Lots of player news happening today with roster cutdowns and injuries, so this edition of the Ramblings will be more about quick hits than deep dives.
Bodog odds for NHL rookie of the year:
Elias Pettersson 4/1
Rasmus Dahlin 6/1
Andrei Svechnikov 6/1
Eeli Tolvanen 13/2
— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) September 24, 2018
There’s been more than enough coverage on who should be the favorites for the Calder Trophy on this website. It’s covered in the Fantasy Guide, and Cam recently covered some best and worst-case and most likely projections in recent Ramblings here and here. Overall I don’t have an issue with these odds and would even write Pettersson in pen as my Calder Trophy favorite. Among the forwards, he seems to be the most likely to snag a top-6 role and first-unit power-play time right off the bat, which I think will go a long way in the Calder Trophy race. Two things I can tell you with certainty about the Canucks: 1) They won’t win very often, and 2) Pettersson will be fun to watch.
After failing to catch on with an NHL team this offseason, Brian Gionta has announced his retirement on Monday after 16 seasons. Gionta captained both the Canadiens and the Sabres in his career, but his best season came all the way back in the 2005-06 season with the Devils, when he scored 48 goals and 89 points. This season turned out to be a complete outlier for Gionta, as his next-highest single-season totals were 29 goals (in 2010-11) and 60 points (in 2008-09). Gio had a dependable side, though, as he was a 20-goal scorer for seven consecutive seasons from 2003-04 to 2010-11.
Some goaltending news that you need to know about if you have a draft coming up soon:
Q said Crawford starting in the season opener "may be stretching it at this point." Not surprising to hear, considering Crawford's not even practicing w/ the #Blackhawks yet.
— Tracey Myers (@Tramyers_NHL) September 24, 2018
Corey Crawford last played a game on December 23. With this news, he is considered doubtful for the season opener. His ADP of 123 on Yahoo is way too high, considering that we have no potential return date and he is dealing with a concussion. But if you’re looking for a silver lining, there is the possibility that he could return to practice this week. Yet there’s enough there for me to move Crawford onto my “do not draft” list. I would only consider him a late-round option at this point, as there is considerable risk here.
Crawford’s injury means that Cam Ward remains a possibility in fantasy leagues. Maybe not the best goalie option on your waiver wire, if Tuesday’s result is any indication (six goals allowed on 17 shots). But these games don’t count, and he’s still an option if you desperately need to fill a starting goalie void. He’s only 11 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, so chances are he’s available in yours. If he can’t figure it out, though, the Blackhawks might be in deep trouble.
Another Cory (Cory Schneider) is expected to travel with his team to Europe for the Global Series to start the season, but it is not known whether he will start in any games there. I wouldn’t place Schneider on my “do not draft” list even though he has been recovering from hip surgery since early May.
Schneider should still be considered the slight favorite to start over Keith Kinkaid, but this news suggests that Schneider owners should consider drafting Kinkaid as a later-round handcuff option. Contracts ($6 million for Schneider, $1 million for Kinkaid) will also matter, which means that Schneider will be given every opportunity to reclaim the starting job. However, health and performance could also result in Kinkaid at least matching Schneider in games started as he did in 2017-18.
Late Monday night, the Vegas Golden Knights announced that they had signed defenseman Shea Theodore to a seven-year contract with a cap hit of $5.2 million per season. Those in salary cap leagues hoping for a bridge deal will now need to go all in on the young defenseman. But as Cam mentioned in yesterday’s Ramblings, Theodore already has someone looking over his shoulder for the first-unit power-play minutes.
Cam also mentioned that Theodore’s absence along with Nate Schmidt’s suspension would result in Erik Brannstrom likely to make the Knights’ roster this season. That might still happen, but the probability of that happening now decreases with one defenseman still yet to be cut. Brannstrom is reportedly having an impressive camp, although he’s best suited for keeper leagues at this point.
The Canadiens have sent Nick Suzuki to junior, waived Michael McCarron and Hunter Shinkaruk (among other players), and released Joel Ward from his tryout. There was a chance that Suzuki would make the Habs’ roster, but he will have a chance to record another 100-point season in the OHL. First-round pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi is still on the squad, so his chances of being on the opening-night roster improve significantly, especially with Suzuki being sent back to junior. Suzuki is one player I’d love to see in the World Juniors, considering he was one of Canada’s final cuts last season.
Matt Duchene says Zack Smith being waived today "is a kick in the balls for us in this locker room"
— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) September 25, 2018
In all honesty, playing or cheering for the Senators this season is going to feel like a kick in the balls. Contract had something to do with it, as Smith had three years left at $3.25 million. Smith was held to just five goals and 19 points last season, although he was a 25-goal scorer two seasons before that.
As Pierre Dorion continues to suck the Senators dry of experienced NHLers, Duchene and Mark Stone owners can only hope that they are traded sooner rather than later. But I’d be concerned that one or both would be headed to a much deeper team that will decrease their minutes. But right now anything seems better than Canada’s capital and potential fireside chats with Eugene Melnyk.
RNH-McDavid-Rattie have combined for 19 points in 2 GP
The RW's (Rattie (7), Puljujarvi (4), Yamamoto (4)) have a combined 15 goals in 5 exhbition games.
Oilers ARE quicker and faster…then last season…at least at this point
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) September 26, 2018
Ty Rattie recorded a hat trick on Tuesday, while Jesse Puljujarvi also scored a pair of goals. I can’t think of a scenario right now where Rattie isn’t on Connor McDavid’s line on opening night, so Rattie has to be on your list of potential sleepers. This is simply a continuation of Rattie’s late-season success (9 points in 14 games) on the McDavid line. I’m not sure that Rattie sticks and believe that Puljujarvi is the better long-term option. However, Rattie was a two-time 100+ point scorer in the WHL, so this could simply be a matter of him finding the right opportunity. He sure won’t find a better opportunity than this one.
Brennan will cover a more detailed Injury Report later, but there were a few news items on Tuesday that you should be aware of heading into fantasy drafts:
The Coyotes have announced that Alex Galchenyuk is currently week-to-week with a lower-body injury and is not expected to be ready for opening night. This news means that you should move Galchenyuk down your draft rankings at least a little bit. It might also cement Dylan Strome for the Coyotes’ opening-night roster. I’d be surprised if Strome is sent to the AHL anyway, although I think that would have more to do with his defensive play than anything.
Nikita Kucherov left Tuesday’s game with a lower-body injury, although the decision to remove him from the game was considered precautionary more than anything. I’d probably draft Kucherov where you normally would, although I’d keep an eye on this situation as we near opening night.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.