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Fantasy Hockey Winds Down as Playoffs Approach

Fantasy Hockey Winds Down as Playoffs Approach
George Kurtz Staff Writer March 29, 2018 9:00PM EDT
There are just 11 days left in the NHL regular season and thus, the Fantasy Hockey season. It’s always bittersweet to realize this. Hockey is the forever Fantasy season and now it’s all coming to an end. Those of you who are still battling for a championship, good luck. If you’re playing in any kind of keeper league but have been eliminated from contention, don’t forget to check the waiver wire to see if there are any useful players that you can pick up for next season. You never know who a contending team may have released to win a championship this year. Let’s also not forget that if you can’t get enough hockey, there will be plenty of playoff leagues that you can participate in.

Those Fantasy owners who started Braden Holtby this week probably weren’t so happy when Philipp Grubauer was given the start Monday versus the Rangers. Holtby was deemed healthy enough to play but still was the backup. If you were playing in the finals or semi-finals this week, this could have determined your fate. Well, the injury gods hit Grubauer, as he wasn’t available for the rematch against the Rangers on Wednesday. Holtby got the start and played well enough to notch the win with 35 saves. He should once again be the starting netminder for Washington regardless of Grubauer’s health for Friday’s game against Carolina, and on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The Sabres signed Casey Mittelstadt to a three-year entry level contract this week. While he is a top prospect, he shouldn’t be added to your Fantasy team with the hope that he will bring you home the trophy this week. He should be added if you play in a keeper or dynasty league as he will help you next season. He’ll sit on the bench for the next 11 days.

The Calgary Flames have packed it in for the season. However, they really packed it in once Mike Smith suffered his groin injury versus the Islanders on Feb. 11. Sure, he has returned to action, but the rest of the team hasn’t. Sean Monahan is out for the remainder of the season due to a wrist injury, and now Matthew Tkachuk will join him with an upper body injury. Johnny Gaudreau didn’t play Monday due to a personal issue (his father suffered a cardiac arrest) and he is questionable at best to play Thursday. There is no offensive player that should be started from this team right now. Defensemen Doug Hamilton and Mark Giordano are all they really have to offer Fantasy owners and even that duo would be risky without any forwards to get the puck to in the offensive zone.

If you’re holding out hope for Ben Bishop, forget about it, it’s time to move on. Bishop is skating with the Stars but he’s not close to a return. He’s not expected to be reevaluated until Sunday and even if he gets clearance to play, it’s probably not wise to just reinsert him into your starting lineup for the final week of the season. The Stars could also be eliminated by this point and may not have much to play for next week. Kari Lehtonen isn’t the answer either but at this point in the season, beggars can’t be choosers, now can they?

Charlie McAvoy, who was at one time a candidate for the Calder Trophy before injuries hit, could return to the lineup as soon as Thursday versus Tampa Bay. If possible, it’s preferable to bench a player in his first game back from a long-term injury, especially when that player is facing a top offensive team. I’d have no problem starting him over the weekend or next week, but it would be a good idea to give him a look over his first game or two back before making that decision.

Roberto Luongo will return for the Panthers on Wednesday. He has a tough matchup versus the Maple Leafs so perhaps this isn’t the game to get him into your lineup. If you started James Reimer over Luongo this week, then not only did you get the shutout Monday versus the Islanders, but you also get a tasty matchup versus the Senators on Thursday as Reimer has already been tabbed to start that contest.

Not that you need me to tell you, but Connor McDavid is on fire right now. He has over 100 points for the season and will likely be the first overall pick in quite a few leagues next season. He’s the type of player that does make everyone around him better.

 

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