For fantasy hockey enthusiasts, accurate forecasting is half of the battle, but now that we have met the proverbial hump that is the All-Star break, heroes have become villains, villains have become heroes, studs have become duds and, well you get the idea. This article will combine statistics and past historical analysis in an attempt to give you, the readers, an idea of some great potential pickups and some lucrative sells along with six waiver wire pickups that could help your squad rally a place in the playoffs or help you retain full fantasy supremacy. You can follow me on twitter @thelandshock for daily fantasy updates and NHL analysis.
Next Month’s Studs:
Rick Nash (CLB – LW,RW) – Despite Nash’s current plus-minus deficit , the law of averages suggests that the Brampton, Ontario native will reach 30 goals, eventually. Nash’s success has always been tied to his sizzling shot. Currently, his shooting percentage sits at a woeful 8.7 (eighteen points lower than his previous career low), which helps explain Nash’s subpar offensive effectiveness. Recently however, the former All-Star has increased his shots per game to 4.5, from 3.8. Expect good things from this Columbus sniper as he becomes more comfortable pulling the trigger.
Max Pacioretty (MTL – LW) – Since the abrupt departure of Mike Cammalleri over a week ago, “Patches” has established himself as commander and chief of the Habs offense. With five points in his last five games, as well as thirteen penalty minutes, Pacioretty has become a visceral force for the struggling Habs, currently playing almost a full minute extra a night in Cammalleri’s absense. Some recently added powerplay time, coupled with his exceptional performance with the Bulldogs last season (averaging over a point per game), makes Pacioretty a prime candidate for a breakout late season performance.
Ryan Callahan (NYR – RW) – The Rangers’ 26th captain has been playing an exceptional two-way game since his arrival in the NHL in 2006. Despite not seeming to have too much relevance to you stat monkeys out there, his drive into the offensive zone has yielded him 36 points in his first 47 games this season. Despite his surprising offensive potency, and the overall success of the Rangers this season, the powerplay performance of the team has been abysmal. Over the last sixteen games, the Blueshirts have only been able to muster 4 goals out of 51 opportunities, putting them at measly 7.8%. Callahan is front and center on this unit, along with a sorted crew that includes; Richards, Gaborik, Del Zotto and a mix of Hagelin and Dubinsky, all of whom should be producing at a much better clip. If the fourteen games are any indication, it appears that the Rochester native has become more comfortable taking matters into his own hands, shooting the puck over three times a game. Much like Nash, expect a higher return on Callahan, as he will no doubt be trying anything he can to change New York’s powerplay fortunes.
Alexander Ovechkin (WSH – LW) – With “Ovie”‘s performance fizzling faster than a defective firecracker on a rainy day, questions have been raised about the Russian rap superstar’s future in the NHL. Ovechkin has been averaging over a minute more of ice time in the past month in comparison to his ice time in the months of October, November and early December. While he may not be as liberal with his shooting as in previous years, he appears to be more methodical in his shooting patterns, opting to use strategy over simply firing at will. Although there is no timetable for the return of Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin has a Putinesque control over the rest of the team. With the support of the entire Capitals organization, Ovechkin has every opportunity to excel during the remainder of this campaign. With a three game suspension under his belt, Alex will have plenty of time to stew while he watches a certain rival Russian superstar take the NHL by storm with the Pens, expect the Mr Big spokesman to have an extra drive to return to form.
Ryan Kesler (VAN – C) – Over the last month, Kesler has struggled both on and off the ice.
With only four points in his last ten games it seems most of the fight inside of Kesler has been reserved for coach, Alain Vigneault. Despite Kesler’s sagging offensive production, the future does look promising with the return of his line-mate David Booth, who will no doubt be able to bring back some consistency to Kesler’s play. Looking back at pre- and post- All-Star Game performances also leads one to believe that Kesler’s play will improve, given that he averages 0.71 points per game after the break, as oppose to 0.57 before it. Although not anywhere near Rangers territory, the Cannucks have also struggled on the powerplay, only managing to score nine times in their last 55 opportunities (putting them at 16.3%). Look for the former Western-Conference Champions to improve these numbers, and look for Kesler to capitalize on this offensive upswing.
PK Subban (MTL – D) – Pernell Karl hasn’t even come close to meeting the expectations of most fantasy owners during his sophomore season. After playing 47 games, the once hot prospect sits at only nineteen points, becoming the a very definition of a sophomore slump. But Subban is nothing more then a rusty gear in the completely broken machine that is the Montreal Canadians, as such one must then ask how much worse could it get? Subban managed as many points in 32 games after the All-Star break as he did in 45 games prior to it. The inevitable return of Andrei Markov could also bump his totals, potential giving the Habs the offensive artillery needed to carry them out the basement, or at least above 30th in powerplay effectiveness.
Sell-High’s of the Week:
Alex Semin (WSH – LW,RW) – Semin forces question marks all over the place in terms of his injury- proneness and his work ethic. He has fourteen points in his last eleven games, so the time to sell is now. Semin-less owners will be happy to see him either placed on the injured reserve or being made a healthy scratch under Hunter’s system.
