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The Life and Fantasy Hockey Mailbag – Kapanen without Malkin, Galchenyuk with Tavares and Nylander

Welcome to the LFH mailbag, where all your burning fantasy questions are answered moderately well by Spencer Plamondon, co-host of the Life and Fantasy Hockey Podcast.

Kasperi Kapanen lost Geno Malkin to injury, is he still worth rostering? Alex Galchenyuk is getting his last kick at the can in Toronto, will he find success? Some established players are struggling mightily this season; could a trade to a contender turn them into must-own commodities? Why is plus/minus still a stat on Yahoo? Are certain players benefitting from playing in-division all season?

Scroll down for the answers to all of life’s questions, except for everything outside of the ones above.

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Is Kasperi Kapanen worth keeping with Malkin on IR? – TwoManKayak

Should I expose the whole story here? I think I will. I’m doing it. F*ck you, Kayak!

So Kayak is in the same money league as I am, and I dropped Kapanen last week so I could add Kucherov and stash him on IR. Kayak then went out and claimed him for 17$, mere days before Malkin went down.

In Kayak’s defence, the waiver market has been set in our league, and it’s a little wild. Dahlin was added for over 30$ a month or two ago, with a rival bid missing by 3$. Gurianov also went for over 20$ recently. It’s a 10 team league with 24 roster spots, so pickens are slim. When a good player becomes available, the sharks in our league see blood in the water and strike hard.

Anyway, this is just another in a long line of sh*t bounces for Kayak this season. He had worked his way up to contender status over the past few years, and he’s a strong manager. This season, for a variety of reasons, is an off year.

It happens.

Come to think of it, he got railroaded by injuries in Fantasy Football this year. Bad. Drafted a great team, too.

It happens twice in a year over two different sports sometimes, apparently.

Okay, look: I’m not saying it’s definitely his fault, but I’m starting to think it probably might be. This feels a little curse-y. Like 13 years ago he ran over a witch and forgot to reverse. Rookie move.

For more on the dark arts, pre-order my genre-bending e-book “Dead Witches and Beginner Pottery

As far as Kapanen goes, his linemates are now Evan Rodrigues and Jared McCann. That’s a far cry from Evgeni Malkin, and I think you should now expect Kapanen’s production to look like, well, a guy with Rodrigues and McCann as his linemates. Kapanen just doesn’t have the skill to drive that line alone.

The one upside? He’s currently on the top power play unit. You’ve invested this much in him, it’s probably worth giving him a few games to see where he settles in without Geno. Just don’t hold on too long if the production dries up.

*sigh* The Good Ol’ Days

Does this COVID year benefit certain players by virtue of facing the same batch of teams over and over? – Ben R.

I love this question, and a big part of the reason is there’s no way to know for sure.

It comes down to both sides of the familiarity coin. Does seeing the same set of teams over and over help players as they become familiar with what they’re facing? Or hurt players because the opposition is doing the same? Does it cancel itself out?

Honestly? I don’t know. Parity being what it is in the NHL, I don’t think it’s having a huge impact one way or the other, but I’m thinking some players probably benefit from it more than the rest. I’d imagine the top 10% of the league are picking up on more tendencies they can exploit.

I’d be curious to know the coaches’ and players’ takes on this one, they’d certainly know best.

Questions like this make me stop and appreciate the once-in-a-lifetime season we’re experiencing right now. Yeah, COVID forced us into it, but it’s still really cool to be soaking in something so different from a league that’s normally hell bent on keeping things the same.

It’s all about silver linings these days.

These two are probably benefitting from playing in-division

Will Galchenyuk work with John Tavares and Willy Nylander? – Birdzy

Over the past four years, the first four words of that sentence have been repeated ad nauseam by hockey fans in seven different cities.

To be fair, one of those cities was only talking about it for a day or so.

Will Galchenyuk work with Tavares and Willy, you ask. Man, that question just evokes so much Chucky history. Toronto is the sixth team he’s played for in the past four years, and if you’d have told me four years ago that Galchenyuk would be playing with guys like JT and Willy, I’d have predicted a near point per game season with 40 goal upside.

He’s taken a shocking tumble since then, in no small part due to some fundamental flaws in his game that have been exacerbated by injuries, as former Marlies assistant Jack Han explains in his excellent breakdown of Galchenyuk’s play.

Toronto is the place to be if he wants to improve those flaws. They’re ahead of the curve in the skills/player development department and he may, for the first time in his career, be getting the right coaching for his individual set of needs. That’s the bright side.

The other side of this, is he’s 27 years old. He’s been playing with these flaws his entire life, and they’ve become more ingrained in the face of injuries. I can’t think of another player who’s overcome a situation like his to return to a high level of play. John Tavares worked his f*cking tail off to change his stride and improve his footspeed and edgework, and he’s still limited (though adequate) as a skater. And he began tackling the issue about a decade ago, with his world-class skill keeping him highly effective on the ice throughout the process.

It’s very, very hard for me to see a future where Alex Galchenyuk is a productive NHLer again. I’m rooting for it, but I feel like the odds are really low. For now, he remains on the second line, but he played 11:19 and 9:56 in his first and second games, respectively.

That may just be the team easing him in, knowing the situation he’s coming from. His recent success with the Marlies during a six game stint is encouraging, and he did record an assist in that second Leafs game, which is nice to see.

At the end of the day, though, I’m staying away from him. I’m more keen on widely-available guys like Jason Robertson and Eeli Tolvanen.

That said? If he finds success, I’ll be thrilled about it.

Here’s hoping.

Not for nothing, but the 6th Chucky movie was “The Curse of Chucky”

Why is plus/minus even a stat option in Yahoo fantasy? – Birdzy

Because baby boomers are still alive and they don’t take well to change, Birdzy.

Are there any potential trade targets that have a low rostered % who would be a must-add if they were moved to a contender? – Allan C.

Love this question, I’ve been thinking this over on my own time for the past month.

Obviously, there are tangles to it when you factor in missed man games due to the quarantine period, but we’ll put those aside for now. For the sake of this exercise I’ll consider ‘low rostered %’ to be under 50%.

The two who keep coming to mind for me are Viktor Arvidsson and Rickard Rakell. Both are 2-3 years removed from their best hockey and in need of a fresh start.

They’re a couple of former 30 goal scorers who, at 27 years old, are still plenty capable of returning to form as far as I’m concerned. I think about either of them in say, Toronto’s Top 6, and man, would that ever boost their value if the fit was right.

Two birds, one stone. Thank you Google.

Kyle Palmieri is another guy I’d keep an eye on, as a trade to the right team could provide a spark to his production. Palmieri is tricky, though. He’s basically a grinder who puts up about 25 goals and 50 points a year, so I could see him being moved to a contender and then shifted to more of a secondary scoring role. Honestly, at this rate even that would be better than what he’s been doing, and he’s got a history of power play success that should help his chances at good production on a new team.

Kyle Palmieri doing Kyle Palmieri things

A couple of really low rostered % guys to keep an eye on: Mikael Granlund (6%) and Jake DeBrusk (5%). Both have a lot more to give than what we’ve seen from them in the past two seasons, and I think a fresh start on the right team would do them wonders.

Pretend Granlund is on Nashville in this photo please

Ultimately, I’m expecting it to be a slow deadline, but these are some guys who’s stock could get a big boost if moved.

Got a question? Send it in to us on Twitter @LFHPod. Seriously. We need questions.

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