What’s the ceiling for this Winnipeg Jets team?
For this year, I think they could not only make it to the playoffs, but they could do some damage once they get to the big dance.
For this year, I think they could not only make it to the playoffs, but they could do some damage once they get to the big dance.
Tyler Yaremchuk: I don’t see a scenario the Maple Leafs outscore the Capitals, simply based on depth. I don’t see a scenario where Braden Holtby is outplayed by Frederik Andersen. I don’t see a scenario where a blue line that features Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak can outplay a team with Shattenkirk, Niskanen, Carlson (if healthy) and Orlov. This should be a sweep, so I’m not even going to complicate things.
Liam Horrobin: It’s fair to say that this is the most one-sided series out of all of them this post-season. The Maples Leafs have plenty of scoring on their side but the Caps can pretty much double that. We still don’t know what’s happening with Andersen too which will be a big fact. Overall, the Caps will just simply overpower the young leafs.
Taylor Paniccia: While it’s exciting times in the 6ix for the Maple Leafs and the hype around the kid phenom Auston
Matthews, this is the worst matchup for the Leafs to get involved in. While I believe the Leafs will be an offensive powerhouse in the near future I don’t see them keeping up to the big guns of the Capitals. From goaltending in Brayden Holtby to their sound defense core, to the deep forward roster, topped off with offensive horses such as Ovechkin and Backstrom, I believe that the Caps are the most well-rounded team in the NHL. The Capitals ceiling for cup potential is higher than ever in recent years and look for the President Trophy winners to blow away the Leafs quickly.
Brayden Engel: This is absolutely the best case scenario for the Leafs. They came into the regular season with no expectations and now enter the postseason with similar optimism. Getting to watch the best team in the league skate circles around them will really help keep their egos in check and show them just how far away they are from where they need to be. I think they’re incredibly outmatched but have the ability to outscore even the best team and give the Caps a bit of a scare before they wake up and pull away.
Josh Goodings: Poor Leafs fans. So close to having an easy ride to the second round against Ottawa, but fall one point short and have to cross over to the big bad Metro division and face the best team in the NHL. The Leafs are probably going to lose to Washington, who very well could win the Stanley Cup this year, but they should have no shame in that. What the Leafs did this year was amazing, going from 30th in the NHL in 15/16 to a playoff berth in 16/17, lead by three-star rookies in Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. The future is very bright for the Leafs, but I think they’re gonna have to wait another year to win their first playoff series since 2004.
Devin Horne: This Caps team is insanely good, like really, really good. Third overall for goals scored and first in goals against, by quite a gap too. The next closest team, Columbus let in 193 pucks this year while Washington only 177. That’s 2.15 goals against the Caps a game. Add to that Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin, and a deadline pickup in Kevin Shattenkirk, dude has 14 points in 19 games with Washington. I think this may be the year we see Ovie hoist, Lord Stanley. Leafs are pretty exciting, but they’re too young and too inexperienced. They’ll be a pretty exciting team this decade. Again, because of this awful playoff format, we’ll see the Caps and Pens in the second round, instead of the Eastern Conference Final. NHL fix this!
Tyler Yaremchuk: I’ve toss and turned on this series for a long time. The Blue Jackets are an incredibly difficult team to beat. They never stop checking and will out work all game if nothing else. If their offense can wake up, I have no problem taking them in six or seven. On the other hands, could I really bet against a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Even with a depleted defense, they’re so solid. This could really go either way, and these two teams hate each other, which will only add to the excitement of this first round matchup. One of the hardest predict, but I’m going with my heart on this one.
Liam Horrobin: It’s disappointing to see these two heavyweights going at it in the first-round but it is what it is. The Penguins have just lost Kris Letang which will be a huge loss for them and I believe could be a series decider. The Blue Jackets, with Bobrovsky between the pipes, have got all they need to take down the Pens. Rookie star Zach Werenski will also have to lead by example at the back end for the Jackets.
Taylor Paniccia: A season series won by the Blue Jackets this matchup is possibly the most tightly matched round one series. The Blue Jackets key to winning this series is their Vezina favoured goalie in Bobrovsky shutting the door and the all important shut-down matchup between Dubinsky and Crosby. Home-ice to me will be big in this one as well as special teams as both teams are good at home and on the special teams. Based purely on gut feeling and Stanley Cup defenders look for the Penguins to take down Lumbo in a long back and forth series.
