Ramblings: Pietrangelo’s Down Year, Soderberg Hot, Theodore Intrigue (Jan. 21)

steve laidlaw


Pietrangelo's down year, Soderberg hot, Theodore looks intriguing and more.

I was super psyched to see Dylan Larkin join Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar but Tatar was a late scratch because of the flu. Larkin still skated with Datsyuk as they were joined by Darren Helm. They had their chances but could not get on the scoreboard.

Check out the full top three lines for Detroit:











Teemu Pulkkinen made his return to the lineup after missing a month and a half due to injury. Two shots for Pulkkinen in 12:08 of ice time.

Mike Green did indeed step up onto the top power-play unit with Niklas Kronwall out and notched an assist on Henrik Zetterberg’s late strike. Little boost for Green over the next few weeks while Kronwall is on the shelf.

Brendan Smith may also receive a small boost as he jumped onto the second power-play unit. That’s probably digging too deep for a team that just isn’t scoring much at all lately.

Gustav Nyquist may be the coldest Red Wing of all with just six points in his last 19 games. I don’t see anything indicating a big outburst of scoring either. His on-ice shooting percentage at 5-on-5 is low at 6.3% but not so low that regression would make a huge difference. He certainly looks eminently droppable in your average league.


Also hurt by illness were the St. Louis Blues who were caught without Colton Parayko due to food poisoning. They were unable to activate Carl Gunnarson off the IR in time so they rolled with five defensemen instead, which meant big minutes for Alex Pietrangelo who registered two assists in over 28 minutes of action.

Definitely a down year for Pietrangelo but this was expected, at least for me. When Kevin Shattenkirk is in the lineup Pietrangelo is relegated to secondary power-play duties and also takes on the toughest of the opposition. He’s so good it hurts his fantasy production. With 21 points in 51 games Pietrangelo is on pace for just 34 this season. That would be his worst full-season total since going pro full time.

Unless we see a Shattenkirk trade go down, I’m not sure Pietrangelo makes it to 40 points. And even after a Shattenkirk deal we might just see Parayko snag the top PP duties. How many do you figure Pietrangelo finishes with?

Another stellar outing by Brian Elliott who stopped 29 of 30.

Interesting stuff from Ken Hitchcock on the Steen-Stastny-Brouwer line being more than the sum of its parts:

"I think when you have experienced players that think on the same wavelength, they're going to have success because they're the sum of parts," Hitchcock said. "There isn't exceptional speed, but there's a tremendous amount of hockey sense. I think this is two games in a row for Paul where he's played at a high level and I think that helps when the center's playing at this level. And then I think there's some real continuity. They're very smart in their positional play, so they play a really strong pressure-position game. They create turnovers. That's where they get their odd-man rushes from and then down low, they're strong. They're strong on the puck, they protect it, they buy space and time, hard to play against. They get scoring chances in two different veins. It helps a lot to have a line like that that sets that kind of competitive tone."

For my money, Alexander Steen is the only one off that line worth trusting for fantasy purposes. This is an interesting notion, however. We have seen lines of veterans pop up out of nowhere to be strangely productive. I’m thinking of a recent example like the Nathan HortonStephen WeissKris Versteeg line in Florida a few years ago. Hell, Steen, David Backes and TJ Oshie formed one such line for the Blues a couple of years back.


Robin Lehner took the crease for Buffalo and performed pretty well stopping 33 of 35 shots from the Avalanche. Ultimately he couldn’t hang on for the win but this was a step in the right direction.

Sam Reinhart went down with an upper-body injury and did not return. Word was that he was cut but with the post-game indication that he needs to be re-evaluated when they return to Buffalo it’s a wonder if there isn’t something else going on here.

I would love to hear an explanation for why Evander Kane can’t get consistent power-play time. It happened in Winnipeg and now it’s taking place in Buffalo – Kane is getting shut out of consistent top unit power-play minutes. Does he not possess the vision or patience to be on the power play? Is it simply a numbers game issue?

Power-play goal for Kane last night, just his second of the season. Tough to see how Kane hits another level without consistent power-play time.

Even without more power-play time, there is some indication that Kane will pop in the second half. His on-ice shooting percentage at 5-on-5 is a ghastly 3.9% and stands a good chance for improvement. Losing linemate, Reinhart, won’t help however.


Carl Soderberg stayed hot scoring his 24th point in the last 29 games. He is still widely available in fantasy leagues if you need a pick-me-up. He skates on the second line with Gabriel Landeskog and Blake Comeau as well as on top power-play unit.

Pierre LeBrun has more on how Soderberg is fitting in with Colorado:

"Good signing and good player,'' said one Western Conference scout via text message. "Responsible, a playmaker, especially good on the PP, patient with the puck, not the fastest guy but gets there with a good hockey sense. Not too physical but does not shy away, either.''

