Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 20
The hockey season is winding down, but there is still time to make moves. What should you do with a returning Boston Bruin? How should you handle the goalie shuffles from back-to-backs this week? And are there any players who have value based on how many games their teams play?
Read on to find out.
Add Marek Zidlicky, D â€“ Detroit Red Wings (39% owned)
Since moving to Detroit from New Jersey at the trade deadline, Marek Zidlicky has started to prove his worth as an offensive defenseman. This year for the Devils, Zidlicky had 23 points in 63 games for a 0.37 points per game rate -- not exactly mind blowing numbers for fantasy hockey -- that led him to being a fringe asset this year. Now in Hockeytown, Zidlicky has six points in his first seven games (0.86 points per game); it is a small sample-size, but what makes it noticeable that all but one of his point come with the man-advantage and he has been getting plenty of opportunity on the leagueâ€™s best power play unit in Detroit.
|2014-15 Season||Games||Goals||Assists||Points/Game||PP Points|
Zidlicky seems to have taken on new life with his to a more offense friendly system in Detroit from the traditionally defense-first -- we invented the trap -- Devils. 0.86 points per game for the rest of the season may be too lofty of a prediction for Zidlicky, but if he can continue to contribute on the power play and register a point every other game, he would be a quality fantasy hockey asset for your playoffs.
Drop Cody Franson, D â€“ Nashville Predators (54%)
The trend in Cody Fransonâ€™s ice time has to be a concern for any owner who held onto the defenseman after he was moved from Toronto to Nashville in mid-February. When in Toronto, Franson regularly would see 22-plus minutes of ice time; since joining the Predators, he has only broken the 20-minute barrier in two of his 12 games. March has been particularly brutal for Franson; he only has one point and has failed to even register a shot in the past two games.
|March 14 @LA||13:12||0|
|March 12 @SJ||9:35||0|
|March 9 @ARI||14:39||3|
|March 7 vsWPG||16:40||1|
|March 5 vsNYI||21:00||2|
|March 3 @NJ||11:53||1|
|March 2 @NYR||17:53||2|
For his new team so far, Franson only has three assists in 12 games. That is a far cry from the 0.58 points per game he put up with the Maple Leafs in the first part of the season. Franson is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and will be looking for a hefty contract, but in fantasy hockey he should be a free agent right now as there are more productive and palatable options out there on the blue line in most leagues.
Hold Nazem Kadri, C â€“ Toronto Maple Leafs (42%)
As I was writing last weekâ€™s article, news broke that Nazem Kadri had been late to a team meeting was going to miss the Maple Leafs next game. â€œOk, one game, not so bad,â€ I thought. â€œHe is probably worth holding onto.â€ One game turned into three as the Leafs organization doled out some heavy-handed discipline to the young forward. In that light, fantasy owners, especially those fighting of final playoff spots, cannot be blamed is they dropped Kadri last week.
Kadri was back in the lineup Saturday night against Vancouver and played 18 minutes, including 4:36 on the power play, in his â€œredemption game.â€ Kadri registers 1.90 points per 60 minutes of ice time, good enough for 106th amongst forwards with at least 1,000 minutes, so as long as Kadri continues to earn himself minutes on the top two lines in Toronto, heâ€™ll be useful in fantasy hockey.
Add Justin Abdelkader, LW/RW â€“ Detroit Red Wings (31%)
As February turned to March, Justin Abdelkader got hot for the Detroit Red Wings. In seven games this month, Abdelkader has six goals to run his total to 19 on the season. At even strength, Abdelkader is skating with Henrik Zetterberg and Erik Cole and sees time with Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and Teemu Pulkkinen on the Red Wings 1A or 1B (hard to define which is which) power play unit. Any player playing on the Wingsâ€™ man-advantage is worth a look at, Abdelkader is definitely a valuable asset for the rest of the season.
