21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles

Mario Prata


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. Whether you like it or not, and whether they deserve it or not, both the Penguins and the Oilers will be in Monday’s draw for the first overall pick. Or to put it another way, arguably the NHL’s two biggest names in Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid won’t be competing in the 16-team playoffs. And one of these two may have a future star to play alongside next season! (aug8)


2. Okay, this is not how to watch hockey. On Friday, I turned off the Toronto-Columbus Game 4 after Boone Jenner scored to make the game 3-0 with under six minutes to play. (My son wanted to play a game, which I needed to give my full and undivided attention to because neither of us knew the rules… And yes, I thought the Leafs were fallen yet again.)

So, when I saw that Toronto won the game 4-3 in overtime, I seriously thought it was a typo! Give me a hard time if you want, Leafs fans. Yet I’d be willing to bet that most of you were ready to pack it in at that point, too. I had seen my fill of the “Leafs are too soft” analysis on social media by that point. Does that still hold true if the Leafs win Game 5 on Sunday (tonight)?

In case you missed it, William Nylander, John Tavares, and Zach Hyman all scored with under four minutes to play and Frederik Andersen on the bench, and then Auston Matthews scored 13:10 into overtime. I mentioned to a Leafs fan that I know that I felt his team deserved better after Game 3. I bet he’s still picking his jaw off the floor after this one. (aug8)


3. I should acknowledge Cam Talbot, who made some impressive saves and exceeded expectations overall in the Flames-Jets series. Talbot finished the series win with a 1.55 GAA and .944 SV%, including a shutout in Game 4. Talbot will unquestionably be the Flames starter in Game 1 of their next series. Once the playoffs end for the Flames, he’ll be in demand as a UFA goalie. And no, I’m not trying to earn brownie points from Dobber by saying that. (aug8)


4. Many hockey fans believe that the Predators have underachieved. Yet beyond possible Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi, this team did not have a 50-point scorer in its lineup this season. Combine that with defensive numbers going in the wrong direction, and this Nashville team probably shouldn’t have been considered a true Stanley Cup contender. (aug8)


5. The Islanders punched their ticket to the first round with a 5-1, Game 4 win over the Panthers on Friday. Anthony Beauvillier scored twice for the Islanders in that outing, giving him a point in every one of the four games in the series.

Beauvillier can be a streaky player, but he is clearly on a roll for the Islanders. Not only is he leading the team in playoff scoring (five points), but he is also leading it with 16 shots. If an increased shooting pace is a sign of things to come, then he should be able to break the 40-point barrier for the first time in his career in 2020-21. (aug8)


6. On Thursday, Jordan Kyrou took Vladimir Tarasenko‘s (undisclosed) spot on the top line on Thursday. Kyrou has shown tons of promise in the AHL but hasn’t been able to solidify a spot on this roster over the last couple years. He won’t stay in the top-6 when their playoffs actually start, but that St. Louis sees him in that role is certainly nice to see.

I didn’t really care about the game much, I wanted to watch Kyrou. He looked to be taking his defensive responsibilities seriously. He was covering for his defensemen, providing small-space outlets for his blue liners, and did not seem to be lax on the backcheck. Those are all the little things that the Blues coaching staff would, I assume, value.

He looked to have good chemistry with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz. I don’t want to say he looked great or anything, but his speed is obviously the key and he showed it. Combine that with showing the defensive awareness, and these are all positive signs. Maybe he can earn his way. (aug7)


7. Tyler Ennis had a resurgence of sorts over the last couple years and seemed to have found a home in Edmonton’s top-6. He’s a fun player to watch and we can only hope that he’s all-systems-go for when the 2020-21 regular season starts up. (aug7)


8. Before the play-ins started, I talked about how to treat young players for playoff pools and daily leagues. The premise was that players had what amounted to a full off-season between the regular season’s pause and the start of playoffs.

Not only that, but we’d only be about a month away from training camps opening up in a normal year, at which point we’d consider guys like Cale Makar/Brothers Quinn and Jack Hughes/Kaapo Kakko second-year players, Elias Pettersson and Anthony Cirelli as third-year players, and so on. I treated these playoffs as if they were the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

To that end, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Kirby Dach have been incredibly impressive, to my eyes. I point out those two because Kotkaniemi struggled in his second year in the NHL, eventually leading to a demotion to the AHL, while Dach was seeing his ice time decline as we approached the pause.

Clayton Keller has also looked like a different player. When I look at him, I see the upside of Kyle Connor. It’s a matter of getting him the supporting cast and his own development staying on an upward trajectory. We’ll see. I’ll be buying when draft season rolls around… well, whenever the next season is set to get underway.

I don’t want to draw sweeping conclusions based on a few games, but how these guys perform in these playoffs will weigh on me as we prepare for the next regular season. These aren’t the same players they were in February or March. (aug6)


9. Remember back to the 2019 NHL Draft. Chicago got lucky to move up to three and likely surprised a few people by taking Dach. Not that it was off the board – that was Moritz Seider – but there was Bowen Byram on the board, and the team obviously need(ed)s defensemen. But they went with Dach and it’s hard to say they made the wrong choice.

Hockey Reference has him listed a little under 200 lbs, but we’re going to need an update. The broadcast on Wednesday talked about Dach’s focus on getting bigger and stronger during the pause. Watching him play, he seems to have done just that. The guy is an absolute freight train and he doesn’t turn 20 years old until next year. Oh yeah, he also has good hands and vision. He also has very good awareness.

This isn’t a guy who is just happy being in the NHL as a rookie and is looking to earn ice time. He’s earned his ice time. At this point, he’s starting out on his journey to prove that he doesn’t just belong in the NHL, but that he’s an upper-echelon star in the making. With the way he’s looked in the postseason, it’s hard to argue that. (aug7)


10. Confirmed: Jesse Puljujarvi is heading back to Finland for next year. He has signed a one-year deal with Karpat of the Finnish Elite League. According to the press release, there is an out clause for the NHL, but who knows when the next NHL regular season will be. They’re hoping for December.

Pulju had 53 points in 56 games for Karpat this year, leading the first-place team in scoring. By all accounts, he’s really found his game and I fully expect him to be back in the NHL soon. Maybe it’s not the 2020-21 season, but hopefully the year after. (aug6)


11. For the Wild, Kevin Fiala is 100 percent legit. It’s as if all that speed and skill he's teased us with over the years has finally come together. He's dangerous on nearly every shift. The shot is terrific, but his vision and distribution skills are sublime. I can only imagine he and Kirill Kaprizov will make some sweet music together in Minny for a long while.

His range may be a touch wider than some, but I could easily see 70-plus coming next year if he can find instant chemistry with Kap. (aug5)


12. The Rangers were able to finally insert sensational rookie netminder, Igor Shesterkin into the lineup on Tuesday in hopes of staving off elimination at the hands of the Hurricanes. It was not meant to be, however.

The Canes were demonstrably better throughout this series. They took the final tilt in convincing fashion winning 4-1. The cool thing with this club is that they have a few star players, but the entire lineup comes together to form a fist. The top forward used was Vincent Trocheck who saw 18:10. The remaining 11 guys all saw at least 12 minutes.

Sebastian Aho collected two goals, an assist and five shots on goal. He’s so good at everything. I honestly believe he’ll be putting up 90+ seasons while racking up Selke votes in a hurry. He’s amazing. (aug5)


13. A friend who probably watched more of the Rangers-Hurricanes series than I did mentioned that Tony DeAngelo had an awful series. I know plus/minus isn’t the most valid stat when it comes to a player’s true ability, but DeAngelo’s minus-6 for the series (including a minus-4 in Game 3) justifies this. Word is that he was dealing with a hamstring injury, which was bound to happen to someone as these teams jumped straight into do-or-die games after a long layoff. (aug8)


14. On the bright side for the Rangers, Kaapo Kakko looked stronger on the puck and faster in his decision-making during the play-in. I wrote before the playoffs that I was considering rookies to be second-year players because of the timing of the games and the long layoff. If this is the Kakko that shows up for the 2020-21 season, he could start making good on his talent. Do not eschew him in next year’s drafts just because of a poor 2019-20. (aug4)


15. I've mentioned that Andrei Svechnikov is primed to enter elite territory next season. The easy thing to say is that Elias Pettersson will get there right along with him. But I actually think it’ll be Quinn Hughes. He has everything in place to push for the top point getting defender in the league as early as 2020-21. I’m taking 65 points on the projection sheet and not looking back. (aug5)


16. Say what you will about the save percentage, Freddie Andersen is a volume starter on a team that should continue to put up excellent regular seasons for some time. Give me Andersen as a top-five fantasy starter all day. (aug5)


17. With rumours of Florida liking letting Evgeni Dadonov and Mike Hoffman walk in free agency as the team continues to find ways to slash salary, I don’t love the prospect of this team doing anything but taking another step back.

That does not bode well for my prediction that Bob would find his sea legs on the east coast and return to form. It's not going to help Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau continue to reach for new heights either.

It does, however, open up two very juicy top-six roles for Owen Tippett and Grigori Denisenko to take runs at. Tippett was excellent as a rookie pro in the American league. His 40 points in 46 contests gave him a 0.87 points-per-game mark that was second-best among first-year players. Tippett is an exceptionally speedy winger who plays a gun-slinging style. The 6-1, 200-pounder was an elite finisher in the OHL and looks like he could be a serious threat to be a 30-goal man down the line. Put him on the right side beside Hubey and Barkov and that could come a lot sooner. (aug5)


18. A fascinating tweet that came across my timeline this week:

@ThomasDrance – Players missing from the #NHLJets lineup for Game 2 vs. Calgary compared with last playoff win (April 16, 2019 vs. STL):

Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Chiarot
Kevin Hayes
Patrik Laine
Bryan Little
Tyler Myers
Mark Scheifele
Brandon Tanev
Jacob Trouba

That is an absurd amount of talent. That’s at least three perennial all-stars, four defensemen from their top-6, and what would effectively be their top-3 centers. All in one year (yes, I know Hayes was a deadline trade). This is like watching the Florida Marlins in any season after they won a championship. (aug)


19. One thing I didn’t consider enough is the fact that guys in the play-ins have just had four-and-a-half months off. That’s a full offseason right there. So, the aging veterans who would go out there and have a red-hot October before cooling down and having the expected overall decline – well, this is their October! Eric Staal had a noticeable spring in his step. Phil Kessel is fully recharged. Zach Parise looked good. Duncan Keith, another example. Justin Williams, too. (aug3)


20. Blue Jackets' prospect Liam Foudy is going to be a high draft pick in my keeper league in the fall. But that would be to their detriment, as especially earlier in his career I don’t see big points. He may be one of those hugely valuable, speedy second- or third-liners who puts up 45 to 55 points, and early on he may be a 35-point player (as a rookie and later as a sophomore). (aug3)


21. In his playoff debut, Dominik Kubalik had scored two goals and added three assists before the second period had ended. He had even more chances to add to that total afterward in what was a dominant performance. Those who rolled the dice on him in playoff pools have already reaped a solid return.

I was curious if any player had ever recorded that many points in his first-ever playoff game, and in fact, Kubalik’s performance was one for the ages. From Sportsnet Stats: Dominik Kubalik sets record for most points by a rookie in his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. The record for most points by a rookie (in any playoff game) is 6 by Mikko Leinonen of the Rangers on April 8, 1982 vs Flyers. (aug2)


Have a good week, folks be safe!!

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