Brayden Engel: After a white-hot streak in December, Torts’ Jackets have cooled off of late which is not something you want to hear about the team who’s about to take on Sidney Crosby and the defending Cup champs. While it’s hard to repeat these days, I don’t see the Pens having much difficulty with Columbus. Too much skill up and down the lineup, even with Letang out.
Josh Goodings: This is a very tight matchup between the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams in the East. Pittsburgh vs Columbus has become a heated rivalry ever since the two teams met in the playoffs in 2014. Columbus is now a very well rounded team with a great young defense core in front Sergei Bobrovsky, a soon to be two-time Vezina trophy winner, who I believe could be the key to Columbus winning this series. Pittsburgh also has a very good goaltender in Matt Murray, who was a big reason the Penguins won the cup last year, and I think he’ll hold his own in this goalie battle. The biggest difference in this series is that CBJ doesn’t have a Sidney Crosby, or an Evgeni Malkin. With those two healthy Pittsburgh is capable of beating anyone. The one red flag in Pittsburgh’s title defense is the injury of Kris Letang, that’s a massive blow to the Pens and could be their downfall if they meet Washington in the second round. Despite that, I still think they can get past Columbus without Letang.
Devin Horne: You can’t bet against Sidney Crosby and the Pens, last year’s Cup champs. Crosby and Malkin are just deadly, and who hasn’t loved this renaissance of Phil Kessel? Losing Kris Letang is a huge loss, but those three forwards alone have 70 plus points this year. Columbus will give them some trouble, especially with Bobrovsky between the pipes. Again, playoff experience is huge especially in the first round when teams haven’t had that first round victory to boost them. Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad, and Alexander Wennberg just can’t match the Pens firepower.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Price vs Lundqvist? I take Price every day of the week. The only way this series goes to the Rangers is if Lundqvist steals it himself. The Rangers defense is awful, their offense lacks a scoring superstar, they simply aren’t built for a long run in my mind. The Habs have been up and down all season, but they at least have all the ingredients for a team ready to take a plunge into round two in my mind.
Liam Horrobin: Carey Price will be challenged in this series against a Rangers team who finished fourth in the NHL in goals. Despite that, the Rangers finished the season freezing cold losing seven of their last 10 games. With the Rangers recent form and Carey Price being the best goaltender in the world, I can see the Canadiens taking this one.
Taylor Paniccia: A matchup that can easily go both ways. As far as I’m concerned this can be a sweep by the Canadiens as Price purely dominates the declining New York Rangers or the Habs can pull out their inconsistent ways and get beaten in a long and fast series. The Habs swept the Rangers in the season series three straight. All eyes will be on the goaltending matchup that should most likely be won by Carey Price. Price has shutout the Rangers seven times in his career the most against any team and poses a 15-5-1 record against them lifetime. Both these teams have a very loud home-ice advantage but look for the Bell Centre to be a little bit louder with a Canadiens series win.
Brayden Engel: I see most of us feel the same way about this series and it’s tough to disagree. Price is the best in the world and has an insane record in elimination games which means he can turn it on when it counts. He’s carried this team before and this won’t be any different.
Josh Goodings: This is a pretty close matchup between two similar teams. Both the Rangers and Habs are pretty average teams that are held up by world-class goaltenders, and it will likely come down to the goalie matchup. That matchup isn’t nearly as close as it was the last time these teams met in the playoffs in 2014. Despite having a few rough months this season, Carey Price is still one of, if not the best goalie(s) in the world, and is capable of winning this series largely by himself. Lundqvist, on the other hand, seems to be falling off at the age of 35, posting a .910 SV% this season, the lowest of his career. This might be because the Rangers defense is not nearly as good as it was when they won the President’s trophy in 14/15. Although they’re pretty close, I’d say the Habs are the better team and have the better goalie. They also swept the season series 3-0. So as long as Chris Kreider doesn’t take out Price again, the Habs should be fine.
Devin Horne: The Rangers looked pretty great earlier this season, but the holes in their defensive core are pretty glaring now. I don’t think Hank alone can bring them a victory here, his GAA and save percentage both slipped a bit this season. Habs have been pretty good this year, Carey Price is back to his usual self and the addition of Alexander Radulov has been a great pick up.
