As we get closer to the February 25th trade deadline, the Columbus Blue Jackets are certainly on a shortlist of teams to watch in both real life and fantasy.
What will they do with pending unrestricted free agents Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin? In case you missed it, the latest developments with respect to those two soap operas have been mighty entertaining.
Panarin was offered free vodka and dentistry for life in exchange for re-signing. Meanwhile, Bobrovsky was benched for one game following an ‘emotional outburst’ after a loss to Tampa Bay early last week.
Now, for 20 fantasy thoughts:
1. Has John Tortorella lost faith in Bobrovsky? It’s certainly trending that way. Backup Joonas Korpisalo is on pace for a career-high 31 appearances and has started four of Columbus’ past six games. Some food for thought going forward.
2. Nothing to see in Colorado with regards to Nathan MacKinnon’s highly publicized “blowup” with head coach Jared Bednar on the bench in Winnipeg. They’ve made up and moved on. MacKinnon will continue to get his. Don’t fret.
3. In need of some last-minute boosts to your goalie categories? Don’t hesitate to utilize Laurent Brossoit on spot start duty. The Jets backup is pretty much a lock for a win every time out. The 25-year-old is 9-1-1 on the season with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage to go along with his first career shutout. Stream away!
4. Trade for Juuse Saros. Considering Pekka Rinne’s age and performance in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Predators will try to keep him as fresh as possible for the spring time. That means more action for the 23-year-old Saros, who’s been red-hot lately. He’s 3-0-1 over his last four appearances with a 1.09 goals-against and a .972 save percentage. Great value to be had here.
5. Win or lose, expect Jordan Binnington to see a lot of action between now and the end of the season. That doesn’t bode well for Jake Allen owners. The Blues need to see what they have here. So far, so good. The 25-year-old Binnington is 3-0-0 with a 1.45 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage. He also notched a shutout in his first NHL start. Take the flier and run with it.
6. While most fantasy owners are trying to rid themselves of Ducks players, I’m taking the opposite approach. Yeah, they’ve struggled mightily lately but I merely view this as an excellent buy-low opportunity on proven commodities like Ryan Getzlaf, John Gibson and Rickard Rakell. It’s a long season. Don’t forget that.
7. Sell Max Domi maintenant. After a terrific first half, the speedster and his Montreal Canadiens are both due for substantial second-half regression. The well has run dry: the former Coyote is currently mired in a 16-game goalless drought. Maximize!
8. You better act quickly if you want Vladimir Tarasenko on your team. The Blues sniper potted two goals on Saturday night and is now up to 14 on the year. He’s been stirring lately and it’s safe to say that the buy-low window is closing rapidly. Still averaging almost four shots a game, Tarasenko’s shooting percentage is definitely on the rise and is now up to nine per cent. BUY.
9. James van Riemsdyk could prove to be a cheeky bargain for you on the trade market. After an injury-riddled first half, the former Leaf has posted back-to-back multi-point efforts (1G, 1A) for the first time this season. The 29-year-old is currently skating on Philadelphia’s refurbished top line with Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.
10. Too bad intangibles aren’t translatable in fantasy hockey. If that were the case, Zach Hyman would be a highly sought after commodity. Back from an ankle issue, the grinder continues to skate on Toronto’s top line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner. Hyman has 16 points in 34 games. Consider him in daily fantasy action.
11. Brandon Pirri is now in the NHL to stay and you should be taking note. He’s definitely worth a spot on your roster. Pirri hit the 10-game mark on Saturday night and is no longer waiver exempt. Everywhere he’s played this season, Pirri has scored. The former OJHL standout has 10 goals and 14 points in 11 career games with Vegas.
12. Stars captain Jamie Benn can be had for less than market value right now and I’d strongly recommend obtaining him. The 29-year-old is a notorious second half player. After all, there’s a reason why many fantasy pundits had him ranked inside the Top 20 going into this season. Make the move!
13. Put Jaroslav Halak on the trade market promptly. Unsurprisingly, Tuukka Rask has figured out how to stop the puck again. The veteran goalie has now won five straight starts surrendering a combined seven goals in the process. Goodbye Jaroslav!
14. Be mindful of Jordan Eberle. The former Oiler and current Islander is primed for a strong finish to his contract season. Sandwiched in between a four-game absence due to an upper-body injury, the pending unrestricted free agent has notched at least one point in five of the last eight contests. Keep tabs.
15. With Patric Hornqvist (concussion) and Zach Aston-Reese (upper body) both currently sidelined for Pittsburgh, consider streaming Tanner Pearson. The former King is seeing time on Pittsburgh’s second line with Evgeni Malkin as well as its second power-play unit. Pittsburgh continues to shred.
16. Joonas Donskoi deserves your undivided attention right now. The Sharks winger has potted eight of his 14 goals over the last two weeks alone. He’s currently skating on San Jose’s third line with Evander Kane and Tomas Hertl. They’ve developed uncanny chemistry. Ride Donskoi!
17. With Nick Schmaltz unfortunately done for the season in Arizona, might Conor Garland make a play for a permanent top-six role? For the record, anyone who scores a goal off their face – like Garland did on Saturday night in Edmonton – deserves a stick tap or two. The former Coyotes fifth-rounder has provided sneaky value lately, with six goals over the last five games only helping to better his case. Sleeper!
18. As if they needed the help, J.T. Miller is back in the Lightning lineup. The 25-year-old is constantly overlooked in fantasy hockey. He’s on pace for his customary 20-goal 35-assist campaign. You can’t go wrong with that kind of depth scoring. To add, Miller sees routine exposure to Tampa’s star power. Be conscience of it.
19. Currently only 45 per cent owned in Yahoo! leagues, I’d advise you to go out there and grab Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland. Not only is the 26-year-old coming off his first multi-point effort since Oct. 7, but he’s back on Carolina’s top line with Sebastian Aho. The Canes have started scoring with regularlity again.
20. Here’s your Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey outlook for Jan. 14-20. Sprinkle players on your roster from the following teams because they have four contests: ANA, BOS, EDM, MIN, MTL, NJD, NYI, STL, TOR and WSH. Stay away from the Golden Knights — they play just twice.