Sam Reinhart

Getty

Fantasy Adds & Drops: A Saad Time

1 Comment

This weekly column will aim to help you navigate through the rough waters of your fantasy league’s waiver wire. We’ll give you suggestions on which players owned in more than 50 percent of Yahoo Leagues you should pick up. We’ll also tell you which players you should consider parting ways with.

Here we go!

Adds:

Erik Haula– C/LW- Vegas Golden Knights (49 percent)

Haula is right on the cusp of being owned in half of Yahoo’s leagues, but he’s not there yet. The Golden Knights center has been flying lately, as he just saw an eight-game point streak come to an end. He currently has 20 goals and 39 points in 48 games this season, which puts him on pace to score over 30 goals and 60 points.

Nick Schmaltz– C/LW- Chicago Blackhawks (33 percent)

Schmaltz has been mentioned as a possible “add” in this column before, but he’s still owned in just under 70 percent of leagues. The ‘Hawks forward has scored in back-to-back games and he’s currently riding a three-game point streak. He’s on pace to score 61 points this season. That number might keep climbing if he keeps getting opportunities to play with Patrick Kane.

Bo Horvat– C- Vancouver Canucks (33 percent)

Like Schmaltz, this isn’t the first time Horvat has been mentioned in this column. The Canucks forward has posted four points in six games since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for over a month. Horvat’s offensive totals might not top Haula’s or Schmaltz’s, but he could score just as much as they do between now and the end of the season.

[More Fantasy: Rotoworld’s Waiver Wire column]

Sam Reinhart– C/LW/RW- Buffalo Sabres (23 percent)

Since being the second overall pick in 2014, Reinhart hasn’t topped 47 points. He probably won’t surpass that number this year, but there’s no reason why he can’t start producing with a little more regularity down the stretch. The 22-year-old has accumulated eight points in his last eight games, and he’s also seen his ice time increase significantly over the last three games (19:32, 18:36, 19:32). His average for the season is a shade over 16 minutes.

Kevin Labanc-LW/RW- San Jose Sharks (nine percent)

Labanc is one of those deep league recommendations. The Sharks forward has been hot of late, as he’s accumulated six points in his last five contests. With Joe Thornton on the shelf, there’s amble opportunity for some of the youngsters on the roster to step up offensively. Again, Labanc isn’t recommended in shallow leagues, but he could be a sneaky-good pickup in deeper fantasy formats.

• Bryant Rust- LW/RW-Pittsburgh Penguins (six percent)

Rust is another player worth keeping an eye on. He’s back in the Penguins lineup after missing almost a month with an upper-body injury. Rust has been skating on a line with Sidney Crosby, so that’s where his potential fantasy value will come from. He has five points in five games since his return. If he’s taken off Crosby’s line, his fantasy value will go down the drain.

Drops: 

Brandon Saad– LW- Chicago Blackhawks (67 percent)

As much as it might pain fantasy owners to admit it, Saad has been a total bust for most of the season. He got off to a hot start, but he simply hasn’t met expectations since returning to Chicago. He’s seen his ice time dip quite a bit of late, which isn’t unexpected considering he hasn’t scored in 11 games. He’s on pace to hit a respectable 21 goals, but he might not hit the 40-point mark.

Ryan Kesler– C- Anaheim Ducks (53 percent)

Kesler remains a solid two-way player, but his production simply hasn’t been there since coming back from injury. He has two goals in his last four games, but he’s also accumulated just seven points in 16 games. Picking up Schmaltz or Haula and dropping him could make sense for a lot of fantasy owners in standard leagues. Also, both Schmaltz and Haula can be slotted in multiple positions. Kesler can’t.

[Fantasy Podcast: Rotoworld Hockey’s Salute to Jagr]

Jimmy Howard– G- Detroit Red Wings (50 percent)

Howard has taken a back seat to Petr Mrazek, who has played in three straight and five of Detroit’s last six games. Mrazek even got to start two games in two nights on Friday and Saturday. That’s definitely not a good sign for Howard’s fantasy value down the stretch.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

WATCH LIVE: Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers

Getty

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Buffalo Sabres

Benoit PouliotJack EichelKyle Okposo

Evander KaneRyan O'ReillyJason Pominville

Zemgus GirgensonsEvan RodriguesSam Reinhart

Scott WilsonJohan LarssonJordan Nolan

Marco ScandellaRasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabeJustin Falk

Josh Gorges — Casey Nelson

Starting goalie: Robin Lehner

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Rangers; Penguins vs. Kings]

New York Rangers

Rick NashMika ZibanejadPavel Buchnevich

Mats ZuccarelloJ.T. Miller — Vinni Lettieri

Jimmy VeseyDavid DesharnaisPaul Carey

Michael Grabner — Peter Holland — Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonaghNick Holden

Brady SkjeiKevin Shattenkirk

Brendan SmithSteven Kampfer

Starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

WATCH LIVE: 2018 Winter Classic – Rangers vs. Sabres

Getty
1 Comment

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Rangers

Rick Nash/Mika Zibanejad/Mats Zuccarello

Michael Grabner/Kevin Hayes/J.T. Miller

Pavel Buchnevich/David Desharnais/Jimmy Vesey

Paul Carey/Boo Nieves/Vinni Lettieri

Ryan McDonagh/Nick Holden

Brendan Smith/Kevin Shattenkirk

Marc Staal/Brady Skjei

Startling goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers, Sabres take advantage of Winter Classic distraction

Sabres:

Zemgus Girgensons/Jack Eichel/Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane/Ryan O'Reilly/Kyle Okposo

Benoit Pouliot/Evan Rodrigues/Jason Pominville

Johan Larsson/Jacob Josefson/Jordan Nolan

Marco Scandella/Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe/Zach Bogosian

