Working hard on the Fantasy Guide. It’s out on August 1 but you can always pre-order it. I’m about halfway through now. Two weeks to do the first half, eight days to do the second half. Just another year in Fantasy Guide Land.
Welcome to DobberHockey’s first annual Keeper Bubble Week. I took the deadest week of the summer and factored in that many leagues have their keeper deadlines fast approaching, and decided to have all the columnists dedicate their work and analysis to a single theme – the bubble players. Keep ‘em or drop ‘em? I’ll get to those below. First, let’s take a quick look around the hockey world…
You may recall a few weeks ago when I discussed players who have babies and the impact that it has on their season, particularly with their second child (link on that is here). Getzlaf was a great example – his season after his second baby was terrible. Last year Cam Talbot’s wife had twins. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on what happened to him in 2017-18 after that. Further to this, guess who had a baby on the weekend? Alex Pietrangelo. Guess who else had a baby? Alex Pietrangelo. Also, guess who had a baby on the weekend? Alex Pietrangelo. I’m not repeating myself, the guy actually welcomed triplets into the world! Congratulations to the Pietrangelo family, but let’s look at this from a fantasy hockey standpoint – if you think having three infants in the house in August, September and October will have no impact on his training schedule, then you’ve never had kids.
Look at this way – if Pietrangelo has a great season in 2018-19, then we’ll know he’s a pretty neglectful father! All kidding aside, I think even with a nanny to help, you still love your kids and you want to spend time with them especially during the first few months. It’s going to have an impact. I haven’t reviewed St. Louis yet, but whatever my formula pits out for Pietrangelo, I’m rolling it back an additional five or six points (and just hope it doesn’t get any worse than that).
Jacob Trouba was awarded $5.5 million in arbitration on a one-year deal. He becomes the second highest paid defenseman on the Jets. If feel more bullish about him if he didn’t miss at least 17 games in four of his last five seasons. He saw the second most ice time on the entire team last season (average per game), but was third on the totem pole behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers in terms of PP time. Now that he’s making more than Myers and the Jets could lose Myers to free agency next year, I think you’ll see that flip-flop. Trouba’s PP time should get a boost. If only I could feel comfortable projecting 80 games out of the guy, I’d feel so much better about him.
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First, my three leagues. Three different sets of rules, three different strategies, I’ll offer up my thinking.
LEAGUE 1 – Entering its 29th season. The most basic of my leagues – 20 players, 13 teams, keep everyone, top 12 players for points counts, points get traded with the player, and keep the same rosters for the NHL postseason where again the top 12 players count.
I pick 10th and 23rd. Team: Ovechkin, Marchand, Backstrom, Panarin, Granlund, Marchessault, Arvidsson, Tolvanen, Drouin, Zucker, Labanc, Atkinson, Johnson, Palat, Kovalchuk, Coyle, Killorn, Koivu, Marleau, Spezza
Bubble players: Killorn, Koivu, Marleau and Spezza
Decision: This one is obvious because I already set up my team for the draft back at the trade deadline. Marleau was acquired strictly for playoffs (which I won) and Spezza was a throw-in. Those two are gone. Sure, Marleau could get 45 points on this upgraded Toronto team, but so can Killorn and I think Killorn has more upside and is younger. Koivu also has more upside, though if there was a draft pick available and a player I like at the draft I’d be very comfortable just dropping Koivu and making the pick.
LEAGUE 2 – The ‘Forecaster’ League, with the group that puts together the magazine. I joined it in 2008 and won three straight from I think it was 2012-2014. But haven’t won in a bit. This one is Keep 12, points-only but extra bonus for Hits, SOG and PPPts. No playoffs. Regular hockey rosters (4C, 8W, 6D, 2G 4 bench, IR). I have lots of draft picks, all in the first 8 rounds.
Keeping: MacKinnon, Johansen, Granlund, W. Karlsson, Keller, Carlson, Klingberg, Gardiner, Talbot, Bishop, Hellebuyck.
Already dropped: Wennberg, Maroon, Aberg, Koivu, Gaudette, Little, Valimaki, Oleksiak, Ferland, Petersen.
Bubble: Atkinson, E. Lindholm, Montour for the final Keeper.
