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. I think the hierarchy for young defenders in fantasy hockey has shifted a tad. I see them as:
To be fair though, Dahlin is the youngest of the bunch and pacing to be the most prolific. It's just he's stuck in Buffalo. But don't fall asleep on him. He just put up a 56-point pace as a 19-year-old. When Makar and Hughes were 19 they were playing college hockey.
All five of these backs have the ability to put up gaudy point totals. The first four own all the juicy power-play time they can handle. The top two are in elite positions. Capable of flirting with point-per-game numbers. Chabot and Dahlin are hoping more talent is coming soon to help them out.
Heiskanen is in the worst place and as such, is at the bottom of the pile. Get him on the top PP and away from all that PK time and we're cooking with fire. (aug18)
2. With two assists in the Canucks' series-clinching win over the Blues, Elias Pettersson was tied with Nathan MacKinnon for the lead in playoff scoring with 13 points heading into Round 2 action. The Blues usually don’t give players like Pettersson much room to work, but he recorded four multiple-point games in that series and finished with nine points.
Also, if you’re measuring quality starts, Jacob Markstrom has failed to record one just once in 10 postseason starts. His UFA stock continues to rise, and will rise even further if the Canucks can make a really deep run. The best description I’ve heard of Markstrom’s contract situation: The best fit might be Vancouver, but the best money might be elsewhere. (aug22)
3. Ryan O’Reilly is tremendous at a lot of things when he’s on the ice, whether it be faceoffs, puck battles, playmaking, or scoring. Yet multicategory fantasy owners may look at his regular-season totals (12 goals, 118 shots, and very low hits and penalty minutes) as being disappointing. If he hasn’t already, O’Reilly appears to be morphing into a Jonathan Toews or early Patrice Bergeron type of player. What I mean is a top-notch two-way player with the Selke Trophy to back it up, but stronger in real life than in fantasy. That could result in O’Reilly being a bit overvalued on fantasy draft day. (aug21)
4. Denis Gurianov's four goals in the series clincher against the Flames is a new Stars franchise record for a playoff game, including its time as the Minnesota North Stars. He is also only the second rookie to score four goals in a playoff game. Or, to put it another way, only four players in NHL history have ever scored five goals in a playoff game.
During the second intermission, HNIC's Cassie Campbell pointed out that Blake Comeau and Andrew Cogliano are the only regular Stars forwards that have averaged less ice time than Gurianov during the playoffs. Don’t forget that Gurianov is the only Stars player to have scored 20 goals this season, so let’s just say the scoring-deprived Stars could do worse than to give the 6-3 Russian additional ice time. (aug21)
5. I was impressed with Oliver Bjorkstrand in the playoffs. I wrote back early in the Maple Leafs series that he was basically invisible (he was pushed down to the fourth line, after all). But after Game 2 against Toronto, he really started to look like the guy who was well on pace for 30 goals this year, before injury and the pause. It’ll be interesting to see what the team does in the off-season but at the least, they have their top two right-wing slots filled. That’s something, at least. (aug20)
6. Even though the Flyers will be moving on, they have had their fill of Nick Suzuki. The rookie center scored both Canadiens goals in Game 6, which gives him multiple points in back-to-back games. Suzuki also led the Habs with six shots in that game. He finished the playoffs with seven points in 10 games – one of my better playoff pool performers in spite of his late-round pick. Seeing him improve as he has been gaining more NHL experience, there’s real potential for him to grow on his 41-point rookie season. (aug22)
7. The Habs have a couple of very good young pieces in Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, they have Brendan Gallagher, and they have a couple of good contracts on the blue line, but they need an offensive overhaul. Tomas Tatar will be gone in a year (if he’s not traded in the offseason), Artturi Lehkonen and Paul Byron are bottom-6 options, Jonathan Drouin looks like he hasn’t taken a step forward in three years, and Max Domi‘s future with the team is not a certainty yet. They need scoring on the wing, and they need it sooner rather than later. GM Marc Bergevin going out and signing a bevy of fourth liners isn’t going to cut it. (aug19)
8. For Tampa, I really do hope Steven Stamkos is healthy and ready for the next round. Years back, he was injured for the playoffs and last year it was Victor Hedman. It just seems this team is never completely healthy whenever playoffs roll around. Being able to slide him on the second line with Anthony Cirelli would do wonders for that Lightning lineup. (aug20)
9. Brayden Point saw his pace fall from 95 to 80 points this past season. That drop came almost exclusively via a dip in secondary assists. In 2018-19, he had 23 A2s in 79 games. This year in 66 contests he had just 12. On the flip side, he matched his 27 primary assists in 13 fewer games.
Secondary helpers are the most volatile stat to replicate year-over-year. Primary assist rates trending upwards are another story altogether. Playing alongside Nikita Kucherov should help keep him A1's up. If he can ride a little luck on the secondary wave, I don't see a reason he can't get back into the 90-point realm next season. He's one of the quietest elite assets out there. (aug18)
10. Andrei Svechnikov's injury last week was ugly. And they won’t say how bad it is or even what it is, but you remember these in history (reminds me a little of Alex Mogilny years ago) this could potentially be months – which would cut into next season… (aug17)
11. In a move that caught me a bit off guard but probably shouldn’t have, the Blues elected to start Jake Allen on last Sunday. Allen seems to thrive once becoming the full-time backup. His numbers were far superior to Jordan Binnington‘s in the regular season.
