Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News. He's been part of the THN team since 2011, but he's been married to hockey since he got beat up for collecting NHL sticker books in the mid-1980s. If you like strong opinions on the game itself, fantasy hockey tips and a hefty dose of pop culture in your readings, he's your man. And yes, the eyebrows are real.
Most fantasy hockey seasons have reached the turn, meaning it’s time to start negotiating magical trades to put your team over the top. Figuring out who to target is ultimately a buy-low, sell-high ballet, but at this time of year, it’s not so obvious. The sample sizes are big and less extreme than, say, a star player without a goal in his first 10 games. We have to factor history in much more, examining first and second-half splits.
Above all else, the key is to target any player you believe (a) will have significant value down the stretch and (b) can be had for his proper price or anything less, even the tiniest discount. That’s why you’ll see some big names on his list. It’s amazing how lazy certain GMs can be in any given league, placing such massive value on current numbers. Jakub Voracek is untouchable because “he’s the top guy in the whole game this year, come on.” Great player, but wouldn’t you still trade him for a John Tavares? And see if you can get the Tavares owner to add a sweetener because “Hey, Tavares has 11 fewer points, it’s gonna take more than him”?
Here are 20 names of varying value to consider in your negotiations, with positions listed according to Yahoo qualifications.
How would you describe the process of examining every NHL All-Star Game jersey ever made and debating the merits of each at the THN office until we’d hammered out a definite set of rankings?
Silly? Stupid? Fun? Pointless? Nothing to do with the actual sport? Cool?
See the parallels to the All-Star Game itself? If you hate the whole idea, jersey rankings likely don’t excite you. If you’re OK with one day of on-ice zaniness, read on. We assessed every set of threads, starting with the first branded All-Star Game in 1947. We even put our biases to the test by having our far more fashionable friends at Elle Canada (Lisa Guimond, fashion features editor, and Ava Baccari, assistant fashion editor) audit our choices after the fact. The results were interesting. Where does the newest
abomination incarnation fall?
We live in a world of jersey throwing and Dan Carcillo cheap shots. Sometimes, it helps to take a mental break. Reddit user sjgoglin to the rescue with the post, “Dan Hamhuis is up to something.”
An immediate connection leaps off the screen. Shifty-eyed dog from The Simpsons, meet your long-lost twin, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis.
You know things are really bad when you’re so bad, you’re bad at being bad.
That’s where the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves as they return from a four-game road trip through California and Missouri bruised, sunburned and winless. As James Mirtle points out, the Leafs essentially prolonged their playoff-bubble misery by signing a bunch of spare parts in the off-season. They were destined all along to scratch and claw to, say, a 10th-place finish in the Eastern Conference. At the same time, by signing the likes of Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli to highly tradable one-year deals, GM Dave Nonis and president Brendan Shanahan covered their bottoms in case the bottom felt out. If they lacked confidence in the team then, was it worth the slap-dash solution? Why not let the whole thing collapse and guarantee a high pick in a phenomenal draft class?
Either way, each loss puts the Leafs closer to full seller mode, with the March 2 trade deadline visible on the distant horizon. Leaf Nation will start to buzz over who should stay and who should go. Here are 10 candidates to consider, starting with the least likely.
The speediest way to make the entire universe sick to death of the word “snub”? Release the NHL all-star selections and the Oscar nominations in the same week.
P.K. Subban was amazing in Montreal. Loved Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. The San Jose Sharks wouldn’t be the same team without Joe Thornton, and Cake was nothing without Jennifer Aniston. Snubs. They’re all snubs. Snubs, snubs, SNUBS.
My personal favorite way to eliminate a repetitive thought from the brain? Flushing it out. I once listened to What Does the Fox Say? 11 times in a row. Now it’s time to build an entire All-Star team consisting of…you guessed it…S-N-U-B-S.
Slicing the existing NHL selections in half, I’ll include three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards in hopes of deploying them against Team Foligno and Team Toews in an imaginary All-Star round-robin from heaven/hell.
Los Angeles Kings backup goalie Martin Jones has quietly laid waste to the lackluster, easy hockey circuit that is the NHL. It’s glorified house league competition to him. In 29 career appearances, the young man has seven shutouts.
He’s the fastest player in history to reach that mark. He’s posted a donut in 24.1 percent of his appearances. The stat is actually more impressive than that considering Jones, 25, has only started 26 NHL games and was thus only eligible to record a shutout in 17 games. That gives him clean sheets in 26.9 percent of his career starts. O…M…G.
So trade him already, Dean Lombardi.
Wait – what?
Kudos to Darryl Sutter. The Los Angeles Kings bench boss got the gears turning in our collective head at the THN office.
In a recent interview after being named one of the coaches for the All-Star Game, which arrives in Columbus later this month, Sutter openly pined for an old-school format. He believed his Kings, having won two of the three Cups since we last saw an All-Star Game, should all get a chance to play in it. Sutter would like a return to the format last used in 1968, in which the prior season’s Cup champ battles one All-Star squad.
Pretty badass suggestion from Mr. Sutter. It’s a welcome one considering we see more ingenuity at a typical Bakersfield Condors game than we do in five Mid-Season Classics. What other ideas might spruce up the All-Star Game? How about some brand new ones? Here are the best THN’s staff could muster up, complete with arbitrary assessments of their probability.
University of Minnesota alumnus Thomas Vanek’s homecoming hasn’t gone as planned. His point production is his weakest since his rookie season of 2005-06. When he finally did make a Wild headline Thursday night, it was for a morally questionable hit.
Let’s whisk ourselves to the Xcel Energy Center. It’s halfway through the first period. Chicago’s Daniel Carcillo stumbles as he enters the neutral zone with the puck and hands it off to Marcus Kruger. Just as Kruger looks back for the puck, he’s side-swiped by Vanek. Kruger flies face-first into the boards. The Blackhawks bench explodes in outrage. Vanek gets slapped with a five-minute boarding major. Have a look: