Archive for the Fantasy Hockey Category

The Return Of The Injury Ninja….

Oh damn! He's back...the fantasy hockey purveyor of doom...the Injury Ninja!

Oh damn! He’s back…the fantasy hockey purveyor of doom…the Injury Ninja!

 

That sound of fear is hockey fans and fantasy hockey owners cringing in fear as the Injury Ninja has returned. As always, the tradition is to check out the latest injury report and break down a few injuries.

 

The Injury Ninja List

 

ANAHEIM

Player Date Status Description
Teemu Selanne 2014-03-07 questionable for Friday’s game against Pittsburgh flu-like symptoms
Mathieu Perreault 2014-03-07 questionable for Friday’s game against Pittsburgh upper body

BUFFALO

Player Date Status Description
Chris Stewart 2014-03-07 doubtful for Friday’s game against Florida knee
Zemgus Girgensons 2014-03-07 doubtful for Friday’s game against Florida lower body

CALGARY

Player Date Status Description
Kevin Westgarth 2014-03-02 expected to miss at least one week concussion
David Jones 2014-03-04 out indefinitely shoulder
Jiri Hudler 2014-03-07 questionable for Friday’s game against the NY Islanders upper body
Dennis Wideman 2014-03-07 questionable for Friday’s game against the NY Islanders upper body
Matt Stajan 2014-03-07 questionable for Friday’s game against the NY Islanders personal

CAROLINA

Player Date Status Description
Justin Faulk 2014-03-03 on injured reserve upper body

CHICAGO

Player Date Status Description
Marian Hossa 2014-03-02 expected to miss 2-3 weeks upper body

COLUMBUS

Player Date Status Description
Blake Comeau 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Nashville sprained left knee
Nikita Nikitin 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Nashville upper body
Ryan Murray 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Nashville lower body

DETROIT

Player Date Status Description
Henrik Zetterberg 2014-02-24 on injured reserve and is out indefinitely back surgery
Pavel Datsyuk 2014-02-28 expected to miss three weeks right knee inflammation
Daniel Cleary 2014-02-28 will miss at least one week sprained knee
Darren Helm 2014-03-05 out indefinitely head

EDMONTON

Player Date Status Description
Anton Belov 2014-03-02 on injured reserve and is expected to miss at least two weeks partially torn oblique
Viktor Fasth 2014-03-07 probable for Friday’s game against Los Angeles lower body

MONTREAL

Player Date Status Description
Carey Price 2014-02-26 on injured reserve lower body
Josh Gorges 2014-03-06 out indefinitely broken hand

NY ISLANDERS

Player Date Status Description
John Tavares 2014-02-24 on injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the season torn meniscus/MCL in left knee
Eric Boulton 2014-03-07 questionable for Friday’s game against Calgary bruised hand

NY RANGERS

Player Date Status Description
Mats Zuccarello 2014-03-07 questionable for Friday’s game against Carolina broken left hand

OTTAWA

Player Date Status Description
Clarke MacArthur 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Winnipeg undisclosed

PHILADELPHIA

Player Date Status Description
Ray Emery 2014-03-07 will miss Saturday’s game against Toronto lower body

PHOENIX

Player Date Status Description
Martin Hanzal 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Washington lower body

TAMPA BAY

Player Date Status Description
Radko Gudas 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Boston left leg

TORONTO

Player Date Status Description
Colton Orr 2014-03-06 questionable for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia undisclosed

VANCOUVER

Player Date Status Description
Daniel Sedin 2014-03-03 on injured reserve and is out indefinitely strained left hamstring
Brad Richardson 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Calgary undisclosed

WASHINGTON

Player Date Status Description
Brooks Laich 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Phoenix strained groin
John Erskine 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Phoenix upper body
Dmitry Orlov 2014-03-07 undisclosed undisclosed
Mikhail Grabovski 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Phoenix sprained left ankle

WINNIPEG

Player Date Status Description
James Wright 2014-03-02 on injured reserve sprained ankle
Mark Scheifele 2014-03-05 expected to miss 6-8 weeks MCL
Chris Thorburn 2014-03-07 questionable for Saturday’s game against Ottawa facial laceration

 

Anyone that is anyone knows that Olympic years produce a lot of visits from the injury ninja. It is just a fact. What is going to happen going forward? With over 100 injuries, I can project that there will be dozens of injuries throughout the rest of the month. The last few Olympics really have produced an uptick in injuries.

The latest big injury really is Carey Price. Montreal fans, including Michael Clifford, have to be in a bit of a panic. It was said hey it is not that bad, now it has morphed into a trip to the injured reserved and a few more games out. Allegedly he could be back by next week. Stay tuned! The bigger question will be is Price really 100%. Let’s be honest. No one really knows that!

Price will not be the last big injury this season. March has shown to be brutal already and we are only a week in. Stay tuned and brace for the impact in your fantasy hockey leagues. Good luck everyone and follow me @ChrisWasselTHW if you have any questions. Always bring it and thanks for reading!

 

 

Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wiring – February 25

The NHL regular season is starting to wind down and with less than one-third of the schedule remaining, the opportunity to solidify your fantasy hockey teams are running out.

 

The reality is that fishing the waiver pool that late in the season are last gasp attempts at trying to stabilize teams. With injuries to names like John Tavares, Mats Zuccarello, and Paul Martin, there are holes to fill on teams. The regular season for head to head leagues is about to come to an end too and that means it’s time to stock the bench for a player run. Any way you look at it, waiver wiring is to replace players or bolster depth, not make a significant difference in roto or points leagues.

 

With the NHL trade deadline just over a week away and rosters being shuffled off the Olympic break, there are names to look at that can help your team down the stretch for various league depths.

 

Forwards

 

Mikael Granlund – Minnesota Wild (ESPN Ownership: 38.2%)

One of the best comb-overs going. (Granlund, F-MIN)

One of the best comb-overs going. (Granlund, F-MIN)

The Winter Olympics were a sort of coming out party for Mikael Granlund as he finished T-3rd in scoring with seven points. Despite the naming of Teemu Selanne as MVP, it was Granlund who was Finland’s most consistent offensive threat.

 

I don’t believe in continuing momentum from a tournament but Granlund gets to go back to centering Zach Parise and Jason Pominville. Those players complement Granlund’s ability to enter the zone efficiently and that’s a good position to succeed.

 

Granlund doesn’t shoot a lot which means he doesn’t score a lot. That can be an issue in roto leagues. One reason for hope is that Granlund’s (-2) rating has a lot of room for improvement: Granlund is a (-5) at five on five without Pominville and (+7) with him. The possession rates improve to acceptable levels as well so I wouldn’t expect a minus rating for him the rest of the season with some power play points, too. A solid bench stash, even more so in points-only leagues.

 

Michael Cammalleri – Calgary Flames (ESPN Ownership: 22%)

Cammalleri has always been one of those players and by one of those players I mean a perennial 20-goal scorer with 30-goal upside and those don’t come by very often. This hasn’t changed much over the last couple years as he’s managed a 0.31 goals/game pace since the start of the 2012-2013 season and that’s a 25-goal pace over an 82-game season.

 

The problem this year for Cammalleri is that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy – he’s only played 41 games this year – and his team is pretty bad: Cammalleri’s (-22) rating is worst on the Flames and seventh-worst in the NHL this year. For a bit of context here, Cammalleri has never been known as a defensive forward but that team certainly isn’t helping matters.

 

Cammalleri is almost certain to be traded from Calgary and because of his expiring contract, he will be sent to a playoff contender. If he finds the right situation, Cammalleri’s penchant for shooting could see him score 8-10 goals for the rest of the season. The time to grab him off the waiver wire is now, not in a week when he finally is traded.

 

Erik Condra – Ottawa Senators (ESPN Ownership: 1%)

This is a name for deep-leaguers but the opportunities for success this late in the season don’t come often and Condra is getting one.

 

This tweet came out from Senators practice earlier today:

 

There was a problem connecting to Twitter.

 

Condra is a player who has spent most of his time in Ottawa’s bottom six but now gets a chance on the top line alongside Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. That’s an optimal spot on that team for any player and gives Condra an opportunity for success offensively. He’s not just a plug-and-play guy for the team, either: Condra leads the Sens in FenwickCloseRelative% and is fifth on the team in his shot generation rate.

 

I wouldn’t expect much, if any, power play time and his peripheral stats are not outstanding. His line mates should prevent a minus rating and he can definitely contribute offensively at even strength. This is a must-add player in any sort of deep league (14+ teams).

 

Defensemen

 

Olli Maatta – Pittsburgh Penguins (ESPN Ownership: 44.2%)

They swear he's legal age to play in the NHL. (Maatta, D-PIT)

They swear he’s legal age to play in the NHL. (Maatta, D-PIT)

Another player who stood out at the Sochi Olympics was rookie defenseman Olli Maatta. He displayed the same characteristics that had made him successful so far this year for the Penguins; vision and patience are hallmarks of his game. Maatta’s ability to generate offense from the blue line with good outlet passes and helping maintain puck possession going into the offensive zone are exactly what a team like Pittsburgh needs.

 

It’s never ideal to have players injured and to profit from it, but this is fantasy sports and there’s no room for emotion (though, best wishes to Kris Letang in particular as he recovers from his stroke). With Letang out and Paul Martin having broken his hand at the Olympics, it’s Maatta’s turn to step up behind Matt Niskanen as the Penguins’ puck mover from the blue line.

 

Maatta can generate shots on goal, will get second power play minutes and should consistently be paired with one of the Penguins’ top two lines. He also had 18 points in 29 games leading to the Olympics so he’s well on his way to becoming a star in the NHL.

 

Andrej Meszaros – Philadelphia Flyers (ESPN Ownership: 3.2%)

Hockey is a game that involves a lot of luck and that luck tends to average itself out over the course of a full season, or at least the next season. That luck can be measured in a lot of different ways, the best way is with PDO. Part of a PDO rating is on-ice shooting percentage, or the rate at which a team scores with a player on the ice. It’s hard for the wide majority of players to sustain high level for more than a season, but luckily we’re only talking about five or six weeks here.

 

On the year, Meszaros leads the Flyers defensemen in on-ice shooting percentage and that’s enabled him to put up 16 points in just 35 games this year. Even if he never became what some thought he was going to be after putting up 39 points as a 20-year-old, he’s still a 30-point defenseman and that’s valuable.

 

This is definitely a depth play in deeper leagues but Meszaros has shown offensive flashes in the past and is more than capable of riding a hot streak for the rest of the season. If he stays afloat in the plus/minus column, his penalty minutes and points can be helpful for stretch runs in fantasy leagues.
 
It’s not too late, you can still grab tickets to watch the best NHL teams live in person

Second Half Gold

061013_josi

by Chris Nowinski
 
With the 2014 Winter Olympics break quickly approaching us, its time to take a close look at our hockey roster so we can make a run at the league title. Here are a list of the top 10 guys greatly unowned in ESPN leagues (99.9 %) or less that can help your squads down the stretch.

