21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles

Mario Prata


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. The Islanders have one less free agent to worry about this offseason. Jordan Eberle has agreed to a five-year contract worth $5.5 million. Given Eberle’s diminishing returns, I was hoping that the Isles would be able to sign him for less than the $6 million per season of his previous contract. This could be a sign that teams are not willing to break the bank on UFA but instead invest more on up-and-coming RFA.

Eberle’s 37 points (19g-18a) in 2018-19 wasn’t even close to his career high. However, don’t forget that he led the Islanders in playoff scoring with nine points (4g-5a) in eight games. That hot streak actually began late in the regular season, when he scored five goals over his last seven games after being reunited with Mathew Barzal.

Eberle might be viewed as a player that you have always expected more from but don’t be surprised if he rebounds a bit in 2019-20. Don’t forget that barring a major offseason signing, Eberle should also be back on the Isles’ first-unit power play. Now the Islanders will turn their attention to UFA-to-be Anders Lee and Robin Lehner. (june15)


2. The Sabres would have been wise to just let Jeff Skinner walk. Never overpay a guy coming off a career season that is in a contract year. Let someone else overpay. Especially with such an improving farm system. The best thing a GM can do with unrestricted free agents other than the elite ones or the depth ones – don’t sign any. This year I would try for Erik Karlsson, Artemi Panarin, or Sergei Bobrovsky. The end. And later in July, I would look at fourth-liners and AHL depth for my minor-league team. Leave the mid-range or semi-star guys for other teams to overspend on.

If Skinner wanted to stay and he wanted eight years, he wouldn’t get more than $5.5 million AAV from me. Take it or leave it and I’m fine if he leaves it. Nine million is insane. By Year 4, Sabres’ fans will be begging for a trade or buyout or any solution at all. Mark my words. (june10)

For Ian Gooding’s take on the deal, fantasy analysis included, read here.

For Michael Clifford’s in-depth fantasy hockey player analysis, here.


3. In a late Saturday trade, the Blackhawks acquired Olli Maatta from the Penguins for Dominik Kahun and a fifth-round pick. You can read the fantasy take here.

In this deal, the Penguins clear over $3 million in cap space in trading the $4.083 million cap hit of Maatta. This gives the Penguins some breathing room with their cap situation, which probably lessens the likelihood that Phil Kessel is traded. There are still RFA contracts to take care of for Teddy Blueger, Zach Aston-Reese and Marcus Pettersson, but otherwise the Penguins seem set to try for another run next season. Don’t expect them to be a team that will attempt the ‘St. Louis model’ of building with size and grit, but instead sticking to what has made them successful in the past.

The Pens probably would have rather traded Jack Johnson or Erik Gudbranson. However, Maatta likely had more value on the trade market. Using Maatta, the Pens were able to acquire a true under-the-radar forward in Kahun, who should help bolster their top-nine. To put it another way from my Fantasy Take, I think Kahun might be another Bryan Rust in that he would pop up on your screen as a hot waiver-wire option at various points during the season. (june16)


4. According to James Mirtle, the Panthers are expected to trade or buy out goalie James Reimer. With the Panthers rumored to be targeting Sergei Bobrovsky, Reimer is the odd man out. Mirtle suggests Calgary as a potential destination for Reimer, who will likely end up somewhere as a backup.

Reimer leaving the Panthers might be good news for the Canucks. Why? If Roberto Luongo sticks around and doesn’t retire, then the Canucks aren’t on the hook for the cap recapture penalty on the lifetime contract he signed with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lu is stashed on LTIR, either. (june15)


5. Congratulations to the St. Louis Blues on their first Stanley Cup! Obvious lesson learned: Don’t bail on your fantasy team too quickly, particularly if all you need to do is make your league’s playoffs. This is a team that could have easily thrown in the towel and traded building blocks like Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo for hopes for a better future. They kept the band together and experienced an amazing turnaround.

