The NHL has decided to follow up on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s four-year ban from IIHF tournaments, suspending the Capitals’ forward for three games in what it has termed “inappropriate conduct.” There isn’t necessarily a template for the NHL when issuing these types of suspensions, so Kuznetsov owners should breathe a sigh of relief that the suspension wasn’t much longer. This shouldn’t affect his fantasy value a great deal.
Looking way ahead to the first week of the season, Kuznetsov would miss the entire first week of the season (October 2, 4, and 5) but be back for the second week. Fantasy owners will now have the opportunity to draft an extra center to fill the void, and it’s a position in which options are easy to find. If you’re looking directly at the Capitals’ lineup, Nicklas Backstrom would center the first line, while Lars Eller should get promoted to the second line.
The Minnesota Wild have signed defenseman Jared Spurgeon to a seven-year, $53.025 million extension. This works out to a $7.575 million cap hit all the way up to the 2026-27 season, when he will be 37 years old. Once Spurgeon turns 30 later this year, he will be the fourth 30-and-over player on the Wild roster signed for at least four additional seasons beyond 2019-20. Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Mats Zuccarello are the others.
This seems like a very high amount in terms of both cap hit and term for a blueliner who recorded his first 40-point season in 2018-19 (43 points). For those in salary cap leagues, there’s probably better value to be had. At least Spurgeon has been consistent, averaging between 37 and 43 points over the past three seasons. In addition, he logs plenty of minutes, averaging at least 24 minutes per game over each of the last three seasons. Only 15 NHL blueliners have averaged more icetime over that span.
The Patrik Laine saga could stretch out for a while. According to Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, the goal-scoring winger will train with Swiss team SC Bern.
To answer the question of at what point the unsigned RFAs start losing fantasy value, let’s turn the clock back one month.
3 or 4 days into training camp. Otherwise I have faith. First domino needs to fall https://t.co/a3rTOAnywN
— Dobber (@DobberHockey) August 15, 2019
So today (Sunday) is Day 3 into training camp, so are we ready to push those players down the rankings yet? Unless you believe the first domino has fallen, which many believe is Mitch Marner. Dobber may or may not have a different view now, I'm not sure. Personally, I think I’d wait a few more days before tweaking the rankings, since I believe that the Marner signing will have an effect on other prices and negotiations should go from there in many cases. This year in particular is one in which having a draft later in September is beneficial, if you have any control over the matter.
In case you were wondering whether the Dobber Tiered Invitational Leagues have already filled up, there are still a few remaining spots to compete against your fellow Dobber Hockey fans for fantasy glory. Don’t miss out! More information here.
If you’re thinking about purchasing the Fantasy Guide and haven’t done so yet, then don’t hesitate. That way, you’ll have time to study the guide before your draft and take advantage of all it has to offer. In other words, please don’t be the guy who waits a half hour before your draft to purchase it, then has trouble downloading it because you’ve forgotten your password. Would you wait a half hour before your important test to start studying for it?
Or to put it another way, what if someone else in your league has purchased the draft guide? You don’t want to watch them claim the trophy, then credit Dobber Hockey for the win.
As I was trying to fine-tune the Roto Rankings for September (which will be posted Sunday), I noticed some commonalities between goalies being drafted in certain groups. To some degree, these are tiers. However, in some cases you may not always draft a goalie in a higher tier ahead of one in a lower tier, more so in the later tiers. So rather than calling these “tiers”, I’ve decided to use the word “groups.” You could call this overall concept “demographics for goalies.”
By the way, I know former Rambler Steve Laidlaw has created his own list on Twitter, which I looked at a while ago. I don’t have his list in front of me as I write this, so any similarities are coincidental.
Group 1 – The Elite – Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ben Bishop, Sergei Bobrovsky – These are goalies that you’ll likely need to invest a top-20 pick in, at least on Yahoo. Two of the three Vezina finalists are on this list, while the other will be moving to a Joel Quenneville system. A poor or even average season could bump these goalies down to Tier 2, which could easily happen given the volatility of goalie values as offense has been on the rise these last few seasons. However, you should feel comfortable waiting several more rounds before drafting your second goalie. These goalies should all finish with sub-2.50 GAA, .920+ SV%, and should be a lock for 30 wins (if they stay healthy).
