Ramblings: Goalie situations in Columbus, Florida, Calgary, Pittsburgh and New Jersey – also Dumba, Trocheck and more (Jan 13)


The Midseason Guide was released on the weekend. Click on the link to see screen shots of much of what you get. At the very least – take a look. Maybe you’ll see it can help you.

The projections are still in the PDF, but I have also added them to a spreadsheet. There will be a coupon code in the PDF that allows you to get that spreadsheet for free, so don’t buy it. This was the only way I could add a spreadsheet without putting it into your accounts one at a time. I had a bit of a minor screw-up with that coupon code: for the first six hours after the Guide was released, I had the wrong code in there. The correct one is there now. You can re-download the Guide to get the correct code if you didn’t already. As you can imagine, lots of brain farts can occur in the hours leading up to a 226-page document’s completion and release!


I’m finding in the Fantasy Guide these last two years that I’ve been gathering steam with the projections and bold calls as the season wears on. While other years, perhaps I’ve done a great job and that becomes apparent throughout. But last year, and now this season, I’m finding that when given enough time things are turning around in a few blatant areas. Maybe this is just because of a couple of the most glaring failures are turning around. Maybe I was having another great season, I don’t know, I haven’t tracked it yet. But what I do know is that leaning towards Cam Talbot to eventually take Calgary’s starting job was a big fail. And out-and-out calling Elvis Merzlikins as the phenom who would take the top job in Columbus right away was also a big fail. Those are the two calls that I’ve been kicking myself about the most. And…now this?

I remember when Joonas Korpisalo went down and most people Tweeted doom and gloom, particularly media types that I follow. I didn’t see anything positive and I had to speak up.

Those who follow me on Twitter (and actually, occasionally, sometimes maybe heed my advice?) jumped on Elvis and it’s really paid dividends. Since the Tweet:

5-2-0, 1.88 GAA, 0.943 SV%, 6 QS (85.7%)

If Elvis keeps this up another three weeks – Coach Torts won’t go back to Korpi. How can he?

As for Talbot:

That’s an older Tweet, here are Talbot’s updated numbers (Rittich’s haven’t changed):

6-2-0, 2.05 GAA, 0.940 SV%

The new coaching style agrees with Talbot so far, but it’s early yet and first slump puts Rittich back in there again. Still – at least I don’t look like a complete fool now! (just a bit of one)


Little-played rookie Yakov Trenin continues to make it hard for the Preds to send him back down. He assisted on the only goal in the game and that gives him points in four of his last five games. It took him just two years to find his stride at the pro level, but it seems he’s really found it. A natural center, the team is using the 22-year-old on the wing. This provides a bit of a barrier for the likes of Golden Boy prospects Rem Pitlick and of course Eeli Tolvanen, who are each at least a year away from being ready. Our prospect profile on Trenin can be found here.

Calle Jarnkrok has gone six games without a point. That being said, the new coach hasn’t rolled back his ice time nor taken him off the PP. And that’s always a threat when a player is having a great season and a new coach takes over. Rock the boat, and all that. But I’m sure Jarnkrok’s leash is getting shorter…

With a shutout Sunday, Juuse Saros has back-to-back Quality Starts and the new coach is liking what he sees (I’m sure John Hynes at least watched his January 5 start – this is actually Hynes’ first time using Saros). It’s the first signs of life we’ve seen from Nashville goaltending. Pekka Rinne has a quality start in one of his two games under Hynes. Plus a goal. A new coach means a clean slate. This job is up in the air. As I had noted in the firing breakdown from last week – the players who benefit the most from the coaching change are the goaltenders. Indeed.


Matt Dumba is not scoring. That we know. But man, he’s trying. And defensively he’s improved. So he’s getting the ice time to snap the funk. In the last three games he has 15 shots on goal. That’s easily the most he’s taken in any three-game span this season. If a corner is going to be turned, it’s going to happen this week or next.


The acquisition of Michael Frolik coupled with the stronger-than-expected play of Curtis Lazar has allowed the Sabres to scratch Jimmy Vesey. Vesey has fallen from grace in just half a season, after beginning his Buffalo career as Jack Eichel’s linemate. Frankly, I think they should have kept him away from Eichel until he’s had 20 regular season games under his belt, let him get comfortable, and then give it a go.

Anyway, Frolik’s presence has given the Sabres much better depth and it’s really helped in all aspects. He was double shifted and made both of his lines better. Here were the line combos:










Girgensons is on the big line and he’s scored goals in two games in a row.


