Tlusty and Nelson sign, Columbus' lineup, Voynov is gone, and a temporary farewell.
Today is Thursday, and that means there will be an open thread in the Dobber Forums for readers to pop by with their fantasy hockey questions. With preseason games just around the corner, we're in the thick of draft season. Come on by for keeper questions, trade questions or whatever else comes to mind. It will open around lunchtime.
On a more personal note, this will be one of my final Ramblings. I will still be around from time to time to fill in when someone is needed, and will of course still be in the Forums. My regular columns on Thursday and Friday every week end today, however.
I want to say first and foremost how much fun it was to be able to be here twice a week through the summer. Normally, the summer is a baseball getaway for me, and then when late August and September roll around, it's scramble time as hockey season approaches. It was fun to keep the chatter up all through the offseason. It was fun to converse with the readers in my weekly forum threads, and to continue my own research. I know my Ramblings weren't always typical Ramblings, but my modus operandi has always been one more of research than banter, for better or worse. I hope if one thing readers can take away from my Ramblings was a better understanding about some of the math of hockey, and looking at players through a different lens. If that was the result, I consider it a success.
Thank you to everyone who read, who interacted, and especially to those who challenged some of my work. Differing opinions are very valuable in forming your own, and the readers helped me achieve that.
Thank you to Dobber for giving me this platform. He gave me experience in an area I hadn't really delved into yet, with the behind-the-scenes work in running a website and formal editing.
Like I mentioned, I will still be around from time to time, so the readers aren't rid of me yet. But again, a sincere thank you to Dobber, the writers, and the readers. You guys helped make this an educational summer for me in more ways than one.
It was a busy Wednesday in the NHL so let's not delay any further.
Aaron Portzline posted on Twitter what he called "informed speculation" on what the forward trios would be for the Columbus Blue Jackets. They read as follows:
F1: Saad – Johansen – Folignos F2: Jenner – Dubinsky – Clarkson F3: Hartnell – Wennberg – Atkinson F4: Calvert – Campbell – Boll/Bourque
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 16, 2015
Again, that's speculation on his part. With that said, Mr. Portzline is an excellent journalist who would have his ear to the ground on things like that. It would be a reasonable expectation that at least to start camp and preseason games, that is what the lines will look like.
The first one that jumps out is David Clarkson. Anyone who watched him with Toronto knows that he probably shouldn't be playing a top-six role. That isn't what really concerned me, though. What concerned me more was seeing Cam Atkinson on the third line.
I do like Alex Wennberg, and playing on a line with Wennberg and Hartnell wouldn't be terrible for Atkinson. With that said, I think anyone (myself included) that would be hoping for a breakout from Atkinson next year wouldn't want him to be on the third line. Anyone hoping for an Atkinson breakout would want him next to Johansen.
The lines will change, and they might be completely different five days from now. However, the configuration of that top-nine is something for fantasy owners to keep a watchful eye on. Atkinson probably needs to play with Johansen for a true breakout, and Hartnell's value could take a hit if he's playing 15-16 minutes a game instead of 17-18 minutes like he did last year for Columbus.
One of the few remaining impact free agents was finally signed, as Jiri Tlusty accepted a one year deal for $800 000. Hey, cool! A low cost deal must mean he's going to a good, cap-strapped team, right? Nah. He's off to the New Jersey Devils. Dobber wrote a bit more on this last night.
Tlusty is a good player who can produce, but really, the Devils and the Coyotes are probably the two teams he could have gone to this year where his fantasy value would be minimal. Tlusty had one good year, and it was the lockout-shortened season. It was a year where a lot of his numbers (shooting percentage, on-ice shooting percentage, ice time, points per 60, shots per 60) all spiked playing alongside Eric Staal. He has never replicated those numbers since, and didn't do it before. I very much doubt he does that in New Jersey playing alongside… uhhh… *flips through the Devils roster* … it doesn't matter.
He isn't completely written off. There is a 35 or 40 point player here who could approach 50 with a lot of minutes and a bit of luck. I just don't think New Jersey scores much this year, and without much for playmakers at the top of the lineup, this is an irrelevant signing in non-deep fantasy formats.
Another signing that occurred as there appeared to be a self-imposed deadline running out was in Brooklyn. The Islanders signed restricted free agent Brock Nelson to a three year deal worth $7.5-million. It is an extra year than most bridge deals, and looks to be good for the Islnaders on paper.
This is an important fantasy signing as Nelson seems to be one of those super-utility guys. He can play on the third or fourth line if either is lagging in a game, or he can play on the first or second line if injuries hit. His underlying impact numbers from Own The Puck over the last couple of years have him as a fringe first liner, which lends to the possibility of him playing anywhere in the lineup.
Now that Nelson is locked up, it's a matter of where he does settle in. He can play anywhere in the lineup, but to be productive in fantasy, he probably needs a top-six role. If he can manage to play alongside Ryan Strome, that would be very good for him. If he plays with Nikolay Kulemin, it's probably a more impactful on-ice move for the Islanders, but less for fantasy.
With a bit more ice time, Nelson is a guy I see with 20 goals, 50 points and over 200 shots. That has value in fantasy. A lot will depend who the majority of his line mates are for the year, but at the least, this is a very good signing for the Islanders.
On a more serious note, word from Slava Voynov's lawyer came down that Voynov would be self-departing, which essentially means he's sending himself back to Russia. This is after Voynov plead no contest to corporal injury to a spouse, serving a shortened sentence, and allowing a felony domestic abuse charge to be thrown out in exchange.
The assumption is that Voynov's contract will come off the books, but the Kings will retain his rights. I don't know the CBA inside and out, though, so I will let the more qualified take care of that.
All I can say is that this is a just finish for what he did. I couldn't care less that the Kings lost a good defenceman. There are real victims here, and they aren't the Los Angeles Kings. There are morality clauses in just about every professional sports contract, and it's time domestic abuse was universally included. Playing a sport professionally is a privilege, and the athletes should treat it as such.
Hopefully this is a wakeup call to the league, and to the larger player pool in general. You would think that grown men wouldn't have to be policed on this issue to the point of taking away their ability to make millions of dollars playing a child's game, but maybe a drastic step is necessary. One more instance of deplorable behaviour like this from an NHL player is one too many, and both the league and the teams need to make every effort necessary to prevent such an instance again.
*Thanks to CapFriendly for the cap information