Ramblings – Details on the NHL’s CBA and RTP. Plus, Quinn vs. Makar, Shesterkin vs. Saros and more (July 06)
If you haven't already, pick up the Fantasy Prospects Report (14th Edition)! I now have the data for the final chart – Cam's draft ranking. I'll be putting those in during the week so you should have that update by Friday. (They replace the TBA beside each draftee profile – it's kinda nice to see where we have them ranked as you go through, and I'll have that in shortly)
Bob McKenzie provided us with a Return-To-Play (RTP) and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) update late Sunday. It sounds like by the end of the week the NHL and NHLPA will not only have an agreement on a process and timeline for getting the playoffs and then next season started, but also an extension on the CBA that will run through the end of 2024-25. This is great news for fantasy owners and hockey fans, who suffer the most from lockouts. No lockout for five years!
Also, in case you hadn't heard – NHL players will participate in the next two Olympics, provided the IOC wants them (which I'm sure they will).
To summarize the RTP – 30 skaters and unlimited goalies for Phase 3, which begins July 13. Only eligible 2019-20 players can participate in Phase 3, so you won't be seeing Kirill Kaprizov, for example. Any player may opt out of Phases 3 and 4 without penalty, though they need to let their club know by 5pm three days after the NHLPA's upcoming ratification vote is completed. So on that day expect a few players to opt out, and a list of those players getting compiled by day's end. Each of the 24 teams must submit their list of participating players by July 9 (I'm guessing this date is fluid due to the players getting three days after the ratification vote to notify the team). NHL coaches will not be required to wear masks when they are behind the bench.
Lots of information in this 40-page document on the thoroughness of the testing (as we assumed would be the case) for all players and personnel. Individuals leaving without permission could be removed from the playoff tournament, with teams possibly getting fined or lose draft picks.
One small, but interesting thing that was agreed upon: a player who tests positive for Covid during Phase 3, his club and the league will not disclose information about (I assume) the player's identity.
All in all, expect (finally) plenty of interesting hockey news beginning this week and possibly running all the way into next year.
I think that, of the four sports, hockey has the best chance of making this work. For the simple reason that it is being played in Canada. These standards are quite thorough, and as long as no players bring the virus up north with them, then this will succeed. All of Ontario has just 1839 active cases, while Alberta is sitting at just 572. By the time the target date of Phase 4 (July 26 to report to Hub city, August 1 tentative start date) hits, I think these numbers will be closer to 1000 for Ontario and 100 for Alberta. So this all rides on the players and staff taking this seriously and following all the protocols.
The bigger worry to me is the 2020-21 NHL season. I know that they are fine with the season beginning as late as January 1, so let's use that date. Can teams play in 31 different arenas by that point? Even without spectators, this seems like it has a bigger chance of failing versus the playoff Hub city format. And coming in and around the Christmas holidays could also see some players test positive shortly thereafter.
By the way, I find it curious that NHL is fine playing a full 82-game season beginning this coming January 1, but back when there was a lockout the season could only be 48 games just two weeks after January 1. Using this logic, on top of my concerns stated above…I suspect that next season may start later in January and just go 60 games.
I asked a question on Twitter and had planned to just do a couple, but man there were some brilliant comparables thrown at me so I just kind of…kept going.
I love how Jake Virtanen's production has steadily progressed (0.27, 0.36, 0.52 points-per-game year-over-year). As a bigger forward, I don't expect him to come into his own for two or three years yet. In the meantime, I expect steady progression. But Jake DeBrusk is at his Breakout Threshold (200 games) right now. Next season could and should be his breakout year. But what is a breakout for DeBrusk? I don't think it will be 60 points, so let's call it mid-50s. I think he's your better option for next season, and possibly the one after that. But three seasons from now, and beyond, I lean towards Virtanen.
Here is the Player Compare tool for them.
I think this is Grigori Denisenko all the way. I think he has higher upside, and frankly I think he's closer to being NHL ready. There is room for both players, but it remains to be seen what kind of niche Borgstrom carves out. He needs to flourish in the AHL offensively this season and if he doesn't, then he may end up being a third-liner.
Dominik Kahun looked good in Buffalo, posting four points in six games despite limited minutes. I don't know if he will ever be a 50-point player and would certainly need a lot of luck to get there, such as playing with Jack Eichel. But Ilya Mikheyev, to me, is a rapidly-improving player who seems hell-bent on not only becoming a 50-point player regardless of who he plays with, but at his rate of development I wonder how high he can go. I like Mikheyev for next season and I love Mikheyev for beyond next season. I'm excited to see how much he improves over the next 12 months.
I like Cale Makar for the upside. He certainly showed a rare ability to post a point-per-game for an extended length of time. But I don't like the injuries already so early in his career and that makes the race even closer. I love both of their teams in terms of what kind of future offense that environment would coax. But I still lean to Makar.
Here is their 'Compare' tool.
Thomas by a mile. He's ready to break out and his upside is higher.
The Compare tool.
Josh Norris because Logan Brown can't be trusted to stay healthy.
I love this one because I think Nik Ehlers' upside is at a point-per-game and there was a time where I believed that Kevin Fiala's was maybe 70 points. But seeing Fiala in the second half last season has me firmly in his corner now. He is ready to take off. This flies against where I have them in the rankings (see the Compare tool), but their ranking is close and I'm just telling you my hunch – Fiala is the better own.
How about Erik Gustafsson? While I am more confident in Gustafsson's ability to bounce back, given Gostisbehere's decline has been going on for a long time now, I would probably go with Ghost here because he has the juicy contract already in his pocket. If Gustafsson doesn't get a good contract – and given the new climate I don't think many UFA's will do well, let alone risky ones, then he may get pushed out of the top four on whatever team he plays with.
I love so many of these!
Igor Shesterkin all the way. And I love what the Rangers are doing. In fact, they are my dark horse team to surprise in this tournament – provided they ride Shesterkin.
And here is our goalie compare tool for these two.
Another good one, in that Domi seems like a safer play and has more of the ability to produce on his own, whereas Strome is more of a boom-or-bust guy who relies on Artemi Panarin. Put me down for the boom-or-bust guy. I’m confident he’ll have Panarin on his wing for the foreseeable future.
See you next Monday. Be safe!
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