Dropping the Gloves is a new series in which Cameron Chase and Alexander Monaghan share their weekly thoughts on fantasy hockey via email. The main purpose of the article is to entertain so keep in mind that the contents may, or may not, be factual. Feel free to gripe in the comments.
While the trade deadline is just days away, right now I’m more focused on the stretch drive. The imminent departures and arrivals of depth players like Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek just isn’t doing it for me anymore, and it certainly does not concern my fantasy hockey team. I want to see which players stay healthy and which ones don’t as I assess who to trade or trade for.
Surprisingly, a good deal of reliable players went down over the last couple of days. Captains Mikko Koivu, Vincent Lecavalier and Jonathan Toews are all missing playing time with two out of three of those teams really needing them. I mean Brendan Morrison on the top line? For the stretch run? Luckily, I roster only Koivu, and he’s my 2-3 center anyway. The guy who went down recently, and that will absolutely kill me, is Pavel Datsyuk.
I saw the warning signs on the wall after being limited to only 56 games last year but I ignored them. Typically, unless these guys are a steal, I stay away from players who might miss playing time. However, I was able to get Dats at the back end of the first in most drafts and therefore own him in most leagues. Man, will his two weeks on the shelf just kill my team’s momentum.
Aside from Dats, the only two guys that really hurt were Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Matt Duchene. Hoppy (a nickname I much prefer for him), because he’s a center and my league is very competitive, was an easy drop. In fact, he’s still on the waiver wire. If he was healthy I would probably have a good solution to my Datsyuk problem, and could just swap him in, but alas he just started taking contact today.
Duchene, luckily, is back but I’m not all that sold on him after his slow start to the season. Hopefully he gets back on track but I’m starting to think John Tavares is the much better fantasy hockey option (even if he’s a one-dimensional player in real life). Before the season I actually predicted it would play out this way, however, I own Duchene and not Tavares for some reason. Duchene, while having all the speed and talent in the world, just isn’t that trigger-man on Paul Stastny’s line while Ryan O’Reilly has really taken over that second line.
What do you think he would fetch in a trade?
I would say you’d be lucky to pick up any kind of “decent” offer right now for Duchene. Like you said, the injured wonder had a decent start to the season; but just hasn’t cut it for being (some poor sucker’s) high draft pick. I mean at the beginning of the season, he was projected to be in the top 20 scorers (TSN’s word, not mine) and even with the injury taking him out of close to two months’ worth of games, he still only has 24 points in 40 games played. That’s what I like to refer to as “weak sauce”.
Compared to players you could have traded him away for at the beginning of the season, there’s still hope for getting a first-line, trigger-man forward, just not on the team you may have hoped for. Who do I recommend? Well I think you could go one of three ways…
One, you could trade him away for a player that might be traded to a better team before the deadline, for example Rick Nash and Derek Roy. Both seem to be on the trading block and both have potential to trade away to a team they could excel in. I’d be leaning towards Nash, but with this option you’d be heavily relying on him being traded.
Two, trade for a player that, just like Duchene, was favored to have a great season but eventually was viewed as a somewhat decent player. I’m thinking either Ovechkin, Kopitar or Martin St. Louis. We all know Alexander the so-so has had an up and down season — which I think has largely to do his “diva” side coming out more this season than in previous ones. St. Louis is definitely a solid choice, I mean who gets a puck in the face and comes back a short while later to pick up where he left off? Although the problem with trading for St. Louis is that the Tampa Bay Lighting cannot be trusted, especially if your league takes into account plus/minus records. Garon and Roloson have let in the highest amount of goals in league with 194 GA, and that’s not a team you’d want to be compared to. They are also known sellers who just added a guy named Tim Wallace. With Kopitar it’s pretty much the opposite story than St. Louis, where the LA Kings can stop the puck in their end…their just having trouble getting them IN the other end. LA currently has the LOWEST amount of goals scored in the league (128 GF).
Three, just stick with him. There’s still a chance that he might hit a decent point-streak in this stride for the playoffs.
The choice is yours…but choose wisely. The next month or so is “make or break” time for most teams, fantasy or otherwise.
Now, I’ve got a question for you, the other night I had one of the worse nights all season for one of my leagues. 11 players on the ice, including one goalies, and I ended that night with -7, 33 saves and 1 assist! I’m about to take this league and completely write it off, but as of now there’s still hope. I have two acquisitions left and trades are obviously unlimited. Sure, I could use one of the acquisitions to pick up Scott Hartnell and drop one of my sad-sacks, like Versteeg or Krejci, but that will only get me so far, I have to pull off a decent trade.
I’m in the middle of this trade with one of the fine gentlemen from my fantasy league, and it definitely looks like he is desperate. He needs to replace his garbage goalie and he wanted to pick one up from the Free Agency, but he’s out of Acquisitions… that’s where I come in. He wants me to burn one of my last acquisitions for him and in return he’s willing to give me gold, but I don’t necessarily want to give him the advantage in our league (cause there’s still a chance he might make it pass me) so I have to make sure I’m making the most of it.
First, should I use my acquisition for this trade or keep it for myself? And if I do trade it away for one of his forwards, would Giroux or Franzen (or both, if I’m truly making him sweat for it) be worth it?
