Every Sunday this season, we’ll share 20 Fantasy Thoughts from the writers at Dobber Hockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week’s “Daily Ramblings” on DobberHockey.com.
1. Oh goodness, here we go again with superstar injuries. This time to Evgeni Malkin, who will miss the next 6-to-8 weeks. When Malkin was hurt previously, Matt Cullen stepped into his minutes alongside Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel, but when Malkin left Friday’s game, it was Nick Bonino who filled in for him. Maybe there is a boost for Bonino coming.
2. We might also see Justin Schultz gain some more power-play minutes. The Penguins have been using Kris Letang on both units of late, with Schultz acting as the second defenceman on the second unit. He could easily get bumped up here even if he saw only 10:13 of total ice time on Friday.
3. Sergei Bobrovsky made his return for Columbus and played fairly well stopping 28 of 31, but that won’t cut it for fantasy owners. Still, I can definitely see him having another strong run to close the season. I like the way the Blue Jackets are playing and Bob has legit show-stopping ability.
4. Cam Atkinson scored his fifth goal in his past five games. He is turning it on, up to career highs in goals (24) and points (44). Everything he produces from here on out is gravy and he should get up to 50 points pretty easily. Now the question is if he hits 55. Probably not, but with 15 games remaining it is within the realm of possibility.
5. This is a really big step forward for Atkinson, who scored around 1.5 points per 60 minutes through his first two full seasons in the league. He’s been one of the better 5-on-5 scorers in the league this season with 2.01 points per 60 minutes played. That’s the difference in about an extra point every eight games or so, which over 82 games really adds up. If Atkinson nabs a bigger power play role somewhere down the line, along with this improvement at even strength, he would be on his way to a 60-point season…or better. This is a bit far-fetched, but the way Atkinson is closing this season out is opening up some interesting possibilities.
6. Brayden Schenn remained hot scoring his 20th point since the all-star break, good for eighth in the league in that stretch. Get on that bandwagon if you can, although it’s probably too late.
7. The Ducks lost Kevin Bieksa to injury on Friday and were without Sami Vatanen, too. Maybe now they turn to call-up Shea Theodore. Grabbing Theodore now before he actually gets the call isn’t a terrible move. We will certainly know by Monday if there is movement so if your playoffs start then you will be ahead of the game. The Ducks have a great schedule next week too.
8. Dallas used Kris Russell on the top power-play unit Friday night. No points, however.
9. In Dennis Wideman’s return on Friday he skated 18 minutes, but led the Flames defence in power-play time. No points. No shots either. I’d consider him the No. 3 option behind Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton, while TJ Brodie is out.
10. Antoine Vermette has six points in five games this month, but all that damage has come in two multi-point games. I’m not sure there is enough offence in Arizona while Oliver Ekman-Larsson is out for anyone to be particularly relevant. The minutes and opportunity are there for Vermette, however. I’m not recommending a pickup unless you are in an extremely deep league, but I figured I’d comment since you’ve probably seen the gaudy scoring of late.
11. I speculatively added Zach Bogosian in one of my leagues this week given the Sabres’ favourable schedule and also his recent run of spotty scoring and big shooting. He has landed me two assists and 12 SOG in three games this week. If you’re in a deep multi-category format and you need a filler, you could do worse than Bogo.
12. The one guy on the Carolina Hurricanes who has sustained productivity is Jeff Skinner. He has seven points in the past five games and 14 in 17 since the All-Star break. Skinner is available in 40 per cent of Yahoo leagues.
13. Vincent Trocheck is up to 19 points in 19 games since the All-Star break and is owned in just 40 per cent of Yahoo leagues. Decent waiver wire option right there.
14. I do have my skepticism about Trocheck since he is firmly on the second line and second power play in Florida. Only so many minutes to go around, even for someone proving to be a productive scorer.
15. David Pastrnak scored two goals in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday afternoon. That gives him four goals this week. You’d have to think that with a full season next season, 25 goals and 50 points is within reach for the man they call Pasta.
16. Rick Nash finally returned to the Rangers’ lineup after a 20-game absence, although he was held without a point in 17 minutes of icetime. In those situations, I tend to keep the player on IR for the first game unless I desperately need him in my lineup. Usually teams don’t give these players full minutes in their first game back.
17. With no P.K. Subban, Mark Barberio was on the ice for over 25 minutes as Andrei Markov’s defence partner. That icetime total represented a jump of a whopping 10 minutes from his season average. Barberio made the most of the opportunity, scoring the Habs’ only goal in the 4-1 loss to Minnesota. We don’t know how long Subban will be sidelined with what looked like a scary neck injury. Barberio was starting to cook even before the Subban injury with four points in his last four games. However, the icetime alone clearly shows a player benefitting from the Subban injury.
18. It might be time to drop Antti Niemi. Yes, the goalie that has started the majority of the games for the Western Conference leaders. Niemi provides empty calories for your fantasy roster: a solid win-loss record (22-12-7) to go with awful ratios. Saturday’s game was a typical Niemi outing, where he allowed four goals in regulation while the team in front of him gave him a chance to win in overtime against the Blues. It wasn’t to be, though.
19. Raise your hand if you activated Mike Smith for his return to the lineup on Saturday. Congratulations if you were one of the lucky few. The rest of us didn’t see this coming. Smith stopped all 44 shots he faced in a 4-0 shutout of the Oilers. Louis Domingue’s value clearly drops, although he should stick around with the big club with Anders Lindback on IR. Expect the Coyotes to give Domingue a few more starts before the season is out, now that the playoffs are probably out of reach.
20. If your league records overtime goals and hands out bonus points to defencemen, John Moore is your guy. Three of his four goals this season have been in overtime.