Fantasy Hockey: Raanta Takes Over For The Blackhawks
This week, my family celebrated as my oldest daughter, Dakota Rose, turned eight years old. Dakota has been trying to figure out lately what exactly it is that I do. What is a Fantasy Hockey League? You can imagine how difficult it can be to try and explain the game we all love and play to a child, but I’ve had just as difficult a time explaining it to adults, especially someone who is not sports oriented. I’ve gotten some strange looks through the years and lately I’ve given up trying to go into any kind of detail. I’m down to telling anyone who asks that when you’re a fan of a team you really only care about whether or not your team wins or loses, but in Fantasy, winning is basically irrelevant, what we care about is how the individual players did in that game. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Goaltender Corey Crawford suffered one of those strange injuries that happen to players throughout a season. Apparently, while leaving a concert he missed a step and ended up hurting his foot. Now, you might be thinking, big deal. Well, it is a big deal as Crawford is supposed to miss anywhere between 2-3 weeks of action. If Antti Raanta is still available on your waiver wire you should be looking to grab him. Scott Darling was called up again. He had a Cinderella story earlier this year, coming from the ECHL to play in a couple of games over Raanta for Chicago, but Raanta is the guy you want right now, as he’s having a good season with a 1.77 GAA and .947 save percentage. Depending on who your starting goaltender is now, I would be very comfortable in starting Raanta in Fantasy Hockey leagues.
[caption id="attachment_86317" align="alignright" width="374"] Antti Raanta has a 1.77 GAA so far this season. Photo Credit: Calmstorm[/caption]
I was asked earlier this week if the Wild’s Thomas Vanek should be traded in Fantasy leagues. Vanek has had a trying season to say the least. He turned down more money from a couple of teams to play closer to family in Minnesota and has also been involved in a criminal case involving gambling. Apparently, Vanek has lost a substantial amount of money on sports gambling and was being extorted because of it. His agent had to come out Friday and refute a report that he lost upwards of $10 million. On the ice, it hasn’t been much better, as Vanek may not possess the skills to play in the up tempo type of offensive system that the Wild like to run. Vanek is not the swiftest of skaters and has been moved down to the third line at this point in time. Will he rebound? To some degree you would have to think yes, but he is not someone I’d be looking to acquire in a trade. As for dealing him, good luck. He does have name value but the bottom line is he only has two goals in 24 games. You’re certainly going to have to settle for less.
Yeah, I know that Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak has won 11 straight games and is playing as well as any goalie in the NHL, but you may want to be wary of just blindly starting him over the next little while. The Isles this week have had injuries to what may be their Top 3 defensemen (Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, and Lubomir Visnovsky), all three sidelined with upper body injuries. This led the team to call up Dynasty prospects Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock. Life may be a little difficult for the Isles in their own zone over the next couple of weeks.
Like Martin Brodeur did with the Blues, Ilya Bryzgalov is currently trying out with the Ducks. Also like Brodeur, I would expect Bryzgalov to sign with the team early next week. He would provide the team with a veteran backup behind starter Frederik Andersen. Apparently, the Ducks have decided that it would be better for John Gibson’s future if he were to play every day in the AHL rather than once every two weeks in the NHL. Gibson is still currently in the IR, however, with a groin injury but could be ready to play before the holidays.
The Penguins lost a couple of big name players this week when defenseman Kris Letang was placed on IR with a groin injury and the same was done for winger Chris Kunitz with a foot fracture. Both players are expected to miss at least the next two weeks. The Pens also lost Pascal Dupuis for the season last month, and even a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin could struggle on offense for a bit due to all of these injuries. With Letang out, the biggest question will be who will anchor the top power play line? Olli Maatta and Christian Ehrhoff are expected to get first crack at the job, which will lift both of their Fantasy Hockey values, but if they were to falter, Paul Martin could be given a shot also.
Fantasy owners will also want to keep an eye on the Penguins’ Patrick Hornqvist. He left the game early Thursday after taking a hard open ice hit, and as of this time is still being evaluated by the team.
Happy Birthday Dakota!
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz.
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