Every Sunday, we'll share 20 Fantasy Thoughts from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week's ‘Daily Ramblings’.
Writers: Michael Clifford, Ian Gooding, Cam Robinson, and Dobber
1. Nikita 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, too. (oct5)
It’s kind of the same situation for Aleksander 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.
2. While Antti Raanta is a sleeper in all leagues for me, Artturi Lehkonen is more of a late-round option in deeper leagues. Lehkonen was already looking at potential improvement when I wrote about him during Bubble Keeper Week. But then, Max Pacioretty was traded and Shea Weber was injured, which increased the probability that Lehkonen would be added to the first-unit power play, at least early on. (oct3)
3. Elias Lindholm was a difference-maker for the Flames on Saturday. He scored two goals and added an assist while earning power-play time with Calgary’s big boys and totaling over 21 minutes in ice time. Hopefully you weren’t quick to drop him after he was held without a point and was a minus-4 after the Flames’ opener on Wednesday. So far, the platoon with James Neal on the Flames’ top line has been tilted heavily in Lindholm’s favor. Perhaps Lindholm would be owned in more leagues if fantasy owners could trust that will be the case going forward. (oct7)
4. Thomas Chabot doesn’t have the same upside as Erik Karlsson but he’s building a very strong case for ownership in more fantasy leagues (only 26 percent of Yahoo leagues at the time I’m writing this). Chabot scored two goals and added an assist with a plus-4 and five shots on goal in 21:31 of ice time Saturday. And oh yeah, the Senators won 5-3 in Toronto. It will probably only go downhill from here for both but don’t let the Sens’ super-low preseason projections sour you on Chabot. Someone must occupy those first-unit power-play minutes that once belonged to Karlsson.
Also of note for Ottawa: Maxime Lajoie also received first-unit power-play minutes beside Chabot. The rookie scored a goal and added an assist in his first game this past week. Although he didn’t get in on the scoring in Saturday’s game, he did see nearly 22 minutes of ice time. He’s not a must-own in fantasy leagues but his name is at least worth remembering in this season of transition in Ottawa. (oct7)
5. Have people begun considering Nikolay Goldobin as more than a potential hot streamer? The former 2014 first round pick is the classic post-hype sleeper who appears to be in a tremendous spot. After years of vaulted projections and underperforming results, the 22-year-old has found quick chemistry with Elias Pettersson on the Canucks’ second line. He’s unlikely to crack the top power play unit which will keep him from truly breaking out. However, being on the receiving end of Pettersson’s feeds means we’re going to see some goals and a sustainably high shooting percentage. (oct6)
6. 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. (oct5)
Pettersson scored a goal and an assist in an exciting NHL debut, so what did he do for an encore? How about even more magic, scoring two more goals and adding an assist. There is a certain buzz whenever Pettersson touches the puck, between his quick shots and amazing passes. Truly talented players make others around them better, and that is what Pettersson is doing for linemates Goldobin and Loui Eriksson – especially Goldobin. Each also have points over their first two games. You can’t ignore this upside – it’s time for Pettersson to be owned in all fantasy leagues by now.
Pettersson has replaced Brock Boeser as the shiny new toy on the Canucks right now, especially on the first-unit power play. While everything Pettersson touches seems to turn to gold, something seems off with Boeser at the moment. After his season-ending back injury, Boeser would have had a late start to his offseason training. Yet, so far, Boeser has been held without a point and just two shots on goal, even though the Canucks have scored nine goals over their first two games. It may just take time for Boeser to get up to speed but I can’t help but be worried that either his back or his wrist still isn’t 100 percent. (oct7)
7. Travis Hamonic is indeed out for an undisclosed amount of time. He ate a couple of knuckle sandwiches from Erik Gudbranson on Wednesday evening while sticking up for his rookie teammate, Dillon Dube. The Flames quickly recalled Rasmus Andersson from Stockton.