Thomas Vanek (BUF – LW) – The Austrian Prince is pointless in five games and has only one goal in his last twelve games. Ruff is trying everything to get this guy going, but nothing seems to be working. He has seen shifts with the likes of Hecht-Pominville, Boyes-Pominville, Roy-Pominville and Hecht-Kaleta, among others and yet his performance has remained stagnant. While some virtual GM’s may swoon over Vanek’s 41 points, you do have better options. Players like Joe Thornton, Correy Perry, Martin St. Louis and Jarome Iginla have similar numbers and are likely to be more productive, given that they face less in-team competition over the remainder of the season.
Marian Hossa (CHI – RW) – Anyone who owns Marian Hossa at this point may feel like they dug for gold and instead found diamonds at this point in the season, so why sell at all? First and foremost, he hasn’t played over 75 games since the 2006-07 season (which consequently was the last time he was a point-per-game player). Although he sits tied in third in the Art Ross Trophy race and is an incredible plus-24 on the season, his inability to stay healthy speaks volumes. If Hossa owners believe he can stay healthy, power to them, for everyone else, players such as John Tavares, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Lundqvist or even Jonathan Toews seem like possible and more consistent trade candidates.
Milan Michalek (OTT – LW,RW) – Michalek sits in eight in the Maurice Richard Trophy hunt and is playing a regular shift with the jovial Jason Spezza. Reasons to believe Michalek will not keep up his current goal-scoring pace? While he is shooting at a rate of 19% this season, over the past few weeks he hasn’t been shooting his regular three shots a night. In addition, Spezza has been on the ice for 26 of Michalek’s 32 points. Let’s not forget that like Hossa, Spezza is very much injury-prone as he has played over seventy games only two times in his last six seasons. One is forced to ponder what Michalek’s contributions would entail without Spezza as a linemate.
Curtis Glencross (CGY – LW) – It was announced this past week that Glencross could be out for up to six weeks. For the manager who likes to stash assets away on injured reserve, one might decide to hang on to Glencross, who was on pace for over sixty points and 33 goals prior to the injury. Why sell him? He was pushed off Iginla’s line when Cammalleri arrived to town, giving the former Michigan Wolverine time to take over the top left-wing spot for the Flames.
Brent Burns (SJ – D) – Dan Boyle has made up for his early season slide with ten points in his last eight games. Interesting to note is that Burns is nowhere to be found on the scoresheet. Burns held a promising future when it was announced he would be shipped to San Jose. However, he is playing less than half of the Sharks’ powerplay time and in the last few games, he barely even appears on the man-advantage. His name holds a lot of value in the market… and not everyone needs to be aware he isn’t on the team’s top powerplay unit. This is a typical Sharks powerplay:
Waiver Wire Pick-Ups of the Week:
Scott Gomez (MTL – C) – With regards to fantasy hockey, Scott Gomez is surely the last name that you want to hear. He hasn’t scored for nearly a calendar year, and has only six points in eighteen games this season. Cunneyworth’s decision to double-shift Gomez has allowed him to look decent offensively, forcing fantasy hockey enthusiasts to keep an eye on him… despite his goal drought. Alaska’s Finest saw time with Rene Bourque, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn in Saturday’s matchup.
Filip Kuba (OTT – D) – Over the last few games, Filip Kuba has replaced Sergei Gonchar on the Senators’ top powerplay unit. Kuba has seven points in his last eleven games and will continue to excel as long as Karlsson can keep close to his league-leading numbers for a defenseman.
Peter Mueller (COL – C,LW) – Mueller will not only be a top candidate for the Bill Masterson Trophy this off-season, but he will prove to be an important asset for any fantasy team. Mueller persevered through a serious head injury and has four points in his last two games. The one-time twenty-goal scorer is playing a regular shift with Paul Stastny and T.J. Galiardi, while seeing time on the team’s second powerplay unit.
Denis Seidenberg (BOS – D) – The German-born bone-shattering defender hasn’t been much of an offensive superstar from the back-end this season. However, things are looking up for the player who had 32 points last season and even had a point-per-game ratio for ten games during that campaign. Seidenberg played on the Bruins’ top powerplay unit on Sunday and Tuesday and has even played over half the powerplay time for the team’s last ten games.
Rich Peverley (BOS – C) – Nathan Horton’s mild concussion has opened up a hole in the Bruins’ top-six formation. Peverley jumped in for Horton last game after suffering the injury and didn’t look at all out of place. The undrafted 29-year-old has 32 points in forty games this season, and as a result, will only see an increase in even-strength and powerplay time.
Marc Staal (NYR – D) – Staal hasn’t exactly been a defensive staple since returning from his long-term injury, but he has looked really comfortable with his timing and jumping into plays. With the Rangers’ atrocious powerplay, one can suspect that Marc Staal will get a chance to run the team’s unit. Staal has zero points so far this season, but the chance to own a player who passes to the likes of Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards is an opportunity no fantasy manager would want to miss.