Ramblings: The Thatcher Demko Show, Flyers Keep Flying, Theodore, & Turcotte (Sept 2)

Cam Robinson

2020-09-02

The Islanders and Flyers got things rolling on Tuesday with their Game 5 matchup. Philly was on the brink but gave up the first tally of the game in a scramble early in the second frame. Mat Barzal banged it home.

With the way the Isles clog things up, that wasn't a fortuitous bounce, but the Flyers went out and scored the next three only to see that lead disappear later in the final frame. That set us up for an elimination game overtime. Or as I like to call it, what dreams are made of.

It was Scott Laughton who played hero. Claude Giroux made a nice play behind the net in the offensive end, a dish to Ivan Provorov and the expert tip by Laughton and we’re off to Game 6.

 

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Josh Bailey had two more assists in this one to give him 13 helpers and 15 points in 14 playoff games. He’s been a horse for the Islanders throughout the summer. We’ve seen him run hot for stretches before, but this time is exceptionally opportune.

 

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The Canucks and Golden Knights wound up for their Game 5 as well on Tuesday. The big news of the day was that Jacob Markstrom was deemed unfit to play thanks to a lower-body injury. That meant that 24-year-old, Thatcher Demko would see his first career playoff start and the first start in six months.

Not exactly ideal circumstances for a Vancouver team on the ropes.

Vegas was all over Vancouver through the first 30 minutes – testing Demko at every opportunity. But the youngster held his ground. That is until Shea Theodore broke through just after a power-play expired. Theodore has been a monster for Vegas. It was his fifth goal of the post-season and extended his point streak to seven games and 10 points.

This cat is ready to explode in fantasy next season. Three straight seasons of improved goal, point, and shot totals. And now this magnificent playoff run. The recently-turned 25-year-old offers significant value despite Vegas often splitting up their power-play units.

Get him early.

Back to the game, it took just 24 seconds for Brock Boeser to tie things up and boy did he and the Canucks need that one. I, of course, predicted it. Just 24 hours early is all.

Three minutes into the final frame and Elias Pettersson did was he does best: put points on the board. Boeser with a nice cut to the middle of the ice, received the pass and fired a shot on goal. Petey got a piece of it with the deflection and we had just the third lead change of the entire series.

It was all the Canucks needed as Demko was an animal stopping 43 shots and grabbing the victory.

 

J.T. Miller grabbed another two helpers to give him five in the last two and 16 overall. The pick used to acquire the 26-year-old will be at best 20th overall. That deal looked like a bit of an overpayment at the time, but it looks like found money now.

He still has three years at 5.25M too.

 

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Demko has always had the unflappable demeanour that I look for when scouting goaltenders. He plays the game like he doesn’t have a pulse. And it sure showed up on Tuesday.

And now do we have a brand new goalie controversy in Vancouver? Probably not in the moment, but with word that contract negotiations have been tough between Markstrom and Canucks and Demko showing he can handle high tensions, it does open up some further discussion.

Whatever the decision, both of these netminder’s fantasy value will be affected.

 

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I had a question posed to me the other day that I thought may warrant a bit of ink. The initial question was centred around the Kings' most recent first-round selection, Alex Turcotte and his road towards the middle of the ice in LA. 

Let's take a wide-lens view of Kings' prospect pool to begin. Firstly, the organization is chalked full of high-end talent – especially down the middle. 2019 fourth-overall selection, Turcotte is buoyed by Gabriel Vilardi, Tyler Madden, Akil Thomas, Jaret Anderson-Dolan… the list goes on and on.

Oh, and they're also the odds on favourite to select hulking centre, Quinton Byfield with the second-overall pick this fall. 

So where do all of these players land in the pecking order? 

First things first, I think we can confidently slide Madden over to the wing. I felt that was his most likely destination while apart of the Canucks pipeline and continue to feel that way now. It certainly doesn't hurt that the Kings have a clear weakness on wings.

Thomas is likely best served in an energy role. You could perhaps say the same for JAD although he could surprise us in that regard. He could also be a candidate to slide over. 

As for Vilardi, the Kings have been patient with the 11th overall selection from 2017 as he's navigated a bevy of injuries – almost exclusively involving his back. That patience has been rewarded as the recently-turned 21-year-old suited up for 42 games this past season split between the AHL and NHL. That number is the most since his draft plus-one season in 2017-18.

He basically missed a full year of development at a crucial time. 

However, his health and production were inspiring. I think he has the qualities of a player capable of being a useful second-line centre – perhaps even as soon as next season behind Anze Kopitar as the Kings attempt to start the climb out of the basement.

As for Turcotte, the 19-year-old turned pro after what some might call an underwhelming freshman season as the University of Wisconsin. But to be fair, the entire team underwhelmed because the hype was massive. That said, Turcotte concluded 2019-20 with 26 points in 29 NCAA contests. His 0.90 points-per-game were fourth-best for true freshman skaters.

In my opinion, Turcotte has the highest pure potential of any of the prospects in the Kings' system. But that will all change if LA drafts Byfield. If they do, you're looking at Vilardi having a leg up for the short term due to his age and experience. Byfield having the long term edge due to his upside.

So short term, Vilardi is a decent option while diminishing Turcotte's short term value. Long term Turcotte's fantasy upside is diminished by Byfield likely coming aboard and pushing him into a more 2C role. Where that leaves Vilardi is anyone's guess. 

This was a long-winded way of saying that I really love Turcotte as a prospect and think he could be a star. However, circumstance may lead him to be utilized in more of Bo Horvat type of role at even-strength while still finding his way onto the top power-play unit.

 

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I love Brayden Point

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@Hockey_Robinson

 

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency BOS Players
19.9% ANDERS BJORK CHARLIE COYLE JACK STUDNICKA
15.1% JAKE DEBRUSK DAVID KREJCI DAVID PASTRNAK
12.3% KARSON KUHLMAN PAR LINDHOLM JOAKIM NORDSTROM

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