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’.
Editors: Ian Gooding, Michael Clifford, Cam Robinson, and Dobber
1. 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:
Brian Leetch – 32
Nicklas Lidstrom – 30
Cale Makar – 28 (in 29 GP)
Quinn Hughes – 26
The quintessential play-creator for the Canucks, 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 is getting better with each passing match. (dec9)
2. With Artemi Panarin leaving Columbus, we figured that scoring would be down among key Blue Jackets, especially Panarin’s most frequent linemates from last season. Those linemates according to Frozen Tools were Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson. While Atkinson has recovered after a slow start, Dubois is struggling with just three assists in his last 10 games. Dubois is only 21, so there are better days ahead. Yet, with the Jackets near the bottom of the league in offense, it will be difficult for him to replicate last season’s 61 points. (dec14)
3. During the summer a commenter asked why Shea Weber had not been included in our Top 100 Roto Rankings. I said that Weber would need to stay healthy, as he had missed around the same number of games that he had played over the past two seasons. Well, Weber has not only remained healthy, but he has rocketed up the Roto Rankings faster than one of his slapshots. In fact, if not for John Carlson’s exploits, we might be talking about Weber as fantasy’s most valuable blueliner so far. (Who do you think won the Weber/P.K. Subban trade now?) I can’t think of a reason that he’ll slow down… but there’s the injury history. If you feel particularly uneasy, shoot for the moon with a trade offer or two. (dec14)
4. Shea Theodore broke an eight-game stretch without a point by recording two assists on Friday. In spite of the slump, Theodore has maintained his spot on the top power-play unit and continues to log over 20 minutes per game most nights. In fact, Theodore is the one constant on the first-unit power play, averaging nearly a minute more in PPTOI than any of his teammates. I traded for Theodore a few weeks ago thinking he would shake the cold stretch. That still hasn’t happened, but I’m fairly confident that it will. With 93 shots, Theodore currently sits in the top 10 in shots among defensemen. (dec14)
5. Valeri Nichushkin deserves your attention once again. Nichushkin scored another goal on Friday, giving him six goals over his past 10 games. Nichushkin had not scored a goal in his previous 91 games, during which time many keeper owners decided to give up on him. To boot, he’s enjoying this success with Matt Calvert and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Imagine what he’d be capable of with Nathan MacKinnon. Even though the talent and pedigree is there, I’d want to see Nichushkin promoted to a scoring line before reinvesting in him for the long term. Of course, continued scoring will get him that promotion. (dec14)
6. Zach Bogosian is requesting a trade from the Sabres. This is where I go into a mini-tirade about just how poorly managed the Sabres assets have been. They have eight (!) NHL-calibre defensemen that are in the rotation, and nine if you count Lawrence Pilut (mileage may vary here). All the while, this team sucks offensively outside the top line and whatever Jeff Skinner can manage to create on his own on the second line. If only there was a way for teams to exchange players from positions of strength to address a roster weakness. Ah well. Maybe someday. (dec13)
7. What’s up with Matt Dumba? This is a player who cusped 50 points in 2017-18 as a 23-year-old. He backed that up with a 56 point pace in an injury-shortened 2018-19 campaign. At age 25, he’s in the meaty portion of his statistical prime and should be witnessing incremental improvements. Instead, the former seventh overall selection has nine points in 31 games – a 22-point pace.
At the end of the day, the Wild are not a team that will fill the net. But the underlying data suggests Dumba would be a worthy buy-low candidate. Someone capable of playing at a 50-point pace down the back half. (dec11)
8. Anthony Duclair continues to fire the puck into the net. Remember the comments that John Tortorella made about Duclair while he was in Columbus? Well, the Blue Jackets might be regretting letting Duclair get away in the Ryan Dzingel trade (Fantasy Take) during their load up for their playoff run last season, as he has 26 goals and 39 points in 54 games since the trade from Columbus to Ottawa. In addition, Duclair currently leads the NHL with eight goals since December 1. Yeah, it looks like Duclair can play hockey.
Like Duclair, teammate Connor Brown is another example of a player who will thrive when he receives better opportunities on a team with less scoring depth. Brown is currently on pace for 50 points and is averaging 20 minutes per game with the Sens. (dec15)
9. We had a reader request more chatter on Victor Olofsson. So here are a few thoughts:
– His shot is elite. We’re talking arguably top-20 in the league.
