Now that matters are resolved for nearly everyone – one glaring exception still competing for the Vegas Golden Knights – and rosters are more or less settled, let’s have a quick tour of some residual fantasy fallout ahead of the final stretch.
As expected, new Panther Claude Giroux is initially hooking up with (a very excited) Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe on the club’s top line, leaving the potent second unit of Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett, and Anthony Duclair intact. More interestingly, the former Flyer appears to be joining an all-forward cast on Florida’s top power play. If that configuration sticks, I’m even more appreciative of what Duclair – reigning member of that No. 1 special teams assembly – brings to the fantasy table in the waning weeks.
Puzzlingly available in nearly half of ESPN.com leagues, Duclair already has 24 goals and 23 assists in 54 games this season. Top-line third-banana Verhaeghe is another asset worth investigating in deeper competition. But first, check on the fantasy status of Giroux – who’s somehow not universally spoken for – just in case.
For those invested in this headline-making, thwarted trade saga, Evgenii Dadonov is indeed expected back in the lineup against Nashville on Thursday.
Vegas’s lineup, to be clear.
Before this week’s administrative blunder (a gentler characterization than you might find elsewhere), he potted four goals in four games for the Golden Knights. However awkward Dadonov’s re-inclusion might be, the struggling, banged-up Knights need scoring in the worst way. This uncomfortable reunion needs to work. Made to feel expendable, for his part, the castoff forward will undoubtedly feel additionally inspired (if he remains in Vegas and it’s looking like that’s the case). A little extra vinegar often goes a long way. Rostered in 46.2% of ESPN.com leagues, Dadonov could very well perform as a low-lying fantasy gem by way of helping his own treacherous team.
Making his debut on a Rangers line with Filip Chytil and Dryden Hunt, forward Andrew Copp contributed two assists in Tuesday’s victory over the Devils, including a helper on the power play. Fewer than 48 hours later, the former Winnipeg skater is practicing on a top-six unit with points leader Artemi Panarin (16 goals, 57 assists) and Ryan Strome (15 goals, 29 assists). No huge surprise there. Prone to contributing in fits and bursts, the 27-year-old projects to gallop impressively into the postseason on fresh duty in the Big Apple.
There’s always one traded figure, at least, who erupts after joining another club later in the season. I feel Copp is one such character to watch in 2021-22. Check on his availability in your own fantasy league.
Before we crown Marc-Andre Fleury the new king of Minnesota’s crease, let’s extend Cam Talbot proper respect for his own recent turn in net. Following a wobblier run in mid-winter, the Wild’s incumbent has now won five straight, including a 28-save shutout of the Golden Knights on the very day Fleury was acquired. A perfect response, to be sure. Now Talbot is due to face the Canucks again Thursday, leaving the team’s shiny, new asset to serve as backup. The former Blackhawk/Knight/Penguin will get his chances, for certain, but perhaps not as often as initially suspected. Not if Talbot continues to perform in such stingy fashion. This goaltending mano-a-mano will be one to watch as Minnesota battles to keep a grip on a playoff spot in the Central Division. A competition that is bound to disappoint fantasy managers from at least one camp.
The newest member of the Bruins’ blue line is launching his career in Massachusetts on Boston’s top pairing, partnered with Charlie McAvoy. Without having yet seen them play a single game, coach Bruce Cassidy is already comparing the Hampus Lindholm/McAvoy coupling to the former Blue Jackets’ duo of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. That should sound sweet to the ears of Lindholm’s fantasy managers. I’d also wager the former Ducks’ D-man won’t be long for securing an opportunity on the squad’s secondary power play. Battling Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk, and even rookie Jamie Drysdale, for time with the extra skater in Anaheim, Lindholm doesn’t face the same competition amongst the B’s offensive-defensemen. Rostered in only 11.0% of ESPN.com leagues, the 28-year-old UFA-to-be could serve as a sneaky fantasy pickup these final few weeks.
While the Maple Leafs made a splash in acquiring former Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano – heavily rostered across the ESPN.com fantasy spectrum – ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, it’s the deal the team didn’t broker that intrigues most. Even after losing Finnish export Harri Sateri to Arizona via waivers (and others were in line if the Coyotes didn’t step up), Toronto failed to wrangle a much-needed, steady, experienced netminder. So they remain perceivably stuck with Petr Mrazek and Erik Kallgren, at least until Jack Campbell returns to health. Now Mrazek was refreshingly solid in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over New Jersey, while Kallgren has just the one lousy performance in Nashville to show for his limited (3.5 game) NHL career. Whoever suits up versus the Canadiens Saturday could be worth streaming or utilizing in Daily Fantasy play. Less the case Sunday, against the more potent Panthers. As it stands, the precarious situation in Toronto’s net needs to be monitored day by day.
It might be occasion to re-board the Vince Dunn fantasy train, with Giordano gone for playoff-bound pastures in Toronto. Boosted to the top power play once the former Kraken captain exited the lineup, Dunn has four helpers in three games, two of them counting with the extra skater. Averaging 2.9 fantasy points/contest through that stretch, the defenseman is also seeing a boost in minutes at even-strength. A fantasy dud to date, Dunn is poised to finish a pressure-less campaign in Seattle in much finer fashion. And he’s widely available.
As anticipated, John Klingberg wasn’t dealt by the contending Dallas Stars before Monday’s deadline. So the pending UFA may as well make the most of his settled assignment, and build on a running streak of seven assists and three goals in eight contests. Especially with fellow defender Miro Heiskanen (illness) out indefinitely. Quarterbacking the Stars’ top power play, Klingberg is available in more than a quarter of ESPN.com leagues. Never underestimate a talented player competing for his next paycheck.