Ramblings: Talbot vs. Rittich, trade strategy, and the breakout odds for Vrana, Beauvillier, Dvorak, Heinen and Bjorkstrand (July 29)


I hope you enjoyed a week of DobberHockey’s look at your keeper league players on the bubble. If you haven’t read all of last week’s articles from the various writers and you have a few question marks as to which player you want to keep this summer, scroll through the list of recent articles here. Nine articles (doesn’t include Ramblings, which also looked at these players) from the past week focus on those players on the cusp of being keeper-worthy.


After Cam Talbot signed for $2.75 million with the Flames on a “show me” deal, I was waiting to see what David Rittich would sign for. In midseason I thought he was a lock for $4 million, but his weaker second half and losing the starting gig again for the playoffs had me dialing it back. If he made $3.5 or more, he would be the starter. If it was $2.5 or less, he was a backup. Well $2.75 for two years is interesting. It doesn’t give either one the title of No.1. But it’s also a number that is perfectly suitable being the pay for a backup goalie in 2020-21. This is a contract that doesn’t make any statement at all. It’s Switzerland. It’s neutral. It leaves Calgary’s options open. Here is how I see things (I’ll ramble a lot here, but this is the Ramblings so what better place?)…

I think Talbot is probably done in terms of his finding the old magic again. But that doesn’t mean his fantasy value is done. There are plenty of weak goalies who have fantasy value because they’re on a strong team, led the way by – to protect his anonymity we’ll call him “Martin J.” … Nah too obvious. We’ll call him “M. Jones”. The name of the game here is wins and Calgary had the second highest amount of them last year. So you or I could be in net for them and have fantasy value. With a team in front of him that is of this high quality, is Talbot good enough to get the W? I say yes. So what kind of chance will he get to do this? Well, I think he will get more starts early on. He’s a veteran who has played 70 games before, while Rittich’s all-time high at any level is 48 and last year was 45. So Talbot’s window is October – I think he gets 10 out of 15 starts. If he has enough wins coming out of October, they will do the same in November. But he will get first kick at the can. The Flames would love nothing more than to give him a three-year contract in February worth $12 million. This is what is in Talbot’s favor.

Last year Talbot didn’t do terribly to begin. He was 5-4-1 when he started 10 of 11 games to kick off the season, with five Quality Starts. Mikko Koskinen came in and in his second game had a 40-save shutout. That was the worst thing that could have happened to Talbot. Because now Koskinen was getting started more frequently. After that shutout, Koskinen started 11 of the next 15 games. Talbot came in for spot starts, one-offs, and he was brutal. He was great with the Rangers doing spot starts. Now it would seem that he can’t. So October is all important for him. If he can’t figure out a way to earn a heavy workload right off the bat, he’s toast. This is in Rittich’s favor.

But playing well enough to go 5-4-1 with that Oilers team is like 10-0-0 with this Calgary team. Which is why I’m leaning Talbot in the end.


I’ve been busy trying to acquire some promising players I feel have a good chance of popping this year. These are players who seemed to have taken long enough, and perhaps their owners were getting sick of waiting. Perhaps I can sneak in there and acquire them at fair value. I say fair value because my league  that’s “buying low”. Trading for players all too often costs more than it should, if you’re the one after somebody. But in these cases I was able to acquire (or fail to acquire) them at fair cost. I used the updated Fourth-Year Magic system, which is to say – the Breakthrough Threshold system that Striker always talks about in his comments. There were several dozen players who fell into this category and we get into them extensively in the Fantasy Guide. But narrowing that down to a list in terms of upside and players I not only like, but could possibly acquire, I got to work.

First off, before I begin, it’s worth noting that I already own two of the players – Tom Wilson and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Also keep in mind that I run a website called DobberHockey, which is fantasy hockey 24/7. Which means everyone in my league is suspicious of me. So there’s that, too.

