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’.
Writers: Ian Gooding, Michael Clifford, Cam Robinson, and Dobber
1. As one of my keepers in a ‘keep 4’ league, Gabriel Landeskog has fallen well short of expectations between injury and a significantly lower scoring rate when healthy. Landeskog had a solid game on Friday, scoring a goal and adding an assist while taking five shots. Landeskog snapped a three-game pointless drought, as well. He’s been making the effort to turn it around, though. Since after the Christmas break, only five players have taken more shots than Landeskog. Maybe another possible buy-low, if you’re looking for them? (jan12)
2. Looking for waiver-wire Penguins who might be taking advantage of opportunities with the injuries? Try Dominik Kahun, who with three assists on Friday now has five points over his last two games. Over the last three games, Kahun’s ice time has jumped an average of five minutes per game (over 18 minutes) compared to his season average. I almost forgot to mention that he’s been playing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and the new-and-improved Bryan Rust. (jan12)
3. Igor Shestyorkin, the prized prospect goalie for the New York Rangers, joins both Alexandar Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist, which means this team is carrying three goalies for the time being. That’s going to wreak havoc on fantasy owners and their starts, particularly those in weekly leagues. For those with rosters locking on Monday nights, you could easily have a goalie go all week without a start, regardless of which Rangers goalie you own. Good luck with all that. (jan7)
4. If you’ve been following along, we at DobberHockey and DobberProspects have been championing Igor Shestyorkin as the best goaltender outside of the NHL. Well, we’ll need to change that moniker now because he’s in the NHL now.
Let's be clear, this kid is serious. If for some reason he’s out there in a keeper, sprint to pick him up. Yearly leagues can use a little more discretion because the Rangers will still suck this season. But long term, we could be looking at a Vezina-level talent backstopping an exciting young core.
Oh, and apparently it's 100 percent Shestyorkin. Not Shesterkin. Adjust accordingly. (jan8)
5. I’ll admit, I wasn’t very bullish on Ilya Kovalchuk signing with the Habs, especially considering how his time with LA ended. I also mentioned that Kovalchuk wouldn’t have much time to make an impression, since the returns of other forwards from injury could bump him down or even out of the lineup. So far, Kovalchuk has made the most of his opportunity. With his overtime goal on Saturday, Kovy now has four points in his four games with the bleu, blanc et rouge. He’s on a scoring line with Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault. Sure, go ahead and add him, although his addition to your roster should reflect what the Habs had in mind when they signed him: short term. (jan13)
6. If you’ve been waiting for Dylan Larkin to come around, you’ll be happy to see that he now has a five-game point streak and seven points in his last seven games. Larkin has also been shooting his shot with 11 SOG over his last three games. There might be a bit of a buy-low opportunity for the second half, although you might be less inclined to make an offer if your league counts plus-minus. (jan12)
7. When Torey Krug is out of the lineup in Boston, it’s Matt Grzelcyk that joins the top power play unit, giving him immense value at a cheap price. Now, he’s probably not even with rostering if Krug is in the lineup, so this is a situation where cap league owners could add and drop him six times between now and the end of the year. Just be vigilant on the waiver wire. (jan11)
8. Wayne Simmonds’ glory days are behind him but that doesn’t mean he can’t be valuable; he’s shooting just 4.5 percent this year compared to his three-year rate of 12.9 percent. That portends a massive shooting rebound and playing on the top line, as was the case this past week, will help accelerate that. Throw in the massive amount of PIMs and hits and there’s a good chance that Simmonds is going to start pumping his value here soon. Just keep an eye on line combinations. (jan11)
9. How many dmen do you keep in a keeper league? I will say that, despite Brent Burns’s decline this year, I’ve come around on the idea of keeping more defensemen in keeper leagues than I have in years prior.
It’s just a function of what elite defensemen provide over just very good defensemen, and how those guys are harder to find than an under-valued winger or center. But at the end of the day, it all depends on your specific keepers, keeper conditions, and the setup of your league.
I’m in a home league where we keep eight and I’ve had years where I’ve kept three defensemen and years I’ve kept none. It just depended on the rest of my roster. Sorry, I don’t have a better answer than that at this moment in time. (jan11)
10. One guy I’ve been incredibly impressed with over the last few weeks is Toronto’s Pierre Engvall. On Fantrax, he’s still available in 88 percent of leagues, though I imagine that number is a lot lower in cap leagues.
