Semyon Varlamov

Getty

Fantasy Adds & Drops: Bernier baby Bernier

Leave a comment

Every week, PHT will look to provide its readers with some fantasy hockey advice. This column will aim to help you navigate through the rough waters of the waiver wire. We’ll tell you which players owned in 50 percent or less of Yahoo leagues are worth adding and we’ll also let you know which players you can safely part ways with.

If you have any specific fantasy hockey questions, feel free to write me an e-mail at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Here we go:

Adds:

Joe Thornton– C- San Jose Sharks (42 percent)

The Sharks will be pretty busy this week, as they’ll play five games between Monday and Sunday. Thornton went into the Sharks’ bye week on a three-game point drought, but he exploded for three points against the Coyotes on Saturday night. The veteran is on pace to hit the 60-point mark in 2017-18.

Jonathan Bernier– G- Colorado Avalanche (31 percent)

The Avalanche have been playing some good hockey of late and Bernier has a lot to do with that. He was the NHL’s second star last week, and with Semyon Varlamov out for at least two more weeks, he’ll continue to see a good amount of action. He’s worth at least a short-term add for those looking for a goaltender.

David Krejci– C- Boston Bruins (22 percent)

The Bruins forward has missed a good chunk of the season because of injuries, but he’s back and healthy now. Krejci has picked up four points in five games since returning from an upper-body injury in late December. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll be worth owning in most standard fantasy leagues.

Hampus Lindholm– D- Anaheim Ducks (16 percent)

Lindholm has registered four assists in his last four games. He sees large amounts of ice time on the Ducks blue line, so opportunities to produce won’t be an issue for him. Lindholm has produced at a 0.48 points-per-game clip this season, which is beyond reasonable for a defenseman.

[More Fantasy: Rotoworld Hockey Podcast on All-Star Snubs]

Anthony Beauvillier– C/LW- New York Islanders (5 percent)

Beauvillier spent the bye week in the minors which clearly seemed to work for him, as he came back and had three points against the Rangers over the weekend. The fact that he played on a line with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle makes him an intriguing add in deeper leagues.

Drop:

Brent Seabrook– D- Chicago Blackhawks (50 percent)

Seabrook scored in his first game back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch last week, but that doesn’t mean he’ll provide fantasy owners with strong production. If Hampus Lindholm is available in your league, it might be time for you to swap Seabrook for him.

Zach Parise– LW- Minnesota Wild (50 percent)

Parise finally made his regular season debut earlier this month after missing the first three months of the season with a back injury. The Wild forward has accumulated just one assist in his first seven games. It will take him time to find his legs, but there are other players that could provide strong fantasy value in the meantime.

[More Fantasy: Rotoworld’s Power Play Report]

Brendan Gallagher– RW- Montreal Canadiens (49 percent)

Gallagher is an incredibly hard worker that had a fine first half of the season on a mediocre Montreal team, but don’t be surprised if he comes back down to earth in the second half. His work rate will always be high, it’s just that his production will likely dip. Gallagher has just three goals in his last 15 games.

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.

Beyond MacKinnon: A look at rising Avalanche

Getty
3 Comments

The Colorado Avalanche probably wish they could push their bye week back, or cancel it altogether.

Such logic would be understandable after last night’s jarring win: a 7-2 drubbing of the Minnesota Wild. The Avs impressed their Central Division rivals, as The Athletic’s Michael Russo reports (sub required):

“They’ve got some good young players,” Eric Staal said. “They’ve got quickness. They’ve got, it looks like, a better belief in the style of game they need to play. When you’re that far behind the eight-ball the way they were last year, sometimes it’s difficult to be up for games. But they’re real competitive.”

That 7-2 mark represented the Avalanche’s fifth consecutive victory, placing them – for the time being – in one of the West’s wild card spots. Remarkably, they’ve generated 47 standings points in 41 games in 2017-18 after generating just 48 in all of 2016-17.

