Ramblings: McGinn Debuts, Mrazek Fading, Galchenyuk is Hot (Mar. 3)
TJ Oshie, the king of the multi-point game was at it again last night with three assists. He has nine multi-point games on the season vs. 17 single-point games and of course, 36 scoreless games. If you’ve had Oshie all year it has likely been a rough ago. I’ll bet there were even nights where you benched a multi-point effort simply because of how hit-or-miss he has been. That’s what you get with a 50-point guy, however. And right now Oshie isn’t even on pace for 50 so it’s been tough sledding.
It has also been interesting to see the evolution of Marcus Johansson from top line winger to third line center. He still gets use on the top power-play unit, often alternating with Justin Williams in that slot, but doesn’t see a whole lot of time at even strength. He skated less even strength minutes than anyone but linemate Tom Wilson last night. Johansson never really was a tremendous fantasy asset at any point but it’s interesting to see what appears to be a real step backwards. With Andre Burakovsky emerging, how long until top power-play minutes aren’t even a thing for Johansson?
Was asked about Matt Niskanen (who scored a goal last night) vs. Ryan Suter for the rest of the season. Niskanen is the guy in Washington with John Carlson hurt for what may be the remaining 19 games, which is a cushy spot. Suter, meanwhile has 18 games remaining. I’m sticking with Suter, however because he has more of a track record. Also, Minnesota is more likely to be playing desperate hockey these last few weeks, which is more likely to yield scores.
That brings up an interesting notion for H2H playoff planning for fantasy GMs. You really want the guys playing for the league’s hottest teams for the last few weeks of the season. Figuring out who those teams will be is a real problem, however. Last season you could have done really well with a roster stocked with Senators and Blue Jackets, but you may not have done so well with that arrangement over the course of the full season.
I’ve mentioned a few times how I feel that the Penguins, once healthy will get on quite the roll as they push to make the NHL playoffs. That’s one team that I’ve done a lot of work in fantasy leagues to buy shares in. Sadly, my biggest acquisition off that team has been Chris Kunitz but at least I’ve locked him down in three leagues.
The Ducks and Sharks have both been awfully hot and could keep that going. Nashville appears like they will finally get it together, although they can only ever get one line going at a time, it seems. Who is your “all-in” team?
Quite the night for Leaf rookie Nikita Soshnikov scoring his first career NHL goal. He is skating with Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov, which is a really great spot. Most intriguing for Soshnikov’s fantasy potential: he had six hits and six PIM. That’s some multi-category production right there.
More bagels for Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander but they are getting all the power play time that they can handle with 4:50 and 5:02 respectively. Only a matter of time before they get on the board. Then again, Brooks Laich was also on that power play so perhaps not.
Connor Carrick, skating on the second power-play unit notched an assist against his former team. I read something the other day where Lou Lamoriello described Carrick as an “A level” prospect. Not sure what that means. Is that just NHL certain? Pro readiness? Upside? In any case, I like him a fair amount. He could have a Niskanen-like future as a fantasy asset.
Every now and again the Blackhawks throw Brent Seabrook back on the top power-play unit, either with Duncan Keith or on his own instead of Keith. Last night it was the former and the results were explosive. Three points for Seabrook, three points for Patrick Kane, two points for Keith and two points for Artemi Panarin with most of that damage done on back-to-back power plays in the second period.
Andrew Ladd has points in both of his games since joining the Blackhawks. He has skated with Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw at even strength and on the second power-play unit as well. Ultimately, I still think this is a step backwards from where he was at in Winnipeg but he also wasn’t fully taking advantage of the opportunities afforded to him there.
He hasn’t been quite as bad as some goalies (Roberto Luongo) but Petr Mrazek has really dropped off since the All-Star break. He got drubbed last night dropping his numbers to 6-3-2, with a 2.55 goals-against average and a 0.903 save percentage over the last month. Just five of his 11 starts have been quality starts (a 0.917 save percentage or better). That’s a steep decline from the world-beater he had been.
The bubble has finally burst for Dylan Larkin. The awesome rookie has gone scoreless in five straight and has just one point in the last 10 games. He is minus-seven in those 10 games after being a revelation in that category all year. It was only a matter of time. No doubt, there is a relationship between Mrazek falling off and Larkin doing the same. I don’t worry about Larkin’s long term prospects but for one-year ventures I’ve been advising getting off the bandwagon for some time now.
One Red Wing who may be getting it together is Gustav Nyquist who has scored in three straight and has nine points in 15 games since the All-Star break. Nine in 15 won’t get you overly excited but considering Nyquist scored just five points in the 15 games preceding the break you understand why this is progress. Nyquist is getting loaded up with top power-play minutes so he should be producing.
Jamie McGinn was one of my big winners of the trade deadline moving from Buffalo to Anaheim. Admittedly, he was in a good spot with Buffalo but this Ducks team has a little more juice. He had this to say about heading to Anaheim, which has to get you excited:
McGinn started out with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, spending most of his night on that line but the Ducks’ lines were all over the place last night so no major conclusions yet. McGinn also saw time with the second PP unit. Hard to see him moving up to the first unit without an injury. He did score a goal and had four SOG. Productive start.
Michael McCarron got bumped up to center the second line of Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. No points for McCarron in 13 minutes of action but he came to the aid of Eller following a questionable hit from Kevin Bieksa and fought the Ducks’ defenseman. Good show by McCarron who has definite power forward potential.