He’s certainly earning coach Sheldon Keefe’s trust, as he was skating just 9:37 a game through his first 11 games this year to just a shade under 14 minutes a night over his last 12. I’ve noticed he’s also getting ice time late in close games, more indications of the team’s trust in him.
He won’t blow the doors off – maybe a 40-point pace with two shots per game – but that’ll work for a guy with a cap hit under $1M. (jan11)
11. A few nights ago, I just sent out an innocuous tweet while watching a Lighting game, to the effect of: “Anthony Cirelli is really good.” It seemed like stating the obvious as he just scored a goal, but it went beyond that. Over the summer, I mused that this could be the year that Steven Stamkos is finally moved to the wing for good, à la Claude Giroux, and that Cirelli would be the guy to take his place as the 2C, meaning that one of Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov would be Cirelli’s right winger. That would, obviously, mean a big boost in production.
It hasn’t been a monster boost, but he is on a 51-point pace (had 39 last year) and over 100 hits (had 94 last year). He could stand to shoot more – under two per game despite playing 18:31 a night – but playing on a line with Alex Killorn and Steven Stamkos for a long stretch makes it unlikely he’ll rack up shots anyway. That’s not his job on that line.
If I was to make a five-year projection right now, it’s something like Nino Niederreiter, where with enough minutes, he can threaten 20-25 goals and 50-60 points. Given his lack of PPTOI as well as other concerning offensive red flags, this could very easily be a situation where a player has significantly more value in the real world than he does in the fantasy game. He’s a real, real good player, but I’m not sure he’s a real, real good fantasy asset; think Mikael Backlund with more hits and fewer shots. At least for now. (jan9)
The Midseason Guide is now available! If you don’t have yours yet, what on earth are you waiting for?
Second-half projections, line combinations, power-play units, trading block breakdown, prospects, advanced stats, and much more! Also, the second-half projections are now available on a spreadsheet for no additional cost (look for the coupon code on page 2 in the Guide).
12. Man oh man, these headlines write themselves sometimes. Elvis has left the building in Vegas with a shutout in his pocket. Yes, Elvis Merzlikins made 27 saves in earning a 3-0 shutout over the Golden Knights on Saturday. Elvis (which is not just more fun to type but also easier to type) has been on quite a run since taking over the net after Joonas Korpisalo’s injury with a 5-2-0 record and six quality starts over those seven games. Columbus as emerged as a very goalie-friendly squad, which a) I did not expect at the start of the season, and b) might be out of necessity because of the offseason scoring losses. Once Korpisalo returns (early to mid-February?), John Tortorella will have quite a decision on his hands as to how to divide the goaltending. For now, enjoy the sweet music that Elvis is singing. Viva Las Vegas! (jan13)
13. Brock Boeser scored a pair of goals with a plus-4 and eight shots on Saturday. Boeser might be perceived as a player whose goal-scoring is down, but in the process he has become a more complete player, and that can help other fantasy categories beyond goals. With 27 assists, Boeser is now three assists shy of his single-season career high in that category. By the way, he’s also on pace to push for his first 30-goal season. So all in all, he’s a near point-per-game player while playing on the top line with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller. Believe me, there’s nothing to worry about with Boeser. (jan13)
14. I don’t know what to expect but I assume that when Justin Williams is game-ready, he’ll slot alongside Jordan Staal and get some secondary PP minutes. I’m assuming he won’t be in a spot to produce a pro-rated 20-goal, 55-point pace. (jan9)
15. With both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta on the shelf, Arizona’s Adin Hill is a pretty decent prospect. The 6-6, 23-year-old will be an interesting one to watch as he’s a likely candidate to move organizations in the coming seasons if a spot doesn’t open up in the desert. I have this feeling that he could be a starter somewhere down the line. (jan8)
16. Sami Niku has been recalled by the Winnipeg Jets and he played on Monday night. He probably should have been with the team all year but that doesn’t mean he’ll have a lot of fantasy value. He’ll be firmly behind Neal Pionk for PP minutes and outside of that, there isn’t a lot of value to be had playing on this roster. (jan7)
17. Yakov Trenin was an early birthday so he was one of the older draftees in his 2015 draft year when he was taken 55th overall by Nashville. He had real nice offensive numbers in the Q before making the jump to the AHL. After two years of modest numbers, he suddenly clicked this season for Milwaukee. He soared to 26 points in 20 games. Some guys just snap like that. Conor Garland did it last year. They look as though they are progressing very slowly or not at all, and then zing they’re a star. No warning.
