Fantasy Impact: Peter Laviolette fired by the Nashville Predators. No replacement has been named as of yet.
Per Elliotte Friedman, the head coach for Tuesday's game against Boston is to be announced.
Another one bites the dust. After a year in which coaches avoided gettng the pink slip, NHL teams are pretty free with them in 2019-20. Laviolette becomes the sixth Head Coach fired this season and we're barely at the midpoint. He joins Mike Babcock, Pete DeBoer, John Hynes, Jim Montgomery, and Bill Peters (who technically quit but…come on).
As far as fantasy impact is concerned, the Predators have played the fewest games in the league (tied) at 41. They sit three points back of Edmonton and Calgary for the two Wild Card spots but have three games in hand, and seven points out of a divisional spot with one game in hand. Offensively, the team sits seventh in total goals, but fourth in goals-per-game average. A coaching change is probably not going to improve that. If something is near the top, odds are that a change in the dynamic shifts that towards the median. As a fantasy owner, the worry should be – "my guy who is doing well, may not do well anymore". You don't want to rock the boat (ahem – Roman Josi)
On the flip side of the coin, the hope should be – "my guy who is sucking right now may turn things around".
Josi is on a huge role. He's actually on pace to reach 88 points. Not that anyone believed that he would, he still looked pretty good for 70. Maybe even 75. But this is rocking the boat. This changes things. The other player rolling was Rocco Grimaldi, who I was personally rooting for. Long-time readers know that I appreciate the small, skilled players who have to overcome obstacles in order to not only succeed but flourish. This was starting to become Grimaldi's biography! But will a new coach appreciate him? Again – this is rocking the boat, so the best you can hope for is that things don't change with him.
On the other hand, the slumping players could turn things around. And fantasy owners are looking squarely at the goaltending. Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros each have save percentages that are below 0.900. This move helps them and their fantasy owners. Whichever one this turns around, the new coach is going to lean on him. So which one will it help? Flip a coin. Because I do think it helps just one. Sure, the other one may improve. But in a playoff battle, the coach will lean heavily on the better guy. Heavily. And a new coach has a lot of leash, so contracts (my favorite fallback when it comes to guessing at goaltending situations) go out the window. Contracts mean nothing. The coach will play the goalie who wins, and once he starts winning he is going to see a boatload of starts. Maybe finding out which goalie has the edge will take weeks. Or maybe it happens within three games. But the instant one guy pulls into the lead as the hotter netminder – he's the man.
So in the "Players This Helps" category you can list all the players who are disappointing you, starting with goaltending: Pekka Rinne, Juuse Saros, Kyle Turris, Mikael Granlund, Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen. You can add young players who could give this team a fresh look to the list as well – Yakov Trenin I'm looking squarely at you.