Another head coach bit the dust Wednesday as the Blues fired Ken Hitchcock. This always seemed to be inevitable as Hitchcock was on a one-year deal and the Blues had already announced that Mike Yeo, who is on staff, would replace him following the season. The problem is, I don’t know what upper management wanted Hitchcock to do. The team hasn’t faltered because of a lack of goal scoring, poor defense, or subpar special teams. It’s crumbled because they can’t find a goaltender to keep the puck out of the net. Jake Allen’s confidence has cratered and he seems to be giving up five goals a game, and that’s assuming he is able to finish the contest. Carter Hutton has had some bright moments but is about as inconsistent as you can get, and is n
othing more than a backup. They even called up Phoenix Copley and gave him a shot. Unless the team just figures they have nothing to lose by making the move now, this coaching change may not change their fortunes in the immediate future.
The Penguins are a beat up team right now. Evgeni Malkin was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, and while he isn’t expected to be out of the lineup long term, he will still be missed by Fantasy owners. Everyone is talking about Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid (rightfully so), but Malkin was having an MVP-type season of his own. He was having his best season since 2011-12. He was on pace for 40-plus goals and 90-plus points, with a third of those points likely to come on the power play. The Pens also lost Conor Sheary for about a month with an upper body injury. Sheary is the type of player who could’ve been a Fantasy MVP. The type of player who either wasn’t drafted or was taken late and has a breakout season. Sheary has 17 goals and 35 assists in 42 games. The only down part to his season is that only two of those points have come on the power play. That’s understandable, however, when you realize the amount of talent the Penguins possess on offense.
The Canadiens have been a beat up team this season but they do expect Alex Galchenyuk to return to the lineup Thursday. He missed significant action earlier this season with a knee injury and then suffered a setback upon his return. After scoring 30 goals last season, some were wondering if he could equal or top that number this year, and while that is highly unlikely now, he’s still one of the better scoring centers in the league. Andrei Markov also returned Tuesday to help solidify a defense that has been a leaky faucet in front of Carey Price of late. Although Markov only has two goals so far this season, he does have 20 assists in 32 games and can help your Fantasy team.
The All-Star break was a great time for players to get healthy and Jakob Silfverberg was one of those beneficiaries. He scored twice and added an assist in his return to the lineup Tuesday and has become a key cog in the Duck’s offense, especially since Corey Perry has seemingly lost his scoring touch. Silfverberg has paired with Ryan Kesler to form one of the better secondary scoring lines in the NHL this season. As for Perry, good luck trying to trade him, but if you can move him, I would.
The NHL trade deadline is one month from today. The buyers and sellers will become more clear over the next couple of weeks. At this moment in time the only two sellers are Colorado and Arizona. Newsflash, their seasons are over. We all know that Colorado would like to move Matt Duchene and/or Gabriel Landeskog. If no other sellers emerge, the Avalanche will be able to extract the high price that they have currently set for each player. As for the Coyotes, they don’t have as much to deal. Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan could have value to certain teams but as more of a Top 9 forward than a top line player. Doan has turned down offers to leave Arizona in the past but it seems like he would be open to a move to a contender in what may be his final NHL season. That may be it as far as what Arizona has to offer. This may be a quieter deadline than usual.
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