In the last two weeks, the status quo held strong as the Coyotes top forwards provided production, the blueline stole the show and Mike Smith struggled. With that in mind, let's take some time to ask some questions about the fantasy prospects of the Coyotes top performers moving forward.
1. Will Mike Ribeiro be the Coyotes Top Performing Forward the Rest of the Season?
#63 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes
Feb 10, 1980
|2013 - Mike Ribeiro||31||9||17||26||0||14||2||0||2||3||50||18.0%|
Going into last night's contest against the Islanders, Ribeiro had nine points in his previous ten games. He had a huge night against the Isles, scoring a goal and adding two assists making him the new team leader in points with 26. When Ribeiro scores, the Coyotes find success. The team is 6-0-0 when Ribeiro has at least two points this season and are 7-5-1 when he's scoreless. If the Coyotes make a trade to add another goal scoring forward to line up on Ribeiro's wing, there is little doubt he will be the team's leading point producer. Until that happens however, the likes of Shane Doan (when he's healthy) and Martin Hanzal will be the more consistent options out of the forward corps. Ribeiro's having a nice season, but it will take another addition from the outside for him to have a great one.
2. Who Will Be the Better Fantasy Defensemen the Rest of the Year: Keith Yandle or Oliver Ekman-Larsson?
#3 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes
Sep 09, 1986
|2013 - Keith Yandle||4||18||22||-3||14|
#23 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes
Jul 17, 1991
|2013 - Oliver Ekman-Larsson||4||17||21||9||16|
This is a fantastic question and one that a month ago would have seemed ridiculous. But the last ten games have seen the fantasy performance gap between the two narrow.
In that time, Yandle has scored three goals and three assists while taking 34 SOG. He's also been averaging 24:11 of ice time per game in that span. Meanwhile, OEL has no goals and 5 assists, with 17 SOG while averaging 23:59 TOI. There's great value to be had out of both of those performances, but in that stretch, Yandle has certainly been the more valuable asset. What this means moving forward is anyone's guess, but it shows just how great Yandle has been playing recently and that he's arguably been the Coyotes best blueliner for the last month.
Both men are going to Sochi and will be major parts of their respective countries' medal hopes. Both are having fantastic fantasy years. You'd be lucky to own either one of them in your league. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Ollie will get his game back now that Zbynek Michalek has returned and will be the better fantasy option for the rest of the year. But it will be close.
3. Is There a Sleeper Worth Stashing for the Rest of the Season on the Roster Now?
#50 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes
Jul 20, 1982
|2013 - Antoine Vermette||31||9||10||19||6||18||2||0||0||2||58||15.5%|
This one took a turn last night, with the excellent performance from Mikkel Boedker. He had two goals, including an impressive wrist shot that proved to be a huge tally in restoring the Coyotes' two goal lead in the 2nd period. When Boedker shoots, he's a valuable offensive weapon. The problem is he doesn't shoot enough, with only 23 in the last ten games. Until he consistently harnesses that offensive skill, I'd be wary of adding him unless you are in a deep league.
One player I would feel confident in stashing is Antoine Vermette. Vermette has consistently been productive this season and has stepped it up recently with the spate of Coyote injuries. In the last ten games, he's scored four goals and had five assists. He's playing 19:09 per game in that span and just provides solid play in all three zones of the ice. He's worth having on your roster and can certainly fill in for injuries if you have them. Add him now if he's available.
4. Is There a Coyote to Focus on in a Keeper League?
#11 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes
Feb 20, 1987
|2013 - Martin Hanzal||8||14||22||-1||35|
There are some obvious answers here like OEL and Yandle would certainly be the top two "keep" options as Coyotes in fantasy leagues. When looking at the forwards, the top option there is Martin Hanzal. Hanzal is entering the prime of his career. He's fourth on the team in points despite missing multiple games, he's second on the team in SOG with 83 and leads the team with 35 PIMs. He's been a force for a much improved Coyote powerplay, adding seven of his 22 points on the advantage. Marty is coming into his own and would certainly be the top Coyote forward to own over the next few seasons, especially if the team comes to an agreement with Radim Vrbata moving forward.
Other options for keeper leagues are Mikkel Boedker, Connor Murphy and Max Domi, depending on how deep your league handles keepers.
5. What Should I Do with Mike Smith?
#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes
Mar 22, 1982
|2013 - Mike Smith||26||1513||14||6||76||3.01||842||766||.910||0|
This is the toughest question to answer. Smith has shown in the past that he has number one fantasy goalie capabilities and has shown flashes of that skill this season, most notably against the Sharks and the first matchup with the Canucks. Outside of that, Smith has been shaky at best and downright disappointing at worst. A 3.01 GAA is not fantasy starter worthy and his .910 SV% is low end.
If you are in a two goalie league, he'd be my number three right now and I'd hopefully have two other options on my team I'd feel comfortable playing ahead of him. If I didn't, I'd try to see if I could swing a trade for another goalie. If you are in a one goalie league, Smith is actually droppable at this moment in time. I'm confident he has the ability to rediscover his game at some point this season, but not at the expense of the success of my, or your, fantasy squad.
The Trail Ahead: The Next Week of Games
The Coyotes continue a stretch of games against Eastern Conference foes this week with three games against the weaker conference.
They will meet the Carolina Hurricanes for the second time this season on Saturday evening. They bested the Canes in Raleigh earlier in the year and should be able to do so again at home. The Canes have the 25th ranked offense and the 20th ranked defense on the year, so the Yotes should be able to handle this one, even with the return of Alexander Semin to their lineup.
The Coyotes will then take to the road for some games against the eastern Canadian teams, starting with the Canadiens on Tuesday and then the Maple Leafs on Thursday. Montreal should present a challenge with their 3rd ranked defense, but their 19th ranked offense should allow the Yotes a chance to shine. Toronto's offense is decent, ranking 16th but their defense allows far too many quality chances (sound familiar?) and ranks 22nd. The Coyotes fantasy studs should prevail, especially if the captain can return to health and get in on the fun this week.