21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
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. Over the summer, I was vocal in saying I didn’t believe in Roope Hintz to be a good sleeper. Rather, I saw just another average middle-6 forward being thrust into Dallas’s top-6, maybe even top line, who would get shifted around constantly. He has looked far from an average middle-six forward in six games this year. In fact, he’s looked like Dallas’ best forward.
Now, I still have some worries about his overall fantasy value because I still don’t think he’s a volume shooter and without top PP minutes, there are too many holes for significant roto value. With that said, Hintz has looked great early on and with most of the team not playing their best, he should stay in the top-six for the foreseeable future. (oct8)
2. Matt Dumba's statistical output is basically a buffet of fantasy goodness, and that led me to thinking that he’s the next Shea Weber, for fantasy hockey purposes – a defenseman who can post 15-20 goals, near 50 points, and across-the-board peripherals. He was a guy I was very, very high on going into the year and hopefully y’all listened to me on that one (as I hope you guys didn’t listen to me about Hintz). (oct8)
3. Dougie Hamilton has not played fewer than 20 minutes in a game this season, which is a significant step forward considering that he averaged less than 20 minutes per game last season. Hamilton has also received at least 22 minutes in each of his last five games, which is a result of Rod Brind’Amour switching to Hamilton from Jake Gardiner on PP1 recently. If you’ve been patient with Hamilton while his team hasn’t appreciated his talents enough, then it looks like you are finally being rewarded. (oct12)
4. I just scanned one of my league's waiver wires and noticed Erik Haula at the top of the list of available centers. After he missed much of last season because of injury, Haula was an afterthought in many fantasy drafts. Yet, despite that, Haula has been scoring at a 0.69 PTS/GP pace over his last three seasons.
With another goal on Saturday, Haula now has goals in five of the Canes' first six games while receiving first-unit power play minutes. He's still unowned in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues and could make a great pickup, as the trade to Carolina has helped his value so far (Fantasy Take: Haula Acquired by Hurricanes). (oct12)
5. Every year I seem to be counselling fantasy owners not to drop underperforming players too early, and every year it seems that these questions appears earlier and earlier. Case in point: I’ve noticed that there are Forum posts asking whether to drop Shayne Gostisbehere already. First of all, I understand that ‘Ghost’ has no points this season and that last season wasn’t his finest. I also know that the panic of ‘Ghost’ owners has been widespread, with his ownership plummeting from near-universal to under 60% already. I need to sell all my shares before the stock market crashes kind of stuff.
So, the buyer’s remorse has already arrived after three games. THREE GAMES. There’s nothing wrong with monitoring the situation, but for gosh sakes that’s too early to press the panic button.
I know that some of you are going to say that the 65-point season was an outlier for ‘Ghost’. Maybe it will always be his career high. But folks, crack open your Fantasy Guides for a moment. ‘Ghost’ is projected for 55 points this year. Maybe that’s higher than what you have him scoring. But how does he stack up to the options that are available in your league? If you have an option that you projected as better before the season, then by all means make the move. If the other options are projected for less than 40 points, then I don’t see how dropping ‘Ghost’ is any more than a knee-jerk reaction. (oct12)
6. Due to the early recency effect, fantasy owners can’t scramble to the waiver wire fast enough to pick up James Neal. Absolutely, ride the hot hand. Just remember that he’s only going to cool off from here (he’s shooting at 46.7%, by the way). Do you think Neal is going to score 30 this year? If you believe so and add him (and yes, I know he was only available in about 25% of Yahoo league on Saturday, so hypothetically speaking), you have to treat him as though he’ll score just 23 more goals, not 30. By adding him today, you’re not getting the seven goals he’s already scored. You’re getting whatever he’s going to score the rest of the way.