Andreas Athanasiou is still sidelined with an injury. And that effectively kills the weekly feature that I was having fun with. I suppose when he returns I could call it a quest for minus-70…but that’s just not the same. AA is stuck at minus-35 in 36 games. At one point he was as low as minus-37.

Filip Zadina has two points in seven games and is minus-4 in that span. The expected growing pains are here. His 11:59 of ice time is his second-lowest all season


Since Sidney Crosby went down on November 9th, the Pittsburgh Penguins lead the entire NHL in wins. Truth. Right now Crosby is feeling absolutely zero pressure to get back into the lineup because his team keeps winning. So his caution is just getting more extreme – why risk it? He doesn’t care if it drives fantasy owners nuts…

After five points in two games poolies everywhere were activating Dominik Kahun. Just in time for him to go minus-3 on Sunday. I think he has a long leash on that Evgeni Malkin line right now, given those last two games, so he’s still a safe play in my books.

Tristan Jarry got the win but he’s given up three goals in four consecutive games. He’s everyone’s favorite backup-stealing-starter-job guy this year and he definitely makes Matt Murray expendable. With Murray’s contract up this summer, it will be interesting. They could sign him to a backup’s contract and easily roll with Jarry – who also has a contract up this summer. Oh boy this could get interesting. If the Pens end up keeping both goalies (which would be odd, with Casey DeSmith also signed but I digress), how the contracts land will determine your starter for next year. And knowing the NHL – and I think I do – these two get Rittich/Talbot contracts, but higher. You can’t ignore Jarry’s season, but you also can’t ignore two Stanley Cups.

Since December 28:

Jarry: 3-1-1, 2.74, 0.908

Murray: 3-0-0, 2.92, 0.916

It’s getting interesting and this interesting scenario could carry into next fall without a trade.


Jonathan Huberdeau became Florida’s all time leader in points. Getting his 420th career point puts him one ahead of Olli “I’m Not” Jokinen.

Andreas Johnsson returned to the lineup for the Leafs and I had been curious as to what they do with Pierre Engvall and the line combinations. Engvall’s been too good to take out, and Johnsson is too good to bury. Here were the line combinations:










Dmytro Timashov was the healthy scratch, meaning Adam Brooks earned his spot as well. The Leafs lost 8-4 and hung their goalie out to dry. Freddie Andersen was chased after giving up four goals on 12 shots. Michael Hutchinson gave up four goals on 17 shots. Toronto wired 47 shots on Chris Driedger, who has been shelled lately. He’s faced 83 shots in his last two games and gave up eight goals as Florida tries the Grant Fuhr approach to winning.

Incidentally, Sergei Bobrovsky missed the game with a UBI. But he’s expected to be ready Thursday. Bobrovsky is coming off a Quality Start from Friday.

He’s back. Sometimes injuries take longer than others to recover from (see Dumba, Matt – above). But Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 12 games. And with him now rolling, the domino effect up and down the lineup will be impactful. Mike Hoffman (six game points streak), Brett Connolly (four points in four games) and Frank Vatrano (two points on Sunday) are among the many forwards benefitting from the “return” of a true top second-line center.


Ray Shero has been fired as GM of the New Jersey Devils. And for now two former players – Tom Fitzgerald and some guy named Martin Brodeur – will run things. Everything Shero did seemed to turn out bad. But taken individually I don’t think he did a bad job. Gusev was and is a fine acquisition. He stole Taylor Hall from Edmonton. Acquiring Palmieri was great.  I think he did fine in Hall’s trade to Arizona. Did anyone know that PK Subban had faltered so badly? And should he have drafted different players besides Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier? So far I’m just seeing criticism of…drafting Pavel Zacha sixth overall as his big bungle? When Shero was just a couple months into the job? I guess in the end he failed to resolve goaltending (yeah get in line) and overall his draft record has been weak. But I think this team just needed one more year. Watch it take off now and the new GM will get all the credit. Happens all the time.

Nikita Gusev has 13 points in his last 13 games. Sandwiched in there are three pointless games in which he was a combined minus-8. So there are still some things to iron out with his game. But now playing for a team with really nothing to lose and a new coach with plenty to gain by Gusev’s success – the offense will be there.

In case you haven’t had enough goaltending controversy lately, Louis Domingue has started two straight games and came on in relief for a third game. Each game he gave up just one goal. That’s three goals allowed on 73 shots faced. Mackenzie Blackwood has given up 13 goals on his last 99 shots faced. Stay tuned!

Kevin Shattenkirk has four points in his last 17 games. So…we were right to write him off last year? He had 22 points in 28 games prior to that.


See you Monday.