21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
Every Sunday, we’ll share 21 Fantasy Rambles – the original 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. Connor Hellebuyck has been one of the most valuable goalies in fantasy hockey despite playing for a bad offensive team – remember, the Jets give up so many shots and so many quality shots that despite Hellebuyck likely being the top performing goaltender in the league this year, the team is firmly mid-pack by goals against at 5-on-5 – and unless he falls on his face in the next six weeks, he’ll likely finish the year as a second-round value, and that’s great.
The problem arises when he performs as just a good goalie and not a Vezina-calibre one, like, say, in 2018-19 when he wasn’t a top-10 fantasy goalie. I think there are valid concerns about his fantasy value moving forward until that blue line is fixed.
All that said, it’s hard to deny Hellebuyck’s impact this year. That the team is anywhere close to a playoff spot is largely because of him, and if that’s not worthy of MVP consideration, I’m not sure what is. (feb27)
2. Now that it seems like Tyler Toffoli can put up some amazing numbers with the Canucks, will he sign there this offseason? Unfortunately for Canucks fans, I don’t see this happening unless there’s some serious out-of-the-box cap maneuvering by GM Jim Benning. In other words, this could turn into another Anson Carter-type situation, where he leverages a big season from a major opportunity with the Canucks to a lucrative contract with another team where he loses value. This is more of a fearless forecast than anything, rather than an evaluation of Toffoli’s ability. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what happens. (feb29)
3. One guy that interests me from the Kings is Adrian Kempe. Combined with the fact that he could very easily be on his way to his first 20-goal season in one of the worst scoring environments in the NHL while playing largely with complete unknowns, it should be obvious why I am kind of excited for Kempe's future. Add in that he can bring a good level of hits and PIMs, and I think there’s a solid fantasy contributor in the wings here.
The problem, of course, is his team. As of right now, if you’re not on the top line with Anze Kopitar, you have little hope of fantasy relevance. Gabe Vilardi could be a nice piece, but we all know his injury history and as of right now he’s still just a prospect. Ditto for Rasmus Kupari, Alex Turcotte and a few others. If those guys come along and live up to their expectations, maybe Kempe has more fantasy value in the coming years. Until he gets more minutes with better linemates, though, he’ll just continue spinning his wheels in the fantasy game. (feb28)
4. Robin Lehner‘s first start as a Vegas Golden Knight on Friday turned out well. Lehner stopped 32 of 34 shots to earn a win over the Sabres. I was just as shocked as you were that the Vegases would trade for Lehner, but given Marc-Andre Fleury‘s so-so season, I can now understand why.
Now that it has happened, expect Fleury and Lehner to split starts down the stretch, which is at least as good – if not better – for Lehner’s fantasy value compared to Chicago. As for the playoffs, Fleury is still the guy, but coach Peter DeBoer probably won’t waste his time turning to Lehner should Fleury struggle. (feb29)
5. Let’s discuss Bobby Ryan for fantasy purposes. It’s unlikely you own him in your fantasy league (just 6% owned in Yahoo leagues, which was probably even lower before the hat trick). Ryan had entered his first game last Thursday without a goal since the first game of the season (a span of 16 outings), so him scoring all of his goals in one game isn’t going to help if he wasn’t in your lineup for that one game. More sustained production game by game is obviously more desirable, even if it comes in smaller doses.
