It’s Superbowl Sunday, which means the black angus roast is in the oven, my quail is laying an egg, the escargots snails are enjoying their last few sucks of air in my very own herb aquarium, its water-source infused with black truffle oil. The chestnuts are roasting over an open fire. Tins of Russian caviar are being delivered by a horse-drawn carriage straight out of a Dostoevsky novel. Lobsters are walking themselves from the shores of Nova Scotia to my apartment’s buzzer, filling the streets. The Cheetos are staying in the closet.
Just kidding!! I actually didn’t know who was playing until a few hours ago when I got invited to a Superbowl party and decided to look it up. Does that make me underqualified for doing this kind of thing? I hope not. There’s more than enough hockey to be looked at in the next few hours, and Sundays can be hard enough without having a Cheeto or two.
I’m Canadian; it’s not that weird.
PICKUP OF THE WEEK:
Mikael Granlund - Min - C - 6% owned with 5+23=28
I’m the kind of guy who watches a Minnesota game here and there because I like them and because I’m a big Parise fan. When the current Parise, Granlund, Jason Pominville line was put together in the middle of January 30th’s game agains Colorado, it was almost like the most magical scene of Angels in the Outfield. Maybe not quite, but the trio clicked so well that when he returns from injury, Mikko Koivu might be the new Jason Spezza, destined to float around the Minnesota depth chart looking for a line combo that’ll even just slightly ease the pain of not working with his team’s very best. Granlund’s numbers for the season aren’t the bombest (28 points and a jaundiced 66 SOG in 44 games), but he’s this week’s PotW because he has 2 goals and 4 assists over this week’s 3 games. 2 of those points were on the man advantage, and he put a pretty righteous 12 shots on net. Potentially more important to this decision is the fact that his recent play (like, turn on a game sometime) suggests that Granlund might be able to keep this up for at least a little while longer. The chemistry is really something, definitely worth a look.
SHALLOW LEAGUE FREE AGENTS and TRADE TARGETS (owned in >50% in Yahoo! leagues)
Zach Parise - Min - LW - 98% owned with 18+17=35
I know that this shallow league section isn’t really that helpful for the lot of you, and saying a thing like, hey, go and get Parise is even less helpful, but if you’re in one of those 2% of leagues where he’s out floating like a bottled treasure map on the sea of free agents, then get with it, pick him up. He has torn the NHL a new one over his last 3 games with 3 goals, 5 assists, +2, 3 PPP, 14 SOG, and 6 hits. A hardworking player like that on the IR is kind of like a jack-in-the-box that continuously gets cranked but the lid won’t open for him. Well, he’s back on the ice and, yup, it’s open.
James van Riemsdyk - Tor - LW - 89% owned with 22+23=45
I’ve said it before but Toronto’s top line has been really hot since Tyler Bozak’s return. Because I’ve already done Bozak (who has 29 points in 33 games), and because there’s no way you’re going to get Phil Kessel from anybody or anyplace right now, it’s JVR’s time to bask spotlit in front of my fog machine. He’s good for 22 goals and 45 points in 55 games this season, and has almost broken to 200-shot mark with his current 192. He has 9 PPP, 34 PIMs, and a respectable 87 hits, too. Looking closer, JVR sports 5 goals and 6 assists in his last 10 games, and that could even be improved if Kessel keeps sniffing out goals like he has been. Kessel is ranked 10th overall in Yahoo! leagues for the season, but he’s 1st overall in the last 30 games, the last 14 games, and 3rd behind Parise and Steve Mason in the last week. Now decide if you want to recruit one of the skilled guys playing next to him.
Kyle Okposo - NYI - RW - 84% owned with 24+34=58
It’s no secret that Okposo is a guy you want to own this year, but the question has always been whether or not he’s actually the real deal, if he’s actually a good player whose production isn’t wholly the result of the Tavares effect. This old dog is saying that he is. I really think so. I mean, 58 points in 56 games is no accident. He’s still a minus player, but he’s put 156 shots on net, 43 PIMs, 41 hits, and 12 PPPs. Okposo should break the 30 point mark comfortably, and I don’t know why more leagues aren’t on his case. If he was out there in my league, I’d grab him so fast I’d probably get the bends.
Nazem Kadri - Tor - C - 69% owned with 15+25=40
So I’ve talked about him the last few weeks, but as a Kadri owner, I’m just so happy about this. Yep, Kadri, after a really rough go of things for a while, has kept it up. This week alone, Kadri has 3 goals and 4 assists in 3 games, which makes for 4 goals and 9 assists, a +3 rating, 3PPP, 18 SOG, 17 hits, and 14 PIMs in his last 9 games. That makes him a very well rounded, multi-category asset over the last while. In his 53 games this season, Kadri’s got 57 penalty minutes and 112 hits, so these points are really where the gravy’s at nowadays. He’s really showing the Leafs how badly he doesn’t want to be traded.
