Every Sunday, we'll share 21 Fantasy Rambles — formerly 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. Blues’ coach Craig Berube has completely turned his team around, and has done so with strong underlying metrics and not smoke and mirrors. Three months ago, there were rumours of trading Brayden Schenn and/or Vladimir Tarasenko by the Trade Deadline. Now, it looks like they’ll be buyers.
This is another team that could use Mark Stone, though I imagine that conversation begins with guys like Robert Thomas, Robby Fabbri, or Jordan Kyrou, and I’m not sure that the Blues would want to part with pieces like that. Maybe they just add some depth pieces, considering how well this team is playing right now. (feb21)
2. That’s now four wins in a row for Flames’ Mike Smith, who has also started five games in a row.
What could have been a four-start week for David Rittich could end up as a zero-start week for him, as Smith may possibly receive another start on Sunday against Ottawa based on the current trend.
Since Valentine’s Day, Smith is 4-0-1 with a 2.17 GAA and a .924 SV%, which are considerably better numbers than he posted over the first quarter (3.48 GAA, .876 SV%). (feb23)
3. Before the season, I was adamant that Rasmus Dahlin. would not be worth his ADP in standard Yahoo! leagues (you can read my stuff from the offseason here, here, and here. That’s not all of it, but it’s a start).
He’s already surpassed my projections but whether he lives up to his ADP remains to be seen. All the same, I wanted to say this: his rookie season has been exceptional.
In the history of the NHL, Dahlin is one of three defensemen to average 0.55 points per game in their rookie season, the other two being Bobby Orr and Phil Housley. Not that he’s guaranteed to maintain that mark over the balance of the season, but the fact he’s at that point when we’re a week away from the trade deadline speaks volumes of his talent.
His performance in the defensive zone still needs work but, I mean, come on, the kid is 18. We can cut him a little slack!
All this is to say that Dahlin is performing every bit the future superstar he has been. Though that may not be enough to pay off his preseason ADP, this is about as good as we could possibly hope for. I can’t possibly imagine he can be had for cheap in dynasty/keeper leagues, but I would be checking with the Dahlin owner in your league. If he can be a top-30 fantasy defenseman as an 18-year old and do it without being driven by luck, we’re only a couple years away from a top-5 defenseman. (feb19)
4. Brendan Gallagher marked his first career hat trick in Montreal’s 5-1 win over Philadelphia on Thursday. That makes 26 goals for him on the season, five away from his career-best 31 last year. He’s such a good across-the-board fantasy contributor, averaging over 1.5 hits/3.5 shots per game with a good plus/minus. (feb22)
5. With Connor McDavid serving the first game of his two-game suspension on Saturday, there isn’t really much to the Oilers offense beyond Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, which wasn’t the case when the Oilers first drafted McDavid.
6. Dobber checked in with the Fantasy Take of the Stars acquiring Mats Zuccarello, which includes a comprehensive list of players potentially helped or hurt by the trade. I wrote a few paragraphs about the Ryan Dzingel trade and how the Blue Jackets and Senators are affected. You can check them out here.
Bubble wrapping their assets in the event of a potential trade, the Rangers held out all of Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and Adam McQuaid on Saturday. Yet, they still managed to defeat the Devils, who were holding out Marcus Johansson for the same reason.
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a season where so many teams have decided to scratch players who are on the trade block. If these teams are out of the playoff race, then there’s no incentive for them not to do this. In fact, I’m surprised that teams haven’t done this sooner. The loser of course is the paying fan, who potentially misses a player or two that they were hoping to see. (feb24)
7. Free agency notwithstanding, the Wild may be a team in transition next season. Changes could result in increased opportunities for Ryan Donato, Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin, and Joel Eriksson Ek, which will be positive for keeper owners who have been waiting patiently on them. Even with the long-term contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter still in tow, the Wild could go on a bit of a youth movement. (feb23)
Although Jensen is employed in virtually no fantasy leagues, the Red Wings’ fan I spoke with earlier this year thought Jensen was his team’s best defenseman this season.
The Capitals must be hoping that Jensen is this season’s version of Michal Kempny, who looked very impressive in the playoffs last season. The Jensen acquisition could help Braden Holtby’s numbers to some small degree. (feb23)
9. You have to admire the intestinal fortitude of GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who assuming he does not trade Artemi Panarin, is going all in to win a Stanley Cup.
There is high risk, though, considering that: a) the Jackets are no guarantee to even make the playoffs; and b) Matt Duchene, Panarin, and Sergei Bobrovsky could all leave the Jackets high and dry after the season. But if you have a legit chance to win your keeper league this season, aren’t you employing a similar strategy? Let’s worry about next season next season. (feb23)
Pierre-Luc Dubois, the regular center for this line, was moved to a line with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Anthony Duclair. Dubois’ value could take a hit over the final quarter of the season if Duchene replaces him full-time on the top line. (feb23)
In his second game on Saturday, again alongside Panarin and Atkinson, Duchene added a goal and an assist in a Jackets’ 4-0 win over the Sharks.
Just a reminder that we’ll have you completely covered here at Dobber Hockey for everything NHL Trade Deadline, as we’ll be updating constantly with our fantasy takes and our Trade Tracker.
Whenever fantasy owners see a trade go down, they should head on over within the next few hours to get a breakdown of what that means for them and their fantasy leagues. Any trade of significance will be broken down by either Ian Gooding, Michael Clifford, Cam Robinson, or Dobber himself.