Drop Ryan Oâ€™Reilly, C/LW â€“ Colorado Avalanche (47%)
This coming week the Colorado Avalanche are one of four teams to have only two games on their schedule. That makes their players much less valuable for anyone needing to win this week to get into their league playoffs. Ryan Oâ€™Reilly has been a disappointment his year with only 11 goals and 30 assists; he has seen his point production slip from last yearâ€™s career best mark.
While overall his production is not horrible and is certainly rosterable in the long term, Oâ€™Reilly should probably be dropped if your team is fighting for its playoffs lives this week.
Add David Krejci, C â€“ Boston Bruins (54%)
On February 20th, David Krejci suffered a partial tear the MCL in his left knee and was given a four-to-six week timetable for his return. We have just hit the three-week mark, and Krejci has been back on the ice.
Krejci has had an injury-riddle season, spending two long stints on the injured reserve, but when healthy he has produced at a clip of 0.68 points per game which has led him to seven goals and 19 assists in only 38 games. For fantasy teams that are securely in the playoffs or that can stash him in an injured reserve spot, Krejci is a productive player who in on the cusp of returning.
It isnâ€™t often you can get proven approximate 10th round value late in the season off the waiver wire. Now is the time to move on Krejci before someone else in your league does.
Add Scott Darling, G â€“ Chicago Blackhawks (6%)
The Chicago Blackhawks have back-to-back games this week against the New York teams. Oddly it is at home against the Islanders Tuesday and in Manhattan against the Rangers Wednesday. Normally teams will travel to New York to play both teams, not home then away. But I digress. Back-to-backs mean backup goalie for at least one of the games; neither team is a great matchup but Scott Darling has been solid for the Blackhawks this year.
In nine starts, Darling has six wins, a 2.18 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. If coach Joel Quenneville follows convention, look for Darling in net early this week.
Hold Craig Anderson, G â€“ Ottawa Senators (58%)
You have to feel bad for Craig Anderson and the fantasy hockey owners. He was putting together a nice season with a 2.44 goals against average and a .925 save percentage until he injured his blocker hand and Andrew Hammond got called up and started taking the league by storm.
In his first 11 games this year, Hammond has won nine and has a sparkling 1.44 goals against average and .955 save percentage. That has left Anderson on the bench most games even now that his hand has healed.
To make matters worse for Anderson, there seems to be some sort of divine intervention going on through coach Dave Cameron and his clergy.
Dave Cameron says his priest told him to start Andrew Hammond tonight. Read more: http://t.co/osaDpsFq2Bâ€” TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) March 15, 2015
Nevertheless, dropping Anderson could be premature. He may not get the majority of the starts for the next couple weeks, but once the Senators give up their thin aspirations of a playoff spot they could return to their veteran netminder to finish out the season. Come fantasy playoff time, if Anderson and you've dropped him you could come to regret it.
Add Matt Beleskey, LW â€“ Anaheim Ducks (24%)
This week presents the perfect opportunity to add Matt Beleskey and get his in your lineup. As mentioned in an earlier article, centering on how to utilize schedule to find fantasy value, I mentioned that the Anaheim Ducks had a league leading number of games remaining on â€œoff daysâ€ of the schedule. Well this week the Ducks play Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, so otherwise-borderline useful Ducksâ€™ players will slot easily into lineups nicely without having to make any â€œstart or benchâ€ decision.
Beleskey has carved himself a nice niche, playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and that has led to 21 goals and 9 assists for the seven-year veteran. Those 30 points mark a career high for Beleskey, and while he isnâ€™t a â€œmust ownâ€ player in fantasy hockey, with the right strategy you could be useful this week.
Add Brayden Schenn, C/LW â€“ Philadelphia Flyers (33%)
Saturday afternoon fans in Philadelphia thought Brayden Schenn scored his first career hat trick. Unfortunately his first goal was later credited to Wayne Simmonds and Schenn ended the game with two and an assist. Nevertheless, Schenn is playing on the Flyers top line with Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux; playing with these two superstars will help Scheen add you his 14 goals and 25 assists that he already has on the year.