With the trade deadline passing just days ago the chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup is heating up. The Rick Nash sweepstakes fell short of its hype as the Columbus Blue Jackets kept their star sniper for the time being, with much speculation over where he’ll be come next season.
The deadline saw a handful of minor deals that contenders hope can get them over the hump. The Nashville Predators acquired Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitsyn, two veterans who should add experience and toughness to the team. The New Jersey Devils got Marek Zidlicky, a finesse defensemen who they hope can quarterback their power play, and the New York Rangers stayed put, something we did not expect, especially after they dumped Wojtek Wolski to Florida in a move that seemed to point to the fact that Rick Nash was on his way. Nevertheless one sort of blockbuster trade did occur with Jeff Carter of the Columbus Blue Jackets being moved to the Los Angeles Kings for young defensemen Jack Johnson and a first round pick. Carter was acquired to help the Kings score goals, and that’s something he proved he can do in his time with Philadelphia in the past. However, Columbus got a good return in landing both a top young player in Johnson and getting a very valuable first round pick; this trade was a rarity in the sense that both sides came out getting something they needed.
Now that the rosters will be set for the rest of this season, and the majority of the season is already in the books, let’s take a look at who will be the top 5 Fantasy Hockey contributors when the year comes to a close. Basically, pick these guys every single night they are available as they are the elite when it comes to Fantasy.
5.) Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators: Karlsson has emerged as one of the best offensive defensemen in the league today with his uncanny playmaking and his speed. This season Karlsson, as a Defenseman mind you, has 66 points (15 Goals, and 51 Assists) in 64 games. That’s better than a point per game from a defenseman, which is quite impressive to say the least. Karlsson has also shown he’s not just offensive minded in going +15 so far this season, and in doing so making himself a very viable candidate (if not unanimous) for the Norris Trophy (NHL’s Top Defensemen).
4.) Claude Giroux, RW, Philadelphia Flyers: Giroux has emerged as the Flyers most potent offensive weapon this season and its come just at the right time. After gutting their roster this off-season by trading away Captain Mike Richards and lethal sniper Jeff Carter, the team chose a new path that would make Chris Pronger Captain (he’s out for the season now with concussion issues) and would see the signing of former Vezina Trophy runner up Ilya Bryzgalov to strengthen up the teams defense and ultimately fill their goal tending void. The play of Claude Giroux has erased all thoughts that Philadelphia would struggle this season and the line of Scott Hartnell – Jaromir Jagr – Claude Giroux has been one of the elite Fantasy lines in all of hockey. When you see the Flyers playing you be sure to take Giroux as his 5.38 Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) rank him in the top 5 and his 49 Assists rank third in the NHL, Giroux is the real deal!
3.) Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning: Despite the awful season the Lightning are enduring, Stamkos has still been a man on a mission. The goal scoring machine has been just that this season, a machine. His 44 Goals is tops in the NHL by 7 goals, and the next closest guy after that is 12 behind (Phil Kessel-32 Goals). What I’m saying is that Stamkos is the best goal scorer in the league right now, and there’s little doubt that he won’t win his second Rocket Richard Trophy this season as the NHL’s top goal scorer. Stamkos is also averaging a nice 5.66 FPPG (2nd amongst eligible skaters) and has put up 76 points in just 63 games which means 100 points is not out of the works. When you want points for your team, and you want them in bunches, Stamkos is your man.
2.) Henrik Lundqvist, G, New York Rangers: It’s not often that mid-season we already know who our best goalie of the season is, but that’s definitely the case this year. “King Henrik” has emerged as the best goalie in the NHL, and the statistics really don’t lie. In 46 starts Lundqvist is 30-12-1 with a .94 Save Percentage (which if it stands would be the best of all-time), 8 shutouts (tops in the NHL) and an impressive 6.47 FPPG (tops among eligible NHL goalies). All in all Henrik is the most consistent goalie in the NHL night in and night out and his play is the main reason the Rangers are in first place in the Eastern Conference. When Lundqvist is in net he’s a must pick every night, no matter who the Rangers are playing, because believe me…he’s just that great.
1.) Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins: How do you deal with losing the face of the NHL and your best player for over a season to concussion problems? Well it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a guy like Evgeni Malkin to step up for you. “Geno” has been unreal this season for the Penguins, that’s really the only way to put it. In just 56 games Malkin already has 79 Points (37 Goals and 42 Assists), that’s an incredible 1.41 Points per game which makes him by far the most productive player in the whole NHL. If MVP voting were held today nobody except Malkin should even receive a vote, that’s how stellar he has been. His 6.93 FPPG is more than a point better than any other skater in the NHL, and his leadership for a Pittsburgh team plagued by injuries only adds to his value. Malkin is this season’s MVP and he’s also this season’s Fantasy MVP, so you know what to do. If you want an all around player that contributes in every category (his 50 Penalty Minutes is also not bad for a scorer) then pick Evgeni Malkin every single night he skates because he is currently the best player in the NHL and will be for the rest of the season.
Who’s Your MVP This Year? How Ridiculous Is Evgeni Malkin? Thoughts? Let Me Hear ‘Em!