21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
Every Sunday, we’ll share 21 Fantasy Rambles from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week’s 'Daily Ramblings'.
Writers/Editors: Ian Gooding, Michael Clifford, Cam Robinson, and Dobber
1. It appears that St. Louis intends to use Vladimir Tarasenko on both power-play units, much like the Capitals do with Alex Ovechkin. How this impacts everyone else, well, we have a one-(exhibition)-game sample. Consult your favourite Magic 8-Ball.
Still with the Blues, those looking for Jordan Kyrou to be a deep sleeper in playoff pools might be disappointed, as the Blues decided to go with veteran Troy Brouwer over Kyrou in an exhibition game that they were allowed to dress 13 forwards for. (july30)
2. It was in a mean-nothing game, but Viktor Arvidsson keeper owners have to be encouraged by the fact that he scored both Predators’ goals during the club's exhibition game last Thursday. Arvidsson’s 0.49 PTS/GP over 57 games this season is his lowest since his 2015-16 rookie season. He will probably fall quite a bit in single-season drafts and could deliver some solid value on his average draft position. He might even deliver that same kind of value in playoff pools. (july31)
3. As a result of Tyler Seguin‘s absence during the Stars exhibition game last Thursday, Ty Dellandrea entered the lineup. Dellandrea, who played just under 10 minutes, has yet to play in a regular-season game. If he enters the lineup and makes a good impression, his chances of cracking the Stars’ roster next season improve. (july31)
4. With no Ilya Samsonov available, it will be sink or swim with Braden Holtby between the pipes. The Capitals have the big guns that can outscore any defensive deficiencies, and you know that Alex Ovechkin will be ready.
In case you’re wondering who will back up Holtby, Vitek Vanecek has earned the backup job over previous backup Pheonix Copley. Capitals coach Todd Reirden suggested that Vanecek could even see some playing time during the round-robin. (aug1)
5. Holtby did not have his best season (.897 SV% and 3.11 GAA), but he has the added motivation of being a UFA after the playoffs. I don’t think Holtby sticks around in Washington after the season because of the presence of Samsonov, so this could be considered an audition for teams in the market for a starting goalie. (july26)
7. I honestly don’t remember enough about Carolina’s season to say whether this is true or not, but the Washington broadcast kept talking about how good Jake Gardiner looked this week, compared to 5-6 months ago. Remember, he had serious back issues before the 2019-20 season and he was abysmal for the Hurricanes. He is not an abysmal player; he’s quite good, actually. If he can be the Jake Gardiner of a few years ago, rather than the Jake Gardiner of 2019-20, it would be a big boost to a Carolina roster that is missing a couple very important pieces. (july30)
8. The thing about watching Connor McDavid is that even in an exhibition game when he's giving about 80%, like this past week, he still looks head-and-shoulders above anyone else on the ice. Not to say that guys like Kailer Yamamoto and Leon Draisaitl looked bad – they didn’t, they looked great together, like Cavan Biggio and Vlad Guerrero Jr. on the Blue Jays’ right side of the infield – but even when he’s going easy, McDavid is better than everyone else. It’s just funny, to me, personally… (july30)
9. The Oilers are feeding Philip Broberg, their most-recent eighth overall selection, every opportunity to step in and be a player for them. However, I must say, this is a guy who saw sheltered, third-pairing minutes in the SHL during the year, and continues to make puzzling decisions on a regular basis.
I can't tell if the Oilers' blueline is just that bad, or if the team has an agenda to make sure he's rushed into a situation he's not ready for – a classic Edmonton move. Either way, I remain a doubter of his overall impact and on the fantasy spectrum in the short term. He could become a useful talent for the Oilers in a specific role. And potentially in multicat leagues. But I wouldn't be racing to grab him. (july29)
10. There was one player in particular that I was anxious to during the Maple Leafs exhibition games against Montreal this past week: Nick Robertson.
The 53rd overall selection from the 2019 draft had an all-world season in the OHL this past year. His 55 goals in 46 games led all CHL skaters, and that wasn’t all. His proclivity for finishing landed him amongst some historic types.
I’ve been steadfast in my belief in Robertson (whom I had sitting 23rd on my final board ahead of the draft) and in my belief that he has the goods to suit up for the Leafs this summer and next season in an impactful role. TO desperately needs cheap, effective talent and this kid is by far the best bet they have to do it.
Another Fun Fact: If Robertson was born 5 days later – instead of being born 12 weeks premature, he'd have been on pace to top Patrick Kane's mark of 62 goals – the most we've seen from a draft-eligible OHL player in 20 years Instead, Toronto stole him in the late 2nd round. (july29)
11. Still with the Leafs, Ilya Mikheyev is absolutely my darkhorse for a playoff breakout. Sure, he doesn’t see PP1 time, but he’s the type of player that is likely overlooked in drafts but plays with all-world talents and can stir the drink. Whether or not TO can even get into the true dance or not is still a big question. But if they find a way to go on a run, I expect Mikheylev to be a big reason why. (july29)
12. Sonny Milano signed up for two seasons with the Ducks at 1.7MM per this week. The 24-year-old was acquired for Devin Shore earlier in the year and was pretty darn good down the stretch. His five points in nine games while seeing under 14 minutes were strong. His seeing a bunch of ice next to Ryan Getzlaf was even better.
