Ramblings: Caps talk, Preds talk, Wilson, Waddell, Tolvanen and more (May 14)


The Hurricanes lost a coach that I feel they wanted to keep. So them giving Rod Brind’Amour a chance – I’m fine with. He was an assistant for six years and to me he was always one of those players who had natural leadership and mentoring skills. But… Don Waddell?

Waddell was general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers for 11 years, and after putting together an expansion roster that posted a 308-401-111 record. And for that brilliance he was promoted to president, and under his guidance the team was moved to another country. He didn’t go with them. And with that track record, he’s the best man for the job of turning the Hurricanes around. Of course he is.

Could Waddell be the man in charge of two teams before they move to another country? That would be something.


I had some blowback from that tweet last week, and I understood and understand that the Caps are the weakest team still left and that Nicklas Backstrom was either going to miss some time or he’d be playing with one hand. But sometimes heart and determination mean a lot. A close friend of mine has always beat me in tennis. And for the last few years I’ve been in better shape and frankly because of it I think I’m a better player now. Still can’t beat him. Last time we played was two years ago, because last summer was a write-off for me. I had a 4-0 lead. Still lost. I crumbled in confidence and he willed the win. I think that’s where Ovechkin is. He’s willing this. And it helps that Lars Eller has decided to be a star player.

So Caps head home up 2-0 and they can now rest Backstrom Tuesday. If they win again, they can rest Backstrom Thursday. Each game they win they buy Backstrom two more days of healing.

With three points Sunday, Eller has 11 in the postseason and sits fifth on the team in playoff scoring. This on the heels of a career high 38 points. He turned 29 a few days ago. As I noted last month, I grabbed Eller in January or February for a late draft pick just as a rental and I’d drop him in September. Again I’m wrestling with the dilemma of him possibly getting more offensive situations next season because of what he’s doing in the playoffs. If he can get 50 points and help me in the playoffs, then I’d like to hang onto that. Someone talk me off the ledge here, am I being victim of something I preach never to be a victim of: hype from a one-off hot streak?


Tom Wilson picked up a pair of points and now has nine in 11 games. He was playing on the Ovechkin line again, and even though he did that 62% of the time during the season and managed only 35 points, that was still a career high and he’s now 24 and about to hit his prime years. And 14 goals doubled his previous career high. He also had 29 points in his last 61 games. If that 62% becomes 95% in 2018-19 and he starts producing early which leads to more power-play time – I think next year could be huge. Like…shocking-huge. Unlike with Eller, I’m pretty confident about Wilson worth drafting or keeping in points leagues.


Anton Stralman and Ryan McDonagh were doing their best Jake Gardiner impressions, each going minus-3 and getting preyed upon again and again.

Steven Stamkos is on a five-game points streak and he actually has points in 10 of the 12 playoff games so far. Nine of his 13 points have come on the power play.


Mike Fisher announced his retirement again. Ah, the memories of that second run. Seems like just a couple months ago that he announced his comeback, when really it was more like four.

Last week the Predators had the second fewest contracts of all NHL teams behind only Dallas – and Dallas has two draftees to sign by June 1 whereas Nashville does not. The Preds did have 43 contracts. But they signed two European free agents over the week and are up to 45. The NHL max is 50. Anyway, I think the Preds signed two players with no fantasy upside in center Carl Persson and defenseman Filip Pyrochta. So they used the contracts up on two AHL players who have the ability to fill in on a depth role if injuries strike. Pyrochta is just 21 and has some potential in several years, if the organization nurtures that. But this team is deep on defense, it goes without saying, with plenty on the way. So Pyrochta is in tough. In the end, it’s about assets – just as it is in fantasy hockey.

I also wanted to touch upon Eeli Tolvanen. Mike Clifford nailed it the other day and I agree 100%, but I wanted to expand further. The situation reminds me of Alexander Radulov back when he was a year or two older than Tolvanen. The Preds were deep then too, and Coach Barry Trotz was notorious for bringing in prospects slowly. Radulov earned the job before camp in 2006 (as Tolvanen has), and he earned the job during camp (as Tolvanen will). But Radulov was sent to the AHL anyway. And he embarrassed the league with a ridiculous 18 points in 11 games, forcing Nashville to call him up before he laid down any further beatings. With 11:38 of average ice time – ice time that he had to force, mind you – he scored 18 goals and 37 points in 64 games. And that’s precisely what you’ll see from Tolvanen. There’s no room for him, he’ll be held down, but he’ll force the matter. I think he even starts the year in Milwaukee and that will last all of three or four weeks. And then his ice time will be held down because they won’t have room for him. But he’ll work his way up the lineup and have spurts of production when injuries happen. Off the cuff I would guess 35 points in 65 games, very similar to Radulov. And then his ascension up the scoring race starts from there over the ensuing three or four years.


Once-promising prospect Ville Pokka has signed to play next year in the KHL. He was the key part of the Nick Leddy deal in Chicago’s trade with the Islanders. They ended up trading him for a depth guy in Chris DiDomenico. Pokka was a second-round pick, 34th overall in 2012. His second season in Rockford he had 45 points in 76 games – and he went seriously downhill from there, coming nowhere close to that over the ensuing two seasons.


More Frozen Tools updates from over the last week:

– NHLe calculator added (translates production in other leagues to the NHL). HERE.

– FOUR buy/sell color-coded meters. Find it in the Advanced Stats tab of any player profile (click any name above)

– Player news feature HERE. Basically look for your player and see if they’ve been mentioned in an article lately, filter by team, and click the link given to see what we said about him. Handy!

Tons of stuff in there, can’t stress enough how great these tools are. Eric Daoust is doing a wonderful job revamping that entire section. Much more to come. And DobberProspects is close to a major revamp too – I’ve already seen it and we’re filling the content in the background.


Kuznetsov’s three points on Sunday. The last setup is a beauty:


See you next week

Wait! Forgot my plug – Fantasy Prospects Report is out in two weeks. Pre-order here!