The NHL General Managers meetings ended with only two minor rule changes proposed for next season. The first is to eliminate the possibility of a coach taking a time out after an icing. The second being that the bye weeks will all take place over two consecutive weeks. Next season, half of the league will take their bye one week, with the other half on bye the following week. The byes will not go along conference lines, however. There also won’t be a bye week if the NHL participates in the Olympics.
Why did I bring this up in a Fantasy column? Well, there was some thought that the nets could possibly be made wider to try and increase goal scoring. That didn’t even come close to passing, so the NHL and Fantasy owners will have to hope that the continued tightening of the goaltending equipment will help in that area.
Roberto Luongo has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury and is expected to be out until at least next week. What is more concerning about this injury is Luongo coming out and saying that he has no idea when he will return. That doesn’t exactly sound encouraging for a quick return to the lineup. Plus, James Reimer has played well this season, while Luongo has a 2.68 GAA, his worst mark since the 2005-06 season. He also has a .915 save percentage, his worst mark since the 2012-13 season. Reimer has better marks in both categories, and while I’m not suggesting that the Panthers will bench Luongo for Reimer, they also may not be in the biggest rush to get Luongo back between the pipes. Luongo will be 39 years old next week. It’s highly unlikely that his numbers are going to get much better.
The Penguins placed Kris Letang on injured reserve Wednesday. We are being told that this is more of a procedural move and not a setback. The move to IR will allow Pittsburgh to call up a defender if they feel it’s necessary. Letang is turning into a really frustrating player to own. Yes, he’s fantastic when healthy and part of one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL in Pittsburgh but he doesn’t seem to be able to stay healthy for any length of time. Currently, he is out with an upper-body injury. He wasn’t on the current Penguin road trip, so wasn’t going to play in the immediate future. Letang has only played more than 70 games in a season once in the past six years. Yes, he’s great when healthy but those times are becoming less and less frequent the past couple of years.
How bad has Corey Perry been this season? Not only does he have only 11 goals, but he’s now been demoted to the third line. If you haven’t moved on from Perry already, it’s time. While we’re speaking of Anaheim, John Gibson has missed the last five games with a lower body injury. This is an injury that wasn’t expected to keep him out long-term but those five games include the team’s bye week. There still isn’t a timetable for his return and if you need a goaltender, Jonathan Bernier could be a solid short-term fix.
Kyle Okposo isn’t expected to return until next week at the earliest with a rib injury. He’s had a so-so first season in Buffalo after signing a big free agent contract. He has 19 goals, which would’ve put him right in line with his average over the past three years. However, only 24 assists are a bit of a disappointment. Okposo seems unlikely to ever reach the potential some saw in him when he first entered the league. He has played now with John Tavares and Jack Eichel, so it’s not like he hasn’t had the talent around him.
How many of us realize how well Calgary is playing of late? They have won seven straight and are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games. They are also solidly in a playoff spot. Brian Elliott may have gotten off to a slow start this season but he is one of the bigger reasons for their revival, as he is finally playing like the number one goaltender the team thought he would be when they acquired him from St. Louis. In his last nine games, Elliott has only allowed 18 goals for a GAA of two and is back to being the undisputed number one starter in net for the Flames. What is even better for Fantasy owners is that he may be available on your waiver wire.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz