Ramblings: Vrana’s new line, thoughts on Gustafsson, Kempny, Samsonov, Kahun and more (Nov 4)


The new line in Washington of Jakub Vrana – Evgeni Kuznetsov – Tom Wilson is really taking off. They’re not only giving the team a real potent second line, but right now they’re playing like a first or 1A line. The trio combined for seven points including Vrana’s hatty. Vrana is enjoying a five-game points streak and he has nine points in that span. Wilson has five points in two games.

By the way, Wilson is still at fewer PIM than games played this year (16 to 14).

Vrana was the fourth player under the age of 24 to score a hat trick this season. Name the other three.

Michal Kempny, who isn’t getting a lick of PP time, has racked up nine points in eight games this year simply playing alongside John Carlson at even strength. It might actually be slowing Carlson’s game down! Carlson was actually pointless in three of his last four games (including Sunday) after getting points in 11 of 12 to start. He’s just coming down to earth. Anyway, back to Kempny. He’s only owned in 14% of Yahoo leagues and 37% in Fantrax leagues (the superior pool tracker IMO).

Carlson could go the next seven games without a point – nine games in a row – and still be at a point-per-game. That’s how insane his start was. He’s averaging a career-high 25:34 of ice time this year.

For rookie Ilya Samsonov, Sunday’s win puts him at 5-1-0 on the year. Braden Holtby’s numbers are worse, but the Caps will continue to ease Samsonov along so that it’s a seamless transition to become their starter next season. Because that’s where this is going. Holtby will be a UFA and I doubt the Caps will sign him (or can afford to). Holtby is still winning games so I can see him getting two out of every three starts going forward.


The NHL did the Flames a huge favor yesterday by saving them from themselves and forcing them to not play Milan Lucic for the next two games. Well, actually he was suspended for two games. Same difference. Lucic is making $6M AAV for the next four seasons and the Flames traded James Neal to acquire him, so naturally the coach feels a strong obligation to play him. His Hits and PIM are as per usual, but his meager production has been sliding even further with just three assists. Where this suspension really helps fantasy owners is the nearly two minutes of PP time that he was uselessly hogging. Those precious minutes now go to Andrew Mangiapane, as we saw Sunday. Here is reason for the Lucic suspension (one second into this clip):


Erik Gustafsson was a healthy scratch on Saturday. On Sunday his ice time was held to 14:22 and Adam Boqvist was given his PP time. Boqvist scored. It looks pretty grim for Gustafsson owners, and because his agent didn’t jump on the idea of negotiating a big contract extension in the summer – they could be in trouble. The coach has no motivation to play Gustafsson right now. There is no huge contract that forces him to play Gustafsson (because of pressure from upper management). If he has a big year, the Hawks won’t be able to sign him. If he has a bad year, the Hawks won’t want him. Gustafsson owners are in a tough spot. After four points in five games to start the season, Gustafsson is now pointless in seven games. And if he’s going to get scratched and see his ice time cut every time he goes five or six games without a point, his fantasy owners will be in for a long season. He has to dig himself out of this one. He did it last year when he was a depth player just trying to earn player time. He scored or setup goals with what little opportunity he was given.  He needs to do that again this year, because he’s no longer getting the ice time handed to him. I’m overly patient with players and I’ve never seen a 60-point defenseman in the modern era suddenly become fantasy-useless after one year. But I have to admit I’m worried.

The one thing I don’t get is that Duncan Keith got all the PP time yesterday when Boqvist and Gustafsson were options. Keith has one PP point this year. Even the admittedly slumping Gustafsson has more than that. But Keith was out there for 4:20 on Sunday. Coach Colliton is truly not handing Gustafsson PP minutes for free now, they have to be earned. If there was a time to do it, it would have been Sunday.


Another player I was asked about a lot over the weekend was Jonathan Toews. But he has three points in his last two games now and while five points in 13 games is bad – it’s not as bad as two in 11 looked on Friday. He was playing with Brandon Saad and Alex Nylander.

Nylander has points in three of his last four games and he fired seven shots on goal Sunday. He saw a season-high 16:33 TOI. He’s definitely been a surprise. Not that I didn’t think he could do this, I’m just surprised it’s happening now.

Robin Lehner had another Quality Start for the Blackhawks and his 0.939 SV% trumps Corey Crawford’s 0.892. Lehner started three of the last four games and five of the last seven.


Interesting tidbit – Ryan Getzlaf played in his 1000th NHL game…and it was Anaheim’s 2000th game.


Patric Hornqvist is out “longer term” due to a lower-body injury. The Penguins had finally been back to full health Saturday, and ironically that warm feeling lasted just the one day. They made Dominik Kahun a healthy scratch in the Saturday game – right after he tallied three points for them. So he will draw in. Kahun is one to watch now because not only has he finally found the net, but I’d like to think he’d be playing with a chip on his shoulder after getting scratched. I suspect he gets his one millionth chance on the Evgeni Malkin line. Perhaps it will work this time.


Logan Brown has great size, talent and upside. But injuries have dogged him year after year and they’re not letting up even now as a second-year pro. He’s out “week-to-week” with an upper-body injury after taking a slash to the arm on Saturday. The lines in practice for Ottawa Sunday were reportedly:

Brady TkachukJG PageauAnthony Duclair

Nick Paul – Chris TierneyConnor Brown

Filip Chlapik – (Artem Anisimov) – Tyler Ennis

Mikkel BoedkerVladislav NamestnikovBobby Ryan

I have Anisimov in brackets because JC Beaudin practiced there, but Anisimov will rejoin the team Monday and I’m assuming he slots in over Beaudin. With Colin White and now Brown out, this moves Pageau and Tierney up into the top six.


Jesperi Kotkaniemi has missed the last couple of games with a groin injury but was considered “day-to-day”. However, Sunday the Habs placed him on injured reserve, indicating that the groin is not healing as well as they would like and he will be out for a while yet. With groin injuries you can’t put a number on the time that will be missed, but generally speaking it doesn’t push three weeks. Best guess is another week to 10 days. The team called up Ryan Poehling not because he was lights-out in AHL action, but because he’s Montreal’s top prospect down there. He has five points in 13 games for Laval, a team that has been struggling to score. Nick Suzuki has seen a nice bump in PP time with Kotkaniemi’s absence and he’s been moved to center where he seems to be more comfortable.


Frozen Tools has enjoyed some pretty big additions over the past couple of weeks. First, if the player profile is that of a prospect, you can see that we have added a DP Upside and DP Certainty to his profile banner. DP means “DobberProspects” and these are pulled right from the DP website. See the sample image here:



You can also see on the right side of the banner the added options to quickly check out team information such as line combinations and the team prospect page over on DP. The full list of prospects that are in our database can now be found here, with handy upside and NHL certainty numbers (out of 10). This page can be accessed anytime in Frozen Tools by going up to the main menu and using the ‘Players’ drop options.

Speaking of line combinations, we can now have a rough, quick-look measure of how lines are gelling in the “last game” and “last 3 games” areas of Frozen Tools. We have added “Chances For” and “Chances Against” numbers when that line is on the ice, and the CF%. We didn’t do this for the full season line combos page as it added 30 seconds to the load time, but plan to have a separate report for that. But I think this is a great way to get a rough idea of how effective a new line has been – according to the numbers. As you can see in this graphic of Florida’s last three games, Hawryluk on the Boyle-Connolly line was more effective than Hoffman (as an example – small sample size of course, but still interesting).



You can get the word on all the latest additions to these tools by following Eric Daoust and myself on Twitter using our new @FrozenTools handle.


See you next Monday.