Anyway, Trenin was called up by the Preds and although he’s fighting just to get into the lineup, he has three points in his last four games. He seems to grasp the pro game – not just the AHL game. You can find his prospect fantasy profile here.
18. Michael Clifford: On Boxing Day, I wrote about a few players I was going to keep a particular eye on at the World Juniors. Let’s talk about them.
– Rasmus Kupari didn’t have much chance to impress given that he was injured in the team’s first game. I’m sure the Kings wanted to get a good look at him too, and, well, that’s just not going to be the case. Unfortunate all around.
– What I was told about Arthur Kaliyev was that he’s a great offensive talent whose efforts are limited to one end of the ice. This may be true, but it was hard to tell considering he played 10 minutes, eight minutes, 12 minutes, 13 minutes, and 13 minutes in their games. It’s worth noting that he was lighting it up so much that the team was forced to move him up the lineup, and he finished third in team scoring despite averaging 11 minutes a night. Kaliyev was fantastic offensively, but he was never really in a position to show off any defensive prowess, so it’s hard to say whether he’s improved on his supposed one-dimension. At least he was as advertised?
– Ty Smith wasn’t really noticeable most games of Canada’s that I watched, but I guess that’s not a bad thing? At least it wasn’t awful turnover after awful turnover. This isn’t a team that’s relying on their defense for offense, anyway. Their job is to get the puck to the super-talented forwards, and Smith seems to have done that in spades. (Ed. note: Follow the link for Michael Clifford’s views on K’Andre Miller, Raphael Lavoie, and Moritz Seider.) (jan7)
19. Cam Robinson: I’d like to take a moment to discuss a player who has not received nearly enough attention for his body of work so far in 2019-20. Marco Rossi hails from Austria – a non-traditional feeder nation and one that wasn’t included in the 2020 WJC tournament. As such, Rossi was back in Ottawa tearing it up with the 67s while the rest of the world had eyes on the comings and goings happening in the Czech Republic.
However, what the 18-year-old has accomplished this season in the OHL has been near-historic. He currently leads the OHL in scoring with 69 points in just 29 games. No, you did not misread that. He’s destroying the league as a draft-eligible at a rate we’ve seldom seen. In fact, only three other OHLers have every eclipsed Rossi’s 2.38 points-per-game as first-time eligible draftees.
He’s hanging with some seriously elite company. He should be targeted extremely early in drafts. Don’t let his 5-9 stature discourage you. Rossi is legit. (jan8)
20. Sticking with prospects, as that’s what I do best, here are a handful of my favourite drafted kids that I feel could become serious fantasy assets within the next 2-3 seasons. Some have been given plenty of limelight, others not so much. In no particular order:
21. Dobber: I won’t get too much into the WJC here. We have an awesome WJC page right here – with stories, breakdowns, observations – everything you need. But for what it’s worth, I have a few quick bullet points:
– I come out of this most excited about Samuel Fagemo (Kings), who led the tourney in scoring. The Kings are rebuilding, so the prospects are going to hit the NHL sooner than on a lot of other teams. Therefore, I love the upside and I love the wait time (i.e. not long).
– Alexis Lafreniere was easily the top pick in the draft this summer before the tourney started. Now, it’s just not even close. They should have his pick in its own round. And then the rest of the draft starts at Round 2. That’s how far apart it is, in my eyes. Profile here.
– I claimed Nils Hoglander and put a bid on Fagemo. The league that I could do that in is not a full keeper (only Keep 12), but perhaps I can use them as trade bait.
– Florida is only going to get better, as soon as Grigori Denisenko arrives.
There were plenty of other prospects who popped out at me (Barrett Hayton, Patrik Puistola, Rasmus Sandin, I could go on) but I don’t want to pull the spotlight off DobberProspects on this (and I also don’t want these Ramblings to hit a dozen pages).
Have a good week, folks!!