Ramblings: The Underrated Slavin, Awards voting, injury updates and more (Apr. 12)


My 11th annual Interactive Playoff Draft List is fully updated through Tuesday and available for immediate download. Get it here


I set up two free playoff DobberHockey contests. One is the NHL Bracket Challenge. The other is the second annual Dobbernomics Challenge – Details on those here.


I get to be one of the 280 or so hockey writers who vote on this year’s NHL Awards. My third year of having this privilege with the PHWA. I sent off my ballots last night. I won’t give you my ballot before the winners are announced (I will afterward), but I do have a few thoughts…

1. Brad Marchand was a shoe-in for runner-up voting on the Hart Trophy…until that ridiculousness at the end of the season. A shoe-in. Was anyone more important to his team this year other than the obvious guy? I mean, if Marchand was out for the season, would Boston have even been in the Top 20?

2. Jaccob Slavin was truly amazing. The ballots required five players for each award, but if I was able to extend the list to seven players, then he would have made it at No.7. It surprised me just how good he was. Not only did he have 17 points in the last 33 games, but he did it without the help of the power play (all four of his PPPts came in the first half) and he did it while leading the NHL’s defensemen in %PK. I mean – he was on the ice for 74.1% of Carolina’s shorthanded ice time, the highest in the entire league. He turns 23 soon, so the best is still to come. I didn’t know the Hurricanes leaned on him quite so much.

3. I gave Auston Matthews Top 5 consideration for three different awards. Do the Leafs make the playoffs without him? Nope.

4. Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund got the Patrice Bergeron treatment – toughest competition faced on the team and lowest offensive zone start percentage at even strength.

5. I wish there was a way to recognize the unsung rookies. Brady Skjei snuck onto my All-Rookie Team over Ivan Provorov, who I really like. And William Nylander didn’t get mentioned anywhere on my ballot – there are a lot of years in which he would have won the Calder outright. This year? Not even a mention. And Brayden Point’s clutch play and solid production will get nary a mention this year, from anyone.

6. If Jake Guentzel played 80 games instead of 40, he had a real good shot at beating Auston Matthews in points. And wouldn’t that be something?


Evgeni Malkin will be ready to go for Game 1, per Mike Sullivan. Frankly, he could probably have pushed to play the last two games of the season. But this is all about the Cup – the Stanley Cup, and not the Cup that myself and many others could have won had Malkin not been hurt.

Because Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin won’t be ready to go for at least the next three games, Carter Rowney will draw into the lineup. I wouldn’t consider Rowney in any playoff pools though. I would consider Kunitz in the last round or two, if I were building around Penguins. Hagelin sounds as though he’ll be back if there’s a Game 5 or 6.


Tomas Tatar will have shoulder surgery tomorrow and the recovery time is four-to-six months. That will take him to training camp, and perhaps into the season a little bit. My Fantasy Guide will be all over updates on his status throughout September.


Several sources on Twitter say that Joe Thornton is indicating that he’ll be ready to go for Game 1. I suspect he won’t be 100% though. That’s Dr. Dobber’s diagnosis.


According to this, Jaromir Jagr hasn’t spoken to the Panthers about returning next season. I get the sense that he’ll go to them if/when other teams reject him. Because he definitely wants to play, he just may have a few other preferred spots. But a healthy Jonathan Huberdeau would mean that Jagr gets past the 50-point mark again and frankly I doubt he could do that with any other team.


Jon Cooper will coach Team Canada at the WHC. Jeff Blashill will coach Team USA.

The NHL Draft Lottery will be held on April 29. Here are the details:

Non-Playoff Team

(Fewest Pts. to Most)   Odds

Colorado Avalanche   18.0%

Vancouver Canucks   12.1%

Vegas Golden Knights *   10.3%

Arizona Coyotes   10.3%

New Jersey Devils   8.5%

Buffalo Sabres   7.6%

Detroit Red Wings   6.7%

Dallas Stars   5.8%

Florida Panthers   5.4%

Los Angeles Kings   4.5%

Carolina Hurricanes   3.2%

Winnipeg Jets   2.7%

Philadelphia Flyers   2.2%

Tampa Bay Lightning   1.8%

New York Islanders   0.9%

* Vegas assigned same lottery odds as the team finishing the regular season in 28th place


Main reason I like Minnesota over St. Louis? I have zero trust in Jake Allen. ZERO. That is all.


Look at these lines though:

If you’re stuck having to build around the Blues in your playoff pool draft (and I do mean “stuck”), then Ivan Barbashev could be a sweet dark horse pick. And if he actually clicks in that spot, just think of the possibilities for next year…


How close was Steven Stamkos to a return and how healthy will he be come September? “Despite indications he might return at some point in the final week of the season, Stamkos said he was never that close to playing and it might have taken at least a few games in to the playoffs for that to happen.”

So there you have it. We were only teased during that final week, but it wasn’t going to happen. But Stamkos and Steve Yzerman are confident that he’ll be 100 percent ready for the start of next season. Full recovery.


I don’t know if you saw the Michal Neuvirth collapse a couple of weeks ago, but it was pretty scary. And he says that it is the fall resulted in a concussion. He had been battling the flu and a sinus infection, and just got dizzy and fainted. He injured his neck and suffered a concussion when his head hit the ice.

Also in that article, no big surprise, but Michael Del Zotto figures that he won’t be back in Philly next year. He’s a UFA and is likely looking at signing as a bottom-pairing guy somewhere else in the league.


Not all has been bad for the Avalanche. At least a player they drafted, Will Butcher, was named the nation’s top college player by winning the Hobey Baker Award. They’ll add him next year and everything will be better. Wait, what? He’s not going to sign with the Avalanche? D’OH!

Rock. Bottom.

You can read our fantasy scouting report and outlook on Butcher here.


The Leafs seem to be a little coy about Nikita Zaitsev, but I’m getting the feeling that he’ll be ready to go on Thursday. I also get the feeling that it’s not a certainty, based on several different beatwriter Tweets on Tuesday.


RDS reports that Max Pacioretty took a stick to the face in practice and had to leave early. The current stance is that he’ll be fine for Game 1, but with playoffs you never know. Here’s the clip:


Per Elias, teams that win Game 1 in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series hold an all-time series record of 447-204 (68.7%).

Don’t forget so sign up for my Bracket Challenge and Dobbernomics – go here!