 

1. Roman Josi, Defense, Nashville Predators

Josi was 2nd round selection in the 2008 entry draft. He is a big defenseman who logs tons of minutes and is finally showing the offensive prowess he was projected to possess. In his last 10 games he has 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) which is money for a defenseman. Doubters will look at his sub par plus/minus of -12 but he is a +9 in his last 6 contests. He also logs plenty of power play time with their offensive stud Shea Webber. The Predators are a team on the rise and so is Josi. Grab him before it’s too late.
 
2 & 3. Ondrei Palat/Tyler Johnson, Forwards, Tampa Bay Lightning

You have heard it here first. The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Eastern Conference Finals this year. They are getting the worlds best player back soon (Stamkos), they finally found a franchise goalie out of nowhere (Bishop), and Victor Hedman is finally realizing his potential when he was tabbed a future all-star defenseman. The Lightning are clicking on all cylinders right now. Now enter Ondrei Palat and Tyler Johnson. These 2 kids are currently playing with all-star Martin St Louis on the first line and have reaped benefits. Both young guns have 12 points in their last 13 games and we all know point per game players don’t grow on trees. Oh and by the way, Johnson just sniped a hat trick as we speak. It will be interesting to see how the lineup will shake up once Stamkos returns but the Lighting are a very good team and these 2 youngsters deserve a look.
 
4. Alexander Edler, Defenseman, Vancouver Canucks

Edler has been known all throughout his career for being a top 10 defensive playmaker in this league. injuries have plagued him this season and combined with the overall poor play of the Canucks you can understand why he’s just under 70% owned. But the dude has talent. The schedule for Vancouver also turns favorably for the franchise after the break. He also gets to play the man advantage with uber talents like the Sedin twins and Kesler and he gets plus ice time Sounds like a 2nd half match made in heaven. Grab him while you can.
 
5. Cody Hodgson, Forward, Buffalo Sabres

Hodgson is a talented center. The Buffalo Sabres are an organization in transition and Hodgson is one of their few bright spots. He piled up 34 points in 48 games last season and has 26 offensive tallies in 40 outings this season. He also benefits from playing on the sabres first line and power play with fellow sniper Matt Moulson so he gets above average ice time along with the scoring opportunities. A 0.25 power play points/games played ratio isn’t too shabby either.
 
6. Jacob Trouba, Defenseman, Winnipeg Jets

The man they call Troubaca, this 2012 9th pick overall selection has serious upside. He currently has 19 points in 35 games which puts him on pace to be a 40+ point defenseman which is fantasy gold. Another asset to his fantasy game is he isn’t a defensive liability which is evident of his +6 rating on the lowly Jets. Factor in he gets plenty of minutes and can chip in penalty minutes as well and whats not to like?
 
7. Valeri Nichushkin, Forward, Dallas Stars

A true darkhorse is every word, this kid is going to be a star. The question is how soon? As the 10th overall pick in last years draft, many people where tabbing Nichy as the most NHL ready prosect out there and he hasn’t dissapointed with 25 points in 48 games. He also sports a nice +13 rating. While those numbers don’t jump out at you, in fantasy it’s all about upside. He gets to play on the stars ultra talented top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and as he adapts more to the game i expect good things from this kid in the 2nd half.
 

Fantasy Hockey Olympics

The iconic Olympic rings now will meet fantasy hockey. (File Photo)

The iconic Olympic rings now will meet fantasy hockey. (File Photo)

 

The NHL break comes in just a few weeks but just because most of the professionals take a break, it does not mean you have to. That is correct. From some of the best and brightest in the fantasy industry, we bring you Fantasy Hockey Olympics.

 

Why are we doing this?

 

Sometimes you get bored. Sometimes you try something because everyone thinks you won’t have the balls to do it. Yet here we are. Imagine doing a fantasy hockey box pool for a tournament that lasts less than two weeks. That is just what we are doing. The goal is to give the fantasy hockey and casual hockey fan a new way to look at the Olympics while keeping their interest peaked.

 

It is a goal to try and be creative while giving hockey fans every opportunity to get into fantasy sports/fantasy hockey. This is all while attempting to bring in the casual hockey fans and even general sports fans. Basically expect the unexpected as there will be a little bit of a break between NHL games and the Olympic games.

 

The Men’s Schedule…..

 

WED, FEB 12
1 21:00 C Czech Republic vs. Sweden
2 21:00 C Latvia vs. Switzerland
THU, FEB 13
3 12:00 B Finland vs. Austria
4 16:30 A Russia vs. Slovenia
5 16:30 A Slovakia vs. United States
6 21:00 B Canada vs. Norway
FRI, FEB 14
7 12:00 C Czech Republic vs. Latvia
8 16:30 C Sweden vs. Switzerland
9 21:00 B Canada vs. Austria
10 21:00 B Norway vs. Finland
SAT, FEB 15
11 12:00 A Slovakia vs. Slovenia
12 16:30 A United States vs. Russia
13 21:00 C Switzerland vs. Czech Republic
14 21:00 C Sweden vs. Latvia
SUN, FEB 16
15 12:00 B Austria vs. Norway
16 16:30 A Russia vs. Slovakia
17 16:30 A Slovenia vs. United States
18 21:00 B Finland vs. Canada

QUALIFICATION PLAY-OFF

TUE, FEB 18
19 12:00 tbd
20 16:30 tbd
21 21:00 tbd
22 21:00 tbd

QUARTERFINALS

WED, FEB 19
23 12:00 tbd
24 16:30 tbd
25 21:00 tbd
26 21:00 tbd

SEMIFINALS

FRI, FEB 21
27 16:00 tbd
28 21:00 tbd

BRONZE MEDAL GAME

SAT, FEB 22
29 19:00 L27 vs. L28

GOLD MEDAL GAME

SUN, FEB 23
30 16:00 W27 vs. W28

 

The action starts on February 12th and concludes on the 23rd with the gold medal game. Above is what the grid err schedule looks like. Coming soon will be what the boxes will look like along with information on cost, size of leagues, and ways you can help promote this fun little venture.

