(Quick note: this column is defense and goaltending-centric, but in case you’re wondering … yes, Antoine Roussel is worth a look if you need depth help. No promises about him being a long-term solution, but right now, he’s producing like a legit power forward.)
When I posted Tuesday’s Daily Dose, I expected today’s edition to be all about Dion Phaneuf (and Phaneuf-lites). Instead, so many different interesting things sprouted up yesterday that Phaneuf (and Phaneuf-lites) merely will be considered the first consideration.
For those of you who have followed the DD close to its first installment from the 2011-12 season, this format might remind you more of how the column once used to flow.
Unlike James Neal’s five-game suspension, I don’t see much of an opportunity to snatch Dion Phaneuf from a frustrated fantasy owner in a trade. After all, with a two-game suspension, he’ll play again this very week.
As far as the suspension goes, it seems pretty run-of-the-mill. I’m sure some will quibble with it being short, but at least it sends an important message to a guy who’s delivering a lot of hits (79 so far this season) to be responsible regarding where/when/how they happen.
Even though it’s about as brief as a flu-related absence (note: by flu I mean an actual illness, not a team trying to mask a concussion or other injury), Phaneuf’s absence might have some of you at least pondering the state of your defense. Here are a few guys who do a little bit of everything who might be worth a gander. As with the Neal discussion from Tuesday, I’m sticking with lightly owned guys …
Radko Gudas (30 percent owned) - Not going to beat this one to death, as I mentioned it on Monday, but he’s an outstanding source of hits, PIM and blocked shots. If those three stats are used in your league, he’s a no-brainer.
Matt Niskanen (49 percent) - With Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik on the shelf, Niskanen is mopping up some good stuff for the Penguins. He actually has one more point (13) than Phaneuf (12), with comparable peripherals aside from fewer hits and far fewer blocked shots. He's a decent poor man's Phaneuf in some ways (I wonder what Sean Avery would say about that).
Erik Johnson (31 percent) - Not sure I trust his +17, and his two PPP are a disappointment. His 22 PIM, 59 hits and 49 blocked shots are a nice example of what a solid player can do in plenty of ice time.
Ryan McDonagh (57 percent) - Really coming into his own with 19 points and solid peripherals. He seemingly avoided injury last night, so that's good too.
Kris Russell (18 percent) - He's worth pondering in leagues with blocked shots, as he's second in the league with 86. (Islanders blueliner Andre MacDonald tops everyone with 108.)
There are other options out there, and I kind of cheated a bit with McDonagh, but those are the defensemen that seemed most intriguing who are largely on the bargain bin.
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CHANGING TIDES IN NET
It hasn’t even been two weeks since I put out a little backup cheat sheet, yet now I feel obliged to delve into No.2’s turning into No. 1’s - or even No. 3’s threatening No. 2’s who are turning into No. 1’s (catches breath) - once more. Here are a few goalie situations that are a little more interesting now:
Antti Raanta / Corey Crawford - Crawford could be out about three weeks, so this should be an easy one.
Raanta has put up more than respectable individual numbers in a small sample size, and now that he's the go-to guy with Crawford (and oh yeah, that Nikolai Khabibulin fellow) on the shelf, he could really mop up wins with Chicago. You'll probably need to drop him sometime around New Year's, but who knows?
I’d grab him for the short-term, no doubt (he’s only 28 percent owned).
Curtis McElhinney / Sergei Bobrovsky - Dare I say it … I think I might be semi-sold on McElhinney. At least in the area of “low-risk, medium-reward short-term pickups.” He’s been playing really well lately, and even got the win last night when he allowed four goals.
I’d rather have Raanta, but if you just can’t handle having a Chicago goalie on your roster (or some other explanation … maybe you need TWO netminders?) then McElhinney is intriguing (16 percent owned).
Martin Jones / Ben Scrivens / Jonathan Quick - With Quick out for quite some time with a groin injury, we’ve seen the ascension of Ben Scrivens, which was at least moderately predictable considering the Kings’ quality lineup in front of him. Jones matching Scrivens’ previous feat of posting back-to-back shutouts just makes everything - aside from believing that Los Angeles can really make a goalie look good - that much more difficult.
So who is this guy? Well, he’s an undrafted 23-year-old with compelling size and some nice AHL numbers:
2010-11: 23 wins in 39 GP, .924 save percentage
2011-12: 18 wins in 41 GP, .919
2012-13: 27 wins in 56 GP, .919
2013-14: 9 wins in 13 GP, .927
Maybe I/we should have seen this coming, like Scriven’s success, too?
My guess is that Scrivens will play tonight, but obviously keep an eye on updates to see if that’s the case. It’s not as if Scrivens has been bad, either; he hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any game since Quick was injured.
My instinct is to encourage a little patience with Jones, but who knows; he might just deliver value like Scrivens before him.
Tim Thomas - If you’re in the market for a long-term band-aid instead of a quick shot in the arm, Thomas (32 percent owned) might be your best option.
He's now won three games in a row, allowing five goals in that span. If you've been following Thomas' exploits and the Dose's assessments, you probably know the drill: there's the bad (his rustiness/unorthodox style and the weak team in front of him) and the good (his talent and lack of any threat from Florida's other goalies) make him unpredictable. No promises, but again, you wouldn't need to tweak as much with TT ... although you might want to consider who he's playing against in a given night (example: sit him against Chicago, etc.).
Carter Hutton / Marek Mazanec - Mazanec seems to be stumbling a bit (I’ve always been more excited about the system in front of him, mainly because his actual skill is still a little tough to gauge), while Hutton finally won for the first time since early November last night.
Like the Predators in general, I don’t know what to make of these two, other than to say that they’re probably not world-beaters. If you own either one of these guys, keep an eye on this situation (or add someone better), though.
Philipp Grubauer / Braden Holtby - Holtby was pulled for the fourth time already this season on Tuesday, opening the door for Grubauer to get his second NHL win.
I don’t think Grubauer is worth adding and doesn’t have much more than short-term potential, yet it wouldn’t be shocking to see him steal a start or two in the near future. I’d wager that Washington is still pretty committed to Holtby. At least unless he continues to have some really rough nights.
INJURIES (full list)
Ryan Callahan is out four-to-six weeks with a sprained MCL for the increasingly dreadful Rangers. Hopefully he’ll be on the IR soon so you can swap (may I suggest Antoine Roussel?) … Alex Tanguay is out indefinitely with a hip issue and it doesn’t sound good at all. Bummer … Scott Hannan is banged up. Which brings up a point: he probably shouldn’t be on a fantasy team or an NHL team at this point in his career.