Ramblings: Re-Drafting 1989, ELC Opportunities, Nick Robertson, Toffoli, & Markstrom (April 1)
The NHL has extended the teams’ self-quarantine until April 15. The league is breaking off section in two-week chunks. And with the way the US is trending, we'll be seeing that period extended a few more times.
No surprise the NHL has again pushed back the period of self-quarantine to April 15. Bill Daly recently said “we're biting this off in chunks” — meaning they’re setting target dates and making decisions as each approaches while consulting the latest available information.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 31, 2020
This is yet to be the death blow to the 2019-20 campaign, as it's been well-publicized that Gary Bettman is dedicated to crowning a champion somehow, someway. Don't cancel the remaining matchups in your fantasy playoffs until the league officially nixes the year.
You never know, you may be in even better shape when they play 10 games in late-July ahead of a truncated playoff season with Steven Stamkos and most of the other injured players back up and running.
Kyle Dubas was quoted as saying when training camp occurs (whenever that is) the Leafs' top pick from 2019, Nicholas Robertson (53rd overall) will be given every opportunity to make the club. And while that may just be lip service to keep the young man motivated, it's not altogether unrealistic.
Robertson is a fascinating player and person. He was one of the youngest players in the 2019 draft – missing the cutoff for 2020 by just five days. Adding to that is the fact that he was born in California on September 11, 2001 – that infamous day in American history. And he was born a full 12 weeks premature.
My son was born seven weeks premature and I can tell you, that was more than early enough. It's a frightening scenario to be in. I cannot imagine a 28-week old baby coming out and managing to not only catch up to his peers but blow by them athletically.
For some reason, Robertson slipped out of round one last June and fell right into the Maple Leafs' laps. At the time, I said that there was little reason to think Robertson wouldn't go back to the OHL and score 40 goals. Turns out I was underselling him.
The 18-year-old went off in 2019-20. He tallied 55 goals in just 46 games. That 1.196 goals-per-game is the most we've seen from a U19 OHLer in the last 28 years. It trails only Eric Lindros' 1.24 goals-per-game in the history of the league.
We're not talking small peanuts here.
Fun fact: Nick Robertson’s 1.20 goals-per-game this season was the most we’ve seen from a U19 OHLer in the last 28 years.
He trails only Eric Lindros (1.24) for most ever in OHL history. https://t.co/b3Wanb1PTm
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) March 31, 2020
As you can imagine, the release this kid possesses is extremely impressive. He can draw and rip, let it fly on the fly, and is an assassin on the power play.
He can open up his hips and blast the one-timer, both off of the rush and while setup on the right circle on the man-advantage. Hell, despite not being the biggest player, he can fight into the home plate area and finish with quick moves. This is a player who can fill the net in a bevy of ways
While the Leafs may boast a bevy of goalscorers on their team already, they're also a team that is up against the cap wall. That is likely to be even worse with the lack of revenue from the COVID-19 shutdown. Finding cheap, productive players is paramount and the best way to do that is to provide opportunities for players on ELCs.
All this to say if you didn't have Robertson on your radar before. You damn well better now.
Since we're talking about young players who may get a chance next year, how about Adam Beckman with the Wild? This is a kid that slipped all the way to 75th overall last draft. He rewarded the Wild by going back to the WHL and scoring 48 goals and 107 points in just 63 games to lead the league in both categories.
Beckman will turn 19 later this spring, and as such is bound by the NHL-CHL agreement the prohibits him from seeing AHL action. Do the Wild want to send him back to junior to dominate once again, or do they find a home for him in their top nine with some secondary power-play opportunities?
It's not as if Minny is bursting with talent up front. Especially with Mikko Koivu and Alex Galchenyuk up this summer. They recently signed the electric winger to a well deserved ELC. It'll be a situation to watch closely.
Monday was treated to one of the best retirement announcements in the history of the NHL. Former Canuck, Flame, and Hurricane netminder, Eddie Lack officially hung them up and dropped this on the world.
It time for me to RETIRE. The next 7 minutes are a tribute to All of you that were with me during this crazy ride and my way of saying – THANK YOU.
P.S. Luongo might be in the video … (1/4) pic.twitter.com/bCsc93QCRD
— Eddie Lack🇸🇪 (@eddielack) March 30, 2020
Lack was one of the most charismatic players in the league. It's a shame his hips gave up on him so soon. He was a real talent.
Last week, I redrafted the 1991 crop of players. It was fun, and so I'll do it again. Only this time for a wicked 1989 class. My apologies for the under-30 crowd reading. I'll get to some more recent classes soon.
1st Overall (Quebec) – Nicklas Lidstrom (53rd)
2nd Overall (NYI) Sergei Fedorov (74th)
3rd Overall (TOR) – Mats Sundin (1st)
4th Overall (WIN) – Pavel Bure (113th)
5th Overall (NJ) – Bill Guerin (5th)
6th Overall (CHI) – Adam Foote (22nd)
7th Overall (MIN) – Bobby Holik (10th)
8th Overall (VAN) – Robert Reichel (70th)
9th Overall (STL) – Oleg Kolzig (19th)
10th Overall (HAR) -Patrice Brisebois (30th)
This was a downright filthy top-five. The depth slides out a bit afterwards, but between the four Hall of Famers, you can stomach it. Now I can't stop thinking about Lidstrom playing with Sakic, Forsberg and co in Colorado. Or how about Bure and Selanne kicking it in Winnipeg? Disgusting.
The LA Kings recently inked Tyler Madden. The sophomore centre was firmly in the running for the Hobey Baker award before injuring his hand in mid-February. He was acquired by the Kings as apart of the Tyler Toffoli deal with Vancouver.
Madden is a very exciting young player and another one who will look to push right into the NHL lineup for next season. However, this is a guy who plays a feisty style yet sits under 160lbs. Some time to acclimate to pro hockey in the AHL will certainly be an option.
Long term, I think he likely moves to the wing. Especially with Alex Turcotte, Gabe Vilardi and Jaret Anderson-Dolan as young Cs in the organization.
Speaking of Toffoli, the Canucks have some serious decisions to make this offseason. The biggest one looms in net where Jacob Markstrom will have an opportunity to test free agency. Markstrom has taken the long road to becoming a high-end starter, but he’s there now. In fact, his level of play in 2019-20 before going down with an injury was that of a Vezina-level.
Do the Canucks want to pay him big dollars with term attached as he crests the 30-year peak though?
The next big decision will come down to long-time, top-pairing defender, Chris Tanev and newbie Toffoli. For fantasy owners, it’s hard not to root for Toffoli taking the last bit of cap space in Vancouver. His time was short in blue and green (just 10 games) but he had 10 points while averaging 3.8 shots and seeing a very healthy dose of deployment next to Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller.
This happened to occur at the same time that Brock Boeser was out, so you never know how the coaching staff breaks things up with a fully healthy lineup, but you can imagine Toffoli would see extended periods with that group in all situations.
He may be able to get a bit more money elsewhere, but the situation won’t get much better.
Blake Wheeler is in Winnipeg and says he and his wife Sam are full time teachers right now and he is more tired than he was two weeks ago.
— Jamie Thomas (@JamieThomasTV) March 31, 2020
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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