Ramblings: Cam Talbot, Adam Larsson, Philip Larsen, Randy Carlyle and more (Oct 17)




Dobber returns with his first Ramblings about actual NHL games in 2016-17! …


If you’re late to the party, you can pick up my 11th annual Fantasy Guide right here.


And what you’re not too late for – Dobbernomics! Sign up for it here and compete against the world for the most points and the highest team value (because your player’s value will go up and down based on actual ownership from others who play the game).


First of all – thank you everyone for the tremendous support again this year. Buying the fantasy guides is what is supporting this awesome career of mine and it’s paying the writers and editors (of which there are more of them each season). I hit a snag in my shop last week that – while not affecting new purchases – temporarily removed access to the Guide from the downloads section for those who bought earlier. On and off for about 30 hours. And that was right at the time where several hundred of you were desperate for the latest update. Anxious times! But you were all very patient with me and I’m grateful. I worked around the clock to get that fixed. The issue – literally too many updates. My shop I guess isn’t built for replacing documents several dozen times and on my 33rd update I broke something!

We have a fix for this so that it doesn’t happen again next year. But that was pretty nice timing, eh? Couldn’t have broken on the 20th update when there wasn’t a crunch…and couldn’t have broken on the 36th update when the season was underway and nobody cared. Nope, it had to be the 33rd update on October 10. I apologize again to any impacted by the hassle.


Follow me on Twitter, if you want the odd thought of mine before it gets the Ramblings. Remember this gem?

That one was over a week ago. So far so good – I myself grabbed him in Dobbernomics as well as one of my keeper leagues. I think he can keep up a very impressive pace at the very least until Nick Bjugstad returns in a couple of weeks.


Denis Malgin was a surprise and revelation in Florida’s training camp this year. I had heard that the Panthers were extremely high on how he performed and that he had a shot at making the team. I rolled my eyes at this because the guy is only 19 years old and he’s 5-8, 163 pounds. When you’re that small and your name isn’t Patrick Kane, then chances are you aren’t getting to the NHL until your 22 or 23. The fact that he made the team already speaks volumes as to his ability. Granted, he had some injury help – if Huberdeau and Bjugstad didn’t get hurt then he would have been among the final cuts. But still impressive nonetheless. I had him at four years away, which held him down on my Prospects List, but he shot up to 169 last week and on the next list he’s likely breaking into the Top 100 the longer he sticks. He picked up his first NHL point Saturday, an assist.


Randy Carlyle is coaching the Ducks again and is off to a rocky start obviously, as they’re 0-2-1. The difference between this year and last year is – Bruce Boudreau is a great coach. Carlyle can turn this around, but he can’t leave it as long as last year when the Ducks were 29th in the entire league in mid-December. The fear with Carlyle, if you’re a Ducks fan, is that he doesn’t give as much credence to the possession game as most coaches do in this day and age. In the summer I opined that Carlyle has this ‘aura’ about him that tends to push his team to play above their head the first season, but that in his second season he would be exposed and the Ducks would be bad (other coaches like this – Patrick Roy, Marc Crawford and Bob Hartley). They were outshot by the Penguins 45-36, they outshot the Stars 35-20 and then last night they were getting hammered in shots 16-3 after one before making it close and losing 30-26. So they’re getting their shots on goal, which has never been a problem with Carlyle teams – but they’re not holding down the shots against. This should concern John Gibson owners. In his two starts, they’ve given up 14 shots from within 15 feet and four of them went in the net.

Regardless of what the fancy stats say, the fact that this team is losing to start the season again says that some changes will be made. Jacob Larsson amazingly made this team over the highly-touted Shea Theodore. The fact that he’s pointless and minus-1 with just the one shot tells me that the first change made would be a swap of him and Theodore. The latter has two goals in two games so far for San Diego.


One thing Carlyle is doing so far is leaning more on Cam Fowler for the power play, as he leads the team in PP ice time by a relatively wide margin (see the report here and sort by %PP or PPTOI). The result has been a ton of shots on goal by Fowler, a player who generally takes a lot less than two per game. He already has 10 shots in three games. It’s a good signal that he’s going to have a big year – and a quick look at his early puck luck says that he’s actually not getting much. The points are legit and if anything he could have a couple more. Anyway, you can’t really pass judgment after three games but it’s just very promising so far for the 24-year-old.


Ryan Strome – just one goal so far this season (on the power play) despite over nine minutes of PP ice time. Nothing at even strength either. But that’s also on his linemates Anders Lee/Shane Prince (before) and Alan Quine/Anthony Beauvillier (last night). These are talented lines and it would be nice to see one of these mix-and-matches get going.

Still looking for his first point as an Islander – Andre Ladd. Part of that is the fact that linemate John Tavares only got his first point of the season on Sunday. A bigger part of that is that Jack Capuano is trying to force this pairing. They only had the one preseason game to get acquainted, so now they’re at four games in total with nothing to show for it. As we’ve seen before, Capuano tends to give line combos a good 12 games before giving up on them. And usually I applaud that. But if we’ve seen lines that have worked already then I’d rather see him go back to that. I thought Quine showed a lot of promise there in the playoffs, and every time they put Lee on that line it seems to work too.

