Ramblings: Sprong and Leivo; Nylander; ‘Hawks and Kings; Recaps – December 4

Michael Clifford



The signing of William Nylander meant that someone currently with the Leafs was either going to be traded or put on waivers. It ended up being the former as Josh Leivo was traded to Vancouver for Michael Carcone. Carcone has 62 points in 149 career AHL games, but does have 17 in 20 this season. You can read his Dobber Prospects profile here.

Believe it or not, this is Leivo’s sixth NHL season (or part of, anyway), and he’s played 84 games along the way, amassing 28 points. Not a huge total but he’s also averaged under 11 minutes per game. Going to Vancouver means he should finally have a shot at regular top-6 minutes. It’s up to him what he does with them. He’s good enough to play anywhere on that roster but the fantasy value will be up to where he slots.


The Rangers recalled Dustin Tokarski and sent Alexendar Georgiev to the AHL. The 22-year old Georgiev had an .899 save percentage in eight appearances with New York this year.


The Flyers hired Chuck Fletcher as their new general manager. There was a good breakdown of what Flyers fans (and fantasy owners) can expect from Fletcher by Charlie O’Connor over at The Athletic. Most notably is how he quotes Michael Russo on saying Fletcher is a “win-now” kind of guy. He won’t horde picks and prospects, but rather he’ll trade them. It’ll be interesting to see what shake-ups this brings.  


Both Alex Pietrangelo and Robby Fabbri have been put on the injured reserve by the Blues. It was a separated shoulder for the latter and a hand injury for the former.

Colton Parayko has taken over second unit duties on the power play and played over 24 minutes in their game on the weekend. Make sure he’s not sitting on a waiver wire somewhere.

Fabbri has had his fair share of injuries over the last few years. This seems to be nothing too serious, at least for now. Let’s hope it stays that way.


The Penguins have traded forward Daniel Sprong to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenceman Marcus Pettersson.

Sprong never really got his footing with the big club but he should get a real chance in Anaheim. This team is starved for scoring and he should get a chance somewhere in the top-9. The question is if he can maintain that spot. This is a good gamble for the Ducks, though. I’ll be interested to see if he moves on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. It seems a logical spot for him to start.

As for Pettersson, well he’s on a Pens blue line with a lot of mouths to feed on the left side. Regardless, it’s the guys running the power plays that carry the value on this team. Pettersson won’t be one of them.


William Nylander, by the way, did not practice with the Leafs on Monday. There had been hope he could be in the lineup Tuesday but now it looks like it’ll definitely be Thursday.


After a brief experiment splitting up the PP units, the Islanders have returned Mathew Barzal to the top PP unit. Please don’t do that again, Barry.


Not a lot of chatter around the Flames, but they’re a top-5 team in adjusted shot share, top-10 team by expected goal share, they’re leading their division (as of Monday night before the games), and are third in goal differential in the West. For a team that has had their goaltending issues this season, it’s a very rosy picture. If that goaltending can keep itself stabilized, this is a team that can be a threat to get to the Cup Final.


Tyler Bertuzzi was suspended two games for his incident Sunday night against Colorado. The 23-year old has 16 points in 27 games with 40 hits in a nice roto season to date.


At the Board of Governors meetings, Gary Bettman said the cap next year will be around $83-million. Get budgeting, cap leaguers.


Tampa Bay’s top line did their thing on Monday night, as they do most game nights. Each of Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov scored, while Point added two assists and Kucherov added three. Yanni Gourde scored his 10th of the season with Steven Stamkos also putting one on the board in the 5-1 win.

Ryan McDonagh had a pair of assists to bring him to 20 points on the season. As Cam Robinson pointed out on Twitter, it’s also 24 points for Kucherov in his last 10 games alone.

Egor Yakovlev scored the first goal of his career to break Louis Domingue’s shutout.

With Gourde getting to 10 goals, the Lightning become the third team to have four players with double-digit goals. The other two teams being Calgary (Monahan, Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Lindholm) and Minnesota (Dumba, Granlund, Parise, Staal).


Nashville skated over the Sabres for a 2-1 win, doing so still without Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, PK Subban, and Kyle Turris. A power play goal from Ryan Ellis and the game-winner from Kevin Fiala proved the difference. After a very slow start to the season, Fiala has three goals and three assists in his last six games. He still needs to shoot more, though.

Pekka Rinne stopped 21 of 22 in the win.

Roman Josi had five shots on goal on Monday night. That brings him to 107 on the season, on a pace to surpass 300, putting him in company with Brent Burns for single-season totals since the most recent lockout.


The Edmonton Oilers were without Connor McDavid on Monday night. The Oilers captain missed the game due to an illness. Nothing to worry about beyond that.

