Ramblings: Game 1 Talk, Vegas Mock Draft Fun (May 31)

Ian Gooding

2017-05-31

Game 1 analysis, Vegas mock draft

So, wasn’t that a bizarre Game 1?

I mean, when does a team ever win when taking just 12 shots on goal? It was weird seeing a graphic on the top-right corner of the CBC broadcast screen continually showing the last shot that the Penguins took. It’s easy to criticize the Pens and say they got lucky winning this game. But Nashville’s defense… you can see why Evgeni Malkin said they have four Erik Karlssons. Both in terms of blocked shots (nine among Nashville blueliners) and points (Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, and P.K. Subban rank second, third, and fifth respectively in playoff scoring among defensemen).

Usually that shot total would be the story of the night. Instead it was Subban’s goal that was reversed by an offside challenge. This call turned out to be hugely unpopular, not necessarily because the goal itself was reversed but because it took about six minutes to decide when video evidence appeared inconclusive to reverse the call. Not a good look for the NHL on NBC when it’s trying to market itself as a more exciting and less predictable option than the NBA playoffs, Charles Barkley notwithstanding.

But I’m going to go Contrarian here again (since Demetri is no longer writing here). I would take careful, critical analysis of a goal over the officials accidentally making what is clearly a wrong call. Video evidence shows that the referees get it right (or at least close to right) most of the time. I don’t mind taking a moment to get it right, though. It would sure beat a team losing a game over a bad call. After all, remember that video replay is also used in football (although I still don’t know what a catch is) and baseball (it sure doesn’t help speed up a game that’s already too slow for many kids).

Yes, let’s find a way to refine video review. Maybe restrict it to two or three minutes, and if you can’t decide by then, the call stands? But let’s also not forget why it is there in the first place.

We could also debate offside here. A friend of mine suggested changing the rule back to the puck going over the line first with no toe dragging. There’s also the idea of making more significant changes to the offside rule or even eliminating it. That’s a whole other discussion that I won’t expand on here.

Since this is a fantasy hockey website, what are the fantasy implications to the offside challenge? It’s one more factor that is bringing goal totals down, although likely by a nominal amount (I couldn’t find any numbers on the number of goals reversed by offside challenges). But having more reasons to challenge calls on the ice has the potential to bring goal totals down even more. That can’t be good for building interest in the game.

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Some more details were released on Tuesday regarding the Vegas roster situation:
 


So with the season almost over, I’m starting to get excited about this expansion draft now. I mean, we’re talking about an event that will have far-reaching consequences – all 30 existing teams will be affected. I don’t know what we have planned at Dobber Hockey to cover the fantasy implications of an entire team’s roster being filled, but I imagine we’ll have something. I’m pretty sure this site wasn’t around when the last expansion teams (Minnesota and Columbus) joined the NHL, so this will be a first.

So out of interest, I decided to check out Cap Friendly’s Expansion Draft tool. Here you can either decide which players from each team to protect or use the quick protect, which is much faster and is based on popularity. Once you quick protect, you can again view each roster to review and make additional changes. For example, the quick protect exposed Jakob Silfverberg, but if I’m to believe Dobber, Silfverberg will be protected. So I’ll step out on a limb and assume that Kevin Bieksa (who has a no-movement clause) is bought out, or that Bieksa somehow agrees to waive that no-move clause.
 


I quickly glanced at all the other teams, so for the most part I just assumed that the masses knew what they were doing and only made a few changes. My most noticeable switch after the Anaheim one was Tampa Bay protecting Vladislav Namestnikov instead of Alex Killorn, as I think the Lightning wouldn’t mind exposing that contract in order to make room for pending UFAs. I also waived Marc-Andre Fleury’s no-movement clause, just because his name has been discussed so often.

It was interesting to see what a team like Nashville will probably do, which is to protect only four forwards so that they can keep their big four blueliners (Subban, Josi, Ellis, Mattias Ekholm) intact. As a result, one of Vegas’ top players could very well be picked from Nashville’s top secondary scoring options. If a team wants to keep more than three defensemen, they would need to expose two additional forwards.

Okay, so now I’m ready to go, so I click on the Draft Team tab and pick my team. This exercise wasn’t easy, because I was still under the cap floor of $43.8 million after I picked one from every team and I still needed one more 2017-18 contract. You can’t just draft what you think is the top young player from each team; you have to consider larger contracts that are less desirable as well.

 

You can view my team complete with salary info here.

I figure that Vegas will be strongest in net with the surplus of strong 1A and backup goalies out there. Looking back, I probably didn’t need to draft three NHL-caliber goalies, but Vegas could be in a position of strength to trade one of them for some help elsewhere.

The defense is basically a mix of youth and experience. The Isles may keep Ryan Pulock, but it may also come at the expense of one forward, with possibly Brock Nelson as one of them. If Pulock is grabbed by the Knights he’ll be in a very good spot as a potential power-play QB that can grow with the team.

Mike Cammalleri, Alex Killorn, and Jason Zucker are all capable of battling for spots on the top line, along with Vadim Shipachyov. All three expansion draft forwards are listed at multiple positions. Calle Jarnkrok would be the forward that Nashville would lose, and he could slot in as the second-line center. I’ll also assume that the Golden Knights will roll the dice on Mikkel Boedker after a down season in San Jose. Obviously this team will struggle to score in its first season. Right now I’d project its top scorer to finish with around 50 points.

This team that I have picked isn't perfect by any means. And I’m expecting to receive the “you should have drafted Player X” or "there's no way in the world Player Y will get picked" in the comments. But remember, it’s all about the player’s current team deciding whether or not to keep that player to begin with. We don’t know what’s going through the heads of the 30 current team GMs, nor do we know which George McPhee and his team will covet. That’s part of the fun.

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One news item to store in the memory bank for next season’s drafts: Derick Brassard may miss the start of the season after undergoing surgery on a torn labrum (NHL.com). Maybe this means Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s strong play during the playoffs could lead to an increased role to start the 2017-18 season.

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For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
CONNOR MCDAVID EDM 4 5 4 9
SEBASTIAN AHO CAR 5 3 7 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 4 2 6 8
QUINN HUGHES VAN 4 1 6 7
BO HORVAT VAN 4 4 3 7
PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS CBJ 5 4 4 8
AUSTON MATTHEWS TOR 4 2 4 6
LEON DRAISAITL EDM 4 3 3 6
MIRO HEISKANEN DAL 5 2 5 7
ANDREI SVECHNIKOV CAR 5 4 3 7

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency NYR Players
30.7% PAVEL BUCHNEVICH ARTEMI PANARIN MIKA ZIBANEJAD
25.3% KAAPO KAKKO CHRIS KREIDER RYAN STROME
19.1% FILIP CHYTIL BRETT HOWDEN BRENDAN LEMIEUX

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