20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts

Mario Prata


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. Will Jake Virtanen, who has been considered an underachiever after being selected as a high first-round pick right before William Nylander and Nikolaj Ehlers, show at least a minor breakout and hit 20 goals? Well, he’s only got 13 to go and over three-quarters of the season left. And he’s scored more goals than Nylander and Ehlers combined this season (I know, I know, I cherry-picked that one). But because of the Brock Boeser groin injury, which is now being called week to week, Virtanen could be on the Canucks’ top line for at least a few more games. (nov11)


2. Sergei Bobrovsky seems to be waking up. He made 33 of 34 stops on Friday night to beat the defending Cup champion Capitals 2-1.

Bob has allowed a single goal in four of his last five starts and his save percentage is inching closer to league average. He sits at .909 on the season but he has a 0.952 mark stretching back to October 30th.

The Blue Jackets need him to be the backbone if they plan on making any noise this year. Bob’s wallet needs it too. We all know he’s looking for big-time money this summer. A down year won’t play out well for him. (nov10)


3. David Rittich didn’t break a huge sweat in earning his first career shutout, stopping all 21 shots he faced against a sagging Kings’ team Saturday. Rittich has now earned wins in his last three games, which has now forced Flames’ coach Bill Peters to use Mike Smith and him as a timeshare over the last half-dozen games. With how much better Rittich (1.91 GAA, .935 SV%) has played over Smith (3.66 GAA, .872 SV%), he has at least earned that much. Rittich could certainly be owned in more Yahoo leagues than he is (just 17 percent at the moment). (nov11)


4. Charlie McAvoy may have played only seven games and is still looking to return from injury, but he leads the NHL in secondary assist rate, having put up four total in those seven games. That’s going to pull back when he returns to the lineup, obviously.

Researching this at mid-week, though, pointed me to something else for McAvoy: his shot rate is horrific. Through those seven games and 522 players with at least 100 minutes at 5v5, he ranked 473rd in shot rate. Among defensemen only, he was 156th out of 188. That’s bad.

Again, it’s only seven games and we’re still waiting for him to return from injury, so maybe things will change. This is more something to keep an eye on than something to be worried about at the moment, though some extremely handsome Dobber Associate Editor warned over the summer that he was being over-drafted. (nov9)


5. If you think I’ve been spamming the Ramblings lately with too much Elias Pettersson talk, I apologize. Dekey Pete, or the Alien, or whatever you want to call him is running away with the Calder race with 17 points in 12 games. The next-highest rookie? Try Colin White, with six goals and 11 points. His Sens’ teammate, Brady Tkachuk, with eight points in six games is back from injury, so he might have been able to make it a bit more of a race than it is now. (nov7)


6. Thomas Chabot has been out of his mind this season. He’s tied for third spot on the NHL scoring leaderboard with 22 points in 16 games. Of those 22 points, 13 are secondary assists.

Now, I don’t need to tell you that Chabot won’t be playing at a 113-point pace for the remainder of the season, but many are climbing on him as a player capable of 75-plus. He’s banked enough points now to clear 50 if he stays healthy but anything more than 55 should be considered huge value. (nov10)

I’d definitely be shopping him around in one-year leagues and taking swings at some whales in keepers with him as a key piece heading out of the door.


7. For those looking to the future, Jack Hughes and his USNTDP mates were in the Czech Republic this week for the under-18 Five Nations Tournament. Here’s what he done as of Friday:

Game 1 – Two goals, two assists
Game 2 – Three goals, two assists
Game 3 – One goal, FIVE assists

The consensus number one selection in the upcoming draft has 15 points in three contests and has been dominating all over the ice. He sits firmly in the pole position for my recently updated 2019 NHL Draft Rankings. (nov10)


8. Playing on a line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz will definitely help, which is where Ryan O’Reilly found himself in place of the injured Brayden Schenn this past week. If Schenn remains out of the lineup, then the red-hot O’Reilly’s fantasy value becomes, well, scorching hot. (nov7)


9. Freddie Andersen’s inability to show up in October and November has become routine in past seasons but he appears to have shaken that habit in 2018-19. Andersen shares the league lead in wins with nine and is sporting a 0.933 save percentage. Roll him out without hesitation. (nov10)


10. The Oilers have sent both Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi to the AHL. They have a combined three points and have been healthy scratched numerous times, so this appears to be the best move as far as their long-term development goes. This should also cement Ty Rattie on the Connor McDavid line, as if there were any doubt. (nov11)


11. Before stepping on the ice against the Jets on Friday, Mikko Rantanen’s secondary assist rate (1.53 per 60 minutes) was more than double last year’s mark (0.73). For reference on that 1.53, of all players with 1000 5v5 minutes in 2017-18, no one was above 0.90. At this rate, he’ll surpass last season’s secondary assist total (14) before Christmas. That obviously won’t happen.

The thing is, even if we take a few assists off his current point total, Rantanen would still have 21 points in 16 games. He also has yet to score at 5v5 this year. If that were to normalize and he has two or three goals, that makes for the drop in second assist rate.

