Ramblings: McDavid Returns Tonight, Stamkos Under 70 Points, and more (Feb. 2)

steve laidlaw

2016-02-02

Ramblings: McDavid Returns Tonight, Grubauer to get a Greater Share, Stamkos Under 70 Points and more.

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The All-Star break ends tonight, thank goodness! Five nights with no real NHL games counting towards our fantasy leagues is a long spell. Probably too long. I cannot wait to get back into the swing of things even if we are still about a month away from things getting really interesting in terms of the trade deadline and playoff races tightening, etc.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped in for fantasy coverage despite the lack of games. It is much appreciated for you to devote your precious time to our product. It makes the work worthwhile.

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Gary Bettman received a seven-year extension to stay on as commissioner of the NHL. He’ll be on until 2022, which guarantees us another lockout in 2020 when the league opts out of the current deal. You may as well prepare for it now. We haven’t had a CBA negotiate not go to a lockout during Bettman’s tenure. He has proven without a doubt that he doesn’t actually care about the game or the fans any more than he needs to in order to serve his owners. That may be stretching it a bit. He probably does care more than that but he still serves his masters and serves them well. Lockouts are a guaranteed winner for professional sports leagues so steel yourselves now.

For those of us in the fantasy industry, these lockouts are death. We can survive five days without real NHL action but five months? That’s pushing it. Hockey needs to return, on time, every fall or we go into withdrawals.

The last lockout nearly broke me. I was still merely writing as a columnist for the site so providing content once a week, while competing in probably five fantasy leagues. I gave real thought to ceasing the column, quitting those leagues and boycotting the NHL in general. I don’t think I watched a single NHL game the first month it returned and I cancelled my Center Ice subscription and didn’t setup a new one until this season.

I don’t know if I can do another lockout. The good news, the 2020-21 season is still four and a half years away. A lot can change in that amount of time. For instance, four and a half years ago I was just graduating from university, kicking off the Cage Match column for the site and embarking on my firefighting career. So there is a whole lot of life to be lived and enjoyed before that lockout really becomes a reality. Let’s enjoy today!

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I took to the Twitter on Sunday to gather some info on a dozen players. I set over/under point total lines and had folks vote if they would hit the over or the under. Here are the results:

Steven Stamkos

A fairly split vote here, which indicates I set a good line. Stamkos needs 32 points in the final 33 games to hit 70 and the over. He is definitely capable, especially now that the Lightning are healthy and rolling. Stamkos does have 31 points in his last 37 games.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Under

While Stamkos is capable of going off there is no questioning that over the past three seasons Stamkos has fallen off. A big part of that is going from over 22 minutes per game to under 20 per game. Whether that’s misuse on the part of John Cooper, lingering effects of the broken leg a couple of years ago or improved depth in Tampa Bay no one can really be sure. What we do know is that goal scorers peak early so Stamkos is likely past his peak.

Tyler Johnson

Slight advantage to the over crowd here and that seems reasonable. Johnson needs 25 points in the final 33 games to get there. He has demonstrated little this season that he will be able to clear that hurdle but if we just look at the talent of the player we know he can get there.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Under

The safe bet is always under unless you have a good feeling otherwise.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Still not much confidence in Kuznetsov. He needs 31 points in the final 35 games to hit 80 and the over. The way he is rolling he should get their easily.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Over

Kuznetsov is a game-breaker. One of the most dynamic offensive talents in the game. I am not betting against him at this point as he keeps blowing past whatever projections/limitations we try to place on him. You won’t get Kuznetsov in a keeper league without overpaying but the results here indicate you could still get Kuznetsov for a reasonable price in a one-year league.

How about this stat? 90% of Kuznetsov’s points have been primary points (meaning he scored the goal or got the first assist), which is a good indication of how much he is driving offense for the Capitals.

Dylan Larkin

Looks like a good line here at 55.5 and rightfully so as Larkin is on pace for 55.7 points this season. Folks still favour Larkin for the over, which strikes me as overconfidence.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Under

Larkin needs 23 points in the final 33 games to hit this over but he has slowed with 15 points in his last 24 games. He finishes closer to 50 points than to 60.

Corey Perry

Perry needs 23 points in the final 35 games to hit the over, which he should do pretty easily. Even at his current pace Perry will clear the over. With the Ducks offense finally starting to click there is a good reason to be confident Perry will clear 60 this season.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Over

As mentioned, he should get there pretty easily. Still time to buy low on Perry.

Ryan Getzlaf

Amazingly, there is not nearly as much confidence in Getzlaf hitting the over as there is for Perry despite Getzlaf being just two points back and having missed four games.

Like Perry, Getzlaf hits the over if he merely continues to score at his current rate. Considering the career 12% shooter is scoring on just 3.5% of shots this season there is good reason to bet he improves on that rate in the second half.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Over

Keep in mind, the Ducks have as many games remaining as any team in the league with 35 left to play. That’s as good a reason as any to buy low.

