September 24 2015

steve laidlaw

2015-09-24

Vanek the playmaker, injuries to Brodie and Seidenberg, Hiller trade rumours and more…

Dennis Seidenberg has opted for back surgery, which puts him out for the next eight weeks at least. This doesn’t help Tuukka Rask any as Seidenberg is arguably the team’s best defenseman but we already knew the Bruins were going to be bad so the outlook for Rask really shouldn’t change. What this does do is open up some serious room for the young defensemen in Boston.

I have Joe Morrow projected to make the club out of camp now and to play most of a full season. Morrow is unlikely to produce a ton but a permanent spot likely means power play time, which should yield some value. Remember, Claude Julien prefers to give equal time to both of his power play units, which means even “secondary” power play minutes are still abundant and valuable minutes. I only have Morrow for 20 points this year but he has a 35-point ceiling if everything clicks into place.

In case you are wondering, Morrow is still waiver exempt, whereas the seven players ahead of him on the depth chart are not, however Seidenberg’s injury pushes Morrow into the seven that should break camp. He still has to perform as Colin Miller lingers as another option and he’ll still have to actually earn a lineup slot as only six defensemen will dress per night but his odds took a huge jump.

*

TJ Brodie’s broken hand will cost the defenseman three to six weeks. I’m betting on the high end of that projection, if for no other reason than the Flames’ tremendous depth at the position. They have no reason to rush him back at this point. Of course, things could change. Another injury and that depth gets tested.

As of now, however, the injury makes for a pretty clear top-four with Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell. Hamilton probably gets the biggest boost, if for no other reason than it solidifies his position in the top-four. He was probably guaranteed a slot anyhow but now it’s “for sure” for sure. If he gets off to a hot start, you can bet that keeps Brodie down the depth chart even upon his return.

It’s worth mentioning that Brodie was always a massive regression candidate following last season’s breakout. He scored 21 of his 41 points through the season’s first 25 games before tailing off at a much slower pace the rest of the way.

Now he’s set to miss the first month of the season, which means about 10-15 games lost. That puts his scoring projection for the year somewhere in the 25-point range. If that has value in your pool, have at it. Most pools, however, Brodie is full time waiver fodder.

*

Thomas Vanek has an interesting take on his bad year last year:

Minnesota is special to me and being a former Gopher and winning, I’d like to come back here and contribute to getting a Cup. But I knew the goals and points would be harder. They’re not going to be any easier this year just because I feel better. We don’t have maybe the strongest depth in the middle, so I’ll have to find a way again of probably making more plays than shooting and creating chances rather than getting chances.

He definitely shot less than ever before posting a career low 2.13 SOG per game so it’s interesting to hear Vanek’s explanation why. He also cited a lack of depth at the center position as well as his gambling woes and injury problems as reasons for the down year. It all makes sense as you could use any one of those reasons as an explanation.

What’s interesting to me is how quickly Vanek has been written off as a top flight option. Remember the last time he had a down year? Vanek responded with 73 points the following season, the second best season of his career. But that was also back when he was still shooting a ton.

I get that Vanek didn’t skate with great playmakers in Charlie Coyle and Kyle Brodziak as his centermen for much of the season but he did have Mikael Granlund for over 40% of his shifts so it’s not like opportunities to be a shooter weren’t there. Maybe he’ll be more comfortable in year two. Maybe he’ll be more productive as a playmaker. What is clear is that he seems content with not shooting as much, which drives his value down for me. At a mere 2.1 shots per game versus more than 3.0 the previous two seasons, Vanek slides well down the rankings.

*

Have you heard the rumours about Jonas Hiller being the odd man out in Calgary? The Flames have three goalies who lack waiver options in Hiller, Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio. Ramo just got a new deal and Ortio is the young buck and supposed future in the crease. I mused at one point last year that Ortio could even take over in Calgary by playoff time if injuries settled in at the right time. That never materialized but now Ortio seems to be forcing his way in.

I don’t know about Hiller getting dealt. It seems to me that a deal would be way too difficult to swing at this point in the season. Every team has goaltending options right now and none is facing a deadline where desperation might spark a move. I could see the Flames going the waiver route with Hiller and seeing if another team simply eats the contract for them.

