Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. We’re now into mid-January and in about a week and a half, NHL Central Scouting will release its mid-season rankings, a boon for prospect hunters and dynasty league owners.
This week, Sergei Bobrovsky got in some hot water with his team, prompting a benching; Commissioner Gary Bettman has promised the new Seattle franchise that it will get a chance to host both the draft and the All-Star Game within the first seven years of its existence; and Alexander Steen will miss a couple of weeks after suffering a shoulder injury thanks to a punishing hit by Radko Gudas.
And now, let’s get to this week’s Fantasy hockey waiver wire picks…
Collin Delia, G, Chicago Blackhawks (ESPN: 3.5 per cent; CBS: 28 per cent): Delia has found himself as the main man in net for Chicago right now, and if nothing else, the youngster is facing plenty of rubber. He endured 37 shots on Wednesday, the fourth time in his last five games he’s dealt with that many or more (including games of 50, 48 and 42 shots against). Delia is vastly outplaying veteran Cam Ward, and the youngster seems to be establishing himself as the Blackhawks’ goalie of the future with just 15 goals allowed through six games after looking star struck in his two appearances last season. In his season debut on December 21, Delia looked like a different man, stopping 35 of 36 in a 2-1 win, and he’s been a big part of Chicago’s recent improved play that has pushed the team back into the wild card race. Starter Corey Crawford has proved very injury prone in recent seasons, opening the door for Delia, who has shot up the Blackhawks’ prospect list in the last year — not bad for a dude signed as an undrafted free agent. Delia is also a kid with an appreciation for old school stuff (see video below).
Anders Nilsson, G, Ottawa Senators (ESPN: unowned; CBS: 8 per cent): Starting back-to-back games this week, Nilsson showed a bend but don’t break mentality, giving up plenty of juicy rebounds, but only two goals allowed on 67 shots faced over the pair of contests. Recently traded from Vancouver, he now has a chance to play more often and is taking advantage so far, with a 2.25 GAA since joining the Sens. And for what it’s worth, both Nilsson’s Corsi For and Fenwick For percentages have risen since heading east.
Anton Khudobin, G, Dallas Stars (ESPN: 1 per cent; CBS: 15 per cent): Since being drafted by Minnesota in 2004, Khudobin has bounced around in his NHL career despite the fact he’s put up solid numbers everywhere he’s gone. Now with Dallas, he looked superb on Thursday, thwarting multiple odd man rushes by the Flyers to keep the Stars in the game. In his two previous games, Khodobin stopped all 49 shots in a shutout win against Nashville, and turned aside 36 of 37 to beat Washington. The veteran is worth a look in very deep formats.
- Washington centre Nicklas Backstrom shook off a three-game slump and a game off due to illness by scoring the game-winning goal on Thursday. He’s now +14 and is on pace for the fifth season of his career of more than a point per game.
- Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds had scored twice in four games before looking nearly invisible — except a questionable minor penalty — on Thursday. He’s been healthy this season, but is on pace for just 35 points, his worst full-season total since arriving in Philly. The Wayne Train is sure to be dealt soon as the Flyers’ swoon continues, and a change of scenery may be just what he needs to get going.
- Boston goalie Jaroslav Halak is enjoying a tremendous bounce back season and had been on a nice roll, but has slumped in the past couple of weeks. After giving up three goals on just 21 shots on Thursday, he’s now surrendered 11 tallies on 90 shots over his last three. With Tuukka Rask rolling now, Halak could see less action in the second half.
- Toronto defenseman Ron Hainsey scored on Thursday, giving him two points in his last four games. He’s on pace for his best offensive output since he was a Thrasher, but more impressive is that he’s already a career-best +25 with nearly half a season to play.
- Josh Bailey scored the game-winner on Thursday, but he’s had a tough time producing like he did last season with John Tavares gone. Bailey got off to a great start, but has been slipping since the beginning of November. Still, with a big second half, he could reach 20 goals for the first time.
- New Jersey centre Blake Coleman is thrusting himself onto the Fantasy radar. With goals in back-to-back games and three in the last four, he’s already surpassed his total from last season with 14 tallies. Coleman could flirt with 30 goals this season the way he’s tearing it up lately.
- At the beginning of December, we lauded the comeback season Henrik Lundquist was having. Uh, yeah. About that. He slipped in December (3.21 GAA, .906 save percentage), and has been absolutely putrid so far in January (.786 save percentage with 15 goals allowed in three starts). This stretch has taken GAA above 3.00 and his save percentage below .910 for the season — two places he’s never been over a full season.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
The late Buddy Miles was a well-traveled drummer, having been an original member of The Electric Flag and doing a stint in Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys. As a solo artist, Miles’ debut album from 1970, Them Changes, made it into the top 10 of jazz albums for the year. From this effort comes “Dreams,” a cover of the classic Allman Brothers tune.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey pickup of the week is.