Ramblings – 12 Western Conference Players to Keep an Eye On, The Fantasy Guide Release Date and more (July 13)
If you haven't already, pick up the Fantasy Prospects Report (14th Edition)! This is now fully updated, other than the Mock Draft which we will put in once the final draft order is set. A great summer read, to replace your usual summer reading of, uh, actual fantasy hockey guides. And thank you for supporting the Dobber Sports Network of fantasy hockey sites. All of the sites are fully funded by the sales of the Guides.
And speaking of which, now that the NHL has a (hopefully, somewhat, as best as can be given the circumstances) 'firm' schedule of dates, I can set my own.
August 1 – NHL play-in and round robin
September 22 – Cup Final
October 2 – Latest date for Cup win
October 6 – NHL Draft
October 9 – Free Agent Frenzy!
November 17 – Training camps open (46-day offseason is usually around 86 days)
December 1 – Start of 2020-21 82-game NHL season
October 11 – Analysis for the 15th annual Fantasy Hockey Guide can begin
October 23 (Friday) – I will release the Fantasy Guide with what I am targeting as 16 teams complete, to cover off any fantasy league drafts for that weekend. It is my hope to re-release this guide each day with two more teams done.
October 30 (Friday) – I will hopefully release the Fantasy Guide with all the teams done. If a couple of teams are still not quite complete, I will work around the clock to polish it off within a day or two. A few features may not be complete yet, but again the updates will be fast and furious over the ensuing week.
I've been doing this for 15 years now. I am an expert at putting quality fantasy hockey guides together and have a system in place to get this done well, and done quickly. Nobody can match me here – those who have worked with me can attest to this. I have all the tools I need all around me, and an experienced team that includes Mario Prata, co-founder of The Forecaster magazine. He will be working just as hard to translate and release the French version of the Fantasy Guide shortly after the English version.
The 15th annual Interactive Playoff Draft List will be available for download very soon. I am about halfway through my analysis and should finish it up today or Tuesday. So at the latest it will be in your Downloads section Wednesday (perhaps as early as Tuesday). If you haven't bought one yet, but are going into a playoff pool, you can order it here.
Announcement: I will be unable to put together a Dobbernomics game in time for the playoffs. Just too much happening, too quickly, with no notice. We will be back for the start of 2020-21 NHL season (earmarked for December 1).
Auston Matthews is reportedly healthy (recovered from Covid) and cleared to play. He will be in camp and ready to go.
I'm seeing indications that although teams will be allowed 31 players inside the bubble, they are probably going to go with four goalies and 24 or 25 skaters. I think this keeps the bubble a little tighter and/or allows for more staff to support the integrity of the bubble (trainers, etc).
The list of players opting out is a short one. Ian posted the list Sunday here. I'll take "who are players that teams didn't want playing anyway for 100, Alex".
The only player that stuck out is Mike Green, and he would have been given more ice time than he deserves, and it would hurt the Oilers more than it would help. Definitely not the player he once was. And the Habs have given Max Domi 7-10 days to decide if he wants to opt out. He has Type 1 diabetes and will take the extra time to determine the risks. It's wise to just see how things are in terms of testing and test results after a week. Especially given the fact that “multiple” Montreal players have tested positive for Covid-19.
We have two guest writers for the Ramblings coming up this week. It's always great to get a fresh perspective from smart minds, and these two writers have been very (very) popular with the readers whenever they pinch hit. Rick Roos will grab the Ramblings Tuesday (midnight Monday). Tom Collins will grab the Ramblings Thursday (midnight Wednesday). Cliffy is taking some much-deserved time off. That guy has been a workhorse. He's the Keith Yandle of fantasy writing.
Playoff Pools – Players to Watch – Western Conference
My picks for surprise players on each team will not include any obvious superstars. Only players who I feel will step up their production over the next two-plus months…
Arizona – Conor Garland
He won't be the top point-getter for the Coyotes, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was in the top three while at the same time leading them in goals (as he did during the season). I'm almost treating this as a new mini-season, given the break between games here. And Garland is the type of player who will make nice strides with each new campaign. He's a clutch player who steps up when they need it most (six game-winners this season), so the postseason is a chance to put an emphasis on that.
