Ramblings: Thoughts on Dach, Gustafsson, Glass, and Some Short-Term Roster Adds (Nov 18)
Chicago rookie Kirby Dach has points in four consecutive games now. The Blackhawks have won four consecutive games. Coincidence? I think not. And what’s more – the team has scored 20 goals in those four games. It’s amazing what an added line threat can do for a team. Suddenly, the Patrick Kane line gets a little more freed up. Dach scored twice Sunday and has six points in those four games since being a healthy scratch. I always give 6-4 players extra time, even when they’re first-round draft picks (look no further than 6-3 teammate Dylan Strome). They take two to three years to become NHL regulars, then they take another three or four years to start regularly putting up big points. In the case of Strome, it took him three years to make the show but just a year to start rolling. The latter has been helped along by sweet linemates. But the former…you wouldn’t believe the article comments, tweets and emails I got about him being a bust. Fantasy owners would write in asking if they should drop him, or my rankings would get comments on his being ranked too high. I’m always preaching patience with the bigger players – and a lot of fantasy owners don’t have that.
Well, with Kirby Dach fantasy owners don’t need patience. He’s here right now. I didn’t expect it because as I explained above, I practice patience with the bigger players. But he’s here now and he’s comfortable and he’s producing. I still suggest tempering expectations for this year and next as he fills out and gets used to his 6-4 frame. Hell, he’s so young that he could possibly reach 6-5 before he’s finished. So give him plenty of time before he’s a productive first-liner. But it looks as though, in the meantime, his ‘lesser’ production will still be pretty nice.
Erik Gustafsson had goals in two straight games before he was held off the score sheet on Sunday. The question fantasy owners are dying to have answered – is he back? Is the slump behind him? He’s still not on the top PP line, though he did see 3:22 Sunday. He’s going to have to earn his minutes back. That’s not a big obstacle. After all, he did it last year. Last year he was a depth player and healthy scratch, and he scored anyway. Maybe fighting to regain respect is what he needs. This is his sophomore slump. And I know he’s not technically a sophomore and it’s certainly weird calling a 27-year-old that. But for all intents and purposes that’s what he is. Although he played 76 games between 2015-16 and 2017-18, he was never a true NHL player until last season in December (so he hasn’t been a true NHL regular for a full year yet). Unfortunately for fantasy owners, I don’t think he’ll get his act together quickly enough to really push your team to the top. This feels like another month or two of struggles.
Gustafsson got into a fight Sunday against Jimmy Vesey:
Carter Hutton since October 24: 0-4-2, 3.83 GAA and 0.876 SV%
Linus Ullmark since October 24: 2-2-0, 2.77 GAA and 0.917 SV%
The Calgary Flames have now gone 130 minutes without a goal. Furthermore, the Flames are 0-6-0 and have been outscored 27-6 in Las Vegas.
I wonder if Coach Bill Peters is the next generation Ken Hitchcock/Randy Carlyle in that he loses the room after a couple of seasons of coaching them. If so, the Flames are in for a long season.
So Calgary loses 6-0 and Cam Talbot does what he’s been famous for these last two years – strong or at least adequate in the first half, and then midway into the second he gives up a goal that rattles him and the floodgates open. It’s certainly not all Cam’s fault, since the team played terrible. Hell, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau were each minus-5 (Johnny Hockey? More like Johnny Golf am I right?)
Because Sam Bennett was out (upper-body – indefinitely), Dylan Dube was called up and made his season debut. He played with Milan Lucic and Derek Ryan, and saw 14:23 of ice time. He has 13 points in 13 games for Stockton.
Although he was minus-3, Elias Lindholm at least helped out his fantasy owners a little bit thanks to his 10 Hits. His season-high this year was…three. Looks like he was mad about something. Probably angry about the fact that he is pointless and minus-6 in his last four games.
With TJ Brodie sidelined, Peters elected to go with six defensemen. That turned out to be a mistake because Travis Hamonic left midway through with an injury. This should push Oliver Kylington’s ice time upwards, which is a situation to watch.
Cody Glass has just one point in his last 13 games. Seven times this season Glass has had games with a TOI of less than 13 minutes. Four of those times have come in the last five games. That’s trending towards press box, and eventually – AHL. Lucas Elvenes is down there with the Chicago Wolves lighting it up in his AHL-rookie season. The SHL alum has 23 points in 18 games for the Wolves. Vegas may want to give him a look, while giving Glass a “conditioning stint”. See our profile on Elvenes here.
Jonathan Marchessault has points in nine of his last 10 games.
Three points for William Karlsson Sunday puts him back over the point-per-game mark. He has seven points in his last three games.
Some Deep, Short-Term Roster Add Ideas…
Tanner Pearson has points in each of his last three games. Last year he seemed to be fading, with three straight halves of declining numbers. But in Vancouver he’s found a bit of a niche and is back producing at his established window. We at one time had bigger expectations for him, but at 27 his window is what it is – 40 to 45 points, with maybe a ‘pop’ season where he hits 50. What I like about his short-term future is that he has been shooting the puck at twice his usual rate (13 SOG in last four games). Three of Pearson’s five points in three games have come on the power play. At even strength he’s played with Bo Horvat all year, and lately Jake Virtanen has been the other linemate.
This one will give you a double-take. Tyler Ennis has points in six of his last eight games. After being an up-and-coming star for the Sabres, he was derailed badly by relentless injuries. In the end, he was just a bit player. The Wild had hope for him, initially giving him solid ice time and linemates early on, but eventually they faded him down the lineup and into the press box. After that, the Leafs brought him in as an extra who could occasionally fill in for a top-nine spot. He turned out to be adequate as a checking-line player who occasionally showed some pop. So fantasy owners quite reasonably wrote him off. Now, I’m certainly not saying that his star trajectory is back on track, not at all. But in Ottawa he’s consistently getting ice time and second-unit PP time (because – what choice does the team have?) and he’s starting to find his range. His 15:38 ATOI is his highest in four seasons. Here are some numbers for you: In his first eight games, Ennis had one points and was minus-7. In his last 12 games Ennis has eight points and is minus-2.
Alex Iafallo has six points in his last six games and he has eight in his last 11. He’s a stalwart on that top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Three of those eight points have come on the power play, and that’s what’s different about this season for him – his PP time is way up. And with that PPTOI is a spike in his SOG. Overall, his year-over-year points-per-game average is 0.33, 0.40 and 0.50 in order. The 25-year-old approaching the 200-game breakout threshold (23 games away) and although his upside is limited, it’s looking like he’ll hit that upside in a year or two thanks to his linemates and usage.
Emil Bemstrom has points in each of his last four contests. The ice time is still being held down, but the cream always rises to the top. He’s going to work his way up to the second line and add offense to a starved Columbus team. On this team, his ceiling for this year is limited. I’d be surprised if he made to 35 points, but I think he’ll hit 32 or 33 – which is 27 in the next 63 games. He has 13 SOG in his last five games, so the Bemstrom who was the star of the SHL last year has arrived.
Time to Cut Bait…For Now
Connor Brown is pointless in six of his last seven games. It’s funny how a guy like J-G Pageau can take off like a rocket, but leave his linemate behind. Brown still leads the team in scoring (tied with Pageau), but he’s coming down to earth now. And frankly, if his production is tied to Pageau’s but on a lesser scale, it’s not going to be great. Brown’s 5on5 S% is 10.0 which is high, indicating a downward swing.
See you next Monday.