Ramblings: Dobber’s 10 thoughts on the NHL Draft (June 24)
What a weekend! Besides the big news that I revamped the Top 100 Keeper League Goalies List (if you don’t see it yet, it’s out later on Monday), there were other things that happened of lesser importance. Such as Jack Hughes and PK Subban joining the Devils, Kaapo Kakko joining the Rangers, and JT Miller is a Canuck. But seriously – a revamped goalie list? Nice!
The Fantasy Prospects Report is out and available for download and I will do a little update in a couple of weeks just noting the teams that the draftees now belong to (and when they were picked). I will also hyperlink any player that has a profile now, but didn’t have one in time for the last update. That way you can easily click a player for updates throughout the year when you refer to this wonderful document. And if you’re like me, you open it up pretty frequently to double-check on guys during trade talks. Pick up the Fantasy Prospects Report here, the Keeper League Fantasy Pack here and the Ultimate Fantasy Pack here.
You can find a breakdown of the draft, by the numbers, in Hayden’s latest Prospect Ramblings here.
My thoughts on the draft
1) First off, Firstov is my new favorite hockey name. The Minnesota Wild drafted Vladislav Firstov 42nd overall. And I pray he succeeds and forges a long NHL career because I have plenty of fantasy hockey puns lined up.
2) This was a center-heavy and defenseman-light draft. Unlike last year, when defensemen were aplenty. What I noticed last year was that because there were so many great defensemen, teams seemed to be reaching for them in the first and early in the second round because they didn’t want to miss out. Well this year – that happened again. It felt as though teams were pushing defensemen higher up their draft lists because there weren’t many good ones. So, in summary – NHL teams moved defensemen up their list in 2018 because there were plenty of good ones and they wanted to ‘get’ while the ‘getting’ was good. And NHL teams moved defensemen up their list in 2019 because there weren’t as many great ones and they didn’t want to end up with zero or just long shots. I’d say that indicates that NHL teams are desperate for defensemen period. They read the trends of today, where an Adam Larsson costs a Taylor Hall (???) and the weakness of 75% of teams out there is in their Nos. 4-7 defensemen.
Perhaps this is due to expanding the league? Expansion seems to be great when it comes to finding enough talent at forward and in the net, but the number of quality defensemen is insufficient and some teams are being left in short supply. So teams may as well develop them from within if they can. Anyway, that was my overall impression coming out of Friday night.
3) I agree with everyone else in that Colorado taking Bowen Byram has freed them up to trade Tyson Barrie. However, if they have a team that could take a run at things this year, why not keep him? The Avs, with Cale Makar and possibly (hopefully?) Connor Timmins are better than the team that was pretty impressive last season. You all know that I’m the first guy to push trading your assets before you lose them for nothing, but there are exceptions to that rule. If you have a reasonable (i.e. Top 10) chance of winning, then why not go for it? Colorado could add a good forward, really shore up the second and third lines, and make a run. What would trading Barrie gain them? A first rounder, possibly a second. And perhaps a middling prospect (just looking at what a long-term but high-salaried PK Subban and a one-year Erik Karlsson got in trades). Keep him and let Byram marinate for one more year the way Makar did. Then Barrie can walk away for nothing, or perhaps get traded the way Kevin Hayes was just traded by the Jets. You still end up with a foursome of Makar, Samuel Girard, Byram and Timmons along with veteran Erik Johnson. To me that makes the most sense. And given the aforementioned value in defensemen these days, this team is really sitting pretty.
4) Just as I’ve seen in fantasy keeper leagues, a team seriously took advantage of a star missing a huge chunk of time with an injury by making the most of it. Had Taylor Hall been healthy, the Devils miss out on that lottery pick and end up with an Alex Newhook or someone along those lines. Instead, they add Jack Hughes and continue the momentum by turning Steve Santini into PK Subban. Just a slight upgrade. Now the Devils have a Triple H line of Hall – Hughes – Nico Hischier. They have a 30-goal scorer in Kyle Palmieri on the second line, and they boast a fivesome of Will Butcher (shoots left) and Subban (shoots right), Ty Smith (left) and Damon Severson (right), and Sami Vatanen (right) with left-shooting veteran Andy Greene filling out the final slot. It’s funny how a much killer group of defensemen will help aid the rebound season that’s in store for Cory Schneider.
By the way, Schneider was 6-8-3, 0.921 SV% and nine QS in 17 games from February 7 onward.
5) Unlike all the online scouts (of varying degrees of experience), I don’t look at Detroit’s selection of defenseman Moritz Seider at No.6 as a bad pick. Instead, I ask myself “why did they do that?” It’s Steve Yzerman. He doesn’t make bad picks. I’ll take his judgment over pretty much any scout or online prognosticator in the world. Put together. Could he have traded down and got him, while adding an extra pick? Yes, it’s possible. But I think by around Pick 10 he would have been pretty nervous about losing this guy. So what could he gain by trading down three spots? Well, those teams were Buffalo, Edmonton and Anaheim. And everybody and their mother knows that Edmonton is hot for defensemen. So really, Yzerman could have traded down one spot. Worthwhile? Apparently not. So why was Seider so high on Detroit’s list? Well, he has some upside, but this was mostly about his being a huge defensively-responsible blueliner who already has NHL strength. And if you look at Detroit’s top defensemen in the system, they are mostly skill guys. I wouldn’t look to Seider as a star fantasy asset, but instead look to him as another Brady Skjei type.
6) Since we already knew one and two, the big question was whether or not Chicago would take Kirby Dach, Alex Turcotte or Byram. I believe if two of their best players weren’t 5-7 (Alex DeBrincat) and 5-10 (Patrick Kane, if he wears heels) they would have gone with Turcotte. But Dach is a 6-4 centerman who will eventually fill out at 215 or more, and he’s going to embarrass the WHL this year with some pretty gaudy numbers. Once Dach was gone, we knew Byram would go to the Avs which left Turcotte for the Kings.
7) My favorite first-round picks other than the obvious were Cole Caufield to the Habs and Vasili Podkolzin to the Canucks. Those who bought the Fantasy Prospects Report know that I have Caufield as third on my list in terms of upside for keeper league forwards. You’ve heard this a hundred times by now I’m sure, but he really is remarkably similar to DeBrincat and you could see his career trajectory going along the same lines in terms of wait time and production at other levels. And I like Podkolzin because I honestly think he’s a Top 5 talent in the draft and was only ranked lower due to his birth certificate. Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, Podkolzin and Quinn Hughes on the same power play? Yes please. When it comes to the first round in terms of talent, being from Russia means nothing. Those players always come over. It’s the later picks, the ‘maybes’, who are a risk for staying.
8) My favorite steal of the entire draft – Arthur Kaliyev. Going to the Kings in the second round (33rd overall) is the very definition of steal. He didn’t sink because of his birth certificate, either – don’t be fooled by the name. He’s American. No, he dropped because of his inconsistency. But I always love the pure talent and upside and I’m fine with rolling the dice on commitment and consistency. Sometimes they iron that stuff out and sometimes they don’t. And he hasn’t even turned 18 yet (June 26), you can’t hold “consistency” against him. Against a 17-year-old? He averaged nearly five shots and one goal each game for Hamilton (OHL). That’s consistent enough for me right now.
9) If I’m the Rangers, I keep Chris Kreider right now. See how the season begins before making a decision about him. Move Vladislav Namestnikov. Then just run with the additions of Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov and Jacob Trouba. Adam Fox, too, if he’s ready. If goaltending is a problem early, rush my Dobber Darling Igor Shesterkin. I think this is an underrated team.
10) The only other truly interesting pick that had me shift philosophy on a team was the Panthers grabbing Spencer Knight. If the team signs Sergei Bobrovsky and trades or buys out James Reimer (both are heavily rumored), then Roberto Luongo is the injury-prone backup with Samuel Montembeault a very capable No.3. That’s a pretty good year ahead. But with Knight on the team now, I think the future is Montembeault as a backup for several years starting in 2020, and then Knight taking over as backup and apprenticing for a year – say in 2024-25. It will be an interesting summer for the Panthers and how things shake out will make the future between the pipes easy to map out.
I found it curious that the Canucks dropped down some slots in the draft (I believe it was 51) in a trade with San Jose that resulted in them acquiring Francis Perron. That late in the draft the picks don’t mean ‘too’ much, but the fact that they made an effort has me wondering if they see something in him? A prolific scorer in junior, his transition to the pro ranks was a bumpy one. But after being traded to the San Jose organization last summer, he had himself a strong AHL campaign with 47 points in 63 games. Now 23, I wonder if the Canucks have hope that he can make his mark in say 2020-21. Anyway, that small effort put forth by the team is enough to stick him back on my radar.
JT Miller is a good player who still has real nice upside. But Tampa Bay was desperate to move him and needed the cap space. I can’t help but feel that the Canucks could have picked him up without giving up the first rounder but a second rounder instead. A really nice pick up for Vancouver but I just think they should have played more hardball.
Ditto for Toronto, who had to fork over a first rounder in order to get Carolina to take Patrick Marleau? I would have offered a second. Then I’d make it clear that other teams were being offered the second as well, and “I’ll give it to the first team that accepts it”. I can’t believe another cap-rich team wouldn’t do it for the second-round pick.
In the latter deal, clearing cap space cost a desperate team a first-round pick. In the former deal, the desperate team didn’t seem to pay anything at all. Granted, we’re talking about vastly different assets here. But it seems like the Lightning didn’t get penalized at all in that deal. In fact, in the pre-salary cap world I can see Miller being swapped for first- and third-round picks in the exact same deal.
I am about to launch the new Dobber Sports shop. Today we are importing all the old orders and making sure your downloads section is ready to go. It’s the home stretch. Once it’s live, the hope is that DobberHockey will be ready within weeks and DobberProspects shortly after that. The re-launch is nigh! And I’ll tell you, when I do things such as load the shop, or do a search for an order – it’s lightning-quick. It will be heavenly, I can’t wait.