Trades and trade talk continue to increase in the NHL, but none are as controversial as Friday’s John Scott swap between Arizona and Montreal. Sure, Jarred Tinordi went the other way, but it will forever be known as the trade made to eliminate a league embarrassment from participating in the All-Star Weekend. The only league embarrassment here is the league itself, and the teams involved in the debacle.
By allowing fans to decide the All-Star roster, this is the bed the league made for itself. In MLB, NFL and, we’re assuming, the NBA, the status of “All-Star” means something. It speaks to the incredible talent and accomplishments of the person receiving the honour. In the NHL, the toughest and most complex of the four major sports leagues, it has become nothing more than a joke, and is losing fan interest rapidly.
Allowing a fan vote, and going to a three-on-three tournament format doesn’t make it more interesting (though we will admit to the excitement of three-on-three overtime in the regular season); it makes it even more of a joke. But, if you’re going to let the fans decide who goes, allow their selections to play! Instead, the league is ashamed of the idea of Scott as an All-Star, and rightfully so, but this is the grave it dug for itself. And so, in order to save face, the league, the Arizona Coyotes and the Montreal Canadiens have played with a man’s life — with his young family’s life — and will now uproot them to Hamilton where Scott will not only not be an All-Star, but will have to adjust to an international move with his very pregnant wife and young children.
This is the lowest of the low, and this is what the NHL, the Coyotes and the Habs have done. Well done, folks, well done.
Enough ranting. Let’s get to this week’s picks.
Sam Bennett, C/LW, Calgary Flames (ESPN: 7.7 per cent; CBS: 47 per cent): The future of the Flames is heating up, and no player has been hotter in recent games than Bennett. The former fourth overall pick etched his mark in franchise history with a four-goal game against the streaking Florida Panthers Wednesday, solidifying himself as a legitimate NHL star for a young Calgary club. In total on the week, Bennett had six goals, a plus-4 rating, five penalty minutes (a less than inspiring scrap with Marc-Edouard Vlasic — see video below), a power play goal, 12 shots on goal and one hit. He has 11 goals, 20 points, a plus-2 rating and 72 shots on goal in 42 games played this season.
Vladislav Namestnikov, C/RW, Tampa Bay Lightning (ESPN: 21.5 per cent; CBS: 33 per cent): Another youngster that enjoyed an impressive week is the Lightning’s Namestnikov. In just two games, the 2011 first rounder had three goals, five points, a plus-3 rating, a power play goal, seven shots on goal, two hits and two blocked shots. The young Russian has nine goals, 23 points, a plus-13 rating and 54 shots on goal in 44 games played. It’s always risky starting young players in Fantasy sports, but Namestnikov should do well in a secondary scoring role on your team.
Sam Reinhart, C/RW, Buffalo Sabres (ESPN: 2.5 per cent; CBS: 37 per cent): Reinhart was yet another young talent to record a productive week, managing to collect three goals, four points, a plus-1 rating, two penalty minutes, a power play goal, eight shots on goal and a hit in four games played. Jack Eichel may be the face of the franchise going forward, but Buffalo’s other recent second overall pick is right on his heels with 12 goals, 20 points, a minus-2 rating and 88 shots on goal in 45 games this season.
Patrik Berglund, C, St. Louis Blues (ESPN: 5.8 per cent; CBS: 8 per cent): The Blues are heavily involved in trade discussions with the Lightning regarding 2013 third overall pick Jonathan Drouin, but offensive help has already arrived in the form of Berglund. In eight games since returning from injury, the Swede has three goals, six points and a plus-1 rating, including two goals, four points, a plus-2 rating, four penalty minutes, two power play goals, three shots on goal, three hits and a block in three games last week. You might want to scoop him up now while you can.
Jacob Markstrom, G, Vancouver Canucks (ESPN: 28.1 per cent; CBS: 27 per cent): Markstrom has put together a very respectable campaign for the Canucks so far. In 18 appearances, the 6′6″ Swede has a 7-5-3 record, a 2.40 goals against average and a very respectable .922 save percentage. He had a pair of wins, a 1.91 goals against average and a .941 save percentage in two games last week.
Fantasy Tip of the Week: We listed a lot of young talents this week. Some of them may be able to help out your team considerably this season, others in the seasons following. If you participate in a keeper Fantasy league, you might consider stowing away one or two of these guys — or other youngsters you might find on your league’s waiver wire — for future use.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.
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