Just to pump the brakes a little bit, Ortio’s statistical profile last season is only okay having posted a mere 2.69 GAA and .912 save percentage. He also doesn’t have any one standout year at any level though his first season of AHL action was fairly impressive boasting a .926 save percentage across 37 games. I could see the Florida Panthers, for example, trying to boost their organizational depth and the backup position by claiming Ortio so there are legitimate concerns for the Flames that they’ll lose an asset should they stick with their two proven NHLers – which, it should be said, is the most likely course of action here – but it wouldn’t necessarily be a destructive loss. It would be some kind of awesome if a deal did get swung before the season began, however.

*

Some huge cuts out of Flyers camp with defensemen Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov, and Travis Sanheim all getting sent packing. That they were cut is no huge surprise, although Morin did almost make the Flyers out of camp last season.

It’s worth mentioning that Morin has gone pro this season so it’s likely that last season the Flyers wanted to give him every shot at making it so they could see how he fared as a pro since he wasn’t AHL eligible. Now that he is eligible the Flyers have no reason to force the issue.

It’s also clear that while the Flyers are loaded with defense prospects it will still be a while before we see them blossom as the Flyers are also loaded, better yet, encumbered with crappy veterans on even crappier long-term deals. One day we’ll see Morin, Provorov, Sanheim and Shayne Gostisbehere patrolling the blueline for the Flyers and when that day comes hopefully Claude Giroux won’t be too old so we can see them make some long playoff runs. Until Andrew MacDonald and his Sarlack pit of a contract are off the books, however, Flyers fans will have to settle for waiting patiently.

It is notable that Gostisbehere was not cut. He made his NHL debut last season before tearing his ACL. He’s recovered just fine and will surely be the first call up if the Flyers have any injuries on defense. He’s one of my absolute favourite fantasy prospects. He’d make this team if they had the room.

*

The Leafs made quite a few cuts from camp yesterday. No real surprises. The Leafs have brought in many veterans to compete for roster spots, which leaves little room for youngsters like Frederik Gauthier, Casey Bailey and Josh Leivo who were all sent to the minors. Not a lot of fantasy relevance in that group but keep those veterans in mind while considering the outlook for William Nylander.

I had an optimistic projection for Nylander through the summer but as the names keep piling up it looks extremely unlikely that Nylander will make the jump this season. That’s fine, the Leafs have no reason to rush the youngster.

*

The Devils cut seven guys from camp, all were sent back to junior, which tells you that they never really had much of a chance. The only real name that sticks out is MacKenzie Blackwood but he’s an 18-year-old goalie, so it’s going to be a long while before we see him making waves in fantasy hockey.

*

Chris Mason just retired at age 39. I had no idea he was still hanging on up to this point. Remember when the Predators kept pumping out random fantasy-relevant goalies? Those were the days.

*

As always, some great stuff in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

21. Finally, Tortorella said the NHL should go back to including zone time on their stat sheets. Totally agree with that. I think there are some teams who privately collect this information.

I totally agree. Ever since playing the EA Sports NHL series and having the offensive zone time figures I have wondered why the NHL didn’t also provide these stats. It’s a massive indicator of puck possession and scoring chances. Arguably, it could be even better than Corsi or Fenwick. I know that it’s silly to take things from video games and try to apply them to the real sport but this is one that totally makes sense. 

*

Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.

 

UPCOMING GAMES

Mar 31 - 19:03 WSH vs TOR
Mar 31 - 19:03 CAR vs BOS
Mar 31 - 19:03 T.B vs OTT
Mar 31 - 19:03 PIT vs N.J
Mar 31 - 19:03 NYI vs MIN
Mar 31 - 20:03 STL vs DET
Mar 31 - 20:03 CHI vs MTL
Mar 31 - 21:03 CGY vs WPG
Mar 31 - 21:03 COL vs ARI
Mar 31 - 21:03 EDM vs VGK
Mar 31 - 22:03 L.A vs S.J

STARTING GOALIES

  • No data at this moment.

HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency MIN Players
25.1% JOEL ERIKSSON EK KEVIN FIALA ZACH PARISE
20.9% MARCUS FOLIGNO ALEX GALCHENYUK MATS ZUCCARELLO
18% JORDAN GREENWAY LUKE KUNIN VICTOR RASK

FIND US ON FACEBOOK