image courtesy of NHL.com
With roughly 10 games to go in the regular season, wild card spots and home ice advantage have yet to be locked-in for most playoff matchups. Teams are beginning to be mathematically eliminated from the post-season, while others have almost clinched. Because of the top-heavy nature of certain divisions and the established gap in points between certain seeds, some teams will soon have the chance to rest players before the playoffs.
In my opinion, this doesn’t happen often enough. Even if the chances of a player getting hurt in 2 or 3 games leading into the post-season are 1%, if you lose that gamble you can lose your shot at the cup. But I’m not here to debate sitting players, I’m here to talk about the fantasy implications if it happens.
When Stamkos sat out the last 3 games of 2017-18, Cory Conacher got into 2 games, in which the Lightning scored 11 goals. Slater Koekkoek got into the third game.
When New Jersey sat Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Sami Vatanen, and Kyle Palmieri, that put Jimmy Hayes and Drew Stafford in the lineup for a night.
When Columbus sat out Panarin, Werenski, and Jones, Taylor Chorney and Alex Broadhurst, and Eric Robinson jumped into the lineup.
At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that one of these replacement players will push you over the edge in the final minutes of your fantasy league, but the Dobber Network is here for exactly that possibility. The closer the finish, the more rewarding the victory! So, here are the top candidates for replacement games as the top teams start getting locked into place:
Tampa Bay Lightning
- Danick Martel has been a patient healthy scratch for a long time, and has likely earned the chance to slide in for a few games at the end of the year. That being said, Cory Conacher got the call last year so don’t rule him out, but there’s also a chance that no one sits out as the team chases historic stats.
- AHL veteran Paul Carey saw a game earlier this season, and leads their minor squad in points, so he’s the guy that has “earned it”. On a more hopeful note, I know a few prospect writers who are aching to see Peter Cehlarik in the black and gold soon, and he’s been solid in Providence.
Toronto Maple Leafs
- The Leafs have traded away or called up most players eligible for this list. Nic Petan should get back into the lineup from the press box should a forward opt to sit out. Their 7th and 8th d-men are already seeing bonus time thanks to injuries.
- There’s no downside to giving Christian Djoos a few games back in the lineup on the back end. Up front, you know that locker room would love to see Devante Smith-Pelly come back from the minors.
- The Flames probably wont need to make a call-up given their list of roster players already in rotation. Whichever one of Andrew Mangiapane, Dalton Prout, and Austin Czarnik aren’t already on the 4th-line will likely slide in. Dillon Dube remains an option as well.
San Jose Sharks
- This one has the potential to be interesting for prospects followers. There is probably a C spot opening up (assuming Thornton takes a break), which could give us a chance to see AHL rookie success Dylan Gambrell in teal. Or, given the Sharks’ center depth, they could go with equally impressive wingers Francis Perron or even Jonathan Dahlen (just to make Vancouver fans angry). Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we will probably just see veteran Michael Haley.
- At some point you would think the Jets want to see newcomer Par Lindholm in the lineup a bit more to gauge the fit. Mason Appleton is the likely top prospect option, but Kristian Vesalainen has also returned from overseas and could be a sneaky pick to see a game or two.
- As is playoff tradition, the Preds have enough veteran depth that they can suit up for a game or two without calling up a name like Eeli Tolvanen. We can dream, but we’re more likely to see Cody McLeod or Miikka Salomaki.
FIRST NHL GOALS TIME!
Carl Grundstrom didn’t waste any time, scoring in his first game as a King:
Josh Brown and Dryden Hunt give us a 2-for-1 in Florida’s game against the Red Wings:
Joel L’Esperance makes a pinpoint deflection for his first:
Thank you for reading, and best of luck clinching those playoff series!
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