Fantasy Hockey: Changing on the Fly, Volume 4
Both of those article series are worth a read if you are in fantasy football or basketball leagues. Here, we take a look at a few transactions that will help you improve your fantasy hockey team and win your league.
All percent owned stats will be used from Yahoo! leagues, and we'll assume a standard 6x4 scoring system (Goals, Assists, Plus/Minus, Power Play Points, Penalties in Minutes, Shots on Goal; Wins, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage, Shutouts). Transactions are listed in relative order of importance.
Add John Klingberg, D - Dallas Stars (9% owned)
The start of John Klingberg's career has been as electric as it gets. He started the year off with a bang in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars, registering 12 points in 10 games. Following his promotion to the big club in Dallas, it took him three games to find the score sheet. However, since November 16th, Klingberg has two goals and four assists in four games. Klingberg's first career NHL goal was a beauty; showing patience and laser accuracy, he toe-dragged the puck around Mikkel Boedker and fired a wrist shot over the glove of Mike Smith.
Klingberg is already logging a considerable amount of ice time (23:36 per game) for the Stars and has recently taken Trevor Daley's spot on the top power play unit. Klingberg is about as hot of a commodity as they come right now in fantasy leagues - act now before it is too late.
Add Blake Comeau, LW (8% owned)
Drop Pascal Dupuis, LW/RW (22% owned) - Pittsburgh Penguins
Last week, in Changing on the Fly, Volume 3, I advocated adding Pascal Dupuis because of his recent assignment to Sidney Crosby's line. Well, in case you haven't heard, Dupuis is undergoing treatment with blood thinners for a blood clot in his lung and will be sidelined for at least the next six months.
The Penguins have been forced to shuffle their lines, and the lucky player that has landed with Crosby and Chris Kunitz is Blake Comeau. Comeau does not have a pure scoring pedigree in his NHL career, only contributing 0.40 points per game in his nine professional seasons with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue jackets and now Pittsburgh Penguins. That being said, playing with Crosby and Kunitz is as about as cushy of an assignment as a player can get. Comeau is sure to add to his five goals and five assists he has amassed so far this year. Whoever is skating with Crosby and Kunitz is worth adding to fantasy rosters, so pick him up off the waiver wire if he is still there.
Drop Alexander Semin, LW/RW - Carolina Hurricanes (43% owned)
When I started this column, one of my first recommendations in Volume 1 was to drop Alexander Semin after he was a healthy scratch for back-to-back games to start November. Back then he was owned in 57% of Yahoo leagues, and while that number has fallen, it is not nearly enough. Since his last mention, Semin has as many points (three) as games he has spent in the press box.
Semin does not help your fantasy team at all at this point; he doesn't even help in leagues with expanded stats. As a player who doesn't register penalty minutes, deliver hits, or block shots, he is about as useless as it gets for a player owned in over 40% of Yahoo! leagues. There are a plethora of other options on waiver wires so choose one and move on with your life without Alexander Semin.
Drop Ben Scrivens, G - Edmonton Oilers (35% owned)
At first glance, one would think that the Edmonton Oilers are a bad hockey team in all areas. They've lost their last six games (including Saturday night's disastrous loss, 7-1 at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks), and they have ended up on the wrong side of the score sheet in 10 of their last 12 games overall. However, a closer examination at their advance statistics show a different story:
|Corsi For %||51.7||11th|
|Offensive Zone Starts %||52.3||6th|
PDO is an addition of a team's shooting percentage plus save percentage.
What this means is the Oilers are playing at the level of the majority of their opponents in terms of puck possession and scoring opportunities (Saturday's game notwithstanding). However, both their team shooting and save percentages are well below the league average. The Oilers are about to embark on a stretch where they play six of their next eight games on the road. It has not been a good season for the Oilers and their fans, and it probably isn't going to get any better soon. If you own Ben Scrivens it is probably time you drop him.
Sell Jarome Iginla, RW - Colorado Avalanche (74% owned)
Jarome Iginla has had a disappointing start to his time in Colorado. With only 3 goals and 9 assists in 21 games, he is on pace for only 47 points. Every single one of his production stats are lower than his typical career numbers.
