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. Brad Marchand is an outlier. His developmental arc is bananas. Who suddenly becomes a Hart Trophy candidate in their age-28 season and then witness improved production year-over-year and now somehow producing 1.75 points-per-game through the first month of the year? No one. Other than Marchand that is. (nov6)
2. Thomas Greiss, is it time to consider this guy the real deal or what? The answer is… yes, as long as he's playing behind a Barry Trotz system. The 33-year-old is cruising this season with a 0.942 save percentage. Ranging back to the beginning of 2018-19, Greiss has posted a 30-15-2 record. Those are elite numbers.
3. Justin Schultz (27 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) is virtually guaranteed first-unit power play minutes while Kris Letang (week-to-week, lower body) is sidelined. With all this discussion on load management in the NBA this week, I wonder if Letang would be a candidate for it should NHL teams begin to implement such a strategy. Maybe on back-to-backs? If Letang misses one game for rest purposes in order to avoid missing five or more later, then maybe it is worth it when his injuries are wear-and-tear related. (nov9)
4. You know who has been fun to watch since getting to the NHL? Conor Garland. I have a lot of time for small players who effectively have to learn to navigate an NHL ice surface without being decapitated. But that guy is a shooting machine, with 42 shots in 17 games. Averaging around 2.5 shots per game isn’t generally a monster number, until you see that he’s averaging under 13 minutes a night in ice time. (nov8)
5. A player on a heater that hasn’t been garnering a ton of attention is Eric Staal. The veteran center was off to a disastrous start to his age-35 campaign. He produced just one assist and was a minus-10 through the first seven games, and has now racked up 10 points in the last nine games. He’s back to being locked onto the top power-play unit and the chemistry beside Jason Zucker and Mats Zuccarello appear real. (nov6)
6. Jake Virtanen has moved up to the Canucks’ second line (at least for now) alongside Bo Horvat. Over his past seven games heading it Sunday action, he has also been averaging over three shots per game. Virtanen was heavily criticized by coach Travis Green during the preseason and early in the season for lack of fitness and involvement in the play, but he is trending in the right direction with more goals (five in his last nine games) and hits. (nov9)
7. Ryan Strome is a must-own while Mika Zibanejad is out. Dating back farther than Zibanejad’s injury, Strome has 14 points in his last 12 games and 29 points in 34 games, so he’s not an automatic drop even when Z returns. At age 26, Strome is showing some real post-hype sleeper characteristics. (nov9)
8. We might be expecting the bottom to fall out from the Oilers, due to the much-better-than-anticipated goaltending of Mikko Koskinen (2.18 GAA) and Mike Smith (2.22 GAA). Don’t expect those numbers to remain this low, but there could still be something said about new coach Dave Tippett’s system improving the team overall defensively. (nov9)
9. On Friday, the Jets assigned Ville Heinola to Lukko Rauma in the Finnish Liiga. Although the 18-year-old Heinola showed promise with five points in his eight games, the decimated Jets’ defense is probably not the best place for his on-the-job training. (nov9)
10. Let’s summarize this week’s Robby Fabbri trade:
– Jacob de la Rose goes to St. Louis, where the Blues already have like four Jacob de la Roses. He’ll be fighting with the Oskar Sundqvists, Sammy Blaises, Mackenzie MacEacherns, and Ivan Barbashevs of the world for ice time. He has no fantasy value.
– Robby Fabbri goes to Detroit, and Fabbri was once a highly-touted prospect. He has been derailed by several injuries, the most important being a torn ACL in his left knee and then subsequent re-injuring that repaired knee.
If Fabbri can rehab past the injuries and become the player everyone thought he’d be like three years ago, this will look like one of the most lopsided trades in recent history. If he can’t get past the injuries, then this trade is basically a wash. So, does he leave the injuries in the past and become that player? No one knows and anyone saying one way or the other with any sort of confidence is a liar. Good luck to Fabbri. I really hope this works out for him and the Red Wings. (nov8)
On Friday, Fabbri didn’t waste any time making an impact as a Red Wing. He scored two power-play goals in a 4-2 win over Boston, which snapped the club’s four-game losing streak. Fabbri also benefited from one familiar connection on the Wings, as former junior teammate Tyler Bertuzzi (Guelph, OHL) assisted on both of his goals. (nov9)
11. Vincent Trocheck still isn’t practicing for the Florida Panthers and it sure feels like something weird is going on here. It’s been several games he’s been out of the lineup and there’s really been no update as to how much longer it will last.
