Ramblings: Jackets’ PP waking up? Penguins luck changing? Also Goalie contracts and more … (Jan 31)



Ramblings: Jackets’ PP waking up? Penguins luck changing? Also Goalie contracts and more … (Jan 31)


Before we get started – last call for the Midseason Guide! Released 19 days ago, this is really the last weekend I would consider it fully relevant until it starts losing some of its shine. A great read, gives you some perspective on players in the second half and long-term, and you’ll be supporting the site. Pick it up here – immediate download!


With two points last night, Adam Henrique has points in six straight and eight in that span. And it’s a little different because his two linemates – Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase – aren’t getting a piece of that action. And although Henrique is seeing tons of PP minutes, he’s not picking up his points that way (just three PPPts since joining Anaheim). Strikes me as a good time to sell on Henrique.

Interesting to see Jakob Silfverberg finally getting to play on the Ryan Getzlaf line – and Rickard Rakell. That’s something to keep an eye on, as Silfvy rarely gets this opportunity.

When Ryan Kesler returned to the lineup on December 27 he was immediately thrown on the first PP unit and given all that he could handle. But the guy missed half the season and certainly needs time to get back into things. Now he’s off the top power play and I kind of wonder if that was done backwards. Anyway, further to my Henrique thought, I suspect that in a couple of weeks we’ll see Kesler take his job back and Henrique slot back to the second unit. Three PPPts in about 64 minutes of PP time (Henrique) is not great.

John Gibson left the game late in the third due to an injury. It's the second straight game in which he started and had to leave early. You want to know why I'm a little hard on him in my goalie rankings? That's why. He was injury prone prior to turning pro and so I've always been cautious with him. Last night, Gibson owners missed out on a shutout by seven minutes because of the latest injury.

Ryan Spooner saw six minutes on the power play last night, thanks to Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy being out of the lineup. Danton Heinen was the other big winner as the Bruins pretty much went with one PP unit of four forwards around Torey Krug.


The Blue Jackets have scored a power-play goal in each of their last two games. Why do you care? Well, first of all they only had 17 PPG’s in the first 48 games of the season. Secondly, last year Alexander Wennberg had 23 PPPts and Cam Atkinson had 21 – and most of those were in the first half. Once the power play dried up, Wennberg and Atkinson continued scoring at their normal pace at even strength…but with zero PPPts. Without the power play, they’re 40-point players. So if the power play is awakening from its slumber, you will see those two players awaken as well. In fact, both of those players have two points in two games and they each have a point on – you guessed it – the power play. It’s very early, but if you’re looking for hope there it is.

Speaking of hopeful signs, Zach Parise had five shots on goal for the first time since returning January 2. He also scored two goals in the last four games and has the shootout winner last night. Again, very early, but again – hope.


I had been very concerned about Robin Lehner not earning a starting goalie contract with the Sabres next year. And then, a week ago when a GM in one of my keeper leagues who is very close to me acquired Lehner (okay, he’s my father) I cringed. Because as in most leagues, if you give up a proven goalie and don’t get one back you could really screw yourself. And in a package that saw him move Henrik Lundqvist and the only goalie in the package that he got back was Lehner, to me it was too risky. But Lehner had back-to-back shutouts last week and then last night was pretty solid giving up just two goals. Things are starting to look promising again and he’s eked his SV% up to 0.912.

Any Buffalo fans know why Evan Rodrigues is getting two minutes per game on the power play (three last night)?

With his goal last night Taylor Hall has 13 points in his last eight games. He’s on pace for 86 on a team that won’t have another player reach 55! He hasn’t missed a beat, returning last night from a three-game absence (hand injury).


The Panthers are in trouble with both James Reimer and Roberto Luongo on the IR. And who didn’t see that coming, with one guy a Band-Aid Boy and the other breaking down at the age of 38. So Harri Sateri has been the man, no matter how bad. And he was bad. For three games. But last night in his fourth he picked up his first NHL win. He’ll get the start Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday before both Reimer and Luongo could return for the Friday game on February 9. There’s an outside chance one of those two will be back by Tuesday, but that would be rushing. Besides, at this point they’re ‘fallin’ for Dahlin’.

Vincent Trocheck picked up two points last night and is eight points shy of last year’s career high (54). He’s 11th in the league in SOG with 171. I keep expecting him to slow down, though most of the underlying numbers don’t indicate such. But a 78-point pace? Last night he played with Denis Malgin and Jonathan Huberdeau.

How hot is Josh Bailey this season? It’s at the point now where I laugh while checking the box scores. Because no matter who scores, he’s getting an assist. Doesn’t matter if it’s a guy on the fourth line, a stay-at-home defenseman, or the goalie shooting at an empty net – Bailey is getting an assist. Of course you expect to see him there when John Tavares or Anders Lee score… but Adam Pelech? Anthony Beauvillier? When you’re hot, you’re hot.


Martin Jones continues to stumble. Thank goodness his six-year contract at $5.75 million per year, uh, hasn’t even started yet. That’s right – he’s still on the old contract. Ever see a team buy out a contract before it starts? Yeah I know you won’t see it this time either, but man would it be funny.

But Jones had to start because Aaron Dell had a couple of rough outings. And the team will do everything it can to make the contract worthwhile. So Jones is the man and he’ll be the man next year, no matter how bad. At least 55 games each year, this one and next.

With no Joe Thornton, here were San Jose’s line combos last night against the Pens:



















Ouch – poor Joe Pavelski. Assuming he can’t play with Couture or Hertl, I would rank Tierney third on my list of winger options and Boedker fifth.


With three points last night, Bryan Rust has four in three games since returning from injury. He played on the fourth line and that line was obviously effective. With a non-superstar line scoring, assuming it continues, it should open things up for the two big lines.

Pittsburgh lines:





















After 10 career NHL games, Colin White is still looking for his first point. His 21st birthday was last night (Tuesday). Plenty of time to get things on track. I’d like to see more at the AHL level though. And it’s not his fault, the Belleville Senators are made up of a bunch of stone-hands so he’s got nobody to play with there. If I’m running the franchise, I’d look into adding a couple of AHL vets who can produce, and I’d keep White there to start next year and get his confidence. And Belleville will get Drake Batherson and Logan Brown there to (hopefully) help next year.

In Magnus Paajarvi’s first game as a Senator he was put on a line with Derick Brassard and Ryan Dzingel, though he didn’t see power-play time. So it looks like the Senators were maybe hoping that the 26-year-old just needed a change of scenery all this time?

I think Ottawa will be trading J-G Pageau at the deadline and probably Mike Hoffman too. I also think they’ll get a pretty good return on those players and 2018-19 will be a transition year. They won’t need to rebuild for long, as I do like the players coming through the system. One guess I’ll add – Pageau goes to Pittsburgh.

Teuvo Teravainen has 38 points in his last 43 games. TT has definitely arrived.


Colton Parayko will face a suspension of some sort for this hit:


Jake Allen is St. Louis’ Golden Boy. But there’s no denying Carter Hutton right now. I’ve never been a Hutton fan, he’s always just seemed to be a guy who had been lucky to sign with strong defensive teams and then played adequately. But since December 16 he is 9-2-1, 1.61 and 0.949. But much like Jones in San Jose, Allen is the guy in St. Louis. And I suspect that they’ll trade Hutton in the summer rather than re-sign him, to avoid any goaltending controversy. You see it all the time, I made note of it two weeks ago when I last did the Ramblings. Winning a Cup, of course, would change that prediction. But generally speaking, teams will get rid of strong backups rather than risk goalie controversy. Rightly or wrongly, they believe that the starting goalie will play better if his job is safe and he knows he will play 60 games.


Vinnie Hinostroza has four points in his last three games. He also has eight SOG in that span and has been seeing top-unit PP time. He’s doing this despite getting the short end of the stick after the Hawks acquired Anthony Duclair.

Wow, it looks like the Jeff Glass honeymoon is over. After four straight ho-hum games out of Glass, Anton Forsberg got another chance and has seized the opportunity. With 43 saves on 44 shots for the victory last night, he’s stopped 65 of 67 for back-to-back wins. He’s had a hell of a time getting things going at the NHL level despite a successful AHL career, so if he’s gotten over that mental block, then he could be a hot goalie to ride over the next 30 games. Especially with Corey Crawford possibly out for the long term.


The Jets don’t want much to do with Michael Hutchinson. He had a decent 2014-15 and he rode that to a contract extension even though 2015-16 was weak. Well, 2016-17 was even worse and the Jets waived him. But then he was on a farm team that has Eric Comrie on it – and Winnipeg really wants Comrie to get lots of development time. The problem is, in 21 games for Manitoba, Hutchinson has a 0.942 SV% versus Comrie’s 0.916 (also in 21 games). So they call up Hutchinson when Steve Mason gets hurt, and he rides the pine because they still don’t trust him. Finally Paul Maurice decides to give him a start and extend Connor Hellebuyck’s break…and Hutchinson has a strong game. Just one goal allowed on 24 shots for the win. Just when you think he’s out of the NHL, he battles his way back. Hutchinson is a UFA this summer.


Nathan MacKinnon left the game with what they were saying looked to be a possible shoulder injury, though initially the play-by-play guys threw the "concussion" word around. No details were available, though it looked to me that any blow to the head was very glancing so I'm doubting it's a concussion. Official word is, of course, an "upper body injury". J.T. Compher saw added PP time and 20 minutes of ice time as a result.


I watched the third period of the Calgary-Vegas game but it’s getting late and frankly I’m out of words. But if you didn’t see this sequence of goals at the end of the game, check this out starting with Frolik’s sweet set-up at the 3:25 mark:


Off-the-cuff thoughts I jotted down over the past few days:

Sonny Milano’s window has closed. His situation reminded me of Kerby Rychel. The franchise and/or coach is losing faith. A couple of timely injuries happen and he gets back into the lineup and that’s his chance. He blows it, the players return from injury. The end. Happens all the time. Hard to say that about a guy who is only 21, as I’m sure he’ll get many more chances over the next three years. But my gut tells me this was the “big” one. The “real” chance. And now he’ll go the way of the (Seth) Griffith…

I picked up Jordan Schmaltz on the weekend and gave up Kevin Hayes for him in my keeper league (points only). Hayes strikes me as a Prospal – good one year, bad the next. But without the high ceiling Prospal had. I’m thinking he’ll be 55 and 40, 55 and 40, with maybe some smatterings of 60 in there if he ever gets on a good line. But right now he’s being leaned on in the defensive zone and as a secondary PP option. However, the Rangers are reportedly set to have a bit of a fire sale so we’ll see how the makeup of this team looks in the summer. He really could slot in anywhere for 2018-19 and that could mean a difference of 25 points. Anyway, he was expendable on my team and I needed to take a swing at a blue-line winner. Schmaltz is 24 (already) and needs to clear waivers next year. Given the Blues’ depth in the position, he could be used as trade bait for more immediate help (update: Elliotte Friedman agrees with me). So this is an all-or-nothing deal and in the end I didn’t mind losing Hayes for nothing if that’s how things turn out.

I voted on this a week and a half ago and I’d already make a few changes (McAvoy in, Jarry out, Sergachev down the list, Sakic in for Lou…), but here was my ballot…




I’ll see you in a couple of weeks




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