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Monday Daily Puck: The Hunt For John Tavares

John Toperzer

John has written for Rotowire.com since 2003 and serves as the beat writer for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s worked for the Pirates for 17 years, written for the Penguins’ Web site as the first game-day editor, and rooted for the Steelers dating back to the Immaculate Reception.

Around the Rink

Patrice Bergeron entered action Sunday tied for the second-most power-play points in the league with eight goals and 11 assists. He’s already surpassed his power-play point total from each of his last seven full seasons. Wasn’t Boston supposed to be rebuilding? Bergeron has really stepped up his on-ice production -- his 0.91 points-per-game pace sits at a career high, based off of 17 goals and 40 points in 44 games. I’m convinced this guy can do pretty much whatever he sets his mind to do on a sheet of ice.

I’m having a hard time figuring out whether I’m a fan of Anze Kopitar’s eight-year, $80-million deal. On one hand, he’s missed only 21 games in a 727-game career – that kind of durability is rare. On the other hand, he’s already played in those 727 NHL games – a fairly decent amount of mileage. Also, he’s a relatively young player at 28. Then again, most elite talents peak by or before the age of 27. Finally, if you can’t spend money on your franchise icon, whom can you spend it on? By the same token, the Kings are already up against the salary cap and have a number of players looking for new contracts (Tyler Toffoli, Milan Lucic) while others still have a long way to go on terrible deals (Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik). I’m torn on this one. I feel a little like Cybil.



Can you guess who leads the Penguins in shots? If you guessed Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel or Evgeni Malkin you’d be wrong. Patric Hornqvist leads the team with 139 shots. All four players are relatively close to each other in shots, but the point is that Hornqvist appears to be settling in on Crosby’s right wing and is producing nicely. He’s totaled five goals and 13 points in his last 12 games, including seven points in his last four. Hornqvist was nearly un-ownable earlier in the season but that’s no longer the case.

Let’s get to the chopper.


Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Edmonton Oilers (Cam Talbot) at Florida Panthers (Al Montoya), 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins (Jeff Zatkoff) at St. Louis Blues (Brian Elliott), 8:00 PM
Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov) at Winnipeg Jets (Connor Hellebuyck), 8:00 PM
Buffalo Sabres (Robin Lehner) at Arizona Coyotes (Louis Domingue), 9:00 PM
Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson) at San Jose Sharks (Martin Jones), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Monday

Edmonton Oilers
Andrew Ference, D - Ference (undisclosed) on injured reserve.
Matt Hendricks, LW - Set to return from three-game suspension Monday.
Oscar Klefbom, D - In addition to the finger injury, Klefbom may also be dealing with an infection in his leg.
Connor McDavid, C - McDavid (collarbone) won't return until February.

Florida Panthers
Aaron Ekblad, D - Ekblad (concussion) Monday.
Dave Bolland, C - Bolland (lower body) will sit out through the All-Star break.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Kris Letang, D - Letang (wrist) will be a game-time decision Monday.
Beau Bennett, RW - Bennett will miss Monday.
David Warsofsky, D - Warsofsky will likely miss Monday after a referee accidentally dumped him during Sunday's game.
Nick Bonino, C - Bonino will miss Monday's game.

St. Louis Blues
Jaden Schwartz, LW - Schwartz (ankle) will miss Monday's tilt.
Dmitrij Jaskin, RW - Jaskin (undisclosed) was a late scratch from Saturday's contest.
Jake Allen, G - Allen (lower body) is out Monday.
Carl Gunnarsson, D - Gunnarsson (upper body) won't play Monday.
Magnus Paajarvi, LW - Paajarvi (upper body) will miss Monday's game against the Pens.
Jay Bouwmeester, D - Bouwmeester (upper body) is not expected to play Monday.
Steve Ott, C - Ott will miss about two more months due to hamstring injuries.

Colorado Avalanche
Brad Stuart, D - Coach Patrick Roy indicated Sunday that Stuart (back) isn't expected to skate Monday.
Ben Street, C - Street (chest) is on IR.
Mikko Rantanen, RW - Rantanen missed Sunday due to an upper-body injury.
Erik Johnson, D - Johnson (lower body) has landed on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 4.
Reto Berra, G - Berra (ankle) is currently listed on IR.
Jesse Winchester, LW - Winchester (concussion) is on IR.

