We’ll start this up with a layup. If you have not yet purchased the 14th Annual Fantasy Hockey Guide, then clearly you’ve been busy this summer. Which is cool. I like the sun. However, NHL action is six weeks out. Draft season is all but here. Go on and get it.
Monday saw the Islanders sign a couple of RFA’s in Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang. These two players represented a new hope on Long Island. After whiffing on Griffen Reinhart and selling far too early on Nino Niederreiter, the club needed Dal Colle (5th overall) and Ho-Sang (28th overall) to become real pieces of the next core.
Five years have passed and neither has established themselves as full-time NHL players.
The situations are somewhat different. Up until 2018-19, Dal Colle had failed to become an impact player at the AHL level, let alone produce in the bigs before taking a big step forward last year. The result was a point-per-game in the American League and 28 games on the Isle. Meanwhile, Ho-Sang had flashed the upside that had made him considered a top 10 talent in the 2014 class. He produced at a half-point-per-game in 20-plus contests in both 2016-17 and 2017-18. Those marks regressed to just two points in 10 NHL games. Meanwhile, his AHL production has remained stagnant over the last three seasons.
Now, each will require waivers to head down to Bridgeport. That means its put up or shut up time for the former first-round selections. Each could be interesting options if put on a cool, young, third line. Instead, we likely see Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin and Leo Komarov continue to chew up roster spots.
Dal Colle receiving the two-year extension vs Ho-Sang’s one indicates the Isles are feeling more secure with him. My guess is Ho-Sang is in a new uniform for opening day. Perhaps that’ll be the jump start he needs.
Who were they for you?
Who were your three favourite players when you first got into hockey?
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) August 19, 2019
Have you been over to DobberProspects lately? We’ve been churning out content at a breakneck pace this summer. The crown jewel of which has been our Annual 31-in-31 Series. Through July and August, each club has their hood popped and are receiving a thorough investigation. This includes a top 20 ranking for fantasy potential, risers, fallers, draft season rundowns and more.
Last season, John Carlson was the second most impactful defender in multicat leagues. 13 goals, 70 points – 33 on the man-advantage, 185 shots, 164 blocks, 54 hits. He was a beast. However, things are likely to slip a tad in 2019-20.
As deadly as the Capitals power play is and will remain so for the near future, the 29-year-old was hitting on unsustainable metrics. Firstly, he was taking over a half shot less per game but saw the puck go in with more frequency. He’s always been a high-conversion finisher for a defender, but it was his even-strength goal-scoring that is a little concerning
Last season, Carlson led the league in five-on-five shooting percentage at 12.15 percent. We hardly ever see a blueliner click over 10 percent at full strength, and when we do it, it’s nearly always an aberration – Chris Tanev. Taylor Chorney, Dalton Prout types, or a random career-season. Carlson usually lives in the 8-9 percent range at five-on-five. It may not sound like a ton, but unless he gets back to putting three shots on net per game, he’s likely to see a downtick in the scoring category – especially at full-strength.
This isn’t to say that Carlson couldn’t conceivably have another career year with his shooting metrics. Or that he can’t juice his shot rates back up to new heights. Hell, the former London Knights’ star produced his best ratio of primary vs secondary assists last year. His 35 first assists last season trailed only Brent Burns for defenders. That’s a great indication for projecting future production.
Carlson is still in the peak of his prime – albeit the downside. However, I’m much more comfortable expecting a player of his ilk to slip closer to prime averages than go out and overextend once again. 10 goals and 60 points should be a safe expectation. Just don’t draft him expecting another step forward or even a replication.
Excuse me if this has already been pointed out, but Yahoo recently updated their positional eligibility. Here are some interesting names who have had their eligibility altered.
Mitch Marner, RW (lost C)
Leon Draisaitl, C/LW (lost RW)
Sebastian Aho, C/LW (lost RW)
Steven Stamkos, C (lost RW)
Blake Wheeler, RW (lost C)
Tomas Hertl, C/LW (lost RW)
Jake Guentzel, LW/RW (lost C)
Logan Couture, C (lost LW)
J.T. Miller, LW/RW (lost C)
Clayton Keller, LW/RW (lost C)
William Karlsson, C (lost LW)
Pierre-Luc Dubois, C (lost LW)
Travis Konecny, RW (lost C, LW)
This doesn’t necessarily mean that other platforms will follow suit with these positions, but it’s at least a flare that things could shift in your league too. Keep that in mind come draft day.
This little nugget came out on Tuesday,
24 days to training camp and still no Brock Boeser deal.
Some RFA ’ s might be looking for a place to play if no deal, European source tells me Mitch Marner camp has already contacted the Zurich Lions of the Swiss League.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) August 20, 2019
Mitch Marner’s agent, Darren Ferris has used this threat before. Andreas Athanasiou and Josh Anderson – both repped by Ferris, had leaks come out that they were exploring jobs overseas in preparation for a prolonged stalemate in negotiations. Both players were signed in October. That said, Marner is the only unsigned RFA that gives me pause for concern when drafting one-year leagues. I’m confident that we see the other big boys signed up before training camp and not a miss a beat heading into the campaign.
Marner has a different feel to it.
Perhaps its the lingering memories of Kyle Dubas attempting to outwait Willy Nylander last season. Perhaps it’s the Auston Matthews glass ceiling on salary that the team wishes to maintain. But I could certainly see this situation bleeding into the season. That will inevitably lead to some negativity on Marner’s production when he does inevitably end up playing. The longer it lasts, the more likely it’ll affect his production for the entirety of the season.
I'm guessing it won’t scare off too many drafters, but if it’s me I’m bumping him down a few spots just out of caution.
Jim Benning signed a three-year extension on Tuesday. The Canucks GM has a year remaining on his current deal so that's four more seasons at the helm in Vancouver – or at least a paycheque for four more. Benning has been a lightning rod in Vancouver since taking over the team in the spring of 2014. A failure to begin restocking the cupboards has led to the team being one of the very worst in the league the past four campaigns. The team's notoriously poor luck in the draft lottery has made things far from easy on draft day.
His advocates will point to the strong results in recent drafts. That has transpired into an exciting young core featuring Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat. Quinn Hughes is there now, and Vasily Podkolzin will be on the way. It hasn't been all good, the team also hit singles on two top six picks in 2014 and 2016. You want home runs in that range. At least extra bases.
Ownership is giving Benning a chance to finish what he's started. Perhaps this is due to the rumoured pressure from above to eke out playoff gates for the Sedin twins' swansong. They obviously approve of the directional swing the team made this offseason, appearing much better prepared to compete for spring hockey.
It will be an interesting situation to watch. We like that.
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson