Ramblings – Twitter Mailbag: Werenski, Lehner, Donato, Fabbri, Hertl, Seider and more (May 11)



So Gary Bettman was unable to convince the GMs to hold the draft in early June. Yet. This is unexpected. Bettman is the man who kept the entire group in lockstep during lockout after lockout. He stubbornly kept a hockey team in Arizona, even after a rich person offered an overpayment for the team, and then pre-sold season tickets in Hamilton! When Bettman wants something, he gets it. But so far…not this. We are still working towards a June 1 release date of the Fantasy Prospects Report, but I would rather it go out later if the draft is later. So I will leave last week's paragraph here, because it still stands:

I will have an announcement officially announcing a release date for the 13th annual Fantasy Prospects Report next Monday in the Ramblings, on Twitter and on Facebook. I am awaiting the NHL's decision about when their draft will take place, and I believe that decision is forthcoming this week. My guess is that there will be a draft in June, and I will have more on that further below.


I try not to go to this well too often, because it could be a long, painful pause in our fantasy hockey season. But it's been a few weeks since I last did this, so I went to Twitter this weekend for your Q's…

A close call here and great question (although there is no downside for getting the answer wrong, IMO). The Coyotes love Soderstrom and feel he's NHL-ready or very close to it. He has great upside and is a right shot in an organization that has Oliver Ekman-Larsson (left) and Jacob Chychrun (left). I don't like how Chychrun was always getting hurt after being drafted – and then Soderstrom gets hurt last season. Not the organization's fault and probably just a fluke, but I'm wired to see patterns like that.

Seider, drafted five spots ahead of Soderstrom last year, also has great upside. At just 18, he slid right into the AHL seamlessly and I have no doubt that he can do it again in the NHL. He is a right-shot defenseman and so is Filip Hronek. For that reason, I go with Soderstrom. If Detroit ends up with Alexis Lafreniere it makes this opinion much more difficult to reach so I repeat: no downside to going with the wrong guy.


I have rather moderate expectations for Bowen Byram, Sami Niku and Henri Jokiharju. I would be surprised if any of them got 30 points, though eventually all three will reach 50 one day (I don't see much higher though). Boqvist is another matter. Assuming the Blackhawks don't find another option, and their lack of cap space tells me they won't, then ready or not – he's the guy. Potentially, he could surprise and be a 50-point player. Would I put money on that? Not a lot of money, no. But I'd pretty easily slap some down on 45.


Zach Werenski: That's always the thing when it comes to the near 'sure things' – playing the 82 games. I think in a full season his floor is 52 points and his ceiling is 71. And I limit it there because it's Columbus. It's also important that Oliver Bjorkstrand plays at least 75 games because I think he's their only legit star forward so his presence is required for anyone to put up big points.

Tomas Hertl: Again using 82 games, which he's never done…so come to think of it I'm going to use 75 games. So, 75 games his floor for next year is 48 points and ceiling is 70. It's a little underwhelming because the Sharks are a team in transition now. How healthy will Erik Karlsson be? Will we see Kevin Labanc from 2018-19 or from 2019-20? Those two questions alone could add or remove a dozen points from Hertl's numbers.


Yes, yes and yes. No way they keep Alex Stalock over Kaapo Kahkonen. He's nine years older and, while he's coming off his best season (still in progress), his SV% is only 0.910 so it's not like he's an untouchable superstar. His last 17 games that SV% has been over 0.920 but that's too small a sample size. Kahkonen's future depends on what the Wild do this offseason. Lots of great, proven goaltenders hit the market. Do they dive in? Devan Dubnyk has one year left on his contract.


I looked at the 10 best undrafted free agent signings three weeks ago right here. I think that should have what you're looking for.


Filip Chytil: Yes, for sure. Just give him three more years. I think he still has his upside, and just needs to develop some more.

