20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts
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. It’s been a long road for Robby Fabbri. Injuries limited his 2016-17 season to 51 games and then he missed all last year. He looked ready for the 2018-19 season and then he had this minor groin issue flare up.
That it’s been so long since Fabbri was in the NHL makes it easy to forget how good he was. Though his raw numbers were just 29 goals in 123 regular season games, his goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five was 0.85, tied with names like Alex Galchenyuk, Corey Perry, and Jordan Eberle for the 2015-17 seasons. He also had that great postseason in 2016 where he posted 15 points in 20 games. This was a budding top-line forward before the injuries hit.
The question is what player we get back. Is he going to be the same guy right out of the gate once his conditioning stint is over? Probably not. Can he get there in a couple months? Maybe. There’s a left wing spot next to Ryan O’Reilly with Fabrri’s name written all over it, though. (oct25)
2. What can I say about Steven Stamkos? I keep opining here that he is a 35- or 40-goal, 65- or 70-point player with the ability to mesh very well with superstars. When he had Martin St. Louis on his line, he was getting 97 points. When he had Nikita Kucherov on his line, he was getting 86 points (last year). We all assumed that he would play with Kucherov again this year but so far it hasn’t really happened. The offense is being spread out with Stamkos playing with Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde, while the Triplets (Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson) are reunited. J.T. Miller is playing with fourth-line players and still leading the team (tied) in points. (oct22)
3. Carey Price picked up a shutout against the Bruins on Saturday, stopping all 33 shots he faced. With his first shutout of the season, Price equaled his shutout total from all last season. So that should give you a hint as to whether he has improved over last season. With a 2.13 GAA and .922 SV%, Price has looked like the Price of old so far. In other words, the kind of goalie that has now won more games than Patrick Roy in a Habs’ uniform.
4. Watch out for Jaroslav Halak in Boston. The former starting netminder may have eyes for the full-time crease job with the Bruins with his and Tuukka Rask's early-season play. Here's a look at the stats:
- Rask: 3-3-0, 3.15 GAA, .902 SV%
- Halak: 3-0-2, 1.43 GAA, .945 SV%
Coach Bruce Cassidy proved he wouldn't shy away from cutting into Rask's workload when he ran with Anton Khudobin for stretches last year. Halak could prove to be one of the better waiver wire grabs this season. Or not. Who knows with goalies.
5. The Bruins are still without Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy. After careful thought and consideration, I believe Matt Grzelcyk will be paired on the second power-play unit with McAvoy once both Krug and McAvoy return. Until then, he’s only 1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, so he’ll be available in a lot of deep leagues too. (oct24)
6. I have to mention Zach Sanford, who scored a goal and two assists for the Blues while playing on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron on Saturday. After being called up from the AHL two weeks ago, Sanford has racked up six points (3g-3a) with a plus-6 in just five games. If his name is in any way familiar, it’s because he was part of the return for the Blues in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade with Washington. He might be worth taking a flier on in deeper leagues, particularly if this line arrangement continues.
7. I guess John Tavares is the insurance policy that the Leafs needed. Auston Matthews, who entered Saturday’s game with no points in his last three games, left Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury. Given the player and the team he plays for, you’ll probably be provided with plenty of updates. The shoulder injury was to his left shoulder, not the same one that was injured last season. Mike Babcock has already said that Matthews won’t practice on Sunday and won’t play Monday against Calgary. It sounds like this injury will cost him multiple games, so you’ll want to look for an alternative for next week.
The injury resulted in Nazem Kadri moving up to the top line alongside Patrick Marleau and Kasperi Kapanen. Just as it was thought that Kadri would lose value with the Tavares addition, Kadri should probably gain value as a result of the Matthews injury.
8. Sebastian Aho extended his season-long point streak to 10 games and 15 points. Aho is driving the bus in Carolina. He’s sporting a Corsi rating of 64 percent in all situations, playing more than 19 minutes a game and rocking a 4.87 points-per-60 output. He’s on a heater, no doubt. But, this is a player capable of sustaining a point-per-game over the long haul.
