This week's topic: Who is fantasy worthy on the bottom team's in the NHL?
I want to remind readers that the Season Pass Fantasy Chat has been moved to 11:30am on Thursdays for the foreseeable future. Feel free to write in your questions early on Thursday as the chat will be open around 9 and Corey Abbott will get to your questions at 11:30.
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Ryan Dadoun: There are some talented forwards on bottom of the barrel teams, but obviously you need to accept the fact that their plus/minus ratings might hurt you. Taylor Hall is probably the premiere example of that. He's one of the best players in the league at this point, but while his plus/minus is a tolerable minus-3, at any given time that could plummet. The Oilers in general are an interesting team because there is a lot of skill there and yet they rank towards the bottom of the NHL in goals per game. I don't want to say they're a good team because there are obvious problems in Edmonton, but there is the potential for them to do meaningfully better than they have been and I think their top players have some upside for the rest of the season as a result.
Kevin Brown: Taylor Hall is a great example of a premier player who often gets bumped too far down the ranks of fantasy players because of his situation. Searching for value on the rosters of the NHL’s cellar dwellers is a favorite strategy of mine. In the keeper league that Michael and I play in together I have Ryan Johansen, James Wisniewski, Martin Hanzal and Tyler Ennis on my team. Among these, I think Ennis is the one that gets overlooked most often, but he’s a first line player for the Sabres and outside of his plus/minus, is typically a productive offensive contributor.
Corey Abbott: Even though the Blue Jackets are having an atrocious there are a couple of players who are more than deserving of regular action on anyone's fantasy team. Ryan Johansen ranks in the top-20 scorers of the league and Nick Foligno has brought plenty to the table as well. The Columbus duo has been responsible for most of the club's offense and they haven't struggled to score the same way that clubs like Buffalo or Florida has.
Michael Finewax: I agree that Johansen of Columbus and Ennis of Buffalo are good but the big surprise this season is the poor effort out of the Philadelphia Flyers who are currently 26th in the NHL. Despite that, they have two players in the top seven of scoring, Jakub Voracek who is second and Claude Giroux who is tied for sixth as of this writing. Both are plus players and have done everything they can to pull the Flyers out of being bottom dwellers. And as of now, to no avail.
Ryan Dadoun: I think the Flyers are a great example of a bad team with some great fantasy players on it because they're just so top heavy. Finding good forwards on a bad team is usually doable, but it's much harder to find a fantasy worthy goaltender given that the team usually drags its starter down. In my mind though, Steve Mason is as close as you come to an exception to that rule. He hasn't been one of the league's better goaltenders, but he's a serviceable second goaltender in standard leagues.
Corey Abbott: Sticking with goaltenders and going back to Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky has been much better of late and his numbers are very similar to Mason's this season. He missed seven games with a fractured finger and Columbus has been devastated by injury, but his goaltending has not been the problem. Bobrovsky currently has three straight wins and he's allowed just one goal in two of those contests. In the other victory, he stopped 52 of 55 shots. His numbers haven't been as glossy as his previous two seasons with the Blue Jackets, but he's still a very rosterable option.
Kevin Brown: Ryan makes a great point about finding goaltenders on bad teams. Of the netminders mentioned so far, I’m much more optimistic about Bobrovsky than I am Mason, but part of that might be personal bias. If the opportunity arose I would also be willing to buy-low on Mike Smith. I know just how awful he’s been this year and the fact Devan Dubnyk has apparently usurped him is justified, but I believe Smith will eventually figure things out and offer some fantasy value.
Michael Finewax: I agree with Kevin in that I like Bobrovsky more than Mason. With poor teams like Buffalo, Carolina etc. the best thing to do in shallower pools is ride a hot goalie. It's come up twice this season as Carolina with Cam Ward in goal went on a five game winning streak and the Sabres under Jhonas Enroth won six of seven before a couple of losses on Thursday and Saturday. Even poor teams go on streaks and usually their goalies are on the waiver wire so take advantage if you can.
Ryan Dadoun: Definitely, as we've seen recently, even a team like Buffalo can enough hot stretches. We've covered a handful of forwards and goaltenders, but we haven't talked much about defensemen. In past years, we've seen teams where one or two offensive defensemen were basically the only players of fantasy value on a really bad squad and the closest example to that this season is Arizona and Keith Yandle. For years now, the Coyotes have been deficient when it comes to skilled forwards and you don't need to look further than the fact that Yandle won then Phoenix's scoring race each of the last two years and he's leading Arizona in points so far in 2014-15 to see that. If you could only have one Arizona player on your team, I think there's no question that you'd want it to be Yandle.
Corey Abbott: Keith Yandle undoubtedly stands out among defensemen. I like the season that Mark Streit is having in Philadelphia. He doesn't have the same impact that Yandle does on his team, but he leads the Flyers' defense corps with four goals, 15 points and 55 shots. He also has a plus-3 rating while averaging 22:49 of ice time per contest. Streit has had some success on the power play as well.
Kevin Brown: Another blueliner whose season has gone virtually unreported has been the rookie campaign of Aaron Ekblad in South Florida. A total of 17 points in 25 games is a great line for any defenseman, nevermind an 18-year-old rookie. He's been on an absolute tear over the last few weeks with six points and 13 shots in his last four contests. In fact, he has recorded two shots or better in nine straight games.
Michael Finewax: Well, all of you took my players. I love Ekblad this season as he is showing why he was selected number one overall in the draft. This was the year for the Oilers to have the first overall pick as he could have anchored their blueline for 10-15 years. I'm going to go off the board and the one player who gets too much fantasy notice and undeservedly so, is Justin Schultz. I don't understand how he is so highly thought of as he has done nothing in his career. His point totals are just average at best and the rest of his stats are bottom tier.
Well, that's the Roundtable for this week. If there is a topic you'd like to see us talk about, feel free to send it to one of the panelists on twitter.