letang. After that, I’ll hear Hedman’s case against options like Roman Josi, PK Subban, Kevin Shattenkirk, etc.
Two wins in a row for Andrei Vasilevskiy, although this one wasn’t nearly as pretty.
Credit the Hurricanes for wising up and giving Eddie Lack some starts. They need to find out what they have. He has started three of the last four. Last night didn’t go great as he let in a quarter of the 16 shots that he faced but we’ve seen enough of Cam Ward. Ward had a nice run but has tanked them out of the playoff hunt. Now we need to find out what Lack is because if he’s not their future goalie option they’ll need to go shopping this summer.
It was awfully interesting to see Teuvo Teravainen’s name pop up in trade rumours this past week. Have they soured on him that fast? Teravainen has had a reasonable season for a third-year guy leaving a contending Blackhawks team and joining the offense-starved Hurricanes and putting up similar numbers. Teravainen is just six points shy of matching last season’s total and should surpass it.
Perhaps his name got out there in rumours as part of a package for a big fish or perhaps there is some real heat to this. Teravainen has slowed down recently with just one point in the last nine games.
Victor Rask had fallen off the map but he has found some production recently with a four-game scoring streak. He has been centering Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho, which is good company as far as a Hurricane lineup without Jeff Skinner goes.
Lindholm’s been productive for going on three months now with 24 points in his last 28 games. These are the fireworks people hoped for coming into this season. It seems he just had a delayed fuse.
No team has more games during the fantasy playoffs than the Hurricanes so Lindholm is a definite person of interest.
The Coyotes have called up Anthony Duclair after what I’d consider an unsuccessful AHL run:
#Coyotes announce they've recalled winger Anthony Duclair from the AHL. Duclair had one goal & seven assists in 16 games after his demotion.— Sarah McLellan (@azc_mclellan) March 1, 2017
You send a guy down to rebuild confidence, you want a point-per-game pace or close to it. This ain’t it and only one goal certainly doesn’t solve Duclair’s issue of gripping the stick too tight. His shooting percentage has tanked this season. I don’t expect to see Duclair on a scoring line with how well Max Domi, Radim Vrbata and Brendan Perlini have played.
By the way, Vrbata didn’t go anywhere but maybe that’s okay. He has clicked with Max Domi and is currently riding a 10-game scoring streak.
The Flyers took care of a little bit of housekeeping extending Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Michal Neuvirth for two more years apiece.
Word is that the Neuvirth signing is with the intention of exposing him in the expansion draft:
It's expected that the Flyers will make Neuvirth available for the expansion draft and protect Anthony Stolarz, as their only goaltender.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) March 1, 2017
He is an option for Vegas, although I would be aiming higher. Ultimately, Neuvirth is too injury prone to be a legitimate #1 starter but he can carry a team for stretches. Good price and for a decent backup option.
It seems like Steve Mason will be hitting unrestricted free agency this summer. Mason has been bad this season but has been good for much of his career. He could definitely be a cheap option for a team looking for change at the goaltending position or perhaps he’ll move to a team with an entrenched starter the way that James Reimer joined Florida this summer. I am still a Mason believer despite his poor play this year.
Goaltending will easily be the most intriguing part of the free agent market this summer. Check out some of the options set to hit unrestricted free agency:
There’s enough talent there for a team to remake the look of their crease. The Carolina Hurricanes perhaps? The Flyers? Flames? Avalanche?
I was happy to join Peter Harling and Paul Zwambag on the latest episode of DobberProspects Radio to talk a little bit about the trade deadline impacts and fantasy hockey strategy. If you’re in a keeper league you have to check these guys out because it’s one of the best sources for information on prospects out there.
I am really proud of what the DobberProspects gang has done in the past year or so, just admiring from afar. They’ve got a larger writing staff than ever before and are really out there hustling to provide lowdown on all the prospects you can think of. It’s not just for fantasy hockey either. Ever since Hockey’s Future went down, DobberProspects has become a major public resource for prospect information and it’s free to access, where as many other sites have a pay wall. What these guys are doing to advance the discussion around prospects is huge. It’s more impactful than the work that I am doing with these ramblings. I can’t say enough about DobberProspects. Check out the episode and check out the site. If you have questions, the writers are happy to interact with you on the Twitter machine.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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