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. All I’ve wanted from Anaheim for basically a year now is a line of Rickard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ondrej Kase. They wouldn’t do it (much) last year with Corey Perry around, and this year’s been difficult on the team injury-wise. Kase started the season out of the lineup and lately it’s been Rakell. We have no firm timeline on Rakell’s return, but when he does, I would like to see these three together.
Over the last few seasons, when those three have skated together, they’ve been utterly dominant, putting up an expected goal share near 60 percent (per Corsica). Having those three together would allow the checking line of Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg to stay together while giving Adam Henrique a scoring winger when Perry returns. Something like this:
Rakell – Getzlaf – Kase
Pontus Aberg – Henrique – Perry
Cogliano – Kesler – Silfverberg
Of course, I say all this as a greedy owner of Kase in all my leagues. Please, Santa. (dec14)
2. One trend I’m really enjoying is the fact that there are a large group of high-scoring defensemen. Sure, we’re not going to have five or six reach 80 points, but right now it’s pretty fun seeing Morgan Rielly, Thomas Chabot, John Carlson, and Mark Giordano each with 30 points or more and each with more points than games played.
Thirteen defensemen with at least 16 games played have a points-per-game average of 0.75 or higher. Eight (50 or more games) did so last year, with the highest mark being 0.87. That was Erik Karlsson, who is not among this year’s 12, but I think will be. Karlsson has 14 points in his last 15 contests. (dec10)
3. I would like to see Dallas trade for Jeff Carter. It probably won’t be long until the fire sale in Los Angeles begins and Carter’s name is floated constantly. I know he’s off to a bad start this year but the same could be said about his entire team. He’s getting to the latter stages of his NHL career but his cap hit is very reasonable at just over $5.2-million and the Stars have both Jason Spezza and Marc Methot coming off the books after this season. It would give them a very good second-line center that the team hasn’t really had in three years. They could then justifiably move one of Jamie Benn or Alex Radulov to the second line, giving them a balanced top-six for the first time in, well, a really long time. (dec14)
4. I’ve been thinking that as much as fantasy hockey owners have drooled at Colton Parayko’s size and shot, maybe it’s time to accept that what we’ve seen from Parayko is what we’re going to get, and nothing more. For all that perceived upside, the big St. Louis defenseman has never scored more than 35 points in a season, although he’s been remarkably consistent around that total over the past three seasons.
So, Parayko scoring two goals while logging 28 minutes on Friday isn’t great timing for me to make my point. Since Alex Pietrangelo’s injury, Parayko has averaged nearly 26 minutes per game, even though he has scored only one point (another goal) over the previous five games that Petro has been out of the lineup. Both the skills and the opportunity are there, even if the Blues are as much of a mess as any team right now. Turning from fantasy to reality, I could see NHL teams engaging in a serious bidding war for Parayko’s services. (dec15)
5. If Flyers’ coach Dave Hakstol does lose his job, he can rightfully say that the team’s goaltending situation didn’t do him any favors.
Before you get excited about a Carter Hart callup, note that he is still getting used to the AHL (2.98 GAA, .903 SV%). For the sake of Hart’s long-term confidence, it’s probably best not to bring him into a situation as volatile as what the Flyers have going on.
6. Hakstol won’t be able to say he’s been able to rely on Shayne Gostisbehere, either. Ghost simply isn’t going to come anywhere close to his 65 points from last season. For a player who fires a ton of shots from the point on the power play, he has completely dried up with no goals over his last 15 games and counting. His minus-18 further deflates his value.
In case you’re thinking that this is a perfect opportunity to try Ivan Provorov on PP1, he has struggled himself this season as well (11 points in 31 games, a similar total to Ghost). We’ll have to keep an eye on how a potential coaching change could affect the fantasy values of these two blueliners. It can’t really make things any worse, as the Flyers have just one power-play goal over their last 11 games. (dec16)
7. If your league is one of the few that counts shorthanded goals, Mark Giordano will have helped you win that category this week. Gio scored his second shorthanded goal in as many games on Saturday, giving him a four-game point streak in which he has lit it up for nine points.
After back-to-back sub-40-point seasons, Giordano’s point-per-game performance must count as one of the season’s biggest surprises. The Flames’ offense may have something to do with that, as the team’s offense has improved from 2.63 GF/GP last season to 3.48 GF/GP this season. (dec16)
8. Alex Ovechkin didn’t record another hat trick on Saturday. But he did score another goal (his 29th) while taking eight shots on goal and logging 25:34 in ice time. He’s currently riding a six-game goal-scoring streak, plus a 14-game point run. (dec16)
If you read the latest 31 Thoughts or listened to the 31 Thoughts Podcast, you probably have an opinion on whether Ovechkin can eventually catch Wayne Gretzky in career goals. Those who think he can are probably in the minority, but at the very least we can conclude that at age 33 there hasn’t been much slowdown. For now, we can safely assume that another 50-goal season is well within reach, while he continues to pile on the goals, shots, and hits. (dec15)
9. Sure, we know that Connor McDavid will do his thing, like he did on Friday (two goals and an assist). Same with Leon Draisaitl (three assists). But, with another goal on Friday, Alex Chiasson now has a career-high 14 goals with five points over his last five games riding shotgun on this top line. He is currently benefiting from a 30 percent shooting accuracy. The goals may eventually turn into assists should he stay on this line, though. Keep in mind he’s only 15 percent owned while playing on a line with the NHL’s best player. (dec15)
10. Ryan Hartman should get to 20 goals this year, which is a quietly nice season for a middle-six winger. For fantasy hockey, though, the Predators’ forward is not hitting nearly as much as he has in previous seasons, having been credited with just 26 in 33 games. Each of his first two seasons saw him cruise past 110 hits. That doesn’t seem feasible this year. If the trade-off is more scoring, though, I’m sure fantasy owners will take it. (dec14)
JOIN THE ACTION: Rick Roos is rolling again with his annual Cage Match Tournament. Check out the forums to vote for ‘The New Normal’ edition.
