As baseball picks up the seams hockey heats up in a race for the playoffs. The trade deadline shuffled some players from cellar dweller squads to contending units and whom those trades impact will provide opportunities and uncertainty as well. We will monitor the impact going forward, but tonight we have seven games on the slate and some quality match ups. Three of the nine worst teams in goals allowed over the previous 10 games are in play tonight providing a chance for some high scoring. Lets get after it.
The Arizona Coyotes have allowed 28 goals in their last 10 games and have averaged almost 31 shots against per game. They face the Florida Panthers, making the Panthers a lineup to target. The Panthers aren’t an offensive juggernaut, but they have a few viable options. The problem with the Panthers is that the best plays from their lineup are affordable without being bargains. They don’t have any bargain steals to take advantage of and in such a strong match up it is difficult not to have at least a share or two in this one.
Reilly Smith Wing: $10,200
Stats: 2 Goals – 1 Assist – 4 Shots on Goal = 2 Games Played; 3 Goals – 5 Assists – 18 SOG = 13 Games Played
He is a viable option, but that’s not a great price and he isn’t shooting enough for me to feel good about him. The match up and the two game scoring streak makes him a consideration, but a mediocre one.
Jaromir Jagr Wing: $11,400
Stats: 5 Goals – 8 Assists – 28 SOG = 13 GP
Another Panther at a price that isn’t expensive, but it isn’t a bargain either. He is the Panthers best offensive player in the best match up of the night. He is a better than 50-50 pick tonight but the salary limits my excitement. Don’t be surprised to see some scoring from Jagr tonight
Vincent Trocheck Center: $10,300
Stats: 5 Goals – 6 Assists – 35 SOG = 13 GP
Another player doing some good things whose salary demands an investment that is a little more than you feel great about but affordable enough to tempt you.
Nick Bjugstad Center: $8,900
Stats: 1 Goal – 6 Assists – 35 SOG = 13 GP
Bjugstad is the bargain of the bunch, but he is mostly an assist’s play. I love to see that he is tied with Trocheck for the most shots on goal in the month of February. It is difficult not to own at least a share of one of the best match ups of the night and with the lack of bargains this may be your best value even though he is less likely to score than your other Panther possibilities.
The Vancouver Canucks have allowed 34 goals in nine games to go along with 288 shots on goal against. That makes the San Jose Sharks the best combination of production and price on the slate. Joe Thornton (Center – $11,700) has been on fire in February while Logan Couture (Wing – $12,900) and Tomas Hertl (Wing – $11,100) have been better than average as well. Brent Burns (Defenseman – $16,700) doesn’t come cheap but 60 shots on goal and 27 minutes of ice time per night in the last 14 games is a ridiculous total for a defenseman. If you can afford it, a two or three, even a four-player stack is justifiable from this Sharks roster.
If you want a bargain from the Sharks:
Joonas Donskoi Wing: $7,500
Stats: 3 Goals – 3 Assists – 17 SOG = 14 GP
The price is the allure here. His production has been limited and the shots on goal have been low. The match up is a very good one and the salary allows you to do a lot of other things that are a higher priority.
Joel Ward Wing: $8,800
Stats: 2 Goals – 3 Assists – 24 SOG = 14 GP
Donskoi has been playing with Logan Couture on the third line while Ward plays with Nieto and Marleau on the second line and both play together on the second power play. Ward is more costly while they have both performed about the same recently. I would rather see my guy playing with Couture (Donskoi), but Ward is playing the wing. If you can afford Ward I like him slightly better, but if Donskoi allows you to roster someone more important to your chance to cash, this one is a close call.
The Ottawa Senators face the hapless Maple Leafs and the 33 goals allowed in their previous 10 games. What I love about the Senators is how many bargain players they have that actually produce and in a great match up they are the place to shop for value tonight.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau Center: $8,500
Stats: 3 Goals – 2 Assists – 15 SOG = 4 GP
Pageau had a two-goal game against the Blues and is on a bit of a run recently. I love to see this kind of performance at that kind of bargain salary and when it is in a primo match up, he is a pick to click. Pageau is a “Must-Start” play and a strong player to stack against the Leafs.
Zack Smith Center: $7,500
Stats: 4 Goals – 3 Assists – 16 SOG = 7 GP
Smith has produced a goal or an assist six of his last seven games, making him a “Must-Start” at a $7,500 salary. The match up is gravy.
Cody Ceci Defenseman: $7,600
Stats: 1 Assist – 11 SOG = 6 GP
Erik Karlsson is a full-price play that always produces for the Senators while Ceci is a bargain buy that really hasn’t. I list him here because defense is a position that you can take a chance on and not be killed if it fails. He wasn’t bad early in February but has fallen off recently. The performance hasn’t been there, but the salary allows you to spend elsewhere if that’s the strategy you want to implore and the match up is friendly.
Mark Stone Wing: $11,600
Stats: 9 Goals – 7 Assists – 34 SOG = 13 GP
His salary has risen with his hot play in February, but he has a match up that is primed for a stack. The salary is affordable considering the production you have been getting.