I went after Christian Dvorak and Pavel Buchnevich and no dice there. I offered Chris Tierney, Nazem Kadri and Cam Atkinson for those two players plus Jonathan Marchessault. My thinking was I could hide my true goal of Dvorak in amongst the more obvious goals. Then in our back-and-forth discussions I could drop out Atkinson and Marchessault. Then if things still weren’t moving very well, I would at that point have a feel for which guy he seemed to like better – Tierney or Kadri – and then offer that player just for Dvorak. Kind of a long way to go about it, but I feel like I have to do it that way. I can’t just go to a person in my league and say “hey I’ll give you X for Y”. Because I’m Dobber. They may hate Y but as as soon as I ask for Y he becomes the next leading scorer in the NHL. So sometimes I feel the need to hide Y in amongst the clutter – at least in the offseason.

Anyway, those discussions went nowhere. He loves Y. He loves the other two guys as well. I had zero to go on with further discussions so I left it.

Next up was Anthony Beauvillier. I offered Tyler Myers, Warren Foegele and Ethan Bear for Mike Matheson, Michael Dal Colle and Beauvillier. My team is very strong and deep on defense and I have to use that to get a few forwards. But I like Matheson a lot (not for this year, no way – but very high on him for say two years from now). The GM shot me down so I dropped Myers and Matheson from the offer. He actually countered with Beauvillier for Foegele. The offer I had been whittling my way down to was the one he countered to me. I thought he’d want Bear for free since I’d be dropping Dal Colle at the draft. But I guess not. Anyway, mission accomplished. Beauvillier is on my team.

These players I am trying to acquire here are to fill the bottom two spots of my pro roster and/or high bench players/insurance players. I am not counting on these guys to be my stars. If that was my situation then it would be called a “rebuild”. No, these moves are to shore up depth.

Next up was Jakub Vrana. Here I had to be creative. I had a side goal of adding a couple of Panthers and this GM also owned Aleksander Barkov. I put together a package of Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang for Barkov, Vrana, a first-round pick and a second-round pick.  We were stuck on the Barkov for Crosby part. He insisted that Barkov is worth more than Crosby. I wasn’t buying it. Maybe next year or the year after you can cite age as a factor, but a generational player will continue to produce at a high level well into his 30s. Crosby’s last five seasons: 84, 85, 85, 89, 100. That’s trending up, not down. Barkov has missed at least 13 games in four of the last six seasons and our points-only league does not have an injured reserve. If he misses 12 games, you’re going to miss those 12 or 13 points and never get them back. The discussion even led to this poll:

There’s a reason I have Crosby ranked 7th on my Keeper League Players list and Barkov 17th – it’s because Crosby is the better bet to get more points this year, next year and the year after. Gun to the head, that’s who I would choose.

Anyway, he a couple of conservative GMs working with him and whispering advice to him. Guys who over-value youth, draft 18-year-olds at the draft and then sit on them for six years until they get going. That type. Great guys, lots of fun, love them – but this is what I was dealing with and I knew it. So the bigger deal didn’t get done. He instead offered Vrana, a first and a second for Letang. Which was what I was looking to do to begin with. Mission accomplished.

Finally – Danton Heinen. I tried to get him for Calvin Pickard and Myers. Negotiation here was pretty easy. He needs both D and goalies, and Myers getting big bucks on a new team helps boost value.

Between Bjorkstrand, Wilson, Vrana, Beauvillier and Heinen, I’d love for two of them to have that breakout of 10 to 15 points above expectation. And if I can turn that first-round pick into some help as well, that’s gravy. All this cost me was Letang’s 55 points, and I’m hoping Jacob Trouba can jump up and improve to that level – and Josh Morrissey moves up to where Trouba just was… while Ryan Pulock takes that step to improve to where Morrissey was. Then I don’t miss a beat on defense, while shoring up the forwards.


We are three days away from fantasy hockey Christmas. For the 14th year in a row I will be releasing the DobberHockey Fantasy Guide on August 1st. Look for it at around 3pm EST. You can pre-order it here. Those who buy the fantasy guide get a chance to win a free Google Home – details of the contest inside.


See you next Monday