Who will win
The Royal Rumble the starting job in Minny?
The Week Ahead: Jan 26 – Feb 1
4 Game slates: ARI, MON, NASH, PIT, WASH
3 Game slates: ANA, BUF, CAL, CAR, CHI, CLB, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, MIN, NJ, NYI, NYR, PHI, STL, TB, TOR, VAN, WINN
2 Game slates: BOS, COL, LA, OTT, SJ
Back to Back games: ANA, ARI, BUF, CAR, CHI, MON, NASH, NJ, PIT, STL, TOR, WASH (x2)
By Lane Myer
In recent vintage we’ve covered first half over and underachievers as well as TTMI’s Top 50 Keeper/Dynasty League Under 25 Rankings for those fledgling teams who are looking towards next season and have no alternative other than undergoing a rebuild.
Hopefully the amount on goalie info won’t be quite as daunting and time consuming as it was this week, so we hope to concentrate on those owners in redraft leagues who are in the middle of the pack in their respective league’s standings and need to start making their move now with some high risk/high reward trade targets. By that measure we’re talking about selling high on some first half over performers and targeting first half underperformers who may be primed for a second half market correction.
* Buffalo: For the first time, save for the two week stretch when Michal Neuvirth was injured, there was no goalie battle in Buffalo….primarily as the result of Buffalo being the only NHL team that was game-less last week.
- Enroth – 29 starts – 3.41 GAA, .899 SV%
- Neuvirth – 18 starts – 3.39 GAA, .907 SV%
TTMI Counsel: Enroth’s save% has dropped 7 points since we last convened which tends to happen when you allow 18 goals (12 at even strength) in your last 3 starts. Conversely, Michal Neuvirth has surrendered only 9 goals over his last 3 starts to stiffer competition in matchups against the Lightning, Red Wings, and Flyers. Looks like it might be time to scoop Neuvirth back up if you are desperate for goalie counting stats, though one has to factor in that Buffalo is in full tank mode + auditioning players for potential trades, so Enroth’s struggles might not necessarily curb his playing time. What we may see is the former two thirds of starts that Enroth was employed may dip down to an even timeshare.
* Carolina: returns to Goalie Watch by way of Cam Ward’s regression to being a below average goalie (a .912 SV% is league average). Meanwhile Anton Khudobin has been stellar in his last six starts holding the opposition to 1 goal four times and 2 goals surrendered twice over his those six starts.
- Ward – 31 starts, 2.45 GAA, .911 SV%
- Khudobin – 15 starts, 2.32 GAA, .916%
TTMI Counsel: Khudobin has allowed only 19 goals over his last 10 starts which if you eliminate the 5 goals Khudobin surrendered to the Flyers, he’s only allowed 14 goals in his last 10 starts. Khudobin’s recent run has elevated his ratios back to above league average and has led to Carolina splitting their last 8 starts evenly between Ward and Khudobin. This is another situation where even if Khudobiin outplays Ward in goal, it won’t necessarily translate to more than an even timeshare with Carolina undoubtedly hoping to showcase Ward for a potential trade that likely won’t occur until the off-season, if ever.
* Columbus: As the result of Sergei Bobrovsky’s groin injury which will reportedly sideline him for at least one month, (barring a trade) will see incumbent backup, Curtis McElhinney, battle prospect Anton Forsberg in Columbus’ crease.
- McElhinney – 11 starts, 2.98 GAA, .907 SV%
- Forsberg – 2 starts. 5.32 GAA, .841 SV%
TTMI Counsel: It’s obviously too early to declare one or the other the favorite in Bobrovsky’s stead, but for now, McElhinney should get first crack at the starting gig. Forsberg probably provides a little more upside for no other reason than we already know what McElhinney is….a borderline NHL backup goalie. More on both contenders below in Deep Cuts.
* Edmonton: As expected, Ben Scrivens continues to receive right around two thirds of Oiler starts in goal.
- Scrivens – 31 starts, 3.05 GAA, .895 SV%
- Fasth – 16 starts, 3.37 GAA, .888 SV%
TTMI Counsel: At previous check, Scrivens was on a bit of a roll in the Todd Nelson era having allowed only 14 goals in those 7 starts. A market correction was inevitable given the horrendous Oilers defense and after holding the Hawks and Islanders to 2 goals, Scrivens received the start against another difficult stretch of matchups in the Blues and Lightning where he didn’t fare as well surrendering 7 even strength goals in those two starts. Conversely, Viktor Fasth has performed exactly at the level one would expect him to by allowing 25 goals in his last 7 starts and probably shouldn’t be rostered on any but the deepest of leagues.
* Minnesota: also returns to Goalie Watch via the dreaded Blues-esque 3 headed monster of possibilities in goal.
