San Jose winger Tomas Hertl scored four goals Tuesday night to vault himself - albeit temporarily - into the NHL lead in both goals and points. He did it just in time, too. The rookie turns 20 next month and once that happens I'll no longer be able to use “Teenaged Mutant Ninja Hertl." And how many times in life would such an opportunity arise? Does Hertl have a younger brother?
The questions came pouring in Wednesday via Twitter, my own site, as well as THN's mailbag.
"Should I drop Player X and pick up Hertl?"
"How many points will Hertl get this year?"
And so forth.
What an excellent opportunity here. To sell. That's right. Shop Hertl around if you own him and make a killing in the deal. While I'm in full agreement with you that Hertl will turn out to be a great player and I feel confident that he will finish in the top five in rookie scoring this year, it doesn’t match the hype. Right now, in fantasy circles, this guy walks on water. I mean, he didn't just score four goals in a game, he scored one of them with a between-the-legs deke that already won him the goal-of-the-year award before the season was even 10 percent done.
So shop him.
On one hand, he could be making the same splash that Jeff Skinner did back in 2010-11 (63 points). On the other hand, he could make the same splash that Vladimir Tarasenko did last season. Tarasenko, if you recall, had 10 points in the first eight games, including a couple of real beauties that made every highlight reel. Then he managed just two points in nine games and was a minus-7 before getting injured and missing three weeks. After that, he pretty much just limped to the finish line and wasn't among the top five rookie scorers.
It's all about the odds. You're fairly certain that Hertl will get 50 points this season. You're kind of certain he could get 60. After all, he's playing with Joe Thornton.
But if you can get a player back who has actually hit the 65-point mark with regularity, then wouldn't the smarter move be to acquire the sure thing? The youngster is a great player and he's going to get better, but for the short term you need to take advantage of the hype while it's at a peak…
Devil of a player
The New Jersey Devils didn't care when Ilya Kovalchuk was constantly a “minus” player and scoring at a mediocre pace. In fact, he averaged about 23 minutes per game during the three seasons he was there, despite earning a minus-41 rating and managing a very un-Kovalchuk-like 174 points in 195 games. It points to a track record that the team and coach Peter DeBoer have when it comes to players in a defined scoring role. That's precisely why Damien Brunner will flourish. His defense may be spotty, but he shoots the puck and picks up the points. But he'll never have to worry about being scratched, the way he was occasionally with the Red Wings.
If you're winning your league, or close to it, while owning one of Steven Stamkos or Evgeni Malkin, you have to be rubbing your hands with glee. Few things in life are certain, but you can always count on death, taxes and those two superstars putting up big points. So if you're already winning without their help, just imagine your lead when they find their groove?
Injuries, from a fantasy hockey perspective
Maybe the Tim Thomas signing was a blessing in disguise for Jacob Markstrom owners. Thomas keeps getting the starts and leaving early, which means Markstrom has been entering games without having psyched himself out all day about being the starter. The result has been some strong performances by the youngster. Thomas left the game Tuesday with a mild groin pull, which means Markstrom will probably get the next start. A strong performance there will go a long way toward the amount of starts he gets in the first half. Had the other goalie been Scott Clemmensen instead of Thomas, I'm not at all convinced that Markstrom's outlook would be as good.