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. This year’s free agent crop is one absolutely loaded with talent. Aside from Mark Stone, names like Erik Karlsson, Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Joe Pavelski, and Jeff Skinner top the list, and that’s discounting guys like Alex Edler and Jordan Eberle.
Stone is one of the few players I suspect will be on the move at or before the trade deadline and that means there’s a lot of interest in his future both for the balance of this season and next year.
Let’s set aside the balance of this year for a second. One reason Stone’s UFA contract should be fascinating is that he’s truly one of the best wingers on the planet. Are there enough GMs who view him as such that there will be a bidding war? He has 105 points in his last 98 games, so his offense has started to show through over the last couple seasons.
Stone may not be a coveted fantasy asset like Brad Marchand or Vladimir Tarasenko but he’s similar in real-world talent. He should see north of $8-million a year. How much further will depend on how general managers value him which is, in a nerdy-ish kind of way, exciting. (jan3)
2. Where’s the clamoring for John Gibson as MVP this year? All the usual names like Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, and Nikita Kucherov are constantly brought up. What about Gibson? Night after night through two months of the 2018-19 season this guy was getting bombarded and he kept this team in and around a playoff spot. He deserves serious Hart consideration. (jan1)
3. I guess six goals and nine points in seven games isn’t enough to keep you on an NHL roster anymore. At least it wasn’t for Brandon Pirri, who was sent to the AHL on Friday. No, it doesn’t make sense on the surface. But Max Pacioretty returned from injured reserve on Friday and Pirri was waiver-exempt (had not been on an NHL roster for 10 games or 30 consecutive days), while other options for demotion weren’t.
That’s the cap world for you, and maybe even an example of the difference between how an NHL roster and your fantasy team are constructed.
4. Golden Knights assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon has said “he’ll (Pirri) be back.” For now, you’re probably safe to drop Pirri, unless you have generous bench space. It sounds like he’ll be the first player recalled in the event of another injury, so we might not have to wait very long to see him again. Must be nice to be the Vegas Golden Knights and accumulate this much depth. (jan5)
5. David Rittich returned to the net Saturday after a brief injury absence, stopping 32 of 34 shots in a 3-2 win over the Flyers. You probably know by now that Rittich has been by far the better Flames’ goalie. If the Flames are to continue their stay at the top of the Western Conference, it’s imperative that they play the hot hand instead of the guy with the higher salary in Mike Smith. (jan6)
6. An update from the Flyers states that goaltender Brian Elliott may return before the end of January, or pre-All Star break. With that said, as long as Carter Hart remains healthy and gives the Flyers a chance to win every night, he’s not leaving the starters’ role. (jan1)
7. The way goalies have been dropping like flies, not only will Flyers’ recent waiver-wire acquisition Mike McKenna suit up again in the NHL this season, but he’ll become somewhat fantasy relevant at some point. It may be with the Flyers, but it could just as well be with another team. If you don’t believe me, then I bet the injury-ravaged (at least in net) Leafs would have picked him up off waivers had the Flyers passed on him. (jan5)
8. Dougie Hamilton, nice to finally see you in the boxscore. Hamilton’s goal and assist last Thursday were his first points since (looks way down the game log) December 5. That was 11 games without a point. Even with the point drought coming to an end, there are still signs that it’s not going to happen for Hamilton in Carolina. He’s still on the second-unit power play behind Justin Faulk and of late has often played under 20 minutes.
I know there are plenty of defensemen with good offensive numbers that play less than 20 minutes per game but, from a fantasy perspective, Hamilton is simply not being used enough by the Canes to be effective in points leagues relative to other options. Yes, I can see that he had comparable ice time numbers in Calgary, but minutes and opportunities matter if you’re looking for reasons that his production is way down.
I know I’ve banged the drum on Hamilton in the past, but I’m currently in sell mode when it comes to his stock, having just traded him away in one single-season league. (jan4)
9. I know that it can take years before we determine the real winner of a trade. But when you factor in Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm, can we declare Calgary the early winner of the offseason trade with Carolina?
Calgary has Hanifin and Lindholm, who has already established a career high in points in half a season. For Carolina, Hamilton has struggled mightily, while Micheal Ferland has cooled off (just one goal since November 21). Carolina also received prospect Adam Fox in the deal, so there’s still time for this deal to be more favorable for the Hurricanes. (jan6)
10. In Friday’s Ramblings, I mentioned Jared Spurgeon and his ice time with Matt Dumba out of the lineup. Hopefully you’ve noticed, as Spurgeon is really heating up. With two goals on Saturday, Spurgeon now has three goals and five points over his last two games. Spurgeon hadn’t taken advantage of the situation scoring-wise until those last two games, but he’s been an absolute minute muncher since Dumba’s injury, averaging just over 26 minutes per game since December 18. (jan6)
Reminder: Our Midseason Guide is up for presale with a release date of next Friday, January 11. Pre-order it here and make sure it’s in your Downloads section waiting for you the instant we publish it.
11. Tyler Seguin scored both Stars’ goals in their 2-1 overtime win over Washington on Friday. Seguin now has goals in back-to-back games and points in four consecutive games for a total of six points since the CEO’s abrasive comments one week ago. Maybe the comments have lit a fire under Seguin. (jan5)
12. A day after being named to the Pacific Division All-Star team, Elias Pettersson left Thursday’s game against Montreal with a lower-body injury. At first glance, I thought it seemed like a fairly innocent play. You can see Pettersson’s leg bend in a way that it shouldn’t. But then you can also see Jesperi Kotkaniemi pulling Pettersson to the ice while getting his legs in the way. It should have been a two-minute penalty, but whatever.
As a Canucks’ fan, I will say optics-wise that I’m not as angry about this incident as I was about the Mike Matheson chokeslam that cost the Panthers’ defenseman two games and sidelined Petey with a concussion. As long as Pettersson is embarrassing opponents, he’s going to have a target on his back for some physical payback. (jan4)
The Calder Trophy favorite has been diagnosed with a slight MCL sprain in his knee. This injury typically requires 1-2 weeks of recovery. (jan6)
13. Even with 33 goals and 66 points, 2017-18 was seen as a down year for Vladimir Tarasenko. He had been battling through injuries and the St. Louis power play didn’t do him any favors, but some (present company included) were excited for a turnaround for the 2018-19 season. Things haven’t gone as planned, though, as he has just 11 goals and 23 points in 38 games. It’s been a brutal first half for him.
It’s also been a brutal first half for the Blues as they find themselves scrambling to stay out of the league’s cellar. The team making its way to the playoffs seems like a far-fetched idea. What if Tarasenko doesn’t turn his season around in the second half? We’re talking about a guy who had established himself as one of the top wingers in the league over a three-year span and then will have had back-to-back poor seasons on a team that missed the playoffs. What does management do?
It seems unfathomable to trade an elite talent like Tarasenko coming off a bad year (or two) while secured to a very team-friendly contract. Then again, we thought the same thing about Taylor Hall. I’m excited to see what Tank does in the second-half of the 2018-19 season, but more importantly, what his future holds in 2019-20 and beyond. (jan3)
14. Alex Ovechkin is turning down the opportunity to play in this year’s All Star Game, opting instead to just take the week to rest. With the rules the league put in place years ago, that means Ovechkin will have to miss a game either directly before or directly after the ASG itself.
Given the playoff run last year, his age, and the team’s expectations for another deep run this year, I can’t really blame him. He’s given us some of the best All Star Game moments over the last decade, he’s earned a weekend off. (jan3)
15. No change in Corey Crawford’s status according to ’Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton. I suppose no chance is better than worsening, but in the leagues where I have Crawford on my roster, I’m operating as if he won’t return this year. This is a scary situation. Let’s just hope he comes out of this ok as a person, let alone return to the ice. (jan3)
16. David Pastrnak is back on pace for a triple-digit campaign. The 22-year-old is as elite an asset as you can find outside of the Connor McDavid-bin.
Meanwhile, linemate Patrice Bergeron has nine points in seven games since returning from five weeks off. His 1.38 points-per-game are eighth-best in the league. He’s on pace to shatter most of his offensive career-highs. I’ll resume my campaign to get him Hart trophy votes. (jan2)
17. I thought the Hitch hiring would be great for Oilers’ goalies but that clearly hasn’t been the case for the past three weeks. Whether you decide to sell high on Mikko Koskinen depends on how much faith you have in the Oilers as a team. Given the Oilers’ track record and personnel, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope. (jan6)
19. Mackenzie Blackwood is getting his chance because the main guy is injured. And he’s off to a hot start. Chalk it up to adrenalin. But unlike with Carter Hart, Blackwood has already been a pro for two seasons. He can make the jump without it being called ‘too soon’. He has a chance.
Keith Kinkaid has been great up until the last month and is not a future starter. He doesn’t seem to be as great with a heavier workload. To me, last year’s 41 games were about the max for him, which is more of a 1B type of guy.
It’s hard to say if Blackwood is any different because his pro career has been thus far been limited to 37 games in a season at most. This was supposed to be the year where they tweak him up to 45 or 50 in Binghamton, and then we would get a clear picture. But with Cory Schneider sidelined for who knows how long, I guess we’ll see if right away if Blackwood can handle it.
I like Blackwood’s situation for the long term because Kinkaid’s contract is up soon and Schneider’s career could take another year or so to get on track (Roberto Luongo recently noted that his type of hip surgery took a couple of years to get everything back to normal). By that time, he’ll have just two years left on his contract and with Blackwood filling in during the interim, perhaps he steals the job by then. (dec30)
20. I’ll have to admit that I was not buying into a potential bounce-back for Zach Parise. Yet, if you took a flier on him in the later rounds of your draft, you’ve been handsomely rewarded. With a goal and two assists on Saturday, Parise has nine points (4g-5a) and a plus-7 over his last five games, along with a point-per-game pace of 38 points in 39 games.
After declining returns for three consecutive seasons together with numerous injuries, Parise should be considered a candidate for comeback player of the year. He’s on pace for 80 points but I’m thinking that 70 points is more realistic and within reach. That target of 70 points would represent a career high for his time with the Wild. (jan6)
Have a good week, folks!!