Eight weeks in we have now covered one third of the fantasy season. Hopefully your team has had a good amount of success because it isn’t always easy to dig out of an early hole. The good news is, it’s a lot easier to turn around a fantasy team than a pro team. NHL rosters are much more difficult to change, whereas you have an entire waiver pool to cull talent from and your fellow general managers don’t have any fans or owners to answer to – just their own whims and desires – so trades are often more plentiful.
(Note, if you are in a league where you have to answer to fans/owners: Props. Seriously.)
We don’t claim that this piece will help you dig your way out or keep you on top of the mountain but we do think it is important to note which direction players are trending. With that in mind, let’s get to the Week Eight MVPs (and LVPs).
Evgeni Malkin – C/RW – 100% Owned
Are we impressed with Malkin’s seven assists the past seven days? For sure. We’ll take that any week but Malkin’s been producing assists all week. This is a guy who was ranked third before the season started, so it’s no surprise when he puts up points. What vaulted Malkin to the MVP slot this week was scoring a goal, something he hadn’t done since before Rob Ford admitted to hitting the pipe.
With that goal and the assists too, Malkin has climbed to seventh in league scoring. Not perfect but he is trending upward. His shooting percentage now sits at 6.0% for the season so he has plenty of room to improve. I don’t know that the buy-low window is necessarily open but I give it a nudge just in case because this is a guy you’d rather have on your team.
Max Pacioretty – LW – 69% Owned
Battling through injury, inconsistency and something called David Desharnais, Pacioretty stumbled out of the gate with just four points over his first 12 games…
And then BOOM, this week happened. Pacioretty exploded with five goals over three games against a couple of the league’s stingiest defenses. He even dragged Desharnais to an honorable mention this week.
Pacioretty has been snapped up in most leagues but there are still 31% of you out there with some hope of adding the big sniper. To those of you who missed out; you snooze you lose. To those of you still with a shot; WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Matt Read – RW – 24% Owned
In today’s statistically savvy sports climate everyone is well aware of buzz terms like regression to the mean but we rarely see regression happen as quickly as it did for Read this week. Coming in, Read’s shooting percentage lay dormant as he had scored just four goals all season. He scored four goals in this week alone on just eight shots helping to balloon his shooting percentage from 8% to 13.8%.
Read is still short of his career mark of 15.1% but thanks to this week he’s almost there.
Tread carefully if you consider picking him up however. Read is still skating on the third line with Sean Couturier and Steve Downie and also receives second unit power play time. He has upside just not a ton so don’t expect weeks like this to be a regular occurrence.
David Perron – LW – 47% Owned
How is it that David Perron is owned in less than half of all leagues? Does he still have the Hitchcock stink on him or something?
That’s the only explanation I’ve got because the Hitchcock shackles are off now that he’s in Edmonton. (They are now on Magnus Paajarvi, attached to the couch in the press box, which reminds me, has anyone seen Magnus lately? Does he need water?)
After scoring five points in just two games this week Perron now has 18 in 20 for the season and by firing 14 shots he now has 80 on the season. That leaves him on pace for 70 points and over 300 shots, which would both be clear career highs. Even with some regression this is clearly Perron’s breakout season. Continue to sleep on him at your own peril.
Honorable Mentions: Marek Mazanec, James Neal, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, David Clarkson, Jonas Hiller, Dany Heatley's corpse, Claude Giroux, Henrik Zetterberg, Steve Downie, Devan Dubnyk, Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Andre Benoit, Sean Couturier, David Desharnais, Andrej Sekera, Kimmo Timonen, Jordan Eberle, Semyon Varlamov, Marc-Andre Fleury, Clarke MacArthur, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Getzlaf…
The LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Michael Del Zotto – D – 40% Owned
You poor, poor souls clinging to Del Zotto. What a curse it must be to be blind to his particular brand of awful. You know who isn’t blind to it? Alain Vigneault.
Vigneault had Del Zotto start the week in the press box and in his first game back he didn’t sniff a second of power play time. That power play time returned in his second game but the reality is that he hasn’t worked on the power play for some time now and what success the Rangers have had has occurred largely without him.
Del Zotto has that Marc-Andre Bergeron stink to him. He’s a power play specialist who isn’t always special. Your only hope as a Del Zotto owner is a trade to more favourable circumstances. Don’t hold your breath.
Not Last but Certainly Least
Kris Letang – D – 99% Owned
Is he still hampered by injury or is he just unlucky? I don’t know but Letang is starting to upset me. In four games this week Letang was held scoreless and has just five points in 15 games this season, of which only one point is an assist.
We know that defenseman scoring can fluctuate quite a bit because of how reliant they are on assists but this is unacceptable. Letang was supposed to flirt with the point-per-game mark and challenge for the defenseman scoring race. Instead, he’s floundering and has recently been kicked off the top power play unit for Paul Martin.
Letang will bounce back but it can’t happen soon enough for this frustrated owner. The only consolation is that despite being a prolific offensive team the Penguins have scored on just 4.5% of 5-on-5 shots with Letang on the ice, which makes him one of the unluckiest high-use players in the league. A little bit of luck/regression and he’ll be back on track.
Craig Anderson – G – 91% Owned
Dear, Lord… Look at that ownership percentage. How many fantasy teams did Anderson sewer this week?
Anderson has been an arsonist all season long torching your goalie stats each and every week. His goals-against average sits at a miserable 3.31 this season, good for 61st in the league and nothing about his other stats screams, “Play me!”
Like it or not, Anderson might be dumping gasoline on your team but you are still the one lighting the match by sticking him out there. At this point you’d be better off rolling with an empty roster spot just to resist temptation but why not do one better? Dump Anderson and scoop up a skater, someone who can at least score a goal or two and doesn’t have the capacity to torch the whole roster.
Patrice Bergeron – C – 77% Owned
This has been a downright slow start to the season for Patrice Bergeron but in his defence he came out of last spring’s playoffs looking like he’d been in a car wreck. But he came into this week on a hot streak with four points in his last five games.
After four scoreless games this week, Bergeron is back to slumping.
It’s not difficult to see what ails Bergeron, it’s a lack of power play production. Minus power play scores, Bergeron will get you between 45 and 50 points in your average so season so whatever else he produces comes with the man-advantage and so far Bergeron has just one score.
Not much has change this season for Boston. The Bruins still have a pretty weak power play (ranked 18th) but it has improved from last season. They rely slightly more on the Krejci line as their top power play unit but mostly divide power play time evenly just as they did last season. Bergeron centers the second power play unit just like last year.
It is impossible to know if Bergeron and his group will pull it together and start producing on the power play but if I were the Bruins coach I would start leaning more and more on the Krejci line as my main power play unit, which means it might be time for you to start looking for a new centerman.
Dis-Honorable Mentions: Dan Boyle, Matt Moulson, Martin St. Louis, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Smith, Teddy Purcell, Tomas Fleischmann, Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Goligoski, Viktor Fasth, Brian Campbell, Dennis Wideman, Cody Franson, Jiri Tlusty.