Ramblings: Laine Injured; Four Points for Leon and Artemi; Lightning Strikes Four Times – March 21

Michael Clifford


Dylan Strome was recalled by the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. They have three games remaining this week, all on the road, in Buffalo, Carolina, and Florida.

You can read his Dobber Prospects profile here.

The third overall pick from 2015 started the season with the big club but was sent to the AHL after just a couple of games. He was called back up in November but sent back after nine games. In those 11 games, he amassed on point.

He did tear up the AHL though with 50 points in 47 games.

Arizona doesn’t score enough that it makes Strome a must-add for the balance of the season other than fantasy rosters where injuries may be piling up. Keep in mind that in his second stint earlier this year, he played 12:30 per game. If they give him that ice time again, it’ll be difficult for him to have any fantasy relevance.

This is more about next season. Can he find some chemistry with guys on the roster? Can he be a shooter or will he be more of a facilitator? We won’t have much of a sample to work with but it’s going to go a long way in determining his September ADP.


It was confirmed by the Winnipeg Jets that Jacob Trouba indeed has a concussion which was sustained from his hit on Jamie Benn. As with all concussions, there is no timeline for his return.

This guy just can’t catch a break. He was out for two months, returned for two games, and is now back on the shelf. Let’s just hope this isn’t any sort of lingering issue and he can come back as the excellent defenceman that he is.

I would expect a bump in ice time for Josh Morrissey as well as an increase for Dustin Byfuglien.


On the subject of injuries for defencemen, the season is over for Jason Demers. It has apparently been an injury that he’s been playing with all season and it’s just at the point to shut him down.

Truth be told, it’s incredible the season that Antti Raanta is having given the injuries to his blue line. Demers won’t crack 70 games played now and has apparently been playing injured for a while, Jakob Chychrun missed the first two months of the season, and Niklas Hjalmarsson missed a month and a half himself. A healthy blue line next year will go a long way in this franchise taking a step forward and Raanta repeating his numbers.


Ondrej Palat returned to the Tampa Bay lineup after missing two months with a lower-body injury. He was immediately slotted into the top-six, skating next to Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson.

It’s hard to figure out what to do here for the balance of the season. They have nine games left after Tuesday night’s tilt and Palat was never a guy to be an across-the-board performer in roto leagues. I suppose it would depend on the other options available in leagues. I will say I’m not running out to add him but certainly wouldn’t chastise someone for doing so. They do have a pretty favourable schedule remaining: two games against Boston and one against Nashville, and then the Islanders, Devils, Coyotes, Rangers, Sabres, and Hurricanes.


Though he’s not necessarily thought of as the prospect he was two or three years ago, Valentin Zykov made his first appearance with Carolina this season on Tuesday night. He started the game on the fourth line and was given some secondary power-play time.

You can read his Dobber Prospects profile here.

He had a pretty good year in the AHL with 32 goals in 61 games, but it should be noted that he managed those goals on nearly 30 percent shooting. Seriously, not a typo; he scored 32 times on just 110 shots. That’s a bit of a concern.

I’m skeptical he’ll have any fantasy impact, at least for this season. He’s definitely more relevant to those in dynasty leagues than those in the midst of redraft head-to-head playoffs.


The first goal of the Dallas/Washington game was courtesy of Tyler Seguin, his 39th of the season. The goal itself wasn’t anything special but the pass from Alexander Radulov sure was:

It takes some, uh, let’s call it guts, to go blind backhand across the middle of the ice, even if it’s on a power play. Radulov obviously knew where Seguin was and no one was there to intercept. It made for a beautiful play.


You know how it’s super fun to watch young players turn into stars while dazzling us with highlights night after night. Well, this is the opposite of that: Patrik Laine blocked a shot early in the second period in their game against Los Angeles, left the game, and did not return. The team is calling it a lower-body injury but they don't think it's long-term. Fingers crossed. 


Toronto blew a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 in regulation to Tampa Bay. Both Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman scored for the Lightning but it was Alex Killorn who scored the game-winning goal. Palat played just 12:25 in his return. 


An assist on the first Los Angeles goal gave Anze Kopitar 82 points this season, a career-high. One thing that has been nice to see on social media lately is a little push for Kopitar to get consideration for the Hart Trophy. I know there is a bevy of worthy candidates, and I overlooked Kopitar as well, but being over a point-per-game and 30 points clear of the next-highest forward point total speaks to just how much he’s meant to this team this season.


Mathew Barzal managed a primary assist on Anders Lee’s 36th goal of the season. About that primary assist:

That’s impressive. Then again, his entire season has been impressive.


