Ramblings: MacKinnon, Rantanen and Andrighetto Giving the Avalanche a Flicker of Optimism (Mar 30)

steve laidlaw


Ramblings: MacKinnon, Rantanen and Andrighetto Giving the Avalanche a Reason for Optimism.


The Kings secured a big win over the Flames to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Anze Kopitar once again led the way with a pair of points. He has 12 points in 13 games this month. He’s been just about the only King producing.

Jeff Carter scored a goal, just his third point in the last nine games. Check out this stat:

Marian Gaborik rebounded from a healthy scratch with a pair of assists. He and Jarome Iginla continue to be dragged up the ice by Kopitar. Or are they dragging Kopitar down? Who can tell at this point.

Iginla put together a Gordie Howe hat trick in the Saddledome like it was 1999. He was named first star of the game.

A couple of nights ago Jonny Brodzinski was out there for the Kings at 6-on-5 down a goal against Edmonton and then he was a healthy scratch last night. I liked what I saw from Brodzinski in limited viewing. He has eight SOG in two NHL games and has scored 47 points in 56 games at the AHL level this season. Colour me intrigued, although you know that the Kings won’t be messing with their winning lineup from last night.

We’ve got a new leader for most explosive PIM game of the season as Andy Andreoff racked up 34 last night. This wasn’t entirely shocking considering it was the Tkachuk-Doughty revenge game, although I assumed that it would be the two primaries who would get into the fisticuffs but instead it was Tkachuk and Andreoff. When Andreoff decided to go after Tkachuk a second time, he got the boot.


Last night was just Brian Elliott’s third regulation loss since the All-Star break. It’s been two months of HEAT from the veteran goaltender. Great to see him rebound in the second half.

I do believe it’s worth questioning if Elliott can be a 60-game starter. He’s never started more than 48 games in a season. Any time his workload has been high he has either struggled or gotten hurt. Sure, he has put together some unconscious runs of elite play in the past few years but they’ve never been sustained for more than a month or two.

I’m fine with some inconsistency, mind you. It will be interesting to see what fantasy owners remember come fall and it’s time to draft again. Elliott was the 15th goaltender off the board in the average draft this season. A lot will depend on how this playoff run goes as an extended run would certainly rebuild even more trust. Also, he’ll need to be re-signed but I can’t imagine the Flames are averse to bringing Elliott back. I suspect he’ll go in that 15-range once again, making him a slightly undervalued #2 option, which is perfect.

Only one goal for the Flames but no surprise it was Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan getting in on the action. Meanwhile, another night of goose-eggs for Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik.


Marc-Andre Fleury took one on the chin for his team last night giving up five goals on 36 shots, including four in the first period. This was a start to help keep Matt Murray fresh so he was eating it all the way, no matter what happened.

The Penguins goaltenders are really starting to suffer with all of the injuries up and down the roster.

Conor Sheary returned for the Penguins after missing much of the Flyer game on the weekend. He was scoreless in 16:31.

Jake Guentzel was skating yesterday. It seems a reasonable chance he will return at some point this week.

Justin Schultz has just two points in the last 10 games, really deadening what’s been a breakout season for him.


Tanner Kero picked up two more points centering Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane. Of course, now that he’s going off we hear news that Artem Anisimov may begin skating again today. Skating doesn’t mean returning, however, and I suspect he won’t be back until playoffs. Kero appears safe as long as he remains productive.


The Avs have reinforcements on the way:

I’m not nearly as high on Tyson Jost as I am on Brock Boeser and Clayton Keller who were recently signed out of college. Still, he is a former lottery pick and certainly a top prospect. The potential for Jost to make an immediate impact would be more enticing if Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene weren’t playing such listless hockey.

You can understand why they have essentially packed it in, playing for a team going nowhere that apparently doesn’t even want them any more but these guys are professionals so they should be providing better. JT Compher centered Duchene and Landeskog last night but you could see Jost skating with at least one of those two stars once he arrives.

Just because Jost is suiting up for the Avs right now is no guarantee that he’ll make the NHL roster next season. Presumably he will make the team but I’d bet on some AHL time and a likely trip back to the World Juniors.

Read more about Jost here.


Stick tap to the trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Sven Andrighetto for giving us some reason to pay attention to the Avs. Two more points for Andrighetto. He has 11 points in 13 games with the Avalanche. Meanwhile, MacKinnon with a flash of brilliance:


Philipp Grubauer gave up three goals on 35 shots but secured the win. Not exactly what you were hoping for from a spot start against the Avalanche but it wasn’t a terrible performance. It’s worth noting that Grubauer has given up three goals or more in his last three starts, though he hasn’t seen much action of late. His last start was March 6. Anyhow, if your league is still running next week, beware another rickety start if you use him.

Evgeny Kuznetsov had just three points in 12 games this month before chipping in a couple last night. That was his first multi-point game since February 28. You can certainly blame his role as a secondary scorer but he was been agonizingly streaky this season. This will definitely affect his draft stock next year.


Clayton Keller registered his first point in the NHL. He’s in a decent position to succeed skating with Christian Dvorak and Radim Vrbata at even strength and on the power play.