 

Look at it this way, it surely is a lot better than sitting around for almost three weeks and doing little or nothing. There will be more details soon via The Hockey Writers, Dobberhockey, Puckrant, THW Live, and many others. The fantasy revolution is coming….

Player Profile – Brent Burns

Brent Burns is an interesting case as a player because you essentially have to cut his career in two distinct and very unequal sections: his first 540 games of his career and his last 57.

 

Burns was drafted in the first round (20th overall) back in 2003 by the Minnesota Wild and up to that point of his minor and junior hockey career, Burns was a forward. That included a 40-point season with the Brampton Battalion of the OHL as a 17-year old.

 

Once he made his way to the NHL, Burns was converted to a defenseman for Minnesota and there he stayed for his seven-year tenure with them. He was pretty good at it, too, as from 2005-2011 he put up a point/game pace of 0.46, good for nearly 38 points in an 82-game campaign. Considering he was playing for a very conservative Wild team for most of that time, it was impressive.

 

There were also the international accolades that started to pile up as Burns played for Canada’s World Junior team in 2004 and played for Canada’s World Championship team in 2008, 2010 and 2011. He was also an Olympic orientation camp invitee in 2010.

 

After a trade to San Jose, Burns played the point for most of his stay there to date. The problem was that San Jose had a glut of pretty good defensemen from Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to Jason Demers and Justin Braun. The opportunity was ripe for Burns to be moved back up front and what he’s done as a fantasy commodity since has been remarkable:

 

From 2007-2013, Burns played 350 games as a defenseman and managed 173 points or just shy of consistent 40-point seasons.

 

From 2013-now, Burns has played 57 games as a forward and managed 46 points, or a pace that would see him put up 66 points in an 82-game season.

 

Not only has his point rate shot up, but his goal/game rate would put him at 33 goals in a full 82-game season.

 

The Analytics

Burns and his centreman Joe Thornton have formed a pretty formidable duo, along with whoever lines up with them (most recently it’s been Joe Pavelski). Here are what their possession numbers with and without each other have looked like since the start of the lockout-shortened season (all as of January 8th and disparities in ice time are due to Burns’ injuries, which I’ll get into later):

 

  5v5 Goals For 5v5 Goals Against Plus/Minus at 5v5
Burns + Thornton (620.5 minutes)

38

21

+17 (+1 every 36:30)
Burns w/o Thornton (192 minutes)

10

9

+1 (+1 every 192 minutes)
Thornton w/o Burns (610 minutes)

25

24

+1 (+1 every 610 minutes)

 

One problem with this is that Burns hasn’t played a lot of hockey; he’s only played in 66 of San Jose’s last 94 games. This is something that has plagued him for a long time now, as he has concussion issues going back to his days with Minnesota. He did play at least 72 games in five of seven seasons from 2005-2012, but he had that concussion issue in Minnesota and hasn’t stayed healthy over the last year. It’s an ongoing concern for sure.

 

With that said, even if you discount the small sample of Burns when playing away from Thornton, look at the massive disparity in 5v5 plus/minus for Thornton when he’s playing with Burns and when he’s not. It’s not just goals, either: Thornton’s CorsiFor% with Burns last year was 57.6% and without him it was 51.7%. It’s an even bigger dropoff this year when Burns has been out of the lineup 62.1% – 51.9%. Of note is that Burns’ drops off considerably without Thornton as well (though, again, the sample for this year is just over 60 minutes, not nearly enough to judge). It would seem they need each other to maximize their own games, and that’s not such a bad thing: Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have similar drop-offs when not playing with each other yet they are one of the most feared duos in the NHL when playing together.

 

Premier Power Forward

When the topic of power forwards in the NHL comes up, the name usually at the top of the list is Milan Lucic. Other names that get considered are the aforementioned Perry (though less so because of how prolific a scorer he is), Ryan Kesler, and David Backes. Here’s what separates Burns from the rest of the power forwards in the NHL: he doesn’t fight.

 

Burns has zero fights since converting to a forward and in terms of fantasy hockey, this isn’t a good thing. At times as a defenseman, Burns was nearly a penalty minute per game played, putting up 80 in 2007-2008 and 98 in 2010-2011. In reality though, not fighting is probably the best thing for him. With the concussion issues he’s had in the past, and from what’s happened to someone like George Parros this year, he doesn’t need to get punched in the head to prove his worth. He can still come close to 40 PIM seasons, but the 80+ PIM seasons are a thing of the past.

 

What he’s lost in PIM value, he’s gained in points/game, goals/game and shots/game. Speaking of shots/game, Burns set a career high in shots per game last year at 2.7 and is going to shatter that this year in all likelihood as he’s sitting at 3.61. It’s a shame injuries have derailed him this year or else he would have pushed for 30 goals (and he still can if he goes on a tear).