- Dubnyk – 4 starts, 2.34 GAA, .896 SV%
- Kuemper – 27 starts 2.62 GAA, .904 SV%
- Backstrom – 14 starts, 3.04 GAA, .887 SV%
TTMI Counsel: Barring injury to Dubnyk and Kuemper, Niklas Backstrom can still be safely avoided in all but the deepest of leagues. Meanwhile the actual starting role in Minnesota is unclear at present due to Devan Dubnyk’s arrival and Darcy Kuemper’s return from the IR. Prior to Kuemper’s stint on the IR, he was struggling mightily having allowed 32 goals in his last 9 starts. Meanwhile Dubnyk’s tenure got off to a roaring start in Minnehaha allowing a mere 1 goal in his first two starts though that run was short lived after he surrendered 7 goals to the Wings and Jackets in the span of a game and half before receiving the hook at the midway point in said matchup with the Red Wings. Kuemper came off the pine to hold the wings scoreless on 14 shots in relief of Dubnyk ensuring that no one in the post All-Star break will have any idea which netminder to add/drop/hold/start going into Minnesota’s first matchup in Edmonton. What is certain is that If you own Kuemper, you’ll want to hedge with Dubnyk.
* Nashville: enters Goalie Watch with the injury to Vezina frontrunner, Pekka Rinne, which will reportedly sideline Rinne for three to five weeks. In the interim, it appears former Rockford Icehog great, Carter Hutton, has received the first opportunity in goal.
- Hutton – 8 starts, 2.88 GAA, .897 SV%
- Mazanec – 0 starts, 2.55 GAA, .900 SV%
TTMI Counsel: It’s been a mixed bag for Hutton thus far with one strong start in which he held Montreal to 2 PP goals allowed, and one solid start in route to a win over the Capitals despite surrendering 3 goals. Hutton’s second start didn’t fare as well having allowed 3 even strength goals on only 4 shots to the Wings before being pulled. Subsequently Marek Mazanec broke his first NHL sweat this season in lieu of Hutton en route to allowing 2 goals in 47 minutes of relief action against the Wings. Carter Hutton, for now, is the guy to own, but it’s a situation where you’ll probably want to choose matchups against more potent offensives wisely in any decision to start him.
* Winnipeg: Michael Hutchinson allowed 7 goals in consecutive starts against the Kings and Sharks and apparently that was enough to allow Ondrej Pavelec to sneak back into the starting mix at least in terms of closing a two-thirds of starts advantage for Hutchinson to an even timeshare over Winnipeg’s last 6 starts.
- Pavelec – 29 starts, 2.47 GAA, .913 SV%
- Hutchinson – 19 starts, 1.90 GAA, .935 SV%
TTMI Counsel: Michael Hutchinson still has the vastly superior numbers, and perhaps this recent even timeshare run of starts for both netminders is just a means to give Hutchinson some rest, but in reality Ondrej Pavelec really hasn’t earned this recent timeshare after allowing 3 or more goals in 10 of his last 14 starts which also includes 4 goals allowed in 6 of those 10 starts.
Trending: The Waiver Wire
– Josh Bailey has been awarded the enviable slot on the Isles’ first line flanking John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The move has paid off with 3 goals and 6 assists in New York’s last 8 games since the move. Unfortunately Bailey does not occupy the same first line role on the Isles’ first PP unit as Bailey skates second unit minutes (nearly 1.5 per game) with Anders Lee and Ryan Strome. Despite a 14.5 shooting% on the season, Bailey has only attempted 55 shots. He also kicks in more than a hit per game with 39 hits in 34 games.
– Mike Fisher has replaced Mike Ribiero on Nashville’s first line centering James Neal and rising possession entity Colin Wilson. Fisher is only currently 16% owned despite recording 7 goals and 6 assists in Nashville’s last 14 games and his role on the Predators’ first PP unit averaging 2.35 minutes per game while centering Filip Forsberg and James Neal. Fisher is another of those players who will contribute sneaky value in deeper stat category leagues that count face-offs, hits and blocks where he currently wins 52.7% of his draws at the dot and chips in with more than two hits per game at 51 hits in 24 games as well as nearly one blocked shot per game having run into 20 thus far. Though he hasn’t recorded a shorthanded point thus far, Fisher is always a threat to do so while averaging 1.45 on the PK per game.
– Patrick Maroon has replaced Matt Beleskey on the Ducks’ top line both at even strength and on the first unit PP and the move immediately paid off for Maroon who responded with 2 goals, 3 assists, and a +8 in those five games while averaging over 16 minutes of TOI per game. Maroon is averaging nearly 2.50 minutes of PP time per game and has recorded 61 hits in 39 games. Much like the first line roundabout for the New York Islanders, once Maroon cools off and is bumped down the lineup, he’s immediately droppable.
