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Weekly NHL Roundup (Dec. 04 Edition): Who You Need to Know

Some under-the-radar scoring stars have emerged, some unexpected goalies could provide value and it's time to look into some Washington Capitals rookies.
Jesper Bratt

Goalies

Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers

Maybe Gerard Gallant was just doing some damage control when he said Igor Shesterkin’s lower-body injury was “not as bad as it looked,” but non-contact injuries can be serious, and with the way Shesterkin moves around his crease, the Rangers will have to be careful with this one because he’s been one of the biggest reasons for their success.

Georgiev stepped in and stopped all nine shots he faced in the third period to complete the shutout win against the Sharks, the Rangers’ fifth straight win and their ninth in 10 games. If Shesterkin misses time – and it seems safe to assume that he will – Georgiev is an automatic roster stash. His numbers have not been good this season (.867 Sv%, 3.89 GAA), and note the Rangers’ poor possession metrics means they don’t defend very well and routinely get out-chanced and outshot, but with their scoring ability and relatively easy stretch coming up facing the Blackhawks twice and the Sabres in three of their next four games, there’s definitely some good upside to be captured. Expect Keith Kinkaid or Adam Huska, who is waiver-exempt, to be called up if the Rangers need another goalie.

Malcolm Subban, Sabres

If there’s a common theme in this week’s roundup for goalies, it’s injuries. Craig Anderson’s recovery is now going to be longer than expected, which prompted the Sabres to acquire Subban for future considerations from Chicago as they search for answers beyond veteran journeymen Dustin Tokarski and Aaron Dell, and prospect Ukko-Pekka Luukonen, who was re-assigned to AHL Rochester following the trade for Subban.

In short, Subban’s fantasy value is close to nil. His performance in the AHL has not been good this season, the worst of three goalies AHL Rockford had played with a 2-2-1 record and .893 Sv%. He’ll get a clean slate and an opportunity to play in Buffalo, but simply based on past performance, it’s hard to believe he’s anything than a low-risk, short-term option until the Sabres find something else. He’ll give Tokarski and Dell a break, but even if the Sabres play the Coyotes, for example, you wonder if Subban is worth the spot start.

Daniil Tarasov, Blue Jackets

Joonas Korpisalo was placed on IR retroactive to Dec. 1, which means he’ll be out at least next week, and with a solid 34-save performance against the Stars, it seems likely Tarasov will get at least one other start with a back-to-back coming up on Saturday and Sunday with travel in between. Cross your fingers and hope he gets the home start on Sunday against the Sharks, but it will also likely depend on Elvis Merzlikins’ status, who is battling an illness. Fantasy managers looking for an extra start will want to keep an eye on this situation.

Charlie Lindgren, Blues

Jordin Binnington is out for a minimum of 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19, leaving duties to Lindgren and Ville Husso. Four of their next five games are at home where the Blues are 7-3-1, though that includes a home-and-home series against the Panthers and a wacky 1 p.m. ET matinee on Saturday in Miami that definitely benefits the Panthers more than the Blues.

The problem with the Blues is that they’re a very up-and-down team. After Husso allowed just one goal in his first two starts, he’s allowed 10 goals in three starts, and Lindgren is 10-12-2 with a .907 Sv% in his career. If Husso falters in Binnington’s absence, look for Lindgren to get a shot; he’s 8-1-1 with a .925 Sv% with AHL Springfield, though he may not see his first NHL action until Dec. 11-12 when the Blues have a back-to-back at home against Montréal and Anaheim.

Joey Daccord, Kraken

Chris Driedger returned to the lineup, looked like he might take over the starting job with two straight wins, then lands on IR. That means Daccord is back with the big club for a second tour after going 0-2-0 with a .855 Sv% in his first stint, though he’s joining a team that’s going through a much different phase; after winning just four of their first 17 games, the Kraken have now won five of their past seven. Grubauer is playing better, but still not nearly at the level a Vezina finalist should be, and with back-to-backs on Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 18-19, Daccord seems assured to see at least some action.

Pavel Francouz, Jonas Johansson and Justus Annunen, Avalanche

As of this writing, there has been no further updates on Darcy Kuemper, who was a late scratched and missed his scheduled start due to injury. Assuming Kuemper misses some time – his injury history was always a concern – it’s created an interesting situation in the Avs’ net.

