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. Anze Kopitar now has a six-game point streak with nine points over those six games. Now at the quarter pole of the season, Kopitar is on pace for 91 points, which just about matches his point total (92) from two seasons ago. Not bad for a player who was an afterthought in a lot of fantasy drafts (ADP 155 in Yahoo). (nov15)
2. ATTENTION: There’s been a Mikael Granlund sighting. That’s right, after 12 games without a point, Granlund scored his third of the year earlier this past week. He’s still getting ice time due to a player of his skill level and he played with Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen. Granlund is obviously not going to blow us away with his numbers this year, but with 63 games left in the season, I can still see him getting 45 or 50 points in that span. That would give him 47-54 at season’s end. In leagues where you set your lineup daily or weekly, I think he’s a cautious buy-low. He’s getting the zone starts, and the ice time with good linemates, so he has the coach’s full backing. (nov13)
3. The Flyers’ long-term signing of Kevin Hayes at over $7 million this offseason raised some eyebrows. It hasn’t exactly panned out so far, as Hayes has just four goals and seven points in 20 games. Worse yet, Hayes does not have a single point in his last 10 games. Virtually all of his advanced stats suggest that an improvement is on the way, although he hasn’t exactly been placed in a position to succeed offensively. As it stands right now, he only seems relevant in leagues larger than the standard-sized 12-team leagues. (nov16)
4. Even with Sami Vatanen on IR, P.K. Subban has basically given way to Will Butcher on the first unit power play. What’s more, Subban has zero power-play points and is without a point in seven games. I wrote about Subban at last week, and nothing has improved since then. He’s still around 90 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, so based on name value I don’t think he’s waiver-wire fodder. Maybe stick him on your bench and see if you can good value in a trade with an unsuspecting owner in the meantime. His 0.7 PTS/60 and 31.3 IPP suggest that things will improve, but getting back on PP1 will be critical. (nov16)
5. The New Jersey net belongs to Mackenzie Blackwood at the moment. Blackwood has now played 11 of the last 13 games. Cory Schneider could get back between the pipes, but so far Blackwood has been the far superior goalie, as he has all seven wins for the Devils this season. Most recently, Blackwood has quality starts in four of his last six games. Schneider has to be considered droppable in many leagues at this point. (nov16)
6. Adam Fox is playing with swagger after what was actually a pretty fast learning curve. I thought he’d take at least a few months to get moving, perhaps even next season, or the year after. But no, he’s in his comfort zone right now.
Lately, he’s getting the PP time even over Tony DeAngelo, who has been putting up points like nobody’s business, and Jacob Trouba, who has the Golden Boy contract and is a top two-way defenseman and has a better all-around game than any of them. I think Fox is looking like 42-43 points for this season or thereabouts, with DeAngelo topping 50 and Trouba getting into the mid- to high 40s.
7. I still take Trouba over Fox, though. Trouba is a better all-around player and that will pay off eventually. He’s still only 25. But I take DeAngelo over both of them, especially in points-only formats. The Rangers are only 18 games into the season, but I’ve seen enough. DeAngelo has 14 points in his last 12 games, and stretching back to last year he has 36 in his last 54. He’s all-offense and he’s always been all-offense. And he’s showing it at the NHL level. Pairing him up with Brady Skjei has really opened things up for him. (nov11)
8. The only person standing in Connor McDavid’s way in the scoring race is teammate Leon Draisaitl, who’s at a near-two-point-per-game pace (1.95 PTS/GP). Remember, Draisaitl reached 50 goals and 105 points last season, so he’s simply picking up where he left off, even with a 20+% shooting percentage over the past two seasons. (nov15)
9. As much as Sidney Crosby was known for missing extended time due to concussions earlier in his career, he’s actually been the picture of health in recent seasons, having played a minimum of 75 games over each of the last six campaigns. Crosby’s absence will be a moment of truth for Jake Guentzel, though. The bulk of Guentzel’s even-strength and power-play minutes this season have been with Crosby. Guentzel has been at least a semi-regular linemate of Crosby’s throughout his career, although that amount increased during Guentzel’s breakout last season. (nov15)
10. David Perron now has 11 points (3g-8a) in his last 10 games. Interestingly enough, this was shortly after when Vladimir Tarasenko was injured. Perron has received over a minute more in ice time per game, mostly in power-play time. So, the Tarasenko injury has helped Perron’s fantasy value, at least so far. (nov16)
11. Cale Makar piled up four more assists on Saturday, giving him 22 points in 20 games. He’s now the first rookie defenseman since Brian Leetch in 1988-89 to reach that total. Leetch won the Calder Trophy that season. Will Makar do the same? Right now he’s the points leader among rookies by a healthy margin (eight points, to be exact), and he’s a defenseman. In a game that featured two rookie standout blueliners (Quinn Hughes the other), Makar definitely stood out more. The Avalanche probably aren’t worried that Tyson Barrie is no longer around. He and Bowen Byram will form one impressive duo one day. (nov17)
