As teams are about to complete half of their schedules, let’s find out which guys can be beneficial to you and which guys can be more of a hindrance as the second half of the schedule commences.
Matthew Tkachuk – LW (CGY)
Son of former NHL great Keith, Calgary Flames left winger Matthew Tkachuk is truly making a name for himself in his rookie campaign. In his last seven games, Tkachuk has recorded six assists, and was riding a nine-game point streak until his last game against Winnipeg. For the season, Tkachuk has seven goals and 18 assists – pretty good production from a 19-year-old playing on the second line. Though not much of a scorer, he does many things well that make him a great player to have. His ice time has increased nicely since the start of the season, so if he continues to contribute, he will get the ice time and the goals will follow. Much like his father, Tkachuk is an aggressor and is third in the league with 74 penalty minutes which is a great plus for fantasy owners. With Calgary playing solid hockey lately and pushing to keep their hold on the first wild card position, look for Tkachuk to get plenty of opportunities. Strike while the iron is hot with this youngster.
Ryan Miller – G (VAN)
Goaltender of the Vancouver Canucks, Ryan Miller has taken his game to the next level lately and has reminded every one of the Ryan Miller of old. Looking at the numbers, Miller has won five of his last six games, while conceding two goals or less in each game. Though struggles occurred for Miller early in the season, his recent hot stretch has boosted his goals against average to 2.59 and his save percentage up to .916. During his streak, the Canucks netminder has stopped 174 shots, including 44 versus Calgary two games ago. One of the games in his streak resulted in his first shutout of the season and with some struggling teams in New Jersey and Nashville coming to town next week, there may be more of those to come. If the Canucks have any hopes of making the playoffs – they are right in the thick of things for the wild card – Miller must continue his strong play and show he is worth every bit of the three-year, $18 million contract he signed with the club in 2014. If you’re in need of a veteran goalie who knows how to handle the pressure, Miller is your man.
Patrick Maroon – LW (EDM)
Somewhat of a surprise to be on this list after never totaling more than 11 goals in a season in his five seasons in the NHL, Edmonton Oilers left winger Patrick Maroon has been one of the hottest players in the league the last week and therefore, deserves to be on this list. For the season, Maroon already has 16 goals with seven helpers and is on pace for a 31-goal campaign. Two games ago against Ottawa, Maroon netted two goals and three games prior, recorded his first career hat trick against Boston. Throw into the mix a couple of one goal games near the end of December and Maroon has notched nine points in his last ten games. Being on the team’s top line with Connor McDavid has done wonders for Maroon’s game, so perhaps the trade from Anaheim last season was just what he needed. The 19 shots he has fired on net in the last four games – and 96 overall – in addition to the 52 penalty minutes for the season make Maroon a valuable commodity in fantasy hockey. With the Oilers surging in the standings, look for Maroon to continue his outstanding efforts, so do what it takes to get him in you lineup.
Bobby Ryan – RW (OTT)
Quite successful in years past as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, right-winger Bobby Ryan has not experienced the same level of prosperity this year or the years since being dealt to the Ottawa Senators. Heading into play tonight, Ryan has tallied seven goals and seven assists and it looks more and more like he will be a long way off from the 56 points he achieved last season. After a nice stretch in which Ryan was able to light the lamp in four straight games, he has done virtually nothing in the four games since. The plus/minus ranking for Ryan stands at -1 for the season and he has logged more than 20 minutes of ice time in a game just twice which should further discourage Ryan owners. Ryan was also scratched from the lineup a few days ago due to disciplinary reasons, so it’s never a good sign when a player is out of the lineup because of something other than an injury. Ignore Ryan and his lack of production this season.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – G (TB)
After Tampa Bay Lightning starting goalie Ben Bishop went down with an injury that has sidelined him since mid-December, Andrei Vasilevskiy has taken over and the results have not been good. Vasilevskiy’s previous four games have all resulted in losses, most likely because he had given up four goals or more in all those games. More specifically, he has relinquished 20 goals in those four games, so he is not exactly locking in the starting position with Bishop out. Including starts prior to Bishop’s injury, Vasilevskiy has managed to win just four times in 15 games since November 29th. Even worse, the seasonal ranks of a 2.97 GAA and a .904 save percentage both land near the bottom for all goalies. After squaring off with Buffalo tomorrow, the Lightning have a tough stretch of games against Columbus and some Western Conference powerhouses, so if Vasilevskiy is still playing, don’t expect him to all of a sudden turn it around. Needless to say, Vasilevskiy should not be wasting a valuable roster spot with all his inconsistencies, so dump him immediately.