Soderberg hit a wall after a strong first half last season because of an arm injury. At full health I don’t see that same sort of wall popping up. Dark horse for 55 points.

Another under-the-radar guy is Alex Tanguay who has five points in the last six games skating on the Avalanche top line.


The Ducks sent Anton Khudobin back to the minors as Freddie Andersen was ready to get back to action. Of course, Andersen still opened the door for John Gibson once more and the youngster took advantage stopping 25 of 26 shots last night.

Shea Theodore has points in four straight. Skating on the top power-play unit there is definitely a great opportunity for Theodore here. You really do wonder if he doesn’t make Sami Vatanen expendable. I’d still take Vatanen over Theodore for fantasy purposes but this situation is intriguing.

After mixing up the lines led to some magic at the end of their last game Bruce Boudreau decided to give the lines that same mix heading into this one. Check out the results:














Things are looking up for David Perron who is now two for two in a Duck uniform.

It’s also great that Rickard Rakell hangs onto a top-six spot alongside Corey Perry. Their line looked really good with Patrick Maroon, eventually combining for the game-winner.  


Remember when Zach Parise and Ryan Suter consulted with Adam Oates during the off-season to work on improving the Wild’s dreadful power play?

Remember when the Wild came out of the gates scoring like gangbusters on the power play?

I think they could use a remedial course. The Wild have yet to score a power-play goal in 2016, now 0/24. Their power-play efficiency has dropped into a tie for 24th in the league at just 16.5%. No wonder these guys are linked to just about every scorer rumoured to be on the trade market. I’m not sure a trade helps, however. Power plays are one area where coaching can really make a difference. Mike Yeo might be a good coach but the Wild have consistently underwhelmed in this area.

Parise has seven points in his last 14 games. Probably a good time to buy low off a disgruntled owner as he should still find his way to near 60 points.


Cam Ward has been placed on IR with a concussion. Daniel Altshuller has been called up in his stead.

The expectation is that Eddie Lack will take the reins but while Lack has been better of late with five wins in his last 10 appearances he still hasn’t been good. This is a legitimate opportunity for Altshuller to be the next Louis Domingue or Connor Hellebuyck. Lack is so insurmountable that he counted blow past him with some strong play. The Hurricanes are chasing a playoff spot, after all.

Altshuller began the season in the ECHL but worked his way up to the AHL level. He has a 0.941 save percentage at both levels this season. Stunning numbers. Hopefully we get the chance to see if it translates. Worth a flyer if you have space.

What I mean by that is that if you have Jared Spurgeon as your extra defenseman or maybe you have Cam Atkinson as your last forward, maybe make a swap here because there is way more upside in landing a goalie who winds up winning games.


When reports started to trickle in about Jonathan Drouin not being in the lineup for last night’s AHL game the assumption was that a trade was imminent. Where there is smoke there is fire, right? Well that’s not necessarily the case as Drouin was suspended without pay for not reporting to the game.

The next step was a statement from Drouin’s agent, Allan Walsh, indicating that the player has decided to remove himself from any further games until a trade can be made in order to avoid any injury that would hold up the trade. That seems logical but the damage was mostly done in the court of public opinion based on the order with which the news was released.

As a fantasy owner you have to ignore the sideshow. Do you believe in the player’s talent? I used to be more recent viewings have me questioning that to the point where I won’t take a chance unless I get him really cheap. I’m also not banging on doors for him. If you are an owner you just have to hold on because I can’t imagine any of the offers rolling in are particularly strong.


The Ottawa Senators have finally seen the light and have agreed to loan prospect Mikael Wikstrand to his home club back in Sweden. My understanding was that the prospect had come over with the thought of challenging for a spot on the NHL club but a family issue led Wikstrand to decide to return home. Whether or not this was true or perhaps he simply didn’t want to start off in the AHL, either way, the Senators refused to loan him for the first half of the season, which was awfully petty and ultimately self-defeating as a prospect who isn’t playing is not developing.

We may never see Wikstrand return to North America and if we do it might have to be with a different organization but hopefully this loan goes a long way to mend fences.


Justin Abdelkader talks about his Michigan State experience in a solid piece for the Players Tribune.


My latest Waiver Wednesday column focuses on replacing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.


Sportsnet sat down for an interview with Evgeni Malkin:

You talk about Sidney Crosby a fair bit. He talks about you, too. But are you tired of talking about him?


Really? It must get old.

[Laughs.] I mean, it’s nothing new. I always say the same thing.

What’s that?

He’s the best player in the NHL. I’m always saying that and I never change my thinking.


I joined the fellas from the In This League Fantasy Hockey Podcast last night for a good chat about some our pre-season hits and misses. I had a great time and I definitely endorse following this podcast. I’ll tweet out a link to the pod when it comes available this afternoon and will provide a link in tomorrow’s ramblings.


Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw. For more help in your fantasy league, pick up the Dobberhockey Mid-Season guide full with over 600 player projections for the second half of the season.


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