Winnipeg Jets
Mark Scheifele, C - Scheifele (lower body) was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 7.
Adam Lowry, LW - Lowry was placed on injured reserve Sunday due to an upper body injury.
Drew Stafford, RW - Stafford (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve Sunday.
Ondrej Pavelec, G - Pavelec (knee) is taking shots in practice.

Buffalo Sabres
Cody McCormick, C - McCormick (blood clots), who is only taking light practice with teammates.
Josh Gorges, D - Gorges, who missed Saturday's game with an upper-body injury, will travel with the team on their two-game road trip.
Tyler Ennis, LW - Ennis (upper body) is listed on injured reserved.
Zemgus Girgensons, C - Girgensons (upper body) will not travel with the team on their road trip.
Nicolas Deslauriers, LW - Deslauriers (lower body) is listed on injured reserve.

Arizona Coyotes
Dylan Reese, D - The Coyotes said that Reese (Achilles) is out indefinitely.
Joe Vitale, C - Vitale is sidelined with a fractured orbital bone.
Mike Smith, G - Smith (lower body) is skating but "still status quo."

Ottawa Senators
Chris Phillips, D - Phillips is not making much progress in his attempt to return from offseason back surgery and his career may be coming to an end.
Clarke MacArthur, LW - MacArthur (concussion) skated last Wednesday and is getting closer to returning.

San Jose Sharks
Dainius Zubrus, RW - Zubrus (upper body) has been placed on injured reserve.
Raffi Torres, LW - Torres (knee) has returned to the Sharks' active roster following a 41-game suspension, but will be assigned to AHL San Jose for a conditioning assignment.

Hot

Petr Mrazek, G, DET -- Since the Pittsburgh Penguins wished Mrazek a “Happy New Year” with four goals scored in a 5-2 Detroit loss New Year’s Eve, the goalie has made good on a resolution to never lose another hockey game in regulation. Despite losing to the Flyers in a 2-1 shootout loss Sunday, Mrazek’s record stands at 5-0-1 in the month of January. Entering action against Philly, he compiled a 1.39 GAA and .954 save percentage over the first five games in the new calendar year. While there’s a chance he could be on the back end of his hot stretch, there’s also a possibility he could go on a hamburglar-like, Andrew Hammond run. Either way, his recent play puts him squarely on the hot list.


Victor Hedman, D, TAM – In my last article, Hedman was featured as a cold player. Despite coming off a three-point game, he’d been in a slump for nearly two months. No more. Now we have additional data and it looks like Hedman is back on track. He’s tallied four assists in four games since his three-point effort, recording at least three shots in each of those contests. The Lightning blueliner has scored seven points in five games and is officially hot.


Cold

John Tavares, C, NYI – Producing 31 points in 42 games isn’t bad for most players, but Tavares isn’t like most players. He’s an elite player with a proven track record. In fact, he’s averaged better than a point-per-game since the beginning of 2011-12. It’s doubtful that losing the 2014-15 scoring championship on the last day could mess with his mind, but who’s taken that elite talent and where have they put him? As of Sunday, Tavares was on the outside looking in at the NHL’s top 50 leading scorers. Will the slump linger in the second half or will he put up the big-time numbers fantasy owners have learned to love? The guess here is that he’ll pick up the pace. Tavares is like a blue chip stock in the Dow Jones Industrial right now. He's well off his high but has a decent shot of rebounding.


Recommended Pickup

Trevor Daley, D, PIT – This is a speculative play depending upon Kris Letang’s health. Whenever Letang misses game action, Daley takes his spot on the first-team power play. He did so Sunday and scored his second goal in as many games. The Penguins’ power play is suddenly potent again and Daley is set to take advantage if Letang is forced into an absence due to a wrist injury. Olli Maatta is another Pittsburgh blueliner who sees his fantasy value rise sans Letang. Maatta takes more chances when he doesn’t have the responsibility of covering for his usual, risk-taking defensive partner. Daley is only owned in nine percent of Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.