– Travis Zajac is quietly beginning to show some value having tallied 4 goals and 4 assists over his last 10 games while deployed on New Jersey’s second line and second PP unit with Patrik Elias and Marty Havlat respectively. Zajac averages nearly 2.2 minutes per game on the PP and just over 2 minutes per game on the PK which has translated to one shorthanded goal on the season. Solid at the dot with 54.8% face-offs won, Zajac also contributes in hits with 36 hits in 39 games.
Deep (League) Cuts
– Aleksander Barkov has tallied 2 goals and 4 assists in Florida’s last 8 games while flashing very good possession numbers since moving up to Florida’s top line centering Jonathan Huberdeau and Brad Boyes. Barkov has recently been deployed with Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau on the Panthers’ first PP unit while averaging 2.1 minutes on the man advantage for the season. He’s below sea level at the dot at 47.2% and doesn’t contribute much in real time stats.
– Michael Del Zotto due to the lack of quality defensemen on the wire along with around a two minute bump in playing time per game makes the list after recording 1 goal, 4 assists, and a +2 in Philly’s last six games. Del Zotto currently runs the point the Flyers’ second PP unit while averaging 1.5 minutes per game. Somewhat surprisingly, Del Zotto has been a bit of a force in real time stats with 79 hits and 64 blocked shots in 36 games.
– Anton Forsberg at present is only 3% owned. As a potential replacement for the injured Sergei Bobrovsky he potentially offers a bit more upside than Curtis McElhinney who at best is a below average backup goalie. Forsberg has performed very well at AHL Springfield this season recording a 2.04 GAA and .927 save%.
– Scott Gomez ~waits for laughter to subside~ has recorded 2 goals and 7 assists in New Jersey’s last 8 games while skating first(!?) unit PP minutes averaging nearly two minutes per game on the man advantage. Gomez isn’t skating much on the PK and doesn’t contribute much of anything in the hits/blocks categories and is currently underwater at the dot at 47.2%.
– Curtis McElhinney can’t be expected to offer league average production in net, though for those in deep leagues desperate for goalie counting stats might have to sacrifice some ratios. Since Bobrovsky went down to injury, McElhinney has been very solid in a game and a half of action holding the Bruins to a goal in route to a win as well as stunting the Jets saving 16/17 shots in relief of Forsberg in Columbus’ last pre-break outing.
Fantasy Hawk Factor
Second Line Heroes Watch (for the week)
- Kane – 1 goal, 2 assists, 5 shots. +1
- Richards – 2 assists, 2 shots, +1
- Sharp – 2 assists, 4 shots, +1
- Toews – 1 PP goal, 1 assist, 6 shots, +1
- Hossa – 1 goal, 1 assist, 8 shots
- Saad – 1 assist, 10 shots
– Bryan Bickell, despite being moved back to the third line, is still producing at a first line level with 5 goals (on only 17 shots) and 5 assists over Chicago’s last 11 games. Bickell has also begun to see some time on the Hawks’ second PP unit at an average of one minute per game.
– Corey Crawford has allowed 33 goals in 12 starts (7 of which were home starts) since returning from this 3 week stint on the IR recovering from DrunkStepsGate. I’m mentioning this because I saw someone via media-social mention that Crawford hasn’t been “any good at the UC this season”. Crawford has surrendered 22 goals in those 7 most home starts which has torpedoed his home splits where he now sits below league average in terms of his ratios at home. The thing is Crawford has always been slightly better on the road and around or slightly under league average at home.
Home – 8-6 record, 2.56 GAA, .910 SV%
Road -10-4 record, 1.98 GAA. .931 SV%
Home – 71-36 record, 2.41 GAA, .910 SV%
Road – 62-33 record, 2.28 GAA. .920 SV%
– Art Ross Trophy Watch: Patrick Kane has maintained his third place standing in the NHL’s point leaders race tied with Crosby, Malkin and Giroux while sitting 5 points back from league leader Jakub Voracek. Kane has recorded 18 goals and 23 assists over Chicago’s last 31 games and is a two goal in three games stretch away from getting back on pace for a 40 goal season.
– Jonathan Toews broke an 11 game goalless drought beating Mike Smith for a tally last Monday night. Toews has been held to 5 goals on 60 shots over the last 27 contests. He does have 20 assists over that span.
– Teuvo Watch: is finding his stride on the third line with 2 goals, 1 assist, 11 shots, and a +1 over his last 4 contests. Teravainen is averaging just under 12 minutes per game almost all of which has occurred at even strength as he’s had all of one shift on both the PP and PK. Like most young centers Teravainen is struggling at the dot with 41.4% face-offs won.