When it comes to playing Fantasy hockey, I’ve often wondered how to have forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders on an even playing field when it comes to setting up a league. Most of the categories are geared towards the forwards. Obviously, they will score more goals and for the most part have more assists then their defensive counterparts, and defining goaltending categories can be a chore.
I like to participate in leagues in which you could make an argument to draft any player at any time. To do this we need to even the playing field. In a points league that’s easy, as you can just change the points around to even things out (defensive goals could be worth twice as much, same with wins), but in a category league, this is a little more tricky. Generally, we like to play in traditional leagues (5×5, 6×6, etc.). To even the playing field, however, we would have to play in a 5x5x5 league, with separate categories for both forwards, defensemen, and goaltending. This automatically makes defensemen just as valuable as forwards and does the same for the net minders. This sounds pretty easy and it actually is, but it’s against the normal industry standard so probably won’t ever happen, but it is food for thought. I just don’t like being pigeonholed into what I should do come draft time.
In Fantasy baseball, we draft hitters early because starting pitchers can only count in four out of a possible five categories (no saves). In Fantasy football, we wait to draft a quarterback because the position is so deep (this is why I prefer 2QB leagues). Hockey is the same with forwards. Sure, you might take a goalie in the first three to four rounds, but other than that, you are generally loading up on forwards. Maybe I just don’t want to be like everyone else. Now, onto what has gone on around the NHL in the past couple of days.
The Oilers made a couple of goaltending moves this week. First, they gave up on Devan Dubnyk, sending him to Nashville for Matt Hendricks. This trade should have little to no effect in Fantasy with the exception being that Pekka Rinne may not be all that close to returning; there are even some rumors out there that he is done for the season. The second trade is more intriguing, as Ben Scrivens went from the Kings to the Oilers for a 3rd-round pick next season. Now, Scrivens did impress when he took over for the injured Jonathan Quick in L.A., but he is going to quickly find out that the Edmonton defense isn’t in the same stratosphere as the Kings. Scrivens is not the automatic starter in Edmonton and is actually a free agent next season, so this amounts to little more than a tryout to see if he can be the answer in net for the Oilers. Fantasy-wise, I’d stay away for now. He still has to battle Ilya Bryzgalov for the starting job. Even if he wins it, what are you hoping for? Wins still aren’t going to be easy to come by and his ratios could take a beating on that team.
Steven Stamkos is skating with the Lightning, and it’s starting to look more and more like he will be able to play in a few NHL games before the Olympics start next month. My best guess would be that he will suit up either late next week or in the final week of the month. Either way, he is not a wait and see player. If Stamkos is playing for the Lightning, he should be returned immediately to your starting lineup.
Those of you holding onto Sheldon Souray hoping he would return at some point this season can forget it; he’s out for the year.
The Jets have responded well so far to the coaching change, as they now look like the team we thought they would be coming into the season; one that will score a bunch of goals but may let up just as many. In short, a fun team to watch. Evander Kane, however, was placed on the IR on Thursday with a cut on his hand; he could be out for a couple of weeks. Dustin Byfuglien has taken kindly to his move to forward with a goal and three assists in three games. His name is out there quite a bit in trade rumors, but if I’m the Jets I’m not trading this guy unless I get an offer I can’t refuse.
Quick, can you name the leading goal scorer for the Boston Bruins? David Krejic, buzz. Jarome Iginla, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron or Loui Eriksson? Afraid not. It’s Reilly Smith. Not really what was expected now was it? Smith was acquired in the Tyler Seguin deal during the offseason. While Eriksson was the centerpiece of that deal for Boston, it’s Smith (who some thought was just a throw in) that has kept that deal from being a complete bust for the Bruins. Now, Smith only has 15 goals in 47 games, which means he’s not even on pace to score 30 goals. Still, he’s been a nice bonus for Fantasy players, and if he’s still on your waiver wire, you could have some options. Eriksson, by the way, was activated this week off the IR, as he has recovered from his concussion.
The Blues activated Alexander Steen from the IR on Friday. Apparently, his concussion symptoms have finally subsided and he’s ready to get back in the lineup. Steen has already equaled his career high in goals with 24 (35 games), and with the Blues looking like one of the best teams in the NHL, there is little doubt that you should get him back in your lineup before Saturday’s game against the Ducks.
Logan Couture has started skating this week after undergoing surgery on his hand about 10 days ago. His original timetable had him missing approximately three to four weeks of action, and that still holds true, but it’s starting to look like he could be back closer to the early end of that projection.
The Maple Leafs placed David Clarkson on the IR with an elbow injury Friday. This has been a bust of a season for Clarkson, his first in Toronto. Clarkson had scored 45 goals with the Devils in 128 games over the past two seasons but only has three goals in 36 games so far, for the Leafs this year. Clarkson looked to be a late bloomer (29 years old,) but this season got off to a rough start with a 10-game suspension in pre-season due to leaving the bench during a fight, and he has just never recovered.
As always, you can feel free to follow me on Twitter-@georgekurtz
The RotoExperts on SiriusXM won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Award for Radio Show of the Year. Read more about the honor here.