So the All-Star game and the festivities are behind us. Next week is the first full one in February, which means that trade deadlines are approaching. Very quickly, you will need to have a conversation with yourself, a realistic one, about how good your team is. Can it compete this season? Do I need to sell? Do I need to buy? It doesn’t matter what place you’re in at this point in time, only if you can win your Fantasy Hockey league. There are all sorts of things to remember, but one of the most important may be that if you’re in the middle of the pack and you’re thinking, “Well if I make a big move I can win this league,” those teams ahead of you will make moves also. Those moves they make could end up cancelling out the benefits of your big trade or at the very least, mitigating the damage. This is part of what makes playing Fantasy Hockey so much fun (or agonizing depending on how you look at it) though: do I or don’t I? It’s always a harsh reality when you realize, this is just not my year, but sometimes it’s better to remember the old proverb, “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”
The Islanders received some bad news after the break when it was announced that Kyle Okposo will miss the next 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery for an upper body injury. The injury hurts twofold for Fantasy owners, as Okposo had just started to find his groove (six goals in his previous five games) and now we need to figure out who will replace him. All season long, the Isles have been having what has pretty much amounted to open tryouts at left wing on a line with John Tavares and Okposo. Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Mikhail Grabovski and Josh Bailey have all been given time on the top line with Bailey currently occupying the left side. Who will play on the right? Grabovski came off the injured reserve the first game after the break and played on the line with Tavares and Bailey. Will he remain there? Possibly, but his placement may have just been so as not to disturb the other lines. If he doesn’t perform, then coach Jack Capuano will not be shy about having those open tryouts once again. If Ryan Strome is still on your waiver wire, he may be the player you want to add regardless of whether or not he gets moved up to the top line.
Sergei Bobrovsky will be lost to the Blue Jackets for the next 4-6 weeks after re-injuring his groin. We have stated all season long how a groin injury may be the one of the hardest injuries for a goaltender to overcome. Goaltenders need to make explosive moves from one post to the other during games, and it’s very easy to injure and thus re-injure the groin. We have seen this over and over again this season with the Wing’s Jimmy Howard and Semyon Varlamov of the Avalanche (both have missed time due to multiple groin injuries). Who will the Jackets turn to in net during his absence? More than likely they will go with the veteran in Curtis McElhinney but my question would be, why? McElhinney is who he is, a career backup. He sports a 2.99 GAA and .906 save percentage so far this season, hardly elite numbers. The team is 13 points out of a playoff spot. It’s not like they have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs, why not go with their top goaltending prospect, Anton Forsberg? The team did recall Forsberg, but haven’t said how they will use him. One would have to think that he will at least get an even split between the pipes with McElhinney, as most teams don’t like to have their top prospects rot on the bench. If I’m Columbus, I let him play. Let’s see what he can do, and maybe he will add a spark to the team.
The Kings placed center Mike Richards on waivers earlier this week. They were in trade talks to possibly deal him (Toronto) but ultimately he cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL. The Kings made a mistake when they didn’t buy out his contract in the offseason. The move will still save them about a million under the cap for this season. That is still nowhere near the benefit it could have been if they had been able to read the tealeaves and realize that Richards was nowhere near the player they thought they were getting, when they acquired him from Philadelphia in 2010.
Hopefully, you weren’t worried about it anyway, but Martin Brodeur officially retired Thursday. This means that Brian Elliott owners can relax just a little bit, as they no longer have to worry about Brodeur being the third wheel.
Phil Kessel owners should really hope that the Leafs deal him, he just looks like he needs a change of scenery.
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