Ramblings: Pacioretty, Czarnik, Ehlers, and what the future holds for some recently-cut prospects; (Sep 23)
The Fantasy Guide was updated three times yesterday. It’s going to get updated once or twice per day going forward now. Just re-download the Guide when you want the latest one. I’m on top of the latest camp cuts, adjusting projections, making injury notes, and I’ve even moved the depth charts around as the news rolls in. I got your back!
Also, new this year: I launched this Guide in French. Please tell your French-speaking brethren that they can now pick up Le Guide des Poolers 2019-20 DobberHockey right here.
Yesterday was the first big day in terms of significant camp cuts. Let’s take a look at some. And what it means, if anything. I will only look at the players that I listed in the Fantasy Guide as having a chance of making the team. Most of the players here I had listed at below 50%, so no big surprises. But Ottawa had a pair that I had just above the 50-50 mark…
The Kings sent Kale Clague, Matt Luff and Sheldon Rempal to the AHL. The Fantasy Prospects Report had each of these guys not making the team in the fall, but having “cups of coffee” at some point. Luff is the player I have getting in the most games with 30. He really came into his own last year, posting 31 points in 36 games and later staying up with the big club for 33 games (11 points). This year the Kings have Nikolai Prokhorkin (great sleeper) and probably Carl Grundstrom knocking Luff back down the ladder a couple of notches. More on Luff here.
The Preds sent Rem Pitlick and Eeli Tolvanen to the AHL, and waived Anthony Richard and Alexandre Carrier. I was almost certain Tolvanen would not make the team, given his difficulty adjusting to North American pro hockey last year. So I had given him slim odds. What I’d like to see is for him to dominate the AHL the way we know he can, and then get called up in January when there’s an injury within Nashville’s top six. As for Pitlick, I gave him slightly better odds, but generally players coming out of college still need a season of pro hockey in the AHL first. I have both players joining the team at some point this year for a dozen or so games. Read our prospect profile on Pitlick here, and Tolvanen here.
The Senators sent down Max Veronneau, Maxime Lajoie, Alex Formenton, Jonathan Davidsson and Josh Norris. Ottawa has a lot of young players trying to grab spots. But they spent the offseason adding veteran space-fillers so they wouldn’t have to rush the youngsters. Davidsson and Norris were both long shots, as they clearly need a year of AHL seasoning. And I felt that Lajoie’s early-season hot streak last year was a surprise for a reason – he’s not a future NHL star. It’s Formenton and Veronneau who surprised me. With Veronneau, he is a former undrafted college star and this move just reinforces what I noted about college players above. I just thought he would be an exception because he was the college player most in demand by NHL teams in the spring. I had his odds at 65%. I still have him getting called up for a couple of dozen games later, and that’s what the Sens will do with their prospects – rotate them up and down from the AHL. Formenton was a surprise because he actually made the team each of the last two seasons. His being sent down isn’t a huge shocker, but how early he was cut is what surprises.
Among those still up in camp are Logan Brown, Filip Chlapik, Drake Batherson, Rudolfs Balcers and Erik Brannstrom. Of those, Balcers and Brannstrom are locks and Batherson (the three B’s?) is close to a lock as well. I have all three above 80% in the Guide. Brown and Chlapik bear watching as they both have upside. Ottawa’s team page of scouting reports can be found here.
The Blues placed Derrick Pouliot on waivers. I had him as their eighth defenseman and PP specialist. Getting cut this early in camp had me rolling back his expected GP even further. I don’t know what happened to Pouliot since being drafted eighth overall in 2012 and being widely considered one of the best offensive defenseman prospects as recently as 2015.
The Lightning sent Alex Barre-Boulet and Cal Foote to the AHL. Both of these are expected moves, but both players will see time at some point this season. I had hoped that with Brayden Point still unsigned that ABB would have stuck around longer. Read more on Barre-Boulet here.
On Saturday, the key roster cuts included:
Chicago sent Dylan Sikura to the AHL. I was asked on Twitter if he was a bust and I don’t think we can say that until this happens again next year (or if he has a horrible season). In the Fantasy Guide I had Sikura not making the team (30% odds) and then getting called up later to play about 30 games. His getting cut didn’t change this projection any. I projected nine points for him, but if he were to do well in the AHL and then come up and 15 or 18 points in those 30 games, then things will look promising for him in 2020-21. Otherwise, since next year he will be 25, it would be fair to put that label on him. Sikura’s prospect profile is here.
Tampa Bay sent Taylor Raddysh to the AHL. Again, not a surprise as I had very slim odds on him. But I did want to see him stick around a little longer than he did.
Vancouver sent Olli Juolevi and Francis Perron to the AHL. I had both as long shots. Juolevi was injured most of last year so of course he wouldn’t make it. And the only reason I had Perron on there at 10% was because the Canucks sought him out, acquired him from the Sharks, and then quickly signed him. So I know they like the former junior star. I do expect him to see his first career NHL game this year at some point, and would love to see him really dominate the AHL.