Artemi Panarin had a four-point night, including a hat trick. He needs just two more points over the team’s remaining eight games to crack 70 points for the third straight season. That should about put to bed any notion that he was a product of Patrick Kane.


Leon Draisaitl equaled Panarin, managing a four-point night of his own, though with one goal and three assists. He’s now up to 66 points in 69 games and is about on pace for what he did last year. It’s worth noting that with four shots on goal in this game, he surpassed last year’s shot total (172). Though he’s playing about 30 more seconds a game, he did it in 13 fewer contests. An extra 30 seconds a night doesn’t do that. It’s nice to see him shooting more.


Evgeny Svechnikov scored his first of hopefully many goals in the NHL against the Flyers. He also played under nine minutes while Martin Frk played under eight minutes.

Dylan Larkin scored goals 10 and 11 with eight total shots on goal. It was his first two-goal game since late October… of 2016. Those two goals on eight shots brings his shooting percentage up to 5.3 percent. He also has 52 points, only eight of which are on the power play. Seems to me there’s a lot of reason to think he can soar past 60 points next year.


With his 30th goal of the season Tuesday night, Logan Couture reached the mark for the first time since 2011-12, and has a good chance of breaking his personal best of 32. Just be warned that he's shooting a career-high 16.6 percent and his shot volume has remained low compared to earlier in his career for the third season in a row. 


For the second time in four contests, Semyon Varlamov faced 45 shots and only allowed one goal. It was also the third time in nine games this month that Varlamov faced at least 40. As long as he's not allowing soft goals, this is great news for fantasy owners. But it's a thin line between a healthy shot volume and getting shelled. 


Florida had seven different goal scorers tally in their rout of the Senators. The only player with more than two points was Jared McCann who managed a goal and two assists. Frank Vatrano also scored, adding an assist and seven more shots.  

The entire top line for Florida had a goal and an assist apiece.


Tuesday was the first day of spring and in the spirit of the season, I thought I would look back on a few players who… wait for it… sprung ahead this year compared to expectations.

*dodges tomatoes*


Timo Meier

Once a highly-touted prospect gets to his age-21 season without a full year under his belt, and then begins that age-21 season with four points in two months, one starts to wonder whether said prospect will live up to the hype. It’s safe to say that since the poor start to the season, Meier has lived up to the hype.

Since December 1st, Meier leads the Sharks in shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five (17.79) and goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five (1.27). League-wide, his shot attempts rank in the top-20 among all forwards, trailing just behind James Neal (17.82), and his goals are inside the top-15, sandwiched between Evgenii Dadonov and Sebastian Aho. It’s worth noting that Meier’s shooting percentage (12.73) is lower than both Dadonov (15.19) and Aho (16.88). Meier’s closest comparable in shot attempts, goals, and shooting percentage at five-on-five over the last four-ish months is Taylor Hall. That’s pretty good!

Meier shot a ton last year but wasn’t finishing. He has been finishing this year and it’s giving fantasy owners that feeling he’s finally turned the corner. If he can earn top PP minutes consistently next season, there should be a full-fledged breakout on our hands.


Sean Couturier

I’m not sure there are (m)any established players who took a big a step forward this season as Couturier. With his goal Tuesday night, he’s doubled his previous career-high (15) in his sixth 82-game season. That same goal gave him 30 more points than his previous career-high (39) in his sixth 82-game season and he added an assist to make it 31. One more shot on goal and he’ll have 50 more than his previous career-high (165) in his sixth 82-game season. And, well, you get the point.

Ice time and teammates have a lot to do with it, to be sure. His previous three seasons saw him average about 18:30 per game and this season he’s added about three minutes to that number. It’s a lot. He also seemed to find a lot of chemistry with Claude Giroux, who was moved to the wing.

If he can sustain this ice time, I’m not sure there’s much of a drop-off next year. He’s shooting 12.5 percent at five-on-five, which might seem high, but he shot 12.75 percent in 2016-17 and has two other seasons of at least 10 percent. The team is shooting 10.3 percent with him on the ice, which is a career-high, but he was at least 8.6 percent in each of the previous three seasons. So each of those percentages may pull back, but maybe not by much.

There’s also room to improve on the power play. Despite playing on that prolific top PP unit, Couturier has just 13 PPPs. Were his five-on-five numbers to decline – and again, it may not be by much – he can make it up with the man advantage. Long story short, if he maintains this role next year, his production may not decline by that much. I wouldn’t be worried about too much regression.


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