 

No, it’s not fighting that makes Burns a premier power forward. It’s goals like this when he can tear down the wing using his speed and shot:

 

 

Goals like this where he goes to the dirty areas to be in a prime position to score (and having Joe Thornton as your centre doesn’t hurt):

 

 

And goals like this where he can find soft areas in the defense (watch him lose the opposing middle man and then #25 Brad Staubitz) to use his shot to his advantage:

 

 

If you ever are up late at night and get the chance to watch San Jose with Burns in the lineup, I strongly encourage you to watch the game. Watch Burns chase down loose pucks, using his size (he’s 6’5”, 230 lbs) and speed to create the space necessary for himself, Thornton and whoever their line mate is to make plays. There’s a reason why in their 620+ minutes at five on five together over the last couple of seasons that they’re outscoring their opponents nearly 2:1 and it’s not all Thornton. As long as Burns stays on that line and is healthy, he’s a top 40 (ish) forward in fantasy hockey – Thornton, Marleau, Couture and Pavelski on the team means he’ll struggle for high power play minutes – and one of the premier power forwards in the NHL.

 

***as always, thanks to Hockey Reference, Hockey Analysis and Behind The Net for their resources. 

Fantasy Hockey Oddities!

He must feel like Goldberg some days. (File  Photo)

He must feel like Goldberg some days. (File Photo)

 

This departure from the normal injury posts brought to you by FantasyTrade411 was needed. There are just too many oddities in the fantasy hockey world right now for words. Sure the injuries have been just as zany this hockey season but I have numbers cooked up here that you would not even see in the ECHL. We often wish this was made up but sadly it is not. Are you ready for the statistical carnage? I thought you were. So let’s take a trip and see what we can find.

Goaltending Oddities

 

Some of the worst and best from this season from the last line of defense.

 

 

– When is the last time you saw a Conn Smythe winning goalie and a Vezina winner both outside the top 30 among goalies? How about right now? Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick are both tied for 35th at a .905 save percentage.

 

 

– Marc-Andre Fleury has stopped all eight attempts on him in the shootout. Yes we were shocked by this too.

 

 

– Ben Bishop leads all goalies in fantasy hockey above the minimum with a .936 save percentage while sporting a 22-5-3 record.

 

– Jimmy Howard had a 6-9-8 record going into Saturday night’s action. The Red Wings are 12-5-2 when he is not in the starting lineup.

 

– Henrik Lundqvist is 12-16-2 after 30 decisions this year. He was 15-13-2 in that span last year. Maybe that is even more scary. Or is the .928 save percentage in 2013 compared to the .905 this season? You make the call!

 

 

– Mike Smith has played 34 games going into tonight and has zero shutouts. He had five bagels in 34 starts last season for the Phoenix Coyotes.

 

– Brian Elliott has a 1.84 GAA and .928 save percentage this year going into Saturday night. He has career numbers that are a 2.51 GAA and .910 save percentage. Yes, you do the math!

Defensive Oddities

 

– Duncan Keith has nearly an assist a game with 39 assists in 44 games. Sorry for those looking for goals as he only has three despite taking 108 shots on net.

 

– Shea Weber is a -12 after 38 games played and has made some unusually bad turnovers by anyone’s standards and yet he has seven power play goals so special teams hawks take heart.

 

– Sometimes numbers do not tell the whole story as Marek Zidlicky and Andy Greene have virtually identical stat lines while on the same team (7-14-21). Yet perception wise one defenseman (Greene) is light years ahead of the other. Why? Intangibles. It is not always about the numbers.

 

– The only player in the NHL to have 100 or more hits and 30 or more points is none other than Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks. It is good to see the physical players getting some big points once again.

 

Zdeno Chara has 18 points in 40 games which less than a half point per game. The last full season where his points per game was this low was over ten years ago. On the bright side, his nine goals and his shooting percentage is approaching ten percent.

Forward Oddities

 

– The shortest category leads off with Alex Ovechkin. He has 31 goals but has a whopping -15. The last 50 goal scorer that was that big a minus or close was the 2007-08 season where Ilya Kovalchuk had 51 goals with a -12. Ovechkin is well on his way.

 

– Joe Thornton has 41 assists in 41 games which is not that uncommon but at this stage of the game, it may be. The Jumbo Joe is on pace for over 75 assists. Age is really only a number.

 

– The Eric Staal decline continues. Now after an injury tonight, who knows how long he will be out for but Staal, who has world class talent, is now on pace for less than 70 points. Honestly, this is a player who should regularly be between 85 and 95 points a year and yet he is a -15 with only 10 goals in 41 games. The biggest oddity is that he has one….ONE power play goal this year. Fantasy hockey fans cringe horribly there!

 

============================================

 

That is it for now. See you next week with more injuries. As always you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisWasselTHW. Thanks for reading. 

Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wiring – January 3, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and naturally, there is a lot that has changed from team to team when discussing line combinations, injuries, roster moves and so on.

 

Without blabbing, here are some guys to look at if you need to fill some voids (for rotisserie leagues, unless otherwise noted), listed by ownership rates (for different depths of leagues).

 

Under 50% owned on ESPN

 

Nick Bonino (F-ANA)

Awwwwww. (Bonino, F-ANA)

Awwwwww. (Bonino, F-ANA)

Despite putting up a goal and an assist in his last time out, Bonino’s ownership rates have plummeted because of the five game pointless streak before that. There are some things you need to know about Mr. Bonino.

 

Firstly, his underlying numbers are a little high, but pretty much in line with his career. That means at five on five, this is about what to expect from Bonino; about one even strength point every three games. That’s it.

 

What’s nice about Bonino is that he’s been put on the top power play unit in Anaheim alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, what was formerly known as Dustin Penner Place. While the Ducks’ PP hasn’t been exactly stallar, 12 of Bonino’s 27 points on the year have come on the power play. So if you need help in that department, this is your help.

 

Kris Versteeg (F-CHI)

For whatever reason, he’s still out there in over half of the leagues available. Check to make sure he’s not there in yours.

 

Versteeg is cemented on the second line with Patrick Kane and he also gets his fair share of ice time on the second power play unit with Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad. You want guys with skill that are in positions to succeed, and Versteeg fits that bill to a tee.

 

 

Since coming over to Chicago, Versteeg has 16 points in 24 games and has gone (+7) over that stretch. He doesn’t stuff the peripheral stats, but you can always find other players to fill those, it’s harder to find the point producers, and Versteeg is one of those.

 

Jacob Trouba (D-WPG)

The rookie defenseman was out for a month earlier in the season after taking a dangerous header into the boards, but he’s quietly had a Calder Trophy nomination-worthy season.

 

Trouba has put up 12 points in 26 games this year, dangerously close to that half point/game mark that is elusive for teenage defenseman. Now, most of his points come at even strength, but that’s not such a bad thing: Trouba has a (+2) rating this year, thanks to his usage against easier competition. Coach Claude Noel is sheltering his young defenseman properly, and Trouba is flourishing because of it.

 

He won’t rack peripheral stats, but he’s currently riding a four-game point streak and has played over 20 minutes in five straight games.

 

Under 10% owned on ESPN

 

Jannik Hansen (F-VAN)

It’d be nice to have highly skilled players in a place to succeed. Sometimes, it’s a good career move to just learn how to play with good players i.e. “what can I do to help?”

 

Jannik Hansen has been playing on the top line in Vancouver with the Sedin twins for a while now, which makes it surprising his ownership rates are so low. It’s not like Hansen is inept offensively – he did have 39 points in 2011-2012 – he just isn’t known for high-level skill. It doesn’t seem to matter, though.

 

Hansen has five goals in his last 10 games (zero assists) and he’s starting to take 2-3 shots per game, which is a good sign. He’s also gone (+6) over those 10 games, a testament to how much fun it is to play with the Sedin twins.

 

If you need a low-end replacement who scores goals (and who doesn’t need those), Hansen is your guy for now.

 

Dougie Hamilton (D-BOS)

Looks clunky, but he's good. (Hamilton, D-BOS)

Looks clunky, but he’s good. (Hamilton, D-BOS)

Hamilton returned to action last night after missing over three weeks with injury. He wasn’t exactly eased in either, as he had nearly 18 minutes of ice time, playing mostly with Zdeno Chara, and added an assist on the game-winning goal in overtime. Not a bad return.

 

Hamilton will be used on the second power play pairing in Boston with forward Reilly Smith as his partner, which is both good and bad: it’s great to get power play time as a rookie, though with a forward as his partner, I hope he doesn’t try to cover up defensively all the time.

 

It might be worrisome to play with Chara, as that means Hamilton is a rookie defenseman playing against top line competition, but the rest of his teammates are enough to make up the difference. Hamilton won’t do anything special, but he’s serviceable in the short term.

 

Under 1% owned on ESPN

 

Rich Peverley (F-DAL)

We were told Peverley was fighting the flu this morning, so he may not be immediately available for their game tomorrow night against Detroit. That said, Peverley has put up 18 points in 39 games this year, which is fine for a third line player like him.

 

Where Peverley’s upside comes from is that he’s shooting just 5.9% this year, while his career average is 9.9%. His problem had been that he’s not gotten one single power play point yet this year, even though he’s averaging well over two minutes per game on the power play. Dallas, as a team, is shooting under 6% on the power play with him on the ice, the lowest of any regular Dallas forward. Both those numbers should rebound, even a little bit, in the second half.

 

To boot, Peverley gets sporadic penalty kill time, so if your league counts short-handed points, there’s an outside chance for one or two of those the rest of the season.

 

John-Michael Liles (D-CAR)

On the day of the Winter Classic, Liles found out that he had been traded from Toronto to Carolina, and that’s a very good thing for his fantasy prospects.

 

The knock on Liles isn’t that he’s a bad defenseman, it’s that he’s not worth his nearly $4M cap hit. In his first game for Carolina, Liles only had 15:45 of ice time but was moved back and forth between the top and secondary power play units. If that holds constant, it’s hard not to like a guy playing on the power play with names like Staal, Skinner, Semin and Faulk.

 

Liles won’t put up great peripherals, so this is probably a better points-only league play, but he’ll have the opportunity to rack points where he wasn’t before.

 

(s/t to Hockey’s Future for the pictures)

Canada Punches Ticket to Semis with 4-1 Win Over Swiss

Canada won their quarter-final matchup today, defeating Switzerland 4-1 at the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships in Sweden.

He was this excited to score against Germany. (Mantha, F-CAN) - credit to National Post

He was this excited to score against Germany. (Mantha, F-CAN) – credit to National Post

They move on to the semi-finals where they will face the team from Finland, which overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Czech Republic to win 5-3.

 

In years previous, the winner of each division at the World Juniors would get an automatic bye into the semi-finals. That changed this year as the top four teams from each division would make it into the quarter-finals.

 

Canada seemed to have a game plan in today’s game to swarm the puck two and three players at a time, making sure the Swiss players felt pressure every single time they touched the puck. That included Connor McDavid, who despite not racking up points has learned to play a more responsible game over the course of the tournament. A few games ago, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see him make one or two turnovers per shift, now he seems to cause one turnover per shift. He was left off the score sheet but it was the game I was most impressed with him overall.

