My goodness, the first weekend of 2014 didn’t exactly ease us into the new year, did it? There’s even more than usual to discuss than the usual bloated Monday Dose this time around; it’s almost a little overwhelming, even.
As usual this season, goalie upheaval (caused by injuries and impressively competent work by backups) seems to be the story of the moment. With that in mind, I’ll roll with that theme, but don’t forget to check the quick hits for other assorted bits.
KHUDOBIN SOMETHING INTERESTING
Generally speaking, I feel like the Carolina Hurricanes are an organization that relies too much on loyalty and familiarity when it comes to their bigger moves (who else would bring in Anton Babchuk more than once?). Still, there must be someone with some heightened cleverness embedded in that franchise who wins the occasional shouting match because every now and then, the team makes an ahead-of-the-pack move.
Grabbing Alexander Semin when North American hockey minds seemed jarringly closed about the misunderstood winger made my ears perk up. Still, that was (and still is) an expensive investment; signing Anton Khudobin for cheap in the summer of 2013 ranked as one of my favorite underrated free agent acquisitions.
It hasn’t been smooth-sailing for Carolina, however, as Khudobin owns a somewhat misleading undefeated record. It’s not misleading because of poor play; instead, it’s because he hasn’t been healthy enough to play much of the time. An injury sidelined him from October to January, but now he’s back, and he’s right back to playing excellent hockey … and with Cam Ward injured, to boot.
The big question regarding Khudobin’s value is how injured Ward really is. The Hurricanes placed him on the IR on Sunday, but you never know for sure if that’s more than a clerical move if the guy isn’t on the LTIR.
Long story short, I cannot guarantee that Ward will be the Canadian Jonathan Quick* in giving Khudobin plenty of time to rack up wins like Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens did. Even so, Khudobin has done nothing but play well when given opportunities at the NHL level, and is easily worth a kick at the can if you’re goalie-needy. He’s only owned in 11 percent of leagues right now, so why not give him a shot and drop him if things go squirrely?
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MORE GOALIE BITS
Cam Ward’s trip to the IR and Anton Khudobin’s subsequently climbing value didn’t stand as the only noteworthy bit of goalie news by any means. Just looking at Eddie Lack’s situation shows how confusing this stuff can be, and might be reason to think twice before having too itchy a trigger finger dropping guys whose windows seemingly closed.
Lack and forth. Roberto Luongo came back on Saturday, and was pretty dazzling for the Vancouver Canucks, although Quick won in his own return. It wouldn’t be surprising if quite a few owners decided to drop Lack with Bobby Lou back, yet noted goalie-runner Dustin Brown injured Luongo during Saturday’s game. With that, Lack was back in net on Sunday with a 43-year-old fellow basically taken off the street to serve as his No. 2.
The details regarding Luongo’s condition are pretty murky right now, but I’d expect Lack to get a couple more starts. At 23 percent owned, you can get a piece of a guy who is 7-3-2 with a .923 save percentage, 2.16 GAA and two shutouts so far this season.
Martin Jones gets demoted. The Kings’ situation is a little bit more complicated. I can’t blame Martin Jones owners for dropping him immediately because unlike some of the other netminders in question, Jones won’t even be able to mop up backup minutes because he’s in the AHL (unless the Kings trade Ben Scrivens with the latter’s value soaring pretty high).
I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Jones again in a fairly meaningful way in a fairly short amount of time, the only thing is that I’m uncertain whether that will be next month or even next season.
Of course, Quick could get hurt in very little time like Luongo did and open the door right back up. Who knows, but again, it’s more understandable to drop Jones with Scrivens serving as Quick’s backup (for now).
Ben Bishop pawned off. Ben Bishop might be ready for 2014 to be over after less than a week of the new year. On the first day of the year, he found out that his absolutely excellent work in 2013-14 (and actually, pretty solid stuff in 2012-13, too) wouldn't pay off with an Olympic nod. Now he faces a hand injury of unknown severity.
If that issue’s fairly significant, his U.S. Olympic snub doesn’t actually look so bad; maybe he’d try to push it to play in Sochi?
Still, it’s a gut punch for fantasy owners and the Lightning. I hate to say it, but it's really difficult for me to make much of an endorsement for Anders Lindback (five percent owned). This is the year of the backup, it seems, but his work in Tampa Bay has been discouraging.
It's not like he hasn't been given a chance to shine, either; the big Swede has been awful this season (3-8-1, .883 save percentage and 3.21 GAA) after being poor-to-average last season (10-10-1, .902 save percentage and 2.90 GAA). Could he turn it around? It's plausible to some extent, as the Lightning have quietly been one of the better possession teams in the East.
If you’re especially desperate, you could just give him a wild dice roll. Still, I’d recommend watching him closely before making a move instead of taking the plunge instantly.
(The wild dice roll idea will be more promising, though not a gimme, if Bishop’s X-ray is more troubling than the Lightning implied on Sunday, however.)
Bob’s back. Maybe the easiest decision (actually no, grabbing Khudobin is still better) comes down to cutting bait with Curtis McElhinney, if you were still slumming it with him in the first place. (At this point, the only semi-reasonable excuses to keep him around would be “I’m in a 20-team league!” and/or “I’m an especially devoted Blue Jackets fan.”)
Sergei Bobrovsky is headed back into action for the first time since Dec. 3, so I’d expect Columbus to go to him close to full-time, with the possibility of taking it easy on him for a bit.
Bob hasn’t really been anything to get too excited about this season, but perhaps the Blue Jackets will give him a LITTLE more help if Nathan Horton allows other players to slide into more appropriate spots in the lineup (and thus maybe score a little more frequently)? Either way, you might as well activate Bobrovsky if you’ve stuck with him this long and drop McElhinney (if you’ve stuck with him this long).
QUICK HITS AND INJURIES (full list)
Evgeni Malkin returned with a fury on Sunday. Kris Letang came back too, and was productive in his own right … Even Ryan Suter will admit that you shouldn’t expect more from where his hat trick came from … Daniel Carcillo was traded to the Rangers. This actually would’ve been a big deal back when he dominated PIMs, but not really now (unless he starts doing that again) … If there’s any sense of not being asleep at the wheel in Nashville, then don’t be shocked if there’s a big Predators move or two this week. Barry Trotz brashly threw Carter Hutton under the bus for a bad goal, even though Nashville only managed to score once against Carolina last night. That’s called transference, aka kicking the dog/wildly inexperienced goalie … Not sure if the Red Wings are just taking the opportunity to get Pavel Datsyuk extra rest, but he sat out Saturday with a lower-body injury … Eric Staal is dealing with an LBI of his own, but he’s only expected to miss about one week … David Clarkson and Carl Gunnarsson suffered injuries while the Maple Leafs were humiliated by the Rangers on Saturday. Luckily, both sound like minor ailments … Shane Doan is back from his weird-sounding Rocky Mountain fever, but the Coyotes are now without Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Tough break … Tyler Myers might get in hot water for his high hit (aren’t they all? /tall joke) on Dainius Zubrus … Daniel Briere responded to a healthy scratch in a big way Saturday, collecting three points. He’s often enticing thanks to his decent scoring, sneaky PIM and occasional dual position eligibility, but I understand if you’re giving him the “Fool me once, fool me twice” treatment … Andrew Cogliano received a four-year, $12M contract extension from the Ducks. He's pretty much just a fringe guy at best in fantasy, though … Zack Kassian seems surprisingly OK for a guy who took a skate to the face (gah).
* - Don’t scoff at the comparison if you’re a scoffer/person with a weak memory; they both are well-paid, own Conn Smythe Trophies and championship rings.