Long story short, there are reasons to believe Rantanen’s point rate will decline (no, he won’t put up 125 points or whatever) but the secondary assist rate at 5v5 should drop in somewhat similar proportions to the increase in 5v5 goal scoring. I wouldn’t worry about those two things specifically. (nov9)


12. Sabres’ Jeff Skinner has scored all of his 12 goals to date over the last 13 games after being held without a point over his first four games. He is already halfway toward his goal total from all of last season. As long as he’s lining up with Jack Eichel, he appears to be a big winner in last summer’s offseason moves. (nov11)


13. I just wanted to casually mention Brent Burns because even as his individual shot rate has declined – over four shots per game last year to three so far this year – his production has been as good as could be hoped for. Maybe he doesn’t push 30 goals again but if he managed 15 goals and 65 assists, will anyone really be angry with that?

It’s fascinating because his 5v5 shot and TOI rates have declined and yet because of the potency of the Sharks, his production has increased. His IPP is normal and his on-ice shooting percentage is normal. In other words, even if he sees a small power play point decline for the rest of the season, his five-on-five production rates should remain fairly constant as long as the Sharks keep shooting and scoring as they are with him on the ice right now, which is a distinct possibility.

All this is to say that even with Burns’s shot decline, he’s a very real threat to be a point-per-game player this year. That’s about as much as we can ask for from any fantasy hockey defenseman. (nov8)


14. With John Klingberg expected to be sidelined for the next four weeks, Miro Heiskanen took over first-unit power-play duties for the Stars on Saturday. Although he was held without a point, Heiskanen logged a career-high 29 minutes. As Cam Robinson mentioned in Saturday’s Ramblings, Heiskanen is worth grabbing immediately if he’s still available in your league.

Julius Honka, who is also worth paying attention to while Klingberg is out, recorded an assist in 17 minutes of ice time. His power-play time was limited to just 12 seconds, though. This stretch without Klingberg will be telling as to whether Honka has much of a future as a fantasy contributor. Otherwise, he might be headed down a similar career path as someone like Derrick Pouliot. (nov11)


15. I’m sticking to my guns in that I believe Kings’ new coach, Willie Desjardins, will spread out the minutes more evenly than John Stevens did, particularly with the forward lines. In the end, this may not affect their production if the extra minutes aren’t helping their production. I know what kind of player Anze Kopitar is, but I just can’t see him logging 23 minutes per game in a Willie D system if the fourth liners are providing solid hustle. (nov7)


16. With four goals in 17 games, it’s already apparent that Golden Knights’ William Karlsson won’t match last-season’s out-of-nowhere 43 goals. But with 14 points in 17 games, Karlsson is at least earning his keep on fantasy rosters. Karlsson scored a goal and added two assists on Saturday but the goal was his first in seven games. (nov11)


17. Lately, I’ve been seeing quite a few questions about dropping Max Pacioretty, which I first brought up a week ago. With no points again on Tuesday, Patches now has just two points (both goals) in 13 games. Somehow, I think the law of averages is going to make his statline look a little better but if I were his owner, I’d be running out of patience. And those who ask me questions know that I don’t run out of patience on star players that easily. Simply put, Patches has 39 points over his last 77 games played (both this season and last). If you decide to buy low, buy really low. (nov7)


18. A week after the MGM partnership announcement, the NHL has announced another partnership, this one with FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports site. Beyond advertising, the partnership will include things like contests for ‘experiences’ like the Winter Classic.

From someone who plays a lot of DFS, all I have to say is, “lol.” FanDuel is horrific for NHL contests. No site is perfect, but their problems over the years have run from things like egregious mis-pricing of players, incorrect positions for players, players missing from the player pool for games on end, and there was one night they listed Jamie Benn as his brother Jordie and vice versa.

Maybe an official partnership will force to get FanDuel to fix their myriad problems with the NHL offerings. Then again, we’re talking about the NHL, and accurate numbers is not something we’ve grown accustomed to from them, either. Good on the NHL for realizing they need to get into the DFS and gambling spheres but choosing FanDuel as an official partner is like deciding to go on a diet and getting all your salads from Wendy’s. (nov6)


19. I noticed Jan Kovar has eight points in seven games with Providence of the AHL. Very interesting, and kudos to him for signing an AHL tryout agreement and betting on himself. I’d love to see him earn his way back to the NHL. (nov5)


20. Fresh off his big signed contract extension, Yanni Gourde scored in OT Sunday and now has 54 points in his last 58 games. His ice time is eking up accordingly, and now that he’s being paid like a true scoring star, the trend will only continue. I feel like a picked this diamond in the rough five years ago (Prospects Report), soured on him eighteen months ago, got back on board midseason last year…but still dialed back expectations for 2018-19 having felt he overreached. Overall, it feels like a failure, but at the same time a nice call, depending on how far back you go with my writing. But I don’t like wavering back and forth on a guy, I like to evaluate long term and stick with that long-term vision, never to be shaken by some short-term events. With Gourde, I just didn’t think he could do what Jonathan Marchessault does. I’m sold now and that juicy contract seals it. His upside is just as high.

Tampa Bay signing smaller, undrafted players: Marchessault, Gourde and Tyler Johnson. Not too shabby.

So, who is next on the list? Perhaps Alex Barre-Boulet, signed earlier this year. Undrafted with 116 points as an overager in the QMJHL last year, he already has six points in 10 games with Syracuse, and he’s 5-9. We’ll find out in 2022 I guess. (nov5)


Have a good week, folks!!



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