The Wire Troll: Zdeno Chara Still Relevant
Andreas Athanasiou is on a serious tear. (Theathletic.com)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. With the season wrapping up shortly, this will be the final set of picks for the season. We hope that our recommendations have helped you to Fantasy hockey glory.
This week, Buffalo sent 2016 first round pick Tage Thompson to the minors given his 23-game goalless drought; Nashville has signed its 2016 first round pick, defenseman Dante Fabbro, to an entry-level contract after his huge junior season at Boston U.; and Tampa Bay has given Coach Jon Cooper a multi-year extension.
And now, let’s get to our final batch of Fantasy hockey waiver wire picks for the 2018-19 season…
Zdeno Chara, D, Boston Bruins (ESPN: 14.8 per cent; CBS: 19 per cent): Among the most popular — and certainly oldest — players in the league, Chara continues to prove Fantasy worthy despite having just turned 42. He has a goal and two assists over the last three games, and since March 14, he’s tied for the league lead at +10. In fact, after a slow start, Chara went +9 in February and is +11 so far in March. He’s only scored five goals — his fewest since 2000-01, but continues to be a real asset in +/- and he still has that amazing reach that makes him such an effective shutdown defender. Small wonder the Bruins gave just Chara a one-year extension.
Andreas Athanasiou, C, Detroit Red Wings (ESPN: 33.2 per cent; CBS: 37 per cent): Athanasiou has become the king of the penalty shot, recording an NHL-high three of them this season (scoring twice, to boot). With another goal Monday, he now has five tallies and pair of assists over the last five games, continuing a huge month that has now seen him total 10 points. Athanasiou has really broken out in his fourth season, despite missing six games. On Friday, he flashed his speed and stick handling ability (see video below) in becoming the first Red Wing to score 30 goals in a season since 2008-09, when Detroit boasted four 30-goal scorers.
Alexandar Georgiev, G, New York Rangers (ESPN: 1.4 per cent; CBS: 13 per cent): Georgiev has been inconsistent lately, but he could be in line for more action down the stretch with starter Henrik Lundqvist struggling. Let’s face it, the propensity for defensive breakdowns makes neither Ranger goalie a great Fantasy bet, but Georgiev is the future in New York, so it behoves the team to give him more action right now. Over the last five games, we’ve seen him shine (44 saves on 45 shots against Toronto and 31-of-32 against Dallas) and look awful (five goals on 32 shots vs. Calgary and five goals on 36 shots against the Penguins), so it’s hard to say which Georgiev will show up on any given day. Still, March has been his best showing of the campaign, and he has managed to lower his GAA this season while recording his first career shutout. Georgiev still has the upside of a low-end starting goalie, so he bears watching closely as the season wraps up.
- Philadelphia Flyers centre Sean Coututier has quietly enjoyed another stellar season, scoring on Wednesday to set a new career high in goals. He’s averaging a point per game over the last five and now has 33 points in 26 games since the beginning of February. Not bad considering Couturier missed a couple of games earlier this season.
- Colorado blueliner Tyson Barrie is red hot right now, scoring once and adding two assists on Wednesday to give him a 3-3-6 mark over the last five. He should reach 60 points for the first time and with the goal Wednesday, he passed Sandis Ozolinsh to become the Avalanche’s career leader in goals by a defenseman.
- Toronto centre Auston Matthews ripped another goal and assist Wednesday, giving him five points over the last four games. His shooting percentage in March is just 9.5 per cent, but he’s really improved as a playmaker, reaching 35 assists for the first time in his career.
- Vegas centre Paul Stastny snapped a two-game drought with a goal and an assist on Wednesday, giving him five points over the last five games. Injuries have limited his overall scoring numbers this season, yet at +15, he’s enjoying the second highest plus/minus figure of his career.
- It’s pretty clear that Boston left winger David Pastrnak is fully recovered from thumb surgery that cost him 16 games recently. After going pointless in his first game back, he’s been red hot, with five goals and six assists over the last four, including a career-high five points (three goals) on Wednesday. Despite playing just 61 games so far, he’s set a career high with 36 goals now.
- Detroit recalled right winger Martin Frk from the AHL on Wednesday. A 2012 second round pick, he’s been great for the Griffins (10-4-9-13, after scoring 50 points in 65 games last season). Frk showed promise with the Wings in 2017-18 (11-14-25), but has only appeared in 25 games so far this season.
- Rangers centre Mika Zibanejad fired two goals Wednesday, giving him three points in the last two games. He was slumping earlier this month, but is now back on pace in a career season that has seen him reach 30 goals, 40 assists and 70 points for the first time.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
British rock singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading has been making music since 1972. In 1979, she released Steppin’ Out, a live album featuring the sexy number “Kissin’ and a Huggin’.”
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who your favourite Fantasy hockey pickup of the week is.