Whether it be in fantasy or reality, you won’t win much without quality goaltending. Once again, it’s been an unpredictable and downright turbulent season in the NHL when it comes to the crease.
If you’re in the running to compete for a fantasy hockey championship, depth in net is imperative for success. It’s become such a volatile position. You need multiple back-up plans.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as grabbing the next man up.
1. For insurance purposes, grab Casey DeSmith. The Penguins will be cautious when it comes to the handling of the oft-injured Matt Murray. The 24-year-old is currently dealing with an upper-body injury. He was, however, able to backup DeSmith Saturday night in Tampa. Stay tuned.
2. In Dallas, Anton Khudobin is expected to see some starts this upcoming week with Ben Bishop sidelined again. The Stars placed Bishop on injured reserve Friday retroactive to Feb. 4 to allow him to attend to soreness. Whatever that means.
3. Surprise, surprise – John Gibson is banged up again for the Ducks; an upper-body ailment. Generally, I’d tell you to pick up Chad Johnson, but the way Anaheim has been playing, “thank u, next.”
4. Despite the sad fact that Anaheim has won just two hockey games over the past 54 days, I’d still contemplate buying low on Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. They still can play; the points will come. Anyone else – with exception to Gibson – can go without hesitation.
5. Pull the plug on Jake Allen. Freshman Jordan Binnington has profoundly won the starting job in St. Louis. To-date, the 25-year-old has posted a scintillating 9-1-1 record paired with a 1.72 goals-against-average and a .931 save percentage to go along with two shutouts. Remarkable.
6. I believe in St. Louis. If you’re looking to extract more fantasy juice out of the Blues, consider taking a flier on Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Vince Dunn. All three have contributed steadily over the last month. Value!
7. Mystified at the MacKenzie Blackwood demotion? It came down to a numbers game with Cory Schneider returning. The rookie didn’t need waivers to go down to the American Hockey League, so the decision was a simple one. The Devils will try their best to trade pending unrestricted free agent Keith Kinkaid before the deadline.
8. Also, don’t be afraid to spot start Schneider. I know it’s tough to look past his putrid 0-17-3 record since late 2017, but have faith in my words. The 32-year-old looks ‘right’ for the first time in a long time. I’m happy for him.
9. New Jersey moved Brian Boyle to Nashville. The only thing that makes the 34-year-old fantasy relevant right now is his current power play deployment. The six-foot-six monster is currently Nashville’s net front presence on its first power play unit.
They’re desperate. The Predators are 2-for-38 with the man advantage over the past 12 games.
10. Speaking of which, now’s a good time to buy low on P.K. Subban. With an assist on Saturday night, the former Norris winner ended a pitiful run of eight consecutive games without a point. Mark my words: Subban’s dismal 4.3 shooting-percentage will improve. He’s too talented.
11. Need a replacement for the concussed Alex Edler? In-house – Troy Stecher or Chris Tanev have moderate potential but not much.
External options – Ryan Pulock, Jaccob Slavin, T.J. Brodie and Charlie McAvoy could be worth a look.
12. Horrible to see Mikko Koivu go down for the rest of the season. Joel Eriksson-Ek will assume his spot until further notice. The sophomore forward is showing some promise, however. He’s scored in back-to-back games for the goal starved Wild. It’s a start.
13. The Nino Niederreiter trade is already looking extremely one-sided in favour of Carolina. In 9 games with the Hurricanes, he’s already mustered seven goals and an assist. I’d say that the Swiss winger has pretty much reached must-own territory, especially given his favourable exposure to Sebastian Aho.
14. Welcome to fantasy hockey relevancy, Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The budding Canadiens superstar has seven goals over the past 12 contests and should be on your radar. It goes without saying, but he has a very bright future in both worlds.
15. Looking for some top-line value? Valentin Zykov (Vegas), Nick Bjugstad (Pittsburgh) and Drake Caggiula (Chicago) each have received top-line looks recently. It’s up to them to see how long it lasts.
16. Don’t sleep on non-playoff teams down the stretch. For example, you can find considerable value in a variety of Los Angeles Kings right now. Tyler Toffoli and Adrian Kempe should be in your crosshairs.
17. The way Colorado is trending, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to gauge the market on perennial stars like Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. With the fantasy playoffs just around the corner, it’s the wrong time to own slumping players.
18. How in the world is Dylan Strome only 16 per cent owned in Yahoo! leagues right now? Scoop him up immediately. The Blackhawks pivot has three goals and 10 helpers for 13 points over the last eight games.
19. With a potential deal looming, I’d try to sell-high on Ryan Dzingel as soon as possible. Once Ottawa inevitably deals him to a contender, he’ll likely fall into more of a secondary role with his new squad. Dzingel is currently on the Senators’ number-one trio with Matt Duchene and Bobby Ryan.
20. Every NHL team will play at least three times this upcoming week. Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington lead the way with four-game slates.
Keep that information in mind as you prepare to construct your next Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool roster.