It could very well just be a soft-tissue injury like a hamstring pull but if that were the case, why not just tell the fans and media? The general idea behind hiding injury news is that you don’t want opposing players targeting the affected area. If it’s a soft-tissue injury, that’s not really a concern. It’s either the team is being wildly cautious about a soft-tissue injury – which, again, is possible but I don’t see the point – or it’s much more serious than that. Let’s just hope it’s the Panthers being overly protective. (nov7)
12. After a slow start, Shea Weber has been producing at a point-per-game pace with 11 points in his last 11 games. He has also been taking his shots with 46 SOG in 17 games (tied for second on the team). Fantasy owners will have to cross their fingers for Weber to stay healthy for at least most of the season, something that didn’t happen over the last two seasons. (nov10)
13. I’m not going to say that the infusion of Quinn Hughes into the Canucks lineup has been the deciding element in Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and JT Miller’s rise towards the top of the league point producers, but well, I guess I am. Pettersson is a superstar and would have gotten there without Quinn. However, we cannot underestimate the power of a defender who can transition the puck at such a wildly effective pace.
Pettersson is the whiskey, Boeser the rocks, but it’s Hughes who stirs the drink. (nov6)
14. Btw: Miller, who now has 20 points (10g-10a) in 19 games, is off to an even faster start than he was last season when his linemates were Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Once he was moved off that line in Tampa Bay, his production tailed off. The Canucks have to be extremely happy with that production, so there shouldn’t be any immediate plans to move him off their top line. However, a dip in production is to be expected should Travis Green decide to mix up the lines. (nov9)
15. One more thing on the Canucks. I know the Lotto Line (6-40-9… Get it?) has been earning all the major ink for forwards on this team, but Bo Horvat has been on a mission of late – especially on the powerplay.
The newly-minted captain is near the top of the board for high-danger scoring chances this season. This is due to his living in the home plate area on the Canucks extremely dangerous power-play unit. The result is him playing at a 70-point pace on the season and having posted 12 points in his last nine contests.
I’m not sure why this is all that surprising though. Horvat has long been a player who refuses to settle. He’s the very rare example of a linear development arc. He’s improved on his output in each of his five NHL seasons and is well on pace to improve once again here in Year Six.
As an added bonus for those in league with faceoff cats, his 196 wins are third in the league. The 24-year-old has long broken the projection that he’d simply be a checking line center. Now he’s here to prove he’s a legitimate star and worthy fantasy asset. (nov6)
16. Kevin Shattenkirk has six helpers and is a plus-6 over his last four games. He’s also shooting the puck plenty, as his 42 SOG is second on the team to only Steven Stamkos. With 13 points in 15 games, Shattenkirk has enjoyed a resurgence so far in Tampa Bay. He has certainly exceeded expectations with this level of production, especially with how things ended for him in New York. (nov10)
17. There had been lots of speculation but it was confirmed that Sean Couturier is battling through a shoulder strain. The team admits that he needs rest, and coach Alain Vigneault admitted using him on faceoffs was against directions from the medical team. Maybe don’t go against what your medical team is telling you? (nov5)
18. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who has missed the last few games with a groin injury, is considered ‘day-to-day”.
The Habs 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. With Kotkaniemi’s absence, Nick Suzuki has been moved to center where he seems to be more comfortable. (nov4)
19. Sens’ 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 last week. (nov4)
20. It looks pretty grim for Erik 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 his last 10 games (plus a healthy scratch). 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. (nov4)
It is worth mentioning that Gustafsson had first-unit power-play time on Saturday along with 25:28 in ice time, while rookie Adam Boqvist was a healthy scratch. Gustafsson also had a 68.18 CF% (15 shots for/7 against), so by many accounts he played a solid game. He’ll have another chance to break that slump today (Sunday) against Toronto, so he might be worth holding onto for just one more day. (nov10)
21. The Caps will continue to ease Ilya Samsonov along so that it’s a seamless transition to become their starter next season. Because that’s where this is going. Braden 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. (nov4)
Have a good week, folks!!