Ramblings: Searching for a 2C; Ty Smith; reviewing incorrect predictions – May 22

Michael Clifford

2020-05-22

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I was reading an article from Murat Ates of The Athletic and it revolved around their second-line centre problem. Beyond the blue line in general, that 2C slot is the most glaring need the team has, and it was such a black hole that they eventually broke up Scheifele/Wheeler to get Wheeler as the 2C. Guys like Bryan Little (healthy or not) and Jack Roslovic just aren't up to the task. They can’t trade for one at the deadline every year, can they?

What I found interesting about the article was two players named: Tyler Johnson and Anthony Cirelli. Johnson as a trade target because of the Lightning's cap crunch and Cirelli for the same reason (he's due a pay raise as an RFA).

If the Jets were to trade for Cirelli, it would probably have to be at the expense of one of their marquee forwards. Not in a straight one-for-one swap, but some sort of package. What would a trade revolving around Cirelli and Patrik Laine look like? Or even Roslovic and Cirelli? There'd obviously have to be more attached in either scenario, from either side, but it's something to think about. If Winnipeg wants to keep their window open, they need a 2C. A legitimate 2C. And they don't have one.

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As pointed out by our Cam Robinson, Ty Smith won WHL Defenceman of the Year for the second time. The question I have: does Smith make the Devils next year?

I was talking to some Devils fans on Twitter before the season – lovely bunch of people – and they were adamant that Smith would be in the lineup for 2019-20. Well, will he be there in 2020-21? I hope so. It at least gives them an alternative if P.K. Subban completely flops again. For a bit more on Smith, our own Alex MacLean talked about him yesterday in his 'Capped' column.

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About a week prior to the start of the 2019-20 regular season, I wrote some Ramblings posts that summarized many of my thoughts about the upcoming fantasy hockey campaign. Yesterday, we reviewed my predictions in the East, namely which predictions went sideways on me. Needless to say, there were a lot of them. Today, we'll be getting to the Western Conference (the original post is here). Let's figure out where I went wrong. (Just as a small aside, I won't be including guys who suffered injuries. There are only so many variables that can be accounted for before each season.)

Stats from Hockey Reference or Natural Stat Trick. Teams have their own paragraphs.

 

To begin, I got a lot wrong about Anaheim. I thought the team would have a rebound in general, but they really weren't much different from last year's team. That obviously did not lead to great things for the team, nor much for the individuals fantasy-wise. I specifically named Ryan Getzlaf and Max Comtois in my column. Neither player was a high pick, but we still have to eat our vegetables, so I need to mention that Getzlaf posted his worst point/game mark of his career while Comtois was eventually sent to the AHL. I guess I overestimated the impact that the rookies and young players would have while thinking an abysmal team could turn their fortunes in one year without a significant injection of talent. Anaheim has a long ways to go before they're contender again. Some lessons are harder to learn than others, so consider this a lesson learned.

I had Flames goalie Cam Talbot pegged to be the 1A in net for the Flames this year. Not necessarily a tried-and-true starter with 60-plus starts, but someone who might start 45, with David Rittich around 35, and a couple to AHLers. We had basically the inverse, as Rittich finished the year at 48 starts with Talbot at 22. We should probably mention that Talbot had a much, much better year than Rittich by any measure that matters, so this might be a case of right process, wrong result.

One goaltending situation that I assumed needed to be avoided was the one in Chicago, as I assumed the team would be horrific defensively. Now, the goaltenders actually performed well – both had positive Goals Saved Above Average marks, per Evolving Hockey – which led to them both Crawford (.917) and Lehner (.918) having overall save percentages much higher than the league average (.910). However, the team was very poor defensively, and the volume of shots led to neither having a GAA inside the top-25 qualified goaltenders. In fact, of the 55 qualified goalies, Crawford finished 28th and Lehner at 37th (including his few starts in Vegas) while both are inside the top-20 by save percentage. That's how bad Chicago was defensively.

These Ramblings have been covered how I missed on Roope Hintz, as I was not high on him at all before the season and at the very least, he showed a good scoring touch. Having written on Hintz recently, I won't re-hash all the ways I was wrong, just know that I'm sorry.  I was also kind of wrong about Jamie Benn: I expected a rebound in points, but that didn't come to pass. He did, however, set a 10-year high in hits and had an outside chance at 200. That, along with his meagre production, made him valuable. We'll call it a push.

Jonathan Quick rebounded but was still real bad in fantasy. Sometimes, the bounce is less a full rebound but more akin to a garbage can being dropped from 12 stories up.

One marker I put down was a huge year from Matt Dumba. It wasn't necessarily because he did so well in an injury-shortened 2018-19 season, but rather we had a young defenceman who was seemingly getting better every year and was finally hitting his prime. I had Dumba putting up a season that would have been close to a peak Shea Weber season, and he fell way short of that. He basically put up a 50-game season from Weber. I still have lots of hope for the future but we missed in 2019-20. I was also high on Devan Dubnyk and he was among the worst goalies in the league this year. At least I was right about Kevin Fiala! Geez.

I was wrong about every Nashville player except Ryan Ellis. Honestly, I was expecting big campaigns from the likes of Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, and the team may not have seen a forward reach 60 points had the season finished. I also did not think Roman Josi would be the PP1 quarterback all season and he was (and he had a monster season). I take solace in the fact that I'm probably not the only person burned by several Predators forwards this year.

Brent Burns and Timo Meier. Need I say more? Ok I will. It's pretty hard to predict when a team is going to take a downturn. We knew that the core of this team was aging but they were still really good last year and had a lot of top-end talent – Burns, Karlsson, Couture, Kane, Hertl, Meier – on the roster. For whatever reason, the team fell on its face in every possible way this year. What is needed now is to figure out whether this is the new normal for the Sharks, or whether there's still something left in the tank offensively. I'm thinking of the Chicago Blackhawks here. A couple years ago, it seemed this franchise was dead in the water and in need of a full rebuild. While they're still not a good team, they have a wealth of offensive talent that makes them targets for fantasy. Can San Jose even reach that level of performance again? I hope so.

I won't take an 'L' on Vince Dunn because I admittedly knew there were a lot of obstacles ahead of him to getting the ice time necessary to be a consistent fantasy contributor. I did hope against hope, much like Maid Marion in 'Robin Hood: Men In Tights' and was not rewarded. Such is life.

UPCOMING GAMES

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HOT PLAYERS

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency BUF Players
30.4% JACK EICHEL SAM REINHART JEFF SKINNER
24.2% ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS JOHAN LARSSON KYLE OKPOSO
20.1% CURTIS LAZAR WAYNE SIMMONDS JIMMY VESEY

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