The Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues played in Tuesday’s featured game on Versus, but two upstart Canadian teams stole the spotlight. The Toronto Maple Leafs crushed the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1 while the Edmonton Oilers reacted to a bruising loss by pummeling the Nashville Predators by a score of 6-2.
Are those two teams for real? Playoff-wise, I’m not totally sure yet, although you’d be foolish to count them out altogether. The beauty of the Oilers and Leafs is that their youth-fueled attacks should provide promising results in fantasy land, though – just be careful if you're planning on adding one of their goalies. Since it’s unlikely that you’ll land Toronto’s biggest guns (especially Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul) and it’s also doubtful that Edmonton’s No. 1 picks are still around (aka Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), I thought I’d break down guys who are conceivably available.
EBERLE ON FIRE
Like many other hockey fans, my first major impressions of Jordan Eberle came during his outstanding performances in the 2010 World Junior Championships. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s showing off his skills at the NHL level, but scoring a point-per-game (21 in 21) already? That’s pretty stunning.
The buyer beware is that 10 of those points came in his last five contests (including eight in three games), so he could be headed for a slump at any moment. That being said, if you want to get in on Edmonton’s thrilling run, Eberle is a fun choice and could still be a free agent in your league (which should limit much of the sadness that could come if the Oilers dry up).
Ales Hemsky and Tim Connolly are so similar that I decided to bunch them up in the same category. Each guy has dazzling skills, dangerous right-handed shots and neither one can stay healthy for very long. Aside from the fact that Connolly is a center and Hemsky is a winger, you’re basically taking on nearly the same exact risk.
Aside from the overwhelming injury worries, the other issue is that they’re both playmakers, which means they’re less likely to pile up two tougher-to-come-by things: shots and goals. Neither one is much for piling up PIMs, either, so it’s all about getting assists (and maybe power-play points).
My advice is to tread lightly with both players. You might expect this line of advice already, but it isn't wise to drop a more stable player for one of them. Yet if you’re dying for offense, they’re intriguing because they have a longer track record of success - however abbreviated those good moments might have been.
In the very unlikely instance that Ryan Smyth is still around, he’s a great option. Even if his scoring (22 points) dries up to previous solid but unspectacular levels, he still shoots a lot, takes penalties and does other all-around things that make him such a solid depth forward in fantasy. The fact that he rocks a prototypical hockey mullet is the hairy icing on the cake, really.
After the jump: Roloson out, Rinne’s rare struggles and more.
ROLL OUT, FOR REAL THIS TIME?
After a nice little three-game winning streak a couple weeks ago, Dwayne Roloson is back to getting clobbered again (although he did help the Lightning beat the Penguins 4-1 last Thursday). The 42-year-old goalie keeps getting gashed for large goal totals, forcing us to mention that he’s 42 years old.
It’s completely unfair to lay this all on Roloson, even when his puckhandling mishaps make it hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. The fact is that Tampa Bay’s defense (1-3-1 or not) is porous and he/his fantasy owners are the ultimate victims.
I have no idea if Steve Yzerman is going to make like 2010-11 Yzerman and pull the trigger on a gutsy goalie trade (only to replace Roloson instead of to replace someone with Roloson this time around). Whether Yzerman trades him or not, if you’re eyeballing an obvious starter who is still inexplicably on the free agent market (say, Jose Theodore or someone similar), go ahead and swap Roloson for that netminder. If Rollie the Goalie manages to make his way out of the abyss, you could always jump back on that train.
A RARE NIGHT OF RINNE REGRET
As bad as Roloson’s night was, Pekka Rinne’s probably hurt more. Here’s why:
A) You can’t make age excuses
B) His defense is one of the best in the NHL, whether they played like it on Nov. 22 or not.
C) Most people probably drafted him somewhere around the top four rounds. On the other hand you have Roloson, who likely was a second goalie in normal-sized leagues.
The Predators are doing fine and Rinne should snap out of this slump, though. It happens to every goalie; let’s just hope it doesn’t happen much more often.
TURRIS SIGNS WITH PHOENIX
The long staring contest is over as the Coyotes handed out a measly $1.4 million per year for Kyle Turris. Who knows if he’ll actually play for Phoenix this season, but he has a long way to go before he justifies all the headaches (and a spot on your fantasy team).
TROUBLE FOR DOUGHTY?
In case you missed it, Drew Doughty received a cross-checking penalty for his hit on T.J. Oshie in the waning seconds of the Kings’ 3-2 win against the Blues. There’s a chance he might receive a fine or suspension for the hit, which came from behind and sent Oshie sprawling awkwardly. (Thankfully, it seems like Oshie is OK, though.) Stay tuned to Rotoworld in the next day or so to see if the Shanahammer cracks down hard on the talented but currently disappointing blueliner.
Jaroslav Halak wasn’t awful against the Blues, but Brian Elliott owners must be frustrated that he’s losing possible win opportunities because of paycheck politics … Simon Gagne “only” has 14 points in 17 games, but you should keep an eye on him … It was an all-backup Tuesday as Jonas Gustavsson, Jonathan Bernier and Devan Dubnyk picked up wins.
Optimism is building in Toronto regarding James Reimer’s health, but nothing specific really surfaced … It sounds like Steve Mason is indeed concussed, which in fantasy terms is really just good news for Curtis Sanford owners … Brayden Schenn keeps moving around the Philly system (IR, minors, big club) but he might be a season or two from being particularly roto relevant anyway. (Click here for the full injury list.)