Martin Necas: I think Necas is developing quickly. Assuming the sophomore slump doesn't become an issue, I think he reaches 55 points next year.


Robin Lehner: To me his best fit was Chicago. I can't believe he left that situation. Yes, he's earned a bigger contract than the Blackhawks can afford, but this is a career maker. Take a three-year deal there, lead this team back to respectability by simply playing the way he's been playing for two years, and he gets his payday after that. I don't know if he'll get much more elsewhere, with Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, Thomas Greiss, Corey Crawford and Cam Talbot also UFAs. He better have a lot of faith that his agent can navigate this game of musical chairs to his advantage.

As for what teams could look at him: Calgary, Chicago, Minnesota, Buffalo (!!), Detroit and Ottawa (!!).

Outside shot: Carolina (would need to make a move with one of their current goalies, but stranger things have happened – they're too good to roll with Mrazek or Reimer).

And who knows, maybe San Jose wises up and buys out Jones or somehow work it so that they can bring in Lehner. They sure as hell need him.


No, I don't see this happening at all. I think Lehner getting signed has more of a chance (and that's slim). Melnichuk is too young, 21 is very rare for a goalie to step in unless he's the best of the best. And he's not big, at 6-1, so he has no edge there. And just 18 games of pro (KHL) experience.


Emil Bemstrom: A pure goal scorer who probably has a ceiling that limits him to 60 points, and probably needs to be on the top line to do it. Won't happen next year, as I think the next two will be stepping stones. His pace this season is for 29 points and next year I see low- to mid-30s.

Ryan Donato: A dark horse next season, but probably more for the second half. He should hit his 200-game Breakout Threshold next January or February. I'll be softly inquiring about him this offseason in my keepers, but go at it with more urgency a year from now.

Erik Haula: The usual Haula stuff expected for next year. Decent production, hints of something really great for a few games before he twists, strains, or breaks something and gets sidelined again.

Nino Niederreiter: This is the player who has me the most confused this season. Goes to Carolina in his prime, clicks with Sebastian Aho, and pounds out 33 points in his last 44 games. This year, gets put on the same line. Time after time after time. And he failed, again and again and again. I wish I had a crystal ball for this one. The numbers say that with average puck luck and the usual bounces he 'should' have about three more goals and six more points. But that still would only put his pace at 43. My hunch is that he doesn't come back from this. It would seem that the top six is in place and it doesn't include him. On the third line he's not much more than a 40-point player.


Nolan Patrick: A quality player with 70-plus upside for points. But he's been injury prone since junior and I fear that he may never play a 70-game season again. He only played 73 and 72 games in his first two years in the NHL and that was before the migraine became serious. If you're in a points-only league with no IR, treat him the way you would treat a prospect who you expect to get 35 points next season and has a long-term upside of 60-plus points.


Robby Fabbri: Even if his injury troubles are being him, and I hope they are, I'm not super high on him. He relied a lot on playing with Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi, as well as on his power-play time. But a lot of that was with Anthony Mantha sidelined. Now that Filip Zadina is a part of the team, Fabbri becomes a second-unit guy. And at even strength he didn't show much in the way of offense if Larkin wasn't around, other than maybe Andreas Athanasiou – and he's gone now. I guess if Detroit adds Alexis Lafreniere then that makes Fabbri worth stashing in keeper leagues. Fabbri is a passenger, not the driver. So his value lies solely in his playing with Larkin or Lafreniere.

My prediction: 65 games (play that safe), and a range of 32 to 52, depending on what percentage of his ships are with one of those two. I know that is a wide range, but frankly it's a pretty extreme situation.


It's a long break from hockey, so I'll be turning to Twitter for more questions again I'm sure soon. Or maybe I'll pull from the Forum, and help out our restless members in there…


See you next Monday. Be safe. Thanks for continuing to support the website, and if you're bored and need a fantasy hockey fix – visit the gang in the forum here.


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JAMIE BENN DAL 19 8 10 18


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