Josh Leivo and Daniel Sprong have a lot in common.
Both wingers are regarded as having solid scoring upsides. Neither, however, got a chance to be a top-six forward because of the depth up front of the teams they were skating for, the Leafs and Penguins, respectively and remain sparsely owned in fantasy hockey leagues. Both were traded this past week, Leivo to the Canucks, Sprong to the Ducks. Both were immediately placed on a top line and scored in their first games with their new teams.
A lot of fantasy success, in any sport, is opportunity. Both of these forwards now have their’s and, though neither is in the must-add category, they both deserve to be monitored.
Leivo, 25, would probably be the one to try for first, having produced a 15-14-29 line in 86 career NHL games spanning parts of six seasons. His size, shot and skating ability had him on the second power-play unit in Toronto, plus skating now with Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat is certainly enticing from a fantasy standpoint.
Sprong is four years younger. He doesn’t have quite the experience of Leivo or the stats (5-5-10 in 44 games), but he is coming off a dazzling season in the AHL in which he rolled up 32 goals and 65 points in 65 games. Rickard Rakell’s minor ankle injury has given Sprong a chance to play on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf after making his Anaheim debut with Adam Henrique and Nick Ritchie.
♦ The Cinderella story of Coyotes goalkeeper Adin Hill may be heading to a final chapter. Filling in for the injured Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper, the 6-foot-6 career minor-leaguer won his first four starts before the Caps beat him 4-2 on Thursday, but carried a sparkling 1.09 GAA and .957 SV% into Saturday night’s action. However, both Raanta and Kuemper, out with lower body injuries, are back practising and one or both could be activated soon. Still, could Hill, whose stats are far superior to either veteran, somehow hang on to the job? Of course. Coaches will go with the hot hand nearly every time and Hill’s certainly qualifies. Odds are, though, he’s one bad outing away from a return to the AHL.
♦ That Ryan Reaves of the Golden Knights ranks eighth in the NHL in penalty minutes with 43 is not surprising. What is, is that the rugged winger is already up to six goals and four assists in 30 games with half those points (2-3-5) coming in his past nine games. That doesn’t put him in Tom Wilson’s category for filling up both sides of he scoresheet, but it does make him, for the first time in his nine-year career, a useful fantasy piece. Ironically it was a Reaves blind-side hit on Wilson on Tuesday in Vegas that had the controversial Caps winger being helped off the ice with a suspected concussion.
♦ The floodgates, indeed, opened, if even slightly, for Red Wings’ Frans Nielsen. The veteran forward finally scored his first goal of the season last Saturday in his 21st game. Then after being blanked on Sunday, he tallied his second, third and fourth in a loss to the Lightning. Nielsen said late in his scoring drought that he knew the goals would eventually come but even with the proverbial monkey off his back, our guess is he’ll wind up with somewhere around 12-15 for the season, finishing slightly under his career average. He’s seeing roughly double the power-play ice time he did a year ago but his shots on goal per game are well down to 1.4.
♦ Fun facts: Jets sniper Patrik Laine is tied for first in the NHL with 21 goals, but he is tied for 437th in assists with just three.
♦ Habs rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been bumped up to the first power-play unit. He’s had a lukewarm first season in Montreal with 3-11-14 totals, but this should help if he sticks.
♦ Some late injury updates: Wild’s Mikko Koivu took a knee-on-knee hit along the boards from Flames’ Mark Giordano on Friday. It didn’t appear to be all that severe a blow, but Koivu slammed his stick into the boards in frustration, which usually means it’s worse than it looks … Matt Duchene of the Senators could be looking at a long-term layoff. Speculation is he pulled something chasing down an icing call on Thursday … Hurricanes’ Jordan Staal suffered a concussion on Wednesday and sat out Friday’s game … Sabres goalie Carter Hutton is day-to-day with an upper body injury … John Klingberg (hand) could be back before Christmas … Ilya Kovalchuk (ankle) should be back just after the New Year … Filip Forsberg is out four to six weeks. Why? Only the Preds know and they’re saying only upper body … Surgery is a possibility for Alex Pietrangelo’s injured hand … The Bolts say goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is still a few weeks away from returning.
WAIVER WATCH: With fantasy rating out of 5
D, Golden Knights
* * *
It’s taken the big veteran a while to find his game, but it appears to be back. Returning to the lineup Nov. 18 from his PED suspension, he managed just one assist in eight games with just six shots on goal. But on Tuesday against the Capitals, he scored twice, assisted on another and now has seven shots in his past two games. He was a key cog from the back end for the surprising Knights last year with a career-high 36 points (11 on the power-play) and plus-19 and with the VGK’s finally emerging from the hangover of their stunning inaugural campaign, he should be again.
Big veteran centre made his season debut on Friday after undergoing back surgery last March and was put into a top-six role on a line with Jason Spezza and Devin Shore. He’s probably better suited as a third-liner but had a career-high 20 goals in his most recent full season, 2016-17 in Minnesota.
Speedy winger has attracted some attention with four goals, an assist and a plus-7 in his past four games, upping his season total to 9-4-13 in 30 games. And while the skill set is there, he remains, however, a fourth-liner who barely sees any power-play time and this recent surge has all the earmarks of a one-off until he gets a chance to skate with the team’s superstars.
HOT AND NOT: Forwards the past two weeks
Jonathan Huberdeau FLA
3-11-14, plus-1, 5 PPP
Elias Lindholm CGY
4-5-9, plus-9, 4 PPP
Gustav Nyquist DET
Jake Guentzel PIT
Lawson Crouse ARZ
3-1-4, plus-3, 16 PIMs
Andreas Johnsson TOR
Sam Reinhart BUF
Reilly Smith VGK
1-6-7, plus-3, 3 PPP
Jonathan Drouin MON
2-5-7, plus-5, 6 PIMs
Jujhar Khaira EDM
1-4-5, plus-3, 18 hits
Pontus Aberg ANA
– – – – – – – – – –
Brad Marchand BOS
Evgeni Malkin PIT
1-3-4, minus-4, 0 PPP
Wayne Simmonds PHIL
Mathew Barzal NYI
Brock Boeser VAN
Evander Kane SJ
(Saturday’s games not included)
GAMES THIS WEEK
4 — ARIZ, BUFF, CAR, CHI, DET, EDM, LA, PITT, VAN, WPG
2 — ANA
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies