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. Although Mikko Koskinen has better numbers than Cam Talbot at the moment, I’m not sure if he'll remain Edmonton’s starter for the rest of the season. But right now, you have a new starting goalie who will reap the benefits of the Ken Hitchcock effect. That means you need to add Koskinen immediately if he’s available in your league and you need a goalie. (nov23)
2. Caps’ John Carlson now has 20 assists on the season. Following Saturday’s game, Carlson was third in both assists and points among defensemen. In case you were worried that Carlson’s 68-point effort last season was a fluke, Carlson is now on pace for 93 points after the first quarter of the season. It’s probably fair to say now that Carlson is for real, which means he should be considered a top-tier fantasy defenseman. (nov25)
3. I know people may be freaking out about Colton Parayko but here are a few things to keep in mind:
– Parayko’s shot attempt rate is down from his previous three years but nothing to really get in fits over. What’s interesting is his shot on goal rate from 2015-18 was 6.33 and this year it was 5.52 before Saturday action. That’s a decline of about 14.7 percent, which ‘is’ something to get in fits over. The fact that his shots are missing the net is probably just a bit of randomness. I would expect that to normalize and Parayko’s shot rate to climb.
– The 25-year old blue liner has yet to manage a 5v5 primary assist on the year. Were that rate to be in line with his recent seasons, we could add 3-4 assists to his current total and he’d be on pace for 35-40 points again.
With a new coach in town (and likely another one on the way,) things may be a bit rocky for now,but that would be the time to buy low. He may even be available on the waiver wire. I wouldn’t wait too long, though, because the next multi-point game slams the window shut. (nov24)
4. The Senators and Oilers swung a minor trade on Thursday, with Chris Wideman heading to Edmonton. Wideman hadn’t ever been a 20-minute-per-game defenseman this season but he was receiving second-unit power-play minutes in Ottawa. Wideman has a bit of offensive upside, although he’s probably only worth an add in the very deepest of leagues. I would totally expect to see him on the Oil’s second power-play unit in the near term, though. Long term, he’s simply keeping the seat warm for Evan Bouchard, or Ethan Bear. (nov23)
5. To the commenter in my last Ramblings: you’re right, it’s not fair that I would say Max Domi will slow down without mentioning Jeff Skinner, as well. The latter is currently shooting at a 22.5 percent clip this season, which is a full 10 percent higher than his career average. So, he absolutely will not continue to score at this pace. Selling high is always an option. However, Skinner exceeding his career high of 37 goals is a very real possibility. Did he ever have a linemate in Carolina that possesses the high-end skills of Jack Eichel? (nov25)
6. The New York Rangers are slowly coming along and one reason has been the play of Kevin Hayes. He’s on pace for what would be career highs with 50 points, 200 shots on goal, over 19 minutes per game of ice time, and he only has two power-play points to date.
Hayes plays a deep center position and someone with 50 points, 200 shots, and 12 PPPs at center isn’t a significant fantasy contributor but he’s a guy to monitor. When such a player (playing over 19 minutes with good power play time) heats up, there could be a point-per-game player for 2-3 weeks here. Deep leaguers should see if Hayes can be had for little in a trade. (nov24)
7. The most notable change that new coach Jeremy Colliton has made is loading up the Blackhawks’ top line with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. Kane and Toews are what you might expect – six/nine points, respectively, in the nine games since the coaching change). As for the previously struggling Saad, he also has chipped in three goals and three assist in the six games he’s played since Colliton replaced Joel Quenneville. Saad is definitely worth taking a flier on if he’s available. He has also received more than 20 minutes of ice time per game in three consecutive skates.
But, that means other Hawks’ forwards are hurt by the line shuffling, in particular Alex DeBrincat. After skating with Toews for much of the first quarter of the season, Debrincat has been moved onto a line with Artem Anisimov and Nick Schmaltz. Debrincat has just three points (two goals, assist) over his last nine games. (nov23)
8. Probably the most glaring example of a player who has been hurt by the appointment of Willie Desjardins as Kings’ coach is Ilya Kovalchuk. After scoring a goal and two assists in Willie D’s debut on November 6, Kovy has now gone eight games without a point.
As much as Kovalchuk has supposedly struggled (five goals in 22 games), he’s actually the Kings’ leading scorer with 14 points. That’s a scary thought if you’re a Kings’ fan. That means we’re looking directly at Anze Kopitar. So far, the coaching change has had little effect on Kopitar bouncing back from what has been a noticeably subpar first quarter, as Kopitar has just four points over his last nine games.
The Kings as a whole have scored 17 goals over those nine games, so you’re hard-pressed to find anyone else that has been helped by the coaching change. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a long season in LA. (nov23)
9. Leafs’ Andreas Johnsson earned the hat trick on Saturday, scoring first-period three goals in an eventual 6-0 win over the Flyers. Even though Johnsson is Dobber Prospects’ top-ranked Toronto left wing, this goal explosion wouldn’t have directly helped very many fantasy teams. Johnsson hadn’t recorded a point over his previous five games, and he’s only 1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. Maybe this effort will help him get noticed more in markets outside Toronto (assuming you tune out all the Toronto news in your sports media consumption). (nov25)
10. After a couple of partial seasons, Cam Atkinson had 39 points in his first full NHL year, followed by 40, and then 53. After that, he broke out to 62, but was then hurt the following year and produced similar numbers, though in just 65 games. Now in Year 6 as a full-timer (Year 8 overall), he’s on a point-per-game pace.
Watching Vinnie Hinostroza a couple of times this season (and of course last year), and listening to what the local commentators say about him, as well as coaches, scouts and GMs over the years (I lock onto this stuff, put it in the vault, about all players – I devour this stuff and never seem to forget it, which is why I don’t easily adjust my opinion in future years), I can’t help but feel that his career production will follow a similar path to Atkinson’s. A 40- or 45-point guy for a couple of years, mid-50s in 2020-21, low- to mid-60s in 21-22, and then upward from there if given the right linemates (which Atkinson has).
If you’re patient with this player, I believe it will pay off. (nov22)
11. Damon Severson has six points in seven games, five at even strength. Will Butcher has one point in nine games despite manning the top PP unit. Butcher has just two points at even strength this season. Playing with Ben Lovejoy is tying his hands, in my opinion. Meanwhile, Severson thrives thanks to his partner, Andy Greene, holding the fort. I also think that at 24, and in his fifth NHL season, Severson is coming into his own. I’m not saying he’ll get his 55-point pace. But he’ll absolutely get his career high (currently 31 points). (nov22)
12. So, it turns out that all Pavel Zacha needed was to show he can dominate at the AHL level in order to properly get a chance at the NHL level. Prior to this recent stint, his only time in the AHL was a three-game run back in 2015 (three points). This time, he was down for four games and got five points. Upon this latest recall, he saw 16 minutes of ice time in four out of five games. In his first 10 games before being sent down, he saw 16 minutes just three times. A big part of that is the fact that he is now playing with Jesper Bratt, as opposed to Tommy Stonehands or Jimmy Lunchpail. Zacha has four points in his last four games and those are his only four points of the entire season. He’s now earning PP time, as well.
Looking at Zacha’s career numbers: As a rookie, he had 13 PPPts with just 1:50 per game. Between that and the AHL, it tells me that he thrives when given room but has trouble creating that room himself. I suppose Bratt’s speed opens things up a little for him. (nov22)
13. Tanner Pearson should be on your radar if you need a left wing. With a goal on Saturday, Pearson is off to a great start in Pittsburgh, scoring goals in three of his past four games. His linemates? Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin. You shouldn't need me to tell you that you can’t get much better than that. (nov25)
14. Do you know who could be hurt by the defensive-minded Ken Hitchcock hiring in Edmonton? No, not Connor McDavid, but Leon Draisaitl. He’s a wildly talented player who could still use some further motivation in the defensive department at times. Draisaitl has nine points in his last five games. Life with McDavid is good. (nov21)
15. So, Drake Batherson seems to be enjoying pro hockey, eh? The 20-year-old concluded a tremendous QMJHL career highlighted by a WJC gold medal and a monster playoff run with Blainville-Boisbriand. He transitioned to the AHL last month and went off: seven goals and 20 points in 14 games before earning the call.