Other assets: L. Andersson, Frost, Heinen, Matheson, Tuch
Strategy – First of all, I have an Excel file that each of you should also have. It lists my players – each league has its own tab. And the players are listed in order of their value to me. At a quick glance I can always evaluate what I can afford to give up. It’s just a great way to evaluate your situation.
Second, I hate dropping players. If possible, I try to use them as sweeteners to other deals. Short of that, if a player is on the bubble I might be fine with trading a keeper for a draft pick, and replace that keeper with a bubble player. And that’s what I did here. I received an offer of a fifth round pick for Jake Gardiner. I had him upgrade the pick to the fourth round and did the deal. Brandon Montour has now been moved from the “Bubble” section to the “Keeping” section. I’ve already done Anaheim in the Guide and can tell you that I projected 41 points for him. I’m guessing Gardiner will be low-50s when I get to the Leafs. But Montour had 27 more shots, 45 more hits and three fewer PPPts. I’m guessing all three of those numbers get better for Montour in the year ahead and according to our league rules, the guess is that these two players will turn out to be equal or pretty close to it. And I just gained a fourth.
Now I have to choose between Cam Atkinson and Elias Lindholm, who I firmly believe will be Johnny Hockey’s new linemate. Atkinson had 33 points in his last 33 games and he’ll have a great season with Artemi Panarin. However, Panarin is looking like he’ll be traded. Furthermore, Atkinson’s value is hidden. As in – nobody is going to draft him in the first round. I can drop him and then draft him in the second round (if Panarin stays) or the fourth round (if Panarin is traded). So that’s my plan. But until that point, I’ll be trying to work in a trade. I hate wasting assets.
LEAGUE 3 – Keep everyone, rosters are 33 players, 15-team league, top 12 forwards, top 4 defensemen, top 2 goalies count for points-only.
I’m not going to list my roster as it’s too big. I’ll just reiterate that I hate just dropping a guy. I’ll have no choice on two obvious ones in Nathan Beaulieu and Nick Bonino. But other players I didn’t like I felt I could get something for them. First I traded Jordan Staal and Richard Panik for third- and fourth-round picks (it’s a four-round draft). Staal is Staal – you know exactly what you’re getting and that’s not going to get better or worse anytime soon. Panik is a wildcard. He’s averaged 40 points the last two seasons and he’s 27 years old. But he had 15 points in the last 20 games and Arizona has a good-looking top nine now. I have in the Fantasy Guide 42 points for Panik, with line combos that look like this:
Because I don’t think Panik’s upside is any higher than 60 points at best, getting a third for him I felt was good value. Especially when I’m the one using the pick. My last few third rounders: Lehkonen (2017), Sheary (2017), Brossoit (2017), DeBrincat (2017), Grimaldi (2016), Gostisbehere (2016). That’s not a bad track record, even with the warts!
Then I traded Aaron Dell, Lars Eller and Jordan Weal. All three were on the bubble for me – and now all three are off my team. I got a second and a third for them. I had been hoping Dell would sign with Detroit or Buffalo and as soon as he signed with San Jose, I didn’t want him anymore. Martin Jones just starts his new contract this season, so he’s locked in no matter how bad he is (I think he’s bad). Eller’s best years are still ahead of him, in my opinion, but that’s not saying much. I think he’ll get 40 points this year, but with upside for 55 if Kuznetsov or Backstrom get hurt for 20 games or more. We’ve seen him flourish when he sneaks onto that top PP unit. As for Weal, I just didn’t like his chances. I haven’t given up all hope as he always seems to overachieve and I really like those players. But I can do better with a good draft pick and his inclusion helped me get a second rounder instead of another third.
The last move I made (so far) was actually going the other way. But only because there was a deal to be had. A GM made his bubble players available and I took a stab at getting two of his best for my lowest draft pick (a future fourth rounder). That got me Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Samuel Montembeault. I think I would draft JAD in the third round in September, so that’s a deal right there. And Montembeault is a bubble player – I’d probably draft him fourth, but that’s not set in stone and dependent on the goalie options out there. I like Montembeault but he’s three years away at least. Two years of no help at all, followed by a year or two as a backup. And that’s if it works out.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (more on him here) is a sure-fire NHLer. But will he be second-line 60-point guy with upside for 70? Or a third-line 45-point guy? I don’t think he has a long wait time. Maybe a year away. I like that about him.
