Around the Rink
The Dallas Stars on Friday traded defenseman Brenden Dillon to the San Jose Sharks for Jason Demers and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. While both players have struggled to produce offensively this season, the deal does have some interesting fantasy implications.
I’ve always seen something in Brenden Dillon. As soon as I started watching the kid play, I saw potential, lots of it. Maybe it had something do with the fact Dillon registered 59 points in 72 games with the Thunderbirds of the WHL in 2010-2011. Maybe it had something to do with Dillon’s effortless transition into professional hockey, where he netted 43 points (nine goals) over 121 games with Texas in the AHL.
There is something about the 24-year-old that screams offense. You wouldn’t know that, though, had you been watching him thus far in 2014-15 with Dallas. Through 20 games, Dillon has produced just one assist. Considering he broke out for 17 points the previous year, his production thus far this season has been quite the letdown. Will his offense improve in San Jose? It likely will, but don’t expect a huge surge in production. Dillon is yet to record a power-play point in his NHL career, as he is never used with the extra man. Any hope of that changing in San Jose would have to come on the second power-play unit, as the first unit is loaded with Brent Burns quarterbacking and Logan Couture on the other point. Even that seems out of the question, as Dillon has shown more of a physical, defensive type of game, where the offense has appeared to take a back seat.
If Dillon is going to produce in San Jose, his best chance might actually come at even strength. There is a chance he will lineup on the second defensive pairing with Burns, who is an offensive monster, recording 18 points (eight goals) in just 22 games. If that’s Dillon’s new partner, it’s inevitable for him to produce points. Just making a cross-ice pass on the blueline to Burns will lead to points every so often. The former forward is just that talented. Dillon should start producing in San Jose, but don’t have your expectations set too high. The offensive potential is there, however, for Dillon to be worth a look in some very deep leagues.
Demers, meanwhile, has been consistently known for putting up around 20 points each season. He too has struggled thus far in 2014-15, managing just three assists in 20 games. While Dillon wasn’t producing in Dallas before the trade, he was still logging over 20 minutes of ice time and proving to be somewhat reliable defensively. Demers on the other hand, was averaging only 18:11 of ice time and is a minus-6 thus far. Even though he struggled out of the gate, Demers was still valuable to the Sharks. His 30 hits are second amongst San Jose defensemen and he has yet to be on ice for a power play goal against in 21:14 of shorthanded time. He is a puck-moving defenseman who will boost a Stars team in need of some support on the back end. Demers posted a career-high 34 points in 2013-14, but the offense has simply disappeared this season. In Dallas, there is a chance he lines up on the top power-play unit with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, increasing his fantasy value. As with Dillon, expect Demers to produce with his new team, just nothing too drastic.
Both traded players will be in action with their new teams on a busy Saturday in the NHL.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
Blues (Brian Elliott) at Senators (Robin Lehner*), 3:00
Sabres (Jhonas Enroth) at Capitals (Braden Holtby), 7:00
Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00
Penguins (Thomas Greiss*) at Islanders (Jaroslav Halak), 7:00
Wild (Nicklas Backstrom) at Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:00
Red Wings (Jimmy Howard) at Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:00
Canadiens (Carey Price) at Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:00
Panthers (Roberto Luongo) at Predators (Pekka Rinne), 8:00
Kings (Jonathan Quick) at Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:00
Hurricanes (Cam Ward) at Avalanche (Reto Berra*), 9:00
Devils (Cory Schneider) at Flames (Karri Ramo*), 10:00
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) at Oilers (Ben Scrivens), 10:00
Coyotes (Mike Smith) at Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.
Injury News For Teams Playing Saturday
David Moss, RW (upper body) - Is hoping to return to practice next week.
Brandon Gormley, D (lower body) - Will miss at least a week.
Martin Hanzal, C (lower body) – Day-to-day, questionable.
Adam McQuaid, D (thumb) - Will miss six-to-eight weeks.
Marchand, LW (undisclosed) – Questionable.
David Krejci, C (lower-body) – Questionable.
Michal Neuvirth, G (lower body) - Coach Ted Nolan indicated that the Sabres expected Neuvirth to miss days rather than weeks due to the injury he suffered Tuesday night against the Sharks.
Josh Gorges, D (knee) - Was moved to injured reserve Tuesday.
David Jones, RW (upper body) - Was placed on injured reserve Thursday, questionable
Mikael Backlund, C (abdomen) - Is skating on his own but still has some conditioning to do before returning to the lineup.
Matt Stajan, C (knee) - Is beginning to skate on his own again.
Kris Russell, D (lower body) – Uncertain for Saturday.
Andrew Shaw, C (upper body) – Doubtful.
Patrick Sharp, LW (leg) - Is close to resuming skating and could join the Blackhawks on their road trip.
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D (lower body) - Will miss 2-to-3 months.
Alex Tanguay, RW (jaw) – Out indefinitely.
Jamie McGinn, LW (back) – Placed on injured reserve Friday.
Semyon Varlamov, G (groin) – Won’t play Saturday.
Ryan Wilson, D (shoulder) - Will undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season.
Brandon Dubinsky, C (abdomen) - Appears to have suffered a setback in the rehab process.