 

There were a couple of instances in the first period where Canada goalie Zach Fucale seemed to be fighting the puck with his glove. If you recall, it was a shot that tipped off his glove that caused a 3-2 game against the United States. He dropped one puck in the first, and simply belly-flopped onto a rebound instead of covering it with his glove as well. I don’t know if he’s trying new equipment or if this has consistently been an ongoing problem, but teams are probably going to start picking up on this and it could be a big problem moving forward.

 

Canada’s opening goal was created by Scott Laughton, the Canadian captain. After a face-off win, he scooped up the loose puck, circled the net, tried to jam a wrap-around and then Griffin Reinhart put away the rebound. Laughton has kind of been the unsung hero for Canada, as he’s probably been their most consistent forward on the team not named Mantha or Drouin.

 

The second period brought some nerves for Canada and their fans alike, as they were playing well defensively but weren’t creating much offensively for most of the period. Many of their opportunities were one-and-done chances, so they’ll need better puck support in the semi-finals and then hopefully the finals if they expect to score goals. You can’t keep hoping for odd-man rushes and great individual efforts.

 

Canada’s second goal came on an Anthony Mantha penalty shot as he was brought down on a breakaway. It was a pretty head-fake followed by the use of his very long reach to get the puck around the pad on his backhand.

 

Switzerland’s Nico Dunner scored on a downward deflection with :01 left on the clock in the second period to make it a 2-1 game. It appeared it may have been a high stick but it was called a goal on the ice and there wasn’t much in the way of replay to show otherwise.

 

Canada’s Curtis Lazar, who is emerging as this year’s Jordan Eberle it seems, scored less than five minutes into the third period to make it 3-1 Canada, and they would cruise the rest of the way to a 4-1 win.

 

A couple things of note:

  • Canadian defenseman and Minnesota Wild draft pick Matt Dumba appeared to be injured when he crashed into the boards after being tripped by a Swiss player. Dumba went to the room but played the third period, where he wasn’t very effective and even took a pretty weak penalty with under seven minutes left and still in a 3-1 game. He’s definitely not been one of Canada’s best defensemen this tournament, and should be considered a third pairing defenseman for them at this point.
  • Fucale did a good job in the third period gobbling up rebounds, preventing second chances for Switzerland. Basically, all you can ask for your goalie is to make the first save, and he did a much better job in the third period than he did in the first 40 minutes.

 

It appears Canada/Finland and Russia/Sweden will be your final four, and the games take place on Saturday.

Boston Vs. Pittsburgh: The Injury Ripple Effect?

At this rate, the question has to be asked if he is next? (Crosby, C-PIT)

At this rate, the question has to be asked if he is next? (Crosby, C-PIT)

Dear god! Make them stop! This is more a simple editorial this week because literally let’s look at the two team’s injury reports first.

Injurious Abyss Injury Ninja Style

BOSTON

Player Date Status Description
Marc Savard 2013-09-07 on injured reserve and will miss the entire season post-concussion syndrome
Adam McQuaid 2013-12-01 on injured reserve lower body
Chris Kelly 2013-12-08 on injured reserve and is out indefinitely broken ankle
Daniel Paille 2013-12-09 out indefinitely concussion-like symptoms
Loui Eriksson 2013-12-09 on injured reserve concussion
Dougie Hamilton 2013-12-09 expected to miss 2-4 weeks lower body
Jarome Iginla 2013-12-16 questionable for Tuesday’s game against Calgary dislocated left ring finger
Shawn Thornton 2013-12-16 undisclosed undisclosed

===================================================

PITTSBURGH

Player Date Status Description
Tomas Vokoun 2013-09-26 on injured reserve and is out indefinitely blood clot in hip
Rob Scuderi 2013-10-27 on injured reserve and is out indefinitely ankle surgery
Beau Bennett 2013-11-23 on injured reserve and is expected to miss 2-3 months wrist surgery
Tanner Glass 2013-11-26 on injured reserve broken right hand
Paul Martin 2013-11-27 on injured reserve and is out indefinitely undisclosed
Andrew Ebbett 2013-12-04 on injured reserve broken ankle
Brooks Orpik 2013-12-08 on injured reserve head
Kris Letang 2013-12-14 on injured reserve and is out indefinitely upper body
Evgeni Malkin 2013-12-16 missed Monday’s game against Toronto lower body
James Neal 2013-12-16 undisclosed undisclosed
Deryk Engelland 2013-12-16 undisclosed undisclosed

 

Actually we will not include the Boston and Pittsburgh twitter fight, because it is childish and immaterial to your fantasy team. You may even be able to add players after tonight’s Pittsburgh-Toronto game so stay tuned to see what transpires. Injury after injury after injury seems to keep on coming as there are now over 140 NHL players on the injury list. If it seems like it shows no signs of getting better then you may be right.

 

Robert Bortuzzo may or may not get suspended tonight, another Penguin went down and yet Pittsburgh still won over Toronto 3-1. Keep in mind, both Boston and Pittsburgh are winning despite their injuries which you can do in a weak Eastern Conference. Even Tuukka Rask and it seems half the Boston media contracted the flu last week. This is just how crazy it has been with these two teams.

 

The scary thing is Boston plays tomorrow night and the focus will shift from Pittsburgh to Boston to see if the Bruins can manage to avoid the injury ninja. Right now, both teams have an extremely high team “InjureCon”. It is rare to go the team route but exceptions needed to be made. In the meantime, take a breath and maybe the fighting will stop but the injury trend may be one that worsens before it gets better.

