Ramblings: Band-Aid Boys, Cy Young winners, Hart winners, a sleeper defenseman and more … (Mar 12)




My take on the Hart Trophy going to a player on a team that didn’t make the playoffs? I’m fine with it as long as the team is close. If the team is nowhere near the playoffs (ahem, Edmonton) then I don’t think that player can be the player judged to be most valuable to his team. Because a team near last place in the league, without that “valuable” player, would…what, be even worse? Thank goodness Edmonton had Conner McDavid because instead of being 26th in the league they would have been…all the way down to 29th? Wow. Valuable.

Meanwhile, New Jersey isn’t a great team. Better than I thought and far exceeding everyone’s expectations, but not a great team at all. And while they may just barely miss the playoffs (that’s what I predict, anyway), without Taylor Hall this team would have been out of it in January. Nathan MacKinnon would get my first-place vote though, with Hall next and then my next three picks are tough. Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy are both equally valuable to Tampa Bay, and most of the other top teams have similar MVP vote splits (Subban/Rinne, Malkin/Kessel, Winnipeg/Everybody, Barkov/Huberdeau/Trocheck). If Brad Marchand didn’t get so many fines and suspensions this year he would have gotten my third-place vote, but that’s obviously out the window now. I’d probably look very closely at Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Marchessault and Eric Staal as my other three votes. Where do you stand on this whole “only vote for players on playoff teams” thing?


The next generation of Band-Aid Boy superstars – Jack Eichel and Brock Boeser? Not official, of course, but I’ve got a strong hunch that is only getting stronger. I had that feeling about Boeser after this play on December 17…

This was his second injury of the season, after missing one game in October with a foot injury. But then he came back the next game after the above blocked shot so I put it out of my mind. Then last month he had a hand injury and again just one game. And now this latest one that has him out for the season. Flukes? Yes. But that’s what happens to Band-Aid Boys. They get hit by fluke after fluke, and some of those flukes lead to re-injury or favoring one part of the body at the expense of another. For now, I have both he and Eichel penciled in as “trainees”. But I’ll be cautious with them moving forward in keeper trade talks or one-year summer drafts. All things being equal, I’ll take a similar player without that risk instead.


This year’s Cy Young Award winner (so far)? Michael Grabner, who has 25 goals and six assists. He beats out Artem Anisimov, who scored his 20th goal Sunday to go with his eight assists. Anders Lee (33-20) and James Neal (24-16) would also get consideration…


Speaking of Grabner, he’s pointless in eight games with the Devils.


By most accounts, Brian Gionta was horrible at the Olympics. I can’t say for myself as I only saw all of two periods of Team USA action. Just going by what I read from several sources, respected hockey minds. But he has six points in his first six games for Boston and even though he was pointless Sunday he had seven shots on goal. I wholeheartedly buy into the “new team adrenalin” production spike, but I’m still finding this one hard to believe.

Danton Heinen is pointless in his last six games – the six that he’s played with Rick Nash and Gionta in the lineup. His ice time has also averaged around 12 minutes during that span, when it was 15:30 per game prior to that. No surprise there, but I guess just disappointing. But you can’t fault the coach when Nash and Gionta are both doing outstanding. Heinen is a dropsy in all one-year leagues because I don’t see this changing barring two key forward injuries.


The question on everyone’s mind – is Anthony Duclair going to get a hearing for that dirty hit on Brad Marchand Saturday that left Marchand day-to-day with an upper-body injury?


I was just trolling you. But still…makes you think. If Marchand was hurt on the play, why would he do it intentionally? Marchand has missed one game already and it sounds as though he’ll miss at least one more, from what I’ve read.


Erik Gustafsson is a must-own short-term pickup. The Blackhawks defenseman may just be doing what Jordan Oesterle did two months ago, but the fact remains that he’s hot right now. White hot. Two points Sunday, three Saturday and one last Tuesday. The 25-year-old had 14 points in half a season with the Hawks two years ago but spent last year in Rockford posting middling numbers. This year, however, he’s been going nuts down there with 17 points in 25 games. Now in the NHL he has 11 points in 23 games. Both his points Sunday were on the power play and now it’s his turn to get the opportunity that Oesterle had. If you recall, Oesterle was given a ton of ice and PP time for about 25 games. He was hot for the first 10 and then did nothing for 15 before Joel Quenneville started rolling back the experiment. Looks like he’s doing the same thing with Gustafsson now. Oesterle didn’t seize his chance – possibly his only chance ever. Will Gustafsson?

Oesterle was off the PP Sunday while Gustafsson saw over five minutes. Lefty shots on the team are Duncan Keith, Gustafsson and Oesterle. Righty shots are Brent Seabrook, Jan Rutta and Connor Murphy.


