Ramblings: Blue Line ADPs for Next Year; Eichel Returns to Practice – March 14

Michael Clifford


The big injury news from Tuesday was Jack Eichel returning to the Sabres and participating in a full practice. He was slotted in his usual second line position as well as the top power-play unit. The original diagnosis for his high-ankle sprain was four to six weeks and a return on Thursday would be about four and a half weeks.

Everyone around the Sabres was hesitant to say that Eichel was guaranteed to return Thursday and they do have another full practice on Wednesday morning. We should know more then. It would be a huge boost to those in the midst of their head-to-head playoffs.


Andreas Johnsson was called up by the Leafs from the AHL and it looks like he’ll be in the lineup on Wednesday when Toronto hosts Dallas.

The 23-year old is a point-per-game player for the Marlies this season.

It’s uncertain how long he will stay with the big club and given that he’s in a fourth-line role, there won’t be much fantasy impact even with his second-unit PP slotting. It is a nice showcase for dynasty owners though to finally be able to assess what they have in Johnsson.

You can read his Dobber profile here.


Bad news for the Bruins and their fans as Patrice Bergeron will be out another week. There is no need to rush him back, really, as the team is 6-1 since his injury and they have a nine-point cushion on Toronto with a game in hand. They need him healthy for a month from now, not today.

That doesn’t help fantasy owners who will be without Bergeron for this week of H2H playoffs. Should he return next week, though, it is a four-game week for Boston. Hang in there.


Kevin Shattenkirk has been shutdown in his attempt to return to the Rangers lineup. It’s not officially the end of his season, they’re just giving him a few days off before reassessing him.

I don’t see there being much reason for him to return in 10 or so days for 7-8 games at the end of a lost season but I’m not the coach or the GM. Either way, fantasy owners should prepare as if he will not return for this campaign.


After leaving Calgary’s last game with an upper-body injury, Matthew Tkachuk missed Tuesday night’s matchup against the Oilers. We have no further word at this time.

It’s a huge blow for fantasy owners at the moment. He’s one of those guys that produces so well across the board that you can’t replace him with a waiver pickup. Sam Bennett would be the short-term fix but keep your fingers crossed that it’s just the one game for Tkachuk.


Paul Stastny appeared to tweak something in warmups and was a late scratch for the Jets in their road game against Nashville.


Mike Smith bounced back in a big way for the Flames, shutting out the Oilers 1-0, saving 28 along the way. After the loss to the Islanders, they needed their top goalie to regain form, and he did exactly that. 


Goals are usually the focal point among highlights but a behind-the-net, behind-the-back pass is about as pretty as highlights come. Thank you for this, David Pastrnak:

Yes, that was Brad Marchand finishing the play. He returned to the lineup after missing a game following his clothesline of Anthony Duclair.

That game was absolutely bananas, by the way. Boston was trailing 4-1 with 10 minutes remaining in the third period and won 6-4. Yes, they scored five goals in about eight and a half minutes. David Pastrnak scored a hat trick in six minutes and 26 seconds. His four-point night now makes him a point-per-game player on the season with 68. 

That comeback was made with Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Jake DeBrusk out of the game due to injury. We'll pass on the information as we get it. 


Speaking of weird games, Ottawa, a team playing back-to-back on the road, put up a seven-spot on Tampa Bay for a 7-4 win. Some goals were of the lucky/fluky variety, but that's a very bad look for the Lightning. No one really went off for the Sens – Mike Hoffman led the way with two goals – but it was just one of those nights. 

That gives Hoffman four consecutive 20-goal seasons.

JT Miller did most of the damage for the Bolts with his first hat trick in a Lightning uniform, totalling 10 shots total. Both Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov had three assists. 

Andrei Vasilevskiy was in the cage for six goals on 29 shots before mercifully being pulled after the second period. His save percentage since January 1st is now .910. Maybe give him some a few more nights off? 


Colorado managed an important 5-1 win in Minnesota but the Wild have to be more concerned with Jared Spurgeon. He took a nasty spill and left the game. Here's what happened:

We won't have an update until Wednesday afternoon at the earliest but playoffs are a month away. Anything longer than that could be a serious blow to Minnesota's hope of a deep postseason run. 

Tyson Barrie had a power-play assist in this game, his 21st such assist this season. Fun fact: among all defencemen with 55 games played this year, Barrie is first in points per game. 


