We finally have some clarity on Senator’s goaltender Craig Anderson. If you weren’t aware, he has left the team to be by his wife’s side as she battles cancer. Anderson has already left the team several times this season but his latest absence (13 games and counting) is by far the longest. Coach Guy Boucher came out earlier this week and stated that Anderson would be out until at least the end of January or early February. While this is certainly not good news for Fantasy owners, at least they now have some sort of timetable. The problem is that his return could easily be delayed. There isn’t much you can do, however. Odds are highly against anyone in your league offering you anything of value in a trade for Anderson. Why would they want to take on your headache? Hopefully, you were either deep at goaltender to begin with or you were able to pick up Mike Condon when he was available.
There could be good news ahead if you’re a Justin Schultz owner. Coach Mike Sullivan has let it be known that because of how well he has played, he would be open to the idea of pairing him on the point with Kris Letang on the first power play unit. Schultz is already having a career season with seven goals and 25 points. He is also an incredible plus-24. Yeah, who saw that coming? Obviously, Schultz playing on a power play with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel would be a boon to any defense. He may be a player you should think about acquiring, as other owners in your league may not be aware of this latest development.
I’m not the biggest fan of the NHL (or any other league for that matter) All-Star Game. All I care about is that my Fantasy players come out of the game healthy. That shouldn’t be a problem because just like the NFL, the players keep the hitting to a minimum since no one wants to get hurt in a meaningless game. It really is just a complete onslaught on the goalies since no one wants to play defense either.
How is it possible that Cam Atkinson didn’t make the All-Star Game? He is tied for fifth in the league with 20 goals, and plays for the team with the best overall record despite playing only 40 games. That’s about as big a snub as you get. Sure, he is having a career season and is not a big name like Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, but he deserves to be there just the same. As for his Fantasy prospects in the second half of the season, I’m not looking to sell high on him. Yes, he is going to obliterate his career high in goals this season, but I don’t see him as a one-year wonder who will crash and burn at any moment. He has averaged over 23 goals the last three seasons, and this just seems to be the year that he and the rest of the Blue Jackets are putting it all together. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t trade him under any circumstances. Anyone is tradeable if the offer is right. I’m just not actively looking to move him because I see a big downfall coming. His numbers may regress, but I still see a useful Fantasy Hockey player down the stretch.
This has been a banner season for rookies but Patrick Laine may be learning one lesson the hard way; keep your head up when you have the puck. Laine received a pass at center ice Saturday and started to skate with his head down when he was blasted by Jake McCabe of the Sabres. Laine has a concussion and is out indefinitely. As we all know by now, concussions can differ from player to player. Some take a day or two to recover, some much longer. His loss is being felt not only by Fantasy Hockey owners but by the Jets as well. Laine may be the closest we have seen to a player who possesses a shot similar to Ovechkin. He has a quick release and heavy shot. He was also on pace for 40-plus goals, which is a pretty significant achievement in his rookie season. The NHL and Fantasy Hockey owners can’t get him back in the lineup soon enough.
How are those bye weeks treating you so far? I’m not the biggest fan of the set up but that’s mainly because it makes setting lineups difficult, as the five days can start at any point during the week, not just on Monday. At least in the NFL when a player goes on bye, you lose him for just one week. In the NHL, it can hurt you for two. It’s an adjustment we will all have to make but in reality it only truly hurts those who play in head to head leagues.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz
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