The Truth #20

Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the twentieth instalment of a weekly article I’ve been writing all season long in which I try to determine the truth about puzzling players. I pull suggestions for which players to write about for these articles from the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon members. Be sure you check out those spots to catch up with me and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Rasmus Sandin, Juuso Valimaki, or any other young defensemen thrust into huge roles for their respective teams. Let’s get it!

Nikolaj Ehlers, LW – WPG

Nikolaj Ehlers Player Card – via @TJStats

Ehlers has been one of the league’s most frustrating players to roster over the last couple of weeks (trust me, I know). His minutes dissipated to the point that he skated just 10:48 and 11:52 in the weekend back-to-back against Edmonton, but in Monday night’s game against the Sharks he bounced back slightly to 14:57 and netted an assist on five shots. In my opinion this is a player whose minutes are being held down due to a lingering injury that he’s continuing to play through as the Jets work to hang onto their playoff position. Unfortunately that does mean that Ehlers could underwhelm his managers who are used to him producing up around a 70-point clip. I’m not dropping Ehlers currently, but I am adjusting my expectations and in the shallowest of leagues I could be convinced that there might be other, better options on the waiver wire.

John Klingberg, D – MIN

John Klingberg Player Card – via @TJStats

After a long and trying season in Anaheim, John Klingberg has a new lease on life as he tries to rehabilitate his free agent value in Minnesota. The Wild did not have to give up much to acquire him, but any team trading for Klingberg is quite obviously doing so with the singular purpose of having him run their top power play unit. Klingberg skated 19:40 including PP1 deployment in his first turn as a member of the Wild, and while he didn’t net any points it’s still an enviable role he’s inherited. Klingberg should be able to provide at least a 45-point pace for the rest of the season, and while he doesn’t provide much in the way of peripheral category coverage he’s a near lock to be significantly better than Calen Addison was for fantasy this year in the same role.

Mike Matheson, D – MTL

Mike Matheson Player Card – via @TJStats

I’ve been high on Matheson ever since his trade to Montreal, and while it took a long time for the production to materialize due to various injuries, Matheson has been a stud over the last number of games. In fact, Matheson is tied for tenth amongst all defensemen with 11 points in 12 games since the All-Star break. He hasn’t changed much since his Pittsburgh days in terms of his advanced statistics, but he’s gone from averaging around 18:45 in Pittsburgh to 23:46 in Montreal and that five-minute boost has gone straight to his counting stats. Given his all-around contributions in shots, hits, and blocks in addition to his point potential, I view Matheson as a top-25 fantasy defenseman for the rest of the season at this point.

Rasmus Sandin, D – TOR

Rasmus Sandin Player Card – via @TJStats

Sandin has long been an advanced and micro-stats darling, crushing third-pair minutes for the Leafs over the past couple of seasons. But he clearly was not fitting into Toronto’s playoff plans and a deal was struck that sent him to Washington. Sandin didn’t take long to ingratiate himself in his new surroundings, notching three assists in 21:40 of ice time including PP1 usage. I view Sandin as a very intriguing option for the rest of the season if you need a D4 or D5 on your roster.

Keep in mind, however, that Washington has a terrific schedule next week (Week 22 in Yahoo) but then one of the league’s worst schedules from Week 23 onwards. Given Sandin’s ability to fill bangers categories as well, I’m happy to roster Sandin for the time being and make a decision on his continued viability after Week 22.

Juuso Valimaki, D – ARI

Juuso Valimaki Player Card – via @TJStats

Valimaki has been a minor revelation for the Coyotes of late, notching 12 points in 13 games since the All Star break to rank 8th amongst all defensemen during that span. Valimaki came to the desert after struggling to create a consistent spot for himself in the Calgary Flames’ defensive corps, and injuries to Jakob Chychrun and Shayne Gostisbehere paved the way for Valimaki to assume #1 defenseman minutes including PP1. He’s certainly made the most of it to this point, and Arizona does sport an enticing playoff schedule whether you’re looking at Weeks 22-24 or Weeks 23-25.

However I do need to offer the caveat that Valimaki doesn’t provide much in the way of peripheral stats and he’s certainly gotten more than his fair share of puck luck of late en route to those 12 points in 13 games. But I’m cautiously optimistic about Valimaki being able to offer a very similar stat line to John Klingberg over the remainder of the fantasy season, and if a 45-50 point defenseman without much peripheral stats is of value to you in your league then you can certainly do worse than to add Valimaki as your D4/D5.

That’s all for this one folks, I hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter and join the Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.

Much love,


Published by Apples & Ginos

Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey Advice

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