Before we get going, I'd like to apologize for the technical difficulties last week. The platform here at Dobber is a little different than what I'm used to, so I ended up publishing multiple rough drafts when in fact I meant to be saving them. Here's hoping things go a bit more smoothly this time around..
Of course, the big fantasy item right now is the Jarome Iginla trade. Pittsburgh is loaded for bear and I'm guessing a lot of fantasy owners are scrambling to acquire Jarome for their pools heading into the post-season.
A minor word of warning, however: Iginla has been the man for a long time in Calgary and, as a result, has always been given a lot fo ice time at both even strength and on the powerplay. For example, last year Iginla led the Flames forwards in ice time at 20:36 per game, more than 17 minutes of which were at five-on-five. Even this year in a slightly diminshed role under Bob Hartley, Jarome was averaging more than 19 minutes of ice, with more than three minutes on the man advantage.
There's little doubt Iginla's linemates have taken a big step up in Pittsburgh, no matter if he plays with Crosby or Malkin (it was the latter on Saturday afternoon). That said, the Pens have other legitimate threats in Chris Kunitz and James Neal on the wings, so there's a chance Iginla's ice time will take a non-trivial hit in his new home. Today he played 17:30, but with only 56 seconds on the PP which isn't necessarily indicative one way or the other.
Iginla might score at a high enough rate that a potential hit to his ice time won't matter all that much, but it's something to keep in mind.
I was pretty surprised when Carolina put Jussi Jokinen on waivers this past week. A useful middle tier forward who is signed to a pretty good deal ($3 million per season for one more year). Jokinen's counting stats haven't been there so far this year (six goals, 11 points), but he's 29 years old and has quality underlying stats, including a team best corsi rate of +8.75/60. What has held his production back so far is an on-ice shooting percentage of just 5.32%, well back of the league average of 8%.
So he's a good bounce back candidate down the road. Which is why it was even more surprising when he wasn't scooped off the waiver by another team. Jokinen could have been useful acquisition for just about anyone, be it a club looking to add depth for a playoff run, or a lesser team like the Edmonton Oilers who could really use some quality, veteran depth behind their squadron of kids (and not the kind of depth that simply skates around for five minutes a night and punches other depth in the face).
Nevertheless, Jokinen stuck around and scored this afternoon in Carolina's 3-1 win over the Jets. Jussi had more than 16 minutes of ice and won over 66% of his draws. If the percentages rebound for him and his output improves for the rest of the season, the Hurricanes might be convinced to keep him around, saving them from wasting a cheap but effective player for nothing.
One guy who isn't cheap on Carolina is Alex Semin. I was amazed when Semin sat on the UFA market last summer for so long given the dearth of high skill options. Plagued by rumors of a poor attitude and work ethic, Semin had nonetheless put together some high quality seasons in Washington, be it form a counting or advanced stats perspective. He was a great value signing by Carolina at $7 million for a single year.
Unfortunately, Rutherford "quintipled down" on that bet recently, re-signing Semin for five years and $35 million. Like Jokinen, the Canes are being fooled by randomness here somewhat: Semin's on-ice SH% is a sky high 12.41% and just like Jokinen that number is bound to regress over time toward the league mean. When that happens, we'll probably start hearing about how little Semin cares about winning again.
So everything Kadri touches turns to gold this year. Since returning to the line-up and landing on Kadri's line, Joffrey Lupul has 13 points in six games, including a four spot last night. Lupul has always run hot and cold in his career, but right now he and Kadri can seemingly do no wrong. He's not going to score on 28% of his shots forever, but for now enjoy the ride.
Another guy to keep an eye on is the Kings rookie Tyler Toffoli. A former second round pick in 2010, Toffoli managed back-to-back 100+ point seasons in the OHL before turning pro. Despite being a 20-year old rookie, Toffoli was one of the top scorers for LA's AHL affiliate the Manchester Monarchs with 48 points in 55 games. Since being recalled he has garnered four points in five games after his goal last night against the Wild.
Toffoli has scored at every level he has competed at and is on a great team to boot. He is probably worth a waiver pick-up for the stretch drive this year and worth a look in drafts next season, especially for those of you in keeper leagues.
Speaking of the Wild, did you see Parise's filthy shoot-out goal from yesterday?
The former Devil also scored the game tying goal on the PP in third period to force OT. The Wild are certainly improved with his (and Ryan Suter's) addition this year and are probably a good bet to make the post-season, especially with the implosion of Colorado and Calgary in the NW. Parise now has 30-points in 30-games and has made the Wild's first line with Mikki Koivu a legitimate threat each and every night.
PK Subban is doing all he can to justify my love this year. I told more than a few friends and family to target him in their respective fantasy drafts; advice that looked like it might flop when he sat out the first few games due to a contract dispute.
Subban has been lights out ever since though, scoring 27 points in just 28 games, including assisting on all three Canadiens goals in their win yesterday. THe 23-year old has put up strong underlying possession rates since he came into the league and is a guy with a big shot and a history of scoring in other leagues. I figured the puck would start going in for him a bit more often at some point in near future after watching him last year. And so it has.
Finally, it looks like the Joe Pavelski and the Sharks might be free of their long dry spell. The Sharks came out of the gate on fire, scoring on every fourth shot to start the season. Then the offense dried up for whatever reason and wins have been a lot harder to come by.
Probably no one was harder hit by that rough patch than Pavelski. A high utility center/winger, Pavelski now has six points in four straight games after managing just a single assist in the prior 10. He's a legitimate 30-goal/60-point guy over a full season, so don't let his recent struggles scare you off too much.