I’ll admit that Neal might be the real deal in Edmonton for longer than a week and that ‘Ghost’ might disappear even further from the fantasy landscape. Yet don’t let that steer you away from the overall principle of maximizing your team’s value. So while others are tripping over themselves getting to the waiver wire to find the latest hot hand, why not do the opposite and look for the guy who was dropped after an owner became impatient? It’s worked for me. Very simple theory here. Buy low. Sell high. (oct12)
7. So far this season, John Gibson has been nothing short of sensational, putting forth an argument that he is one of the league’s best goalies if you separate him from the team he plays for. Gibson’s 2.84 GAA and .917 SV% last season were his worst ratios over his past four seasons, although he had set a fairly high standard for himself before that.
Gibson currently is tied for the league lead in wins (3) while posting the lowest goals-against average (1.26) and highest save percentage (.961) among goalies that have played more than two games. In addition, all four of his starts have been quality starts, according to Frozen Tools. There’s no reason that Gibson can’t continue to post top-notch ratios, yet the wins still might not come easily and he might still have to single-handedly keep the Ducks in games. After five games, the Ducks currently sit among the league’s weakest offenses, having scored just 11 goals over their first five games.
Can Gibson build a legitimate Vezina Trophy argument if the Ducks aren’t a playoff team? Both scenarios could come true this season. (oct12)
8. While you’re here, why not go check out our new Frozen Tools? One cool new feature that was added was shooting percentage by shot type. It could help give some insight into a player if he gets a new role on the power play as different areas will entail different kinds of shots. There’s a lot of cool stuff our development team is coming up with to make the user experience here at DobberHockey just a little bit better every day. Hats off to them and go peruse their work! (oct11)
9. The Ottawa Senators have added numerous ‘placeholder’ players for what is a rebuilding season. The latest was Vladislav Namestnikov, who was acquired from the Rangers last Monday. So far, the trade has looked great for the Sens, as Namestnikov scored two third-period goals and added an assist with a plus-3 while skating 21:47 in a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay. Namestnikov also recorded an assist in his Ottawa debut on Thursday. Given the ice time, Namestnikov might carve himself a regular role in Ottawa. (oct13)
10. Tampa Bay looked… ok?… through their first few games. And then Brayden Point returned, slotting on the top line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. I think most people would expect Point to have at least a little bit of rust to his game, not being sure how he and the line would fare in his return. This was the damage in their win over Toronto:
Kucherov: two goals, two assists
Point: two goals, one assist
Stamkos: one goal, three assists
11. Ilya Mikheyev might not be a top-6 forward for the Leafs but he is making a solid first impression anyway. With a goal and an assist on Saturday, the rookie is now up to five points (2g-3a) in six games, which ties him with Victor Olofsson and Cale Makar in rookie scoring. After spending the past four seasons in the KHL, Mikheyev is already a fan favorite in Toronto for his love of soup (I know, nothing to do with fantasy). For more on Mikheyev, check out his Dobber Prospects profile. (oct13)
12. Dustin Brown filled roto stat-sheets on Saturday, scoring a goal and adding two assists while taking six shots on goal and four hits in 20 minutes of icetime in the Kings’ 7-4 win over Nashville. The Kings probably won’t have a ton of fantasy relevant players this season, yet Brown should be owned in multicategory leagues that count hits. Brown has taken a minimum of 150 hits every season since his NHL career started in 2007-08. Brown has also rebounded scoring-wise over the last two seasons, so his scoring numbers should be okay while he skates on the Kings’ top line with Anze Kopitar. (oct13)
13. Sharks’ Jonny Brodzinski cleared waivers this week. I want to see him catch on somewhere and be given a real shot. He got some time once in a while on Los Angeles’s top line when he was with the Kings but he only got 54 games with the team over three years, averaging under 10 minutes a game. I think he can be a physical depth scorer but what do I know. (oct10)
14. I’m not in any way convinced that Patrick Marleau will do much fantasy-wise. If he couldn’t succeed in the top-six for the Leafs while getting PP time there, I don’t see why it would work in San Jose. Maybe if they give him 18 minutes a night. (oct10)
15. Just as a general observation: I don’t see the fast start as an aberration from Victor Olofsson. Well, he won’t score 80 goals, but I mean his success isn’t an aberration. He loves to shoot and just carries the puck with a lot of confidence. That kind of player will find a lot of success skating next to a player like Jack Eichel. (oct10)
16. Noah Dobson is the real deal. It’ll take him a beat or three before he’s really running, but you’re looking at a very real power-play quarterback. Something the Islanders have lacked for far too long. (oct9)
17. Mika Zibanejad is off to a fiery start. The breakout predictions for the Rangers’ center were warranted, but it was his sneaky value last season that really moved the needle for fantasy squads. This offseason, everyone and their dog were lining up to acquire assets from Broadway and down the Turnpike from Newark.