Thus far, the NHL hasn’t appeared to be much of a challenge yet, either. He has two goals and five points in five contests. He has seen some time with a rejuvenated and red-hot Matt Duchene on the top line, and the two seem to feed off of each other’s speed and skill when paired up. Take a look to see if your squad could use a kid on a heater. He’s out there for most of you. (nov21)
16. Mikko Koivu has 19 points in 22 games this season. I should have given you a heads up that this resurgence would happen because I dropped him at the Draft in one of my leagues. In all fairness to me, though, I shopped him hard at the Draft table for a measly future pick and had no takers – so, everyone else should be just as embarrassed.
I dropped Koivu and drafted Vitali Kravtsov, announcing boldly: “I will draft the first overall pick in our midseason Draft right now…Vitali Kravtsov. I’ll drop Mikko Koivu.” The irony is that right now, Koivu would be the first overall pick in our midseason Draft now. (nov19)
17. After kicking off the season with five points in seven games, and starting off his NHL career with eight points in nine games, Warren Foegele has hit a wall. He’s gone pointless in 16 games. His ice time remained strong through 10 games of pointless hockey, but he’s run out of leash in the last five outings and Friday saw a season-low 10:33. Foegele is looking at another game or two of this, followed by one in the press box, and then the inevitable AHL demotion.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour is happy with Foegele’s complete game, otherwise he wouldn’t have been given scoring-line minutes for so long despite the non-production. But, in the AHL, he’ll regain his scoring touch and confidence. I like him as a future scoring-line player but had been surprised at how quickly he was moving forward. So, I look at this as a step back from the extra step forward that we didn’t expect him to take in the first place. (nov19)
18. When Anthony Beauvillier was dropped in one of my leagues last week, I raised a Spockian eyebrow and then I went to his profile page to have a look at line combos, ice time trend and advanced stats. Last year, Beauvillier had 29 points in the second half and meshed really well with Mathew Barzal, so I was pretty bullish of him on Draft day in September. I projected him for 45 points but also made him my top sleeper on the Islanders.
At the time, his game log showed steady ice time and secondary PP time, not trending downwards, and his 5on5 SH% was very low, which indicated poor puck luck. So, I picked him up and held him. Immediately, he spent two games planted on the bench, barely seeing fourth-line minutes. But, I made the investment, so I would hang onto him until roster decisions force my hand. The benching seemed to have worked, as Beauvillier has picked up five goals and seven points in his last five contests.
Between his addition, the return of Tom Wilson from suspension, and the recall of a guy I claimed and stuck in my minors back on the first day – Drake Batherson – my team in that league has unbelievable depth. This is a 14-team league with rosters of 30 players. My five reserve spots for the past week were filled by: Cam Talbot, William Karlsson, Dustin Brown, Kasperi Kapanen and Darnell Nurse, with Max Comtois still on my IR. Depth!
19. Still in that league of mine above, I did have a couple of issues (besides the obvious Cam Talbot one, ahem) and I resolved them both in a single trade early last week. John Klingberg, injured as you know. And Anze Kopitar. I can’t lose a top defenseman for a month, and Kopitar…I can’t drop him, the guy just had 96 points, but man what if he doesn’t even get 60 this year again? What to do, what to do?? I packaged them along with a first-round draft pick (I have an extra second and an extra third, so…) in exchange of Victor Hedman and Nicklas Backstrom. The high pick closed the deal, as I figured the guy would have a man-crush on Hedman (as most people would!). (nov19)
20. Another interesting twist to ‘eight-points-in-one-game’ man Sam Gagner’s career: The Canucks called him back up from the AHL, where he had 15 points in 15 games for the Marlies. With Brock Boeser, Sven Baertschi, Jay Beagle, Brandon Sutter and, at the time, Antoine Roussel out of the lineup, it’s amazing that Gagner has slipped so far down the totem pole. I mean, he gets recalled after five injured forwards? What if the Canucks were like most teams and never had more than four forwards injured at the same time? We’d never see him again? Very interesting. It goes without saying that he is a one-dimensional offensive player. If you are in need of a depth guy, he is worthy of a claim. (nov19)
He is once again being used as a power-play specialist, logging first-unit minutes with the Canucks. In case you are indeed interested in Gagner for fantasy purposes, do remember that a Brock Boeser Boeser return could push him back down the lineup. Gagner has more offensive upside than numerous Canucks forwards, so it wouldn’t make sense from a scoring standpoint to send him back down to the AHL. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. (nov25)
Have a good week, folks!!
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