MEDIUM-DEPTH FREE AGENTS and TRADE TARGETS (25-50% ownership in Yahoo! leagues)
Antoine Vermette - Pho - C,LW - 35% owned with 20+14=34
Vermette had a great week, and if you’re looking at his numbers for the last 7 days and asking yourself who this chump is who’s telling you that Vermette’s not the Pickup of the Week, remember that his hat trick came last Sunday. Then go and chump right off, ya? Even so, lately Vermette has been great for fantasy teams in need of points, picking up 8 goals and 11 points in his last 9 games. Goals can be hard to find if you don’t have Phil Kessel on your team, and Vermette is leading the Coyotes with 20 of them. If he’s available and you’re not in the shallowest league, you should really think about grabbing him and seeing where this goes. People warned people who hopped to it after he rocked that hat trick, but he’s kept it up since then, too. Even so, Vermette only has 34 points in 55 games this season, so remember that if/when he cools down again in the future. But right now—
Patrik Elias - NJ - C,LW - 50% owned with 11+22=33
Here’s someone who’s yet to be in one of these this year. With 4 goals and 8 points in his last 6 games, Elias is looking like he might be able to turn a less than exciting season into a slightly more exciting than a less than exciting season. He’s back on that Devils’ powerplay with a high-form Jaromir Jagr (check him out too, shallower leaguespeople) and has been in on some pretty plays. Pat was injured for a while and he’s only played 41 games this season, but he’s looked much better (as have the devils’ offense in general) in more recent days. He has 8 points in those 8 games since his return, and could be someone to consider right now in many leagues, and especially points-centric ones. Even though he has never felt like it since the days of Kovalchuck, Elias is more or less a consistent player in the big picture of things.
Ben Scrivens - Edm - G - 41% owned with 9W, 2.03 GAA, and .935 SV%
Scrivens is all over everybody’s radar since his nutbar 59-save shutout (against the Sharks of all teams). People think, wow that’s incredible I have to have him oh my god. That’s all and good, because besides his shaky debut in Oil Country, Scrivens has been pretty great, but people have to realize that something pretty all-out whack has to occur for a goalie to shut out a team’s 59 shots, and that’s a team letting another team take 59 shots on their goalie. That game was a massive victory for Scrivens, yes, but it’s an even bigger bailing out of the team in front of him. In Edmonton’s 5-1 victory over Nashville the night before, Scrivens had a .971 SV%, but he was also forced to stop 34 of 35 shots. The game after the shutout, in which Scrivens let in 4 goals, 41 shots were allowed on him. All this means that Scrivens is playing really, really well for a really, really irresponsible team, so as soon as Scrivens cracks even in the slightest, the whole works falls apart in a very ugly way. So that’s that, but he could be a good option if you really need one, which is why he’s here. Just keep in mind that he’ll still probably share starts with Ilya Bryzgalov, at least for now.
DEEPER LEAGUE FREE AGENTS (<25% ownership in Yahoo! leagues)
Gustav Nyquist - Det - C,RW - 17% owned with 10+8=18
So this young, talented Detroit rookie scored a hat trick as well as an assist in today’s (Sunday’s) 6-5 loss to Washington. He’s on that top line there with Zetterberg, who is a real dish of a playmaker. His hatty will give him 10 goals and 18 points in 29 games this season, which I know doesn’t sound all that prizeworthy, but he’s put up 8 of those goals for 12 points in his last 8 games. 23 shots over that span too, which is pretty sweet for his availability. And is it me, or is a good RWers kind of slim pickins on the waiver wire? Either way, that dual eligibity can really help in a pinch.
Mikael Granlund - Min - C - 6% owned with 5+23=28
See above ∆ ∆ ∆
Jacob Trouba - Win - D - 23% owend with 7+14=21
I’m not going to say too much about this young feller this week because I’ve been talking him up over the last few consecutive posts, and if you haven’t noticed him yet, then maybe you don’t deserve to. He’s been one of the leagues best young d-dudes over the last while with 3 goals and 8 points over his last 8 games. Add to that period of time a +10 rating and a decent little mound of hits and you have someone you might be overlooking right now. His ownership is still considered of deeper league levels, but it won’t be for long. He’s owned in 23% of Yahoo! leagues, but that rate is still rising strong.
THE MIDNIGHT SPECIALS (<5% owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Jamie McGinn - Col - LW - 4% owned with 14+9=23
I’ll admit here that I don’t know very much about this guy, but if he keeps playing like he did this week, we’ll probably be hearing about him a lot more. In his 3 games this week, McGinn notched 2 goals and 2 assists with a +5 rating, which gives him a steady 6 points and 16 shots in 5 games. Not bad, and when you consider that he’s the kind of guy to get you some hits (21 hits in his last 10 games), that kind of point-gettin’ is even more valuable in deep leagues. He even found a fighting major on January 30. Numbers tell us he won’t likely keep it up, but in leagues where these are the only types of guys available, he’s definitely worth a gamble.
Brandon Prust - Mon - LW - 3% owned with 5+4=9
I turned on the Montreal-Tampa game on Saturday to check in on my pal Radko Gudas, and what I saw was Brandon Prust getting a good shove by TB goalie Ben Bishop. It wasn’t far from centre ice, so obviously Prust was getting under the skin of some of the Lightning folk. It turns out that was true; he fought Jean-Philippe Cote in the first period. So I looked up Prust because a good PIMs guy is a good guy to know, and noticed that he’s now got a pretty gritty 103 penalty minutes in 44 games this season, and 59 of them have come in his last 12 games. That makes him a good look if you need a one-trick pony PIMs wiz. I don’t know if he’s exactly that yet, but those numbers plus a goalie incident and some gap-toothed laughs in the penalty box show that he’s quite playing that role.