I don’t really need to say this, but before we start putting the former Senators’ name up with the Hart Trophy finalists, let's be sure and pump those brakes just a tad. It's a perfect first-week smash-up and will set the tone for his year (and yours), but I’m not sure we can expect too much more than a point-per-game from the 26-year-old.
Zibanejad is a proven and consistent 12ish percentage finisher. His shot rate has climbed in four of the last five seasons, culminating with a career-high 2.88 per game last season. I’m going to buy-in on him living in the meat of his statistical prime and now being insulated with (far) superior talent, and predict another uptick. Let’s call it somewhere around 3.0-3.25 per game. That gives him somewhere between 30-33 goals. Again, giving credence to the surrounding talents and natural development, perhaps we can uptick him six more assists to 50.
I’m a big fan of Zibanejad and feel he’s capable of being a top-15 point-producer this season. But the conservative side of me is shouting to watch out for the troubles that come along with a young team. And of course health. FYI, I put him down for 30 goals and 76 points in 80 games in my Projections. (oct7)
18. You won’t catch me touting Auston Matthews as the best player in the world. I will, however, go out and say he is the best even-strength goal scorer in the world. It won’t be long before we hand the entire goal-scoring mantle to him either.
Since stepping into the league in October 2016, no one has outscored him at even-strength on a per-game basis (entering action last Monday). Matthews 86 EVGs trail only Connor McDavid’s 92 over that span. However, Matthews netted his total in 215 games compared to 244 for McDavid.
This leads us right to the medical clinic door. It’s vital for a player to be healthy and the Leafs’ superstar has missed 34 games over the last two seasons. He needs to once again prove he’s capable of skating a full campaign. However, in any league that values goals over assists, I’m targeting Matthews as the top asset.
One of the things that Matthews has going for him is his unbelievable wrist shot. It’s his most lethal weapon and is arguably the best one in the league (I’m arguing on the pro side of this debate). On a per game average, only Vladimir Tarasenko has scored more goals via the wrist shot than Matthews in the past three seasons. And that trend is running once again this year. (oct7)
19. A quick reminder that I love Andrei Svechnikov and see him ending up as Vladimir Tarasenko on steroids. Not actual steroids, that would be bad. Although a small part of me wouldn’t mind seeing some roided out monsters out there scoring six per game. (oct7)
20. Curtis McElhinney is a sneaky add this season. The Bolts will once again be the best regular-season team and he's going to get some starts. Injuries forced the club to start Andrei Vasilevksiy's just 53 games last season. However, the year before that it was 65. They'll likely follow suit with the league-wide trend and give him a bit of a rest to save him for the postseason. If you're in a daily lineup league, you could do worse as a roller. (oct7)
21. We here at DobberHockey have been trumpeting several breakout targets for this season. And to a man, Anthony Mantha was on all of our lists and the tips of our writing fingers. Personally, I felt he would take another step forward this season. However, I wondered if the true breakout was still a year or so out. Which is saying something. Mantha clicked at a 31 goal, 60-point pace last season. I felt he could hit those markers and then some this year.
The top line is the only line of interest in Detroit, but they are deliciously dangerous on a nightly basis. This is as one-line a team as I've seen in some time. That said, Filip Hronek has been good despite being banished to the second power-play unit this past week. Dennis Cholowski was skating on the top unit and being very sheltered at evens. One of these guys is going to make some dough with that trio of forwards on the ice. I'm sticking with my bet that it’s Hronek. (oct7)
Have a good week, folks!!
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