Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 17
The NHL and fantasy hockey trade deadlines are fast approaching, but we'll focus on that next week. For now, here are some observations for the upcoming schedule.
In case you're new here and missed earlier volumes, this is a weekly article based on JJ Zachariason's "15 Transactions for Week X" and Russell Peddle's "Dozen Dimes," which focus on football and basketball, respectively. Football is over, but if you are into basketball, go see what Russ is saying. It is well worth it.
Add Patrick Maroon, LW, Anaheim Ducks (7%)
The Anaheim Ducks play what could be described as â€œthe perfect fantasy hockey scheduleâ€ this week. They play four games -- three at home -- with contests on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. In other words, no back-to-backs to tire out the team, and even better for fantasy purposes, all four of their games fall on â€œoff daysâ€.
We havenâ€™t talked much about off days in this article, but in leagues with daily lineups (most), it can be more advantageous to own players who play games on off days. On busy nights in the NHL (often Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), fantasy owners will often be faced with decisions on which players to start and which to sit. That inevitably leaves depth players on the bench, whose production then doesn't count for their teams. This is especially true at forward as most owners carry extra depth at that position.
Out of the Ducks attainable forwards (essentially anyone not names Getzlaf, Perry or Kesler), Patrick Maroon is the most attractive option this week; he lines up on the top power play line with their big three and defenseman Cam Fowler, and plays first line minutes with Ryan Getzlaf. With seven goals and 21 assists on the year, Maroonâ€™s 0.54 points per game average is rosterable in many fantasy leagues when the right opportunity presents itself. The opportunity is here this week, grab Maroon for seven days and get him into your lineup.
Add Mike Cammalleri, C/LW, New Jersey Devils (34%)
Much like the Ducks, the New Jersey Devils have a favorable schedule this week in terms of playing on off days. They start their week against a struggling Arizona team (-0.93 nERD) on Monday, followed by home games against Calgary (0.09) and Boston (0.06) on Wednesday and Friday. They finish off the week Saturday in Columbus, another favorable matchup (-0.31 nERD).
Mike Cammalleri had a rough December after a good start to the season, but has since picked up his scoring pace in the new year. He's on a modest two-game point streak, but with New Jerseyâ€™s schedule this week, he should be able to slide into most lineups and contribute as an active player.
Sell/Drop Brendan Gallagher, C/LW, Montreal Canadiens (30%)
On the same theme as our first two players this week, we're looking at the Montreal Canadiensâ€™ schedule. The Habs play three games, which isnâ€™t terrible, but all three games come on busy days of the NHLâ€™s schedule. With matches Tuesday (at St. Louis), Thursday (at Columbus), and Saturday (vs. Toronto), managers will have to examine their lineups carefully to see whether some of their fringe forwards will fit in or rather be sitting on the bench for the week.
Two of the Habs' three matchups are against non-playoff teams, and Brendan Gallagher holds some value as he plays on the Canadiensâ€™ first line and top power play. With 15 goals and 18 assists in 58 games for 0.57 points per game, Gallagher has been a consistent performer and has played himself in to fantasy relevance. However, if you're in a dogfight leading up to the fantasy hockey playoffs and need to win every week, take a look at the Habsâ€™ upcoming schedule. Montreal only has six of their remaining 24 games on off days, so Gallagher will probably spend more time on your bench than in your lineup.
|Day of Week||Games Remaining|
Add Eddie Lack, G, Vancouver Canucks (10%)Eddie Lack was forced into Sunday night's game against the New York Islanders after Jannik Hansen slid into Ryan Miller. Miller appeared to injure his right leg on the play and was forced to leave the game, Lack stopped all 27 shots he face and lead the Canucks to a 4-0 win.
There hasn't been an update on Miller yet, and the good news is that he left the ice under his own power, so the injury does not appear to be serious. Nevertheless, Lack is a must add if Miller is to miss any significant time. With a 2.57 goals against average and .913 save percentage, Lack's numbers rival Miller's and the Canucks should not lose a step switching to their backup.
Hold Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, Detroit Red Wings (98%)
There isnâ€™t any official news yet on the status of Henrik Zetterberg, and fantasy owners are hoping that the Red Wings are being extra cautious and secretive with their captainâ€™s health. Zetterberg was a solid draft selection in fantasy hockey this year, providing owners with 15 goals and 34 assists without missing any of the first 56 games of the season (0.86 points per game). Unfortunately, Zetterberg was forced from Saturdayâ€™s game after Jamie Benn punched him in the side of the head during a scrum off a faceoff -- now whether he will be able to play in any of the Red Wings games this week is uncertain.
