Ramblings: Is Erik Gustafsson For Real? Domi, Drouin, Marchand, & Hamilton (Feb 27)
With the deadline come and gone, I’m sure many of you have had a moment to reflect and digest the moves that were and were not made. Some of these changes hold significant fantasy implications.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and check out the Trade Breakdowns that littered the Dobber landscape the last day or two.
Don’t forget to cross over to the DobberProspects’ site for all the pertinent information you could ever desire on prospects. We’ve updated all the players who have changed hands over the last week, and the profiles are a terrific resource while mining for young talent.
Speaking of some players who swapped squads, Gus Nyquist began his Sharks career skating on the third line beside Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc at even-strength and was manning the right point on the second power-play unit. The 29-year-old came into the match with just three points in his previous eight games.
He skated 17 minutes putting a single shot on goal. We’ll take this game with a grain of salt as the Sharks did not look their best only producing 20 shots on the evening in a 4-1 defeat to the Bruins.
When David Pastrnak went down with the injury two weeks ago, many fantasy owners were concerned about Marchand and Patrice Bergeron continuing their torrid paces. Marchand has nine points in the seven games without his opposite winger. Bergeron has just six.
Jaroslav Halak took the victory in this one. His fourth in a row.
Marcus Johansson skated in his first tilt for Boston playing with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on L2. He recorded an assist in the win. MoJo should be able to hold down that spot even when Pastrnak returns. It’ll be Danton Heinen who likely slips out of the top six.
Oh, and Evander Kane took on the Big Fella
Evander Kane goes after and fights Zdeno Chara after getting dropped pic.twitter.com/NKNpxdO7GF— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 27, 2019
Buffalo and Philly matched up in one of the early affairs with the Flyers coming away with the two points in a 5-2 victory.
Fellow Sabres’ blueliner and soon-to-be Calder finalist, Rasmus Dahlin extended his point streak to four games with a first period assist. This is the third time this season that the 18-year-old has strung together four-plus game long streaks.
Claude Giroux led the way for the Flyers with a goal and an assist, while Jakob Voracek added an assist and seven shots on goal. Voracek has quietly righted his campaign after a difficult start. Since November 27, the 29-year-old has 37 points in 40 games while averaging three shots on goal.
Brian Elliot made 34 stops for his second consecutive victory since returning from injury.
The win saw Philadelphia leapfrog Buffalo in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. The Flyers remain seven points back of Pittsburgh which makes it wholly unlikely they can make the dance, but at least they only have CBJ to pass on the way up.
Nashville took on the Blues on Tuesday evening and featured one of their two deadline deal acquisitions. Wayne Simmonds lined up on the right side of Kyle Turris on the second line. Mikael Granlund was not in the lineup and for good reason. The 26-year-old was alerted that he was dealt from Minnesota to Nashville while his wife was in labour. The baby is happy and healthy and it appears that its papa will suit up for his new team on Friday.
When everyone is healthy, I expect the Preds top nine to look something like this:
It was the red-hot Blues who took this one though, winning 2-0. Yes, Jordan Binnington recorded ANOTHER shutout – his fifth in 18 starts on the season. Insanity.
The 25-year-old now boasts a 0.936 save percentage on the season. This bubble has to burst at some point, but it sure doesn’t appear to be anytime soon.
Alex Pietrangelo assisted on the game-winner and scored the insurance marker.
Three blowouts were featured on Tuesday evening. The Caps dumped the Sens 7-2 in a committee-scoring game. Eight skaters recorded two points in this one including a pair of goals by TJ Oshie.
The Canes scored six straight on Jon Quick before chasing him through two periods. Dougie Hamilton scored two goals and added an assist. Teuvo Teravainen provided a goal and three helpers, and Petr Mrazek won his third straight.
Finally, the Habs stomped the Red Wings 8-1 on the road. The top line for the Canadiens did most of the damage. Andrew Shaw scored a hat trick, Jonathan Drouin contributed four assists, and Max Domi scored two and added three helpers.
Montreal had just two wins in their last eight games coming into this one. The two points will be surely appreciated.
The Jets seem keen to let Patrik Laine ride on the top line for now, but I can’t help envisioning a second line featuring Laine, Hayes and Ehlers as being very exciting. Hayes has always been a deft playmaker. He boasts soft hands and terrific vision. Feeding a player like Laine could result in an entire orchard of apples for the 26-year-old, soon-to-be UFA.
Hayes went pointless in this one though as the Jets fell 3-2 to the Wild.
Laine continued his dam-bursting goal surge. After failing to hit the twine in 15 straight and just two goals in 28 games leading up to his two-goal outing last week, Laine scored in his third consecutive contest and added an assist.
It wasn’t enough though as Joel Eriksson-Ek scored the winner with a minute left to play. Newcomer, Kevin Fiala skated 17 minutes next to Zach Parise and Luke Kunin while replacing the departed, Granlund on the half wall on the team’ top power-play unit.
With two assists in this one, Ryan Donato has points in each of his first four games with the Wild. He’s seeing secondary offensive minutes but is making good on his early opportunities. A good sign.
The Flames topped the Islanders 3-1 and Mike Smith made 26 saves for his fifth straight victory. His improved play likely resulted in the Flames holding back from purchasing a netminder at the deadline.
Mathew Tkachuk snapped a 14-game goalless drought with this pretty between-the-legs tally.
The Penguins took on the Blue Jackets without Kris Letang on Tuesday. Their star blueliner injured his neck in the last contest. Reports indicate that it’s a day-to-day situation.
Letang has only missed six games over the last two seasons, but It’s fantasy playoff time so many owners are surely rolling their eyes and quoting band-aid commercial jingles. Here’s hoping it’s actually day-to-day.
With a goal against the Coyotes, Sasha Barkov extended his point streak to six games and 13 points. The 23-year-old is clicking right along this season at an 86-point pace and creates magic on a nightly basis.
He’s another player who has started to shake the moniker of being injury prone. He’s hasn’t missed a game this year and only sat out three games last season. (no jinx).
Mark Stone suited up in his first tilt with the Golden Knights versus the Stars on Tuesday. He lined up beside Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty on the second line. He was up on the top power-play unit.
Stone finished the evening with six shots on goal.
Pacioretty scored two goals as the Golden Knights defeated the Stars 4-1. Vegas looked strong in this one, peppering Ben Bishop with 46 shots. They look ready to make some noise in the West again this spring.
So, Erik Gustafsson appears to be the real deal, eh? The 26-year-old has 15 points in his last 12 games and has been cruising at an unbelievable pace since late-November. His 37 points in 37 games stretching back to November 24th are the third most by a blueliner in the league. He trails only Brent Burns (46), and Mark Giordano (38).
Incredibly, his metrics aren’t that far off. Sure, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to convert on 11 percent of his shots as he has this season – certainly not the 15.4 percent he’s clicked on during the last three months, but his IPP and even-strength shooting percentage are right where they should be.
He’s feasting on the power play with Hart candidate, Patty Kane, soon-to-be 40-goal man, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Jonathan Toews. There aren’t too many better spots for an offensive defenseman to make hay.
Additionally, the 26-year-old has been accruing his points in a manner that predicts continued success. Of his 45 points, 32 have been primary.
That leaves two questions: How do we value him moving forward, and what does this mean for the high-end blueline prospects that Chicago boasts in the pipeline?
The latter question is more readily answered. Henri Jokiharju is a tremendous defender. He brings a complete game that is burgeoning despite his young age. However, he’s likely better suited for a secondary offensive role in the NHL.
2018 first-rounder, Adam Boqvist has all sorts of tantalizing offensive tools. He’s been very good with London in his first OHL season and will be a force with Sweden at next year’s World Junior tournament. However, he has plenty of work left to do when it comes to defending and was very young for his draft year. His time is still a way down the road.
To answer the evaluation of Gustafsson, we need to consider a myriad of information. We’ve already concluded that his production isn’t a mirage. He’s producing in a mostly sustainable way at the moment. Do we expect him to the point-per-game player he has been for half the season? No. That would be foolish. There’s your expected regression.
Do we see Kane replicating a 110-point campaign next season? Probably not. Gustafsson has been on the ice with Kane more than any other player – 480 total even-strength minutes and 127 minutes on the power play. It’s unlikely we see those minutes shrink next season, but expecting a replication of Kane’s career-best season as he enters his age-31 campaign would be unwise.
Heading into drafts next year, Gustafsson will likely be a volatile target. If he continues his success down the stretch, 55-plus points are very achievable. That should land him amongst the top-10 for blueline targets most seasons.
However, with his lack of pedigree and the expected regression of Kane, people will need to decide if he’s a 40 or 60-point potential player. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you, but I’ll be leaning towards a player capable of sustaining top-15 production from the backend for 2019-20.
Final thought on this: after years of hype and unfulfilled promises, Justin Schultz recorded 51 points in 78 games in 2016-17. That following draft he was taken 51st on average across all platforms. He was also stuck in a lineup that featured Kris Letang. Gustafsson doesn’t have any real competition for his deployment.
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