Group 2 – The Established – Marc-Andre Fleury, Pekka Rinne, Devan Dubnyk, John Gibson, Tuukka Rask, Frederik Andersen, Connor Hellebuyck, Carey Price, Braden Holtby, Matt Murray – All of these goalies will likely be drafted inside the top 100, with some even inside the top 50. These goalies generally have a few warts, but you know what you’re going to get. In a 12-team league, you should be able to draft a few skaters before one of these goalies.
This is a larger group where answers will vary on how they will be ordered. For example, I didn’t have an easy time deciding whether Pekka Rinne should be ranked ahead of Carey Price. I think Price will play a few more games (hence more wins), but Rinne could post better ratios given their three-year averages. So I would rate Rinne slightly higher given that he wins out in two of three categories, but there no doubt might be some Habs’ fans that would disagree.
Group 3: The Up-and-Comers – Carter Hart, Jordan Binnington, Philipp Grubauer – You will also need a top-100 pick to draft one of these goalies. However, on average these goalies will be picked after goalies in Group 2 because they don’t have as much of an NHL track record. By that I mean that none have been NHL starters for an entire season, and none have played 40 games in an NHL season. These young goalies have upward mobility, so they could be in Group 2 or an even a larger Group 1 by the end of the season. One way or another, they won’t stay in this group for very long. By and large, these goalies are more likely to move up than down, but that is no guarantee.
Group 4a – The Something to Proves – Martin Jones, Antti Raanta, Jacob Markstrom, Carter Hutton, Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard, Semyon Varlamov, Cory Schneider, Henrik Lundqvist, Petr Mrazek – These goalies have something to prove because of a poor season (many of these goalies), injury history (Raanta), or both (Schneider). These goalies should definitely be drafted outside of the top 100, which will be the later rounds in many leagues. If drafting one of these goalies, you will need at least one goalie from one of the first three groups. Otherwise, you might be hoping that a lot of things go right.
Group 4b – The Timeshared – Robin Lehner, Corey Crawford, David Rittich, Cam Talbot, Mikko Koskinen, Mike Smith, Joonas Korpisalo, Elvis Merzlikins – These goalies will hold similar values to Tier 4a (which is why I called them 4b instead of 5), so they should also be drafted outside of the top 100. Maybe Raanta/Darcy Kuemper and even Varlamov/Thomas Greiss fit this category, but I’ll give the upper hand to Raanta and Varlamov in those goaltending battles (at least one of my teams is banking on that). Chicago, Columbus, Edmonton, and Calgary – I’m not so sure about. An injury to one goalie should allow the other goalie to take over.
You might be asking whether you should draft both goalies together. In the case of Chicago and Calgary, I might do it. Edmonton and Columbus, not so much. Obviously you need to ensure you meet your games played requirement if you draft one of these goalies, which is why it might make sense to draft the other. However, if a better goalie is still available, I would look past the timeshare situation. Like Group 4a, you will need at least another goalie from one of the first three groups.
Group 5 – The Better Backups – Thomas Greiss, Jaroslav Halak, Juuse Saros, Darcy Kuemper, Jack Campbell, Thatcher Demko, Mackenzie Blackwood, Anton Khudobin, Laurent Brossoit – These are possible waiver-wire options during the season, or you can stash them on the bench in leagues that require 4+ goalies with solid ratios. Aaron Dell was once in this group, and he might find his way back with better play.
These goalies could have a higher value that some goalies in Groups 4a and 4b by the season’s end. However, I’ll assume that you need to be concerned about the volume of starts (ie. you need wins), which is why I’ll place these goalies one group down. For that reason, these goalies will also be drafted in fewer leagues than the goalies in 4a and 4b. These goalies could also serve as handcuffs to starters in higher groups, but if number of starts isn’t a concern you could skip right over Group 4 and look into Group 5. These backups could also earn more starts than backups have in the past, so this is a group with more upward mobility than you might think.
Group 6 – The Rest – Craig Anderson (Ottawa might be historically bad), former starters such as Jake Allen, Brian Elliott, Ryan Miller, James Reimer, Jonathan Bernier, plus many more – Don’t bother drafting any of these goalies unless you need a warm body to meet your minimum starts requirement or a lottery ticket late in the week to try to claw your way back in your head-to-head goalie categories. There are surprises every season and even more so now than before, but you’re fine ignoring these goalies completely.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.