12. The Ryan Getzlaf – Ondrej Kase – Nick Ritchie line that is just on the cusp of going off, and the latter may be the biggest beneficiary here. The power-play production may not be something to write home about, but Ritchie has shown the ability to manage well over a hit per game, as well as a couple shots per game. There’s more than enough balance to his roto profile to make up for a lack of PPPs. For those in deeper leagues, it may be time to start scouring the waiver wire. (nov14)
13. Thatcher Demko has been playing incredible. He’s 5-2-0 and six of his seven starts are QS. But how can you take the staterès gig from a veteran like Jacob Markstrom, who is 0.914 SV% (pretty good) and nine of 13 QS (69% is among the league’s best)? If Demko does this all season, the Canucks may just let Markstrom walk off into free agency, because Markstrom is pumping his value higher with each game. That makes Demko a stud starter (Tier 1) as early as next season. (nov13)
14. Phil Kessel is on the decline, I don’t think anyone would argue that. I think he’s seriously on the decline though. He is blessed with more natural talent than most NHLers. He’s racked up the points over the years purely on talent, with little (relatively speaking) effort. We all joke about the hot dogs, but the truth is he has never been in the same kind of shape that 90% of the league is in. And now, at the age of 32, he’s a step slower with reflexes just a tad behind what they were. So, now that natural talent is fading him. His decline, I’ve often said, will be steep and quick. And unexpected. I think we’re there. Can he save it? Sure, with an absolutely kickass offseason next year. But is that Phil Kessel? We know the answer to that. (nov13)
15. The Top 100 Roto Rankings have been updated for this month. Since I took over the rankings this summer, I haven’t had a month in which I’ve made more updates than this one. This is a reflection of so many players performing above or below preseason projections, as well as revaluing players after injuries. Feel free to weigh in if you believe I’ve missed anyone. And if you’re going to tell me that the rankings suck, please at least extend the courtesy of explaining which players you’d rank differently. (nov16)
McAvoy is 0-6-6 in 20 games on the season. He’s being used as a shutdown guy. The two were actually teammates at Boston University for a year, with McAvoy getting 25 points in 37 games as a rookie, while Grzelcyk tallied 23 points in 27 games. Offensively, Grzelcyk had a 38-point season at B.U. in his junior year while McAvoy had 26 points in his second year (his last year there).
They’ve both played about the same amount of NHL games. It’s very interesting to see Cassidy favor Grzelcyk for the offensive roles. This window won’t stay open forever, so Grzelcyk needs to establish himself quickly and maintain that foothold. (nov13)
17. Timo Meier was a guy I was very high on coming into the season. In my official rankings before the season, I had him 24th overall on my board in standard Yahoo! leagues. The basis was massive shot volume from a top-end goal scorer with a high amount of hits and considerably more ice time. As of right now, he’s nowhere close to being a top-25 player. Meier can probably be had for another middling option, and the upside is huge. (nov12)
18. Nikita Gusev’s possession numbers have been horrible, but he’s still getting PP time (but shrinking) and he’s still firing shots on goal (18 SOG in his last seven games). In league formats with flexible transactions you would be tempted to drop him and grab him later when he finds his groove. But if that happens in my league, I’d claim him right away and sit him on my bench for at minimum two weeks. (nov11)
19. I was recently asked if I feel the same way about Oliver Bjorkstrand as I did preseason. Absolutely. Bjorkstrand is still getting the ice time and he’s really pushing. It’s cost his team some goals against but it’s also generating chances. On one hand you have him at minus-4 in his last eight games. On the other hand, he has taken 28 shots in that same span. His S% is low at 7.4% (for him), and his 5on5 S% is 6.6%, which indicates a correction upwards. His Corsi numbers are nearly at an all-time high for him, so he’s creating more chances than he’s giving up.
Just wait on him. Strong second half. He just needs to find that flow. But, as with Ottawa, Columbus players have a ceiling on their production for this year, so temper expectations (as I’m sure you did at the draft to begin with). (nov11)
20. J-G Pageau, nine points in nine games and 15 on the season. Here is a player I’ve always liked and now he’s getting a chance in an offensive role because, well, there’s nobody else. I’ve had him on my fantasy squad (full keeper, points-only) on two occasions, bailing on him once and dropping him once. So, of course he breaks out now, right? But lucky for me, Ottawa won’t have any 60-point players, so he’s capped no matter how well he does. His career high is 43 points and I think he’ll beat it. Barely. So, I guess not really a ‘break out’ per se. (nov11)
21. Frank Vatrano, started off with zero points in five games and has nine in 15 since then. The latter trend is what he’s capable of doing. He becomes a 40-point player this year and takes a run at 50. This year, he hits his Breakout Threshold and his background numbers are real solid – his IPP points to his driving the offense when the team scores while he’s out there, and his CF% verifies this. His 5on5 S% indicates very poor puck luck (just 3.57%), so watch him, he could be at the start of something here. And when he gets going, linemate Vincent Trocheck will get going. (nov11)
Have a good week, folks!!