“Winnington” had backup-type numbers in his first season as the full-time starter. And that’s what was projected of him all along as a prospect. We were scratching our heads last summer about how he was suddenly such a star NHL goalie when in fact his NHL future was in doubt just a few months earlier. Maybe he really is just a backup? Winless (0-5) in the postseason with a 4.72 GAA and 0.851 SV% (I didn’t know he was doing quite so poorly), Binnington gave way to Allen. And, with absolutely no pressure on him now that he’s a backup, Allen is actually showing what we thought we’d see three years ago.
Next year is going to be very interesting for the Blues. I’d hate to be a prognosticator who has to predict how that will fall out. Oh wait! Shit… (aug17)
12. Nicolas Roy is being given tons of PK time by Vegas. Not much for PP time, so I’m a little worried that he’ll get pigeonholed, but he’s been getting more and more PK time. That’s good in the sense that he’s earned the trust of his coach. As a fantasy owner, I just don’t want him getting pigeonholed. One way to beat that is to put up numbers – and so far he’s been doing just that. Nothing in the last four games, but points in each of his first four. He had three points in his last six regular season games.
Interestingly enough, he got his first (and only) full minute of PP time in the last regular season game that he played (March 9). The only time all year, in his entire career, that he saw a full minute of PP time… and he scored on that power play. I’m liking this youngster more and more. (aug17)
13. We should place the Golden Knights on the shortlist of teams that can win the Stanley Cup. If there was any worry about round-robin teams not being ready for teams playing must-wins in the play-in round, Vegas simply does not fall into that category. Having said that, they will be facing tougher tests than Chicago. Those should be entertaining matches to watch. (aug16)
14. Sam Bennett is becoming a playoff wonder and earning his paycheck in the postseason. Claude Lemieux, anyone? For a guy who had his career high five years ago as a rookie with 36 points, and hasn’t touched 30 since, he’s really bringing his game in the clutch. Last year, he had five points in five playoff contests and this year, he put up eight points in 10 outings. That was good for first on the Flames, tied with Sean Monahan. What’s more is that he led the NHL in Hits with 54 after the first round. That’s a huge – huge – lead over second-place Nick Foligno, with 39. We’ll have to keep this in mind for next year’s playoff pool… (aug17)
15. While he has been in Calgary, Erik Gustafsson took over the first-unit power play from Mark Giordano. In a combined 17 regular-season and playoff games with the Flames, Gustafsson recorded two power-play points. The power play wasn’t necessarily the Flames’ undoing, as they finished the postseason with a 28% power-play success rate (currently third in the NHL). So even if the power-play production isn’t there, the power play seems to work with Gustafsson there. Based on a drop in production from a breakout 2018-19, he may not be that expensive for the Flames to re-sign. (aug22)
16. Tobias Rieder had three shorthanded goals in the postseason. The 27-year-old Rieder, who was pretty much left for dead by the Oilers after being called out by their CEO for underperforming, is doing what he can to earn that next contract. (aug17)
17. Scott Laughton is another youngster having a great playoff with five points. He didn’t do it in prior years the way Sam Bennett (last year) and/or Tom Wilson did, but I think of him the same way in terms of that checking-line guy who could do a little more if he could ever move higher up the lineup. He’s cashing in without any PP time and he’s coming off his most productive year yet as he was on his way to 45 points (pace over 82 games).
18. Anthony Beauvillier is finally doing what we thought he could do in the NHL – put up big points. Nine points in nine playoff games so far, on the heels of a season in which he was on pace for 47, which would have easily been his best to date. I can see big things from him next year. This kind of production is making its mark on Barry Trotz. He’s going to be an even bigger part of the offense in 2020-21.
19. Braden Holtby, who will be a UFA this summer. He’ll be 31 next month and with a Cup under his belt, three 40-win seasons and five 30-win seasons under his belt, my guess is that he’ll get the biggest contract of the UFA goalies. Probably six years, probably $8M AAV or thereabouts – and that’s with me discounting $2M AAV due to the salary cap freeze and pandemic impact. But between him, Cam Talbot, Jacob Markstrom and Robin Lehner – my pick is for Holtby to be the guy who disappoints the most. I almost feel sorry for the poor GM who signs him, but you reap what you sow. (aug17)
20. As for Chicago, can we say that they've actually exceeded expectations in this postseason,? This was a team that wouldn’t have made the playoffs had the NHL season been able to finish as normal. Yet the Hawks took out Edmonton, even though they were a clear underdog. There’s enough young talent in Chicago (Dominik Kubalik, Kirby Dach, Alex DeBrincat, Adam Boqvist) that they might not bottom out completely like many other teams that reach the top of the mountain. (aug16)
21. If Arizona can take anything away from this postseason, it’s that Clayton Keller finally looked like the guy they hope he can be. He scored the team’s only goal in this game, had two in the series, and had seven points in nine games in the postseason. He looked confident with the puck and was more noticeable than Taylor Hall most of the time. That’s a very good sign for Arizona, as he should only keep improving. (aug20)
Elsewhere for the Coyotes, I’m not surprised that Darcy Kuemper stood on his head at times playoffs. Earlier this season he looked like he was on his way to a Vezina Trophy nomination before an injury just before Christmas sidelined him for two months. (aug16)
Have a good week, folks – be safe!!
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