The NHL season just passed the quarter mark this week. Hard to believe how fast the season flies by. Generally, I use the first 25-30 games to judge my Fantasy teams. What categories am I doing well in? What categories do I need help in? Who is playing well on my team? What positions do I need help in? What positions am I deep in?
It’s amazing how many questions you need to ask yourself during a Fantasy season. I like to use the next month or so to start fixing some of my problems. I’ll start to send out some trade offers, some feelers, and see if I can get a dialogue started. I’m going to look at what my team’s needs are, where I’m deep, and then start looking at the other teams in my league to see if I can find a match. Once I find that team, I’ll work out some trade scenarios on paper. When I find one that I believe makes sense, I’ll send out the offer. Will it be my best offer? Probably not, although that depends on which owner I am talking to.
If it’s with an owner that I have traded with before then I will generally not play games and see if we can strike a deal quickly. However, if it’s with someone I have never traded with, or rarely have, then I’ll make a solid offer, but one that has some wiggle/negotiating room. Some people will always believe that you should never accept the first offer you get from a team, that you can always get more. I don’t necessarily believe this. Trading is generally one of the best parts of playing Fantasy but it can also be one of the most frustrating. Let’s take a look at what happened over the past seven days:
1. The Blackhawks received some bad news Saturday when Marian Hossa left the team for undisclosed personal reasons. Hossa just returned from a lower body injury that cost him three games and there is no word how long he might be out this time. One player’s bad news is another player’s good news however. The loss of Hossa will once again push Kris Versteeg to be a Top 6 forward. If you have him on your team he should be in your starting lineup until Hossa returns.
2. The Ducks goaltending situation has sort of been a revolving door all season. Jonas Hiller came in as the starter but Viktor Fasth was still lurking in the shadows after performing so well last season. Then Frederik Anderson sort of came out of nowhere when Fasth went down to injury and looked like he could be a future starter. Trade rumors started to swirl around that the Ducks could trade one of the trio. Well, for now things have worked themselves out, as Fasth will be out of the lineup for a couple of weeks due to a lower body injury. Hiller should remain the starter during this time but Anderson could be a sneaky play in deeper leagues that set their lineups daily.
3. Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov has been charged with misdemeanor assault after an incident with his girlfriend in October. He is next due in court on December 2. It’s anyone’s guess how this plays out. If you would normally start him in your lineup, I would continue to do so at least until we see a reduction in his play.
4. I’m not sure what all the hoopla was about Kings GM Dean Lombardi announcing this week that Jonathan Quick would be out at least another month with his groin injury. When Quick first suffered the injury it was expected to be a 3-6 week recovery period, so all this announcement did was tell us that it will be much closer to six weeks than three. If for some reason Ben Scrivens is still available in your league, he is an absolute must-add.
5. The Wild goaltending situation may have also taken another turn Saturday. Nicklas Backstrom was activated from the IR (concussion) and was supposed to backup Josh Harding, but Harding twisted his ankle when he accidentally stepped on a puck during pre-game warm-ups Saturday and had to be scratched from the game. No word yet on how long Harding may be out, but Fantasy owners should be looking for any news they can find coming out of Minnesota before setting your lineups this week.
6. Fantasy owners in need of a forward should be looking at Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist. He was called up this week due to a rash of injuries that the Wings have suffered and GM Ken Holland has already stated that Nyquist is here to stay for the rest of the season. Nyquist should have begun the season with the team but salary cap issues forced the Wings to start him in the AHL. He should be a Top 6 forward for Detroit from here on out, which makes him worthy of a pickup in most formats.
7. This was pretty easy to see coming, but it should still be pointed out that the Lighting have struggled since their superstar, Steven Stamkos, left the lineup with a broken leg. You can’t replace a 60 goal scorer, neither in Fantasy nor in real life. Everyone on their team drops a few slots in my Fantasy rankings but none more than goaltender Ben Bishop, who falls out of my Top
8. Craig Anderson owners have to be a little worried. He has a GAA of 3.31 and a save percentage of .900. To put it nicely, these are not good numbers and he is starting to lose playing time to Robin Lehner (2.37 GAA, .939 save percentage). How Ottawa decides to split the goaltending chores going forward is something that bears watching. The team played four games this week but they were in sets of back to back games and predictably both goalies started one game each in both sets. What happens this coming week when they play three games should give you a pretty good idea of which way Ottawa is leaning. Bottom line – if you’re an Anderson owner you should think long and hard about picking up Lehner.
9. I know Fantasy owners are panicking about the lack of goals that Evgeni Malkin has scored (4), but he is still tied for seventh in the league in scoring. The goals are going to come, and they are going to come in bunches. Don’t sell low on Malkin, but if you do need to trade him and are playing in the same league as I am, please let me know.
10. The old men are doing a pretty good job in New Jersey. Jaromir Jagr has nine goals in 22 games and is on pace for another 30 goal season while Martin Brodeur has a 2.06 GAA and .915 save percentage. The question is whether they maintain this pace over a long season. I have my doubts and would be looking to see high on both players if I could.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Personally, it’s my favorite holiday. Feel free to follow me and ask any Fantasy related questions you like on twitter, @georgekurtz.