I was recently asked how I feel about starting players, specifically in daily Fantasy Hockey, on teams that have suffered an injury or two. Truth is, unless the injury is to a top player or multiple injuries at the same position, I don’t worry about it all that much. So I’m not going to be afraid to start Carey Price because Alexei Emelin is out of the lineup for a while. The same thing applies to Frederik Andersen, when he returns from injured reserve next week, because Sami Vatanen was lost for a month.
I wasn’t afraid to start Price last night. He was the best goaltender on the board and one injury wasn’t going to make me shy away from him. In redraft leagues I certainly wouldn’t sell low on the player just because one or two of his teammates are hurting. I also wouldn’t just assume that those teams that have suffered an injury or two would make a big deal by the trade deadline; not unless those injuries are season ending. In the case of Montreal and Anaheim, their injured players should return before the end of the season and it’s not like either team is in danger of missing the playoffs. I’d practice some patience in my yearly leagues and not necessarily avoid these players in my daily ones. I would, however, look to pounce on any owner that is nervous about such players, especially if my spot in the playoffs is secure. I would look to reap the benefits for my Fantasy Hockey playoffs.
Every NHL team in playoff contention will be looking for a defenseman by the deadline. Most of the d-men that are moved won’t really be Fantasy-worthy, but one name that has been bandied about is the Coyotes’ Keith Yandle.
He has four goals and 36 assists so far this season, for an Arizona team that is not so good. What could he do on a team with an actual offense? Will he get moved? I have my doubts, as Arizona would want a small fortune in return, but he is a free agent after the season and Yandle may not want to be back in Arizona next year. He is also only 28 years of age and may well be the jewel at the trade deadline should the Coyotes believe it is better to trade him now and get something for him, rather than risk losing him for nothing over the summer.
It may be time to bench Cam Talbot in daily leagues. Sure, he has won four of his last five games but his numbers are trending in the wrong direction. He has started eight games since Henrik Lundqvist went down with a neck injury. During the first three games he allowed only eight goals, but he has allowed 17 goals over his last five games and nine goals over his last two games. Perhaps the grind of playing three or four games a week is catching up with him. His overall numbers look solid, 2.58 GAA and .912 save percentage, but they are trending in the wrong direction. Don’t let the wins fool you, unless you’re in a point’s league; right now, Talbot is the equivalent of a starting pitcher in baseball who always manages to get the win despite giving up five runs in six innings.
Devan Dubnyk however, is a goaltender you should be starting with confidence in both daily and redraft leagues. Since being acquired from the Predators in late December, Dubnyk has played 16 games, has 11 wins, only allowed 28 goals and has four shutouts. Sometimes a player just needs to get to a good team with some good coaching to turn his career around and reach his potential. Dubnyk was lost with Edmonton and didn’t do all that much with Nashville and Arizona in short stints but has thrived in Minnesota. I may not trust him in the NHL playoffs against a Blackhawks or Blues team but have no qualms starting him in my daily lineup for Fantasy Hockey purposes, especially if the price is right.
Why did the Bruins call up top goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban earlier this week? Why are they starting him Friday night versus the Blues? Well, we know it’s not because he’s going to replace Tuukka Rask as the starter. Rask is having a solid season, albeit not as good as past seasons, despite losing two of his top defensemen, Johnny Boychuk was traded in the off-season, and Zdeno Chara missed a chunk of time with a knee injury. It’s unlikely they would keep Subban on the roster over backup Niklas Svedberg if they don’t plan on playing him on a regular basis, and Svedberg has played well with a 2.43 GAA and .915 save percentage. So once again, why call him up and start him Friday? To showcase him. The Bruins are feeling the pressure from the fans and media about possibly missing the playoffs and currently only stand a single point ahead of Florida for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Subban is really not someone in their future plans, as they have Rask locked up until 2020. Subban could be used to try and find a replacement for Boychuk on defense or for Jarome Iginla on offense. Those owners who have Subban in keeper or dynasty leagues should be hoping that a trade can be made; but keep in mind, goaltenders tend not to bring back the big haul that teams expect. Besides, Boston in did themselves and Subban no favors with the decision to start him Friday in St. Louis rather than this past Wednesday in Edmonton.
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