Conversely, we’re reaching the point in the season where just about anyone is a viable option, especially on a very short-term basis. The hard-working Senators still have games to play, and the options that could provide the goals for this team are very wide open. As well, don’t forget how powerful emotion can be. So, now that Ryan has recovered, you may not want to rule him out completely. Even if you don’t add him to your fantasy team, it’s hard not to pull for him. (feb29)
6. With a 24-save shutout on Friday, Alex Stalock has now won each of his last four starts. At the moment, he’s also wrestled the Minnesota starting job away from Devan Dubnyk. Stalock has started seven of the past nine games for the Wild. Since Dean Evason took over as coach two weeks ago, Stalock has started five of the past seven games. Just before he was let go, Bruce Boudreau seemed to flip-flop between goalies, making a switch every couple games. Evason seems to be leaning toward Stalock, who has the much smaller contract but who has performed much better this season. (feb29)
7. Josh Anderson (season-ending shoulder surgery) is legitimately one of my favourite players in the league to watch. He’s a true power forward in every sense of the word and has 30-goal seasons in his future, if he can stay healthy. We’ll wait on further prognosis for now, but I just hope he’s ready for 2020-21 at this point. (feb28)
8. With a goal and two assists on Saturday, Charlie McAvoy now has 13 points (4g-9a) over his past 13 games. Compare this to his first 50 games, where he had not scored a goal and recorded 17 assists over 50 games. Strangely enough, there hasn’t been any sort of bump in overall icetime, power-play icetime, or defensive pairings – just an improvement in production. He probably won’t continue to score four goals each month, but perhaps the third-year d-man is turning a corner in his ability to provide offense. (mar1)
9. Entering Sunday action, Flames' Andrew Mangiapane had seven goals in his last six games, and 10 points in his last eight games. Linemate Mikael Backlund has a staggering nine goals and 19 points in just 12 games. Prior to that, Backlund wasn’t even rosterable in most leagues, picking less than half a point per game (23 points in 54 games). These are some impressive numbers for both, but just remember that Backlund has been shooting at a nearly 30 percent clip since February 10, which will eventually fall back to earth. It’s also more likely that Mangiapane is available in your league, in case you’re looking to get in on the action from this hot Flames line. (mar1)
10. Victor Mete has a broken foot. He has looked good to the eye test as far as things like puck-moving and vision go, but I think he still has some work to do elsewhere in his game. Habs fans should be excited for him in the future, just not right now, it seems. (feb27)
11. Blues' Zach Sanford is solidifying his place on a scoring line, so it will be interesting when Vladimir Tarasenko returns. Sanford has 19 points in his last 22 games and is plus-16 in that span with 48 SOG. He also has 47 hits! (feb26)
12. It was one of the more memorable trade deadlines in recent memory. We saw teams ramping up in the few days leading to Monday, we got Mike Green traded overnight, and we got impact deals very early on in the day like Vincent Trocheck to Carolina and J-G Pageau to the Islanders before my coffee could cool down.
Readers can check out all the links to analysis and discussion here, but let's review a few of them just below:
Erik Gustafsson to Calgary: The first thing I thought of is this: why is Chicago trading another useful defenseman? I get the cap problems, but this team was thin on the blue line eight months ago when they traded Henri Jokiharju. This team stayed thin on the blue line and now have traded Gustafsson. They could always sign him in the offseason, but it doesn’t seem likely. This team needs to rapidly rebuild the blue line if they hope to contend in the Kane/Toews era again.
Regardless, Calgary gets a very good puck-moving defenseman who is a liability in his own end. I like the trade for Calgary because that’s the type of guy the blue line desperately needs, even when Mark Giordano is healthy. It will put a damper on Rasmus Andersson shares, though. You can read Dobber’s take on the trade here. (feb25)
13. Vincent Trocheck to the Hurricanes: I still don’t know what Dale Tallon is doing. Assuming Erik Haula is gone this year and Lucas Wallmark doesn’t turn into much (if Carolina is giving up on a 23-year old forward, it should probably tell you something), this is two prospects for Trocheck. Feels light for a bona fide second-line center who has a couple more years at a very reasonable cap hit.
As far as fantasy goes, it’s really hard to see where Trocheck fits, at least right now. He almost assuredly skate on the third line with Martin Necas, which is not a bad spot to be. With that said, if we’re assuming Trocheck just takes Haula’s third-line and PP minutes, that means 15-16 minutes whereas Trocheck had been playing close to 17 in Florida. You can read Dobber’s take on the trade here. (feb25)
14. One guy I thought might be on the move when I saw that Trocheck was going to Carolina was Warren Foegele, though it ended up being Wallmark instead.
