Frozen Fantasy: Explaining the Unexplainable (Maybe)

Frozen Fantasy: Explaining the Unexplainable (Maybe)

This article is part of our Frozen Fantasy series.

You know it's been a week when hockey talk takes the backseat. And to baseball, no less. 

Shohei Ohtani, you were almost a Blue Jay. 

Living near Toronto means it's Leafs, Leafs and more Leafs. All the time. Unless you're waiting on a plane carrying Kawhi Leonard. Or one chartered to Shohei the Great. 

So Leafs fans weren't even all that stressed Thursday when Joseph Woll (67 percent Yahoo!) exited with an injury. The guy they were pinning their hopes to. And that got me thinking.

Does losing a linchpin like a starting goalie or a star really matter?

My rosters would suggest no. And I still find that hard to believe. I lead in a league despite no Jack Hughes (100 percent Yahoo!) for a bit. And while waiting for Andrei Vasilevskiy (98 percent Yahoo!). How? Who cares?

Yet I'm scuffling in leagues where my rosters were healthy and built for success. In one, I have Auston Matthews (100 percent Yahoo!), Kirill Kaprizov (99 percent Yahoo!) and Jason Robertson (97 percent Yahoo!). I also have Connor Bedard (96 percent Yahoo!). Spit. 

In another, I tripped out of the gate with a healthy roster that includes the red-hot Thatcher Demko (97 percent Yahoo!), Brock Boeser (91 percent Yahoo!) and J.T. Miller (99 percent Yahoo!). And now even with my nine-man IR full, I've climbed up from dead-last (12th) to eighth. Still not great, but it's a big jump. 

So how did that happen? I've turned over my bench with the

You know it's been a week when hockey talk takes the backseat. And to baseball, no less. 

Shohei Ohtani, you were almost a Blue Jay. 

Living near Toronto means it's Leafs, Leafs and more Leafs. All the time. Unless you're waiting on a plane carrying Kawhi Leonard. Or one chartered to Shohei the Great. 

So Leafs fans weren't even all that stressed Thursday when Joseph Woll (67 percent Yahoo!) exited with an injury. The guy they were pinning their hopes to. And that got me thinking.

Does losing a linchpin like a starting goalie or a star really matter?

My rosters would suggest no. And I still find that hard to believe. I lead in a league despite no Jack Hughes (100 percent Yahoo!) for a bit. And while waiting for Andrei Vasilevskiy (98 percent Yahoo!). How? Who cares?

Yet I'm scuffling in leagues where my rosters were healthy and built for success. In one, I have Auston Matthews (100 percent Yahoo!), Kirill Kaprizov (99 percent Yahoo!) and Jason Robertson (97 percent Yahoo!). I also have Connor Bedard (96 percent Yahoo!). Spit. 

In another, I tripped out of the gate with a healthy roster that includes the red-hot Thatcher Demko (97 percent Yahoo!), Brock Boeser (91 percent Yahoo!) and J.T. Miller (99 percent Yahoo!). And now even with my nine-man IR full, I've climbed up from dead-last (12th) to eighth. Still not great, but it's a big jump. 

So how did that happen? I've turned over my bench with the hottest of wire picks, almost all of which I've shared with you over the weeks. 

Like Mathieu Joseph (7 percent Yahoo!), Jason Dickinson (below), Sam Lafferty (below), Erik Gustafsson (26 percent Yahoo!) Robby Fabbri (6 percent Yahoo!), Casey DeSmith (9 percent Yahoo!), Alex Kerfoot (11 percent Yahoo!) and Martin Jones (13 percent Yahoo!). 

None of them are good enough to replace a star. 

But then again, Gustafsson is on a 47-point pace. Joseph is pacing to 60-plus while Dickinson is headed toward 30 goals. And Hertl might keep up a point-per-game pace to season's end. Those are numbers that were draft-worthy, not only waiver-worthy. Playing the wire can keep you close. Now here's hoping Drysdale and Zegras (both below; both on my IR) come out hot.

Let's take a look at who caught my eye this week. 

Anthony Cirelli, C, Tampa Bay (3 percent Yahoo!) – The Bolts are top heavy – we all know their stars. We also know Cirelli, but more for his Selke-lite defensive skills rather than his offense. But he heads into Tuesday on a four-game, six-point streak that includes four goals. Cirelli has been schooled at the dot during this run, which is odd. But he's also blocked 10 shots on this run. Cirelli holds value depending on your categories. Be ready to cut him loose if he reverts back to his intense defensive ways.  

Jason Dickinson, C, Chicago (5 percent Yahoo!) – Dickinson is probably one of the only Hawks not named Connor Bedard (96 percent Yahoo!) worthy of a fantasy look. He scored Saturday night, and when I checked his track record, I saw it was his seventh snipe in his last 10 games. And he has 12 points, including eight goals, and 25 shots in his last 17 – that's almost a 60-point pace. Dickinson's offense is modest, especially for a pivot. But those goals? They're golden. His plus-minus will never be great. But he delivers a hit a game and is a secondary source of faceoff wins. 

