Ramblings: Mikhail Grigorenko, Zack Kassian, Leon Draisaitl and three summer deals (July 30)
We've really hit the dog days of summer here. The news is mainly regarding restricted free agents, and we've already been speculating and discussing them for much of the offseason. What we need is a big trade to shake things up.
So, with that in mind, let's have some fun with three deals that could shake up the hockey world leading into the season.
I told you this was going to be fun. However, this is a swap that would help each team immediately, and both players have new contracts to sign as restricted free agents at the end of the season. One RFA for another RFA.
Boston is hurting for defensemen, and the Islanders could use another offensive winger, especially on the right side. Additionally, New York will risk losing de Haan or Ryan Pulock next spring, whereas Boston still has Ryan Spooner and/or Frank Vatrano to lean on in scoring roles until the next wave are ready to step into the lineup.
Finally, with Pastrnak being a draft pick from the Peter Chiarelli era, the current brass might not be that tied to the 21-year-old Czech. Sure, it's a long shot, but this is a swap that would help both clubs.
The prize needs to be worth it for Tampa Bay to part with Bishop, but perhaps cutting Garrison's salary in addition to grabbing Sharp and the pick is enough. Sharp has one year left on his deal, and after Matt Murray backed the Penguins, the Lightning might have the confidence Andrei Vasilevskiy can do the same.
Bishop is obviously the piece Dallas needs, which would make one of their Finns waiver-wire fodder. Additionally, Garrison is a serviceable second-paring defenseman to help the blue line. Perhaps, Kari Lethonen or Antti Niemi could go to Tampa Bay, but I'm not sure why the Lightning would want to take on that salary.
In a go-for-it-now run while not sacrificing their future, Sharp's a sound grab. He's had plenty of playoff experience and still skates and shoots well, and he can help elevate either of the middle lines and second power-play unit.
Tampa Bay is going to deal Bishop, and there's a chance they sit on him all season or want much more than this package. It's still conceivable to trade him now to bulk up the roster for a third consecutive deep playoff run, though.
Remember, this is fun, and Tampa Bay doesn't have the cap space to bring in additional young players who will need pay raises over the next few years. Grabbing a player like Sharp and then a pick (or picks) might be the best return for them going forward.
In an effort to become younger and replace Keith Yandle, the Rangers add Shattenkirk with a full season to convince him to re-sign. St. Louis adds their David Backes replacement, and Nash turns into a third-line center and lines up against the opposition's top scorers nightly.
The Rangers have the forward depth, and the Blues have the defense depth, and both players have been rumored to be trade bait for some time. This is a "hockey deal" where both teams are trading from positions of strength to bolster weaknesses.
There are some minor cap issues here with Nash owed $7.8 million the next two seasons, but where there's a will there's a way.
Mikhail Grigorenko is an interesting fantasy asset. He notched 27 points over 74 games during his first full season in the league and is completely off the fantasy grid.
Grigorenko's two most-frequent linemates at five-on-five were Jarome Iginla and Matt Duchene and both had a worse goals per 60 minutes without Grigorenko than with him. Unfortunately, his third, fourth and fifth most-common linemates were Cody McLeod, Andreas Martinsen and Jack Skille.
Playing time will be the key going forward, obviously, but when Grigorenko received at least 14:54 of ice, he returned 19 points over 33 games (82-game pace of 47.2 points). After February 6 of last season, he averaged 16:38 per night over 28 games, including 23 games from the above sample.
The Avalanche have Nathan MacKinnon, Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Iginla as top-six locks, but after that it would appear to be a dogfight between Carl Soderberg, Joe Colborne, Mikko Rantanen and Grigorenko. Given the familiarity head coach Patrick Roy has with Grigorenko, Grigorenko should have a really legitimate chance to play with Duchene or MacKinnon.
Don't forget, Grigorenko is just 22 years old, too.
Zack Kassian is an intriguing fantasy asset in leagues using penalty minutes after racking up 114 PIM over just 36 games. Granted, he had five 10-minute misconducts, but even without those infractions, Kassian had 64 PIM.
We're all a little bullish — or should be — about the Oilers, and Kassian has an inside track on a top-six role. He's also impressed head coach Todd McLellan.
Obviously, we're not looking at a breakout 50-point season, but a run at 20 goals and 45 points isn't out of the question. And next to a healthy PIM total the scoring statistics will suffice.
Kassian will be completely off the radar, too.
Sticking with the Oilers, Leon Draisaitl's fantasy stock is a little concerning. First, he thrived alongside Taylor Hall, and secondly, he did significant damage with Connor McDavid out of the lineup.
The Hall-Draisaitl-Teddy Purcell line had the eighth-highest goals per 60 minutes (3.22) at five-on-five among trios with at least 400 minutes together.
So, with the potential of a third-line role behind McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and no Hall, everyone should be concerned. Plus, with McDavid back in the lineup, Draisaitl also finished the season with just 11 points — five goals — through his final 30 games of the season.
No doubt, hitting the rookie wall also had an impact down the stretch for Draisaitl — yes, I just ignored 2014-15.
Enjoy the weekend, Dobberheads
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