With all of that in mind, it might be entertaining and informative to do a deep dive on the Avalanche. Let’s look at what’s been working during the winning streak and beyond.

Nate Mac, duh

The most obvious reason is one that sticks out like a frostbitten thumb: Nathan MacKinnon‘s explosion from very good player to superstar.

We won’t beat that drum too much again, as we’ve already done so here and here. Just note that MacKinnon has an absurd 12 points during this five-game winning streak (three goals, nine assists) and is ranked second in scoring with 52 points overall.

More than Mac

Don’t look now, but Samuel Girard has five points in as many games, so Avs fans shouldn’t fret about Matt Duchene starting to heat up in Ottawa. Young players are driving much of Colorado’s success, as Alex Kerfoot would probably be getting more attention as a strong rookie in a weaker Calder year, while Mikko Rantanen continues to ascend the ranks alongside MacKinnon.

At 25, Gabriel Landeskog isn’t quite old, but he’s experienced compared to some of those other names. The sturdy Swede has 32 points in 37 games this season, just one short of tying his 2016-17 total.

Bernier up the charts

Much like James Reimer in Florida, Jonathan Bernier is a backup with some starting experience who’s taking advantage of an opportunity to shine with his team’s starter (in this case, Semyon Varlamov) on the shelf.

Bernier hasn’t been lights-out overall (still just 9-7-1 with .909 save percentage), yet he’s been burning it up during this run. The former first-rounder is on a four-game winning streak, allowing five goals and nabbing one shutout.

Power play showing some power

The Avalanche have generated at least one power-play goal in four of five games during this winning streak, generating seven overall (7-for-17).

A longer run

A five-game winning streak is only so much during an 82-game regular season. The positive thing is that the Avalanche’s run really goes deeper than this surge.

When the Avs fell 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 7, their record dipped to 12-13-2. Since then, they’ve only lost four times, going 10-3-1 to improve to 22-16-3 overall.

Paying the toll

One thing to note is that the Avalanche have enjoyed some home-cooking lately. Yesterday ended a six-game homestand, and they’ve played nine of their last 11 in Colorado. They’ll pay that debt back soon enough, as they’ll face a six-game road trip and nine of 10 on the road during this stretch:

Mon, Jan 22 @ Toronto
Tue, Jan 23 @ Montreal
Thu, Jan 25 @ St. Louis
Tue, Jan 30 @ Vancouver
Thu, Feb 1 @ Edmonton
Sat, Feb 3 @ Winnipeg
Tue, Feb 6 vs San Jose
Thu, Feb 8 @ St. Louis
Sat, Feb 10 @ Carolina
Sun, Feb 11 @ Buffalo

With that in mind, the Avalanche should push that much harder to avoid sleepwalking out of this break. They play one road game next Saturday and then enjoy a three-game homestand before that stretch listed above, so they might want to build a buffer for themselves.

***

The good news is that the Avalanche are wiping away the ugly memories of last season, and doing so to a degree that surprises even those who were optimistic that they could improve. The only downside is that they’re raising expectations, and that might make a dip more disappointing.

Still, they’ll take 47 points midway through a season over 48 during a full season any day.

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.

The Buzzer: Henrique back in Jersey, McAvoy channels Howe

Getty Images
1 Comment

Players of the Night:

Adam Henrique, Anaheim Ducks: Henrique had a goal — a beauty of a goal — and an assist in his return to New Jersey, just three weeks after being dealt there. His Ducks didn’t get the last laugh though. The Devils had a solid third-period comeback to win 5-3.

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins: Who doesn’t like a Gordie Howe hat trick? McAvoy certainly liked his tonight. He scored the game-winner, assisted on two goals and fought Pierre-Luc Dubois to cap off the feat.

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Quick stopped 36-of-37 to end the Philadelphia Flyers six-game winning streak and ended the Kings’ three-game losing streak. The Kings have been very good this season and Quick has been front and center in that.