Jamie Drysdale, D, Anaheim (10 percent Yahoo!) – Drysdale is back at practice after missing most of the season with a lower-body injury. His talent is undeniable and so is his fantasy impact when he returns to the lineup. Drysdale may not immediately get the PP1 gig because Pavel Mintyukov (26 percent Yahoo!) has earned that right. But Minty is only 20 and rookie slumps are natural. Given his long-term absence, Drysdale will take a bit of time to get up to speed. But I'm rostering him wherever I can and letting him work through the kinks from my bench. 

Mikael Granlund, RW/C, San Jose (31 percent Yahoo!) – Granlund heads into the late game Sunday on a four-game, nine-point streak that includes seven helpers. And he racked up 12 points (three goals, nine assists) and 23 shots in his last seven games. Granlund isn't great at the dot, but his 51 wins (seven games) are a bonus if you roll him at wing. San Jose isn't a place you typically look for fantasy help, but you also can't ignore them either. 

Tomas Hertl, C, San Jose (48 percent Yahoo!) – Hertl has turned up the heat with five goals in two games – and a four-game, seven-point streak – heading into Sunday. Before you say he won't continue this pace and that his supporting cast is far too weak and heavy for him to carry, check out his production since the start of November. Hertl's gone off for18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in his last 16 games. He's a star and that kind of talent can't be suppressed forever. Hertl will also win you 750 faceoffs a year, if you can offset his plus-minus elsewhere.

Martin Jones, G, Toronto (13 percent Yahoo!)Joseph Woll's (67 percent Yahoo!) injury on Thursday night isn't a short-term absence as high ankle sprains take four-to-six weeks to heal at minimum, and sometimes up to six months. Over his career, Jones has been able to win in spite of sub-.900 save percentages. Hey, the Bolts were able to get by with something similar when Andrei Vasilevskiy (98 percent Yahoo!) was on the shelf. Jones may get starts if Ilya Samsonov (71 percent Yahoo!) can't get into a groove. 

Sam Lafferty, RW/C, Vancouver (6 percent Yahoo!) – Lafferty hit the jackpot this month when he moved to the Orca's top line alongside Elias Pettersson (100 percent Yahoo!). And he's done his part with three goals, two assists, seven shots and 14 hits from his last four games going into Tuesday. Lafferty's a puck hound with elite speed, and that's the kind of player who every finesse player loves to have on his flank. It helps keep the bruises away. Lafferty is a value grab as long as he's riding shotgun with Pettersson.  

Jayden Struble, D, Montreal (0 percent Yahoo!) – Struble notched his first NHL goal Saturday, and it was a beauty. He redirected a pass past Devon Levi (42 percent Yahoo!) on the rush. Struble's tools are tantalizing. He can skate like a small forward and hit like Radko Gudas (52 percent Yahoo!). His shot is as big as former Hab, Sheldon Souray, and is an excellent passer. So it's little wonder I noticed Struble on the rush – his skills are perfect in that space. He still needs consistency, though his talent could rise quickly on a team as shallow as Montreal. I picked him up in a format where plus-minus is irrelevant. Wish me luck. 

Dustin Wolf, G, Calgary (10 percent Yahoo!) – Twitter blew up when Jacob Markstrom (58 percent Yahoo!) started shaking his hand and rushed off the practice ice this week. Enter Wolf, who was arguably the best goalie not in the NHL. Markstrom's paw is busted and Dan Vladar (6 percent Yahoo!) is coughing up the opportunity to start, so Wolf may suddenly push his way up the depth chart. Goalies across the league have been a roll of the dice this season, so why not see what comes by snapping him up? I'm pretty sure it's a lot better than snake eyes. 

Trevor Zegras, C, Anaheim (41 percent Yahoo!) – Zegras was a massive disappointment before hitting the IR as he only produced two points in 12 games and looked completely lost on the ice. He's had some time to watch the Quacks, and I suspect the coaching staff has planted the earworm about showing off his talents on the wing instead of center. Zegras is an elite offensive talent who would light up a line beside Mason McTavish (63 percent Yahoo!) or Leo Carlsson (12 percent Yahoo!). I think it's only a matter of time before this shift happens. Let it happen on your roster. I'm letting it happen on mine. 

Back to the unexplainable. 

None of it really makes sense. There's no explaining why good can't win. And why scrubs can. 

Some stars haven't been star-like. Others have rebounded. And in it all, Shohei Ohtani almost became a Blue Jay. 

The idea that the Jays were even in the game is impressive, not the fact that they didn't ink him. And that's not a toxic positivity thing. 

Don't spend too much time stressing about your roster. Explanations are for the offseason. Keep moving. Have some fun. Accept the oddities and the things you can't explain. 

And remember, going forward is the shortest way out of a problem. OK, I made that up. 

Until next week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janet Eagleson
Janet Eagleson is a eight-time Finalist and four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. She is a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, loved the OHL London Knights when they were bad and cheers loudly for the Blackhawks, too. But her top passion? The World Junior Hockey Championships each and every year.
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