Ramblings: Tkachuk Update, Line Combinations, Last Night’s Games, and Predictions – October 5

Michael Clifford



It was out first full slate of the NHL season and there were a lot of crucial lineup notes to important fantasy options that we’ll get to. Let’s not waste time.

The Hurricanes changed their lineup often through the preseason and that continued into their first game of the regular season. Micheal Ferland was skating alongside Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal centred Warren Foegele and Justin Williams, Martin Necas was on the third line with Andre Svechnikov on the fourth. Justin Faulk was still running the top PP unit with Dougie Hamilton rotating the second unit QB role with Jaccob Slavin.

In short, unless you’re a Ferland or Faulk owner, this is a fantasy disaster.

We’ll see how long this plan sticks. For now, Svechnikov and Hamilton owners are likely to be frustrated.


Speaking of Carolina, new coach, same results as they outshot the Islanders 46-20 in Carolina’s home opener but lost 2-1 in overtime. The game-winner was scored by Josh Bailey, who was iffy to even play with lower-back tightness. It’s a good thing he did.

As far as the power play goes, Hamilton played a grand total of 25 seconds with the man advantage. Faulk finished a shade under four minutes with Slavin a shade over two minutes. Things can (and probably will) change, but as mentioned above, this will be frustrating for Hamilton owners for now.


Brady Tkachuk was in a non-contact jersey yesterday and missed the Ottawa’s season opener against Chicago. He said he is hopeful for Saturday however with a groin issue. As mentioned yesterday, this doesn’t seem to be a long-term issue with which to be concerned, just a couple of games to start the year. Take a breath, keeper and dynasty league owners.


Another overtime game saw Tkachuk’s Senators fall to Chicago 4-3. Patrick Kane picked up the overtime tally, his second point of the night. Alex DeBrincat scored Chicago’s first goal of the game, what will be the first of many, many goals for the sophomore this year.

There was also this hilarious moment (mileage on hilarity may vary):

It’s going to be one of those years in Canada’s capital.


Dennis Cholowski scored his first career NHL goal in Detroit’s 3-2 overtime loss to Columbus. The top line for the Jackets looked dangerous and Detroit looked anemic, managing just 20 shots on Joonas Korpisalo. This game was more one-sided than the score would indicate from my viewing (admittedly, I missed the third period).

Cholowski also played nearly 20 minutes, third-most among Red Wings blue liners and had the second-most PP time. Things may change once everyone is healthy, but he could provide deep fantasy value for now.


Despite skating on the top line for Nashville in a some preseason and practice, Kevin Fiala ended up back in his usual second-line spot with Kyle Turris. The lines stayed together all game for the 3-2 win over the Rangers, so it looks like that’s the way they’ll stay for now.

Filip Forsberg scored his first of the year. Could this be his long-awaited 80-point season?

I didn’t catch much of the game – it’s nice to have a full slate to watch – but the Rangers, at least, looked fast. Defense will be an ongoing issue, but it does seem they’ll at least be exciting.


Julius Honka was scratched in the Stars’ first game of the year. The addition of Connor Carrick has provided the team with more depth on the right side and they decided to dress Roman Polak. For the life of me, I don’t get it. It’s like Hitch never left.


Dallas managed a 3-0 shutout over Arizona and Carrick chipped in two assists in his first game as a member of the Stars. John Klingberg played over 27 minutes with Esa Lindell just under 24. This could be a sneaky good year for Lindell if he can continue to earn those kind of minutes.

Ben Bishop also managed a shutout in the first game of the 2017-18 season, so, another good start to a hopefully solid year.  


One day after putting up a 7-spot on the Bruins, Washington went into Pittsburgh and put up a 6-spot. And lost! Pittsburgh got an overtime power-play goal from Kris Letang to win a wild 7-6 game. Kris Letang had three points total. A pretty good start to a campaign for fantasy owners hoping he can get back to the 60-point plateau of a few years ago.


Winnipeg took a 5-1 win from St. Louis, a game where each member of Winnipeg’s top line had multi-point efforts and Patrik Laine tallied his first of the game.

What’s more important to take away from this contest is that Nikolaj Ehlers, skating in the bottom-6 with Jack Roslovic and Kristian Vesalainen, played just 10:31. He had just four games last year under 13 minutes and none under 11. One game is not a trend but this is something fantasy owners really need to keep an eye on. If Winnipeg keeps winning with this TOI allocation, Ehlers is going to be a bust.


Jesper Bratt broke his jaw after getting hit by a puck in practice yesterday. The initial update was he'll be out a 'few weeks' without the need for surgery. 

It's a shame. Bratt had been pegged as a possible sleeper this year for fantasy purposes but that may have to wait another season if he doesn't return until November. 


