Dobber is enjoying some well-deserved sun and fun with the family and so you get a double dose of Ramblings from me this week. And what better way to start out than with a nice healthy self-back-pat!

 

 

The moment Sidney Crosby went down, was the best time to trade for Evgeni Malkin. The big Russian has not disappointed. Leading up to the captain’s injury, Geno had seven points in as many games. He was skating under 17 minutes a night. Since November 12th, he has 19 points in 12 contests. He’s putting nearly four shots on net per game while skating 20 minutes per. 

 

Malkin is getting the most out of his linemates as well. Jake Guentzel had 14 in 18 before losing Crosby. He has 17 in 12 since. It’ll be interesting to see Mike Sullivan does in a few weeks when his top two centres are healthy. Because having one legit winger on the team means someone is left wanting. 

 

With Malkin being so dynamic without Sid, it makes you wonder what type of numbers the 33-year-old may have put up in career had he been the lone horseman on a team. Ah well, I guess being the 14th most effective producer all-time will have to do. 

 

 

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Nicklas Backstrom will return to the lineup on Monday after missing eight games with an injury. The veteran will surely retake his second-line centre role at even-strength and will bump Jakub Vrana off of the top power-play unit. 

 

It was fun while it lasted for Vrana who racked up three power-play points in the five games that he was up with the big boys. There is some modicum of hope that he can stay up and the team slides TJ Oshie down. But Oshie brings a different element to the scheme. Vrana was a useful replacement for Backstrom’s distribution and skill game. Not so much for Oshie’s netfront, board battling toolbox. 

 

I still love Vrana as a player, but until he finds a way to earn 60% of the PPTOI in Washington, that glass ceiling is thick. 

 

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The Jets defeated the Ducks 3-2 on Sunday morning. Despite the loss, Ryan Getzlaf kept his strong play up by adding an assist. That’s 13 points in his last 10 games. The minutes are down. The team doesn’t click on the power-play, but Getzlaf is still worth a roster spot.
 

At 34, his twilight is in full swing but I’d love to see a contender trade for him to be their 2C for a lengthy run. I think there’s some magic left in that stick. He has one more year left on his deal worth 6M in real dollars and 8.25M against the cap. 

 

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Quick little two goals on two shots for Mark Scheifele in the win. He’s one of the very rare players who consistently clicks in the high teens. If only he would shoot the puck more, he could conceivably top 40. 

 

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Another quality start for Connor Hellebuyck. After a down 2018-19 and the Jets losing their entire right-side of the blueline, this guy was left for dead in drafts this season. In Yahoo leagues, he was the 15th goalie off of the board. Just a hair ahead of Martin Jones

 

We’re almost halfway through the season and he is sitting pretty across a multitude of categories. For regular starters (minimum 600 minutes played), Hellebuyck’s .943 save percentage at 5v5 leads the league. As does his 15.46 goals-save-above-replacement. Ditto for his 583 even-strength saves and 141 HD saves at 5v5.

 

I could go on and on, but this guy is a workhorse and deserves all the Vezina hype he can handle. In contention for the best value in fantasy as well. 

 

Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

 

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Alex Tuch is waking up. After starting the season with two points in 10 games, the 23-year-old has seven points in his last four heading into Sunday’s tilt against the Rangers. The third-year winger has been locked with rookie, Cody Glass at even-strength this season and that’s a burgeoning relationship that the Golden Knights clearly want to foster. 

 

The team remains one of the few to split their power-play units which has led to Tuch spending most of his PPTOI with Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson. All of this is just fine. With Vegas rocking a Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Sunday schedule this coming week, Tuch looks like a strong streaming option with the potential for more.

 

The Golden Knights were shut out by the Rangers 5-0 on Sunday. Two points each for Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome who continue to mesh well together. Alexander Georgiev stopped 38 in this one. That's three straight starts for the Russian netminder. He has two wins and a .966 save percentage. I'm guessing we see him out there again for the next start as well. 

 

I remain fully convinced that Igor Shestyorkin will be the next great NYR stopper, but Georgiev is making a nice resume for a team to buy in on him this offseason if the Rangers decide to sell the pending RFA. Shestyorkin by the way, has a 0.927 save percentage in 15 AHL games this season – the third-best mark in the league. Not bad for a first foray into North American hockey. 

 

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Speaking of future stars, Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield are putting in work to make the top of the 2020 Draft a serious battle. Lafreniere, who turned 18 at the beginning of the season posted 10 points in three-weekend games. It extended his point streak to 13 games and 27 points and brought him up to 70 points in just 32 QMJHL games.

 

Meanwhile, the hulking Byfield – who won't turn 18 until August 2020, produced seven points in two-weekend games. He's up to 57 points in 30 OHL games and is just two back of Capitals prospect, Connor McMichael for the league lead. 

 

I'm telling you people, both of these players are going to be fantasy gold. You want one. Badly. 

 

You should be cruising DobberProspects regularly to get all the goods on the prospects and the upcoming class. 

 

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Has Oscar Klefbom finally figured it out? The 26-year-old has 19 points in 31 games this season – a 50 point pace. He’s seeing 3:31 on the top unit with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and he’s being utilized in the offensive end more than ever before in his career. All of his metrics are looking safe. 

 

Best part is, he’s been healthy too. Knock on wood. 

 

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Remember when some people questioned whether Quinn Hughes was big enough to be effective? Well, we’re 33 games into his NHL career and I think he’s put those thoughts to rest.

 

In the past 25 years, we’ve had exactly one defender record more points than Hughes’ 26 through their first 33 NHL games. That player is Cale Makar (in just 29 games played). Hell, we can go back even further and the list just keeps looking better. 

 

 

Hughes has 12 assists in his last 10 games and is the quintessential play-creator for the Canucks. His edgework is beyond reason at times. And while he trails Makar in the race for the Calder, his metrics are far more sustainable than the Avalanche back. 

 

 

Hughes is feasting on the league’s top power-play unit. One that draws the most penalties in the league as well, so the opportunities should continue to come along. The 2018 seventh-overall pick’s 14 PPPs trail only Victor Hedman’s 15 for blueliners. His personal and even-strength shooting percentage is in line. His IPP remains stable. He’s a 20-year-old rookie defender on pace for 70-points. This is who is today and he’s getting better with each passing match.

 

Meanwhile, Makar, who is a year older, is clicking at a nearly 14 percent conversion rate. He’s seeing more starts in the offensive zone than Hughes, yet isn’t driving play as well at even-strength (48.55 CF% compared to 55.32%). The Avs boast just as lethal a power-play unit – especially with Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog back in action. So Makar’s production on the man-advantage will be safe (and massive) but his 5v5 rates are due for a very real regression. 

 

If you’re trying to trade for either of these players, go for the Canuck. His price tag will likely be a bit cheaper, and his metrics say he’ll soon pass Makar in the race for Rookie of the Year.

 

I’m just hoping Makar isn’t concussed after that Brad Marchand hit from Saturday night. Let’s keep this race rolling!

 

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