Another week of fantasy hockey with plenty of news:
Obligatory Kessel Run Joke:
Perhaps the biggest story this past week was the debut of Phil Kessel with his new team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. A lot of pressure is on young Kessel to bring some much needed scoring the Leafs. How’s he doing so far? Kessel has 3 points in 3 games. Not bad at all, and is on a two game point streak in that span. He was pointless in his first game of the season, but he had ten shots on goal. Yes, ten shots. Mattias Ohlund of the Lightning made sure to give his buddy Phil a warm welcome back.
Due to high expectations, it is unlikely Kessel went undrafted in most leagues, unless you’re in a league with only a handful of teams. If he was ignored, he’s worth picking up. Decent scoring RW’s are hard to come by, leaving those in deeper leagues longing for the day Jared Boll turns into a 50-goal scorer. Or even a 10-goal scorer.
Kessel will certainly help the Leafs generate more offense, and combined with Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson starting to win games, things could be turning around in T.O. If Gustavsson is sitting in the bargain basement of your league, snap him up. He’s doing pretty great so far in November, 2-0-1 with 99 saves.
Last week I mentioned Alex Ovechkin leaving a game against the Blue Jackets early. Since then, the news has gone from bad to worse. First he was “day to day” then he was “week to week.” This has got to hurt anyone who drafted AO first overall, which is probably everyone with their league’s first pick—except for those that thought this is finally going to be Brendan Witt’s big breakout year (more on that later). The silver lining to AO’s mysterious injury is that he’s only missed four games in his past four seasons, so he should be back sooner than later.
Losing Ovechkin from your fantasy line-up is a bitter pill and like losing Malkin (which hit the High Noon team) leaves a big scoring gap.
What to do? Grab Capitals winger Tomas “the Red Wings traded me for Robert Lang” Fleischmann—he just came back into the Caps’ lineup after missing 10 games with a blood clot, and is reaping the benefit of an injured AO. Fleischmann has 5 goals in 6 games, with 7 points total and a pair of 2-goal games. Fleischmann may not be as useful once Ovechkin starts playing again, but ride him while he’s hot (he’s the latest addition to the High Noon team). Likewise, if Mike Knuble is available, grab ‘im. He’s also benefiting from Ovechkin’s absence.
Other AO Fill-in’s:
Mason Raymond (LW, Vancouver) is on a 5 game point streak (4 goals in that stretch. Keep in mind that Raymond only had 3 goals in the previous 13 games.
Raffi Torres (LW, Columbus) has a pair of 2 goal games in November, 8 goals on the season and gets unlimited night minutes on his Banana Phone.
The Foppa Factor:
Peter “Foppa” Forsberg might be coming to a NHL team near you very soon (or maybe a KHL team). What does this mean in terms of fantasy? Quite a bit. Also, it if does happen, it means we may get to see commercials like this again.
Nothing is certain yet, as most of this is the stuff of rumors, but it is making for some interesting reading. If he does come back to the NHL, he’ll improve pretty much everyone around him. In his last NHL season (2007-2008), Forsberg had 14 points in 9 games. But, if it looks like Foppa’s coming back again—grab him the second he’s available, just be prepared for him to get injured sooner than later.
Fantasy News Around the NHL:
Jakub Voracek (RW, Columbus) has a quartet of two-point games so far this season. Radim Vrbata (RW, Phoenix) matched his output of last season (6 points) in 13 games, beating the 18 it took to do so with Tampa Bay last year. Mike Modano (C) and Jere Lehtinen (LW) are back for the Dallas Stars—and in the parallel universe where it is always 2002, there was much rejoicing. Andrew Raycroft (G, Vancouver) is kicking butt and chewing gum while filling in for the injured Roberto Luongo, and he’s all out of gum (4-1, .936 SV% and 1.60 GAA). Brendan Witt (D, NYI) had a 2-goal game vs. the Oilers.
Brendan Witt had only 2 goals in the two previous seasons (0 last season and he was –34). Jason Spezza is injured again. As mentioned above, Roberto Luongo is also out, with a rib injury.
Rob Blake (D, San Jose) was placed in Injured Reserve. Surprise, surprise, oft-injured goalie Kari Lehtonen (Atlanta) is out for another 6 to 8 weeks after more back surgery.
Cam Ward (G, Carolina) is out a minimum of 3-4 weeks after having his leg cut by Rick Nash’s skate. Ouch.
Matthieu Schneider (D, Vancouver) was used as a forward in a 7-2 loss against the Ducks. He was –3. Schneider was back in his normal place in the next game.
Let’s see how the top four picks of this summer’s draft class are doing so far this season.
John Tavares (1st overall) – C, NYI
GP: 17 G: 5 A: 8 P: 13
Victor Hedman (2nd overall) – D, Tampa Bay
GP: 14 G: 0 A: 4 P: 4
Matt Duchene (3rd overall) – C, Colorado
GP: 17 G: 2 A: 5 P: 7
Evander Kane (4th overall) – C, Atlanta
GP: 14 G: 3 A: 3 P: 6
Scoring-wise, Tavares is performing the best out of the bunch (he’s third in rookie scoring overall). But it is hard to compare his output to that of Hedman, who is a defenseman. Hedman is getting a lot of minutes though, averaging around 24 a game, while Tavares is getting just under 19—which is still a lot for a first year player.
High Noon Showdown:
Last week the players picked for the Showdown were Montreal Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak and New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. (from 11.02 to 11.08)
Uh, well Halak hasn’t played since Halloween. I thought he’d get a couple games this past week, but apparently not. It doesn’t help there is a bit of a goalie controversy in Montreal.
Games Played: 2 (1-1)
Goals Allowed: 3
Shut Outs: 1
Lundqvist wins by default since Halak did not play. OK, we’ll have to do a rematch at some point. Or next time I’ll make sure to pick two goalies that start regularly.
Next Week: Clash of the wingers as Rick Nash dukes it out with Marian Gaborik. Come back next week to find out who wins.