East playoffs, Getzlaf, expansion team scoring
In Saturday’s playoff action, the Senators take the advantage with a 5-4 overtime win over the Rangers, while the Capitals stave off elimination with a 4-2 win over the Penguins.
The two major storylines heading into Saturday’s game involved the two biggest names in the series.
For a player with repeated concussion issues, Sidney Crosby sure didn’t take long to return to the lineup. I say this because usually a player is off for at least a week with a concussion. But from all accounts Sid felt fine, and the opportunity was there for the Penguins to finish off the Capitals. Crosby ended with an assist on Phil Kessel’s second-period goal. There have been a million takes since Monday on the hit, so I won’t make you read one more.
Part of the media’s job is to add sizzle to a story. That story being the “demotion” of Alex Ovechkin to the third line for Game 5. But read between the lines and it’s not really a demotion. This “changing of the lines” was more of a reflection on the Capitals (who desperately needed to score some goals and win a hockey game) than Ovechkin (who entered the game with seven points in ten games). So Barry Trotz was just trying to spread out the scoring; to make the Capitals’ offensive attack less predictable.
Ovie finished the game with a goal and 17 minutes of icetime playing on a line with Lars Eller and Tom Wilson. Andre Burakovsky, who was moved up to the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, scored a goal and added an assist. So although these line combinations don’t seem like the best idea long term, they worked on Saturday.
For what it’s worth, Eller recorded two assists, while Wilson has been held without a point since scoring two goals in Game 4 of the Toronto series. So the line juggling worked for one player but not the other. It will be interesting to see if Trotz sticks to this arrangement for Game 6 on Monday.
For two guys not necessarily known as playoff clutch performers at all points during their careers, this is interesting:
I didn’t watch this entire game, but from the parts of it I did watch, it seemed as though both Henrik Lundqvist and Craig Anderson played better than their statlines suggested. Lundqvist in particular during the first period when he faced 15 shots; Anderson during the final two periods with some incredible saves.
I added a few Rangers to my daily league lineup because of their recent hot play, one of which was Michael Grabner. He paid off for me with an assist, which gives him points in four consecutive games. Add him when he’s piling up the points (particularly goals), and you probably know to stay as far away as possible when he’s on a cold spell.
Brady Skjei also recorded an assist, which is surprisingly his first of the playoffs. He’s already scored four goals, so he’s been far from a dud during the playoffs.
One cold Ranger who broke out of his goal-scoring slump was Jimmy Vesey, who scored his first-ever postseason goal to put the Rangers ahead in the third period.
Of course Erik Karlsson continues to get it done despite two hairline cracks in his heel. Three assists and a game-leading 31 minutes in icetime. The Senators are his team, and it’s plain to see that they wouldn’t be one game away from the Eastern Conference Final if he sat to let his injury heal.
Because I live on the West Coast, I’ve probably watched more of this series than any other one. And what Karlsson has been to the Senators, Ryan Getzlaf has been to the Ducks: the one player that has taken his entire team on his back.
Getzlaf’s eight goals ties him for first in that category, while his 15 points places him second in the scoring race. That playoff scoring run shouldn’t be as much of a surprise as you might think. If you reach back to the regular season, Getzlaf delivered for fantasy teams during March and April with 27 points in 18 games over those two months.
If Getzlaf is undervalued in fantasy drafts next season, it could be for the following reasons: 1) his age (he is about to turn 32), and 2) his assist-heavy totals at the center position. Getzlaf finished third overall in assists with 58 to go with just 15 goals. So if anything surprises you about Getzlaf’s playoff performance, it should be his goal total.
Interestingly enough, his statline very closely resembled blueliners Karlsson and Victor Hedman this past season. Of course, Karlsson and Hedman should be drafted higher simply because they are defensemen and Getzlaf is a center. To put it another way, Getzlaf might be the center you turn to if you’ve been relying on Joe Thornton all these years, now that Thornton appears to be on the decline.
Hey, I completed a fantasy hockey trade this week. It’s a bit of an unusual one in that it didn’t involve any players. One of my leagues has an entry draft for draft-eligible players. After the season, I held both the fifth and seventh overall picks in the draft (the fifth acquired in a trade).