11. I was very high on Arizona’a Clayton Keller coming into the year and it’s not quite panning out. I mean, it’s all relative, right. He’s on a 61-point pace right now. Realistically, for a 20-year old, that’s a good season. I thought it’d be a lot higher, though. I guess he’s only one hot streak away from being a 70-point pace player; just unfortunate we haven’t really seen it yet. (dec14)
12. It’s a small thing, but I hope Habs’ Charles Hudon gets another crack with the Canadiens. He’s been sitting in the press box an awful lot for them lately. I’ve reached the point with him where I’ve accepted that he probably won’t be more than a third/fourth-line winger, but I think he’s a better third/fourth line winger than some of the players the Habs trot out regularly.
Maybe he doesn’t have the punchiness of Nicolas Deslauriers, or the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of Kenny Agostino (literally, I don’t know what they see in him), but Hudon could be a guy you can get 10-15 goals from on the fourth line with secondary power play time. That has value. More value than, say, 10 fights. (dec14)
13. Canucks’ Brock Boeser has missed some games but he’s played 22 and has scored just one power play goal. Allow me to repeat: the guy who scored 12 PP goals in his first 71 career games has one through 22 outings this season. His shot rates are consistent with his prior performances. So, what’s the deal?
Boeser has 11 goals and 19 points in 22 games. He’s landing three shots on goal per game and the data about shots and shot location on the PP seem normal. In one-year leagues, maybe it’s worth looking to see if the Boeser owner is seeing the shine wear off a little bit. Not that it’s a buy-low situation, but a chance to buy cheaper than he should be. Just a thought. (dec13)
Resting his groin injury for most of November has turned out to be beneficial for Boeser. With another goal on Saturday, Boeser now has five goals over his last four games and appears to be back to last season's form. (dec16)
14. Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad is currently on pace for 71 points, which would smash is previous career-best of 51, the only time he’s cracked 50 points. He’s on that pace despite shooting 10.3 percent, the lowest for him in any season since the lockout year. Over those five seasons, he averaged 12 percent. Why the drop in shooting percentage? The power play.
This may surprise a few people, but Zibanejad had 14 power play goals last year and he’s not on pace for even half that many this year with just three so far. I expect there will be a huge power play scoring binge coming over the final 50 games. As in, don’t be surprised if he scores 10-plus PP goals the rest of the season.
It’s another buying opportunity. Zibanejad’s production is still pretty good, and he is averaging over three shots on goal per game. It never hurts to ask the Zibanejad owner in your league what it might take to acquire him. (dec13)
15. Even though Daniel Sprong is only 21, it seemed like we had waited an eternity for him to find his way onto the Pittsburgh Penguins and make an impact playing on a line with one or more of their big guns. While that won’t happen, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to give up on him. Now in a situation with a team that really needs him, Sprong has scored three goals in five games as a Duck, including both of the team’s goals on Saturday. His ice time is also up over six minutes per game to 14 minutes, which tells you how little he had been playing in Pittsburgh. (dec16)
16. The requisite Elias Pettersson tidbit. Heading into last Tuesday’s contests, Pettersson had 15 goals and 30 points in 26 career games. Here’s a look at some other current stars and their totals after 26 contests:
Jordan Binnington is the new back-up in St. Louis. The 25-year-old has a single NHL game on his resume. He managed to wrestle the starting gig in the American league from Ville Husso, who has been projected as the up-and-comer for a few seasons. With the way the Blues are playing these days, it is conceivable that Binnington sees some ice, but the results will likely be very muted. (dec12)
18. I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago about defensemen with a couple friends. Basically, how many defensemen can we rely upon in fantasy? I don’t mean defensemen you can trot out for 200 blocked shots or whatever. I mean defensemen from whom you know you’re going to get 24 minutes a game, a couple shots, and top PP minutes. Not very many.
For that reason, I generally treat the bottom of my defense rosters in non-dynasty leagues as a revolving door. I have staples, of course, like Roman Josi or Victor Hedman, but once we get to guys like Shea Theodore, Mikhail Sergachev, or Jake Muzzin, they could find themselves on and off my roster two or three times a year. It’s about dumping them at their highest value and looking for the next guy, ad infinitum. (dec11)
19. Trading away John Carlson just because he’s due to regress a bit isn’t the point here. The point is to recognize an asset whose value will decline over the next four months compared to present-day value in order to fill holes elsewhere on a roster with a package that should return more value over those four months.
Again, keep in mind that I’m not saying to run out and trade Carlson. What I’m saying is to not expect him to be a top-3 fantasy defenseman as he’s been so far. If you can trade him as a top-3 defenseman and get back comparable future value to help fill gaps on your roster, then you do it. It’s all about the needs and the return, not necessarily about the player himself. (dec11)
20. It appears I kick off Ramblings every week with goalie talk, but it’s the most important position in fantasy hockey and it’s produced some of the weirdest results so far. Which makes it the most frustrating – and it’s a frustrating position during the best of times. In case you missed it other weeks, my mantra has been “follow the contract”, the starter will eventually get his starts back almost always unless he truly, truly sucks.
But Blues’ Jake Allen is the one starter whose terrible start I have the least faith in turning around. And for a bit there, it looked as though even he was rebounding.
Allen is signed for another two years at $4.35 million per, he’s a high draft pick (34th overall), and he’s an organization-developed talent. He’s the Golden Boy. I say this because he got 83 starts over the last 14 and a half months and despite sucking, he still gets thrown out there. (dec10)
Have a good week, folks!!
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