The Montreal Canadiens face the goal-friendly Winnipeg Jets. Here are some viable plays tonight.
Alex Galchenyuk Center: $9,200
Stats: 5 Goals – 16 SOG = 5 GP
Five goals in five games are too good to ignore and then when you combine the performance with a bargain salary and a prime match up he is a “Must-Start.” The streak has to come to an end, but for now he needs to be started almost every night.
Andrei Markov Defenseman: $9,500
Stats: 1 goal – 8 Assists – 12 SOG = 8 GP
Markov doesn’t score many goals and shoots less than I would like to see but an assist in seven of his last eight games makes his salary an appealing play. The Jets allow goals and Markov often assists in them and that’s what I about Markov like tonight.
The Washington Capitals are loaded with scorers and the Boston Bruins are more than happy to oblige most nights, making this a game that should be loaded with goals. Alex Ovechkin ($18,900) and Evgeny Kuznetsov ($13,900) are full price plays, T.J Oshie ($11,400) and Andre Burakovsky ($10,200) won’t break your bank but aren’t bargains either.
Here is a risk/reward for the Capitals in a prime match up.
Dmitry Orlov Defenseman: $7,300
Stats: 2 Goals – 0 Assists – 7 SOG = 6 GP
The production hasn’t been there recently and the shots on goal are too low to minimize the risk, but the Bruins allow almost three goals per game while the Capitals score just under three per game. Orlov is a bargain price in a good match up.
FULL PRICE PLAYS
I like to give you the bargains and the great options in prime match ups and now its time to look at the producers regardless of their salary.
Steven Stamkos Wing: $15,000
Stats: 6 Goals – 3 Assists – 15 SOG = 7 GP
Stamkos is on fire and he is priced to prove it. I would rather spend my salary on Ovechkin and Brent Burns, but Stamkos is a safe pick to produce and he is much more affordable.
Alex Ovechkin Wing: $18,900
Stats: 4 Goals – 4 Assists – 33 SOG = 8 GP
Ovechkin is a beast, but he is a scoring machine that takes an insane amount of shots against a Bruins team that allows the most shots on goal in hockey in their last 11 games. I will be stunned if Ovechkin doesn’t score at least one goal, possibly an assist and he could have 6-7 shots on goal. He is an expensive, but very safe play today.
Brad Marchand Wing: $14,300
Stats: 5 Goals – 2 Assists – 22 SOG =7 GP
He torched teams in February and there is no reason to think that will change. He is still cheaper than the other elite scorers and is worth starting at his current salary.
Evgeny Kuznetsov Center: $13,900
Stats: 4 Goals – 4 Assists – 18 SOG = 8 GP
His salary and production has been similar to Marchand, but he has the benefit of the slightly better match up. Both are strong plays and more affordable than the elite scorers like Ovechkin and Joe Pavelski and Patrice Bergeron.
A few bargains that are producing at levels that makes them viable regardless of price.
Lee Stempniak Wing: $8,900
Stats: 2 Assists – 1 SOG – 1 GP
Recently traded to the Bruins, it looks like Stempniak is going to be playing on the Bergeron and Marchand line, which makes him a bargain. I don’t love the Capitals match up, but Stempniak is a great value when he plays with those two.
Nick Spaling Center: $5,200
Stats: 3 Goals – 1 Assist – 9 SOG = 6 GP
A strong match up to go with a bargain salary and some production too boot. Spaling is the bargain of the night. He isn’t a big time player and there is plenty of risk playing a minor contributor, but the recent production at that salary is extremely tempting. You can take it to the bank that ownership will be low in tournaments on Spaling.
The Bruins and Capitals face each other and cost the most in spite of a tough match up for both. The Shots on goal will be there, one of them has to win and if they can keep the biscuit out of the basket they will be huge scorers tonight. I prefer to stay away form Team G’s facing high-octane offense so they won’t be in my lineups tonight.
Ottawa Senators ($16,500) @ Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs aren’t scoring goals but they have averaged over 30 shots per game in their last 10 games while losing eight of their last nine. That shots on goal output, lack of goals and the likelihood that the Senators get a win is a very appealing Team G at a reasonable salary
San Jose Sharks ($15,500) vs. Vancouver Canucks
James Reimer will get his first start as a Shark, throwing a risky wrinkle into the Sharks Team G, but the Canucks have only scored 23 goals in nine games, fifth worst in hockey over that period. The salary is extremely reasonable, the Canucks are a weak opponent and a Win looks good, all good reasons to be high on the Sharks Team G tonight.
Arizona Coyotes ($12,300) vs. Florida Panthers
Winnipeg Jets ($12,000) vs. Montreal Canadiens
The Coyotes and the Jets allow a lot of goals and earlier in this article I suggested some players to stack against them both, but the Panthers and the Canadiens struggle to score. If you want to save some salary and aren’t stacking against the Coyotes or the Canadiens, the Coyotes and Jets are both risk/reward Team G’s tonight. I can’t recommend them, but shaving salary is a viable strategy if you want to go that route with either team. Good luck with the pucks and may the goals and assists be with you.