Hands up if you had Jordan Binnington on your radar… back in December. None of us would have had any idea he would be the Stanley Cup-winning goalie when the Blues sat dead last in the NHL standings at midseason. However, take a closer look at Binnington’s AHL numbers: 2.08 GAA and .927 SV% with San Antonio in 2018-19; 2.05 GAA and .926 SV% with the Providence Bruins in 2017-18. Yes, the Providence Bruins. The Blues shared an AHL affiliate that season with Vegas, so they loaned Binnington to Boston’s farm team. That’s how highly they thought of him at the time. (june14)


6. Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong told Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto that Binnington is due for a ‘big pay raise this summer.’ What that could be at this point is anyone’s guess, as there hasn’t been any precedent of another goalie who has followed the same path. Matt Murray or Andrew Hammond might be the most similar examples, though the fact that Binnington is 25 and UFA-eligible in two years makes this scenario unique.

I mentioned in yesterday’s Ramblings the possibility of what could happen if Jake Allen is still around. Just to follow up, I do believe the Blues will try to shop him around, and failing that could consider a buyout. As well, I’d expect him to land somewhere as a backup if they part ways with him. Armstrong’s words make it seem as though Binnington is a major part of their plans going forward. However, I’ll still stress that there is no guarantee that Allen won’t be on the Blues next season. For now, I’ll be ranking Binnington as though Allen is still in the picture. (june15)


7. For the record, I don’t think Jake Allen starts the Blues’ first game of the 2019-20 season. A Stanley Cup should make for great job security, particularly for the first home game when they’re hanging the banner. However, the forgotten man during the Blues’ Stanley Cup run could still significantly factor into the Blues’ plans going forward. If you read Dobber regularly, you’ll know that Allen is still technically the ‘golden boy’, as he still has two years left on a contract that pays $4.35 million per season. 

In the latest Capped article, Alex breaks down the factors affecting a Binnington contract and what it could look like. Binnington isn’t necessarily guaranteed a big payday as a result of his accomplishments. A short-term deal might seem less likely than a long-term deal, given his relatively short track record. He will play regardless; however, the Blues also realize that a goalie taking up over $4 million in cap space will also be sitting on the bench. Watch for the contract, as it might be telling as to how Binnington fits into the Blues’ plans next season.

A 50-50 split isn’t outside of the realm of possibilities, although it seems at the moment that Binnington is the unquestioned starter going forward. Once Binnington hits a rough patch (which will happen at some point), will the Blues turn quickly back to Allen? This is something to think about if you own Binnington or are strongly considering drafting him. Allen has been unreliable these past two seasons, but until he’s traded or bought out, he’s going to start some games. (june14)


8. St. Louis went into Boston and skated away the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, about five months after being last in the league. This is an all-time turnaround, regardless of sport.

I thought Tuukka Rask might deserve it even in the loss, but Ryan O’Reilly took home the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.

There are a lot of good stories here. Whether it’s O’Reilly’s performance, the play of Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko, Jay Bouwmeester getting a Cup after nearly 1200 games, Patrick Maroon’s homecoming, coach Craig Berube guiding the ship, and a lot more.

Icing on the cake for the Blues: lots of good young players still to come and loads of cap space without any major deals to make outside of possibly Binnington. Alex MacLean had more on the latter in his column published this past week. (june13)


9. Just in general, it was really nice to see Jaden Schwartz have such a good postseason. He posted back-to-back 25-goal, 55-point seasons earlier in his career and then he’s had just a brutal time with injuries. He did have 59 points in 62 games in 2017-18 but his inability to stay on the ice made him an unreliable fantasy asset.

The 2018-19 season saw him carry an awful shooting percentage – six percent after being a career 13.7 percent shooter – but the 2018-19 postseason has seen him flourish with 12 goals and 18 points in 25 games. He’s played very well at both ends of the ice, as he’s been known to do, and his spot on the top line has been a near-lock for most of the playoffs.

I do wonder if this playoff performance won’t inflate his ADP next year but he’s a guy I’ll likely be targeting. These playoffs have shown the promise Schwartz has flashed over the years and as long as he stays healthy, I think he can continue (with a bit of shooting percentage regression to come). Be careful on the type of league he’s drafted in, though, as he doesn’t provide a lot in peripherals. (june13)


10. This may be a situation where I’m fooled by linemates. Roope Hintz played about 40 percent of his five-on-five time during the past playoffs with Jamie Benn and he looked great in those minutes. In the 60 percent he played without Benn, he looked kind of bad. But is it a case where the top-end of Dallas’s roster is so good that this was inevitable, or that the scoring depth in Dallas is so bad that it was also inevitable? I just don’t know.