Calgary – Andrew Mangiapane
He saw increasing ice time quarter-by-quarter and increased production quarter-by-quarter, Mangiapane was riding a wave of 17 points in 26 games before the pause. He plays on a line with Matt Tkachuk, who you just know is going to be known as a huge playoff performer in his career.
Chicago – Adam Boqvist
With Erik Gustafsson gone to Calgary, Boqvist becomes the best PP option on the blue line for the Blackhawks. In the postseason, I look to the top PP QB as a potential playoff pool steal because they are often the rare player on the team who actually increases his points-per-game average from that of his regular season.
Colorado – Andre Burakovsky
Burakovsky had really come into his own when he ran into some injury troubles in late February. Clicking in a big way with Nazem Kadri, that chemistry was picking up some serious steam before his injuries. The 25-year-old had 20 points in 15 games at one point. The Avs have a legit threat on that second line and that one could be the one that shines if opponents are effective in shutting down Nathan MacKinnon.
Dallas – Denis Gurianov
It took the big forward a long time to find his mojo. Having been drafted high (12th overall in 2015), he was expected to be an NHLer by 2018. But Gurianov never did give any indication that he could be an NHL top-sixer, even at the AHL level. However, this year the team pushed him whether he was ready or not and the gamble has paid off. His ice time and PP time have been steadily increasing and he actually made it to the 20-goal mark in just 64 games. He had 14 points in his last 27, with 11 of them goals, so he's riding a wave of confidence.
Edmonton – Tyler Ennis
Part of me wanted to put Andreas Athanasiou here, but he has had a miserable season and wound up playing his way off of Connor McDavid's line. So did Ennis, but Ennis showed enough in other areas to at least maintain a grip in the top six. In the last game he played with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto
Minnesota – Matt Dumba
After missing half of last season due to injury, Dumba started 2019-20 slowly. This was expected. What wasn't expected was for 'slowly' to last for more than 50 games. However, he did show signs of life at the end when he posted 11 points in his last 22 games. Not great, but at least it was no longer horrible. With more than three months off, now everyone else is just as rusty as he is. And any lingering discomfort that Dumba may have experienced and didn't make known to us, is well rested and hopefully fixed up. He is a power-play stud, and I can see him returning to full form now.
Nashville – Viktor Arvidsson
After 34 goals in 58 games last year before getting injured, poolies had high hopes for Arvidsson entering his fifth year. After all, his magical fourth season was interrupted. Arvidsson started slowly, but as with Dumba (above), we kind of expected it. Except Arvidsson suffered an injury late in November, so we never got to see if he was just snakebitten, or if he was legitimately floundering. His injury was to the lower body, and those can sometimes nag long after you return to the ice. The time off rejuvenated Arvidsson and he's a player to watch.
St. Louis – Robert Thomas
The numbers say 42 points in 66 games, but the reality is that Thomas is as strong a producer as anyone on that team other than Vladimir Tarasenko. Thomas started out with just four points in 16 games, but picked up 38 in 50 after that (62-point pace).
Vancouver – Micheal Ferland
Ferland is reportedly healthy and he's on the training camp roster. Ferland plays a hardnosed playoff style. I'm also sure GM Jim Benning is wink-wink nudge-nudging Coach Travis Green to help him justify the contract that he gave Ferland.
Vegas – Shea Theodore
Another PP quarterback on the list here, Theodore was having a great season tracking for 53 points before it was cut short and he was held to 46. Still, I believe there is another gear yet – and playoff hockey is when we'll see it. He had 37 points in his last 49 games (62-point pace).
Winnipeg – Josh Morrissey
The top six scorers on the Jets are obvious picks and Bryan Little was left off the Phase 3 roster. So that left Josh Morrissey or Jack Roslovic. I like both of those players, but as a forward Roslovic is buried and will have a hard time climbing out of it during playoff hockey. Whereas Morrissey can easily take the PP QB job back. Yes, I do think Neil Pionk is the PP quarterback to start. Morrissey will get it back eventually (he will, he's the superior player). But will it happen in these playoffs? That's my only concern. It's not impossible to see Pionk getting snakebitten early on while Morrissey enjoys success on the second unit, which eventually moves him back up to the top unit.
See you next Monday. Be safe!
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