August 13, 2014

Darren Kennedy

2014-08-13

Thoughts on Draisaitl, Girardi, and what to name your cat

 

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I'm contemplating getting an orange tabby cat. Everyone I've spoken to says they are one of the best natured animals you'll find. Friendly, affectionate, and in need of endless belly-rubs.

 

Assuming I get one, the next question is what would said cat be named? Something related to Nichushkin would be nice. An ode to my fanboy-like adoration of the young winger. This creates a potential issue, however. What if Nichushkin ends up as a bust? It's not fun to think about, but he certainly wouldn't be the first former first round pick to fizzle out. Posting 15 goal seasons, with no penalty minutes, and limited shots, before eventually leaving for the KHL at 27. This would hurt my fantasy team and leave me with some cat named after a relatively nondescript former NHLer.

 

When glancing at the cat would I be immediately filled with a feeling of disappointment? When he half-heartedly swats at, and misses, some fluffy mouse toy, will I mutter something about him never living up to his potential? Would I send the cat to live with distant relatives in Russia? Do I even have distant relatives in Russia?

 

These are the type of questions I'm pondering over the offseason. I'll have to seek out some guy with an old feline named 'Daigle' to understand just how tough it might be.

 

Let us ramble…

 

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Oilers' prospect Leon Draisaitl has agreed to a three year entry level contract with the team. Good news for Edmonton and their fans, bad for people like me who will be doomed to misspell his name for all eternity.

 

From a fantasy perspective, the real question is where will he play in 2014-15? Johnathan Willis had an apt take over at Oilers Nation:

 

While Edmonton has (encouragingly) placed a number of obstacles in the path of Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom, forcing both to clearly win a spot in training camp over an established player if they are to play in the NHL, the same is not true in the case of Draisaitl. Discounting the rookie, at this point Edmonton's No. 2 and No. 3 pivots are Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander, and if a third overall pick can't beat Lander out for a job on a scoring line it will be a very great shock.

 

The trade that sent Gagner to Arizona has created a subnational hole in the center (pun intended) of Edmonton's roster. I absolutely loved their moves to bring in well-regarded possession veterans like Purcell and Pouliot, but was surprised that they didn't add a more established pivot to secure that number two spot.

 

Even at 18, Draisaitl will have a real opportunity to skate with the likes of Yakupov and Perron next year. The kind of line-mates you typically don't see afforded to a red-shirt rookie. Lowetide is projecting him for 66 games, 12 goals, and 22 assists. I'd tend to creep a bit higher than that, seeing 40 as a realistic expectation (he should see some decent second unit powerplay time).

 

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NHL.com took a look at Minnesota and speculated on what their five biggest questions in 2014-15 may be. No mention of Zach Parise, who turned 30 in July. But don't worry, nothing bad ever happens to athletes' production once they're on the wrong side of 3-0. Nothing. Ever.

 

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With it being "guide" season, in which you're able to choose from a dozen or so fantasy hockey magazines on the market. I hear a lot of complaints that the detail in some of these isn't quite granular enough. Simply saying that a player is 'due for a bounceback' isn't enough – there has to be a why. Was he saddled with horrific zone starts? Did he hurt his wrist in the third week and fail to fully recover? Did his team have a league worst shooting percentage with him on the ice? (As you'd expect,