11. I’m still wondering in the back of my mind whether the Flyers will send Carter Hart back to the AHL since Cam Talbot is also now on the roster and hasn’t played yet. But if Hart stays, it makes me wonder why they acquired Talbot in the first place.
Or, maybe Brian Elliott is being given a showcase start for a potential trade. Or, maybe the Flyers are being super cautious in case another goalie is injured. Regardless, I’m confused. Maybe this mess will be untangled soon. (feb23) UPDATE: Hart is expected to miss at least 10 days with a lower-body injury. (feb24)
12. Jayce Hawryluk was lined up on the second line for Florida on Thursday night with Mike Hoffman moving to the third line. It’s a move we’ve seen a few times this year and with the Panthers believing they’re in the playoff race, this isn’t a matter of simply giving a young guy a bigger role to see what they have, they think he can produce right now. Whether that’s misguided or not, we’ll see. (feb22)
13. I have never been a fan of Red Wings’ coach Jeff Blashill. His lineup decisions constantly baffle me (the blue line and power play especially), his treatment of talents like Andreas Athanasiou infuriate me, and the way he handles young guys has typically been underwhelming.
However, of late, Jonathan Ericsson has been a healthy scratch and that has led to Filip Hronek getting his way into the lineup. Not only into the lineup, but to the top power play unit, and a top PP unit that actually features their top players (Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Thomas Vanek) rather than the talent being spread across two units. This is wonderful news for Hronek’s fantasy value.
One problem is that even if he maintains PP1 status, he might not crack the 20-minute mark per game with any regularity. That’s fine, though. Guys like him can still have fantasy value (just think of Will Butcher and Mikhail Sergachev from last year), though he’d be more valuable in points-only leagues.
Acquiring Hronek is a big gamble because Blashill’s moods change with the wind and he might be back in the press box a week from now. It’s a gamble worth taking given his current usage, though, in 12-team leagues or larger. (feb22)
14. Detroit could look quite different next year with Gustav Nyquist likely to be traded, Vanek on a one-year deal, Niklas Kronwall a pending UFA, and Nick Jensen just traded to Washington. That doesn’t include Filip Zadina likely being on the main roster.
Where Athanasiou will fit in is uncertain. It shouldn’t be a concern, though, given Athanasiou has shown he can be plenty productive without top-tier line mates. He just needs more ice time. This guy should be over 18 minutes a game, not playing just 13 seconds more per game at 5v5 than Justin Abdelkader. (feb21)
15. Jamie Benn scored a pair of goals in Dallas’s 5-2 win over St. Louis on Thursday, the first multi-goal game for him since October 6. He had four such games last year, including two hat tricks, and eight such games in his 41-goal season back in 2015-16.
Benn does enough across the board that he’s still been very good in multi-category leagues but the drop in scoring for a power forward about to turn 30 years old is a bit concerning. (feb22)
16. Frank Vatrano has signed a three-year extension with the Panthers that will pay him an average of $2.53 million per season. Now that he has received a regular NHL opportunity, Vatrano has scored a career-high 20 goals in just 59 games while seeing ice time with some of the Panthers’ big boys. At age 24, Vatrano has sleeper potential and the new contract should solidify his spot on the Panthers. (feb24)
One thing I'd like to add is that this is a smart gamble from Minnesota. Coyle was probably gone in a year anyway and this year is shot. They're essentially giving up one year of Coyle to find out whether or not Ryan Donato can make good on the potential he's shown in lower leagues.
Remember that Donato was very highly thought of in the fantasy community coming into the year, and also by the Bruins as they had him on the top PP unit way back when. For a team that seemingly wants to re-tool on the fly than full-out rebuild, this is a solid move. (feb21)
18. The Avs are invested in Philipp Grubauer beyond this season, but I’m wondering if there’s at least an outside chance that they bring Semyon Varlamov back next season. Varlamov has had significant stretches of the kind of numbers that you don’t want near your fantasy hockey team, but he has been playing better lately with four wins over his last five starts and six quality starts over his last seven games. So, the shutout won’t necessarily result in more playing time for Grubauer. (feb24)
19. Patrick Kane has an incredible 68 points in 39 games stretching back to Nov. 24. He recently surpassed Mike Hoffman’s earlier season point streak of 17 games for the longest run of the season.
Kane has produced 43 points on his current 20 games run. 43.
In the last 10 years, the top streaks are:
Don’t take these lengthy point-streaks for granted. They don’t come around too often.
And don't go handing that Hart trophy to Nikita Kucherov just yet. If Kane can drag the Blackhawks to the postseason – and they're only one point back right now, his massive point totals and lack of surrounding talent will be difficult to argue against. (feb20)
20. As for Kucherov, last Monday’s five-point performance against Columbus was the seventh time this season he tallied at least four points in a single game. For reference on how absurd that is, no player in the league had more than three four-point games in 2017-18. He’s well on his way to setting a 20-year single-season high in points. It’s been absolutely remarkable. (feb19)
21. Jeff Skinner absolutely needs to re-sign with Buffalo. The roster and the coaching style fits him like a glove and he doesn’t want to mess with that.
Sure, he could make an extra $1 million per season somewhere else and perhaps that means an extra $6 million over the length of his contract, but he risks failure, embarrassment and – in an extreme case – perhaps even a buyout five years down the line.
He need look no further than teammate Kyle Okposo when determining how signing with a bad fit can take your status as a star down a few notches. And how does Milan Lucic feel when he walks down the streets of Edmonton?
With the Sabres, Skinner knows he can succeed because he’s thriving right now. Don’t mess with that, his best shot at a long and storied career is right where he is now. (feb18)
Have a good week, folks!!