Tyler Yaremchuk: Two teams being thrown around by injuries to end the season. Two teams who have struggled with inconsistency all season. This is as much of a toss up as any other series. In the end, I like the Senators to take it. It’s incredibly close and will likely come down to one goal in game six or seven. Boston drives possession and creates chances better than Ottawa, and if they can keep things at 5v5 they should have the edge.
Liam Horrobin: I can’t wait to watch this series, said nobody ever. Both sides are rigged with injuries to important players and don’t have too many superstars. This series will not be one to remember in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, however, we’ve still got to give a prediction. In my eyes, Brad Marchand will help the Bruins come out on top over the Ottawa Senators.
Taylor Paniccia: The Ottawa Senators are the only team in the post-season with a negative goal differential. Weird. But this is a good first round matchup for them as they swept the season series four games straight as this could be a big mental boost for them. Just based on season series I have the Senators taking down the Bruins but making a quick second round exit.
Brayden Engel: This is must miss TV. These are the two worst teams in the playoffs as far as I’m concerned with the Sens being riddled with injuries and the Bruins being old and dirty. That said, it will likely be a tightly contested series with a lot of variables. Karlsson has to play every game for the Sens to have a chance but that will be for naught if Anderson can’t find his game. In the end, I’m going to err on the side of experience in Rask, Bergeron, and Marchand.
Josh Goodings: The Senators are the worst team in the playoffs this year. They’re the only team in the playoffs with a negative goal differential, and if they didn’t have Erik Karlsson they’d have a pretty good shot at drafting Nolan Patrick this summer. Despite being swept in the season series by Ottawa, Boston is the better team and should be moving on to the second round.
Devin Horne: Both teams suffered from injuries and inconsistency this year, and both nearly limped into the postseason. Ottawa does not generate enough offence, they’re the worst offensive team to make the postseason. The Bruins power play was seventh best this year, and they finished the season with the league’s best penalty kill. Also, I love Brad Marchand, a pest who also finished sixth in league scoring. That most recent incidents was pretty disgusting though.
The first two picks of the 2016 NHL Draft have made immediate impacts for their respective teams. Centreman Auston Matthews looks poised beyond his years as his responsible two-way game has the Leafs in a playoff position. Right Winger Patrik Laine’s offensive ability has the Finnish super-rookie contending for the Maurice Rocket Richard trophy, as he trails only Sidney Crosby for the league lead in goals.
Both players headline an impressive rookie class for the 2016-2017 NHL season. Patrik Laine leads all NHL Rookies in Goals, Points, Points/Game and Powerplay Goals despite missing 8 games earlier this season due to a concussion. Meanwhile, Matthews leads the way, among first-year players, in Game Winning Goals and Shots. Their season stat lines are as follows:
Matthews: 60 GP, 28 G, 24 A, 52 PTS, +3, 4 PPG, 16 PPP, 6 GWG, 210 Shots, 17:47 TOI/Game
Laine: 55 GP, 30 G, 24 A, 54 PTS, +9, 8 PPG, 12 PPP, 5 GWG, 151 Shots, 18:10 TOI/Game
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets completed their two-game season series on Tuesday night. Both games turned into Overtime thrillers, with each team taking one game-a-piece. The two rookies didn’t disappoint in their efforts, each putting on a show in both games:
Matthews: 0 G, 4 A, 4 PTS, -1, 8 SOG, 18:18 TOI/Game
Laine: 5 G, 0 A, 5 PTS, +2, 7 SOG, 18:02 TOI/Game
Laine and Matthews have had tremendous starts to their NHL careers. Within their first year of play, they have demonstrated skills and qualities that are usually found in grizzled NHL veterans. It’s amazing to believe both aren’t even 20 years-old and yet, have set the league on fire with their offensive outputs.
Patrik Laine could very well be on his way to scoring the Rocket Richard Trophy by season’s end, as he only trails Sidney Crosby by 3 goals with 19 games to go. However, that may not mean he is a lock for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Top Rookie. Look for Matthews’ drive and ultra-competitiveness to become even more apparent during the final 20 games of the season; he wants that Calder!