I don’t love this deployment for Dvorak or Vrbata who had a nice run of play with Max Domi as their LW but you could also blame the murderous schedule for their recent struggles. They faced Washington before a two straight vs. the Blues and they’ve got Washington up again on Friday. Brutal run against some stingy teams. Though I cannot imagine too many folks are relying on Coyotes at this stage of the fantasy season.


A second straight 40-goal season is every so close for Vladimir Tarasenko as he scored his 36th last night. He’s basically going for a repeat of last season’s numbers but that will almost assuredly result in him sliding in drafts next season. Simply put, Tarasenko has been passed through no fault of his own. He went with the sixth pick in the average draft but at the very least Nikita Kucherov will go ahead of him next season, and that’s just look at the RW position. Tarasenko won’t fall far, mind you.

Patrik Berglund tied a career high with his 22nd goal of the season but will almost certainly finish with less than 40 points. That’s a truly unique season. The last time he scored 22 goals he set his career high with 52 points. I’d bet he never sniffs that total again.

If you played spot-start roulette last night, Ben Bishop was the winning play but Carter Hutton wasn’t far behind. I would have opted for Grubauer but didn’t place any bets at the wheel. Maybe tonight!


Steven Stamkos could return to action on Saturday! Zach Parise returned late in the season from this same injury back in 2011 and played one game before sitting out the final four games. That was for a Devils team that missed the playoffs and was also six years ago. We’ve since gotten much smarter about rehab, shrinking recovery times and improving post-surgery outcomes.

How ready is Stamkos? Who knows but the Lightning have done a good job of treading water without him these past few so you’d assume that they wouldn’t do anything rash. My assumption is that Stamkos will be eased in so Brayden Point’s spot as the #1 centerman should remain safe.

Stamkos practiced with the second PP unit, so whatever role he does take he won’t be disrupting the inferno that has been the Lightning’s top unit. Much of Stamkos’ hot start to this season came while paired with Nikita Kucherov. I wonder how much he’ll offer fantasy owners coming off of injury and away from Kucherov.

As exciting as this return is, I don’t know that I would rush to activate Stamkos at the expense of a productive player in your lineup. This feels like the sort of move you feel compelled to make because you can or because you held on this long but I typically advocate for caution.


It appears that Frederik Andersen will be back in goal tonight:


The Wild have recalled Alex Stalock from the AHL with the intent of having him start tonight against the Senators. This situation has grown dire. Stalock has been good at the AHL level but it’s been a couple of years since he showed any talent at the NHL level.

What this boils down to is that Devan Dubnyk’s starting gig is safe but they are just trying to get him some rest and don’t trust Darcy Kuemper to hold up well enough to do so. Stalock might wind up starting two of the next three because Minnesota has a back-to-back Saturday/Sunday. No, I don’t trust him any more than I trust Kuemper.


The Bruins are close to getting Charlie McAvoy signed to an amateur tryout that will allow him to play in the AHL the rest of the year. Very good sign.

Most folks assumed that the Bruins would sign McAvoy outright and get him into their lineup ASAP to help with their playoff run but Boston, much like Ottawa with Colin White, seems to be taking a cautious approach, unwilling to burn a year off of their prized youngster’s entry-level deal. I suspect that if both of these guys show well in a few AHL games that they’ll get a full deal so they are available for the playoff run but wait and see.

McAvoy is an awesome prospect and a genuine threat to Torey Krug’s status as the #1 offensive option in Boston at some point. Krug’s got a strangle-hold on that spot, having his most productive season. His lefty shot gave him an advantage when everything ran through David Krejci on the left half-wall but with the team shifting away from Krejci the dynamic has changed. Now they are looking for David Pastrnak in the Ovechkin spot on the left circle with most of the playmaking taking place on the right half-wall. This setup favours a right-handed point man, which McAvoy could be.

Read more about McAvoy here.


Nice to see there are some folks in the NHL head office who understand they are in the entertainment industry. Should make for some fun buzz in June. Thumbs up.


Interesting note in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

10. Ak Bars Kazan is down 2-0 to Metallurg in the KHL’s Western final. When their season is over, NHL clubs will try to close on forward Vladimir Tkachyov. Toronto remains very aggressive, but there are several chasers. He’s had a good season and a strong playoff. (Aside: love how the KHL website lists how long players are under contract.)

This is the same prospect who the Oilers agreed to a contract with, only to have the NHL void it because he was still draft eligible. Somehow, he then went undrafted the next time around. I assume teams caught wind of his intent to return to Russia following the 2015 season and begged off but that’s ludicrous. An NHL team had Tkachyov in house and decided he was good enough for a contract. How does no one throw a seventh-round pick on him? How do the Oilers not do this?

Naturally, Tkachyov has once again become a person of interest. Is anyone shocked?

The big knock on Tkachyov was size but that no longer matters as much as it even did a couple of years ago. Potential, under-the-radar option for you in keeper leagues, though if you have Panarin expectations I suspect you’ll be disappointed.


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


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