Welcome back to Tuesday’s Ramblings.
Fantasy-wise, how are we all feeling lately? We are hovering around the mid-point of the fantasy season, depending on how your league runs, and with that in mind, it’s time to make some serious decisions. Are you a seller? A buyer? Too early to tell?
Perhaps you just need a boost from a young gun to kickstart your club. Look no further. The league is boasting some very intriguing storylines at the moment, with first and second-year players making up a solid chunk of those stories. Here are some hot-streaks to keep an eye on.
With four wins in their last five, the Ottawa Senators are heating up and Drake Batherson is leading the way. He has five goals and three helpers during that five-game span, with three of those coming on the man-advantage. He is playing important minutes in all aspects and shows no signs of slowing down. If he is available, he is a must-pick-up, and if not, perhaps it’s time to start counting your chips to acquire him.
The Chicago Blackhawks, folks. They are good? Who would have thought? On top of the team being good, Adam Boqvist, who unfortunately missed time earlier in the year, is healthy and producing points at a nice rate – five in his last five to be exact. As expected, he has relinquished his role as the club’s top quarterback and shouldn’t have any issues keeping that true.
If you somehow stood ground as Kirill Kaprizov naysayer, I hope you found a cozy spot under that rock of shame – he is the real deal. He’s now up to 17 points on the season, with eight of those coming in the last six. What I love about his stat line is his plus/minus, which sits at a responsible plus-eight. As expected, 11 of his points have come as a result of a helper – usually of the spectacular variety – and has recently blossomed newfound chemistry with grizzled veteran Mats Zuccarello. He is making a large statement as this year’s top rookie.
Despite posting just two points through his first 10 matches, Oliver Wahlstrom has recently contributed for five in his last four.
He is on his way to becoming a truly effective powerplay contributor, and while he has somewhat struggled at even-strength, things are starting to look encouraging. Look for him to cycle through the club’s middle-six and potentially see an increase in utilization.
Finally, we have a personal favorite of mine in Jake Bean, who is recently kicked off an incredible run. It has been a frustrating lead-up for Bean investors, but fret no more. He’s not only found a role on the club’s backend, but he is thriving in it. He is leading the way for the Hurricanes over the last few weeks with seven points, contributing at both even-strength and on the man-advantage.
Speaking of picking up prospects, last week I brought you a list of youngsters from the Eastern Conference who are currently under 25% owned in Fantrax. This week, as you probably expected, I have my eyes on the West. Hopefully, a few of these can bring you some success in your second half of the season.
Joachim Blichfeld, RW, Sharks
Yes, he is an AHL dweller at the moment, meaning his stock is clearly a riverboat gamble. However, with nine points over his first six games with the Barracuda, combined with the Sharks’ inability to consistently provide offense (currently sitting in the bottom-six in goals for), the chance for promotion is not out of line. He did sneak in a few games with the club last year.
Obviously, if you are in a “win now” mode, or fighting to maintain a playoff spot, he may not be the pickups for you. But if you don’t mind taking up a roster spot, there is potential for him to slot in and see middle-six deployment – their left side is quite weak.
Rasmus Kupari, C, Kings
Much like Blichfeld, Kupari is taking reps in the minor league, but producing at a nice rate – more specifically in the helper department. He is currently working at a 1.14 clip, with seven out of his total eight points coming in the form of assists. His eight points already match that of his previous (rookie) season total and has done so in 20 fewer games. You know what that indicates, don’t you? Sweet, sweet Development.
The 20-year-old Finn has his work cut out for him to even sniff the top league right now. With the Kings surprisingly staying afloat in the West Division, the club looks to be set in their ways with regards to their roster. Not to mention their average age, which sits comfortably in the top half. Assuming everyone stays healthy and no one derails performance-wise, they likely will not be looking for more youth. He is more of a “keep an eye out” member of this list.
Olli Juolevi, D, Canucks
Say what you will, but OJ has quietly been one of the Canucks more consistent defenders. If you weren’t watching, you may never know. His career has been riddled with injury, which has put a huge damper on his overall development. But when in the line-up, displays fluid skating, good vision, and potential to become a solid top-four mainstay.
Philipp Kurashev, C, Blackhawks
He has certainly cooled off, with no points through his previous five matches. Still, Kurashev currently sits sixth in rookie scoring with nine points on the year. Despite his drop in the statistical department, he is still seeing consistent minutes among the club’s middle-six, and any hint of traction gained could shoot him back up to play with the big boys on a nightly basis.
Calen Addison, D, Wild
Thanks to a string of mainstay defenders out of the line-up, Calen Addison received his first taste of his NHL action (plus two additional games). Unfortunately, those said defenders have made their way back to the line-up and the 20-year-old rearguard once again finds himself down in the American League. However, his quick in-and-out tour did serve as an indication as to where he lands on the club’s depth chart (not that it was any surprise), and should the team be in need, will surely at the top of the list as a beneficiary.
Carl Grundstrom, LW, Kings
If you were looking to hop on the LA Kings bandwagon but did not want to invest in a gamble (Kupari), Grundstrom is a safe bet. He has only managed five points on the year. However, with 26 shots, 37 hits, and eight blocks on his resume, he should add depth peripheral benefits. He has a decent IPP (71.4), a fantastic shot, and currently patrols the club’s second powerplay unit.
Isac Lundestrom, C, Ducks
I am going to go out on a limb and predict that this number climbs over the next few days. If you missed it, the 20-year-old netted his first career hat-trick on Monday night.
He had two points all year heading into the match. He is playing the majority of his minutes alongside Rickard Rakell and Max Comtois and boasts tremendous potential. However, it just hasn’t seemed to mesh for him at the NHL level (yet) and he could very easily revert back to his pointless state. Aquire with caution.
See you next week. Follow me on Twitter @hall1289 for further prospect updates.