Highlights of the Night:

For this one, we start by going back to New Jersey and we go back to Henrique’s sensational goal against his former club.

Jesper Bratt scored this cheeky yet wicked wrist shot for the Devils tonight:

Brian Elliott didn’t have much luck against the Kings tonight, but he produced quite the glove save:

Factoid of the Night:

MISC: 

Scores:

Kings 4, Flyers 1

Devils 5, Ducks 3

Bruins 7, Blue Jackets 2

Avalanche 4, Penguins 2

Oilers 5, Sharks 3


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Which teams should trade for Red Wings’ Petr Mrazek?

Getty
9 Comments

The Detroit Red Wings raised eyebrows when they protected Jimmy Howard in the expansion draft instead of Petr Mrazek, and things haven’t really turned around since then. Rumors are starting to swirl that a seemingly inevitable split might be brewing in the form of a trade.

The Athletic’s Craig Custance reports (sub required) that teams are calling the Red Wings – though not “banging down the door” – regarding Mrazek, and Custance reasonably asserts that Detroit should play him a bit more to try to raise his standing.

If you consider how much Mrazek’s reputation has slid, Custance’s opinion can really only be denied by a franchise that … is in complete denial?

Mrazek, 2012-13 to 2015-16, 94 games played (via NHL.com): 46-30-8,  nine shutouts, .920 save percentage.

Mrazek, 2016-17 and 2017-18, 60 games played (also via NHL.com): 20-25-10, two shutouts, .899 save percentage.

Quite a disparity between Good/Early Mrazek and Bad/Recent Mrazek, eh?

Things get more interesting when you note that TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that, given the right offer, the Red Wings would be willing to retain salary with Mrazek. That’s crucial with Mrazek carrying a $4M cap hit heading into restricted free agency. Custance reports that Mrazek might cost a suitor a third-round pick, although salary retention might bump the asking price to a second-rounder.

Rather than ruminating on the Red Wings’ poor handling of Mrazek/unwillingness to truly embrace a rebuild, it would be more fun to picture the most enticing or interesting destinations for the puzzling puck-stopper.

Please note that these aren’t confirmed potential destinations, this is just for entertainment purposes. For the record, the Red Wings would be foolish to let Mrazek walk for nothing, even if they don’t get quite the level of draft pick they’re reportedly hoping for.

Feel free to add in other teams that would make sense to you and/or the respective GMs.

Penguins

Right now, the Penguins have approximately $670K cap space and Cap Friendly projects their trade deadline space at $3.1M, so this would likely be a retention situation.

If any team understands the value of having a Plan B in net, it’s the Penguins. Now, Tristan Jarry‘s been quite proficient (.919 save percentage), but with Pittsburgh in win-now mode for the near future, it might be worth bringing in Mrazek as insurance for Matt Murray. Both of the Pens’ runs required two goalies to shoulder the burden, after all.

There’s reason to believe that the Czech netminder could be a good stylistic fit, too, as his athleticism may come in handy for a team that can be a bit, um, leaky in the defensive end.

[More on Penguins: why a spark may come from within.]

Coyotes

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Arizona.

Perhaps the Coyotes still believe in Antti Raanta, yet this season hasn’t gone well, in part because the former Rangers backup suffered some unfortunate injuries. Even if they do, the Coyotes might see some logic in getting a few months to look at Mrazek, possibly setting the stage for an ideally cheap platoon of Raanta – Mrazek?

Custance describes Mrazek as a rental, in part because of the nature of his contract. Even so, what if the Coyotes got some time with him, liked what they saw, and then simply convinced him to take less than $4M per year with an extension? Stranger things have happened, and the Coyotes could use all the help they can get.

Mrazek also tends to get love from “fancy stats” folks on occasion, and Coyotes GM John Chayka sometimes gets lumped in with such methods of thinking. So maybe he’s eyeballing Mrazek as we ponder hypothetical teams.