 

Player Profile – Jeff Skinner

I thought right about now would be a good time to do a player profile on Jeff Skinner.

bahahahahaha (Skinner, C/RW-CAR)

bahahahahaha (Skinner, C/RW-CAR)

On the season to date, Skinner has 12 goals and 21 points in 23 games and is on a hot streak that has seen him put up eight goals in his last seven games.

 

It’s easy to forget that Skinner just turned 21 years old in the Spring of 2013, and is now in his fourth season in the NHL. It’s also easy to forget the draft year he was taken.

 

The Carolina Hurricanes selected Skinner with the seventh overall selection in the 2010 draft, and what a first round that was. If you look at the top 20 players taken, you see names like Hall, Seguin, Johansen, Niederreiter, Granlund, Fowler, Schwartz and Tarasenko. What you might not remember is this: In the 2010-2011 season, when these guys were all rookies, Jeff Skinner led them all in points with 63. That included, at the time, a 21-year old rookie named Logan Couture, who finished second with 56 points.

 

This wasn’t an out-of-nowhere performance. Skinner was a 50-goal scorer in his Age 17-18 season (draft year) in the Ontario Hockey League, which is why he was a top 10 pick.

 

That rookie season did produce something we just don’t see a lot of anymore, in fact, almost ever: Skinner is the only 18-year old rookie from 2007-2012 to put up a 60+ point season. The only 18-year old rookie. Yes, that includes Steven Stamkos. That includes John Tavares, too, even as a 19-year old. In fact, the only 19-year old to do it over that stretch was Patrick Kane.

 

In other words, this is a highly-skilled, highly-productive player that isn’t close to his prime yet and is performing very well compared to his peers. How well, you ask?

 

There was a lot of debate going into the 2010 NHL Draft of Taylor (Hall) vs. Tyler (Seguin). Should we add Jeff Skiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnneeerrrrrrrrr in there too? Here are the points/game comparisons over the years:

 

2010-2011

2011-2012

2013

2013-2014

Taylor Hall

.65

.87

1.11

1.00

Tyler Seguin

.30

.83

.67

1.07

Jeff Skinner

.77

.69

.57

.91

 

 

What we see here is Taylor Hall has started to perform the best consistently, but that the gap between the three has closed considerably from whence they came in the league. In their rookie year, Skinner had 41 more points than Seguin. This year, if things hold constant, that gap will be a high of Hall at 88 points and a low of Skinner at 75 points, or a difference of 13 points between these three young stars.

 

Usage

Of course, all the point totals aren’t created equally. Here’s how they did it, separately:

 

Skinner

2010-2011

2011-2012 2013

2013-2014

PP TOI/Game

3:10

3:21 2:47

3:02

1st/2nd Unit PP?

2nd

1st 1st

1st

Quality of Competition

0.244 (3rd line comp)

0.120 (3rd line comp) 0.797 (1st line comp)

0.270 (3rd line comp)

 

Hall

2010-2011

2011-2012 2013

2013-2014

PP TOI/Game

2:43

3:03 3:14

3:40

1st/2nd Unit PP?

1st

1st 1st

1st

Quality of Competition

0.461 (1st line comp)

0.858 (2nd line comp) 0.585 (1st line comp)

0.368 (2nd line comp)

 

Seguin

2010-2011

2011-2012 2013

2013-2014

PP TOI/Game

1:21

2:27 2:11

3:38

1st/2nd Unit PP?

2nd

1st 1st

1st

Quality of Competition

-0.406 (4th line comp)

0.389 (2nd line comp) 0.665 (2nd line comp)

1.042 (1st line comp)

 

A few things of note here:

  • Quality of Competition cannot be equally applied between players across different seasons. Last year, for example, Hall would have only played against Western Conference opponents while Seguin and Skinner only against the East. That’s why, for example, you see Seguin with a higher QoC in 2013 than Hall, yet he was facing second line competition. These are all relative to their teammates, not to other players.
  • The overall power play time is a bit deceiving. Edmonton, over the years, has drawn more penalties than Boston, which is why Hall has such a high power play TOI through his seasons.

 

What this all does tell us though is that Skinner, although he’s been buried on the depth chart at times, has still produced like a first line player, even though in many instances he’s been on the second or third line. And that while, for example, Taylor Hall got nearly 40% of his points via the power play in 2011-2012, Skinner has never exceeded 30% in this regard until this season (and he’s only played 23 games, so that sample size is still too small to make a determination).

 

If Skinner ever starts to see the massive amounts of power play time that Hall does – and you’ll notice he has less power play time this year per game than either of his first two years – then he’ll be close to a point per game player, probably more like a 70 point-player, like he’d be on pace for this year if he hadn’t been injured.

 

When it comes down to it, Skinner is truly one of the gifted young players in the game. There have been 15 players under the age of 25 to amass 200 games played and at least 0.70 points/game since 2010, and Skinner is on the list next to Milan Lucic and Bobby Ryan. In fact, Skinner’s point/game pace of 0.72 would put him at about three points fewer than Matt Duchene over a similar amount of games, and Duchene is a year of development ahead of Skinner.

 

His problem has been staying healthy, but if he can do that, Jeff Skinner will be an elite point producer in the NHL for many, many years to come. His hands around the net and his vision to find his teammates in the offensive zone are just superior to most players. Don’t believe me? Watch (and he’s just 21, remember).

 

 

He’s pretty, pretty good.