– He’s a rookie, but a veteran of professional hockey – torching the SHL and AHL in succession.
– Can he live next to Jack Eichel long term? Because it sure seems like the team wants it to be a thing. Olofsson has spent 86% of his even-strength ice next to Eichel. (If he can, that’s a duo who could each top 40 goals in a hurry.)
– I’m buying Olofsson as a player capable of 60-65 points this season with the potential for 70-75 in years 2-4. (dec11)
As for him, I’m all-aboard the Eichel-train. I raised some eyebrows back in 2015 when I said Eichel would've been first overall in every draft ranging from 2008-2014. It's taken a bit longer than expected for him to get there, but at 23 he's on pace for 47 goals and 111 points. Jack Eichel has fully arrived. (dec11)
10. Kaapo Kakko was skating on the top line and top power-play unit with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad this past week. Just hook it into my veins. If you can convince his owner that he's not actually that good, please do so now. Kakko will have an Andrei Svechnikov-like season in 2020-21. Get ahead of the bumrush, people. (dec11)
11. Michael Amadio is not a guy we’d peg as a goal scorer, but he has shown some good playmaking tendencies. Unfortunately, he arrived in Los Angeles a couple years ago, as the glory years were starting to wind down. The team really doesn’t have much on the roster, Tyler Toffoli is sure to be traded, and guys like Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter are only getting older. There hasn’t been much for Amadio to play with, and even with good underlying impacts, his limited ice time in conjunction with the lack of linemates leaves his box stats much to be desired.
Is Amadio capable of playing a third-line center role on a good team? I don’t know. What I do know is he won’t look like that on this team and it’s a wonder of how many guys like (or better than) him have been wasted over the years. (dec10)
12. Out indefinitely with a concussion suffered last weekend, Travis Konecny was having a fantastic breakout season with 11 goals and 28 points in 30 games, doing so while playing just 16 minutes a night. As always with concussions, there’s no telling how long he’ll be out but let’s hope this isn’t too long. He’s an exciting young talent that the game needs. (dec10)
13. Jordan Kyrou has been recalled by the Blues. Since the start of the 2018 season, Kyrou has 58 points in 63 games as a 20/21-year old in the AHL. He has nothing left to prove at that level. In the past, injuries and a loaded St. Louis forward group helped prevent Kyrou from establishing himself as an NHL regular. A loaded forward group is certainly not the case this year, so let’s hope they give Kyrou every opportunity in the top-6 to establish himself. (dec10)
14. 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. (dec9)
15. The Red Wings have a ton of cap space coming off the books, including Trevor Daley, Jimmy Howard, Mike Green, and Jonathan Ericsson. This season will also, presumably, produce one of Alexis Lafreniere or Quinton Byfield next June. This is an awful, awful team, but it’s with the intention of adding another gamebreaker while freeing up over $16M in cap space. (dec10)
16. While on the subject, 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, has 70 points in just 32 QMJHL games.
Meanwhile, the hulking Byfield – who won't turn 18 until August 2020, is 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. (dec9)
17. I remain fully convinced that Igor Shestyorkin will be the next great NYR stopper, but Alexander 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 0.936 save percentage in 17 AHL games this season. Not bad for a first foray into North American hockey. (dec9)
18. Alex Tuch 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 some of his PPTOI with Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson. (dec9)
19. At 34, Ryan Getzlaf’s 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. (dec9)
20. The moment Sidney Crosby went down, was the best time to trade for Evgeni Malkin (currently sidelined with illness). 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 23 points in 14 contests and 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 points in 18 before losing Crosby. He has 21 in 14 since. It’ll be interesting to see Mike Sullivan does in a few weeks when his top two centers are healthy. Because having one legit winger on the team means someone is left wanting. (dec9)
21. Not exactly what we’re used to, but Bryan Rust has also been thriving with the injuries in Pittsburgh. Rust, who is now over a point per game (22 points in 19 games), has also been taking a ton of shots recently with 17 over his last three games. Rust is still unowned in over half of Yahoo leagues. He has been a temporary waiver-wire add these past few seasons whenever he’s played on a scoring line, but this season you can make that permanent. (dec15)
Have a good week, folks!!