Goalies around the NHL continue to drop like flies with a multitude of injuries and this generates buying opportunities for fantasy players in need of help between the pipes. I explore these situations in greater depth and give you a peek at what else is in my notebook in this week’s edition of the Fantasy Nuggets.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday's NHL games. It's just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.
Let’s start in Detroit, where Jimmy Howard’s most recent injury has opened the door for Petr Mrazek to step in and serve as a number one netminder for the coming weeks. In his 10 appearances this season, Mrazek has done nothing to indicate he’s incapable of handling the gig, posting a 6-3-1 record, a 2.16 GAA and a .920 save percentage. His early-season numbers in Grand Rapids this season weren’t great, but he excelled over a larger sample size with the Griffins last year so I’m comfortable in his abilities. He’s currently owned in just 39 percent of Yahoo leagues, bit that figure will surely rise over the next few days. Howard is reportedly set to return in 2-4 weeks, but anyone who saw him get stretchered off the ice Saturday is expecting his absence to be towards the longer end of that range.
If you’re a fan of personal interest stories, you may want to grab Philly goaltender Rob Zepp as a short-term Flyer (groan). By now you probably know his story. The 33-year-old NHL rookie spent the past seven seasons playing with the Berlin Polar Bears of the German League before joining Philadelphia’s AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley this season, but injuries to Steve Mason and Ray Emery created an opportunity for Zepp to make his NHL debut a few weeks ago. He won that contest and earned another victory in Monday’s win over Tampa Bay before he was named the starter for Wednesday’s tilt against the Capitals. I’ll caution you not to get too excited about Zepp since Mason’s knee injury doesn’t appear to be too serious and Emery is still lurking in the shadows, but it’s a fun story nonetheless.
If you’re a gambler, you might as well buy some shares in Carter Hutton Inc. today after the Nashville backup replaced number one starter Pekka Rinne in the third period of Tuesday’s win over the Canucks after Rinne collided with Vancouver’s Chris Higgins. Rinne is currently listed as day-to-day and all indications are that he avoided serious injury, but Hutton would immediately become a number one fantasy keeper if he fell into a significant role behind this Nashville squad. His ownership rate is currently 8 percent, but I suspect many of those owners also own Rinne and chose to handcuff him.
While we’re on the subject of goaltenders, I just wanted to point out that Braden Holtby is 13-1-4 with a 1.98 GAA and .935 save percentage since my recommendation on December 3rd, but you all knew that already, didn’t you?
Now that we have exceeded our quota for goalie-related content, let’s shift our focus to the rest of the hockey world.
I practically begged readers to try acquiring David Perron in last week’s piece after he joined the Penguins and appeared primed for a second half breakout, but few people listened, apparently. Perron’s Yahoo ownership currently checks in at 66 percent, virtually unchanged from last week’s figure despite his three-point effort on Tuesday. If you’re in a competitive league my guess is he’s already on somebody’s roster, but on the off-chance he’s available – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? In his four games riding shotgun to Sidney Crosby, the winger has amassed three goals, an assist and 20 shots on target. Expect more of the same for the remainder of the season.
I suggested last week that Randy Carlyle’s departure from behind the Maple Leafs bench could have an impact on the prospects of certain players and after just one week with Peter Horachek at the helm we’re beginning to see what’s developing. For one, blueliner Morgan Rielly has averaged nearly 23 minutes of ice time under Horachek after garnering less than 18 minutes per night under Carlyle. Sadly, the increased ice time for Rielly has to come from somewhere and the primary victim of these circumstances is Jake Gardiner, who has yet to crack the 18-minute mark with his new bench boss. So you have your marching orders; buy Rielly, sell Gardiner.
I’ll admit that my hopes for both Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle prior to the season far outpaced their current level of production, but if an owner in your league (keeper or otherwise) is looking to move either of them, you should be buying. This is especially true for Hall, who I think is among the top 10 players in the entire league, but I’d be willing to buy on Eberle as well. Both of these mega-talents are trying to crawl out of the canyon-sized hole they dug for themselves early in the year so their recent 10-game streaks of nearly point-per-game production have flown under the radar. If nothing else, this should serve as a reminder that they’e both still really good players.
At the request of my readers and due to the growing popularity of the format, I have vowed to try incorporating more DFS-specific content into my column and I’ll do so by identifying players I think offer decent value at their current FanDuel prices.
Mike Green ($4,600) – Green’s biggest issue is his health, but his per-game stats more than justify this price.
Cody Franson ($3,400) – His price has remained low all season despite evidence that he’s Toronto’s most productive rearguard
Jonathan Huberdeau ($4,500) – His early season struggles are behind him, but his price tag hasn’t been sufficiently adjusted yet.
Derek Roy ($3,600) – His game has its limitations, but he seems rejuvenated in Edmonton and the price is dirt cheap.
David Perron ($5,500) – See my comments on him above. Like your local used car dealer, these prices won’t last long.
Steve Downie ($3,800) – Penalty minutes have value too and he gets them in boatloads. This price assumes he’ll slow down, but the floor is fairly high.
Antoine Roussel ($4,500) – Like Downie, you want Roussel in your lineup on the night he scores a pair of goals and racks up 15 PIM. Perfect for tournaments, less so for cash games.
Matt Moulson ($3,200) – Admittedly, he’s been horrendous, but he’s a goal scorer and he could net a hat trick at any moment. Even at this price, nobody is rostering him these days.
Bargain Bin Finds
As always, this space is reserved to highlight players owned in fewer than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Simon Despres (13 percent) – It’s unfortunate that Olli Maatta suddenly took on the persona of Nordberg, O.J. Simpson’s character in The Naked Gun, but his litany of injuries means that Despres’s job is secure. His offensive stats don’t jump out at you, but with a decent number of penalty minutes and a healthy plus-minus, he’s an across-the-board contributor.
David Pastrnak (14 percent) – The Bruins phenom wasn’t expected to be in the NHL so quickly since he wasn’t was a first round draft pick of the club just last summer, but his performance in the AHL (27 points in 24 games) proved he’s ready for bigger things. How about a spot on Boston’s top line? Get him now because he could easily be 50 percent owned in a week.