Fantasy Hockey: R E L A X
Just like in all Fantasy sports, patience can seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. The Fantasy hockey season lasts forever. Right now, it’s late October but the season won’t end until mid-April. That is six months away. Don’t panic because a player is off to a slow start. Don’t start making trades that you will regret later on. When it comes to Fantasy Football, sometimes we need to make rash judgments because we started the season 1-3 or 0-4. One-third of the season is over after a month. So, in football you can’t be patient and wait for a player to turn things around, as you need to win now. Well in Fantasy hockey, just like baseball you can wait. Players tend to put up the numbers we expect them to year after year. Give those players time. This is not to say you shouldn’t be looking to make trades. I’m always looking to improve my team but I’m not selling low on anyone yet. The other side of this coin is also true; I’m talking to owners who have underperforming players to see if they want to sell low on players. I’m also not afraid to trade for players that may be hurt now but aren’t expected to be out long-term.
The goaltending situation in Toronto is becoming fun again. Jonathan Bernier was acquired from the Kings before last season to be their goaltender of the future. An on again off again battle ensued for the starting job with James Reimer; a battle he eventually won. But then during the offseason, the Leafs re-signed Reimer for two years and $4.6 million, a decent contract for a backup goaltender and it certainly suggested at the time that they viewed him as more than a traditional backup. Bernier still began the season as the starter, but after a couple of subpar games Reimer was given a shot. This may just be a wakeup call, as Bernier has played well in his last couple of starts. But this could also be the beginning of big headache for Bernier owners, as it could be a guessing game all season about who will start in net for the Leafs. Coach Randy Carlyle is everyone’s favorite to be the first coach fired. He is fighting for his job and may just go with the hot hand. He’s not worried about the future or building anyone’s confidence; he needs to win now.
Pavel Datsyuk has returned for Detroit and he should be immediately inserted back into your Fantasy hockey lineup. Is he going to stay healthy all season? No, his history over the past few seasons say as much, so make sure you have some depth at center. But he is a must-start while in the Wings’ lineup.
The Stars have moved Jason Spezza to the top line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket. This could very easily be the best line in the NHL but it’s probably also only a temporary one, as Valeri Nichushkin is expected to take his spot on that line when he returns from a groin injury (possibly next week). If he is on the waiver wire and you have a dead spot on your roster, I’d still want to grab Nichushkin.
Semyon Varlamov has been activated off injured reserve and will start for the Avalanche on Friday. This comes not a moment too soon; the Avs have gotten off to a slow start this season after a breakthrough 2013-14 campaign. In general, I don’t like to start goaltenders in their first game back off an injury, and I certainly wouldn’t start Varlamov in any Daily Leagues you might participate in tonight. He will certainly be back in my lineup next week.
The Lightning have been crushed with injuries this week. Victor Hedman, who was an under the radar candidate for the Norris Trophy, will miss at least the next month with a broken hand. This is a tough loss for the Lightning and Fantasy hockey owners alike. Then we find out that Ryan Callahan has a lower body injury and is considered week to week. Callahan should return sooner than Hedman, but when you lose two of your top four players, everyone is going to feel it. Not all was bad for Tampa, as they did recall Jonathan Drouin on Monday and he had the first point of his career in his first game. Will he be the next superstar? Possibly. Will it be this year? Probably not, but I’m on board anyway.
Hedman wasn’t the only top defenseman to get hurt this week. Last night Bruins blue liner and future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara will also miss the next 4-6 weeks with a tear of his posterior cruciate ligament. The good news is that surgery is not needed. The bad is that the Bruins, who were flush with good defenders a month ago, may now be forced to check out the trade market, as they’re getting real thin, real quick.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz.
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