Goal Scoring On the Rise Early In Season
It’s the smallest of small sample sizes but goal scoring is up a bit through the first week of the season. Some may equate this to the streamlining of goaltending equipment (making it smaller). Well, that hasn’t taken effect yet; so nope, it’s not because of the equipment. Maybe it’s because of the World Cup. Players have reported in great shape and ready for game action. Okay, I like this, but didn’t the goaltenders and defensemen play in the World Cup also. Shouldn’t they be ready for game action? Whatever the reason, no one is complaining. The NHL could use a few more lamps being lit.
Could one of the reasons for increased goal scoring be because of young potential superstars like Connor McDavid and Austin Matthews getting off to hot starts? The NHL has turned into a young man’s game. Speed rather than brawn is more important. Matthews scored four goals in his first NHL game. McDavid has six points (3G, 3A) in four games. McDavid is a C1 now and Matthews will probably be there before long. The nets aren’t getting any bigger so the speed to put yourself into the best scoring positions is imperative.
The groin injury suffered by Jonathan Quick has put the Kings in a tough spot. It was originally reported that he would require surgery and be lost to the team for the next 3-4 months. Now we find out that he is seeking a second opinion and hoping that rest and rehab will heal the injury. This is a good news-bad news situation for Fantasy owners. The good news, if the rest and rehab works, he could be ready to play in half the time. The bad news, if it doesn’t work, then his season could be in jeopardy as he is delaying surgery. As of now, Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj will handle goaltending duties with Zatkoff expected to start. The Kings are unlikely to make any decisions about what their next step should be until Quick makes his. If Quick has surgery, Los Angeles may seek the trade route. The Islanders have been mentioned as a possible trade partner, as they have three goalies on their roster, including J.F. Berube, who was with the Kings last season. If Quick does go the rehab route, however, then it would seem they will likely have to wait out the 6-8 weeks to see if he can come back before the calendar year is out. The Kings are winless in the early going this season. If a couple of more losses pile up, they may have no choice but to make a move.
Carey Price must have the flu from hell. He was scratched from opening night with the illness and hasn’t played since. Conspiracy theories are running wild, especially after he had to leave practice early Monday. I’m choosing to believe the Canadiens here and that it’s just a simple illness. Hopefully, Price returns by the end of the week. Let’s remember that NHL Fantasy is a long season. There really is no reason to panic about a player missing a couple of games during the first week of the season.
What will the Lightning do with the impending free agency of Ben Bishop? One, they can do nothing and let him walk away after the season. Two, they can re-sign him. Three, they can trade him in season. Four, they can trade his rights away prior to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. There might be a couple of other options but these would seem to be the most likely. Letting him leave for no compensation would be risky but maybe the most likely scenario as the team is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Bishop is a top notch goalie, and the team may not want to upset team chemistry. The Islanders chose this route last season with Kyle Okposo. Deciding a shot at a playoff run was more important than getting return value from an impending free agent. The difference for Tampa, however, is that they may have a capable starting goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy already on their roster. They are highly unlikely to re-sign him after extending Vasilevskiy and being up against the salary cap. Trading him could be an option but as we have seen so many times, the value for a goaltender in a trade just never seems to be fair to the team trading the goalie. Plus, you know the Lighting have no interest in trading him to any team in the Eastern Conference.
Vasilevskiy would make a good addition to your Fantasy teams in deep leagues as a G3. The Lightning have already stated that he will play about once a week and if Bishop is traded in season, his value would skyrocket. He’s not Bishop, but he’s not that far behind either.
Remember Thomas Vanek? He was a former All-Star when playing with Buffalo. He had a forgettable couple of seasons in Minnesota and was a forgotten man now playing in Detroit. He’s still playing on the third line but he does have two goals, one on the power play, and five points in three games. I’m not expecting miracles this season but if you need a depth wing, you can do worse.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz
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