Beyond this season, we can expect both players to break team and league records for years to come. What a time to be a Leafs, Jets and hockey fan!
(Image courtesy of RollingStone.com)
There is no denying Auston Matthews’ ability to excel at both ends of the ice. On nearly a nightly basis, he creates chances seemingly at the same rate he prevents them. The question then becomes; which is he best at? To take it one step further; which can he be THE best at first? While it’s common knowledge players often become better defensively as they spend more time in the league, refining offensive natural tendencies into the more universally approved “defense first” mentality, I decided to look at how age influenced a players’ ability to win major awards. With this information, I hoped to unveil a reasonable expectation of when Matthews could land his first major award that all of his peers were eligible for, not just the ones who had yet to play 26 NHL games and thus were up for the Calder trophy.
(Image courtesy of Yahoo Sports)
The Laine vs Matthews debate is one that will last a lifetime, despite feeling like it already has. With this article, the intention is to contradict the conclusion drawn by TSN’s Gary Lawless in his widespread piece covering the same topic. It’s universally accepted these two players will appeal to different demographics and teams, dependent on a franchise’s needs.
photo via: .todaysslapshot.com
We’ve been hit by the injury bug!!
The list of players that were injured this week is endless! There’s Bobby Ryan, Steven Stamkos, Taylor Hall and Johnny Gaudreau, just to name a few.
This may be the most important waiver wire list I’ll have to do all season, so no pressure on my part.
Alrighty then! Here we go.
Brandon Sutter – Vancouver Canucks
ESPN Owned Percentage: 8.2%
First up we’ve got the Vancouver Canucks forward Sutter who had an excellent past week putting up a point in every game. The forward was recently moved up to the top line replacing winger Loui Eriksson. The Canucks likely won’t stay this hot for long, the most points he’s ever had in a season was way back in 2009 when he scored 40 points. Right now he has 11 points so enjoy the ride whilst you can.
Jesse Puljujarvi – Edmonton Oilers
ESPN Owned Percentage: 7.3%
I put out a tweet earlier this week saying how Puljujarvi should be picked up in all leagues and I still stand by that. The rookie was moved to the top line to play alongside Mr. Connor McDavid, in his first game beside him, the young Fin grabbed himself two assists. This is much like the situation we’ve had with Maroon the last couple of weeks where you’re picking him up because he’s playing with McDavid. However, Jesse is a much more talented player than Maroon is, we should expect him to pick up plenty of points in his new role. The Fin is a player you’ll be able to play for weeks to come if all stays as is.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning
ESPN Owned Percentage: 37%
I don’t really know what’s going on with the goalie situation in Tampa, but what I do know is that Vasilevskiy just had back to back shutouts making him a must-add this week. In seven games this season, Vasilevskiy had recorded five wins with two shutouts and 1.43 goals against. It’s safe to say he’s been a brick wall for Tampa, but yet still owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues. If the Russian continues this form it won’t be long before he starts to get the bulk of the games, pick him up whilst you can.
Cam Ward – Carolina Hurricanes
ESPN Owned Percentage: 25.6%
The second goalie on our list, Cam Ward didn’t start the season strongly but seems to be picking it up. Four straight wins in four straight starts for the Canes netminder, exactly what we want to see as fantasy owners. The goalie market isn’t the greatest if there is a netminder playing this way he deserves to be on your roster. His schedule does get tougher but due to his recent form that shouldn’t be an issue.
Mitch Marner – Toronto Maple Leafs
ESPN Owned Percentage: 62.1%
The hottest rookie in the league right now, Mitch Marner has had a surprising start to the season. Tied for 8th in scoring, the young Maple Leafs forward hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down after putting up four points in his last three games. Compared to other leafs rookies, I think Marner will find it easier to stay consistent throughout the season due to playing with two veteran players, James Van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak. Over the past week, the youngsters owned percentage has increased by almost 20%, pick him up before it’s too late.
Seth Jones – Columbus Blue Jackets
ESPN Owned Percentage: 62.9%
After suffering a hairline fracture in his foot, Seth Jones has been removed from the IR. Jones was off to a hot start scoring six points in ten games until his unfortunate injury. There is no guarantee that the Blue Jackets d-man will be put right into the lineup for Monday’s game against Colorado, however, we will be seeing him back on the ice shortly. When healthy, Jones is arguably the best young defensemen in the league and if his momentum continues from before his injury he’ll be back on track for a career year.