Hintz has a lot of speed and that helps Dallas leave their zone and enter the opposition’s zone with control more often than not. That in and of itself is a valuable skill in the NHL. That is also a reason why he played so much in the top-6.

Hintz isn’t a guy who’ll have much value outside of deep leagues. He doesn’t shoot often and won’t get top PP minutes. If he can be a 15-goal, 40-point forward, I think that’s a win. But that he even looks like an NHLer is important for Dallas because of their depth issues and should assure him a good amount of minutes at even strength in 2019-20. (june13)


11.  We only got to watch Vegas for one round this postseason but that could actually work in favour of the savvy fantasy owner. Shea Theodore had eight points in seven games and was great at driving offense for the Golden Knights. A few months back, I wrote about how good Theodore had been offensively in the regular season and that trend continued.

The problem is the defensive end, but I’ve tweeted about just how much being attached to Deryk Engelland cratered some of Theodore’s defensive metrics. Engelland is a free agent and with the team in a big cap crunch, I’m not sure he comes back. I know he’s beloved in Vegas but they’re better off without him on the ice.

Theodore is the guy who will be often drafted, I think, outside the top-20 defensemen in September that I’ll be targeting the most. I believe a 50-point season is very doable for him. (june13)


12. NHL Draft-related question from @BFYYZ: Outside of Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes, who do you think the top 3 draft eligible prospects are for a points-only fantasy league?

DobberProspects.com’s Managing Editor, Cam Robinson, and I both have Hughes and Kakko going one and two. We both have Cole Caufield next in terms of points-only fantasy value. I then had Alex Turcotte and Dylan Cozens. Who did Cam have? Pick up the Prospects Report. You buy the Fantasy Guide anyway, just get the Keeper League Fantasy Pack for another six bucks and you get the Prospects Report. The rest of our Top 25 are in there. (june12)


13. Quick real-NHL Mock Draft. This is meant as a fun exercise, which means that it is not meant to disparage your team, your favorite player, or any other mock drafts out there. If you’d like a more serious one, I’ll direct you to the Fantasy Prospects Report, where you can see Cam’s three-rounds-deep Mock Draft. If you want to see another, as well, you can check out this first-round draft at Dobber Prospects from Jokke Nevalainen.

Top-10 Mock Draft:

  1. New Jersey, Jack Hughes, C – Has been projected to go first overall all this time. Despite the emergence of Kakko, I don’t think that’s going to change now.
  2. NY Rangers, Kappo Kakko, RW – The Rangers’ pick is easy. They’ll take Hughes if the Devils decide to pick Kakko. Nice consolation prize to have.
  3. Chicago, Bowen Byram, LD – Defense isn’t necessarily an organizational need for the Blackhawks, but teams are learning that you can’t have enough of them on your roster.
  4. Colorado, Alex Turcotte, C – The USNDTP will fill the top-10 of the Draft, starting with Turcotte. He’s a center with two-way skill, so he won’t last long.
  5. Los Angeles, Dylan Cozens, C – The Kings like size, and the 6-3 Cozens fits the bill.
  6. Detroit, Trevor Zegras, C – Dynamic center who seems to be going to the Wings in a few mock drafts that I’ve seen.
  7. Buffao, Cole Caufield, RW – In spite of Caufield’s size (5-7, 160), I have a hard time thinking that he falls outside of the top-10.
  8. Edmonton, Vasili Podkolzin, RW – If the rumors are true, Jesse Puljujarvi may not be in the organization much longer, so they may target another big winger.
  9. Anaheim, Kirby Dach, C – Ducks will draft him in the hopes he will be the heir apparent to another big Prairie center, Ryan Getzlaf.
  10. Vancouver, Matthew Boldy, LW – The Canucks are reportedly trying to improve in the size department, which might explain their rumored interest in Milan Lucic. Boldy has size and is described in numerous scouting reports as silky smooth. (june14)


14. Question from Duster Dave (@davefornight): For next season and beyond, Torey Krug vs. Tyson Barrie – all things considered. 5v5, PP deployment, injury history, emergence of Cale Makar and Charlie McAvoy, etc?

I’ll begin with a note about players in these situations. I’m referring to players in their mid- to late-20s, regular and proven 50-point defensemen, with stud Golden Boys arriving or recently arrived. Here’s the note: they have nothing to fear. Nothing. Barrie is in his prime and coming off 116 points over the last two years. He won’t lose a second of opportunity or ice time to the new kid. Unless and until Makar out-produces him – even though Makar sees less PP time – Barrie is fine. Same with Krug.

Barrie vs. Krug: Both players have the same upside and expected production. Both players are a good bet to miss 10 games next season and every season (until they start proving otherwise again). Both players are signed for next year and then they become UFA, and the two players are of similar age (within three months of each other). Same two-year PPPts, both have scored 14 goals before. I wouldn’t care which one I owned, I have absolutely no preference. Rarely do we see two more closely matched players.

Whenever this happens to my decision making, I see if I can trade down, or trade the player who gives me more return…just try to benefit in some way from my lack of preference. Does this make sense? For example, at the draft if it’s Player A or Player B, I always take the guy I am more certain someone will take before it gets back to me. Or I’ll trade down and just take whichever of the two slips to me (while benefiting from trading down). I love the ‘I don’t care’ decisions, they’re the best.

Pro Tip: After I looked at each player’s page individually on DobberHockey.com, I clicked on the Info/Analysis link and in the little box there I typed ‘Krug’ – I was instantly given player-over-player charts and graphs comparing the two directly, stat by stat. Crazily similar. Anyway, it’s a great tool for when you are making these decisions. (june12)


15. From Ryan McNutt, @Mawesome21: What does William Karlsson’s fantasy value look like in the future? Who would have the higher value moving forward him or Anthony Mantha? Keeper league: G/A/P/FOW/Hits/Blks/+-/Tks/STP?

Karlsson followed up a 78-point season with 56 points. His 5on5 S% was 10.6% in 2017-18, which was too high. Last year, it was 8.5%, more inline or maybe a tad low. However, the arrival of Mark Stone has pushed the Vegas top line down to a 1B or even second-line scenario. I think Karlsson hovers in the low 60s for points, bouncing between 58 and 67 in each of his next three or four years. It’s worth noting that in his final 26 regular season and playoff games he had 22 points, which is a 70-point pace with Stone on board. From what I’ve heard, I don’t think Karlsson will be traded and I would not count on that. But stranger things have happened.

Anthony Mantha had 33 points in his last 38 games and clicked with Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin like nobody’s business down the stretch. He is a bit of an injury risk that Karlsson is not, but if Mantha plays 80 games I say he tops 70 points. He gets more Hits than Karlsson, but fewer BLKS, and Karlsson gets faceoffs. I think I take Karlsson since the points will be close (maybe lose seven or eight here), but Karlsson takes faceoffs and if Paul Stastny gets hurt, I wonder if Karlsson gets moved to Stone’s line. (june12)


16. Two tweets from @lusshouse for this one:

A- Salary Cap league, 2pts for W, 2pts for SO. Rank these G based on their $$/pts: Carey Price at 15M; Corey Crawford at 5M; Mikko Koskinen at 5.2M; Jimmy Howard at 4M.

B- And in which bracket would you consider Jordan Binnington the top name of this list? In which bracket is he not your top name? Just for context, in case you want it. I've owned Crawford for years. Someone dropped Price last year after he signed + Habs finished bottom 3. Others are free at the draft. Will need to decide this summer if I hold on Crawford or not.

I would expect Carey Price to match what he did last year, which is 80 points under your system or 5.33 points per million. For Corey Crawford, given his situation, I would take 60% of his expected full-season production. To be conservative. That’s about 45 points, or nine points per million.

With upside and downside. Mikko Koskinen is another wildcard. One of these years the Oilers are going to get it right and they don’t plan to give us a heads up. We’ve just fallen into this habit of giving them a projection of 80 points, or maybe a slight improvement, and every year they fall short. Well, one year they’re going to get 100 points and they won’t gradually work their way up to it either. But let’s play it safe and assume an 80-point team again. Let’s also assume they don’t sign a goalie, which would be a mistake. But Koskinen is making big bucks and they’ll keep throwing him out there, win or lose. I’d give him 60 points or 11.5 points per million.

Jimmy Howard, I don’t see why his numbers would change one iota, other than maybe give him a shutout (he actually had zero this season). So, give him 46 points or 11.5 per million. This leaves Jordan ‘Winnington’, who may sign for $5.5 million or perhaps as much as $7.5 million? Seems crazy, but he’s a Top-3 Conn Smythe candidate and Calder candidate. I’m leaning high here, call it $7 million and I think 70 points – or 10 per million.

So, Binnington is the top name on this list at say $6 million or less, but as it sneaks over the $7 million mark he slides to third if we’re talking cap value. (june12)


17. Here we go again with the ‘another team will fix our mistake for us’ rumors. Last week, I went off on a rant about the Leafs and their magical stroke of luck in having the two players they needed to shed, actually ‘wanting’ (yeah right) to leave.

This week it’s Anaheim and Corey Perry. This 34-year-old, clearly on the decline and whose 30-goal seasons are a distant memory, will be traded or bought out. With $8.625 million AAV remaining for the next two seasons, I can’t see them finding a trade partner. His 30-goal seasons are a memory, and frankly I think his 20-goal seasons are, too. That’s a lot of dough to give up for 18 goals and 35 points per season that I’d expect. The Ducks would need to eat a significant chunk of the salary and I am guessing they would need to also add a small asset to entice – something along the lines of a third-round draft pick for a fifth.

Perry can still help a team, and for half his salary, would even be an asset to his new team if he’d stay healthy. But it’s a risk, and the team would be doing the Ducks a favor by taking him off their hands.

Teams, media and (of course) fans believe that there are plenty of teams out there who would be happy to bail them out of their financial mess by taking their liabilities. The fact of the matter is that there are only a small handful, and with two dozen teams looking to shed a couple of anchors, there is only so much to go around. If I’m the Ducks, or the Leafs, I would take whatever deal is out there as soon as I can. Don’t wait. Because once July 1 hits, I guarantee you that all teams with a bit of cap room to help out today will no longer have that cap room to help out. (june10)


18. The Jets have signed forward Joona Luoto to a three-year, two-way contract. Luoto is a former teammate of Patrik Laine, so this could be a move aimed at keeping Laine happy. As well, the Jets are also believed to be listening to offers on Nikolaj Ehlers, possibly for a defenseman should both Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers leave. (june16)


19. Andrew MacDonald, who was placed on waivers by Philadelphia on Saturday for the purposes of buying out his contract, cleared. MacDonald had nine points in 47 games last season. His contract had one year remaining with a cap hit of $5 million and he likely became expendable with the Flyers’ recent acquisition of Matt Niskanen this week.

I have a feeling the Flyers might not be done, as Shayne Gostisbehere has been mentioned in trade rumors recently. However, MacDonald’s departure could also free up a spot for Philippe Myers to slot in full-time next season. Myers scored 33 points (9g-24a) in 53 games last season in the AHL. He is yet another young Flyers’ defenseman with considerable scoring upside. (june16)


20. The Kings have bought out the final two years of Dion Phaneuf’s contract. Phaneuf had been earning $7 million per season, with two more years left on his deal. Phaneuf experienced his worst season last year, scoring just six points with a minus-21 and several healthy scratches. Phaneuf could easily land somewhere else at a much cheaper salary, where his leadership and toughness could benefit a team while he serves a role as a depth defenseman. He should no longer be on your fantasy radar, though. (june16)


21. Some more minor transactions, in case you missed them or don’t check out the transactions pages:

Ducks Andrej Sustr and (prospect) Trevor Murphy each signed with Kunlun of the KHL.

Josh Jooris signed to play in the Swiss League (I say this every year, but that’s where I would go if I couldn’t crack the NHL – lovely place, and great tax situation).

Jori Lehtera has signed to play in the KHL (SKA St. Petersburg).

The Bruins signed an interesting undrafted free agent Friday in Samuel Asselin. As an overager in the QMJHL, he picked up 86 points in 68 games and led Halifax into the Memorial Cup Tournament. I take overage performances with a grain of salt but obviously he wasn’t signed for his checking ability. So, at the very least, he’s on the radar for whatever may come in the years ahead.

And in case you were waiting on a possible comeback – last week Pavel Datsyuk signed a contract to remain in the KHL this season. (june10)


Have a good week, folks!!


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