With the NHL All-Star Break starting on January 27th and running through January 30th, we’re in our first and only 14-day regular season matchup. Obviously the biggest difference is that you’ll be playing against the same opponent for two weeks instead of one, but you’re also allowed 6 transactions during this matchup instead of the usual 3.
It’s also a good time to start looking at the NHL schedule and take note of which teams still have a large number of games to play – the Maple Leafs, Senators, Islanders and Avalanche all have played only 42 games this year. I could be beneficial to target free agents from those teams rather than ones that are further along in the schedule – for instance, the Jets and Bruins have all played 46 games already. Choosing a Leaf over a Bruin today nets you 6 additional games over the full schedule.
Also keep in mind that the trade deadline is 12PM Eastern on Thursday, February 9th. That’s about 3 1/2 weeks away, and we’re seeing several teams falling out of playoff contention.
And speaking of trades…you’ve probably seen a couple of trades went down this week. It was a pretty complex, and required a few different steps not included in the ESPN system, so I wanted to let you guys all know all of the details and ramifications.
First: if you haven’t yet read my Weeks 11 & 12 blog post, it lays out what the playoff picture looks like, how keepers work next season, when the trade deadline is, and how trading draft picks works.
As for this trade: Justin is mathematically out of the playoffs at 4-10, and is looking to position himself for next year. Chris is currently 6-8, with a shot (albeit small) at making the playoffs yet. Chris had two of his better players in Stamkos and Toffoli currently on IR, meaning he lacked the firepower to make a run for it.
Thus, Chris traded his two stars on IR, his first non-keeper round pick in the draft next year, and some lesser players to Justin for a top goalie in Dubnyk, a hot scorer in Voracek, and a number of other players to balance what was coming his way, and his last pick (26th) in the draft next year.
Because this was a pretty large and complex trade, it was done in several parts, but should be considered as such:
8th round pick in 2017 draft (first non-keeper round)
to Justin in exchange for
26th round pick in 2017 draft (last round)
It also resulted in the following players dropped to waivers:
It also involved Denis Savard being traded back and forth, ending up on his original team.
My log of next year’s draft picks has been updated.
Best Forward: Nicklas Backstrom 30.9 (Brett D)
Best Defenseman: Torey Krug 19.3 (Justin)
Best Goalie: Braden Holtby 19.6 (Brett D)
Best Individual Performance: Brad Marchand 14.8 (Justin)
Worst Forward: Andrew Shaw -1.8 (Brennan)
Worst Defenseman: Michael Del Zotto -0.3 (Brennan)
Worst Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist -4.0 (Cal)
Worst Individual Performance: Henrik Lundqvist -3.3 (Cal)
After 9 straight wins Cal’s winning streak is over, as Rhys takes advantage of a relatively generous schedule to beat him – Cal’s team combined for only 63 games played compared to 77 for Rhys. Justin also enjoyed this advantage this week for his 4th win, as his 76 combined games gave him a big lift over Sohayl who had only 61 games scheduled.
We also saw convincing wins by Brett D, Davin, and Jace this week, but the other significant victory was Brett R beating Brock. A win for Brock would have meant a tie at the top of the East division, but Brett R’s win puts him a more comfortable 2 games ahead.
Projected Playoff Bracket
#1 Brett R (10-4) vs #4 Cal (9-5)
#2 Rhys (10-4) vs #3 Jace (10-4)
In the Hunt
Brock (8-6), Davin (7-7)
Sohayl (6-8), Chris (6-8), Brett D (6-8)
With Cal’s loss this week, he and Jace flip seeds. Brett R keeps the #1 seed after beating Brock, and Rhys remains at #2.
The loss to Brett R hurt Brock this week, but he’s still very much in the running. Wins are becoming necessary though.
Davin has rattled off 3 straight wins and is now in a pretty decent place to challenge for a playoff spot. For Sohayl, Chris and Brett D, these next few weeks are critical – basically any more losses will mean the end of their chances.
For Brennan, Justin and Frank, there’s just not enough games left in the season to make a playoff push. Time to start thinking about draft picks.
