Programming note: Every now and then, I’ll have a recommendation of such high merit that you should open up a new tab and add a guy before reading this column. This is one of those times, as David Clarkson is only owned in 32 percent of leagues thanks to that dopey 10-game suspension. Add him.
What? You aren’t convinced yet? Head to Page 2 for reasoning IF YOU DARE DEFY ME.
Loui Eriksson is a really, really good hockey player. I have my doubts that history will view the Boston Bruins as the victor of the trade that brought him to town in exchange for Tyler Seguin, but aside from Jamie Benn, he was the closest Dallas had to a guy who could make Boston fans feel better about the franchise parting ways with a prodigiously talented player who (gasp) liked to party.
Now, I’ve critiqued Eriksson’s fantasy value in this space before, but mainly to argue that he’s maybe a tier below snipers with similar 70-point potential; he simply doesn’t take enough shots, deliver enough hits or enter the penalty box often enough to be valuable when he isn’t scoring.
That doesn’t change my feeling that he’s (again) really, really good at hockey … and also possesses a two-way style that’s a great fit for the B’s.
Wherever you place him on the fantasy forward totem pole, he sure is world’s better than Buffalo Sabres “forward” - giving these guys positional titles really seems like a joke - John Scott, who viciously headhunted Eriksson on Wednesday night with a hit you can view here, if you really want to feel a little angrier today.
(Hey, at least it’s almost the weekend … where more terrible things like this will probably happen in the NHL. Darn it.)
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Thursday). It's just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7pm ET. Here's the link.
Oh, and there’s still plenty of time to join a Yahoo! Hockey Pool, so get on that.
A PROFESSIONAL HURTIST
You may remember John Scott from other catastrophes, including threatening Phil Kessel during a preseason game to the point that the Toronto Maple Leafs star started swinging his stick at him in a way that Mac from “It’s Always Sunny” would probably approve.
What you probably won’t remember Scott from is doing anything useful in a rink besides hurting people, getting hurt or both. In 186 career regular season games, he's averaged 7:07 minutes per night (that almost seems a little high) and has one goal and four assists ... and 309 PIM. Hmmmm.
NO REAL CONSEQUENCES FOR BUFFALO
After the game, Bruins head coach Claude Julien remarked that Scott is there to do two things: "to fight and to hurt." I would simplify that and just say he's there to hurt. He's a hurtist.*
Naturally, Sabres head coach Ron Rolson simply said "I'm not going to comment on it" and ... that's basically where this stops for him. (OK, maybe he’ll offer another no-comment or complain about Scott’s supplementary discipline.)
Rolston won’t face any monetary loss and surely won’t badly miss Scott’s .03 (rounded up) points per game. Really, the only way Scott’s almost inevitable absence will hurt Buffalo is that they’ll probably put a better player in Scott’s place - because it’s not exactly challenging to find someone better than Scott - and that might hurt the Sabres’ chances of getting higher odds in the draft lottery.
Then again, maybe they’ll get Patrick Kaleta back soon enough, so they can just start this cycle once more?
I mean, Rolston isn’t going to lose any money and neither will the Sabres organization. They’ll just mosey along, being terrible and learning nothing. Essentially, teams that see their monsters unleashed - harming the innocent and more talented - probably roll out the same vacant, sociopathic inner monologue that Patrick Bateman splayed out at the end of “American Psycho.”
Actually, that might require some self-awareness and culpability. Scratch that.
AT LEAST THIS WOULD BE A START
Circling back to that column from barely more than a week ago, the only way to even slightly improve this situation is to make teams pay for these kinds of hits, not just the players.
The NHL suspended Ryan Garbutt five games for his senseless hit on Dustin Penner, which may or may not be a lot like Scott’s check on Eriksson. (Honestly, I don’t know any longer; the league has succeeded in very few ways with its schizophrenic disciplinary system, but it’s at least left me baffled and too exhausted to parse out the viciousness vs. accidental nature of most hits.)
What I do know: losing Garbutt won’t make the Stars lose another game. It won’t make them any worse in any period or shift.
The Stars, Sabres, etc. etc. can just keep bringing out pawns like Scott, Garbutt, Raffi Torres (hey, did you hear he’s feeling great? That means a much better player might not soon. Yay!) and so on to take out the league’s knights, bishops and queens. Except NHL teams don’t even lose a chess piece when their pawns get cleared off the board; they can just bring in another one.
The league can dole out suspensions and change the rules regarding which hits are dirty and which hit aren’t - hey, isn’t a relief that Matt Cooke’s horrific check on Marc Staal would be illegal today! Progress! - but these things won’t slow down until teams that employ the offending player feel a consequence other than losing something valuable. Repeat offenders face harsh penalties, yet the people who employ and enable them go whistling along the golf course without a care in the world.