Edmonton broke the shutout late but Dallas managed a 4-1 win over the McDavid-less Oilers. Goals from Jason Dickinson, Brett Ritchie (his first), Esa Lindell, and Jamie Benn (PP) were the goal scorers. It was a very dull game almost the entire way through.

The Dallas broadcast pointed out this: Tyler Seguin has hit the most posts (9) in the NHL this year. Game of inches, indeed.


It happened at the 11th hour, but the Leafs were able to sign William Nylander just minutes before the deadline on Saturday afternoon. He’s now under contract for the next six seasons and should make his debut with the team sometime this week.

You can read Dobber’s take on the signing here and Ian’s here. I wanted to offer mine before putting this whole situation behind us.

Before the season, I had him ranked as the 33rd overall left winger in standard Yahoo! leagues. Keep in mind that standard Yahoo! leagues include hits as a category and Nylander is a detriment in that regard. Without hits, I have him as a top-24 left winger, mostly because he’s not a player from whom we expect stout shot totals. My 82-game preseason projection was as follows:

18.9 goals, 39.6 assists, 182.8 shots, 15.5 power play points, 21.2 hits

Pro-rate that for about two-thirds of the season and we get somewhere around 13 goals, 26 assists, 152 shots, 10 power play points, and 14 hits. Before yelling at me, I want to note that my projections are generally conservative.

When updating his projection for this season, the first thing to consider is how much time he’ll see on the power play. His PPP projection above assumed the team would use a split PP unit this year. With Babcock stacking the top unit, he’d actually project closer to 25 PPPs, which would add about three goals and seven assists to his full-season projection, not to mention about 24 shots. Nylander being a 70-point player with over 200 shots is huge improvement.

But will he be on that power play unit? If he were to replace someone, surely it would be Nazem Kadri. This is where Kadri shoots from on the power play with everyone healthy, just to show what the PP setup is (via HockeyViz):

Kadri plays the bumper slot in the middle of the power play, akin to TJ Oshie with the Capitals. That’s not where Nylander played last year when the team still had split PP units. He played on the half-wall where Mitch Marner is now. This is Nylander’s PP unit shot locations from last season (again from Hockey Viz):

Now, that PP unit wasn’t great so maybe Nylander needed a new role anyway. He’s also skilled enough that he can play more than one spot on the PP. But Toronto’s power play is clicking along at 29 percent and when they have the quartet of Kadri-Tavares-Marner-Matthews on the ice, they’re scoring 22.8 goals per 60 minutes on the power play, which is an obscene number. Really good power plays try to break the double-digit mark; they’re more than double that. Why would Babcock break up that unit?  

The good news is that, obviously, Nylander has 60-point potential (in a full season) even without a lot of power play production. The bad news is that he’ll get nowhere near his ceiling without those power play minutes. The worse news is that he’s not a guy who stuffs peripherals like hits and shots to make up for the lack of production.

So when it comes down to how good Nylander will be for the balance of the season, the fate rests in the hands of the coach. There’s no doubt that the young Swede can rack up the points playing with Matthews at even strength. The question is if he’ll get the prime man advantage minutes necessary to make up for what he does not offer elsewhere because even strength production alone with middling peripherals doesn’t make a great fantasy asset. My feeling is that Nylander will get to the top PP unit eventually, it’s just a matter of when, and no one has the answer to that question. Just temper expectations based on your league scoring, is all.


Sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener?

As we sit on Monday afternoon, both the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings are near the bottom of the league. Two of the most successful franchises *this decade* in a race for more ping pong balls in the lottery. Incredible.

I was digging around some Blackhawks stuff this season, found and tweeted this:



It’s no secret the Blackhawks have been in a slide, but given the way they’ve been playing, they’ve deserved it. Quenneville seemed to be getting the most he could out of the roster and now a less experienced coach is getting a lot less. Quelle surprise.

How are the Kings doing? Well, not great!

Pre-Stevens Firing: 4-8-1, 48.4% adj. CF% (22nd)

Post-Stevens Firing: 6-8-0, 47.1% adj. CF% (24th)

They’re still not winning games and their metrics are deteriorating. Stevens wasn’t getting a lot out of the roster and Willie Desjardins isn’t either. And he had been making Ilya Kovalchuk ride the pine before his injury.

What’s worse for the Kings is that their best players, or presumably their best line at least, is getting thoroughly run over this year. I don’t say that as hyperbole, either:



That’s the problem here for the Kings. If your best players are routinely getting caved in, it doesn’t really matter what the rest of your roster looks like.

But there has to be something else going on here. That very same Kings line had a 52.5 percent shot share line just last year. Is Dustin Brown playing through a tough injury? Is Kopitar? Both? Is Desjardins really that bad?

Los Angeles will be a fascinating team to watch the rest of the year because there’s a good argument hiring Desjardins only made a bad situation worse and there are no prospects to call up to help internally. Can you fire two coaches in one season? I mean, I guess you can, but is it frowned upon?  



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