After five straight wins to start the season followed by five straight losses, Brock has managed to keep himself in the playoff hunt. Sitting in 5th place overall currently, his road to the playoffs is pretty straightforward: win first place in the division to get the bye, or earn a wildcard spot. Let’s have a look at how he can get there.
Best Forward: Cam Atkinson 154.0
Best Defenseman: Kevin Shattenkirk 98.2
Best Goaltender: Corey Crawford 94.8
Notable Injuries: Jonathan Huberdeau, Patrik Laine
Brock’s early draft picks were pretty solid, and remain the backbone of his lineup. Panarin has been excellent in his sophomore season, Crawford and Schneider are a good fantasy goalie tandem, Shattenkirk is having a career year, Bo Horvat has been point pounding sleeper all year, and both Huberdeau and Laine were having great seasons before injury hit.
But his best player was chosen 157th overall: Cam Atkinson. When you can get that many points out of a guy that deep in the draft, you’re doing fine.
As a whole, Brock’s lineup is crazy strong in certain areas. Goals are unquestionably the most valuable category and hardest to find, and Brock is first in the league by a lot. Games Started by his goalies is also terrific, as Crawford and Schneider carry a big portion of their teams goaltending.
But there’s some pretty glaring weaknesses too. Brock is below average in Assists (hard to find) and PPP (not as significant as other categories), but the biggest area of weakness is Faceoff Wins. For most teams in our league FOW count for between 8-11% of their total points – Brock is currently sitting at 5.39%. Part of the problem is that his high scoring Cs like Rakell and Miller don’t actually take that many faceoffs. And Panarin, who is listed as a C, has exactly 1 FOW this year. Ouch.
Fortunately, FOW are one of those categories that are relatively easy to pick up in free agency. There’s currently 4 players with over 300 FOW available, including Antoine Vermette who has collected 522 so far. You can sometimes even find someone like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who is listed as a RW first, but has picked up 283 FOW.
Since goals have been easier for Brock to pick up, he might consider trading a center like Rakell for a more balanced center that can get FOW as well.
Strengths: G, SHP, GS, SV
Weaknesses: A, FOW, W
Keep ‘Em: Patrik Laine, Kevin Shattenkirk, Artemi Panarin, Bo Horvat
Dump ‘Em: Kevin Labanc, Anthony Duclair, Brock McGinn
Target: high face-off centres, powerplay specialists
Watching the Waiver Wire
Two waiver claims this week as Brock picked up Jaccob Slavin and Davin picked up Bryan Rust.
Best Unsigned Forward: Brock McGinn 20.3
Best Unsigned Defenseman: Alexei Emelin 6.8
Best Unsigned Goalie: Carter Hutton 12.2
Best Unsigned Individual Performance: Brock McGinn 9.8
On the one hand, the Carolina Hurricanes have been heating up lately. On the other hand, Brock McGinn had only 5 points before his offensive outburst last week, collecting 4 goals and 3 assists. I can’t imagine he’s going to see the same type of production going forward, but there is something to be said about going with the hot hand. And left wingers that can score are hard to find right now.
Zdeno Chara is old and past his prime, there’s no doubt about it. But the guy can still put the puck on net, and his 10 shots on goal this week are a testament to that fact. He’ll reliably give you about a fantasy point per game, which is better than a lot of defensemen available right now.
Man are goalies ever frustrating. Especially if you’re a Dallas Stars fan. Both Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi are fre agents right now, and both are worth roughly the same number of fantasy points. They’re effectively splitting games in Dallas this year, and you gotta think that team will start picking up some wins soon, right?
We’re already well into the first week, and it’s clear there will be some interesting matchups. Rhys (10-4) vs Jace (10-4) is the biggest one to watch, as the winner will take over top spot in the West division. Cal (9-5), fresh off of his first loss since November, meets Justin (4-10) who is currently riding a 2 game winning streak. Both Brock (8-6) and Davin (7-7) are on the playoff bubble, while Brett R (10-4) needs a win against Brett D (6-8) to keep apace of either Rhys or Jace at the top of the league. Brennan (5-9) needs a win against Frank (3-11) to stay within shouting distance of the playoffs, while a new-look team in Chris (6-8) is looking for a win against Sohayl (6-8) to see if his big trade bet paid off.