So how much did the Sochi break impact fantasy hockey? Let's take a very quick, high-level snapshot of the situation.
Here were the Top 32 scorers prior to the Olympic break, courtesy of Frozen Pool:
Of the 32 players, five of them did not play in the Olympics. Here are the Top 32 scorers since the Olympics:
That's 14 players in the Top 32 who did not play. Not the most scientific analysis I grant you, but it does tell quite the tale. Of the Top 32 scorers before the break, 27 of them played in the Olympics. Of the Top 32 since the break, 18 played in the Olympics.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (5-6-2-8, plus-1, 4 PIM, 21 SOG, and 4 PPPts) - Welcome back to the Studs section Mr. Stamkos! Tampa Bay's power play has gone 9-for-25 during the last seven contests, which is a sizzling 36%. Not only is he directly helping his fantasy owners down the stretch, but he's helping the owners of Ondrej Palat and Valtteri Filppula, who are on the power play with him.
Gustav Nyquist (25-20-12-32, plus-14, 2 PIM, 79 SOG, and 8 PPPts) - If anyone in your league is still treating this guy like an unproven, over-achieving rookie (technically he's a sophomore), snag him in a trade this offseason. Here are the top NHL scorers since January 17:
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers (13-6-7-13, plus-7, 18 PIM, 39 SOG) - Pigeonhole McDonagh as a defensive defenseman who can chip in 35 points if you want, but you would be wrong. McDonagh is producing more, not less, as the season goes on, and he's firmly entrenched on the top power-play unit. The penalty minutes lately have been a nice bonus.
Tobias Enstrom, Winnipeg Jets (6-1-6-7, plus-3, 0 PIM, 6 SOG and 3 PPPts) - The Jets welcomed the oft-injured Enstrom back to the lineup March 14 after a lengthy stint on the "I really suck" list. What happened to the normally productive Enstrom over the course of the previous three months has poolies stumped. But now that everybody's dropped him, he figures to be exceptionally productive again.
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Mike Ribeiro, Phoenix Coyotes (9-1-1-2, minus-7, 4 PIM, 5 SOG, one healthy scratch) - In fact, Ribeiro has been struggling ever since coach Dave Tippett benched him February 28 after he took a 10-minute misconduct for whining to the official. This entire situation is weird because it's not like Ribeiro to try to influence the refs.
Artem Anisimov, Columbus Blue Jackets (7-0-0-0, minus-2, 2 PIM, 18 SOG) - This one especially stings because most poolies didn't own Anisimov in the first place. They only picked him up recently because he was in the midst of a hot streak that saw him post seven points in six games. Us unlucky suckers who plucked Anisimov off the wire after the sixth game of that run really hurt our team.
Jack Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets (12-0-3-3, minus-2, 4 PIM, 22 SOG) - If you played this right (which you probably didn't), you could have really benefited from JJ this year:
First 30 games: 5 points
Next 30 games: 20 points
Last 12 games: 3 points
Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues (16-0-2-2, plus-10, 4 PIM, 34 SOG) - Shame on you if you kept Bouwmeester this long (unless you're working on your plus/minus category). JBo has always been a first-half producer, dating back to his more productive days with the Panthers. So essentially in December you were holding a hot potato and you needed to get rid of it fast.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks (2-0-3-3, plus-2, 2 PIM, 2 SOG and 1 PPPt) – Although still a small risk of being a healthy scratch, I'm encouraged by the ice time he's enjoyed recently. It indicates that he's not only staying in the lineup but will see premium power-play time thanks to the Cam Fowler injury. I think Vatanen is a future 50-point defenseman and he says here that he tops 40 next season.
Matt Cullen, Nashville Predators (3-3-3-6, plus-4, 2 PIM, 7 SOG) – Cullen is making a furious effort to get his point total up to where it is every year. He's been in the league for 15 years and it seems as though every one of them has seen his point total between 40 and 50 points. He's sitting at 30 right now, so I *guarantee that he will post 10 points in his last nine games.
*not really guaranteed
Matt Stajan, Calgary Flames (3-1-4-5, plus-5, 0 PIM, 5 SOG) – Stajan has put together a season this year made up of several hot streaks. This is the early part of one of them and I think it has some legs to carry him another week, or perhaps until the end of the year.
James Sheppard, San Jose Sharks (16-3-8-11, plus-10, 10 PIM, 23 SOG) – The ninth overall pick from the 2006 draft has seen his vast potential go to waste because of some devastating knee injuries, including an offseason one involving an ATV. The Sharks plucked him from the Wild for what amounted to a song, and patiently left him on a depth line. Now his ice time is steadily increasing and the 25-year-old is showing signs of life. This is an intriguing fantasy option to say the least.
Charlie Coyle, Minnesota Wild (3-3-1-4, plus-2, 2 PIM, 10 SOG) – Prior to this run, the22-year-old had two points and was minus-6 in 19 games. So he's not out of the woods yet, but he's shown in the past that he can put up points in bunches.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (6-1-5-6, minus-1, 0 PIM, 9 SOG) – One of the more-hyped rookies of the past decade, Kuznetsov's arrival saw buzz similar to Jesus when Alexander Radulov returned for parties the Preds back in 2012. Now seeing up around 18 minutes of ice time, Kuznetsov should be owned in most fantasy leagues.
Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders (2-1-2-3, plus-3, 0 PIM, 5 SOG) – With Andrew MacDonald traded and Lubomir Visnovsky sidelined, Hamonic finds himself getting ice time that is ideal for a blueliner to pick up some points. He showed us in 2010-11 that he has 40-point ability, perhaps now with a shift in responsibility he is returning to that.
Here's where I'll fire off a few names of players who may be at the very beginning of a nice little run. Just a gut feeling, but worth looking into and/or taking a chance on:
Jake Gardiner, Toronto; Nick Holden, Colorado; Brad Marchand, Boston; Derick Brassard, New York; Benoit Pouliot, New York; Drew Stafford, Buffalo; Loui Eriksson, Boston; Anton Khudobin, Carolina.
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