Every Sunday, we'll share 21 Fantasy Rambles – formerly 20 Fantasy Thoughts – from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week's ‘Daily Ramblings’.
Writers: Ian Gooding, Michael Clifford, Cam Robinson, and Dobber
1. Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin continues to be underrated in both real and fantasy terms. In standard roto leagues, I have him as a top-15 skater, while he’s being drafted outside the top-100 players. It’s utter insanity.
I really do like his teammate, Andreas Athanasiou, but be wary of the lack of peripherals outside of shots. It greatly adjusts his value across different formats. And I’m on board with everyone else that Filip Hronek should have a good year but it seems like Mike Green is being forgotten about. He can be a very productive defenseman when he’s healthy. (sep26)
2. With the uncertainty surrounding the future of Dustin Byfuglien, the top PP slotting for the Jets is open, and though my assumption is that it’s Josh Morrissey’s role, we can’t preclude Neal Pionk.
Over his career, Pionk has been close to two shots and 1.8 hits per game, which would play well with any kind of offensive production. He has been hard-pressed to produce points outside of the man advantage but going to Winnipeg should help a bit in this regard. I really don’t think Pionk is a very good defenseman in real life but with his peripheral stats, he can be very valuable in fantasy if he gets that PP slotting over Morrissey. (sep24)
3. Established fantasy hockey options at forward: Evander Kane, Mike Hoffman, Jeff Skinner, Alexander Radulov, Jakub Voracek, Joe Pavelski, Phil Kessel, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Cam Atkinson.
These players have been in the NHL for at least five seasons. Many are over 30, while the ones that aren’t (Nugent-Hopkins, Skinner, Kane) have been in the league so long it might seem like they are now 30. Some of these players’ ADPs have fallen in value over last season’s (Pavelski, Kessel, Pacioretty), while others have maintained value (Hoffman, Voracek).
The majority have probably reached their peak unless there is further scoring inflation. Many of these players will be drafted between picks 50-100. (sep28)
4. The Up-and-Comers, still at forward: Filip Forsberg, Jake Guentzel, Alex DeBrincat, Viktor Arvidsson, Timo Meier, Elias Lindholm, Tomas Hertl, Jonathan Marchessault, Teuvo Teravainen, Brock Boeser, Mark Stone, Kyle Connor
These are mainly players with five or fewer full NHL seasons. As a result, most will be 25 and under, while many will not have reached their career high yet. Most of these players will be drafted between picks 50-100. (sep28)
5. Whether you target Patrik Laine may depend on which league format you use. For example, Laine has an ADP of 40 in Yahoo leagues, but an ADP of 103 in ESPN leagues. I don’t think I’d sleep easy picking Laine at his Yahoo ADP, since his floor is too low from what I’d expect at that spot. However, I’d grab Laine at his ESPN ADP and run to the bank. You don’t usually find 40-goal scorers at pick 100. As gun-shy as owners might be on Laine, only five players have scored more goals than him over the past three seasons. (sep28)
6. It’s probably good to remember that Kevin Fiala is a year removed from a 23-goal season, playing 15 minutes a night as a 21-year old, and grades out as elite in a lot of underlying offensive metrics. He’s being forgotten about, and that is good news for those in deep leagues… Elsewhere in Minny, I do believe that Matt Dumba will be a top-10 fantasy defenseman this year in roto leagues. Draft accordingly… Devan Dubnyk is one of my favourite late targets for a netminder. Minnesota may not be a great team, but they’ll likely be a dull team, and that’s good for goaltending. (sep27)
7. It seems the market isn’t getting overhyped on Chicago’s Dylan Strome, as he’s going well outside the top-100 picks. This is the right move. Though I think he’s due for regression, there’s almost an overcorrection from the market here. I’d be tempted to take him outside the top-125 picks… I’m largely avoiding the Blackhawks’ goalie situation. There are concerns about how good this team is defensively and there could be a carousel, eventually including Collin Delia. Pass for me… Alex Nylander will be given every possible opportunity to succeed. It’s up to him whether he does or not, and it’s up to fantasy owners when they’re willing to take the risk. I am passing. (sep27)
8. In Arizona, I think the impact of Phil Kessel is being overstated a bit. This is still a bad offensive team adding one good offensive player who turns 32 years old next week. And in roto leagues he’s being overvalued even further. It was a good addition for the Coyotes, but it’s not franchise-changing. You’re probably better off waiting six or seven rounds and drafting Clayton Keller than drafting Kessel. Antti Raanta is once again my favourite goalies to draft this year. I think he’s the 1A in the 1A/1B situation, meaning 50-55 starts and is being drafted way down the goalie list. (sep27)
9. There is a lot of excitement around the Rangers, and rightfully so. Just remember that this team is still going to be bad defensively, which is a problem for everyone’s plus/minus, and goaltending in general. And I’m still not convinced that Pavel Buchnevich spends the year on the top line. I hope against hope that he will, but history has taught me otherwise.