Josh Gorges/Nathan Beaulieu

Startling goalie: Robin Lehner

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres

Getty

WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Bruins

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak

Jake DeBruskRyan SpoonerAnders Bjork

Danton HeinenRiley NashDavid Backes

Tim SchallerSean KuralyNoel Acciari

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy

Torey KrugBrandon Carlo

Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Starting goalie: Anton Khudobin

BRUINS LOOK TO KEEP ROLLING AGAINST SABRES (Preview)

Sabres

Evander KaneJack EichelJason Pominville

Benoit PouliotRyan O'ReillyKyle Okposo

Zemgus GirgensonsJohan LarssonSam Reinhart

Evan RodriguesJacob JosefsonJordan Nolan

Marco ScandellaRasmus Ristolainen

Nathan BeaulieuZach Bogosian

Jake McCabeVictor Antipin

Starting goalie: Robin Lehner

Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid have wrong things in common right now

Getty
16 Comments

As the top two picks of the 2015 NHL Draft, faces of beleaguered franchises, and recipients of eight-figure salaries starting next season, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel share a lot in common.

Sadly, though the first quarter of this campaign, their similarities mostly leave you kind of bummed out.

Sure, there are key differences, but if you paint in broad brushstrokes, the similarities are striking.

Varying degrees of blame

Look, it’s almost human nature to blame a team’s failures on its best player. The logic goes: they have the most power to change things, and they often draw the biggest checks (technically not true for McDavid and Eichel until next season), so they need to take the heat, right?

Well, maybe, but in almost every case in a team sport like hockey, it’s usually not on the best guy or even top guys on a team.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin sure seemed “in decline” for a while there, and then the Penguins brought in Phil Kessel, played to their strengths as an attacking team with Mike Sullivan in charge, and are now repeat champs.

Here’s hoping that McDavid and Eichel get some help, but with things sour for the Oilers (middle of the pack with contender aspirations) and Sabres (cellar dwellers despite dreams of big strides), the two are getting thrown under the bus at times.

The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington wrote this about Eichel, and keep in mind this was before Buffalo dropped its sixth in a row in falling short against Columbus on Monday:

Eichel has five goals in 20 games, tallying just once in his last 11. He’s got a minus-9 rating for the season. Those are the numbers. Now let’s move to things you can’t measure.

Eichel’s body language has been terrible much of season. It’s a dirty little secret fans are finally figuring out that he floats off the ice far too much on the end of his shifts.

McDavid, meanwhile, saw his defensive struggles magnified during Edmonton’s frustrating loss to the Dallas Stars this past weekend:

Oilers Nation’s Cam Lewis felt the need to defend McDavid, and he wasn’t alone. That’s how bad things are getting for fans of the Sabres and Oilers, two teams who have been through these growing pains so often, they probably wonder if the light at the end of the tunnel is actually a mirage.

Varying degrees of success

You really don’t have to dig that deep to see that McDavid and Eichel stand among a handful of Oilers/Sabres who are carrying the scoring burden for their teams.

It’s especially stark with McDavid, who has 25 points while the second-highest Oilers scorer is currently Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who has 15). Things are a little more even among Eichel and guys that he spends much of his ice time with, like a resurgent Evander Kane, but the broader view is the same: only four Sabres skaters are above 10 points while the Oilers only have five.

Yes, you can nitpick both players at times, but that requires the willful ignorance of looking the other way on an important point: few, if any, skaters are perfect. Especially during every night of an 82-game season.

The painfully obvious truth is that both McDavid and Eichel need more help and are being asked to do far too much. Harrington made an interesting point with this tweet, as it actually might apply to McDavid more than Eichel:

Deck chairs

From my vantage point, the situation might be more dire for the Oilers than the Sabres for a few reasons.

For one, it seems like Edmonton’s management has made its bed and now must lie in it. The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis said it well (sub required) in a piece titled “There’s no retreat from the course Peter Chiarelli has plotted for the Oilers.”

Chiarelli has essentially cast his lot with the likes of Milan Lucic and Kris Russell as key supporting cast members, and that hasn’t gone well, at all. Their bad contracts and trade clauses make them difficult to move.

And, really, how much do you trust Chiarelli to get the most out of moving, say, Nugent-Hopkins after he’s left behind a trail of shaky (at best) moves during his last years in Boston and his stay in Edmonton? To a lot of fans, he’s already a punchline.

Yikes.

In the short-term, the Sabres’ roster probably has bigger holes. Perhaps things might change as Kyle Okposo gets healthier, but the offense is a little slim beyond Eichel, Kane, Ryan O'Reilly, and Jason Pominville (though Sam Reinhart‘s showing some signs of promise).

While Edmonton’s actually fashioned a half-decent defense for itself, Buffalo’s a mess in that regard.

That said, this is the first season of the Phil Housley – Jason Botterill regime, and they deserve time to get things together. The best thing about this situation is that, while there’s a tough deal or two like that of Zach Bogosian, it’s a fairly clean slate in Buffalo. They don’t need to cling to bad moves out of pride or even to protect their jobs like, say, the Capitals stubbornly hanging onto Brooks Orpik and letting quality players slip by.

Essentially, these two teams are on different points in the board game that is team-building. The Oilers are advancing close to that make-or-break spot, which to some extent makes it scarier to see the same old problems bubbling up.

***

No, their situations aren’t exactly the same, but it’s remarkable to see the parallels between Eichel and McDavid right now. You can even meme them in similar ways.

With the right mixture of luck, progression, and good management choices, maybe we can go back to focusing on the delightful things that make them similar: financial security and being absolutely spellbinding at hockey.

Right now, that’s a difficult thing to do.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.