We all have our favorites, in fantasy and in life. Parting ways with those you have a soft spot for hurts that much more.
Even so, those of us who have been around the fantasy block many times also have become quite seasoned in the act of callously - if painfully - dropping some of our favorites when it’s obvious that they need to go. It’s basically the imaginary hockey manager equivalent to being a spy agency calling a hit on an assassin who’s deciding to hang up his or her unrealistically silenced weapon.
The moment I read the word “fracture” related to Wayne Simmonds, I knew I’d have to “call in the hit.” Lucky for me, the specific league I’m in has been where I have the wonderful power forward (er, had, /suppresses a sniffle) is pretty sleepy, so I was able to get Jason Pominville back after dropping him for one of Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan a couple weeks ago.
Does it make up for losing one of the absolute best power forwards out there? No, but this is playoff time, so perhaps you can engineer a victory from less-than-ideal circumstances.
(In my case, I am keeping an eye on which teams play two of the three last games remaining in this weekend, at least since it’s too late to add/drop anyone for Thursday night in most formats.)
Anyway, the point here is that it hurts to be matter-of-fact, yet this is the time of year when you just need to buckle down and make tough decisions. Preferably with enough swiftness to get those crucial remaining assets.
Check out Rotoworld’s slew of features on the NHL page over the next few days for tips on who to grab and who to monitor, by the way.
FLYERS 4, BLACKHAWKS 1
-- Simmonds managed to score a goal before suffering his injury, giving him 28 on the season. He clearly would have hit the 30-goal mark once again if this unfortunate moment didn't happen. Such a bummer.
-- Andrew MacDonald is also done for the season. With just a four-percent ownership rate, he obviously isn't leaving as many people said this morning - he's more the injured animal you sadly have to put out of its misery than any spry sort of hitman - although I guess I could see some people employing him as a fourth or fifth defenseman in a league with blocked shots.
-- Michael Raffl has a goal in two straight games and three of his last four. Considering his line assignment situation - and maybe a potential bump in PP time? - I'd give the Austrian native a serious look.
-- Pretty cool redemption story for Michael Del Zotto, who collected two assists and two PIM with a +1 rating last night. The Flyers don't always get their money's worth in every area (understatement alert, see Mr. MacDonald), but MDZ stands as a bargain. Even if you don't like his overall game, nine goals, 28 points and 30 PIM in 57 contests seems like more than enough justification for someone to give him an NHL gig going forward.
-- A win would have put the Blackhawks in a much, much better position to catch the Blues/Predators for the Central Division crown. I imagine Chicago's likely less worried about positioning than most, although any team who says they wouldn't want to avoid the 2/3 Central first-round matchup is almost certainly lying.
STARS 4, FLAMES 3 (SO)
-- Speaking of getting lousy bang for the buck, Deryk Engelland scored his first two goals of the season in this game. He's a decent source of PIM (51) and hits (111), but there's only so much makeup you can smear on that pig.
-- At this point it's reaching one's quota: Johnny Gaudreau scored with assists for Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler. No offense meant to a truly impressive Calder field, but it's pretty obvious that the ROY should go to Johnny Hockey (patent pending).
-- Ales Hemsky is talented enough that deep-reaching fantasy owners can say "You know what? I can ignore a tough season in hopes for a solid couple of weeks." With two goals last night, he now has four points in his last three games. Really, if Dallas looks at his 2015 production, he's been OK (not great, but tolerable). He's not getting much ice time, either, so Lindy Ruff may be justified in at least pondering giving him a little bump just to see if he'd be more of a fixture next season ... assuming he isn't packaged in a trade this summer, of course.
-- With four wins in a row, Kari Lehtonen's totals look a little better: 33-14-10 with five shutouts. That .908 save percentage is the stat that points to a disappointing year most obviously, though.
-- It's a shame Dallas really woke up so late, because the Stars would be an awfully fun team to watch as a scary wild card opponent for one of the West's best. Oh well.
OILERS 4, AVALANCHE 3
-- The amusing thing about this Avalanche season is that Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic are probably deluding themselves into thinking that they just didn't get the bounces, when quite a few things still did go their way.
Granted these were some disappointing seasons from Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, yet the Avs' goaltending often bailed Colorado out, even if it didn't happen with the ridiculous frequency of 2013-14.
The big question, for me, is if Colorado makes things worse for itself again this summer. The Avs are the second-worst possession team in the NHL this season, (although the gulf between the Avalanche and the pitiful Sabres is enormous) and this is a pivotal time for a franchise that is at risk of wasting some nice talent with some really dopey theories.
-- Wow, Ryan O'Reilly is just killing it. With three points last night (one goal, two assists), he has a five-game point streak (four goals, five assists). He has 13 points in 10 March games and 22 points in 23 games since February began. He's only 54 percent owned, so get on that if you still can.
-- It's hard for me to tell if Nail Yakupov is turning things around or merely luring us into spending a quality pick on him next season. Either way, his production since February stands in stark contrast to the rest of this season.
Before February: 12 points in 50 games
February through Wednesday: 17 points in 23 games
He's on a 60-point pace these past two months, but take it with a grain of salt. Then again, late rounds are a great time to throw developmental Hail Marys, so he's at least worth pondering.
-- My instinct is to make fun of the Oilers for winning their way out of the bottom two - dare I wonder bottom three if they keep winning and Toronto keeps falling? - but the world would just seem like a fairer place if Edmonton doesn't end up with Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Sorry Edmonton fans, but it's time to share top picks with devotees of other wayward teams.