The Wire Troll: Nick Bonino Powers Penguins
This is it — the final week of the NHL regular season, and championship weekend in the vast majority of Fantasy hockey formats. If you’re still with us, congratulations! You’ll do no worse than second in your league, and that’s still an accomplishment to be proud of. Let’s get to this week’s picks, shall we?
Nick Bonino, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (ESPN: 36.7 per cent; CBS: 20 per cent): Thanks in no small part to a monstrous five-point night against Detroit, Bonino is a hot commodity these days. Though he has just eight goals and 24 points through 58 games this season, he does have a respectable plus-11 rating, 29 penalty minutes and 90 shots on goal. It’s not much, but all signs are pointing to a very solid push in Fantasy numbers for the Penguins pivot to finish out the regular season.
In his last seven games, Bonino has three goals (see video below for one of them), 10 points, a plus-6 rating, four penalty minutes, a power play goal, 17 shots on goal, two hits and four blocks. Pittsburgh has been on a roll lately, and it’s because all parts of the engine are working together. Bonino is just stepping on the gas.
Andrew Cogliano, C/LW, Anaheim Ducks (ESPN: 0.6 per cent; CBS: 7 per cent): Why Cogliano is owned by so few Fantasy teams is beyond us. Through 77 games this season, the Ducks forward has nine goals, 30 points, a plus-5 rating, 26 penalty minutes and 118 shots on goal. A versatile forward, Cogliano has a goal, seven points, a plus-4 rating, 11 shots on goal and eight hits in his last eight games.
Ales Hemsky, RW, Dallas Stars (ESPN: 1.8 per cent; CBS: 13 per cent): The former Edmonton Oilers star has been shining in Dallas of late, collecting two goals, seven points, a plus-4 rating, four penalty minutes, 16 shots and five blocked shots in his last six games. The veteran has 13 goals, 37 points, a plus-3 rating and 148 shots on goal in 71 games.
Jake Gardiner, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (ESPN: 8.4 per cent; CBS: 24 per cent): The Maple Leafs may be the frontrunners in the Auston Matthews Sweepstakes, but don’t tell Gardiner that. The youngster has been a key part of the Toronto defense (considering the team’s place in the standings, take that for what it’s worth) and is only a minus-12 player with an average ice-time of 20:27 on a team for which the worst plus-minus is minus-17 (Matt Hunwick).
If you’re one of the many who lost Chicago’s Duncan Keith to his own stupidity last week, Gardiner may be an ideal replacement. In 74 games, Minnesota native Gardiner has six goals, 30 points, 30 penalty minutes and 110 shots on goal, numbers that reflect a very positive season of growth. A pair of two-point games recently give him five assists, two penalty minutes, 13 shots on goal, three hits and six blocks in his last seven games.
Joe Colborne, C, Calgary Flames (ESPN: 1.1 per cent; CBS: 5 per cent): Calgary’s big names don’t include Colborne, but he’s been playing like one recently. In his last eight games, the big native son has three goals, seven points, a minus-6 rating, two penalty minutes, 15 shots on goal, 14 hits and two blocks. He has 17 goals, 37 points, a minus-11 rating, 27 penalty minutes and 94 shots on goal (for an impressive 18.1 per cent shooting percentage) in 69 games played.
Fantasy Tip of the Week: Injured Montreal Canadiens starter Carey Price (leg) was expected to play one of his team’s final four games of the season. That may now be in jeopardy. According to reports, he is still experiencing some symptoms, which means the net may belong to Mike Condon, and recent rookie addition Charlie Lindgren, for the rest of the season.
The Habs played like animals in front of Condon on Thursday against the high powered Tampa Bay offense, helping him to his first career NHL shutout. He’s expected to get at least two more starts, with one going to Lindgren. However, if Price doesn’t return this season, the fourth start is up in the air. Either Condon or Lindgren could be a savvy last-minute pickup for one more start before your Fantasy season comes to a close. Good luck!
Can’t get enough of Fantasy hockey? Well, fortunately for you, the season is far from over. Very few sites offer a Fantasy format for sport postseasons. Fantasy Postseason is one of the few that does. The player pool is limited to the teams that qualify for the postseason, and you only get 10 roster moves, so you have to be smart in your decision making. If you’re intrigued, we urge you to check it out.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey waiver wire pick of the week is.
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