The most concerning of the statistics is the shots per game numbers; Iginla is averaging approximately a shot fewer per game than in recent seasons. He is losing shots on goal to linemates Nathan MacKinnon (3.05 shots on goal per game) and Gabriel Landeskog (2.95), and with Iginla aging (he is 37), he is likely to see his numbers to continue to slide from here on out.
Iginla is still a household hockey name, and many managers will think they will be buying low on Jarome. However, it is hard to score if you aren't getting the opportunities. If you can sell Iggy on his name alone, now might be the time to insert him into a trade.
Add Ryan Strome, C/RW - New York Islanders (17% owned)
To start 2013-14, Ryan Strome was on fire playing for the American Hockey League; before his call up to the Islanders he had 49 points in 37 games (1.32 points per game). When he joined the team on Long Island, there was much hope that he could produce somewhere near that pace and he was a popular late season pickup. Through 37 NHL games last year, Strome never did find his scoring touch and was limited to seven goals and 11 assists (0.49 points per game).
Now Strome appears to be in the NHL for good and has registered 4 goals and 11 assists in 20 games (0.75 points per game). He is also playing on the second powerplay unit for the Islanders and has seven points in his last six games.
Add Brandon Dubinsky, C/LW - Columbus Blue Jackets (60% owned)
This week, while discussing six fantasy hockey situations to watch this weekend, I mentioned to keep an eye on Brandon Dubinsky. While he hasn't played a game yet this season due to abdominal surgery, Dubinsky is on the cusp of returning to the Blue Jackets lineup. With a career average of 0.57 points per game to go along with an average of 1.27 penalty minutes and 2.36 hits per game, Dubinsky is a rare all-around fantasy hockey contributor. He should be added to rosters prior to his return.
Sell/Drop Damon Severson, D - New Jersey Devils (38% owned)
To start the season, Damon Severson was one of the hottest defensemen; he marked seven points in his first eight games and he was a popular pick-up in fantasy circles. He just missed out on Rookie of the Month honors for October, losing out to Tanner Pearson. Since his initial breakout, Severson has only a single assist in the past 12 games. It seems like the league has caught up with the rookie.
Add/Hold Tanner Pearson, LW - Los Angeles Kings (36% owned)
Speaking of Pearson... As previously mentioned, the Los Angeles Kings' forward won the Rookie of the Month award for the month of October after scoring seven goals and adding two assists in the first month of the season. November has been less generous to him, and he went through an 11-game scoring drought, only registering a single assist.
Pearson broke his slump Thursday, scoring the game winner against the Carolina Hurricanes and then adding another Saturday against the Dallas Stars. Scorers can be streaky, and this just may be the bump Pearson needs to get on a roll again.
Add Steve Downie, LW/RW - Pittsburgh Penguins (36% owned)
Most fantasy hockey leagues count penalty minutes as a positive statistic; we don't have to worry about killing penalties or letting up power play goals. Steve Downie is the league leader in penalty minutes with 71; he tends to get them both consistently and in bunches. Out of Downie's 19 games, there are only five where he hasn't found himself sitting in the sin-bin; he also has three games with over 10 minutes. Number like that can swing the category in any given week.
However, Downie isn't all about breaking the rules; out of the top-10 penalized players, only he and Antoine Roussel have more than 0.50 points per game. With 3 goals and 7 assists in 19 games, Downie will contribute to your team offensively as well as help you dominate penalty minutes.
Add Antoine Roussel, LW - Dallas Stars (24% owned)
Much like Downie, Antoine Roussel is an all-around fantasy gem. According to hockey-reference.com, there are currently 38 players that rank among the top 100 point-getters (minimum 12 points) and top 100 most-penalized players (minimum 14 PIM); Roussel leads that list in with 53 penalty minutes and is tied for 29th with 12 points. At 0.57 points per game, Roussel produces enough offensively to merit being on fantasy rosters that count penalties.
Drop Alex Tanguay, LW/RW - Colorado Avalanche (10% owned)
Thursday night, Alex Tanguay was struck in the face with a puck. While he was lucky not to suffer a broken jaw, Tanguay is out indefinitely. With seven goals and four assists, Tanguay has had a nice start to his season, but unless you have a free injured reserve spot, Tanguay is not the type of player that should be held on to while he recovers.