Vegas placed Garret Sparks on waivers. The fact that they handed the reins to Malcolm Subban so quickly is a real eye-opener. Even Dylan Ferguson is still in training camp. Sparks’ confidence is truly shot. Ferguson is interesting because he is a young goalie (just turned 21 a couple of days ago) and the Knights acquired him and a second rounder from Dallas for Marc Methot.
An earlier cut that surprised me (not the player being cut, but how soon it happened), was the Oilers sending Caleb Jones to the minors. I have difficulty figuring these two out in the grand scheme of things. In 2017-18 the right-shooting Bear was recalled late in the season and although he was exposed defensively at times, he showed some offensive flair. He had a strong camp and nearly made the team last fall. But then he went to the AHL and seemed to struggle (sulk?). He got injured before he could shake it off, and by the time he returned to the Bakersfield lineup and got back to his old self it was nearly March. Meanwhile, the left-shooting Jones had a strong start for Bakersfield, was called up to the Oilers and was great. He, too, was exposed defensively at times but probably not as much as Bear was in his first stint. So I shuffled Jones back ahead of Bear. Now I have swapped Bear ahead of Jones.
The main difference here is the way they shoot. Jones shoots the same way that Darnell Nurse, Kris Russell and Oscar Klefbom shoot. Bear shoots the same way as Adam Larsson, Matt Benning…and then it’s wide open between Joel Persson, Evan Bouchard and Bear. While I think Bouchard gets sent down, I think the job is Persson’s to lose. I have Persson sticking for the full season and actually flirting with 30 points (with upside), and Bear now as a second-half player for the big club getting regular minutes at that point. Read up on Bear here, Jones here, and Persson here.
The top line in the preseason so far has actually been Arizona’s Christian Dvorak, Clayton Keller and Conor Garland. This is intriguing for fantasy owners because we all expect a bounce-back from Keller in the season ahead, but who will he play with? If this line stays together, it goes a long way towards giving Dvorak that breakout season that we expect from this year as he approaches and surpasses his 200th game. As for Garland – he made a huge splash when he was called up last year, not only making it impossible for the team to send him back down, but earning a one-way contract extension right then and there. And now he notes that he worked out with Tom Brady’s “patented wellness regimen”. He’s definitely come to camp ready and is a dark horse for late in fantasy drafts.
Max Pacioretty is leading the NHL in preseason scoring. He had a hat trick and four points in the first game for Vegas and then three more points in the second. He has not played with Mark Stone, which is the most interesting factoid here. His linemates have been Cody Glass and Reilly Smith and three have really clicked (obviously). Coach Gerard Gallant seems to be hinting at Stone alongside William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault thereby putting together a true first line with his three best forwards rather than breaking them up and having Stone spearhead a real impressive 1B line. Long term, assuming Pacioretty is the ‘normal’ Pacioretty and not last year’s weaker version nor this month’s superhuman one, this would help Glass but hinder Smith. And this is a pretty massive boost for Marchessault and Karlsson. I don’t really get into line combinations seriously when it is preseason, but I do pay attention to hints and indicators – and this is one. The coach is at least thinking about these changes.
Nik Ehlers is the guy who will benefit – and is benefitting – from the holdouts of Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor. He’s playing with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele and the longer Laine and Connor go unsigned, the longer Ehlers can be a point-per-game player. Add in the fact that he was everyone’s favorite to bounce back even without that kind of help, and this year could be something pretty big for his fantasy owners. He scored Sunday night, giving him three points in two preseason games so far.
Austin Czarnik showed up to Calgary’s training camp on a mission. He couldn’t leapfrog James Neal and that fat contract last year, but he could certainly get ahead of Milan Lucic for a better offensive role. In two games, Czarnik has two goals and three points plus an impressive blocked shot that looked like it could have broken something (he’s clearly fine, since he played Sunday). The problem is, he was playing with weak linemates last night. And that makes him un-draftable. But I want to plant the seed of his name in your head as a guy on his last chance. All he wants is regular top nine ice time with occasional chances in the top six and if he gets it I think he can be a decent and surprising fantasy pickup off the wire later.
Frozen Tools update:
Player Comparison Tool now has a couple more things added to it and the boxes have been broken up into three so you don’t have to drag the scroll bar over. Frozen Tools just keeps getting better. Here is Mikko Rantanen and the guy he says he’s comparable to – Mitch Marner. Does he compare? Better click to find out!
By the way, any player profile (click any name here to go to that player profile), if you click the information tab, there is a player comparison box. Just type in the first couple letters of the player’s name that you want to compare him to and you’re immediately taken to that compare page. Very handy, huge time-saver.
See you Monday
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