Ryan Garbutt, RW (upper body) - Is expected to miss a week of action.
Valeri Nichushkin, LW (hip) - Underwent successful surgery on his hip Tuesday.
Pavel Datsyuk, C (groin) - Won’t play Saturday.
Brendan Smith, D (hand) - Was placed on the 7-day IR on Wednesday with a hand infection.
Stephen Weiss, C (groin) - Will play with AHL Grand Rapids on Friday, and could return Saturday if everything goes well.
Dave Bolland, C (groin) - Has yet to resume skating.
Sean Bergenheim, LW (lower body) – Questionable.
Brandon Pirri, C (concussion) – On IR.
Alec Martinez, D (finger) - Coach Darryl Sutter believes the blueliner will be out longer than the one week GM Dean Lombardi projected him to miss.
Jonas Brodin, D (illness) – Will likely miss the next two games.
Mikko Koivu, C (illness) – Could play Saturday.
Bryce Salvador, D (lower body) – Placed on IR Monday.
Michael Grabner, LW (sports hernia) – Could play Saturday.
Lee Stempniak, LW (back) - Returned to the ice for Thursday's practice.
Ryan McDonagh, D (shoulder) - Set a two-week target timetable for his return Thursday.
Michael Del Zotto, D (lower body) – Could play Saturday.
Pascal Dupuis, RW (blood clot) - Has been diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung and will be out for at least six months.
Cedric Paquette, C (lower body) - Questionable.
Victor Hedman, D (hand) - Has begun skating in full gear.
David Booth, LW (groin) – Could return to the Leafs next week.
Brandon Kozun, RW (ankle) - Took part in practice Tuesday for the first time since injuring his ankle Oct. 17.
Liam O'Brien, C (lower body) - Skated on his own after the Capitals' morning skate Thursday.
Brooks Laich, C (shoulder) – Wants to be patient after setback following rushed comeback from injury. Unsure of return date.
Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL – After producing a career-high 25 goals and 56 points in 2013-14, it’s been more of the same from Schwartz this season. The 22-year-old has produced at least one point in eight of his last nine games, collecting two goals and eight assists in that span. The chemistry he has shown with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera has been tremendous, as the trio has become one of the deadliest offensive lines in the league. Schwartz has been a point-per-game player this season and is showing no signs of slowing down, especially considering he is playing on a talented St. Louis team that has gone 12-6-1 on the year. Schwartz is the real deal, so it’s quite surprising he is still available in 20 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. If you’re in one of those leagues, grab him while you still can.
Nick Bjugstad,C, FLA – He’s awoken folks. The 22-year-old has been on fire in his last three games, recording four goals and seven points, compiling 11 shots on goal in that span. Is it a coincidence that his top-line linemate Jonathan Huberdeau has finally started producing too? Heck no. Huberdeau is heating up and Bjugstad, as his center at both even strength and on the power play, is benefiting greatly. These two youngsters are key to the Panthers success, and now that their early season struggles are behind them, it’s worth taking a look at both of them.
Niklas Kronwall, D, DET – Kronwall is currently in the midst of a slump, going pointless in his last four games. You can’t argue against his production this season, however, as the 33-year-old has recorded 12 points (three goals) in 19 games this season. Every good hockey player goes through these slumps, so it shouldn’t be anything to worry about. He is an absolute workhorse in Detroit, averaging 24:26 of time per game and manning the point on the first power-play unit. He is still on pace for 50 points and will be back on the scoresheet before you know it. He is the defensive kingpin in Detroit and won’t be cold for much longer.
Alexander Steen, LW, STL – The Blues have gotten such ridiculous production from the Jori Lehtera, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jaden Schwartz line, nobody has really noticed the little slump Steen is currently going through. Aside from a three-assist outburst against the lowly Sabres, Steen is pointless in his last five games and only has one goal in his last 10 games. While he has managed 11 points (three goals) in 19 games on the season, Steen isn’t playing near the level he was at in 2013-14, the season he recorded a career-high 33 goals and 62 points in just 68 games. While he may not be a point-per-game player, his impressive 52 shots on goal thus far suggest he should be back scoring goals in no time. Although the scoring has been so spread out in St. Louis, Steen is still averaging 20:24 of ice time and is logging heavy power-play minutes. He’ll break out of this slump, but expect him to return back to his usual 50-point range, instead of 60-plus points.
Brayden Schenn, LW, PHI – Many people have been waiting a long time for Schenn to finally reach his potential. Are we witnessing it occurring right now? Schenn has recorded at least one point in six of his last seven games, accumulating three goals and five assists in that span. He is playing the best hockey of his career, and is on pace to hit the 25-goal and 60-point mark for the first time ever. Lining up with Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux at even strength and on the power play, Schenn is taking full advantage of having two extremely talented linemates. He has never recorded a plus-rating in his NHL career, but he is sporting a plus-5 so far in 2014-15 and has also been credited with a healthy 36 shots on goal. This is the year the 23-year-old shuts the doubters up. Schenn is barely owned in over 50 percent of ESPN leagues, so this is your chance to nab him and reap the rewards. The former-88-point getter in the WHL is finally showing us what all the hype was about.