Every now and then, hockey fans revisit a question: is Evgeni Malkin the most dynamic offensive player in the NHL? If not, what’s a fair rank for a guy who is overshadowed by his more famous teammate (Sidney Crosby) and even by one (Alex Ovechkin) or two (Pavel Datsyuk) of his countrymen?
According to Yahoo’s “Last 30 Days” stats filter - which, by the way, is an absolutely great way to identify guys who have been playing really well after bad starts or in different lineup situations, among other contexts - Malkin was the best fantasy skater in November. (OK, maybe early November to early December, as I’m checking the stats late this morning.)
“Geno” has four goals, 19 assists, a +3 rating, 14 PIM, nine power-play points and 37 SOG in the last 30 days. There was a hilariously misguided controversy about his "inability to score goals" at some point in that span, but that has been dispelled lately, as he has three goals in his last three games. Overall, the Russian star has seven goals and exactly an assist per 28 games (35 points overall) with a healthy 26 PIM and 80 SOG.
Going deeper, when you look at the top point producers since he came into the league in 2006-07, Malkin is sixth overall with 595 points in 486 games, well ahead of seventh-ranked Daniel Sedin (561 in 538) and barely behind Henrik Sedin (599 in 569) and his buddy Sid (599 in 417). Injuries limited him a bit in that time, too; Crosby and Malkin are the only two players in the top 15 who haven't hit the 500 games played mark from 2006-07 to today.
So, Malkin clearly deserves his fair share of the attention, even if Crosby beats him in the “If only he played more often” category, Ovechkin clearly bests him scoring-wise and Datsyuk gets the “two-way player” votes.
Then again, that Conn Smythe looks awfully nice, and maybe he’ll get a little more Best in the World attention if he helps Russia strike gold in Sochi. Regardless, there’s nothing wrong with being really really really good, yet not quite the best.
Now that we’ve addressed Malkin’s month of brilliance, I thought I’d pivot to other monthly concerns with December barely upon us. (Jeez, it’s almost 2014 already … it seemed like just yesterday that we were all still mired in lockout misery.)
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OTHER NOVEMBER MEMBERS TO REMEMBER
Hey, Malkin isn’t the only player who enjoyed a great 30 days. Aside from maybe trade concerns, universally owned (or nearly universally owned) fellows like Patrick Kane and James Neal aren’t really worth discussing, though. Instead, here are a few names for skaters who could feasibly be grabbed.
(Note: you probably have seen these names pop up in recent Doses. Makes sense, right?)
Dustin Penner (57 percent owned) - Yup, this is a guy who I’ve mentioned repeatedly. He’s shaken off some highs and lows to really generate some serious offense alongside stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He’s absolutely worth grabbing, even if it’s short term.
Chris Kreider (20 percent) - Kreider’s scoring has been patchy, although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with 16 points in 21 games.
The things that separate Kreider from other less-obvious Rangers (such as Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello) are his peripherals. Overall in 2013-14, he has 16 PIM, a +7 rating, 52 SOG and an impressive 45 hits in 21 games. He's worth a look, especially if you're a Rangers fan who wants a guy to root for in reality AND fantasy but don't want to reach with an early draft pick to make it happen.
Scott Hartnell (40 percent owned) - I've hammered Hartnell's value repeatedly. Just apply the well-worn fantasy valuation for Hartnell: solid-to-good scoring potential, nice SOG, some hits and a ton of PIM. I'm still shocked he's not owned in at least half of leagues. The same can be said of David Perron (51 percent) and Clarke MacArthur (41 percent), although they're not as obvious as Hartnell in the eyes of many.
Chris Neil (11 percent) - Looking for more of a specific category-filler instead of a scoring who can do a little extra? Chris Neil is generating pretty strong work, if you can stomach patchy offense (three goals, one assist in the last 30 days). He's tied with Mark Borowiecki for the league lead over that time with 48 PIM and also has 43 hits. Again, he distinguishes himself among the "enforcer"-level PIM guys by having a little bit of offensive potential (18 SOG in the last month).
Devils blueliners Andy Greene (21 percent), Eric Gelinas (nine percent) and Marek Zidlicky (51 percent) - When it comes to grabbing defensemen, you’re probably not going to find a ton of great options. The pool of fantasy-relevant defensemen simply isn’t that deep.
This trio is intriguing. I’d probably narrow it down to Greene (leading the team with an average of 24:54 TOI, almost three minutes more than second-busiest D guy Zidlicky) or Zidlicky himself, who easily has the longest track record of fantasy usefulness.
It might just come down to what you need the most. Zidlicky is a more frequent shooter (43 to Greene 30) while Greene is a boon for blocked shots (45, tying him with Erik Gudbranson for 49th most in the NHL) and finally Zidlicky's a respectable PIM generator (30 this season, 574 PIM in 646 games played).
Then again, if you’re desperate - really, I generally just skimp on defense, sometimes even leaving a D spot totally blank - you could always grab both.
QUICK HITS AND INJURIES (full list)
The Oilers didn’t provide a concrete update regarding Ilya Bryzgalov’s status, but they did recall Jason LaBarbera, so it could be a while. Or they’re just covering their bases … Pavel Datsyuk (concussion) will be out at least a week before he even starts practicing … Brandon Dubinsky’s expected to be activated from the IR and play Tuesday. He’s great in leagues with deeper stat categories … Evander Kane (lower body) did indeed miss Monday's game with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Devin Setoguchi is heating up (four points including three goals in his last four games) ... Michal Neuvirth was placed on the IR … Cam Talbot didn't do well after getting consecutive starts for the first time this season. Breathe easy, Henrik Lundqvist owners ... Is Martin Brodeur's luck finally running out? He's lost four in a row, including last night, when he allowed three goals on just 17 shots. Adam Henrique left Monday's loss with a lower-body injury ... Ray Emery has been passable (.909 save percentage), but it seems likely that Chicago dragged him to his sterling 2012-13 stats ... Vincent Lecavalier missed last night's game with back spasms ... Tyler Toffoli has 11 points in 14 games after last night's pair of tallies. Four of his six goals have been game-winners. He hasn't been receiving great ice time, so I'd label him as "monitor" material more than must-grab. Then again, his last name is very pun-friendly ... Jaden Schwartz might just be a must, though. He now has a seven-game point streak (three goals, five assists) going … Semyon Varlamov had a day in court and might make a plea on Jan. 22. Things may or may not get complicated this season, but so far he’s been valuable … No Shea Weber for Nashville on Tuesday night.