9. Los Angeles has been a massive disappointment this year and Ilya Kovalchuk with them. Kovalchuk is on pace for a 41-point season, not that bad for a 35-year old in today’s NHL. Consider that no player aged 35 or older cracked 60 points last year and it gives you a good barometer of what to expect for Kovalchuk. My preseason prediction had him at 58 points, so, he’s got some work to do. (oct26)
10. There was a huge gap between Anders Lee for Max Pacioretty in their final preseason average draft positions (ADP) – something in the realm of five or six rounds. My personal rankings for standard Yahoo leagues had them a lot closer – something in the realm of about a round and half (player 55 vs player 73). In a lot of ways, at least fantasy-wise, they are similar players. Both are known for goals rather than assists, both had questions coming into this year (no John Tavares vs new team off a down year), and both can put up stout hit totals. I think if we’re talking standard leagues, we’re shuffling deck chairs for the most part. (oct26)
11. Here’s the thing with Nate Schmidt, who signed a six-year extension with Vegas this past week. For a long time, the analytics community had been clamoring for the Capitals to give him more minutes and he never really got them – his career-high for minutes per game in Washington was his rookie year. As such, we have one year of Schmidt playing top pair minutes (admittedly, with good results) and one year of Schmidt cracking 20 points.
Schmidt is 27 years old and currently serving a 20-game suspension. It feels like a lot of money for a guy with that kind of track record at that age. This contract will render him useless in cap leagues, by the way. If you’re in a dynasty cap league, the time to trade him will be before the All-Star break. (oct26)
12. After a bit of a slow start, Mika Zibanejad has really heated up. Zibanejad is a high-volume option both in terms of ice time (20:54 ATOI) and shots on goal (tied for 10th with 42 SOG). His 47 points and minus-23 last season pushed him down many fantasy cheatsheet, so it’s easy to overlook the fact that he also had career highs in both goals (27) and shots on goal (212 SOG). This should give you an idea of what to expect from Zibanejad going forward. (oct24)
13. With the production from Max Lajoie and the superlative play of Thomas Chabot, not to mention good days from Chris Wideman, Cody Ceci may never see the power play. On the other hand, he’s not drafted in fantasy leagues for point production anyway. All this does is limit his upside. As long as the even strength and PK minutes are there, so too will his peripherals. (oct23)
14. Although he eventually settled down after allowing two first-period goals, Mike Smith again didn’t provide his owners with what they needed on Saturday. Smith has allowed at least three goals in six of his eight starts this season. Although I can’t see him losing the starting job outright, Smith might have to give way to David Rittich (2.37 GAA, .933 SV%) more often than we expected during the preseason. If I owned Smith (which fortunately I don’t right now), I’d keep him on the bench for now.
15. The Oilers called up Cooper Marody from the AHL, where he had six points in five games to lead Bakersfield in scoring early on. All this is happening, of course, because Ty Rattie is sidelined for “multiple” weeks with a mid-body injury. *Cough*cough* Bochenski. Remember Brandon Bochenski? Led the preseason in scoring with the Senators because he clicked so well with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. Then a game or two into the season he suffered an injury that cost him a big chunk of games – maybe 20? Anyway, he returned and couldn’t regain his mojo. The rest, we say, is history – he now dominates the KHL with eight consecutive years of being one of the top scorers there.
16. Martin Necas was sent to the minors a few days ago and it’s only a matter of time before another highly-touted rookie goes the same route; Casey Mittelstadt has had a miserable time in the NHL so far this year with one point in nine games. This is despite substantial power-play time and having pretty solid linemates (usually Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo, but Evan Rodrigues, too). I think both Necas and Mittelstadt could do well with 30 games in the AHL, get back the swagger and then return for a better NHL splash. (oct22)
I can’t believe Neal Pionk is second on the Rangers in ice time. He was a healthy scratch last week and now he’s a big minute-muncher. He has six points in eight games now with five of them on the power play. Last year, five of his 14 points were on the power play. In all, he has 20 points in 36 games and is starting to eat away at Kevin Shattenkirk’s power-play time. (oct22)
18. Ryan Pulock and Brandon Montour. I believe in both players; just play the long game with these two. You can’t give up on your strong hunches in the first 10 games when everything else is lining up properly (steady, high ice time, PP time, etc.). Montour owners are already getting rewarded for their patience. Pulock owners will, too. (oct22)
19. Despite playing early on with Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal mostly, Anthony Beauvillier has one point in eight games. At this point, I start looking into acquiring the latter. Perhaps his owner will drop him soon (in limited keepers with lots of transactions), or perhaps his owner is just getting impatient. I think he’ll figure it out eventually, though I wouldn’t give up a ton to get him. (oct22)
20. Twenty-six-year-old Micheal Ferland is going to surprise us with 60-plus points this year and that is just how Brad Marchand surprised us when he was 27. I don’t think he can take the next step the way Marchand did but while many poolies will be in full ‘sell-high’ mode for Ferland the way they were with Marchand back in 2016, I will be in ‘buy’ mode. He’ll have another gear. I am very confident of this, I just wish I caught the obvious logic sooner. (oct22)
Have a good week, folks!!
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