Still with the Rangers: Chris Kreider is being straight disrespected by ADP. It reminds me of Anders Lee last year: no, he won’t hit the highs we’ve seen, but even pulling back production doesn’t justify the ADP crater. (sep26)
10. I’m at the point where I cannot draft Patrice Bergeron. Needing months to recover from a groin injury, and not being fully recovered yet (?), makes it hard to spent significant draft capital on this pick. This has a cascading effect on guys like Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. (sep26)
11. Mathew Barzal – Last Season: 62 Points. My Projection: 70 Points.
Barzal was one of last season’s top regression candidates, but he probably slid too far down the rungs. Even on a Barry Trotz team, a zone-entry cheat code like Barzal is going to generate offense. I don’t have much in the way of statistical analysis to back this one. I just think Barzal is a star talent who cannot be suppressed. (sep25)
12. Nazem Kadri – Last Season: 44 Points. My Projection: 53 Points.
After back-to-back 32-goal seasons, Kadri slipped to half that through a combination of injuries and a depressed shooting percentage. I don’t have Kadri climbing back to 32 goals, but he should do better than 16 through nothing more than regression. There is room for Kadri to skate more minutes on a shallower Avalanche squad and he has the chance to join a dominant power-play unit in a role he filled effectively in Toronto. (sep25)
13. Brayden Point – Last Season: 92 Points. My Projection: 82 Points.
This was not contract related, nor was it injury-related as I fully expected to see Point back by the start of the season. While he did sign a three-year extension on Monday, it also came with news that he would miss the start of the season following off-season hip surgery.
My reason for Point declining is that I simply do not see him repeating last season’s 21.5% shooting percentage but adding in an injury virtually cements this position. That projection should slide even lower with more games missed and the time needed to get back up to game speed. (sep25)
14. Aleksander Barkov’s season average for games played is only 69. Back-to-back healthy seasons may demonstrate that he has put the injury woes behind him, but I am not ready to consider him a lock for immaculate health.
Barkov finished fourth in ice time among forwards skating over 22 minutes per game for the second straight season in 2019-20. A superstar two-way force like Barkov is a guy you want to be giving those kinds of minutes to, but with the improved depth, the Panthers could reduce his burden.
Vincent Trocheck missed 27 games with a broken ankle and wasn’t the same upon his return, which opened up space for Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov to lock down top PP usage. His return will muddy the waters. Off-season signings of Brett Connolly and Noel Acciari, as well as growth from sophomore Henrik Borgstrom, could entice the coaching staff to spread the minutes around more evenly than their previously top-heavy roster allowed. I don’t want to overstate this part of it though. Even with these additions, the Panthers are top-heavy.
New head coach Joel Quenneville just doesn’t have a track record of riding stars to the degree that Barkov has been used the past couple of seasons. Quenneville would give Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane 20 minutes a night, but they were never challenging for tops in the league in forward skating. It took until Quenneville was fired last season for Toews and Kane to see that kind of usage. (sep25)
15. We had both Rasmuses (Rasmusii? Rasmux?) in the lineup for Buffalo last week and it was Dahlin on the top power-play unit and not Ristolainen. This shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone but it does take away quite a bit from Ristolainen’s upside. In roto leagues, his peripherals are so stout that he has legitimate top-5 upside with top PP minutes and a reasonable plus/minus. He has no such upside with Dahlin taking the reigns, but we saw last year that sometimes they’ll go back to Risto, and sometimes they’ll both share the top unit. I’ve done three mock drafts now and it seems he keeps slipping down the ADP list. I’m fine with taking him outside the top-30 defensemen. (sep24)
16. Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin are talented offensive players, but they aren’t guys who necessarily drive shot differentials, which means just putting some spare third wheel on the wing could get them caved in in their own end regularly. Rather, having a responsible two-way guy like Artturi Lehkonen – who also usually has high shooting rates – would be the perfect addition for them. Whether he would find the success that Andrew Shaw did last year, I don’t know. However, Lehkonen put up over two shots per game and 120 hits, so if he can get near 20 goals and 50 points like Shaw did, there is a very good roto season in the making here. (sep24)
17. I guess I should start sending out my ‘I’m Sorry I Was Wrong’ holiday cards right now.
More than once over the course of the summer, I stated in these Ramblings I thought both Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar would be eased into the top power-play role, with their respective coaches not opting for a rookie to take the reigns immediately. Rather, I had assumed that Makar would take a few months to take over from Sam Girard while Hughes would take until whenever Alex Edler suffered some minor injury. Well, as we’ve seen in training camp, it looks like they’ll both have the top spot right out of the gate. That changes things for me a bit.
In my projections, this has a bigger effect on Makar than on Hughes. The reason for this is that my projections assumed Makar would take longer to take the top PP spot than Hughes would, which meant Makar had more to gain from starting on the top PP unit right away. It moved Hughes from ~34 points to ~40 points but it moved Makar from ~39 points to ~48 points, with each of those gains all being made on the power play. They also made small gains in shots on goal, too.
Even after the adjustments, I’m still not drafting Hughes among the top-50 defensemen (assuming roto format, non-keeper). I have serious concerns that his peripheral production will be meager and 40 points from a blueliner just doesn’t buy what it used to in a high-scoring era in the NHL. He’s being drafted somewhere around the top-50 defensemen and it’s cheap enough of an ADP that he’s replaceable, but I just don’t see him returning value with the weak peripherals I have him projected for – ~145 shots, ~40 hits. Meanwhile, my new projections have Makar ranked roughly where his ADP is, which is to say about a top-30 defenseman, so no issues drafting him now. (sep24)
18. One top line in the preseason 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. (sep23)
19. 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 he’ll be 25 next year, it would be fair to put that label on him. (sep23)
20. In Nashville, I was almost certain Eeli Tolvanen would not make the team out of camp, 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 Rem 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. (sep23)
21. The Lightning sent Alex Barre-Boulet and Cal Foote to the AHL. Both of these are expected moves, but both players will also see time at some point this season. I had hoped that with Brayden Point still unsigned that ABB would have stuck around longer. (sep23)
Have a good week, folks!!