Ramblings: Josi, Hronek, Barrie, The Hlinka Tourney, & The Finnish Wave (August 7)
We had a minor trade on Tuesday that saw 23-year-old Kyle Wood head to Carolina in exchange for fellow defender Trevor Carrick. Carrick is 25 and appears to be the prototypical tweener. Strong in the American League. Can provide deep depth for an NHL team, but unlikely to ever be a regular in the show.
Standing 6’7, Wood is a monster on the right-side. He stepped in the AHL as a rookie in 2016-17 and dumped 14 goals and 43 points in 68 games with the Coyotes farm club. He has failed to match, let alone improve, on those numbers in the two years since. This is now his fourth organization since being selected by Colorado in the third round back in 2014.
Wood is a physical specimen but shouldn’t be regarded as a serious multicat option. He isn’t a punishing hitter nor does he provide penalty minutes in knuckle-dragging leagues. However, we know that large players take longer to develop, so in this sense, I much prefer the Carolina side. Wood could yet become an NHL player and if he does, he’ll be a unique one. Whereas Carrick is what we think he is – depth.
Have you purchased the 14th Dobber Fantasy Guide yet? If so, virtual high-five. If not, what are you waiting for?! I’m in the midst of a slow-draft in a new deep keeper. This guide has been beyond helpful.
It may be early August, but there is a good amount of hockey going on. Last week we had the World Junior Summer Showcase that pitted Canada, Finland, Sweden and the Americans in a mini-tournament to get a glimpse as the potential rosters for the main event this Holiday season. Some standouts were Tampa Bay first-rounder, Nolan Foote, Habs’ sniper, Cole Caufield, Blackhawks top prospect, Kirby Dach, undrafted 19-year-old, Kristian Tanus, and Hurricane’s third-rounder, Anttoni Honka.
This week, we’re being treated to the annual Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. These are the top U18 players from around the globe – minus the USNTDP (and Antonio Stranges for some reason). Also missing are Swedish uber prospects, Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz who were in Michigan with the U20 team participating in the WJSS.
Through two days, the most exciting players have been on the Canadian squad. Quinton Byfield has been wowing with his incredible combination of size and strength. This kid is destined for a top-five selection in the crazy 2020 draft.
Additionally, Hendrix Lapierre has been the most consistent, creative, and dangerous forward at the tournament. Craig Button recently made waves by anointing Lapierre as the third-best prospect for this upcoming draft. His early performance is making Craig look a little less wild, as Lapierre has been considered more of a guy in the 10-15 range.
Hendrix Lapierre has been the most consistently dangerous offensive player for the Canadians thus far at the Hlinka
He makes it 3-0 CAN over SUI in the first frame pic.twitter.com/EhExqsneBF
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) August 6, 2019
Oh, and for you folks with a real eye towards the future, Finland just continues to produce star power. 16-year-old, Aatu Räty has the puck on a string at the Hlinka is the early favourite to go first overall in 2021. He’d be the first Finn to ever accomplish that feat. Additionally, Brad Lambert is currently playing at an impressive level at the tournament as well. He’s 15 YEARS OLD! The 2022-eligible forward is as dynamic as they come.
15 year old Brad Lambert with a nasty fake backhand cut forehand move in the SO. pic.twitter.com/3SJ3tv56Ly
— Pavel Barber (@HeyBarber) March 20, 2019
Lambert is going to give Matthew Savoie and Shane Wright a run for their money at the top of that heap.
Finland has a population of around 5.5 million. That’s roughly the same size as Minnesota. And while the Gopher state has churned out many an NHLer, it pales in comparison to what Finland has been producing the last half-decade and appears to be growing for the future.
2013 – Aleksander Barkov
2016 – Patrik Laine
2017 – Miro Heiskanen
2018 – Jesperi Kotkaniemi
2019 – Kaapo Kakko
2020 – Anton Lundell
2021 – Aatu Räty
2022 – Brad Lambert
*Chef Kissing Fingers*
I joined Pete Jenson and Rob Reese on NHL Fantasy on Ice to breakdown many of the interesting rookies for the upcoming season. We chatted potential deployment opportunities as well as production expectations. Listen here
Detroit has been something of a fantasy wasteland for the last few seasons. They’ve teased with some high-upside players like Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha but until last season, they hadn’t really cashed in. This offseason, much of the hype is around Mantha hitting his stride. A little has fallen on the potential of Filip Zadina making the transition up. But there is another player managers should be keenly aware of later in drafts:
The 21-year-old is has been quickly rising the pipeline with his great skating and ability to generate offense all over the rink. Selected in the second round in 2016, the Czech-product made the transition to the American League full-time in 2017-18. There he recorded a very impressive 11 goals and 39 points in 67 games. He put roughly 1.8 shots on goal per night.
He followed that up with 31 games mixed through the season where he scored seven goals and 24 points for the Griffins. The other 46 contests of his 2018-19 season were spent in Detroit where he clicked at 41-point-pace. By the final quarter, he was skating more than 22 minutes a night – two of those coming on the power play.
We know the story, the ghost of Mike Green remains on the right side of the Detroit blue line. While he’s there and he’s healthy (which is few and far between) coach, Jeff Blashill will likely give him opportunities on the top power-play unit. However, the efficiency that Hronek has displayed, coupled with his youthful potential should keep him seeing prime ice and pushing for that top job on a full-time basis.
He's a very real threat to break 40 points next season and his upside is higher. It won't be long before we see a top unit of Larkin, Mantha, Zadina, and Hronek.
Watch out for Moritz Seider though. He's a righty and he's damn good as well.
Another defenseman whose stock should be rapidly rising this offseason is Roman Josi. Somehow his 56 points a season ago were quiet. They were, of course, the eighth-most by any blueliner. Well, PK Subban is out the door and the fight for top power-play deployment is gone.
According to Evolving-Hockey’s model, Josi led all defenders in Individual Expected Goals (iXG) last season with 17.19. That means he should’ve scored two more goals than he did. Most defenders at the top of the pile outkicked their iXG. Some just a little bit like Brent Burns who recorded 16 goals but had an iXG of 14.25. Others by a substantial margin like Morgan Rielly who led defenders with 20 goals but was only expected to score 9.22 goals according to the quality and location of his attempts.
This indicates that Josi is likely to replicate his goal-scoring next season (as he does most seasons) but especially with the likelihood of him cusping three minutes per night on the top unit again.
Finally, the 29-year-old is playing for his next, and final, big contract. After signing a seven-year pact for what turned out to be a paltry 4M per year back in 2013. Now he’s played at or above a 55-point pace for the last five seasons. Another 60-point campaign could certainly be in the works and the massive extension that comes along with it.
One last thing, many people are down on Tyson Barrie heading to Toronto. And while I agree that both Rielly and Barrie's output will be dampened by being on the same team, it was Barrie who produced a far more sustainable pace last season. Not only did Rielly triple his shooting percentage from 2017-18 (3.3) to last year (9.0), he also brought in 26 secondary assists – the fourth-most by any defender and a stat that is wildly difficult to replicate year-over-year.
Meanwhile, Barrie converted on roughly his career-average of 6.4 percent. His 28 primary helpers were the fourth most among defenders and nearly doubled his 15 secondary assists. That +12 margin is impressive and far more indicative of continued production.
I'm just sayin'.
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