Ramblings: What Now For Holtby and Schneider, Playoff Sleepers, plus more…
A lot has happened this past season that no one in their right minds would have believed. The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche making the playoffs. Claude Giroux reaching 100 points. Nathan MacKinnon reaching 95 points. William Karlsson scoring 40 goals. Carey Price with a goals-against average of over 3.00. Not even the fearless forecaster would have predicted those ones!
In terms of truly unexpected happenings from the start of the season until now, where would Philipp Grubauer and Keith Kinkaid starting Game 1 of the playoffs for their respective teams rank? Each team is starting the goalie that has played better this season, and the playoffs can be too short for a team to be patient with a struggling goalie.
In a previous Ramblings, I attempted to assess the pre-draft value of Carey Price for next season. So where do Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider rank relative to Price? Holtby (ADP: 13.3) was considered an elite goalie who wasn’t drafted far behind Price (ADP: 5.9). Schneider (ADP: 96.1) was drafted a little further back, but his lower ranking had more to do with the lack of optimism about his team’s situation than his overall talent.
I haven’t projected either the Capitals or the Devils to go on a long playoff run, but you never know what might happen. If either Grubauer or Kinkaid struggle or get injured over the first couple games, Holtby or Schneider could be back between the pipes before the series ends. A long playoff run with either could re-cement their status as the starter and revitalize their fantasy values. Again, I don’t place a high likelihood of that happening at the moment. But things can change.
In spite of their struggles, Holtby and Schneider are likely to be back as their teams’ starters next season. But like Price, fantasy owners won’t have nearly the amount of faith that they had entering the 2017-18 season. Of the three, I’m still tempted to rank Price the highest because he has the strongest foothold on his team’s starting job, even though his team is in the worst shape of the three. Right now, anyway. Maybe I rethink that over the summer; after all, I am allowed to change my mind because I don’t need to make this kind of decision until September. Fantasy rankings are not a stationary object.
Kinkaid has one more season under contract after this one, so I could also see the Devils trying to make it work with a pure tandem while he’s under contract. Schneider hasn’t earned a win since December 27 (he had actually won five in a row at that point) while Kinkaid has recorded a 2.25 GAA and .932 SV% since February 15. But remember that teams think in terms of the size of their investments, as Schneider has been promised $6 million per season for four more seasons while Kinkaid earns $1.25 million. Regardless, a timeshare would mean that you wouldn’t be drafting a Jersey goalie anywhere near the top 100.
But the Capitals will have a decision to make in the offseason with Grubauer, who will be an RFA. The Capitals are right up against the cap, so trading Grubauer and sticking with Holtby for the final two years of his contract might be an option that they are forced to strongly consider. Factor in the John Carlson situation and it’s really hard to know what the Capitals will do with Grubauer. So we’d really have to wait until the end of the playoffs and the offseason to know where to project Holtby’s value for next season.
One goalie situation that should be a timeshare next season: the Florida Panthers. Roberto Luongo has confirmed that will be back for his 19th NHL season. If you think that the 39-year-old Luongo is too old to be a starter anymore, consider that his ratios (2.47 GAA, .929 SV%) were significantly better than those of James Reimer (2.99 GAA, .913 SV%). Yes, Luongo still has that contract that he says sucks (for four more years at $4.53 million), while Reimer has three more years at $3.4 million.
Just for fun, I’ve picked one playoff sleeper per team. I’ve picked what I think is one non-elite player on each team that could break out with an impressive playoff. These might not be deep sleepers in the spirit of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, but they are players that could provide value in your format nevertheless. Reasons I have picked these players include recent hot streaks, icetime increases, linemates, and just plain ol’ hunches. But you won’t catch me playing it safe with Sidney Crosby on this list.
Tampa Bay – J.T. Miller – 18 points, including 10 goals, in 19 games as a Bolt
Boston – David Krejci – 77 points in 96 career playoff games
Toronto – Nazem Kadri – Players who are able to get under opponents’ skins are extremely valuable and can also be so on the scoresheet
Pittsburgh – Justin Schultz – The X-factor in the one fantasy league that I won – 7 points in last 7 games
Philadelphia – Nolan Patrick – Much better second half and increased usage, including power-play time
Nashville – Craig Smith – In one box pool I picked him over Tomas Hertl, Ondrej Kase, Alexander Kerfoot, Mikko Koivu, and James Neal. Maybe I picked him because I think Nashville will make it out the West, but his P/G was also higher than any of those players.
Winnipeg – Kyle Connor – Whether or not he is a product of his linemates, he did score 31 goals
Minnesota – Zach Parise – 15 goals in 42 games, which over a full season amounts to nearly 30 goals himself
Colorado – Tyson Jost – TOI has increased from around 12-13 minutes in the first half to 16 minutes in March and April
Vegas – Erik Haula – In all of Vegas’ accomplishments was one goal shy of 30 himself
Anaheim – Josh Manson – Never was a huge Manson guy in fantasy until I added him late in the season in one league and turned out to be my best defenseman over the final two weeks
San Jose – Evander Kane – Style well suited for playoffs even though he’s never been there, 14 points in 17 games as a Shark
Los Angeles – Tanner Pearson – Always seems to be on the scoring lines in LA
And of course… you can get your Playoff Draft List to help you plan your playoff pool. Customize it to pick according to the teams that you think will advance, or go with Dobber’s list where he picks those teams for you. One thing, though: read the instructions! Especially if you’re not that familiar with the format or spreadsheets in general. (Look for the tabs at the bottom.)
What about my playoff picks, and everyone else's? You can see them here in our Dobber Hockey Experts Panel. Of course you can tell me my picks suck and yours are better. With playoff teams now closer together in the standings than they used to be, it’s getting more difficult to make these picks.
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) April 11, 2018
Best of luck in your playoff pools and bracket challenges! For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.