Good morning and welcome to another edition of Crashing the Net. Last week we took a look at guys like Johan Hedberg, Max Pacioretty and David Krejci. Hopefully those guys were available in your format and you took advantage. This week we will go even more in-depth with a few more picks than usual.
RW – Michael Grabner, New York Islanders
Grabner proved this season he was the real deal, representing the lowly Isles in the All-Star game and showing he could play with the big boys. Not only can he cut it in the NHL but he also makes Florida Panther GM Dale Tallon look foolish for not retaining his services as he could be the hottest player in hockey. The Austrian native scored nine goals and 11 points over his last five games, raising his goal totals to 21 on the season. As a threat from the second line he makes his team an even bigger threat down the stretch, especially as Mark Streit makes his way back into the lineup. Ride him while you can and keep Grabner on your short list for next year’s draft.
D – Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders
If Hamonic played anywhere besides Long Island, he would be snapped up at a much more rapid pace. Not only does he display a rugged edge with 29 PIM over his last two games, he also can put up some points with one goal and six points over his last five games. This kid comes into the NHL with an excellent pedigree– former 2nd round pick, leader for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL and represented Team Canada in the WJHC. The offense looks hot in Long Island with an excellent chance of playing spoiler down the stretch. Getting first pairing minutes should only help Hamonic until Streit inevitably returns.
C – Brendan Morrison, Calgary Flames
The Flames originally signed the veteran after watching the Vancouver Canucks release him from a pre-season tryout. Originally expected to plug a center role with Daymond Langkow out and Olli Jokinen and Matt Stajan both recovering from injuries, Morrison seems to have found a home on the Flames’ top line. In January, the numbers assuredly did not wow you: three goals, seven points over 13 games. However, in the seven February games, he looks as sharp as he did centering Todd Bertuzzi and Marcus Naslund in his pre-lockout days, posting a goal and eight points. As long as the Flames keep winning, or stay competitive rather, Morrison will stay on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. Keep that in mind if you find yourself weak down the middle.
LW – Kris Versteeg, Philadelphia Flyers
See trade analysis.
C – Michal Handzus, Los Angeles Kings
For the time being Handzus will play with superstar Anze Kopitar and the results have already been good. In the Kings’ recent 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals, the Slovakian native registered a goal and an assist, helping awaken the team’s sleeping offense. Although this line change may be temporary, it balances the team’s scoring lines into three waves, leaving Handzus in charge of his own destiny. If he continues to register points like he did back in 2003-2004, the add should be a much easier decision. Keep in mind Handzus scored at least 18 goals over his last two seasons but only potted eight so far meaning an uptick should at least be expected at this point.
RW – Wayne Simmonds, Los Angeles Kings
Similar reasoning to Handzus, Simmonds flanks both players on the newly constructed top line. With 16 goals last season, Simmonds looked prime to break out as we expect him to start on the top line with Kopitar. As we mentioned during the offseason, Simmonds played roughly 70 percent of the time on the top line so the chemistry with Kopitar is there. Add his usual 100 PIM to the mix and you get a power forward with high-end potential. Grab him now in the short term while monitoring his success for the stretch run.
Others to Monitor
D – Marc-Andre Bergeron, Tampa Bay Lightning
The last two seasons, Bergeron netted 27 goals from the blue line. While he still remains defensively inept, we see no reason not to ride some goals from a defenseman. The seven-year veteran already netted the game winning goal this weekend, giving him three points in as many games for the Bolts. More importantly, it looks like the trend may continue as coach Guy Boucher recently put him on his top PP unit. No reason not to take a gamble on MAB, his minus-3 rating can only hurt so much when compared to his PP and goals.
G – Al Montoya/Nathan Lawson, New York Islanders
Desperate for a goalie? Seems like the Isles likely have two netminders on your waiver wire. With 20 goals over their last three games, the offense looks good enough to carry any netminder, especially raw rookie Mikko Koskinen, as they did in their last three wins. Both Lawson and Montoya are seasoned AHL veterans who will be looking to prove themselves on the NHL level. No reason to believe neither can get you some sloppy wins.