Ah yes, the good ol’ conundrum of “helping” out another owner. Personally, I have no problem helping people out, as long as I don’t have to do too much work. In all seriousness, it seems like you have a pickle.
Grabbing a player like Franzen and/or Giroux would certainly be a boon to you fantasy hockey team, especially at this point in the season. However, if that guy leapfrogs you, it would clearly be a mistake. You certainly need to make sure that won’t happen which definitely means more assets. I believe the old adage is to never trade with someone directly below you in the standings. No matter how lopsided you view the deal, it could always come back to haunt you. Hockey is a tricky sport and with a blink of the eye, a player can go from sure thing to IR mainstay (ie. Sidney Crosby).
So yeah, if he’s right behind you, pass. If he’s in the cellar, take everything he has.
Backtracking a bit, TSN literally said Duchene was a top-20 scorer? That’s a bit generous for a player who never cracked 30 goals in a season — although I too projected him to hit that mark this season. The thing is, when you compare him and Tavares, they are polar opposites. Tavares has a nose for the net and great hands, and to be honest, not that much more. He doesn’t have blazing speed and his defense isn’t Datsyukian (then again, not many centers can say that). On the flip side, Duchene has blazing speed and fantastic vision but I don’t really see that all-world natural goal scoring ability when he plays. He’s great, but you see that kind of thing out of Jeff Skinner, Steven Stamkos and Tavares, not Duchy.
So when I try and sell him for a depreciating asset, I have to take into account his lack of value around my league. The guy probably could be waiver wire material, and would stick there if he showed no results. Everything in fantasy hockey is results driven, and right now, Duchy ain’t cutting it.
As I come to the crossroads of a tough dump (pun intended), what has been the hardest drop of your season?
Before this continues I would like to request that everyone from here on out should add the word “Datsyukian” into their everyday vocabulary.
My hardest drop has a lot in common with my current dilemma. Similar to the current trade I’m working on; in this trade I had to sacrifice an acquisition. This all took part in a league that involved a particularly low amount of forwards, leading to everyone’s team being pretty stacked with snipers, power forwards, play makers…the works. That’s probably the main reason Jason Pominville was left in the Free Agency. In return I would be receiving Kessel, who around this time was getting right into his hot streak. This guy was obviously trying to sell high, thinking that Kessel wouldn’t keep up such behavior, which he pretty much did. So I had to drop one of my other forwards…having to decide between Alexander Semin and Marian Gaborik. Choosing between those two players was like having to decide who gets the start between two amazing goalies, probably how Ken Hitchcock in St. Louis must feel.
I ultimately went with dropping the player whose team was sinking like the titanic; I dropped Semin, and good thing too. Gaborik has had an amazing season; currently leading the Ranger’s roster with 50 points (27G-23A). While Semin has be meh; currently fourth on the Capital’s roster with 37 (16G-21A), behind they’re “all-star” defensemen Dennis Wideman and Backstrom, the latter of which has a comfy spot on their IR for the past 21+ games.
You bringing up Crosby brought me back to that brisk September evening when the 2011-12 season draft was underway. I was fifth overall and after sweating it out through the first three picks, hoping Thomas wasn’t going to get drafted (this is the situation that was brought up in our last conversation). When it came to the pick before mine, I was floored when he drafted Sidney Crosby. I don’t know how many other people were involve in a draft where someone took Crosby first overall, but I viewed that as a lost cause. Crosby, above all other injured players, has had the most coverage during his mend. Even during the pre-season it looked like he’s return was far from near. So what propelled him to draft Crosby first? I could see picking him up first if you were tenth or twelfth down the chain as being somewhat plausible, but even then I wouldn’t recommend it. I wasn’t complaining though, I got Thomas and was even able to draft Datsyuk on the return trip.
Would you say that was Datsyukian of me?
Yes, young padawan, that was quite Datsyukian of you. In fact, I can’t think of a more Datsyukian action than adding the man himself. For years I used to build my teams around getting Dats and Roberto Luongo at the snake-end of the first round. It worked. Sadly, we can’t always be that lucky.
Speaking of lucky, Phil Kessel has been just that most of the season. His shots are down, his shooting percentage is up; he’s gotta be lucky, right? The advanced stats like PDO — the sum of “On-Ice Shooting Percentage” and “On-Ice Save Percentage — say he’s been a bit lucky, but not overly so. To be honest, his season transcends statistics for me — it’s magical. It’s for that reason that Joffrey Lupul once again looks like the 7th overall stud who scored 28 as a sophomore. It’s for that very same reason that the Leafs probably make the playoffs this season. Their team really isn’t that much better than last years, and their goaltending has been awful, but Kessel caught lightning in a bottle and is riding it down the stretch. Good on you for acquiring a sure-fire stud.
Hindsight is really a truly awesome thing, and in hindsight you made a great move by dropping Semin opposed to Gaborik. In fact, your 20/20 hindsight is matched by similarly prescribed foresight in not dropping one of the league’s most dynamic players. Getting rid of Semin was surely a tough dump — a topic we should delve deeper into next week.
Let’s leave the rest to our audience… Give us your tough drops, annoying injuries and the conundrums you’ve dealt with in this season’s fantasy hockey endeavors.