(Every now and then, an actually good player like Alexander Edler will miss some time, but that’s rare. And the league mysteriously tends to punish quality parts a little differently than the Kaletas of the world.)
For all we know, Scott might be a good dude off the ice. He might be a pillar of the community and he probably loves his family. Many tough guys are basically big teddy bears; Cody McLeod probably meant it when he said he doesn’t want to hurt anybody. The problem is, NHL franchises might just want them to hurt people and have little incentive to act differently.
So, long story medium, Loui Eriksson stayed overnight in a hospital for a hit that John Scott delivered. It served no purpose, aside from making the hockey world a slightly darker place. And we can expect plenty more of this until the NHL actually does something real to prevent these things from happening.
After the jump: Game notes and some tough injury news.
*Can we settle on that as a term instead of pitbull? Because pitbull enthusiasts don't really like that analogy, shockingly.
BOSTON 5, BUFFALO 2
-- Obviously "hurting people" seems to be the thing that the Sabres are best at, aside from maybe tanking. Boston won, though I'm not sure that counts as the "last laugh."
-- Great to see Milan Lucic push himself above the point-per-game mark, as he has nine in eight thanks to Wednesday's two goals and one assist. Aside from being a little gun shy - he doesn't even average two shots per game in his career - Lucic does everything you could want from a power forward, with plenty of hits, points and PIM.
-- Jarome Iginla has three of his four points (all assists, disappointingly) in the last two games. It might already be too late for a buy-low trade.
-- Ryan Miller false optimism time: Well, at least you don't get negative points for losses in most/all fantasy leagues ...
-- I like Torey Krug (two goals last night) but feel as if he's year or two away from being an impact fantasy blueliner. The same is probably true for Dougie Hamilton.
-- Maybe Loui Eriksson's injury might help Brad Marchand to get over his post-Seguin-slump by getting him back in Boston’s top-six?
OTTAWA 6, DETROIT 1
-- I'm in the minority (I think) in believing that the Senators did the right thing by allowing Daniel Alfredsson to walk. It was time to move on.
-- I was excited about Bobby Ryan this season, imagining him combining with Jason Spezza to form a lethal combo. Right now he's finishing chances from Kyle Turris, however, which means you should give the third pick of the 2007 draft a serious look. Turris' 18:55 TOI average leads every Ottawa forward, and he has eight points in nine games (with the possibility for more goals, as he has just one on 25 SOG, just four percent). He's owned in just 56 percent of leagues right now. I think he’s a great add.
-- After a slow-for-him start, Erik Karlsson now has six points in his last four games. I wouldn't call him the world-beating Karlsson of “old” yet - he's not averaging insane SOG, just good quantities - but it's an encouraging sign if you spent big on him in drafts.
-- Jonas Gustavsson relieved Jimmy Howard early in the game after Howard allowed three goals on eight shots (to be fair, two of the tallies came on Senators power plays). Gustavsson didn't exactly save the day, yet I can't help but wonder if he's still creeping on Howard, at least in the short term.
-- Speaking of American goalies, albeit one trending up instead of down, the U.S. Olympic team has to give Craig Anderson a real shot at being the team's starter, don't they? He's on a three-game winning streak and his individual numbers on the season (.930) argue that the highs of his career might be more indicative of his talent than the lower moments.
SPECIAL NOTE: EMBARK ON CLARKSON
David Clarkson looks primed to finally debut on Friday after serving that bonehead 10-game suspension. Now would be a good time to grab him, as he’s only owned in 32 percent of leagues. Yes, I agree with the many who critiqued Toronto signing him, but he’s still one of the rare types who can score 20 goals, get nice SOG and 100 PIM. Well, maybe scale that down based on 72 games instead of 82, but you catch my drift.
INJURIES (full list) AND QUICK HITS
Sterling sophomore Jonas Brodin is out indefinitely after a puck broke his collarbone on Tuesday … Martin Brodeur, for one, believes that the Devils’ top job is all Cory Schneider’s. Hopefully he’s right … It appears that Dan Boyle is at least back traveling with the Sharks, though his window for an actual return to playing is anyone’s guess … Tim Thomas was placed on the IR. Depending on your situation, I can understand just dropping him, though I’d stash him if no one else is hurt … Evgeni Nabokov owners might want to root against Kevin Poulin this week, as it seems the Isles aren’t exactly giving Nabby glowing reviews … Jannik Hansen (upper-body) left Vancouver’s road trip early to be re-evaluated … Mike Kostka is out 4-6 weeks with a lower-body ailment … Niklas Kronwall returned to action for Detroit last night … Looks like the Calgary Flames will stick with Sean Monahan. Nice … Henrik Lundqvist is banged up. File that under “The last thing the New York Rangers need right now” … Shane Doan has a lower-body injury worth monitoring … Erik Johnson (foot) is another guy with an iffy status.