I’ve stated publicly that Andersson is NHL-ready and just needs an opportunity. The 21-year-old posted nine goals and 39 points in 56 AHL games last season. His 0.7 points-per-game output was good for the third most by any U23 AHL defender. With Adam Fox sent to Carolina at the draft the 2015 second-round pick projects as the team’s top right-hand offensive option moving forward. I can’t be the only one drooling over a potential Juuso Välimäki-Andersson pairing down the line. First, he’ll need to draw into the lineup, though. Once Andersson does get in, he’s one to watch on the waiver wire to see if he’s given any sustainable power play time. He's an oft-overlooked asset in keeper leagues. (oct6)
8. Having the likes of Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, and Kevin Labanc coming over against second and third pairings is a scary second wave of attack at evens. Especially with the likelihood of one of Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns on the ice with them at all times. This Sharks team is for real. (oct6)
9. Connor Hellebuyck had a breakout season last year and will be looking to keep the ball rolling. 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. 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 last year. Hellebuyck succeeded despite that but I’m sure he’d rather have those guys in the lineup than out. (oct5)
10. Jesper Bratt broke his jaw after getting hit by a puck in practice. 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. (oct5)
11. We like to talk about lines here, so it’s worth mentioning one of the league’s top lines and what they were able to accomplish against one of the league’s top teams. Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov combined for 10 points in the Stars’ 5-1 win over the Jets on Saturday. Seguin led the way in filling the statsheet with two goals, two assists, and eight shots on goal. The Stars’ scoring attack literally falls off a cliff after that, so don’t be surprised to see new coach Jim Montgomery split up this line of what are clearly his top three forwards. But the best scenario for the fantasy owners of the three forwards would be that they stick together. (oct7)
12. It’ll be hard for Cam Talbot to be worse than last year. At the least, the team’s forward group should be better with both Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi set to take a leap forward. That defense group, which just added Jason Garrison, still seems like a huge problem. We’ll see. (oct4)
13. I own Brad Marchand in multiple leagues, with one of those leagues counting PIM. That doesn’t shake my lingering fear of another suspension, which could very well be longer than the last one. Unlike Tom Wilson, this is a first-round pick that we’re talking about here. I realize that getting under opponents’ skins is all part of Marchand’s shtick, but he has evolved into one of the league’s top scorers. His 1.25 P/GP was behind only Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Evgeni Malkin last season. I don’t need him to turn into a Lady Byng candidate suddenly. But a season without slewfoots, smooches and other shenanigans would be swell. (oct3)
14. Don’t you hate it when you drop a player and make plans to pick them up in a few days, only to see another owner pick up that player off waivers? This happened to the Leafs not once, but twice last Tuesday. With both Curtis McElhinney (Carolina) and Calvin Pickard (Philadelphia) claimed off waivers, the Leafs’ organizational goaltending depth took a significant hit. But at least we now know that Garret Sparks will be Frederik Andersen’s backup. Sparks has earned the right to play in the NHL, posting a sparkling 1.79 GAA and .936 SV% in the AHL last season. Andersen owners in deeper leagues should consider adding Sparks as a handcuff option.
McElhinney came available at the right time for the Hurricanes, as they learned that Scott Darling will be sidelined for at least a couple weeks. Petr Mrazek will be the man between the pipes for the Canes, although you’ll want to add him at your own risk. Mrazek’s ratios have hung around 3.00 GAA and .900 SV% over the past two seasons. I could see McElhinney taking a couple spot starts while Darling is out, as the Canes play a back-to-back in each of their first two weeks. (oct3)
15. Favorite sleeper pick: Kyle Palmieri. In standard leagues that count hits, I just do not understand Palmieri’s ADP (average draft position). He’s going outside the top-175 on Yahoo and he’ll sleepwalk to a profit at that ADP. If he’s healthy, we’re talking about a guy whose per-82 games averages with the Devils are: 29 goals, 27 assists, 218 shots, 127 hits, and 24 PPPs. If he reaches those marks, he’s a top-75 player. Even if he falls 20 percent short of each of those marks (because of health, demotion, or a combination of the two), he’s a top-125 player. He’s being drafted just inside the top-190. It’s insane. (oct2)
16. Henrik Borgstrom was sent to the AHL. The young pivot had a strong camp for the Panthers but it seems he was just a casualty of depth. Florida can run Aleksander Barkov–Vincent Trocheck–Jared McCann down the middle (or whomever they decide to be the 3C), which is very solid. Having him play fourth-line minutes doesn’t make sense. If you were drafting him for this year, he can be dropped for now, but injuries do happen so don’t lose faith yet. This doesn’t affect his long-term value at all for keepers or dynasties. (oct2)
17. Favorite dark horse: Sam Steel. We’re assuming very late round picks here. Like, if 250 guys are off the board, who are you taking? Steel has impressed in camp and though Ryan Kesler has started skating, he’s not close to returning yet. That means Steel is probably going to get the month of October to impress and he’ll be able to do it with capable wingers like Jakob Silfverberg, or maybe even Ondrej Kase. To me, Steel is a skill guy who could flourish playing with a talented winger in sheltered minutes. (oct2)
18. One player playing himself up the roster in Anaheim is Maxime Comtois. A second rounder from 2017, Comtois had a very good D+1 year in the ‘Q’ last year, which included a selection to the Canadian World Junior roster. He started off the preseason as a spare part for Anaheim but has climbed into the top-six. The injury to Corey Perry is obviously a factor here but it’s worth noting that Comtois is the guy earning the extra ice time. He may not have a huge impact fantasy-wise but it’s a good sign for dynasty owners. (oct1)
19. Denis Gurianov was sent to the AHL by the Stars. I will concede I didn’t watch much Dallas hockey in the preseason, but in the very limited viewing I had, he showed well. Most people I follow for Stars coverage inferred the same. Regardless, this is now Gurianov’s age-21 season. I don’t want to say time is running out but if he can’t make a substantial impact in the AHL, or force his way to the NHL, this year, then yeah, maybe time is running out for the 12th overall pick from 2015. (oct1)
20. The Flyers have sent goalie Carter Hart to the AHL. There had been hope he could crack the roster but it never really made sense for him to go and be the backup. It’s still Brian Elliott’s team, though that doesn’t mean things couldn’t change in the next couple months. (oct1)
Goalies are a fickle beast. Maybe the Elliott of (mostly) the St. Louis days shows up and starts 55 games, leading the Flyers to the playoffs. Or maybe the Elliott of the last couple years shows up again and by Christmas the Flyers are scoring at will but poor goaltending has them on the outside looking in. That would be the time Hart gets the call. (oct2)
Have a good week, folks!!