The injury suffered by Steve Stamkos earlier in the week has the hockey world reeling. I examine the fantasy impact of this development along with a number of other notable situations in this week’s edition of the Fantasy Nuggets.
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Let’s start with the big news of the week. My colleague James O’Brien wrote about the Stamkos situation earlier in the week and opined that Martin St. Louis possesses enough talent of his own to remain a valuable fantasy asset even in Stammer’s absence. I agree on Mr. St. Louis’s track record and while I don’t think he’ll immediately become worthless, I think the negative impact of the injury will be significant for him. Let’s not forget that the gentlemanly forward’s value is derived mainly from assists and power play points, two categories I think will be severely affected by the loss of arguably the league’s best sniper. If Tampa Bay’s first post-Stamkos game is any indication, Tyler Johnson could stand to be the biggest beneficiary of an expanded role, as he was assigned a solid 3:38 of ice time with the man advantage in Tuesday’s tilt against the Canadiens. Don’t go running out to pick up Johnson right away since this could end up being little more than an experiment, but the diminutive forward certainly possesses a lot of skill. He’s worth a look in deeper formats for now, with the possibility to become valuable in shallower leagues.
How unlucky has Washington blueliner Mike Green been this season? With 50 shots on goal without a tally, Green could find the back of the net on his next four shots and still possess a shooting percentage (7.4 percent) below his career rate of 8.6 percent. The upside for the talented rearguard is enormous, as he quarterbacks the league’s best power play, but his injury-riddled reputation offers a similarly significant downside. The fact he is currently nursing a lower-body ailment only serves to exemplify the roller coaster ride you sign up for by rostering him.
I don’t suspect it’s easy to buy low on him right now, but if the Evgeni Malkin owner in your league appears even the least bit concerned by his slow start to the season, I suggest you do everything in your power to get your hands on him. The absence of running mate James Neal is as good a reason as any to explain Geno’s struggles, but there’s also an element of bad luck at play here, as only 6.5 percent of his shots have touched twine compared to his career rate of 12.7. His extensive track record of success, combined with the fact his usage pattern and power play ice time both support his being in one of the most favorable situations in the league, have me less than worried about how he’ll finish the season. He has demonstrated the ability to single handedly carry a fantasy squad for extended periods in the past and let’s not forget that his cold snap has occurred while on someone else’s roster. It’s nothing but clear skies ahead from here.
One of my favorite current pickups in rotisserie formats is Minnesota’s Nino Niederreiter. With 10 points in 18 games, including 37 shots on goal, the former Islander is showing the offensive touch that made him the fifth overall selection in the 2010 draft. The Swiss-born forward’s game also contains enough snarl for him to be a contributor in both the penalty minutes and hits categories, assuming your league uses those. With an ownership rate of just 14 percent in Yahoo leagues, it’s clear the general public hasn’t yet uncovered this gem.
If you predicted Dustin Penner and Jan Hejda would be in a tie for the league lead in plus/minus on November 13th, I think it’s safe to say you’re in the wrong profession. The fact that Patrick Kane was saddled with a minus-9 rating as recently as last week makes me want to throw up my hands and admit I give up trying to predict fluctuations in this statistic.
We have no idea what impact Ted Nolan’s arrival will have on the Sabres just yet, if any, but it’s definitely possible he’ll use some players in different roles than they had been deployed in by the departed Ron Rolston. I’ll be watching the ice time totals of the team’s top players very closely in the early stages of Nolan’s second tenure with the team and I’ll be ready to act accordingly if significant changes are implemented by the new bench boss.
Bargain Bin Finds (Yahoo ownership percentage below 20 percent)
We can now add another name to the list of players who have graduated from the Bargain Bin up to the realm of the “20-percenters”, thereby making them ineligible for consideration in this section. First we had Martin Hanzal and Alex Chiasson, but now Carl Hagelin is also too widely owned to be written up in this space.
Tyler Toffoli (11 percent) – Apparently, registering six points in four games hasn’t been enough to place Toffoli on the radar for most fantasy gamers. He has 14 shots on goal in that span, which is enough to make me a believer.
Chris Kreider (10 percent) – I pumped Kreider’s tires in my column last week and he really hasn’t slowed down since I mentioned him, yet his ownership rate hasn’t budged. I don’t understand it, but I’m also not often swayed by popular opinion.
Mats Zuccarello (7 percent) – If Kreider isn’t a Rangers player who moves the needle with you, perhaps Zuccarello is. Playing on the team’s top power play unit, the Norwegian playmaker has points in four straight games and has fired 16 shots in that span.