Ramblings: Digging deep on Subban and Fiala, thoughts on Puljujarvi, Rust, Dumba, Krejci and more (Dec 02)
I was asked on Twitter about PK Subban. Is it over? Is he done? At 30 years of age and coming off a season that saw him tally just 31 points, he’s struggling even worse. Just a 16-point full-season pace so far. I rate Subban a ‘buy’. His owners are giving him away right now (in those leagues where you can’t just drop him) and it’s time to acquire as to the price. Especially in weekly leagues where the end-of-season total doesn’t matter – just the weekly active roster totals. The entire New Jersey team is failing to score and I think Coach John Hynes will be fired. My guess – it happens this week. If not, then the team may leave it until after the holidays. When the coach is fired, things are going to change and Subban could very well by the Tyson Barrie to the new coach’s Sheldon Keefe. Subban went on a run last year of just nine points in 27 games – very similar to this current run. But he put it together and had a strong final seven or eight weeks. His 5on5 S% and his personal S% are each very low, indicating weak puck luck. Those factors, along with a new coach, will get things going.
And while you’re at it, I consider Hischier, Hughes, Gusev and Bratt as strong buys. But stop your inquiries if a week goes by and Hynes is still in as the coach (and pick it up again after Christmas).
Another bonus – the Devils have played just 25 games. All other teams except the Rangers have played more. Edit – TBL and NYI have played 24. It was late and I added the sentence as a PS, but the point still stands: NJD have played fewer games than most other teams and therefore have more games ahead of them than most other teams.
Very interesting to see GMs hold off on “selling low” when it comes to both Julius Honka and Jesse Puljujarvi. The deadline has come and gone (December 1), so those two players are not eligible to play in the NHL this season. Oilers fans are having fits over this. But I think he’s fine to develop over there. Had he been signed, he would have been in the AHL. Instead, he’s in the liiga. What’s wrong with that? He’s 21 years old. This is good for him. Whether the Oilers have to trade him, or they convince him to stay. Jesse has hit the reset button and I don’t see how that can be a bad thing. His career was quickly Nail Yakupoving it’s way into the toilet. A hard reset strikes me as the only thing that can save him. And that’s what he’s done. If the Oilers make the playoffs and enjoy some success, the new regime under Ken Holland and Dave Tippett can probably convince him to stay. And next year, as a 22-year-old with some maturity and more strength, under the tutelage of Tippett, perhaps things turn out differently.
Zach Werenski was on a serious role there, tallying 10 points in his previous nine games. But just a couple minutes into Saturday’s contest he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery. He is sidelined for four weeks. Columbus went with a four-forward power play after that (Bjorkstrand, Dubois, Jenner, Nyquist).
Brian Dumoulin also left early on Saturday – he was gone 35 seconds into his first shift with a nasty ankle injury. He had successful, yes – successful, surgery and will be sidelined for eight weeks. Coach Mike Sullivan doesn’t really have defense depth to lean on, so with Justin Schultz also out, he will be pushing extra ice time to Kris Letang, Marcus Pettersson and John Marino. Those three could see a small boost in production.
In my one keeper league (full dynasty, very deep), we have an awesome rule/feature where each team is allowed to add a single unowned player who is over the age of 24, each season. First come first served, but you only get one (though you can trade that “FA contract” as we call it). It adds a fun element because you don’t know when you want to waste it. Last year I acquired two FA contracts in a trade, and used one early on Chris Tierney, and in January I used two on Erik Gustafsson and Collin Delia. This year I still have mine. Anyway, last week after Bryan Rust had a four-point game, two guys in my league claimed him. The guy who claimed him first (by an hour) got him. I would never claim Rust in a league like this one, where total points at the end of the year matter and there is no IR. I figured he was bound to get hurt – 10, 13, 25, 25 games missed his only four seasons in the league. In 70 games I just don’t see Rust getting 50 points, so in that league format I’m not interested. Anyway, Murphy’s Law, right after he was claimed he missed the next two games with an LBI. Rust fell awkwardly into the boards and is officially “day to day”, but it strikes me as something that could be serious. He was off to an amazing start with 17 points in 15 games.
David Pastrnak became the first player in 22 years to scored his 25th goal by his 27th game.
David Krejci, of course, has been playing on the big line with Patrice Bergeron out. The results? In the six games without Bergeron, Krejci has eight points. He has 12 in 15 with Bergeron in. Krejci, with a body that is pretty beaten down over the years and he’s now 33 years old, is somehow finding ways to be better. Last year he tied his career high and if he can stay healthy this year, he’s on pace to set a career high (pace is 78 points).
Montreal has now lost eight in a row. They were winning 1-0 five minutes into the third Sunday before the Bruins broke the seal. In an odd decision, since the team was struggling to score, the top line of Tomas Tatar, Brendan Gallagher and Philip Danault saw just 13:30 or so at even strength. In fact, Joel Armia led the forwards in ice time with 18:44. Ben Chiarot saw 29:26 while Shea Weber saw 21:42? What’s going on in Montreal?
Another 3:53 of PP ice time for Corey Perry to not score on Sunday. He has six shots on goal on the power play, totaling 47:43.
John Klingberg has five points in five games since returning from injury. Miro Heiskanen is pointless in that same span. The window may have closed on acquiring Klingberg for a lesser price, but worth inquiring about.
With an assist Sunday, Jared Spurgeon has six points in his last five games. His numbers have quickly fallen back into line. And with Ryan Suter as his partner and with all the PP time that he sees (2:38 per game), it’s likely that Spurgeon tops last year’s career high of 43 points. This could be at the expense of the struggling Matt Dumba, who is still trying to find his mojo after missing most of last season. But Dumba will get going, give him another month or so. Before his injury, Dumba had 12 goals in 31 games. He is a consistent scorer, hitting at least 10 goals in each of his first four full NHL seasons.
The Wild gave up a lot to get Kevin Fiala and it took until November to see it – but the gamble has really paid off. While Mikael Granlund has struggled to find his way in Nashville, Fiala faced similar struggles with Minnesota. But Granlund is going to be a UFA this summer, so the Preds don’t have as much vested interest in pushing him. Meanwhile, Fiala is getting the Golden Boy treatment. I got the feeling that the team would not let Fiala fail. And now he’s thriving, with 13 points in his last 14 games. I think he reaches 55 this year – it’s his BT season (Breakout Threshold – he hit 200 games late last season). And the only reason he doesn’t hit 60 is because the Wild are a low-scoring team.
Despite not having Kris Russell in the lineup, and then losing Matt Benning to a possible concussion in the second period, Caleb Jones still couldn’t get ice time. He saw just seven minutes in what was a close game. Dave Tippett doesn’t mind playing the hell out of his top players to get the win. The other four defensemen each saw 25 minutes or more.
Patrick Russell scores his first NHL goal! Oh wait…
See you in a couple of weeks, as I’ll be on vacation next week.