If you ever have owned him in fantasy or rooted for him in real life, you know Olli Jokinen will eventually let you down – in some way or form. But Calgary Flames fans and Jokinen’s fantasy owners have to be pleased with what they’ve received from the 33-year-old veteran centerman in 2011-12: 45 points on 16 goals and 29 assists, including 16 points on the man advantage. Jokinen notched a hat trick and added an assist Wednesday evening in a 4-3 road win over San Jose. Enjoy Jokinen’s renaissance while it lasts, but please temper your expectations. While Jokinen remains a legitimate threat to score on the man advantage, he’s hardly the guy that posted consecutive point-per-game seasons with Florida in the mid-2000s.
Sam Gagner scored twice Wednesday night versus Detroit in a 4-2 loss to host Detroit. That makes 16 points in his last six games. The talent is there, so he’s worth a look in all but shallowest of leagues. However, keep in mind he is a streaky scorer and someone you don’t want to overpay for in a trade in deep or keeper formats.
There was a Magnus Paajarvi sighting at last evening’s Oilers-Red Wings game. He tallied his fifth point of the season in the third period on a power play goal by Gagner. Gifted but inconsistent,the 20-year-old Paajarvi has yet to score a goal at the NHL level this season. However, he gets an opportunity due to the injury sustained by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Paajarvi saw more than 18 minutes of ice time Wednesday after being recalled from the AHL. It was his first NHL action since Jan. 24.
Ryan Miller looked like an elite, Vezina Trophy-winning netminder last night, stopping 36 shots in a 6-0 win over Boston. That marks his second shutout in three games and his fifth consecutive outing in which he has tallied a .921 save percentage or better. Progress.
Every time I watch Carolina play, I find myself looking for encouraging signs regarding a potential breakthrough in the performance of defenseman Jamie McBain. But he’s simply not there yet. As someone heavily invested in McBain in one deep keeper league, I expected better production out of the 22-year-old former University of Wisconsin Badger. However, he’s struggled to put points on the scoresheet even though he is tops on the team in power play ice time for the season. I’m trying to remain patient, but it’s hard not to be a little disappointed in McBain this season.
I’ve always felt Mikko Koivu was an undervalued asset in fantasy ever since he tallied 67 points in a breakout 2008-09 campaign. He’s a sneaky all-around contributor because he’s capable of scoring 20+ goals, providing a plus-minus north of zero and contributing some penalty minutes (albeit not as much in the past couple of years). Koivu is targeting Thursday as his return from a shoulder injury, one which has kept him out of the Minnesota Wild lineup since early January. He’s a worthy pickup in shallow mixed leagues where he’s available and is someone who I feel is capable of a very strong second half.
Jose Theodore is expected to return to the lineup Thursday for the Florida Panthers. The veteran netminder has dealt with a lingering knew injury for much of the New Year and has only made two starts since Dec. 31 and none since Jan. 20. Theodore has offered slightly better fantasy stats than fellow Florida goaltender Scott Clemmensen, but both their limited fantasy values take a hit due to the presence of one another in the lineup (obviously). Theodore has started 30 games this season and Clemmensen has started 16, so expect the former to earn more starts moving forward. Either way, neither is a desirable fantasy option moving forward.
Joey MacDonald got his third start in net for the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday evening, as incumbent starter Jimmy Howard is out with a broken finger. Though he could be stepping into a far worse situation with a far less talented team, the 31-year-old MacDonald is not someone you want to want to rely on in fantasy unless you’re really in a pinch in a very deep format. His career save percentage stands at .902.
Fantasy owners invested New York’s Brad Richards can live with 16 goals in 51 games, but the playmaking centerman has just 18 assists in his inaugural season with the Rangers. His 0.35 assists per game is the lowest per-game mark of his career. Richards says he’s still adjusting to playing in the Big Apple, and it will be interesting to see if he can pick up the pace a bit in the second half. According to the article, he skated on a line with Mike Rupp and Ruslan Fedetenko at Wednesday’s practice. He’s taking a draw in the offensive zone a little less than a year ago (50.1% zone start percentage this season compared to 53.5% a year ago), but he was below the 50-percent mark in his previous two seasons in Dallas (2008-09 and 2009-10). Expect some (but not a ton) of improvement from New York’s $60 million man.
Speaking of underperforming players who received free-agent contracts this past summer… Christian Ehrhoff scored his fourth goal of the season Wednesday. It’s been an abrupt goal from fantasy grace for the former Vancouver Canuck defenseman, who scored 14 goals in each of was among the best options at his position the past two years. His first campaign in Buffalo has served as a cold dose of reality for the 29-year-old blueliner. According to Hockey Prospectus, Ehrhoff saw his team’s highest zone start ratio last season (61.5%). That ratio is down to this season in Buffalo (54.5%). That’s hardly the only explanation for his significant drop-off in production, but it’s safe to say it hasn’t helped his cause.
If you were drafting today, who would you consider the No. 1 goaltender for fantasy? I was thinking about that question earlier today and it seems there are a couple of different options. Henrik Lundvqvist and Pekka Rinne are obvious answers because of their workloads and proven track records of success, but is there another candidate you have in mind?
Things got a little messy toward the end of Wednesday’s Bruins-Sabres game…
Here’s Corey Perry’s game-winning goal in overtime against Carolina. Notice Jussi Jokinen got tripped at the very beginning of the video…