READ: Injured Zetterberg leaves game early; Red Wings' captain was involved in 2nd period incident w/ Stars' Benn: http://t.co/g80OS6VA0Kâ€” Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 22, 2015
Zetterberg missed practice Sunday, so keep an eye on his status for Monday and Tuesdayâ€™s games. The Wings are classifying this as an "upper-body injury", but it isn't hard to draw the line to head. If there is a hint of concussion-like syndromes, owners may have to act fast to either buy or sell Zetterberg, depending on their league standings. For now, sit tight.
Add Tyler Myers, D, Winnipeg Jets (33%)Last week, I did an in-depth look at Tyler Myersâ€™ potential with the Winnipeg Jets. Now, with another week added to his Winnipeg career, his ownership has doubled and he is still producing a point-per-game pace. In his five games for the Jets, Myers has a goal and four assists. Keeping up this pace is unlikely for a defenseman, but Myers has the potential to outscore many regulars that are on fantasy hockey rosters. If no one has added him in your league, he is a name to consider for the rest of the season.
Sell Valtteri Filppula, C/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning (60%)
Owning forwards (other than Steven Stamkos) on the Tampa Bay Lightning is a test in patience and timing for fantasy hockey owners. The team is so deep that's hard to find ice time for all the talent that is on the team, and coach Jon Cooper often shuffles players on and off the top line. Any player playing with Stamkos gets an immediate boost in value, any player off the top two lines has his value fall -- buying low and selling high is a highly recommended strategy when dealing with these types of volatile situations.
|5-on-5 Category||Filppula with Stamkos||Filppula without Stamkos|
Count Valtteri Filppula among the latter group right now. When he was skating on the top line with Stamkos and Ryan Callahan, he was earning anywhere from 18 to 21 minutes of ice time per game. Now he has slid down the depth chart and is playing along side Cedric Paquette and Brett Connolly, and his ice time has dropped to the 16 to 18 minute range.
Drop Mathieu Perreault, C/LW, Winnipeg Jets (18%)
Mathieu Perreault was the apple to many fantasy hockey punditâ€™s eye when he put up 1.04 points per game in December and January. When he suffered an arm injury in mid-January, I advocated holding onto Perreault to sell later. Hopefully my advice was heeded, because now the Jets forward in out until at least April, maybe the season with a â€˜lower-body injuryâ€™.
Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault out with 'significant' injury http://t.co/XnHjeq6vwpâ€” ESPN NHL coverage (@ESPN_NHL) February 18, 2015
Any value that Perreault had is now gone. Perhaps he can be grabbed off the waiver wire in the last two weeks o f the fantasy hockey season, but until then he shouldnâ€™t be on any rosters.
Add Trevor Daley, D, Dallas Stars (37%)
The last two games, Trevor Daley has added two goals and two assists to his already impressive points total on the season. Even before that little outburst, Daley was on pace for a 20-goal season; coming from the back end, that's impressive. To emphasize that point, only Shea Weber, Brent Burns, Dustin Byfuglien and Erik Karlsson hit that mark last year (and Burns and Byfuglien barely count as there spent at least part of the season as forwards).
At 16 goals on the year, Daley is tied for second among defensemen. But he's owned in under 40% of Yahoo! leagues. Sure, his 15 assists should be double that to truly be considered among elite fantasy defensemen, but OEL only has 13 assists and owners donâ€™t shy away from him like they have Daley. Time to start the â€œget Trevor Daley on your fantasy rosterâ€ campaign.
Add Andrew Hammond, G, Ottawa Senators (7%)
The Ottawa Senators have been holding on to dear life with hopes that they can make a playoff push. They sit seven points out of the final Eastern Conference wild card spot with 25 games left on the schedule. One of the reasons for their struggles this year has been the pedestrian goaltending of backup Robin Lehner. In 25 games this year, Lehner has a 3.02 goals against average and a .905 save percentage, which has only lead the Senators to nine wins.
Despite his performance, the Senators have leaned heavily on Lehner since January 21st, as starter Craig Anderson has been out with a hand injury. The Sens desperately miss the performance of Anderson, whoâ€™s 2.37 goals against average and .927 save percentage represents a substantial upgrade for Ottawa. Now, Lehner himself is has suffered a concussion and has been placed on the injured reserved, and goaltending duties have been passed on to Andrew Hammond.
Since relieving Lehner Monday, Hammond has started the Sens last two games. In those starts he has stopped 63 of 66 shots and posted a 1.50 goals against. The balance of the Senators season will likely be decided in the next two weeks, and their fate rests on the shoulders of Hammond. Look for Hammond to start at least two of the three games that the Senators play with week on the road against Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose. Ottawa needs to make up ground now or the province of Ontario will be facing another spring without playoff hockey. Hammond is a bit of a long shot, but if you, like the Sens, need goaltending here is an attainable goalkeeper assured to get some volume this week.