I suppose injuries, even major ones, occur fairly often, but it’s only when your team is greatly affected that you really take notice of them. This is the situation I’ve been facing of late and you’re all going to hear about it, whether you like it or not.
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I’ve discussed my hometown keeper league in this space a number of times before because of how ultra-competitive it is – you may recall that Rotoworld Senior Editor Michael Finewax participates in this league as well. With 14 teams each carrying 30-man rosters, you can understand how deeply we wade into the talent pool. Over the past few weeks my lineup has been decimated by injury and I’ve had to find replacements for Evander Kane, Martin Hanzal, Alex Burrows, Alexander Edler, Christian Ehrhoff and Mathieu Perreault. Already feeling like my chances at a top-4 finish were waning, the happenings of the last few days have cemented this reality as Ryan Miller and now Patrick Kane have also fallen by the wayside. There’s no question that none of you truly care about the state of my fantasy squad, but I needed an outlet for my frustration and this was therapeutic. Thanks for listening.
The injury to Miller is one that should have fantasy owners racing to pick up newly-anointed starter Eddie Lack, but he’s amazingly owned is just 36 percent of leagues at the time of this writing. This is unbelievable to me, considering he may be the Canucks starter for the rest of the season and his peripheral stats (2.40 GAA, .921 save percentage) are actually better than Miller’s right now. Remember when I urged everyone to treat Devan Dubnyk like a number one netminder in this very column a few weeks ago? Maybe you can’t expect to get production from Lack that is similar to what Dubnyk has provided of late, but I feel confident that the Vancouver keeper can be on par with the likes of Kari Lehtonen (90 percent owned) and Antti Niemi (95 percent) down the stretch so what are you waiting for? If it comes down to a decision about whether to drop Miller (90 percent) to make room for Lack, I would make the move without hesitation.
In recent weeks I have referred to Nathan MacKinnon as “the unluckiest man in hockey” and described his future by writing “the phenom will be just fine”. If that weren’t enough for you to knock down the door of your league’s MacKinnon owner in an effort to obtain him, you’re just plain doing it wrong. With four goals in his last two games and points in six of his last seven, the Colorado 19-year-old is officially on fire and it’s too late to buy now. Just remember that you could have identified this pending breakout had you paid closer attention to the #fancystats, which demonstrated that he was among the league leaders in scoring chances despite his meager goal total.
The Dallas Stars are a mess, people. From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that the injury to Tyler Seguin set into motion a self-destruct function within the team that can’t be reversed and the biggest victims of the freefall have been the goaltenders. After allowing three goals in just over a period of action in Thursday’s loss to San Jose, Kari Lehtonen was again bombarded for seven tallies in an overtime defeat at the hands of the Red Wings Saturday night. Then, in an effort to one-up the level of futility, Jhonas Enroth gave up a six-pack to Minnesota in the third period of Sunday’s loss and followed it up with by dropping another decision to the Jets on Tuesday. In short, the Stars goaltenders can’t be trusted right now, even if their failure is only partly due to factors under their own control.
The injury suffered by Seguin and the subsequent string of defensive miscues have actually proven to be a positive development for one Dallas forward, as Erik Cole has take advantage of an expanded role by scoring three goals in the past four games and five in his last nine. Playing alongside Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn on the Stars’ number one line and top power play unit are certainly agreeing with the veteran and he should be a relatively safe contributor for as long as Seguin is sidelined. With an ownership rate of just 8 percent, he’s also widely available.
It’s easy to stop paying attention to the Oilers, especially since the team itself appears ready for the season to be over, but a closer look at their roster indicates that Benoit Pouliot has been an underappreciated commodity this year. The well-traveled veteran has posted a team-best plus-2 rating this season and has a chance to post his sixth straight campaign without a negative mark, proving that his sturdy two-way play is truth rather than fiction. In addition, he has recently joined Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the team’s top unit and took advantage with a pair of goals in Tuesday’s win over Minnesota, giving him 13 in 39 games. The fact he has also chipped in with 22 penalty minutes is another nice bonus that further accentuates the need for him to be owned in greater than 2 percent of leagues.
Bargain Bin Finds
As always, this space is reserved to highlight players owned in fewer than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Curtis Glencross (11 percent) – After starting the season as a regular on the Flames’ top power play unit, Glencross has since been pushed down the depth chart in favor of up-and-comers Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, an indication that his days in Calgary are numbered. Since he’s likely to be dealt in advance of next week’s trade deadline, this is a speculative play, hoping that he joins an offensive-minded club where he can play a prominent role (Pittsburgh anyone?). If this type of scenario doesn’t turn out as favorably, he can always be dropped.
Morgan Rielly (9 percent) – I know his stat line for the entire season looks ugly, but I pointed out a few weeks ago that interim coach Peter Horachek has leaned pretty heavily on the young blueliner since he took over for Randy Carlyle and Rielly has responded with seven points in his last 10 games. Even if the Leafs trade away the majority of their roster over the next week, this rearguard isn’t going anywhere and somebody has to man the points on the power play, right?
Zack Kassian (5 percent) – The injury to Alex Burrows forced coach Willie Desjardins to spin the magic wheel to determine who will play wing alongside the Sedins once again and it stopped on Kassian’s name this time. The prototypical power forward has accepted the challenge and has scored four goals in as many games in his new role. Throw in the fact the he’s easily a 100 PIM player over a full season and he’s certainly worth a pickup for as long as Burrows is sidelined.