Jack Eichel returned for Buffalo and Fantasy owners Tuesday. You shouldn’t need me to tell you, but he’s an automatic start. The high ankle sprain that sidelined him since the end of training camp has healed. His return will help Fantasy teams, but he should also help Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Sam Reinhart and any other line mates that he may play with. The entire team should benefit. The Sabres as a team should score more. The puck shouldn’t be in their defensive zone as much, so Robin Lehner should see fewer shots on net. Will they win more? Probably, but still not enough to be a playoff team this season.
Jimmy Howard was placed on IR with a groin injury. He came into the season as the backup to Petr Mrazek but had taken over the starting job with stellar play. At the time of his injury, Howard had a GAA of 1.82 and a save percentage of .940. Those are fantastic numbers. He hasn’t approached numbers like that since 2012-13. Injuries have derailed Howard in the past and may do so again. He is expected to return within two weeks, but Mrazek could regain the starting job before that time. He’s only let up six goals in the three games since Howard has been out, and he is considered the goaltender of the future for Detroit. Those hoping that Howard or Mrazek will be traded will have a long wait. We don’t often see goaltending trades, especially during the season and involving players of this caliber. The Kings were the likely target when Jonathan Quick (groin) went down but with Peter Budaj (2.04 GAA, .917 save percentage) playing so well, that’s another destination that’s not going to happen. The same problem is true for the Penguins and Marc–Andre Fleury.
Bobby Ryan re-injured his hand and won’t play Thursday versus the Flyers. Any kind of hand injury will always raise a red flag when it comes to forwards. Even when they are deemed healthy enough to play, they may not be anywhere near 100-percent healthy and may not be able to shoot as hard or as accurately. They may not be able to stickhandle as well either. It may be best to leave Ryan out of your lineup for the next week or two.
The Islanders are a hot mess of a team but if you’re looking for a goaltender and you want counting stats more than ratios, you might want to give Thomas Greiss a shot. Coach Jack Capuano has stated that he’s not against giving Greiss a chance to win the starting job. Wins will be tough to come by as the team is not playing well, but a starting goaltender is a starting goaltender. The only problem is it may not take long until Capuano goes back to Jaroslav Halak or even gives J.F. Berube a shot. Berube is the third goalie that the Islanders have been carrying on their roster for almost two seasons now, and you wonder why this team is a mess.
If you’re looking for a hot forward, that player may be Brayden Point. He has been moved up to second line center and is playing on a line with Jonathan Drouin and Alex Kilorn. He has six points in his last seven games and playing on a scoring line can only improve those numbers. With Steven Stamkos (knee) out long-term, the Lightning will be looking for someone to take his place. Point could be given a long look before the team decides to give up an asset and make a deal.
Craig Anderson has once again left the Ottawa Senators to be with his wife as she undergoes treatment for cancer. As always, we wish nothing but the best for the Anderson family. Fantasy-wise, however, we must cover ourselves. We don’t know how long Anderson will be away from the team. It could be days or weeks. He has left the team several times this season but for never more than a few days. Mike Condon will be the likely starter in his absence with Andrew Hammond backing him up. Anderson is having a Vezina Trophy-worthy season, but those in weekly lineup leagues are probably getting more and more frustrated. Hopefully, you have another goaltender on your roster. Owning Anderson may be frustrating, but he’s playing too well to let him go.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz