The 2015 NHL regular season will conclude in 10 days, but if you’re team wasn’t a contender perhaps it concluded some weeks or months ago. One thing I always like to do in Keeper or Dynasty leagues in which I’m not competing for a championship or some kind of prize (yes, it happens) is check the transactions on a daily basis to make sure one of those teams that are in the race haven’t been forced to release a player or players that can help my team next season.
There are times when you’re forced to release a player that you don’t want to because you need someone who is playing that night. Always play to win this year, flags fly forever. Maybe you are out of injured reserve spots. Just this week in a keeper league that I play in, I have seen players like Wayne Simmonds and Vladimir Tarasenko released. Both of these players are hurt and won’t play this week (Simmonds is out for the season) so tough decisions had to be made. Neither one has great value in a keeper league (you lose the round in which the player was drafted), which is why I understood the team choosing to release them, but they might be better than anything you have as a keeper. You just never know what gems are going to be out there on the waiver wire and it will only take a few minutes of your time.
Always make sure to know your rules. I have run across an interesting situation in my SiriusXM Hockey League. This is a head to head league and I am in the finals. As of this writing we are tied 6-6. I have ridden my goalies (Carey Price, Devan Dubnyk, Cam Talbot) for most of the season in this league but they have faltered this week, putting me in a bind in several categories. I happened to notice, however, that my opponent only has two goalies on his roster and only one start going into tonight’s games. In this league you need to have three goaltending starts to win those categories or it is a forfeit. His goaltenders are Frederik Andersen of the Ducks and Antti Niemi of the Sharks. Well, those teams combined will play only three games this weekend. Anaheim has already announced that John Gibson will start Friday. That means if my opponent doesn’t know the rules he will have to hope that Niemi plays back to back games versus the Coyotes to make his minimum start requirement. There are plenty of backups starting this weekend, so if he knows the rule he won’t have a problem picking up a goaltender to start; but if he forgets and the Sharks split up who starts in net for the back to back games, then he is in a whole lot of trouble. Please check your rules if you have any doubts, as this would be a terrible way to lose.
The Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien
was suspended four games for his vicious cross-check to the back of the neck of Rangers forward J.T. Miller. We can debate about the merits of the suspension another time, but the bottom line is that Byfuglien will miss four of the team’s last five games; he can be released. There is no sense in holding onto a player hoping that he will light it up for one game upon his return.
Watch your goaltending starts over the last 10 days of the season. Several teams have already announced their schedule. Colorado has done Fantasy owners a big favor by telling us exactly which goaltender will start each game for the rest of the season. Semyon Varlamov will start Saturday, Tuesday, and next Saturday, while Reto Berra gets tonight and Thursday. Make your lineup changes accordingly.
One goaltending situation I would stay away from right now is in Detroit. We have talked about this before, so without going into detail, just know that Jimmy Howard is not playing well (neither is most of the team). Pavel Datsyuk should return to the lineup Saturday versus the Wild, but that may not be enough to right this sinking ship. Howard is going to start this game but the Wings have already told us that Petr Mrazek will get the start Sunday. Howard is no lock to start next week, especially if the Wings drop both games this weekend. There playoff lives could be on the line and the team will have to go with whomever they believe gives them the best chance to win.
If you own Vladimir Tarasenko and this is the last week of your league, you can feel free to move on. Although the team states that he is day to day, his leg/knee bent in the wrong direction on the play in which he was injured. He’s not going to play this weekend and his availability for next week is in question as well.
If you need a goaltender for a spot start this weekend, look no further than Scott Darling (Sabres Friday) or Dustin Tokarski (New Jersey Friday); you can’t ask for a better matchup from your backup goaltender.
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