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Fantasy Hockey Mailbag: Is it time to drop Flames’ Jacob Markstom?

We really need to appreciate the season Erik Karlsson is having. 

Karlsson is on pace for 109 points this year, which would exceed his combined points over the past three seasons and would obliterate his career high of 82. The San Jose Sharks defenseman has vastly outperformed even the most optimistic fantasy projections and is rewarding anyone who took a chance with more than they could’ve possibly hoped for. 

All this from a player who’s going to be 33 in a few months and has struggled with injuries in recent years. Most players on Karlsson’s trajectory end up in obscurity and their fantasy value slowly disappears. Many people asked if they should sell high on Karlsson after his torrid start to the season, and typically that would be a good strategy, but Karlsson is proving to be anything but typical. 

Just enjoy the ride. 

Time for your questions: 

I think from an offensive standpoint, Nico Hischier has probably hit his ceiling. The thing about Hischier is that he’s a very strong two-way player, somewhat in the mould of Patrice Bergeron but not quite as good. At his best, the New Jersey Devils forward is probably around an 80-point player, that gives you more than 200 shots and is very good for things like faceoff wins and plus/minus. Hischier is still a very good fantasy option, but he probably won’t get close to 100 points. 

What do you expect from Senko and Nichushkin ROS?

Vladimir Tarasenko getting moved to the New York Rangers should be a breath of fresh air for the now-former St. Louis Blue and really boost his fantasy value. Given all the injuries the Blues have, Tarasenko has been stuck playing with Noel Acciari and Ivan Barbashev lately, which isn’t exactly ideal for producing offensive numbers. I’d imagine a motivated Tarasenko in a contract year on a much stronger team would be very beneficial during the fantasy playoffs, especially if he ends up with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. 

As for Valeri Nichushkin, if he can stay healthy, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be very effective. He has 18 points in just 22 games this season and hopped right back on the top power-play unit when he recently returned from injury. We’ve also talked a lot about Colorado’s playoff schedule being very good, as the Avs have a couple four-game weeks in March that feature weaker opponents. 

I’d probably stick with Nazem Kadri when looking at that group. There’s an argument to be made for a switch, but all of those players come with question marks. Alexis Lafreniere hasn’t been super consistent over his career, Boone Jenner has struggled to stay healthy and there’s a lot of uncertainty around Chandler Stephenson’s value with Mark Stone out of the lineup. I know Kadri hasn’t been tremendously productive this season, but I’d still take my chances with him over the others. 

Has Markstrom reached droppable territory in re-draft leagues? If not, do we just ride it out since we’ve made it this far?

This a tough call. I think in one-year leagues where you need to win now, you could consider it. Jacob Markstrom’s play has been better lately than his numbers show, but in fantasy hockey it’s all about the results. There are no moral victories. 

If you watched any of that incredible Calgary Flames-New York Rangers game earlier this week, you know Markstrom really battled hard and made some great saves, but he still gave up five goals and took another loss. He hasn’t won in more than a month. Still, Flames coach Darryl Sutter likes to lean on Markstrom and although Dan Vladar has been picking up victories, his other numbers haven’t been that great. So, I don’t necessarily see Sutter completely turning to Vladar full-time unless something drastic changes. 

That means if you’re in a good spot in your league, you could also ride it out and see if Markstrom turns it around. He’s likely still going to get decent playing time on a decent team. The Flames definitely have one of the more confusing goalie situations in the league. 

This is a very strong squad. At first glance, I see only a couple of spots to look at upgrading. Seth Jones plays a ton but isn’t really spectacular in any one area. Plus, if the Chicago Blackhawks start trading assets at the deadline, his teammates are only going to get worse. You might want to see if there’s a better option there via trade. Matt Murray is another area of concern, as he’s really struggled to stay healthy. Your other two netminders are strong, so it’s not a huge concern, but it still might be wise to see what’s out there. 

Is Hayton the real deal?

Barrett Hayton is a very talented player, though it’s likely going to be another year or two before we see his true fantasy value. The Arizona Coyotes are slowly but surely adding lots of young talent, including Logan Cooley and Dylan Guenther to go along with more established players Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz. If Hayton develops along with these other prospects, the Coyotes could be a very potent offensive team in a few years with a lot of forwards worth rostering. 

The only goalie who would interest me that you have listed here is Semyon Varlamov. If Murray is out for a while, I would consider Varlamov, as his numbers have been excellent recently (a .964 save percentage over his past three starts) and overall on the season. The issue is Varlamov won’t play that often, but could still be valuable if you consider his schedule come the fantasy playoffs. New York has a couple of back-to-backs in the middle of March against friendly opponents. Those could be valuable starts. 

Saros or Georgiev rest of the way?

I’d go with Juuse Saros. There’s certainly some value with Alex Georgiev on the defending Stanley Cup champions, but Saros has been excellent once again this season and there’s no one to challenge him for starts. Georgiev is losing some starts here and there to Pavel Francouz, and won’t give you as much volume as Saros. The Nashville Predators have three four-game weeks in March, so if you’re concerned about playoff schedules, Saros should be a great option there as well. 