I went to Twitter for your Bubble questions. A bubble player varies from league to league, but when you start having to decide between Tarasenko and Voracek, or Draisaitl vs. Pastrnak – I don’t consider it a keeper league! There’s no wrong answer! Try flipping a coin. (Note: I answered these ones right on Twitter)
If your league is a Keep 3, a Keep 5, or even a Keep 8 – to me that’s a one-year league where you get to hold onto a couple of guys. True keeper leagues allow you to actually recognize your roster from one year to the next because you get to keep 10, 12, 15, 20 or even all of your players. Keeper leagues!
With that in mind, here are some Twitter queries:
Who's got a better likelyhood of holding a top six spot, Beauvillier or Athanasiou?— Barry Miles (@barryhmiles) July 22, 2018
Athanasiou’s fancy stats indicate that he can really make an impact and put up first-line points on Detroit, perhaps even better than Gustav Nyquist. And he probably deserves that spot over Nyquist. But zero chance that happens. This is another stepping-stone year for Athanasiou. So my answer is Anthony Beauvillier. If Jan Kovar fails to make things happen in the NHL as a top sixer, then Beauvillier will get his chance. And then, whether or not he makes that chance work is up to him. If Kovar clicks, then Beauvillier is a depth guy again. So in that sense, Athanasiou is a safer play. I have Athanasiou for 42 points. Nice and safe. So this question becomes – do you want safe, or do you want to swing for the fences?
12 team keeper pool, keep 10 .. G/A/PPG/PPA/+-/PIMS/BLKS/Hits my final 2 spots are between Shea Weber , Shatts, Koneckny and ROR— REALMUTT (@REALMUTT1) July 22, 2018
12 teams keep 15. G/A/P/PPP/S/H/W/GAA/S%. Keep 4 of the following- Perron Stastny Stepan Bailey Zetterberg Bjugstad Weber E Staal OReilly Lundqvist.— Sean Liebich (@seanliebich) July 22, 2018
Eric Staal and Ryan O’Reilly are the obvious keeps. I like Derek Stepan and Josh Bailey over the other forwards there. I already spoke about Weber. I believe Bailey will get the star treatment now that he’s coming off a big year, even losing Tavares I think he’s still safe for 55 points. A contract like the one he signed will see to it that he gets optimal linemates and PP time. And Stepan has a great supporting cast around him and is safe for 52-55 points. However, if you are hurting for goalies, then you have to keep Henrik Lundqvist over Stepan. But if you have two other good ones, then King Henrik can go.
$100 cap auction league. G,A, points, Ppg, shg, I have to choose one of E. Lindholm, Hertl or Konecny for $3 I'm struggling hard with it. Thanks— Kyle Webb (@KyleWebb03) July 22, 2018
I like these choices as it embraces three players who ‘could’ break out in the year ahead. But I am the most bullish on Elias Lindholm so that’s my selection here.
Cap Keeper League 6F 4D 1G— Geoff Boldgloom (@geoffboldgloom) July 22, 2018
G A PIM SOG PPG PPA Hits Blocks
Keep one "prospect"
Jake Virtanen vs. Timo Meier
Points only. 1g, 3d, 9f. Auto protected until game #83 for prospects. Finished 17th and 18th out of 18 in last 2 seasons. Protect 10. Final 2 spots between C Coyle, Klefbom, Hanifin, Matheson, Zacha. Must protect at least 1 D out of this list.— Alexandre Lussier (@lusshouse) July 22, 2018
This one is incredibly hard. And I’m only looking at the defensemen here, as they are harder to replace in-season. So between Mike Matheson – huge upside and I’m so very certain he will eventually get there, but it will be another ‘stepping stone’ year for him (projection: 35 points). Nick Hanifin – on a new team, steadily improving, should be a safe play for low-40s (I project him for 44 this year), but doesn’t have Matheson’s upside. Oscar Klefbom – still Edmonton’s only option for PP QB and could ‘get it’ at any moment (projection: 38 points for this season). I think my two picks here will be Matheson and Hanifin – one for immediate results and the other for future results.
One more note – I’m hard at work on the Guide, so once again I’m late with the Goalie Rankings. They’ll be out in early August.
See you next Monday. Enjoy Keeper Bubble Week!