Shout-out to Yellowknife!
Unsurprisingly, Hockey Day in Canada, staged in the capital of the Northwest Territories, was fantastic. Due to the newly formed groove, my couch will never be the same again.
Considering how trying the last week or so has been for most of Canada’s seven NHL squads, the festivities seemingly couldn’t have come at a better time. The Calgary Flames lost their captain due to injury; ditto for the Montreal Canadiens. In Toronto, Frederik Andersen got hurt, Michael Hutchinson couldn’t step up, forcing Kyle Dubas’ hand on the trade front. And, for good measure – the Vancouver Canucks lost Brock Boeser to an upper-body injury on Saturday night.
My best advice: everyone go out and buy a lottery ticket.
1. T.J. Brodie is your best bet when it comes to finding an in-house Mark Giordano replacement. He’ll get tons of power-play time.
2. Down in Montreal, Ben Chiarot has already seen a significant uptick in offensive responsibilities with Shea Weber out due to a lower-body issue. The former Jet is quarterbacking the second power-play unit. He’s got a bomb from point and if he can’t find a lane, he’s got Ilya Kovalchuk’s missile positioned to the left of him. Power-play production is coming.
3. Externally, Damon Severson, Jaccob Slavin, Nikita Zadorov, Darnell Nurse, Matt Dumba, Charlie McAvoy and Colton Parayko are all worth a look.
4. With Boeser set to miss time for Vancouver, Jake Virtanen should be on your radar. As I’ve documented a bunch over the last few months, the 23-year-old is enjoying a breakout offensive season. Brandon Sutter deserves a look too.
5. As long as Andersen remains out, don’t be afraid to scoop up the newly acquired Jack Campbell. The 28-year-old will see the majority of the load until Toronto’s No. 1 is able to return.
6. Campbell’s exit from Los Angeles is bad news for Jonathan Quick owners. That’s because the Kings promoted Cal Petersen, their goalie of the future. The 25-year-old made 31 stops in a 3-0 loss versus the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. Rest assured, he’ll play a lot down the stretch.
7. No need to buy into the Dustin Byfuglien hoopla. Even though the once fantasy dominant blueliner is reportedly slated to become an unrestricted free agent, it’s unlikely he’ll play this season. We’re roughly a month out from fantasy playoffs and the 34-year-old has yet to begin skating after a serious ankle injury. Don’t waste the roster spot.
8. Stash Vladimir Tarasenko. File this under the you-never-know category: the Blues sniper is back practising after extensive shoulder surgery. While still doubtful to return in time to have any fantasy bearing, never say never. We’ll see.
9. Speaking of St. Louis, pick up Zach Sanford and ride out this hot streak. Playing predominantly with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron lately, the 25-year-old has put together an epic eight-game stretch: four goals, five assists, nine points, plus-nine. Not too shabby.
10. Trade for Ryan Ellis. Out since the Winter Classic due to that vicious Corey Perry elbow, the 29-year-old Predators defender is closing in on a return. Before going down, the Hamilton native was on pace for a career-high 59 points.
11. Showcase or not, scoop up left-winger Kieffer Bellows. The Islanders rookie has provided the offensive spark Barry Trotz was after. In my estimation, it won’t be long before the 21-year-old flanks Mathew Barzal.
12. If you’re looking for some short-term Alex Radulov replacement options, Ilya Kovalchuk, Mikael Granlund and Nick Foligno should be on your radar.
13. Speaking of Granlund, another dual-eligible winger to take a flier on is Kevin Fiala. Almost a year to the day of their one-for-one swap, the 23-year-old has caught fire lately, tallying three goals and eight points over his past nine outings.
14. Make a move for Sam Reinhart. Full credit to Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News. In a post-game scrum last week, the Sabre was questioned for his lack of back-check. Weirdly, this might light a fire under his derriere.
15. Through hell and high water, acquire Patrik Laine immediately. After Saturday afternoon’s power-play hat trick, the Jets sniper quietly has eight goals in the past eight games. We all know what he’s capable of.
16. In the right circumstances, a stealth goalie stream for you could prove to be Ottawa’s Marcus Hogberg. The rookie has seen the lion share of the starts for the Senators over the last few weeks. With Anders Nilsson injured and vet Craig Anderson struggling mightily, the 25-year-old Swede will continue to get opportunities to prove his worth. Think about it.
17. Even with his much-improved play as of late, I’m still fully endorsing a complete sell-off of Sergei Bobrovsky. At the best of times, the Panthers are a train wreck defensively. Look elsewhere for stability.
18. Move on from Antti Raanta. The Coyotes goalie just can’t stay healthy. Lather, rinse, repeat. The 30-year-old was a late scratch for Arizona’s game on Saturday afternoon due to a lower-body injury. Adin Hill will play until Darcy Kuemper is ready to return.
19. A jam-packed week of NHL action is coming your way with 55 total games. Everyone plays three or four times except for Los Angeles. Just two games for Todd McLellan’s squad. Don’t add players from the Kings.
20. There are 18 teams with hectic four-game dockets: ARI, CGY, CHI, CBJ, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, MTL, NSH, NJD, NYI, NYR, OTT, PHI, STL, TBL and TOR. In the meantime, the other 12 play three times. For what it’s worth, I like these schedules the most:
Columbus Blue Jackets: Mon (TBL), Thurs (@BUF), Fri (NYR), Sun (@NJD)
Waiver Looks: Oliver Bjorkstrand (41%), Nick Foligno (23%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Elvis Merzlikins (3), Zach Werenski (2), Pierre-Luc Dubois (2)
Montreal Canadiens: Mon (ARI), Wed (@BOS), Fri (@PIT), Sat (DAL)
Waiver Looks: Jonathan Drouin (31%), Ben Chiarot (22%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Carey Price (3), Jeff Petry (2), Ilya Kovalchuk (2)
Vancouver Canucks: Mon (NSH), Wed (CHI), Sun (ANA)
Waiver Looks: Tanner Pearson (40%), Thatcher Demko (9%)
SN Fantasy Pool: Elias Pettersson (3), Jacob Markstrom (3), Quinn Hughes (2)