21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
Every Sunday, we'll share 21 Fantasy Rambles – originally 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. I’m a staunch advocate of buying low and selling high. Not that it means I don’t constantly fail to capitalize on opportunities. But I’m convinced that this is the absolute best time to trade John Carlson in a keeper league. We know he’s on an absolute heater – and no one will purchase him with the expectation that his pace will continue. However, they might just bite on another career-season on a player who has yet to cusp the 30-year-old mark.
The reasons that you can sell him to competitors are obvious. Over the last two-plus seasons, only Brent Burns has more even-strength and total points than Carlson’s 85 ESP and 157 total points. On the man-advantage, it’s not even close. Carlson’s 72 PPPs are 12 more than second-place, Keith Yandle. Carlson’s role on the Caps top unit is beyond reproach and it remains a top 10 unit as it has for the last half-decade.
So go on, go and sell him for a juicy haul while targeting players with their primes yet to come and in equally promising situations. Or ride him to a championship. Both good options. (oct23)
2. Even though Mikko Rantanen is week to week, Nathan MacKinnon should be just fine. In the meantime, fantasy owners should be adding J.T. Compher to their watch lists at the very least. Compher lined up with MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog on Friday, recording one assist. Compher is owned in just 6 percent of Yahoo leagues, but expect that ownership to rise now that he’s tagging along on one of the league’s top lines. For more on Compher, see this week’s Looking Ahead. (oct26)
3. All Jack Hughes needed was a move to the top line and first-unit power play. With a goal and two assists on Friday, Hughes now has five points over his last three games since being moved to the Taylor Hall/Kyle Palmieri unit. Of course, that move has come at the expense of Nico Hischier, who returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the past two games. Hischier’s value, at least for the time being, has taken a hit, as he’s been pushed down to the second power-play unit and is on the third line with Pavel Zacha and Nikita Gusev.
By the way, Gusev has averaged under 13 minutes of ice time so far. In case you’re wondering why, this might shed some light. It’s still early in Gusev’s NHL career, so there may be an adjustment period here. I’ve taken a flier on Gusev in one league in which he was recently dropped in the hopes that he can turn it around. (oct26)
4. It seems weird to want to trade a guy skating in the top-6 for Washington while getting extended run on the top PP unit but bear with me here.
T.J. Oshie is shooting just under 31 percent, which he obviously won’t sustain. Now, he’s a guy who typically has very high shooting percentages but even his rate right now is a bit ridiculous. The other reason is his inability to stay in the lineup. Over the last three years, Oshie has averaged 70 games a season and he’s played at least 80 games in a season once since 2012. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of this year.
We have a guy who is shooting way above his norm and also has a problem staying healthy. I don’t own Oshie in any leagues, but if I did, I would be shopping him for a top-50 or top-75 player right now. (oct25)
5. Maybe this vote of confidence is a kiss of death, but John Tortorella said officially that Joonas Korpisalo has solidified himself as the go-to starter for the Blue Jackets. I think Columbus has shown well here early in the season, the problem with wins will come from goal scoring, because they still haven’t figured out their power play and the even-strength scoring won’t be elite. This is a year where Korpisalo could have solid peripheral stats but not the wins to match because of that anemic power play. (oct25)
6. A couple of power-play points would probably make all the difference in his perception right now because having zero PP points three weeks into the season is not a good look. Of course, it’s not all, or even mostly, P.K. Subban’s fault. There is a lot of blame to go around as to why the Devils haven’t been off to the start they’d like.
The power play obviously won’t keep shooting zero percent with him on the ice, but we’ve already seen some power-play changes, including Sami Vatanen to the top unit. Whatever ends up being the magical combination that gets the PP going, that will be the combination that gets run. Whether that includes Subban or not, who knows. At the least, he’s still putting up solid peripherals so even if he’s more a 40-point guy than a 50-plus guy, he could still be solid in roto leagues. Might be worth checking in on whoever has Subban in your league to see if they’re frustrated with him yet and what the cost might be. (oct24)
7. Andrei Svechnikov broke out of a five-game point drought by scoring two goals on Saturday. In spite of the slump, Svechnikov is now up to a near point-per-game pace again with 10 points (3g-7a) in 11 games. Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho are now being centered by Warren Foegele, who was held without a point in this game but has shown flashes of brilliance in the past. It’s best to take a wait-and-see approach on Foegele.
Speaking of Aho, he appears to be back on track with five points in his last five games, including two assists on Saturday. Make sure he’s back in your starting lineup if you moved him to your bench after his cold start. (oct27)
8. Nick Leddy is holding a hot stick at the moment with five points over his last three games. In case you’re wondering where the Islanders’ power-play situation stands, Devon Toews is still running the first unit, with Leddy and Ryan Pulock on the second unit. Leddy has been mentioned in trade rumors recently, although Barry Trotz stated that there is “no chance” Leddy would be traded anytime soon. (oct26)
9. Ottawa recalled prospect Logan Brown from the AHL prior to their game on Wednesday night. He was immediately slotted on the top line to center Brady Tkachuk and Anthony Duclair. I ran out and picked him where I could on waivers because 49 points in 59 career AHL games and if he can show chemistry with Tkachuk, he will be in line for 17 minutes a night with some special teams exposure included. Of course, he could just not work out with Tkachuk, but this could have some upside for the rest of the season. (oct24)
10. The Red Wings also called up a prospect of their own in Evgeny Svechnikov, the older brother of Carolina’s Andrei. I don’t know how good he will or won’t be down the road, but it’s hard to see him having much fantasy value right now skating on third line in Detroit. He’d have to go nuclear on his own, having an Athanasiou-type season. That’s a lot to ask from a rookie. (oct24)
11. The Stars are the only team that is averaging fewer than two goals per game. I’ve mentioned before that there’s reason to believe that players like Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg will improve on relatively slow starts. I’m genuinely concerned about Joe Pavelski, though, as his age (35) and a new system has resulted in a significant hit to his value. There might be an issue with fit, as the Stars simply don’t generate the number of shot attempts that Sharks do, which hurts Pavelski’s ability to score on tip-ins and rebounds.
Pavelski and Alexander Radulov were both moved to bottom-6 lines on Saturday, a move that didn’t help either player in particular, or the Stars in general. As a result, Denis Gurianov was able to move up to the top 6 alongside Seguin. I’d normally say that Gurianov would benefit, but the Stars simply aren’t generating enough offense for that to matter right now. (oct27)
12. Tuukka Rask has continued his fine play into this season. With a shutout on Saturday, Rask leads the league with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. It was the first time this season that Rask started two consecutive games, although the Bruins have a back-to-back on Sunday, which Jaroslav Halak should start. With the Bruins’ goalie situation likely a timeshare until the playoffs, Rask likely won’t be among the league leaders in wins. (oct27)
13. Quick update on the tantalizing 2020-crop coming our way. As of mid-week, each of the three CHL leagues were being led in points by a draft-eligible forward.
This is an unheard-of development. And while it’s unlikely Zary will be able to maintain that spot, Byfield and Lafreniere are going to the mat in this battle for the top spot. (oct23)
14. Thatcher Demko has a lot of motivation to produce when called upon this season. His reward may be convincing management that Jacob Markstrom – who is in the final year of his contract, is replaceable. But it won't be easy. Markstrom was near the top of the heap for quality starts a season ago and has only built on that early in 2019-20. (oct23)
The decision the Canucks are facing with Markstrom’s next contract won’t just hold the usual implications of whether he should be the starter. The Canucks also have to figure out which goalie they will protect in the 2021 Seattle expansion draft. Don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that it will be Demko, as Markstrom has had quite a solid run since December 1 last year (2.48 GAA, .921 SV%). Markstrom’s quality start percentage (QS%) during that time is 70.2%, which is second to only Darcy Kuemper among goalies that have started at least 30 games during that time. (oct26)
15. Early in the summer, I wrote that my expectation was Samuel Girard to have the PP role out of the gate with Cale Makar eventually transitioning into the role. Girard possesses many skills necessary for a successful power-play quarterback but there is a roadblock. At the least, we have to consider it’s possible that this is an uncertain role right now. Just keep an eye on future games and trends. (oct22)
16. Jakob Silfverberg has nine points in his last 10 games. Crap, I traded him in September in the last league I owned him in. I waited on that guy for seven years, had him in all three of my leagues at one time or another, re-acquired him once or twice. Would be just my luck if he pulled a late-bloomer Josh Bailey on me after all that. I’m sure I’m jumping the gun, but he generally doesn’t get off to hot starts like this. You can always count on him for big 20-, 30- or even 40-game hot spurts but he’s never given us that full season or anything close to it. Maybe that big new contract changes things? (oct21)
17. I had opined on here a couple of times, as well as in the Fantasy Guide, that the Caps acquired Garnet Hathaway and Radko Gudas to be that buffer between Tom Wilson and the penalty box. And boy was I right. Wilson is on pace for fewer than 70 minutes in penalties, while Gudas has 17 PIM already and Hathaway has nine (13 games). Defenseman Tyler Lewington (17 PIM) also made the team – he of 121 PIM in 65 AHL games last year – to give even more of a buffer. It hasn’t translated into big points from Wilson on the scoresheet just yet, though the main thing is to keep him from getting suspended again. He’s shooting more, so you may actually see him hit a career high. (oct21)
18. Whatever Eric Staal did to revive his career back in 2016 – he should have kept doing it. He’s only 34 and for a player of his caliber his career should have flourished a little longer. In 2014-15 and 2015-16 his decline was swift and steep, bottoming out at 39 points in 83 games. Bottoming out at 31? He took it hard, changed his offseason habits and workout regimen and came to Minnesota back to his old self when he put up 65 and then 76 points. But last year’s 52 and then this year’s horrible start? Makes me think his summers have gone back to normal. (oct21)
19. Pavel Francouz had a mighty performance Saturday (44 saves) and he has Quality Starts in both of his starts this year. He’s looking like one of the better backups in the league and is a worthwhile asset to stash. He is an unrestricted free agent next summer and a desperate team could very well sign him and make him their starter. I know it’s early but…when would be a good time to stash him, when it’s “late”? Now’s the time, in many leagues. (oct21)
20. If there is one tandem I’m seriously buying into this season, it’s Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta. First of all, they’ve been very strong to begin the year, with Kuemper handling the lion’s share thus far. That’s been the result of a Raanta injury and Kuemper’s strong play. However, expect them to bounce back and forth. The reason I’m so into it, is that the Coyotes are all of a sudden a strong shot suppression team at even-strength. (oct23)
21. Elsewhere, I’m definitely not buying any stock in Henrik Lundqvist or Alexander Georgiev. Although I am a champion of Igor Shestyorkin. He’s the real deal and should slide in to perfectly mesh with this burgeoning young core. Shestyorkin, by the way, has a 0.951 through his first four AHL contests. (oct23)
Have a good week, folks!!
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