Since the order for picks 3-12 in June’s draft are anyone’s guess, I didn’t see any clear advantage in holding these picks as opposed to the ones after me (picks 8-12). So I was able to swing a trade with the owner who owned both the first and second overall picks (one acquired in a trade, the other because he finished with the second-worst record). He agreed to send me his second overall pick for my fifth and seventh picks.
Basically he has his choice of Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier with the first pick, and I grab the other one with the second pick. He has more available roster spots on his team than I do, and he is still in a rebuild (as he has drafted both Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews over the past two seasons), so the deal makes sense on his end too. I’m attempting to avoid the full-on rebuild, since I think I still have some pieces that would make my team competitive. Plus I receive a much-needed top prospect, which is something I didn’t receive from winning the title for three consecutive seasons ending in 2015-16.
Over the long term, I might have overpaid if he drafts a player that has as strong a career as Patrick or Hischier. And I’m willing to bet that there will be a breakthrough player or two in that second tier. But from what I’ve read, opinions seem to vary widely as to who that player will be. Maybe he has some ideas. Or he could offer them in other trades. There are two new owners coming into this league, and neither has a pick in the draft because the previous owner traded it away.
Moral of the story when making trades: Don’t try to fleece the other owner. Most owners are smarter than that and won’t call your bluff. Make it a win-win. Use a trade as an opportunity to get what you want, but do it in a way that makes sense to the other owner’s team needs. I say this because I still receive trade offers that don’t address my team needs at all, and those are offers that I tend to reject without any sort of counteroffer.
Contrarian poll question time:
The sign of a good poll question occurs when the answer is nearly split down the middle.
Of course, Vadim Shipachyov will be a gamble since he has never played in the NHL. But he scored 76 points in just 50 games playing on a team with Ilya Kovalchuk (who scored just two more points in ten more games) and Pavel Datsyuk. So there’s a good chance that his skills will translate to the NHL level, although he won’t have the luxury of a Patrick Kane on his line like Artemi Panarin has had.
Given the replies to the question, there were a lot of varying opinions on Shipachyov’s projections for his first season. Everything from 50+ points from playing on an NHL team’s top line to a minus-50 from playing on a first-year team.
So for another angle, I decided to do a bit of research on expansion team scoring from the last four expansion teams: the 2001-02 Wild and Blue Jackets, the 1999-00 Thrashers, and the 1998-99 Predators. Namely, how many scorers from each team finished in the top 100.
2000-01 Wild: No top-100 scorers (team scoring leader Scott Pellerin finished 136th, and he did not play the entire season for the Wild)
2000-01 Blue Jackets: Three top-100 scorers (Geoff Sanderson, Steve Heinze, Espen Knutsen)
1999-00 Thrashers: One top-100 scorer (Andrew Brunette)
1998-99 Predators: Three top-100 scorers (Cliff Ronning, Greg Johnson, Sergei Krivokrasov). In fact Ronning finished in the top 50 of NHL scoring that season, but he played his first seven games of the season with the Coyotes.
So construction of the Golden Knights will also matter. If they are built in the mold of the first-year Wild, then Shipachyov might not be one to target. Potential Shipachyov owners should hope that the Knights are more like the first-year version of the Predators, which is a surprising comment in itself given that the Preds haven’t usually been known for their offense.
With the quality goalies likely to be available for the expansion draft (Marc-Andre Fleury and Ben Bishop come to mind), it’s possible that the Knights build from the net out. A defense-first strategy may not be the best system for Shipachyov if the expansion draft leaves them with little offense. On the other hand, one of these goalies could be used as a trade chip for some offense.
With Shipachyov and Reid Duke as only two forwards on the Knights’ roster, there’s also still a lot that has to play out before we anoint Shipachyov as the first-line center. Perhaps there will be a gem in the expansion draft. Or Vegas might be a roller (albeit not a high roller) in free agency. Their first-round pick may even impress in camp and take the NHL by storm for all we know. But if Shipachyov turns out to be that first-line center, then his prospects of being fantasy-relevant in an average-sized league look good.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.