20 Fantasy Thoughts: Consider trading away Andrei Markov

Max Pacioretty talks with Scott Oake about his game-winning goal against the Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens historic start.

In this week’s edition of 20 Fantasy Thoughts, we explore the value of Andrei Markov, Taylor Hall, Michael Cammalleri and more.

1. Martin Jones is starting to get some national media attention. It feels like the hype is a little much for this guy. Were the Sharks really just a goaltender away last season? I’m not so sure. I’m thinking the upside for Jones is in that Jaroslav Halak / Frederik Andersen range just outside the top-10 for goaltenders, which is still good and probably means the Sharks are a playoff team again.

2. St. Louis’ loss to Montreal Tuesday night was another strike against Jake Allen. So while he sits at 1-2-0 and has allowed three goals in each game, Brian Elliott cruises along at 4-0-1.

3. Claude Giroux has four points in seven games. Last year he started with 21 points in 16 games and the year prior he started with seven points in 15 games. He doesn’t seem to like starting the year normally – always has to be in either hyper-drive or tortoise mode. But his production always ends up in the same area. And by extension, Jakub Voracek too.

4. I don’t often endorse seeking a trade (but will sometimes support a waiver claim) based on a trade rumour. Columbus beat writer Aaron Portzline tweeted that a trade could be in the works and that he’s hearing that the Devils are interested and are offering up Adam Larsson, possibly for Cam Atkinson. In this situation, I like both players in their new homes. Atkinson would supersede Jiri Tlusty and Kyle Palmieri as the forward with the most upside, and his ice time and PP time would spike accordingly. Unlike the other two guys, Atkinson would actually score the odd time.

5. Duncan Keith is out for a month after having surgery on his torn MCL. Psst – consider picking up Trevor Daley. Just a hunch.

6. This was another ugly week for Tuukka Rask owners to swallow. And I know you are panicking. He’s yet to have a game where he didn’t allow at least three goals. We’re only five starts in for Rask, though. Remember that. Is Rask not an elite goaltender? You’ve got to trust that over a full season the numbers will reflect his status, even if the Bruins continue to mount zero defence against their opponents.

7. David Krejci won’t keep this up. In fact, I’d be surprised if he cleared a point per game by the end of the season. I do think 70 points is reachable, however. He came ever so close two years ago and then struggled with injuries last season. He’s clearly healthy once again and has the benefit of coaching on his side this time, with Claude Julien electing to load up his top power play unit rather than split time between his two units evenly as in the past. Krejci’s skating more than a minute and a half more on the power play per game than he did last season. That kind of boost could be worth an extra 10 points.

8. Nail Yakupov has six points in the past four games. I’m leery of his minutes yet. Still, Yakupov doesn’t have to do a ton to “break out” – 45 points would be a huge step. Oh and he’s skating alongside Connor McDavid who is looking unreal at times, particularly on the goal below. You don’t want to overreact to the good times though so expect there to be some pull back for Yakupov.

9. Karri Ramo’s demotion is good news for Jonas Hiller owners and for those who are sitting on Joni Ortio. I suggested last season that Ortio was a threat to steal games for the Flames. That never happened as Ramo and Hiller played well enough when healthy to keep Ortio out. That hasn’t been the case this season, however. Hiller still has the big contract and will presumably get every chance to prove he’s the guy in Calgary, but he’s lost his starting gig to an up-and-coming goaltender before so let’s not rule it out here.

10. Lehtera narrowly missed my Waiver Wednesday column for Sportsnet, but we didn’t yet know Paul Stastny’s status when I wrote the piece (Stastny is out five weeks with a broken foot). I’d put Lehtera at the top of the list of guys to snag.

11. It’s nice to see Mike Cammalleri finding a way to produce despite the dearth of talent in New Jersey. I’d love to recommend snagging him as he’s likely on the waiver wire, but I just don’t trust his health, his streakiness or his team situation. Just too many conflicting factors. Remember, Cammelleri has missed about 15 games a year, the past five full NHL seasons. Just not someone you can rely on. And do you really want to try jumping on him AFTER the big back-to-back three-point nights? Seems like that’s too late.

12. Brent Seabrook had points on all three Blackhawk goals Thursday night, including two on the power play. He added another assist Saturday. If you have Seabrook, the move is to try and sell high when Duncan Keith returns, because Seabrook will take a step back. Try moving in on someone underwhelming right now like Mark Giordano (if it’s not too late) or Kevin Shattenkirk.

13. Boy, did Evgeny Kuznetsov ever benefit from Nicklas Backstrom’s off-season surgery. It opened the window enough for Kuznetsov to get a crack with Alexander Ovechkin and he’s absolutely running with it. After Thursday’s five-point night, Kuznetsov took over the team scoring lead with 11 points. When I checked last night, Kuznetsov remained available in 43 per cent of fantasy leagues. I’ll guess that inches closer to 75 per cent by the time you are reading this. But if you are an early bird and you can somehow still jump on him, Kuznetsov is pretty obviously a great pick up.

14. Taylor Hall is generating chances like crazy, up to 37 SOG in eight games, about 4.5 shots per game. His on-ice shooting percentage is at 5.08 per cent. He’s leaving some points on the board. You have to figure it won’t be long now. Also, the Oilers’ top goal scorer, Jordan Eberle, hasn’t played yet. He’ll help get some of the other guys going.

15. Andrei Markov had a five-point night Thursday and added an assist Saturday. He’s squarely into a sell-high position, with 10 points in nine games. Markov’s 12.68 on-ice shooting percentage is far too high, particularly for a defenceman. Markov is a 50-point defenceman so you need a really healthy return, but there are some guys you can go after who have been underwhelming so far.

16. I’m not buying Dougie Hamilton stock. He’s struggling too much and the Flames have too much depth to stand idly by and watch him work through it. More importantly, defencemen don’t score enough to be patiently waiting anyhow. Let’s say you sit on a defenceman through the highs and the lows and he hits 40 points. That might make him a top-40 producer at his position, but you also sat through 40-50 scoreless nights. If you’ve got a defenceman tracking for that level, you might be better off playing the weekly waiver wire. Shoot for guys skating four or five games in a particular week, with favourable schedules and maybe even on a hot streak.

17. If you were to engage in this strategy, starting today some good names to grab might be Jeff Petry, Andrej Sekera or Jared Spurgeon.

18. Tyler Toffoli is smoking hot with five goals in the past four games. Milan Lucic is clicking with him and Jeff Carter as well. Give Lucic four points in those four games. I’m not sure this line will stick, but someone has to lug Lucic around and Anze Kopitar’s hands are full with Dustin Brown’s cadaver.

19. Connor McDavid has a four-game point streak going and at eight points through eight games, he is as advertised. The Oilers are scoring at a bottom-10 rate so the offence is really just McDavid.

20. Tomas Plekanec’s hot start is so for real. Getting to skate with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher full-time is working wonders for him. His five goals on 24 shots (a 20.8 shooting percentage) would be more concerning if that line wasn’t producing so many scoring chances in general. Yes, the goals will dry up for Plekanec, but he’ll replace them with assists, like he has the past three games. Will he hit 80 points? No, but 70 looks possible. It all depends on Pacioretty’s health.