What really worries me for Foegele’s fantasy value is ice time. He’s averaging under 14 minutes a game this year and hasn’t reached 18 minutes in a single contest. Then we consider the depth up front: Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen, Nino Niederreiter, Martin Necas, Jordan Staal, and Trocheck are (likely) all ahead of him on the roster chart and will be for the foreseeable future. In that sense, if his upside is playing 15 minutes a night, it’ll be very hard to have a lot of fantasy relevance. All the same, I think there’s a good fantasy player in here somewhere waiting to break out, he just needs the opportunity. (feb27)
15. Andreas Athanasiou to Edmonton: This is one of the more interesting deals of the day. One reason I think that is I wrote less than a week ago about what an interesting player Athanasiou is. The other reason is because of the apparent slotting: right to the top line with Connor McDavid.
An interesting point I saw on Twitter is this: both Athanasiou and McDavid excel off the rush (obviously). If the team generates the same amount of shots off the rush, but transfer some of those from McDavid to Athanasiou, is that better for Edmonton? Probably not. Is it better for Athanasiou, fantasy-wise? Probably yes. That’s where I’m torn on whether this really is a good move for Edmonton or not. Athanasiou is undoubtedly a better offensive talent than someone like Josh Archibald, but unless the team generates more volume, does it make the team better? We’ll see. Once again, you can read Dobber’s take on the trade here. (feb25)
16. J-G Pageau to the Islanders: This is going to be bad for his fantasy value. He’s going to go from 19-20 minutes a night on the top line/top PP unit for Ottawa to the middle six and second PP unit with the Islanders. I don’t think we’re going to see him slot in as the sure-fire third-line center, but rather be moved around the lineup as necessary. That could see him playing a bit more than we might expect; maybe around the 17- or 18-minute mark.
I think Pageau will work in well with the Islanders but it’s hard to see this as anything but a negative for his fantasy value. He will still provide hits and face-off wins, but everything is going to take a hit as his ice time declines and as he moves to play with guys like Leo Komarov, Tom Kuhnackl, and Michael Dal Colle.
17. Carolina told us that Petr Mrazek is dealing with a concussion while Brett Pesce has a shoulder injury, and both are longer-term injuries. This could change a lot of things with the lineup for the foreseeable future, so checking those game logs after Carolina games is going to be important. I would like to see Jake Bean, personally. Give us The Bean. (We probably won't see The Bean.) (feb25)
18. Just before the trade deadline, the Rangers extended forward Chris Kreider for seven more years with an average annual value of $6.5M, which includes short-term trade protections to hold him off the expansion list. Kreider (day to day) has endured some gnarly injuries over the years, but he’s rebounded from them very well this year with a career-high pace in both goals and points (before his latest ankle injury). He was also putting up roughly 2.5 shots and 2.0 hits per game to boot. It’s been a great year.
The AAV is lower than I imagined it would be – I thought for sure it’d just be the Anders Lee deal – but power forwards tend to not age very well. Just look around at guys like Jamie Benn, Milan Lucic, and Wayne Simmonds from very recent memory. Kreider will be going into his age-29 year in 2020-21.
This is going to be fine in the short-term. The team has some flexibility with guys like Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, and Adam Fox on cheap RFA deals for next year, and two of them for the year after. (feb25)
19. Also noteworthy: Ducks' new acquisition, Christian Djoos, saw 3:04 of PP time in his first game at The Pond. I looked at his game logs for his entire career. Only once in the last two years had he seen even one minute of PP time in a game. And you had to go back to November 10, 2017 for the last time he saw more than two minutes in a game. It was the second-highest PP time that he’s had in an NHL game in his entire career. The Ducks really are experimenting. (feb26)
20. As a power forward, Nick Ritchie's production climb has been slow. Now 24, and with 290 games under his belt, we shouldn’t give up on him just yet. Even as far back as his draft year I had eyeballed him as a guy I would want to own when he was 25 – and likely not before then. Our “Breakout Threshold” for him is 400 games, which would actually push his timeline to when he is 26. (feb24)
21. As I’ve said before, to me, Jonas Johansson is Buffalo’s best bet to become their future starter. Based on what is currently in the system. The timing in terms of NHL readiness is perfect, and while I wouldn’t rule out Linus Ullmark, I just feel that he is more of a backup-type. For now, and it’s still very early and goaltending is such a game of darts, I’m hitching my wagon to Johansson. For now. I don’t expect immediate results, but by the middle of next season I think we will start seeing it. (feb24)
Have a good week, folks!!
No data at this moment.