Now-former St. Louis Blues coach Mike Yeo became the third head-coaching casualty of the season, as the Blues announced his departure on Monday, mere hours after a 2-0 loss at the hands of the last place Los Angeles Kings. They were quick to update the news on IsMikeYeoStillCoach.com.
The loss was the Blues' third goalless effort in the past four games. Although they've been playing better defensively of late, Yeo couldn't get both the offense and defense going at the same time. Associate coach Craig Berube becomes the interim bench boss for the 30th-ranked Blues. While the fan base may already be screaming for Joel Quenneville, Berube will get a chance to turn things around before the team looks to an outside hire.
Berube coached for two seasons with the Flyers in 2013-14 and 2014-15, where he had a dominant power play and a top-heavy lineup that featured power forwards. Philadelphia finished seventh and third on the man-advantage in those seasons, which featured the true breakout campaigns of Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek. The 2013-14 Flyers also saw both Simmonds and Scott Hartnell eclipse 50 points, 100 penalty minutes and 20 power-play points.
We will have to wait and see what lineup changes Berube implements in St. Louis, but I think two players that are widely available in fantasy leagues stand to benefit.
The first is Patrick Maroon. If Berube wants to have a big body at the top of the lineup and in front of the net on the power play, Maroon is the natural choice. He's played alongside top talent in the past and could be a good fit alongside the already-developing chemistry between Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly. He started with a top-six role and power-play duties to begin the season, faring quite well with six power-play assists. Yet, he was one of the first casualties of Yeo's tinkering. Currently injured, Maroon is expected back this week and I'll be watching the depth chart to see if Berube puts him in that "Simmonds-esque" role.
While Berube has been around both this season and last as an assistant, he now has full control over the lineup. Given his history of coaching to power-play success, we should expect the Blues to continue to rank in the NHL's top 10 with the extra skater, perhaps even improving on their current No. 9 ranking. Vince Dunn stands to be the biggest winner in this regard. He's been slowly taking over the role of power-play quarterback, and I think Berube commits to him as the "top dog on the point" on a full-time basis. Familiarity can be a comfort food of coaching and Dunn was Berube's guy when he coached the AHL's Chicago Wolves in 2016-17. Dunn had 13 goals, including six on the power play, and 45 points that season, leading the Wolves in blue-line scoring.
While we are on the subject, see if a fellow fantasy manager in your league dumped Jake Allen. He's worth adding back to benches at this point. While he floundered throughout October, Allen has allowed only one goal in each of his last three starts and a coaching change can sometimes spur on an already-talented team to realize its potential. It's certainly worth having Allen on the bench to see if the change in leadership breeds success on the ice. Allen's talent isn't in question -- it's just the team that's been out there in front of him.
Forwards on the move
Leon Draisaitl, C, Edmonton Oilers (up 14 spots to No. 45): This is not the lineup the Oilers need, but it's the lineup the Oilers deserve right now. Playing Draisaitl and Connor McDavid together at the top is a dangerous gambit because it leaves the team on the soft side for the other three lines. That said, Draisaitl and McDavid are a deadly combination even if opponents are throwing everything they have defensively at them. It's only been three games since they were united at the top, but Draisaitl has six points to show for it. We'll have to see if the change in leadership to Ken Hitchcock keeps this line together going forward. Also note: While you're considering Draisaitl's good fortunes as McDavid's linemate, how about adding Drake Caggiula? The third member of the top-line trio has three points in three games as he drafts off his superstar cohorts.
Chris Kreider, W, New York Rangers (up 12 spots to No. 127): Quietly, Kreider now leads the Rangers in scoring with 18 points in 21 games. His shooting percentage is inflated, so his 43-goal pace will surely come down, but Kreider is locked in a scoring role and getting plenty of power-play chances. He's not getting the consideration he deserves in fantasy, as he remains rostered in precisely two-thirds of ESPN leagues. His stat profile to date ranks No. 44 among all forwards on the ESPN Player Rater, ahead of such players as Taylor Hall, Artemi Panarin and Patrik Laine.
Kasperi Kapanen, W, Toronto Maple Leafs (up 25 spots to No. 143): Less than two weeks remain before the impasse between the Leafs and William Nylander makes Kapanen a "made man" this season. If the Dec. 1 deadline comes and goes with no Nylander contract, you can use pen to mark Kapanen into the Leafs potent top-six for the remainder of the season. On pace for 30 goals and 60 points, he won't help in the power-play department for your team, but his plus/minus will be beneficial.
Matt Duchene, C, Ottawa Senators (up 20 spots to No. 145): How do you get a fire lit under a star player? Step 1 appears to be "have an Uber video released in which the player leads his teammates in bashing the coaching staff." Since the news broke about the embarrassing video, Duchene has 15 points in seven games. He only had 12 points in the 14 games before the video came out. One has to think the video was a rallying point for this team's top players to get their act together.
Currently playing with the speedy Mikkel Boedker and rookie Drake Batherson as the top line, Duchene has taken this Senators team on his back for the time being. Will this keep up? Well, probably not at this level, but it's beyond clear at this stage of the season that the Senators are an underestimated offense. Duchene, Mark Stone and Thomas Chabot are fantasy locks at this stage, while other players can have roles from time to time depending on the depth chart.
Vincent Trocheck, C, Florida Panthers (down 95 spots to No. 168): Considering his foot was facing the wrong direction at one point, I think it's safe to assume Trocheck's injury won't be a short-term absence. In deeper leagues, it means you should add Henrik Borgstrom. He only missed the Panthers roster this season because Aleksander Barkov and Trocheck were locked in ahead of him on the depth chart. In his first season as a professional, Borgstrom was named October's AHL Rookie of the Month, with 11 points in seven games. He now has 14 points in 14 games and, if not right away, he's the natural replacement for the Panthers on their second line.
Defenseman on the move
Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo Sabres (up 26 spots to No. 193): Don't look now, but the rookie is coming on strong. I hope I'm mentioning him here in time for you to check your free-agent list, as Dahlin was cut in a lot of leagues after a slow first month. It appears he's now fully overtaken Rasmus Ristolainen on the Buffalo power play and is pushing up his minutes as the weeks continue. He's riding a streak with five points in five games and should continue to improve as he acclimates to the NHL.
Goaltender on the move
Cal Petersen, G, Los Angeles Kings (enters ranks at No. 199): This could be a short-term add to your roster, but it could also end up being a long-term add. Jonathan Quick's injury history has been checkered in recent seasons and coming back from a knee injury is difficult for a goaltender. Petersen, forced into duty when Jack Campbell also suffered a knee injury, has posted a 2-1 record in three appearances, including more than half a game against the potent Maple Leafs and a flurry of shots against the league-leading Nashville Predators. He is coming off a shutout against the Blues and firmly has the starter's role in his grasp until Quick returns.
New to rankings
Cal Petersen, Louis Domingue (Andrei Vasilevskiy is out 4-6 weeks), Jimmy Howard, Drake Batherson, Henrik Borgstrom, Tanner Pearson He looks good as a Penguin), Brandon Saad (Playing with both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Saad is seeking redemption), Alex Chiasson and Filip Chytil (He was given a top-six role and responded with goals in four straight games).
Kevin Labanc, Anthony Beauvillier, Esa Lindell, Patrick Marleau, Dylan Sikura, Brent Seabrook, Derick Brassard (If Sidney Crosby stays sidelined, Brassard will be key), Sven Andrighetto (He's seeing power-play minutes with the top trio), Paul Stastny, Jake DeBrusk, Andrew Shaw (He's relishing his role on a line with Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi) and Jakob Chychrun.