Blake Wheeler

I am not all that surprised to see how little love the over got here. People just do not trust Wheeler despite constant evidence that he is a genuine force. I do suppose that some folks are worried about a potential exodus of talent from the Jets in the coming weeks. But Wheeler has been a stud despite down seasons from Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien who are reportedly on the trade block. Would their absence really crush his hopes of his first career 70-point season?

Laidlaw’s Pick: Over

He already has 48 points so he needs just 22 in the final 33 to hit the over. The Jets could trade everyone and Wheeler still likely gets there.

Ryan Johansen

Folks are pretty excited about Johansen now that he is in Nashville. It makes sense, Johansen has scored 10 points in 10 games for the Predators.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Over

With 36 points in the bag and 32 games remaining, Johansen needs 28 to hit the over. That’s going to be a challenge but with Nashville’s precarious spot in the standings they will need to push their best talents out there as much as possible to try and secure a playoff spot. Teams surging towards the playoffs always make for fantasy gold down the stretch.

Aleksander Barkov

The good news: I have most of my Twitter followers and presumably the regular readers on board with Barkov.

The bad news: He is still owned in just 45% of Yahoo! leagues. I need to expand my reach!

Laidlaw’s Pick: Over

Like there was any doubt…

Patric Hornqvist

A dead heat! Hornqvist needs 24 points in his final 34 games to hit the over, which he is certainly capable of. He has started to real turn it around with 11 points in 11 January games.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Over

The Penguins have really turned it around under Mike Sullivan, solidifying their line combinations and defense pairings. That has placed Hornqvist firmly in the top six, which bodes well for future production. Set a line for just about any Penguins player and I am taking the over. They look good for the stretch run.

John Tavares

Another split vote. Tavares needs 38 in his final 35 games to hit the over, which will be awfully challenging.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Under

I haven’t seen anything to indicate Tavares and the Islanders are rearing to take off. After being one of the more exciting teams in the league last season the game has really stagnated this season. They are playing slower, lower scoring affairs. That’s great news for Jaroslav Halak but not so much for all the talent the Islanders boast up front. The lack demonstrable improvement from either Anders Lee or Ryan Strome hangs over this situation.

Jack Eichel

Most people are on board with a big second half for Eichel. It makes a ton of sense if you subscribe to the theory of top picks trending upward in the second half of their rookie seasons. Eichel has already cranked it up with 22 points in his last 26 games.

Laidlaw’s Pick: Under

Eichel needs 26 points in his final 32 games, which he will reach if he continues on the pace he has set the last couple of months. I think he comes in just under the required total but he is definitely trending upward.

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That’s it for the over/unders. Did you enjoy that exercise? Is it something you’d like more of in the future? If so, who do you want an over/under poll for?

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It has been confirmed, Connor McDavid will be back in the lineup tonight. A little bit of cold water is warranted here. McDavid just had a pretty brutal injury and may be notably shy about going into traffic with his usual vigor.

Patrick Kane did return from this same injury to light up the playoffs for 23 points in 23 games so it isn’t like a stupendous return is impossible.

The Oilers have 32 games left. I’d set the over/under for McDavid in those games at 25.5. I should probably put together a poll.

McDavid was reportedly practicing with Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot as linemates. Sorry, Nail Yakupov owners!

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Mike Cammalleri has been put back on the IR with an upper-body injury. There does the offense for New Jersey once again.

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PIM Alert! The Penguins have signed enforcer Tom Sestito to a one-year two-way contract. The big forward hasn’t played in the NHL since early last season but has 432 PIM in 137 career NHL games so you know if he gets called up that there will be action.

Looking at the schedule, the Penguins face the Senators tonight. They are one of the few teams in the league employing multiple enforcers with Max McCormick, Chris Neil and Mark Bororwiecki all liable to throw down. Not sure if Sestito is getting into the lineup though.

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Barry Trotz has indicated that Philipp Grubauer may see 25% of the Capitals’ 35 remaining starts, which would mean nine or so starts for Grubauer the rest of the way. That’s pretty sizeable chunk considering what a workhorse Braden Holtby has been. This was always a possibility with how the Capitals have run away from the rest of the league.

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Niklas Kronwall has officially been placed on long-term IR, which means the earliest he could be back is February 13th. The two-week prognosis after his knee scope was always far too optimistic. This just seals things in stone. Not that Kronwall is worth having on your roster in the average league, anyhow.

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Thanks again for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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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
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency DET Players
32.2% TYLER BERTUZZI DYLAN LARKIN ANTHONY MANTHA
17% VALTTERI FILPPULA SAM GAGNER DARREN HELM
10.5% ROBBY FABBRI LUKE GLENDENING DMYTRO TIMASHOV

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