It’s very hard to predict where players will go at the deadline, and a number of teams could be after Jesse Puljujarvi to try to unlock his full potential. My guess would be a young team looking for players with upside will take a chance on Puljujarvi, which leads to your second question. Perhaps the Coyotes will ask for Puljujarvi as part of a package for Jakob Chychrun, as the Edmonton Oilers certainly need help on defence. I could see the Los Angeles Kings also being a suitor for Chychrun and they probably have the assets to get a deal completed. A move to either team for Chychrun should boost his value.

As for John Klingberg, I don’t see any reason the Anaheim Ducks wouldn’t move him at the deadline for an asset. He’s on a one-year deal and unlikely to re-sign, so they might as well get something for him. A move to a new team might help Klingberg, as he’s had a very mediocre season by his standards. 

Those players leaving at the deadline shouldn’t hurt Jordan Kyrou too much. Kyrou has typically played with Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich this season, and even though they’re injured, those two shouldn’t be going anywhere. It could eventually help Kyrou as the St. Louis Blues may lean on him more and give him additional ice time with Tarasenko gone and Ryan O’Reilly perhaps departing. I wouldn’t be too worried where Kyrou is concerned. 

I picked up Chytil for a weekly stream. Now I’m debating … do I hold onto him!?

I recommended Filip Chytil this week for the Rangers’ great schedule, but now I’m thinking along the same lines as you. Chytil has seven goals in his past five games and at four shots in three of those games. He’s playing really well and has 19 goals on the season. If you’re not in a roster crunch, I’d hold onto Chytil and see where this goes. 

Jake Sanderson is a decent option and I’d have a look at Bowen Byram, too. He’s back from injury and has already picked up a point in his first game, and Colorado plays four times next week. That includes two back-to-backs, so if you’re looking for a goalie, Francouz should also be considered. He’ll likely be guaranteed to get two starts. 

Who is an under-the-radar d-man to add down the stretch in a points league? My team’s been hit by injuries on the back end and I’m looking for something.

The aforementioned Byram is a good option but I’m not sure how under the radar he is. Maybe give Brett Pesce or Cam Fowler a look. Pesce is playing big minutes and has been underrated for offence at times this season, even getting time with the man advantage here and there. Fowler has run hot and cold this season, but when he’s been on, he’s proven to be very productive. If the Ducks do deal Klingberg, that would also leave more power-play opportunities for Fowler. 

Since it’s just a points league and if it doesn’t impact your roster balance too much, I’d drop Brayden McNabb. He’s the least valuable of the group based on your league categories. When considering trading Adam Henrique for Jake DeBrusk, I might hold off. On the surface, it would appear DeBrusk is in the better spot, but Henrique has been very good this season and proving to have a lot of value. I would stick with what’s working since we don’t know where DeBrusk will fit back into the Boston Bruins lineup when he returns from injury. 

Is Jones about to lose his starting job to Grubauer? If so, is Grubauer a buy right now?

Given Martin Jones’ win-loss record this season and the fact that the Seattle Kraken are in the playoff race, I think Jones probably gets a bit more runway even though most of his other numbers haven’t been great. Even if he does really start to slide, it’s not like Philipp Grubauer’s numbers have been spectacular either. It’s probably a bit premature to bank on Grubauer just yet. 

As much as David Perron is struggling, I don’t necessarily see either of those two as a major upgrade. That said, both Lafreniere and Brock Boeser are playing better than Perron and the time for patience with the Detroit Red Wings forward is running out quickly. You might want to try Lafreniere and see if he can piggyback off Chytil’s strong play. 

Jack Campbell is the right way to go here. The Oilers goalie really playing well and Spencer Knight hasn’t been that relevant lately, between his injuries and the inconsistent play of the Florida Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky has also been fairly solid recently and it seems like coach Paul Maurice leans on him a bit more. I think you’ll get more value out of Campbell the rest of the way. 

I agree and I might try Sanderson. He’s been getting big minutes and has been very productive over his past four games. The Ottawa Senators defenseman should also be effective for volume categories such as blocks and shots because of the amount of ice time he’s been getting. 

When it comes to playoff schedules, I like Colorado’s and Nashville’s the best. Both have a number of four-game weeks in the middle of March with a few back-to-backs. If you’re planning ahead, I’d see who’s available from those two teams. 

Tough one. I think it depends on what you’re looking for in goal. If you have enough volume from your other starters and are just looking for a quality start here and there, I’d probably go with Gustavsson. If you need more starts to hit your minimums or pile up saves, I’d say Bobrovsky. He’ll play more than Gustavsson. 

Sam Girard worth a look with Makar out at least a couple games?

It’s something to consider, but I think Byram has the higher upside. Samuel Girard didn’t get bumped up to the top power-play unit with the Cale Makar injury news and he’s never scored more than 35 points in a season. If Makar is only out a few games, I think Girard won’t offer you much, whereas Byram might actually end up having decent value for the rest of the year. 


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