Jonathan Toews has nine points in his last six games. Patrick Kane was on the ice for all nine of those points. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that Toews is a 55-point player without Kane, and a 70-point player with Kane. He spent the first half of the season with Brandon Saad and Richard Panik, the third quarter of the season with Saad and Vinnie Hinostroza…and now it’s Saad and Kane. How Toews will do in 2018-19 depends mightily and absolutely on whether or not Kane is on his line. For a prognosticator such as myself – the question is not in predicting his points by looking at historical stats and advanced stats in this case. It’s trying to guess the mindset of the coach and looking at the depth chart this summer. Will he play with Kane again next year and will it stick throughout? Such pressure! It ain’t easy, man…


Johnny Boychuk, with no PP time, picked up three points and was plus-5 Sunday. The Isles were 8-11-3 with Boychuk out of the lineup and are 22-18-7 with him in. That’s about six points (give or take) lost because of his injuries, which is enough to put them right around Columbus in the standings.

Mat Barzal has been shut out of four of his last five games. Josh Bailey has just three points in his last 10 games and is now in danger of losing his point-per-game status (has 65 in 65 right now).


Calgary defensemen combined for 22 shots against the Islanders. All Calgary forwards other than Sean Monahan combined for 23 shots. I found that interesting. Definitely a back-heavy team. Monahan, by the way, had seven shots. His 190 on the season are just nine shy of his career high.

Of interest to you, however, is the man who stopped most of those shots. Chris Gibson stopped 50 of 52 shots and remains undefeated in regulation (1-0-2) this year. He’s faced 138 shots – or 46 per game! I still don’t like him long-term (yet), but he’d been solid for Bridgeport. Short term I think he’s a good option if you’re desperate because Thomas Greiss is hurt and Jaroslav Halak is 0-4-2 in his last six games.


Riley Sheahan has 26 points in his last 51 games. This is the Sheahan we all expected when he had 36 in 72 back in 2014-15 and it took a trade to Pittsburgh to get there. His confidence is back and it doesn’t hurt that he’s seeing regular duty with Phil Kessel and Derick Brassard. I think he still has another gear yet, though his ceiling is still limited to fewer than 50 points. I think he’ll flirt with that number next year if he continues to be implemented this way.

Jim Rutherford has really dug up the gems this year. Aside from Sheahan, Jamie Oleksiak has been a revelation. He’s eating up more than 17 minutes per game for the Penguins and has 10 points in 35 games since joining them. He also has 52 PIM in those 35 games not to mention he’s been a hit machine. With Dallas he had 36 hits in 21 games (1.71/game). With Pittsburgh – 116 in 35 (3.31)!


Why the Dallas Stars will go nowhere in the playoffs – Jason Dickenson, Antoine Roussel, Remi Elie and Jason Spezza each saw below 10 minutes of ice time Sunday. Four forwards! Plus Brett Ritchie was at 11:03. That meant that each player on the top line (Alexander Radulov, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin) saw more than 22:30. You can’t win in the playoffs like that. Granted, Sunday was an extreme example due to Pittsburgh spending half the game in the box. But still…


Brendan Leipsic has been shut out of two straight games, but regardless his six points in six games with Vancouver have my attention. He’ll only get this kind of opportunity next season if a) Vancouver doesn’t sign another Thomas Vanek and b) if Adam Gaudette doesn’t make the team. If those things happen, then I like Leipsic’s outlook next year. That’s in relative terms, of course, since nobody other than Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser will reach 50 points on this squad next campaign.

Since returning to the lineup, Richard Panik has four points in six games for the Coyotes and is seeing top PP duty.

Last week I plugged Kevin Connauton as a player to grab. Since then – pointless and minus-3 in four games. You’re welcome.

Hey, I grabbed him myself so he failed me just as much!


Darcy Kuemper has a 0.932 SV% in 15 games with LAK, he must be an awesome goalie!”

Darcy Kuemper has a 0.906 SV% in five games with ARI, he must be a terrible goalie!”

You have five or six truly elite talented goalies and then you have about 50 average goalies…and from there it comes down to opportunity, coaching and contract. That’s what I let guide me with my fantasy hockey goaltending. Is there a c-word for opportunity? I’d like to have a “three c’s” thing for my goalie theory for when I preach.


Florida signed undrafted prospect Patrick Bajkov. Presumably to confuse Florida’s play-by-play guy (Barkov, to Bajkov, to Barkov, I mean Bajkov – scores!). As an overager, Bajkov has 93 points in 68 games for Everett of the WHL.


I was going to post the Top Prospects list Saturday but then I got sucked into going through them thoroughly. Usually I make adjustments throughout the month and then put three hours or so into them on the 10th of the month and then post. But every three or four months I kind of get sucked into the rabbit hole and delve deep. Long story short, I’ll try to have them up by tonight or tomorrow. I’m about halfway through right now.


Here are the latest 20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts. See you next week!






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  Players Team GP G A P
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7


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