Wild

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher is under a lot of pressure as he’s reportedly needing a new contract, and now occasional-meal-ticket Devan Dubnyk is considered week-to-week. Money is tight in Minnesota, but even with a winning streak in mind, they likely want a little help beyond Alex Stalock.

Really, management might see some parallels between Dubnyk and Mrazek. Both goalies quietly put up nice numbers on shaky teams, only to see things fall apart. Dubnyk revitalized his career; maybe Mrazek could do that in helping Minny secure a playoff spot?

Theoretically, the Wild might just need Mrazek the most.

Flyers/Avalanche

OK, this entry’s a little bit stranger, but hear me out.

The Avalanche might not see Semyon Varlamov as their future in net, while the two-headed, two-year-contract monster of Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth is a work in progress in Philly.

So, what if one or two of these rebuilding/in-between franchises wants to test things out with Mrazek? Maybe the Red Wings could earn a better return in taking on Varlamov or one of those Philly goalies, even though they’re signed through 2018-19.

(In the case of Neuvirth/Elliott, their salaries might not even be much of an issue as slightly expensive backups if Detroit finally cleans house, or merely begins to clean house.)

Much like with the Coyotes, these teams would likely be most interested in deciding if Mrazek could be a part of the future. We’ve seen Flyers GM Ron Hextall take on Steve Mason in a similar situation as a reclamation project, and that worked out quite well, at least at first.

(Philly’s current winning streak would probably put such thoughts on the backburner, but still.)

[More on Flyers’ and Elliott’s hot run.]

Oilers

Look, I had to mention the Oilers, as you can’t picture trades without at least penciling a token Peter Chiarelli groaner.

There’s at least some logic to the prospect of Edmonton nabbing Mrazek, too.

Cam Talbot‘s struggling mightily, and with his $4.167M cap hit expiring after 2018-19, he’s not necessarily guaranteed to be Edmonton’s guy any longer. Especially since Edmonton needs to make every buck count after doing the opposite for so many years.

What if Mrazek could get hot and save Edmonton’s season, or at least give Talbot time to get things together? Surely that’s worth (checks notes) way too much? Uh oh, someone take the phone away from Chia …

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.

PHT Morning Skate: Kovalchuk urges clean Russian athletes to go to Olympics

Getty
15 Comments
Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• If Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson both hit free agency in the summer of 2019, there’s no doubt that that would change the landscape in the NHL. (Sporting News)

• Ilya Kovalchuk believes that all of Russia’s clean athletes should go the Olympics. (Reuters.com)

• Speaking of the IOC’s Russian ban, Canucks forward Alex Burmistrov says he’s not impressed with the decision. (The Province)

• Former Minnesota high school hockey player Jack Jablonski was left paralyzed after being hit during a game. A couple of weeks ago, he got a huge emotional boost. (LA Times)

• One of the bidders has pulled themselves out of the running for the land at Belmont Park. That means that the Islanders and MLS’ NYCFC are the only two bidding on that piece of land right now. (The Sports Daily)

• Sens GM Pierre Dorion already made a splash when he acquired Matt Duchene, but now he’s looking at other ways to help his struggling team. (Ottawa Sun)

• Erik Martinson, who tracks the stats at University of North Dakota hockey games, is passionate about his work. His crew will be tracking stats at the Frozen Four this year. (Grandforksherald.com)

• Seattle Thunderbirds GM Russ Farwell isn’t surprised by the way Mat Barzal has performed for the Islanders this season. (SNY.TV)

• The Carolina Hurricanes are always near the bottom when it comes to attendance, but that’s partly by design. (SB Nation)

• It’s time for the Avalanche to trust Semyon Varlamov and stop being so cautious with him. (BSN Denver)

• The Tampa Bay Lightning are close to announcing two new five-year leases that would keep them Tampa through 2037. (Tampa Bay Times)

• Jack Hughes isn’t draft-eligible until 2019, but it already looks like he’ll be one of the next great American hockey players. (Hockeywilderness.com)

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.