The NHL world was hit with three major injuries last night. Superstars Taylor Hall, Johnny Gaudreau, and Steven Stamkos all will be spending significant time on the sideline
Not only is this a huge blow in the real world but also in the fantasy world. If you don’t find the right solution for these injuries, your fantasy season could be over.
I’m going to be taking at look at players to add from the injured players NHL team, basic waiver wire pickups, and deep wire pickups.
Sam Bennett – Calgary Flames
ESPN Owned Percentage: 36%
Bennett seems to be the guy stepping up as the replacement for Gaudreau. Coach Gulutzan has slotted the young forward onto the first line alongside Monahan and Brouwer, Bennett is going to be playing on the first powerplay unit too. The Flames forward has put together a half decent season so far, scoring seven points at almost the quarter way mark. Bennett definitely has the ability to put up good numbers in Gaudreau’s absent.
P.A. Parenteau – New Jersey Devils
ESPN Owned Percentage: 48%
Parenteau is not technically filling the missing hole that Taylor Hall has left but could be relied on more often. Like Sam Bennett, the Devils forward has seven points whilst playing on the first line with Taylor Hall. Now that Taylor is out, the Devils are going to need Parenteau to produce more for them which is not unreasonable. Whilst with the Maple Leafs last season, Parenteau racked up 20 goals along with 21 assists. These obviously aren’t mind-blowing numbers but he can be good enough for a short period of time in fantasy.
Jonathan Drouin – Tampa Bay Lightning
ESPN Owned Percentage: 69%
There two questions you might be asking yourself about Drouin.
The answer to both of those questions is yes. However, Drouin is expected to return before the end of Tampa Bay’s five-game road trip, so not too far away. The majority of Drouin’s success in his young career has come without Stamkos anyways, shouldn’t expect to see a drop in his numbers. His ownership seems to be dropping week by week if you see that he is available in your league pick him up.
ESPN Owned Percentage: 51%
Much like my waiver wire article I wrote earlier this week, Wennberg makes the list. The talented Swedish forward is having a phenomenal season yet still only owned in just over half of leagues. In my opinion, he is the best player on the waivers, Wennberg is scoring at a top 20 pace right now and is somebody you’ll want to keep on your team even after the injured player’s return.
ESPN Owned Percentage: 45%
“I’ve never coached a kid that good this young” is how Mike Babcock described Mitch Marner. Marner has been exceptional this year, surprisingly, averaging just under a point per game player. He’s playing on the second line with JVR and Tyler Bozak, two veterans who have really helped Marner exceed expectations. I fully expect Marner to continue his good form for the near future if he does you should even consider trading him away to pick up a more experienced NHLer.
ESPN Owned Percentage: 5%
Another player from waiver wire pickups makes the list. Beleskey has not exactly had the hottest start to the season but it does seem like that he’s picking up form, scoring three points in his last six games. Since the recent improvement in form, Beleskey has seen an increase in playing time now playing 15 minutes a night. The Bruins forward is inconsistent but could a few more points to your team every week.
ESPN Owned Percentage: 7%
Byron has started out the season excellently! Currently ranked 24th among forwards on ESPN, he has scored 11 points and is playing top-six minutes beside Galchenyuk and Gallagher. Byron only had 18 points last season, we shouldn’t expect him to maintain this form for the whole season but if you want a short term solution then Byron is your answer.
With all these solutions, let’s keep in mind that the deep pickups are for 12 or more team leagues.
Hopefully one of these players can help you fill the void left on your team.
Every year there seems to be a new crop of players that are overrated by the fantasy hockey community for various reasons. Whether it’s a shiny new contract, the team they play for or simply putting too much stock into past seasons numbers.
I’ve looked into a few names that you should avoid until later on in your the draft, or leave off your fantasy roster entirely.
(photo via thehockeynews.com)
With the NHL season a little over two months away, it’s probably time we started to talk about fantasy hockey.
Now there isn’t much point in talking about the big named players, you all already know what they can do. You’re going to want to find out who can be productive for you later on in the draft.
There are plenty of players out there capable of this role but here are a few I’ve selected: