One team was eliminated since my last Ramblings. Here are my thoughts on the team, the players, and what the future holds…
As you know by now, given all the hype it’s gotten, the Hurricanes have one of the best win-loss records in the NHL since the flip of the calendar. This is the team buying in to Rod Brind’Amour hockey. So what happened in the second half, player by player? Who benefitted? Who suffered? Who stepped it in the playoffs? Right off the hop we know Dougie Hamilton cashed in. Just looking at his Frozen Tools page one glance will tell you his second half (25 points) beat his first half (14 points).
Justin Faulk was still getting his PP time in the playoffs – 3:34 PPTOI and just one point. The regular season saw 2:56 per game and 10 PPPts. That works out to 2.5 PPPts for every 60 minutes of PP time. This is on a report in Frozen Tools Report Generator called “PP Data”. Where does he rank in the league among defensemen? Eighty-sixth. If I remove all the defensemen who didn’t even get 20 minutes of total PP time all year, he still ranks 79th in PPPts/60. Hamilton actually wasn’t much better – he was at 2.8. So was Jaccob Slavin. In the postseason, Faulk was at 1.1, Hamilton was 5.1 and Slavin was 3.6. I suspect that the team will catch on to this when Faulk starts off slowly. Usually the power play is the only time he gets his points, and now he’s not even doing that. Meanwhile, Slavin is becoming a bit of a cult hero and my hunch is that he starts to slowly eat away at Faulk’s PP time. He’s earned it.
What to make of Warren Foegele? Five points in seven games to start the season, 10 points in 70 games after that. Nine points in 11 games to start the playoffs, zero points in four games after that. I guess…draft him and then trade him two weeks in? I kid, of course. I think the last year has been a great learning experience and with secondary PP time I feel like he’ll take steps forward. I don’t know where he’ll top out, but I think a nice trend of 35 points next year, and 40-plus the following would be a nice start. His problem (from a fantasy standpoint) is that he is too strong in other areas. It’s because he can be used on the checking that he will be used there. Too many other prospects can’t do that right now. The complete game that he plays is a fantasy-anchor. So he’ll need to break out of that and the force the matter by contributing offensively without the disappearing act. I really can’t get a handle on where things will go with him, and I’m reluctant to toe the ‘safe and conservative’ line and say “checker”.
The Canes will have about $29 million in cap space with Scott Darling still on the payroll ($4.15 million) and Petr Mrazek/Curtis McElhinney UFAs. Justin Williams and Micheal Ferland are the other key players gone. They have enough money to go after Semyon Varlamov, Sergei Bobrovsky, or Robin Lehner.
Sammy Blais received a nice promotion. He was bumped up to a line with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron. He had four Hits, two PIM, two SOG and played just 10:42 with no PP time. But I guess Blais being on the ice like a little wrecking ball freed up enough space for Ryan O’Reilly to take four shots on goal, three at even strength and the other shorthanded. The last time O’Reilly took four shots in a game was April 14. Here were the line combos for the Blues:
No real big fantasy-relevant observations in the 2-1 St. Louis victory. Jordan Binnington stopped 29 of 30, and he stopped everything at even strength. He’s a restricted free agent this summer. Oh boy, his agent must be rubbing his hands together so often these days they’re getting chapped.
If I’m Winnington, I’d be extra greedy. Eight years, $64 million. And hold out if the Blues don’t pay, see how they fare with Jake Allen. I kid, of course. Sort of.
Let’s play the goalie game! I will state a goalie’s name and where I think he will go. Feel free to do the same in the comments. And when it’s all settled we can come back here and laugh at each other. One rule: no second teams, no ifs, ands or buts. Just the one team. Trust me – I would love to add caveats for each of these, but that sucks the fun out of the game.
Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida
Robin Lehner – Calgary
Semyon Varlamov – Columbus
Mike Smith – Carolina
Petr Mrazek – Carolina
Calvin Pickard – Toronto
Curtis McElhinney – Edmonton
Cam Talbot – NY Islanders
Brian Elliott – Ottawa
Cam Ward – Colorado
David Rittich – Calgary
So have the Blackhawks done it again? Artemi Panarin, Eric Gustafsson, Dominik Kahun…Anton Wedin? At this point I’m ready to buy into anything Mats Hallin does. Hallin is the Director of European Scouting for the Blackhawks and with this kind of track record I’m putting him up there with Detroit’s Hakan Andersson. And while Andersson no longer has the golden touch that he once had with Europeans, Hallin is on a serious roll. And if Hallin says that Anton Wedin is a good one, then Anton Wedin is a good one.
Wedin is 26 years old, never drafted, 5-11, 194 pounds. He’s a left-shooting left winger who tallied 27 points in 32 games for Timra. He led Timra in points-per-game, but the team performed poorly and was relegated to Allsvenskan. Not that Wedin has to worry because he’ll be in North America. But will he make the team? The odds are in his favor, as they were with Kahun. The Blackhawks are still mired in cap hell and his low contract number (whatever it is, I’m sure it’s low) will help tremendously. The Hawks are playing their own version of moneyball and I like it. Colorado and Toronto were also reportedly trying to sign him, but I heard he was a big fan of Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks. The team at DobberProspects will have more on him later today.
News about some failed European experiments (guess they should have signed with Chicago, eh?) – Florida’s Henrik Haapala has signed to play next season in the KHL. The Panthers still had him under rights until July 1st. And Swiss phenom Vincent Praplan, who signed with the Sharks last summer, will be returning to the Swiss League. Praplan didn’t make the team and wasn’t overly good in the AHL. Later he was traded to Florida’s system where he finished out his contract. Juuso Ikonen, an undrafted Finn who was signed by the Caps last summer, has been placed on unconditional waivers and will be released. All three of the above players are either 24 or 25. To expect your NHL dream to come true in a single year is ludicrous. And to give up on it after one year of trying is disappointing. When you come so close, you keep pushing no matter the odds. I understand about loneliness and foreign country, I get it. It’s not for everyone. That’s why it takes a lot of courage and fortitude to just push that extra year. Now these three will never know.
Also earlier this week – Yannick Rathgeb was released by the Islanders and he will return to the Swiss League. He’s 23. And Egor Yakovlev actually got into NHL games, playing 25 of them and earning seven points for New Jersey. He signed to return to the KHL. Both of these defensemen were signed last summer. Yakovlev, 27, not only put up decent points in the NHL, but in 19 AHL games he had 16 assists. His defense wasn’t much, but early results showed very promising offense.
Now up in the shop – you can pre-order all of this year’s products, including the Keeper League Fantasy Pack and the Ultimate Fantasy Pack. The first item – The Fantasy Prospects Report – will be out on June 1 at 3pm. I’ve been working hard on this, as has the rest of the team. I’ve written and researched eight of the teams already, and have another nine that I’ll be covering. The rest of the 15-person crew has submitted more than half of their assignment already. As always I’m finding some great sleepers for my keeper league and I can’t wait to share them with you.
Speaking of the shop, I am happy to report that much of the back end work is complete. We are designing the front end of the shop and will hopefully release to the public before June. When that happens I will be able to start taking Amex (I think). And with all the legwork done, DobberHockey and DobberProspects will be re-launched shortly after. They will look very nice on your phone soon!
See you Monday.