Francouz is now on a conditioning stint in the AHL, which means Annunen may not see any action at all, seeing how Jared Bednar elected play Johansson in both of their recent back-to-back games. Upon Francouz’s return, it should be reasonable to expect some sort of battle or rotation between Francouz and Johansson, who still hasn’t really been able to establish himself as a bonafide prospect with a career .895 Sv% in 28 starts and is already 26 years old after being picked in the third round in 2014.

Petr Mrazek and Joseph Woll, Maple Leafs

The Leafs are in a similar situation with Mrazek on a conditioning stint in the AHL, which means Woll won’t be sticking with the big club for much longer despite being unbeaten in three games so far with a .939 Sv% and 1.67 GAA. The question: when Mrazek returns, how much does he play? Jack Campbell’s played well enough to earn No. 1 status, but there are still roughly 60 games remaining in the season and few goalies can handle a big workload in the season and the playoffs. Mrazek’s rostered in only 45 percent of Yahoo leagues and even with his struggles earlier in the season, has a relatively strong track record that shouldn’t be ignored and playing behind a very talented lineup.

Rookies

Cole Caufield, RW, Canadiens

Fantasy-wise, Caufield’s season is pretty much finished; he doesn’t quite have the same jump as he did last season and it seems highly unlikely the Habs will be get any better anytime soon. The debate should really be about whether Caufield’s development is better served playing more minutes on the 8-9-2 Laval Rocket in the AHL or limited minutes on the 6-17-2 Habs.

All the Capitals

Seven. That’s how many rookies have scored a goal for the Capitals this season, with Axel Jonsson-Fjallby still looking for his first after eight games. This type of depth scoring from young players is something they have not experienced in a very long time, and given the injuries to key players, it seems everything is going right for the Caps. Connor McMichael and Martin Fehérváry seem like they could make a significant impact all season, Brett Leason may stick around but only in a fourth-line role, while Aliaksei Protas has the most intriguing upside playing opposite Alex Ovechkin on the top line. Beck Malenstyn, Garrett Pilon and Hendrix Lapierre, since returned to the QMJHL and certainly on Team Canada’s radar for the World Juniors, round out the seven rookie goal scorers.

Other rookies we’re keeping an eye on (<50 percent of Yahoo leagues): Dysin Mayo, D, Coyotes; Brett Murray, LW, Sabres; Quinton Byfield, C, Kings; Nils Lundkvist, D, Rangers; Morgan Frost, C, Flyers; Lassi Thomson, D, Senators; Jacob Middleton, D, Sharks; Scott Perunovich, D, Blues; Gabriel Fortier, LW, Lightning.

Notables

Casey Mittelstadt, C/RW, Sabres

Any mention of “Buffalo” usually prompts a few eyerolls, but Mittelstadt is a talented top-10 pick who everyone seems to have forgotten finished with 16 points in the final 21 games last season. He was injured in the season opener but has since returned, and centers Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Asplund, both of whom are enjoying relatively good seasons on offense. Mittelstadt played 19 minutes and finished with three shots on goal and 12 faceoff wins in an impressive performance returning from a layoff that lasted almost two months. He’s rostered in just three percent of Yahoo leagues.

Jesper Bratt, LW/RW, Devils

Bratt’s assist against the Jets on Friday was his 16th point in his 14 games, in what looks like may be a breakout season. He scored 30 points in 46 games last season, but we needed to see a bit more before making a call. Bratt’s now tied with Andreas Johnsson for the lead in team scoring with 18 points apiece, putting him on a 60-point pace since last season, and currently plays with Nico Hischier and Pavel Zacha on the top line. I think we’ve seen enough to say “yes.”

Kaapo Kakko, RW, Rangers

Kakko’s been playing well all season for the Rangers, so his current run should be no surprise. The Finnish goal scorer is playing on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, and has scored all eight of his points over the past two weeks. Forget about Alexis Lafrenière for a second; Kakko’s the one fantasy managers should target.

Evan Rodrigues, C/RW, Penguins

Just when you think Rodrigues will move back down the depth chart, he forces his way back up again. Due to his versatility and ability to get shots on net (76 this season, nine behind Jake Guentzel), Rodrigues can play all over the lineup, but the Pens’ lack of quality depth necessitates Rodrigues to play a big role. He’s filled in well for the injured Bryan Rust, but rather than playing a supporting role for Sidney Crosby and Guentzel, the Pens need to get the rest of their lineup going, and Rodrigues should help in that regard. One combo the Pens might want to try again: Rodrigues between Jason Zucker and Kasperi Kapanen. In a little 100 minutes together at 5-on-5, they have a 63.48 CF%, according to naturalstattrick.com. 

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