Ladd is worrisome in that he’s coming off his worst season in five years, by most statistical measurements and there was little to see in that season that showed any promise of a rebound. He’s 30 now and many players decline starting then. Especially in this era. The only hope he has of a turnaround his Capuano’s habit of sticking with his line (or duo) for a long, long time.


Ryan O’Reilly is flourishing on a line with Kyle Okposo and it was exemplified last night when he picked up four points.

I had a hunch that Dmitry Kulikov would get some PP time when he got to Buffalo, but that a hunch that’s quite wrong so far. He’s not getting PP time at all – it’s a four-forward unit mostly, with Rasmus Ristolainen as the defenseman. Rasmus had two PP assists last night. Don’t forget that even though Ristolainen had 41 points last year, he had 26 of them in the first half (52-point pace).


Cam Talbot had a bit of a slow start the first two games, but got hammered Sunday thanks to a fluke goal that threw off his game. Take a look…

Keep Talbot on the bench until he strings together two good starts. I have full confidence in his season and some pretty big numbers, but between last year and what we’ve seen so far this time – he doesn’t enjoy good Octobers.


The Oilers have nothing in the way of an elite puck-moving PP defenseman. My thoughts:

Andrej Sekera – I’ve been, in the past, quite high on Sekera and how he was always used too much in a defensive role but when a top quarterback gets hurt he slots in nicely and produces.

Oscar Klefbom has always been a top two-way prospect defenseman who could certainly grow into a 40-point player.

Darnell Nurse – same as Klefbom although that’s far, far down the road for him.

Kris Russell – He’s shown flashes of production when a PP QB is out for a couple of weeks with an injury. We’ve seen him get seven points in eight games on a couple of occasions when the team has no choice but to use him on the power play. But he fades.

Adam Larsson – As a prospect, the word on him was similar to that of Klefbom. Except with Larsson, his pre-draft scouting reports had him with most of an offensive bent than what these reports said of Klefbom. Words like “booming shot” and “tremendous hockey sense” were used to describe him in a year in which he was touted as a possible first overall pick. Since then, we witnessed three years of New Jersey ruining him, and then two years of New Jersey bringing him on properly as a defensive stud. Larsson is the wild card. I know people who consider themselves experts in all things Larsson consider him a weak option on the power play. But how do we know this? He averaged 19 seconds during his first full season (2014-15) and 10 seconds of PP time per game in 2015-16, his second full season. He has zero PPPts in his career! Until we see even one game in which he has four minutes of PP time, I don’t think anyone short of a professional scout (and not even them) can really say.

I have a knack for remembering what the scouting report of a player is when I first heard of him – whether he is 16 or 18 or 19. From there, over the next six or seven years, that’s my starting point and I adjust my opinion after that. Obviously, when Larsson was drafted, my opinion was a potential stud and possible 55-point guy in the long term. Over time, that’s shifted downward. But I’m not ready to forego the possibility that he can get 45 if he gets a chance and is in his prime (still two years away). I am surprised that the Oilers aren’t using Larsson on the power play yet because they a) paid so much to get him and b) they have wanted a right-handed shot for several years now. Why get a right-handed shot? To help the penalty kill? I tend to think that which way a player shoots is more important for PP purposes over PK purposes, if you had to weigh the two.

So far, Todd McLellan likes Klefbom for the PP, followed by Sekera. But so far, defensemen have zero points on the power play. Larsson will eventually start getting more shifts there, and at that point I will decide if he’s indeed a potential 40-plus player, or just a 25- to 30-point defensive stud. So if he turns 24…and 25…and 26 and he’s still not getting PP time, then I’ll have to concede at that point too.

Then again, I had Vlasic written off as a 25-point player before last year and look what happened. All it takes is the right coach putting him in the right situation.


I was interested to see that Teuvo Teravainen had just 11:05 of ice time in the game against the Canucks, especially when he scored a goal. Yes, he’s only 22, but to me he’s this team’s top scorer. I think they know it too, but obviously Bill Peters wants to ease him in. So much emphasis these days on easing a young player in. Sebastian Aho saw 12:51 and Martin Frk was a healthy scratch.

Philip Larsen is getting leaned on by the Canucks for the power play. This is where my “right shooter” theory is actually working. I’m a guy who plays the odds, so if a player is going to get the PP time and the ice time, then I’ll either roll the dice on him or keep him very high on the radar. The points haven’t come yet for Larsen – and of course if they don’t then it’s back to Europe he goes. But with these quality minutes his odds of doing at least something aren’t so bad. He’s taken five shots on goal in two games and on Sunday he saw 21:10 of ice time – 2:23 on the power play to lead their defensemen.






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