Now that All-Star festivities have concluded, teams can start to focus and look forward to the second half of the season. If you want to have a solid second half to your season, heed the following advice on which players to move forward with and which to cut ties with.
Patrick Marleau – LW (SJS)
One of the most underrated players in the league but one who continues to perform at a high level is left-winger of the San Jose Sharks Patrick Marleau. So far this season, Marleau has tallied 19 goals with most of that damage coming in the last handful of games. Since January 23rd, he has performed beyond belief, scoring seven goals and four assists in a span of only seven games. After his assist on Tuesday night against Buffalo, Marleau has upped his point streak to seven games with seven goals and four assists during that streak. Recently scoring the 500th goal of his career, Marleau is a consistent player year after year and will no doubt achieve his 13th 20-goal campaign in the last 16 seasons. The power-play unit has been money for Marleau as well, as he has scored with the man advantage in two of the last four games. With the multitude of shots he is firing on net – 27 in his previous seven contests – the opportunities will be there for Marleau. The good news is, he likely is available in your league.
Adam Henrique – C (NJD)
If you’re in need of a solid center, look no further than the New Jersey Devils own Adam Henrique. Over his last five games, Henrique has obtained at least one point in each, with an outstanding four goals and three assists during that stretch. With that recent outburst, he should reach the 20-goal plateau for the second consecutive year and third time in four years of his six-year career thus far. Furthermore, he has contributed on the power play with a goal and two assists in the last bunch of games and his time on the ice has been over 18 minutes on average for the season. Henrique plays in all situations, and has contributed two shorthanded goals this season. Like Henrique, his Devils teammates have been playing good hockey lately – earning points in their last four games – and will look to rely on the alternate captain to keep them in the hunt for the playoffs. One of the lesser talked about guys in the League, Henrique should be available in your league so don’t hesitate to make a play for him.
Chad Johnson – G (CAL)
Trending downward this week due to some horrendous play recently is Calgary Flames goalie Chad Johnson. As starter Brian Elliott experienced some midseason struggles, it opened the door for Johnson, but he has not been able to capitalize. On Tueday against Pittsburgh, it was a nice turn around for Johnson who allowed just two goals to Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense and finally earned himself a win. In the three appearances prior for Johnson, he had conceded at least three goals in each, earning two losses and giving up three goals on four shots before getting pulled in the other game of his team’s 7-3 loss to Edmonton. Due to Elliott’s hot hand, Johnson has been relegated to the backup once more and up until Tuesday, had not started a game since January 24th. The Flames are now on their bye week and do not play until Monday. After home games with the Arizona Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary has a tough five-game road trip, so even if Johnson does steal some starts from Elliott, logical thinking would say the struggles will continue. For all of the above reasons, Johnson should be avoided.
Charlie Coyle – LW (MIN)
Though his team is thriving so far this season, Charlie Coyle, left-winger of the Minnesota Wild, has not stepped up to the plate of late and needs to pay for it. Although he did have three assists in a 4-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, that was more of an outlier for him. After a nice start to the season, Coyle has cooled off considerably, notching just a single goal in his last 18 games, after recording 12 in the first 33 games. Making matters worse, he is hardly getting any shots on goal, as he has a combined 10 shots in his past 12 games. The ice time has diminished too, with Coyle seeing less than 15 minutes in three of the past five games. With the call-up of youngster Alex Tuch, Coyle’s ice time will continue to decrease and he has been demoted to the fourth line because of it. The Wild have a nice eight-game homestand coming up, but the majority of those games are against good teams, so don’t look for him to turn it around now just because he is playing in front of the home fans. Needless to say, Coyle is not a player to rely on these days, so part ways with him if you haven’t already.
Pavel Buchnevich – LW (NYR)
Putting up nice numbers until an injury derailed his season, New York Rangers left winger Pavel Buchnevich finds himself on the snorers list this week. Since returning on January 13th from a back injury, Buchnevich has scored two goals and recorded five assists in 11 games, with just a single point coming in the last six – in Tuesday night’s game versus Anaheim. The Rangers are still scoring plenty of goals, but being part of the fourth line won’t exactly help his scoring chances. As he has not achieved more than two shots in a game since November and has had less than ten minutes of ice time in the prior two games, Buchnevich is not the guy you want on your team right now. A shame it is for Buchnevich and the Rangers because he has a good shot and is a very skilled player, but it’s pretty difficult to score goals when shots are not being taken. Dump him and look for better left-wingers out there.