Eller, by the way, would turn out to be fine.
Galchenyuk is on some kind of scoring binge lately. Another two-goal night gives him five in the last four games and eight since the All-Star break. Galchenyuk has 11 points in 14 games over that span. That’s not stupendous but it’s also a big step forward after a couple of rough months.
Yesterday was the deadline for teams to submit their first 16 players for their World Cup of Hockey rosters. Not a whole lot to discuss from a fantasy perspective unless you’ve got a World Cup fantasy pool that drafts soon, which is unlikely but kudos if you do!
A couple of notes:
Jaromir Jagr was not on the Czech roster, which was a shock to some but remember that he has retired from international competition. I’m torn on this. I’d love to see him there, as I’m sure everyone would but that’s extra wear and tear that he can’t really afford if he is going to be an effective NHLer next season. If you assume that the Panthers are going to win at least a round in the playoffs this summer, competing in the World Cup would mean a much shorter summer for Jagr and a lot of extra miles. Not great for his fantasy prospects if he does play.
AHL defenseman Esa Lindell getting named to Finland’s roster as one of just four defensemen named at this time, along with Rasmus Ristolainen, Olli Maatta and Sami Vatanen. That’s an extremely young group of defensemen but they are also damn good. That should tell you something about where Lindell’s value lies in the future. He may never wind up a huge fantasy asset but all signs point to him being a legit NHLer in the near future.
I’ve run Lindell’s numbers before but for those who missed it: Lindell led the top Finnish league in defenseman scoring last season with 35 points in 57 games taking home the top defenseman award as a 20-year-old. Now 21, in his first season in North America Lindell has scored 32 points in 56 games for Dallas’ AHL affiliate. Now he gets named to Finland’s World Cup roster. This is one of the juiciest prospects in the game.
Some Sens news as they announced a one-year deal for Scott Gomez. Gomez is the NHL’s version of the Terminator. He just keeps coming back. Obviously this is to fill the gap for Kyle Turris. I doubt Gomez mucks this up for JG Pageau who has been one of the hottest players in the league but you never know.
Doesn’t feel like MacArthur has any relevance left but remember Loui Eriksson looked like he was on his way out after concussion issues before re-emerging this season. Now, Eriksson is a better player than MacArthur and his concussions weren’t as bad but we shouldn’t just bury MacArthur entirely. Maybe he has an impact next season.
Craig Anderson’s lower-body injury doesn’t sound as bad as initially thought. He is listed as day-to-day.
Finally, here’s an interesting post from SBNation’s Senators blog Silver Seven detailing how Shane Prince was never really given an opportunity to succeed at the NHL level, ultimately leading to his trade to the Islanders.
Prince started out his Islander tenure on a line with John Tavares. Seems like quite the fresh start! We have seen so many wingers try and fail to mesh well with Tavares that I don’t have high hopes for Prince, especially not as a young guy learning a new system in a short period of time. But the Islanders may be losing a few players this summer. Given a training camp with Tavares I could see a real fit, though he’ll have plenty of competition.
Here’s your latest on Rick Nash:
JT Miller has been dynamite with Nash out so I can’t see him getting bumped. Instead, look for Viktor Stalberg to get moved to the fourth line or press box.
Could probably do a whole ramblings picking out stuff from Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts, which wraps up the trade deadline but I’ll just pluck a couple of thoughts:
25. One of the reasons Carey Price and the Canadiens are still hoping for a return this season? They want him in a game to see how he is. It gives you some level of certainty or understanding of where he really stands as everyone prepares for next season. It could also serve as a measuring stick for whether he should play in the World Cup. If he doesn’t come back or he doesn’t look good, Montreal has justification for asking him to bow out.
I’m still clinging to some hope. It also sounds like Sergei Bobrovsky could return to finish the season as well.
27. The Ilya Kovalchuk watch is a weird one, simply because the NHL is not exactly being clear about the path to reinstatement — should he go that route. One source suggested that’s because it may have to be negotiated between the league and NHLPA, since the CBA isn’t clear. Whatever the case, it’s going to be interesting to see who wants him (with New Jersey believed to have first right of refusal). The scouting reports this season weren’t kind, and coach Sergei Zubov’s decision to bench him is validation of those viewpoints. Also, what kind of contract could he reasonably expect?
Maybe don’t burn an active roster spot hoping to get Kovalchuk for your playoff run. If you’ve got minors slots to use though, have at it.
Adam Gretz had an interesting piece yesterday picking his top eight Stanley Cup contenders:
Recent hockey history (the past decade) shows that there are certain areas that almost all Stanley Cup winning teams excel in more than others: Goal prevention, penalty killing, and puck possession (total shot attempt differential during 5-on-5 play). Over the past eight years, Cup winners have averaged a top-six finish in all three of those categories.
Gretz has a really good feel for this stuff so I tend to trust his opinion on a lot of things. I remember when I did an assessment of indicators of playoff success a couple of years ago, the most important factor I found was goal differential, which is a round-about way of saying that teams that outscored opponents for much of the season typically continued to do so in the playoffs. Not exactly ground-breaking but still a valuable exercise I thought. I may do an update to that column this spring in an effort to help folks with their playoff pools.
Check out my latest Waiver Wednesday column.
Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. You can follow him @SteveLaidlaw.