To the surprise of quite a few, goal scoring is up pretty dramatically over the first week of the season. Now, it is much too small a sample size to draw any conclusions, but it’s odd to see offense ahead of the defense in the early going as usually, the reverse is true. The NHL did institute a few rule changes but nothing that would explain what has happened. The truth is, it’s probably just an anomaly and something that will correct itself over the next few weeks.
You’re going to hear quite a few trade rumors about John Tavares and where he could end up playing during the season. He is playing out the last year of his contract and is considered to be one of the best players in the NHL. Tavares has never stated that he doesn’t want to play for the Islanders, but the fact that he hasn’t signed a contract extension with the team speaks volumes about how he really feels. Money doesn’t seem to be an issue but where the team might end up calling home certainly is.
If Tavares were to hit the open market, he would have his choice of which team he wants to play for. The only thing certain about the Islanders is that they will play this season and next in Brooklyn. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. They could end up playing in Belmont if New York State approves their bid, but the Isles and Tavares may not find out the answer to that question before the NHL trade deadline and, make no mistake about it, the team would have to trade him for as much as they can get if they can’t re-sign him before then. It would be a colossal mistake for the Isles to let him walk for free. As for Fantasy his owners, (I am one) Tavares has stated that he is comfortable with the current situation. However, let’s see if that holds up when he is being bombarded by questions by the media on every road trip.
It’s a little early to be thinking about unloading any players for poor performance but if you own any Canadiens players, it may not be the worst idea to see what the market is for Carey Price. Montreal is a bad team. We all knew their defense would be a mess this season, but the offense doesn’t seem to be much better. Price is considered one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, but the lack of defense and suspect goal scoring could make him struggle all season long. This is a team that seems ripe for an implosion.
When looking over ownership percentages on CBS, I was surprised to see that there weren’t many unowned players that truly stood out. Bryan Rust, however, at 38 percent ownership was one of those players. While it’s true that he’s not the most talented player and probably won’t see much power play time, he is playing on the top line with Sidney Crosby. Usually, Fantasy owners have always taken dartboard throws at anyone playing with Evgeni Malkin and Crosby, but not this year, not with Rust. He has gotten off to a solid start with four assists in three games. He may be the type of player who thrives with Crosby; someone who can keep up with his speed and get him the puck. Perhaps Fantasy owners are worried about what happens when Patric Hornqvist (hand) returns from IR. While you can never trust what a team says, it’s not written in stone that Hornqvist will take over the top line role from Rust. He could end up playing on the third line. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
If you need a defenseman, Olli Maatta (49 percent) and Erik Johnson (26 percent) are both available and could fill a need. Maatta has always had offensive talent, but inconsistent play and difficulty staying healthy for any length of time have hurt him. He’s off to a great start on the offensive powerhouse that is the Penguins, and although his power play time will be limited with players like Kris Letang and Justin Schultz also on the blueline, he still has value on your Fantasy team. Johnson gets a bad rap because he plays on what is likely to be one of the worst teams in the NHL in Colorado. He still has talent, however, and may be their best overall defender. He wouldn’t be a bad speculative add if you can withstand the hit to your plus/minus.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz
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