Jeff Carter has six goals in nine games, including two in Tuesday's 4-3 shootout loss to Arizona. He's averaging just under four shots on goal per game in that span. 


Jeff Petry had a power-play assist in Montreal's 4-2 win over Dallas. He added a shot, three blocks, and a hit for good measure. I talk about him a little later in these Ramblings. 

Brendan Gallagher scored his 26th of the season and had six shots on goal total. That brings him to 235 shots this season which means he needs 20 more over the team's final 12 games to set a career-high. 


I’ve been starting to think of next year’s drafts a little bit. One guy whose ADP I’m excited (read: intrigued) to see is Mikhail Sergachev.

I wonder how many people realize he has zero goals and 10 assists in 32 games since Christmas? All his damage, fantasy-wise, came before the holiday break. With the addition of Ryan McDonagh, next season Sergachev will be, at best, fourth on the depth chart for Lightning blue liners at five-on-five. He might also be lucky to see any significant secondary PP minutes.

Sergachev clearly has a bright future as a fantasy option but it’ll probably have to wait another year. I imagine he’ll be drafted inside the top-50 defencemen next season, however. That feels like a waste of a draft pick to me, though there is a lot of time between now and then.  


Speaking of future ADPs, Oscar Klefbom’s should be fun. He’s been playing injured all season and the power play has suffered because of it. He was a popular pick from a lot of people – yours truly included – for a full-fledged breakout in 2017-18. Uh, what I mean to say is a breakout in 2018-19. Yeah, that’s it…


To round out a trio of rearguards whose ADP should be interesting come September is Jeff Petry. Since Shea Weber’s injury in the middle of December, Petry has 22 points in 36 games with half those points coming on the power play. He’s earning a couple more minutes of ice time overall which is obviously going to decline with a healthy Weber, but it’s the power play that is interesting.

There was a good article just over a month ago from the Montreal Gazette from Marc Dumont which touched on Montreal’s power-play improvement post-Weber. Since then, the power play is near the bottom of actual goals scored but closer to the middle of the league in expected goals scored (from Corsica). The days of big defencemen just bombing shots from the blue line is long gone; you see top power plays in the league now that rely on puck movement rather than 55-foot slap shots.

The question is whether the coaching staff actually decides to supplant Weber with Petry on the top PP unit when both are healthy. I really doubt it because the veteran with previous success will always priority, but if Petry is cheap enough at the draft, it might be worth gambling on him eventually taking over the top quintet next season.


Speaking of Shea Weber, it has been reported that he finally had his foot surgery and is going to need six months of recovery. That would put him in line for a training camp return and likely ready for the start of the season. As long as there aren’t any setbacks, of course.


We’ve reached the point of the season were awards debates are inevitable. This year has been particularly contentious for the Hart Trophy. There are so many candidates to make reasonable arguments for: Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, Evgeni Malkin, Blake Wheeler, Aleksander Barkov, both Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron had they played more games, and so on. That’s on top of the usual, “is it the best season or the most valuable” argument.

Dobber wrote about this in his Ramblings on Monday morning and this will largely echo his sentiment.

The NHL defines the winner of the Hart Trophy as the most valuable to his team. You want to reward the player with the best statistical season? We have the Art Ross Trophy. You want to reward the top goal scorer? That’s what the Rocket Richard does. Best defenceman? Norris. Top goaltender? Vezina. We already have categories for players at every position to be recognized as the best. Awarding the Hart Trophy simply to the skater with the best statistical season is redundant.

That’s why it’s judged as most valuable to his team. The goal of every team, every regular season, is to make the playoffs (unless you’re the Leafs and Sabres of a few years back). McDavid is having another great season. If this great season pushes the Oilers from 29th in the league to 25th in the league, what value did he bring to the team in the regular season outside of selling tickets at the gate as the marquee player in the league?  Were he to have some other-worldly performance like a 130-point campaign, it’s another discussion. If we want to have a separate discussion on changing the wording of qualifications of the recipient of the Hart Trophy, we can. For now, the wording explicitly indicates value to the team. 

Finally, if you just want to give it to the best player, then Sidney Crosby should have about seven of them, and McDavid is going to win 15 in a row if he stays healthy. If that’s the case, what’s the point of the award?



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