The Flyers went into Vegas and skateda away with a 5-2 win. Not exactly the start to the season the Golden Knights were looking for. 

Wayne Simmonds was a big factor for the Flyers, scoring two goals on four shots with seven hits. He did play under 14 minutes, though, skating on what is ostensibly the third line. One of those goals came on the power play, which is nice for fantasy owners to see he's maintained his top-line status with the man advantage. 


Following the loss to Vancouver, the Flames changed their lines a bit, moving Austin Czarnik with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund with Michael Frolik moving down to the fourth line.

After decisively losing a fight to Erik Gudbranson on Wednesday night, Travis Hamonic did not skate on Thursday. It doesn’t look good for him playing this weekend.


In yesterday’s Ramblings, the Dobber panel’s 2018-19 predictions were touched on a little bit. Those predictions covered categories like top sleeper, top bust, mid-season callups, and more.

These Ramblings will cover the rest of the predictions made by the Dobber panel which mainly focus on division champions, Cup contenders, and individual trophy winners. My own thought process was laid out a few days ago in a separate Ramblings and can be read here.

The panel consists of Dobber editors, writers, contributors, and Dobber himself. These are my thoughts alone on some of those predictions, so don’t yell at anyone else.


Connor McDavid

Very unsurprisingly, McDavid was chosen by the vast majority of the panel for both the Hart Trophy and the Art Ross. As mentioned in my explanation, if the Oilers are anywhere near the playoffs and he’s healthy, he runs away with these trophies.

Not everyone chose McDavid for both trophies, though. Nikita Kucherov was the selection of Tom Collins while Adam Daly-Frey selected Aleksander Barkov.

Kucherov has seen his TOI/game, shots/game, and points/game increase every season. If the Lightning are as good as we think they are, he’s one of a handful of people that have any realistic chance of pushing for the scoring title. If Tampa Bay wins the Presidents’ Trophy and Kucherov has 110 points, it’s very possible we see him take home the Hart.

It’s kind of the same situation for Barkov. The Atlantic Division has often been described as having a Big Three (Tampa, Boston, Toronto), forgetting Florida had 96 points last year and that total put them within two points of four playoff teams and ahead of one other one. The team improved in the offseason. If the goaltending can hold together and the Panthers push for a division title, led by Barkov, the path to the Hart Trophy becomes clear.

Again, these are McDavid’s trophies to lose for basically the next decade, but there are conditions where other players steal one, or both, away.


Elias Pettersson

The Vancouver rookie was the consensus Calder Trophy winner, with Andre Svechnikov a distant second and Rasmus Dahlin, Kailer Yamamoto, and Brady Tkachuk earning votes.

This makes sense. Pettersson has an extremely high level of talent and he will be skating on Vancouver’s top power play unit. My preseason projection had him at 51.2 points. My projections are conservative on rookies but I have him leading all rookies in scoring. If he lives up to the hype, it’s easy to envision Pettersson running away with the Calder.

It surprised me that Dobber and Chris Wassel were the only people to pick Dahlin. The hype for the last two years was that this kid is a generational talent. Not all star-level, not a potential HOFer, legitimately generational. Only two selections out of 17 people. Curious.

This could be a good opportunity for Dobber and Wassel to shove it in all our faces in about, say, nine months or so?


Connor Hellebuyck

The young Jets netminder had a breakout season last year and will be looking to keep the ball rolling this year as he was the most often picked for the Vezina. Most of the team that went to the playoffs last year is returning, save for Paul Stastny. A lot was made about losing him to free agency, and to be sure it is a loss, but if Jack Roslovic can start developing into the player the team thinks he can be, maybe it’s not as big a loss as it seems. A big decider for Hellebuyck could be the health of the blue line in front of him. Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba combined to miss 40 games. Hellebuyck succeeded despite that but I’m sure he’d rather have those guys in the lineup than out.

Both John Gibson and Andrei Vasilevskiy earned some votes and that makes sense. Gibson has established himself as one of the elite goalies on the planet and Vasilevskiy is playing on what could be the best team in the league.

What’s interesting to note is this: no Carey Price and no Henrik Lundqvist. I wonder how many times in the last decade neither of those two goalies was in consideration for the Vezina Trophy?


The Central Division

Out of our 17 panellists, over half (9) selected a team from the Central Division to win the Stanley Cup, be it Nashville, Winnipeg, or St. Louis. This speaks to the depth of that division, and also how hard it could be to escape it. There’s a very realistic scenario where a team like Nashville finishes third in the division and has to face St. Louis and Winnipeg in the first two rounds. The Central is a meat grinder.  

The same could be said for the Atlantic, I suppose, where the third-place team could end up playing Toronto and Tampa Bay in back-to-back series. Not an enticing prospect.


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