It hasn’t been an easy road for the former first-round pick, but he’s in a spot now where the club needs to give young, talented players opportunities to see if anyone has ‘it’. Getting the second year on the deal indicates the staff appreciated his production and could be in line for some more PP opportunities next season. (july29)
13. Call me crazy, but I think we see an even better Jake Guentzel next season. This despite him playing at a 40-goal, 80-point pace over the past 120 contests. He’s a top-10 goal scorer in the world playing next to Sidney Crosby. And now he’s entering into that prime 240-plus career game zone where true breakouts often follow. (july29)
14. I believe the Avalanche are positioned to be Stanley Cup contenders for years to come, maybe the entire decade. Colorado already has Cale Makar, who is up for the Calder Trophy and had a case for a Norris Trophy nomination. They also have Sam Girard and Ryan Graves, both of whom look to be at least second-pair guys moving forward. The coup de grâce here is Bowen Byram, the fourth overall pick from 2019. His future is uncertain, obviously, but if he develops into a top-pair guy – not even a true number-1 – then they have their top-4 defensemen set for the next several years. Let’s not forget about Connor Timmins, the second-round pick from 2017 who looks to be an NHL regular in the making; he just needs to stay healthy.
Oh, yeah, they also drafted Alex Newhook in 2019, a forward who ended the NCAA Rookie of the Year in 2020. He looks every bit the next top-6 center they’ll need when Nazem Kadri‘s contract runs out in a few years. If he proves himself ready before then, he’ll be a great third-line center on a deep team. (I do believe I read somewhere they may move him to the wing? Or did I imagine that? The last four months has ravaged my brain.) (july28)
15. There are going to be hard decisions to be made, though. Gabriel Landeskog, for example, has one year left and he’ll need a new contract for his age-29 season as a UFA. We know how power forwards tend to age, so they need to be wary of an albatross contract (think Jamie Benn). There’s also Nathan MacKinnon‘s monster deal, but that’ll be a few years down the road, and everyone that will need to be locked up by then, should be locked up.
All that said, they have no albatross contracts, depending how Erik Johnson ages. The cap is in great shape, they have many core pieces locked up for at least a couple more years, and they have a pipeline loaded with good, young talent. This is how good NHL teams are run.
If a few things break right for the Avs, like the development of Byram and Newhook, this team could be a true dynasty for the next decade, or the closest we can get to it in the cap era. It’s hard to levy such high expectations on a franchise, but if Colorado doesn’t add a couple Stanley Cups in the next 10 years, something will have gone horribly wrong. Given the way 2020 has gone so far, maybe I shouldn’t put that into the universe. (july28)
17. Not having great players was now-former Coyotes GM John Chayka’s problem. The drafting wasn’t great. Bad teams need superstars to get over the hump, and this team lacks superstars. That was probably the reason for the Taylor Hall trade (other than a playoff run), but it speaks to the larger issue.
They had to trade for a winger in his late 20s because they haven’t been able to draft and develop a star forward. Not yet, anyway, and let alone three or four of them like Toronto, Colorado, or Tampa Bay. Teams can’t rely on a roster of middle-of-the-roster players to be a perennial contender.
There are very good pieces in Arizona, they just need to re-tool the forward group. The problem is the hardest thing to get is a superstar, and they need more than one of them. This team has the pieces in place to be good for a while, perhaps. Maybe a team like Minnesota has been for the last decade. They just haven’t been able to put the pieces together to be more than that just yet. (july28)
18. Be sure to check out my Top-13 backup goalies to own in keeper leagues because they have a genuine shot at becoming starters very soon.
It should be noted that I consider the following goalies as the starter already, even though you may not: Elvis Merzlikins, Petr Mrazek, David Rittich, M-A Fleury (some might say Robin Lehner is, or they can’t figure out the weird situation, but Fleury is the guy for now), Matt Murray, Pekka Rinne, Philip Grubauer, Darcy Kuemper, Devan Dubnyk, Jonathan Quick, Mikko Koskinen, Corey Crawford, Semyon Varlamov and Linus Ullmark.
One final note is about the New York Rangers: All three goalies I will consider backups for now, so all three are eligible for the below Top 10 list. Just below are the top 3 and the rest of the list is here… (july27)
19. Igor Shesterkin: By now you’re all familiar with my feelings on this guy as a fantasy hockey goalie. Unless injuries derail him, I think he’ll be the No.1 keeper league goalie very soon (and to be honest, he’s already there on my personal list). Not officially the Rangers’ starter, I think we’ll all agree that he is by the start of next season, if not sooner. As in – these playoffs.
Ilya Sorokin: He’s never played an NHL game, but he’s all but certain to be the Islanders’ backup next season. And with Semyon Varlamov so injury prone, I think Sorokin will get in 35 or even 40 games (and have better numbers). And for the final year of his contract, Varlamov will be the backup in 2021-22 behind Sorokin.
20. Aleksi Saarela has been with several organizations since being drafted by the Rangers in 2015. He didn't play in the Panthers' first game against the Islanders but earned a spot on the playoffs roster with a solid camp. This season with the Panthers, he recorded four points (2g-2a) in nine games, with the two assists coming in the team's last game of the season. He scored 31 points (12g-19a) in 43 games on the top line of the Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds. For more on Saarela, see his Dobber Prospects profile. (july26)
21. The Canucks signed Micheal Ferland last summer to be the kind of physical presence that they needed, but he’s been held to only 14 games due to concussion issues. I sincerely hope Ferland isn’t being rushed back into the lineup here, although I’d like to see him do his thing in a Canucks uniform. (july26)
And, before the play-in round began, I focused on keys to each series while identifying a player or two that would matter. In other words, a quick overview of what a team would need to do in order to win a series. Follow the link here for my thoughts… (july26)
Have a good week, folks – be safe!!
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