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 had assumed that the Blues had viewed Alex Pietrangelo as a true foundational piece, so I’m surprised that it’s gotten to this point. As reported, contract talks between the Blues and Pietrangelo have broken off to the point that the Blues have told their star defenseman to pursue free agency.
According to Blues' beat writer, Jeremy Rutherford: The Blues' current offer is $7.7 million AAV, but Pietrangelo has been asked to accept the AAV without knowing the structure of the deal.
The Blues were probably confident that they could re-sign Pietrangelo when they traded for and signed Justin Faulk to his seven-year, $6.5 million AAV extension that kicks in next season. However, don’t forget about Brayden Schenn‘s eight-year, $6.5 million AAV extension also possibly getting in the way. The Blues aren’t helping their chances by not being completely transparent about their offer, either.
The chances of Pietrangelo returning to the Blues are still higher than zero, since anything can happen between now and October 9. However, Pietrangelo keeper owners will now ponder what his role and fantasy value will be like as a Maple Leaf… or a Golden Knight… or any other team that has the need for a defenseman (who doesn’t?) along with the necessary cap space. (sep19)
2. So, is this just a playoff surge or does Miro Heiskanen actually have Erik Karlsson-like potential? He’s progressing nicely and – up until this playoff ‘pop’ – his progress was steady. He seemed on track to produce above 60 points by the time he hit his mid-20s (and by then John Klingberg would be gone).
Klingberg has two more years left on his contract and he’s actually hit 67 points before (just two years ago). So, how do you sit proven production like that in favor of a hotshot youngster who looks to have potential to exceed that? I mean, Klingberg’s playoff numbers pro-rate to more than 60 points over an 82-game season! I’m going to ramp up my expectations of Heiskanen (of course), but I’m still going to make his year-over-year projection move gradually. One thing I’m wary of is that his secondary assist percentage has jumped in the playoffs.
Heiskanen’s pace this season was to finish with 42 points. I would have had him hitting 50 next year anyway, so I would probably bump that to 53 or 55 when I end up doing my full analysis and plug everything into my formula. The following year, probably something more of the same. And whenever Klingberg moves on to another team, I think at that point Heiskanen takes a run at 70. (sep14)
3. With every win, Anton Khudobin‘s value on the free agent market is increasing. The 34-year-old goalie won’t net the same price tag as Jacob Markstrom or Robin Lehner because he’s never been “the guy” anywhere up to this point.
However, numerous teams will be looking to improve their goaltending situation without breaking the bank. These aren’t teams that will have the same level of defensive structure that the Stars have, so his fantasy value won’t necessarily increase with more starts somewhere else. Just something to look out for if he decides to move on from Dallas.
As for the present, Khudobin is looking pretty darned good. You could definitely add his name to the list of players whose value has increased during the postseason. (sep13)
4. You’d normally think that if the Dallas Stars made it to the Stanley Cup Final, then Tyler Seguin would be having an unbelievable postseason. Well, that’s not exactly the case. After being the only Star to reach the 40-point mark during the regular season (he hit 50 points), Seguin enters the Stanley Cup Final as the Stars’ eighth-leading scorer with just eight points in 20 games. In addition, Seguin has just two goals all postseason and only one point over his last nine games. What a waste if he’s in your playoff pool. As long as Dallas keeps winning and getting scoring from other players, there won’t be many “what’s wrong with Seguin?” articles written.
If you’re a Seguin keeper owner and not all that concerned, keep in mind that he was at or near a point-per-game scorer for a half-dozen seasons before 2019-20. Then as the Stars transitioned from an offense-first team to a defensive juggernaut, Seguin fell to 0.72 PTS/GP during the 2019-20 regular season. On a points-per-game basis, that placed Seguin among the likes of Sam Reinhart and Alex Killorn – not the names that you normally draft near Seguin. This is a player whose fantasy value is falling fast, although he’s still only 28 years of age and has plenty of time to rebound.
5. Just as they have every round starting with the play-in tournament, the Dobber writers have made their Stanley Cup Final picks. Not just the winner and the number of games, but also predictions on the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
My own pick (which I swear other writers did not ask me about before making their own) was the Lightning in 6 games with Victor Hedman winning the Conn Smythe. My rationale is simple: Tampa Bay is the more talented team, at least on paper. They possess better high-end scoring and a defense that is strong enough.
I’ll admit that I haven’t picked Dallas in any playoff round, but they’ve proven me wrong three times. At least two other writers have admitted to doing the same, so I know I’m not the only one. Having picked the Lightning, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Stars win simply based on the war of attrition. Brayden Point is clearly hobbled, and we don’t know if Steven Stamkos can return at all. The only significant Stars injury is Ben Bishop, and we know that they haven’t skipped a beat with Anton Khudobin to replace him. (sep19)
Even with Ilya Sorokin expected to burst onto the scene next season, don’t undervalue Varlamov in next season’s drafts. “Timeshare” isn’t quite as bad a word when it’s within a Barry Trotz-system, especially when those starts are alternated.
Also keep in mind that more teams will likely use some form of two-goalie system next season to prevent goalies from being worn down.
7. On Brock Nelson : As a bigger player at 6-3, 212 pounds, I understand that he can take an extra year or two to get acclimated to the NHL. He barely fits our “big player” profile, which is 6-3 and/or 215 pounds or bigger. He hit his Breakout Threshold a couple of weeks into 2018-19 and he certainly saw his points per game jump (beating his career high of 0.56 points-per-game by .09 to 0.65). But I would argue his real jump has come ‘this’ season. He was on pace for 65 and his points-per-game average was 0.79. In the playoffs he took it a tad further to 0.82. So, at the age of 28, Nelson is still on the rise. Don’t underrate. (sep14)
8. As you might already be aware, the Top 100 Roto Rankings for September were published earlier this week. They’re single-season rankings designed for those who play in multicategory leagues. If that doesn’t quite describe the type of league you play in, or you’re looking for something more specific, then go to the overall Hockey Rankings page for overall keeper league rankings, rankings by position, prospect rankings, and even salary cap league rankings. (sep19)
9. News from the desert is that the team is actively trying to move OEL. From a fantasy lens, it would be beneficial for a quality team to trade for and subsequently deploy Ekman-Larsson as a top PP option. But the odds of that happening aren't very high. How many good teams are lacking a top unit defender? Let's be generous and say the number is four.
The Jets could afford OEL and have a spot for him on the top unit. That's one plausible spot. Calgary could use an immediate heir to Mark Giordano and in theory have space. That's a lot of LHD though.
Edmonton can't afford his cap hit and are banking heavily that one of Philip Broberg or Evan Bouchard can be that guy. The Islanders have Pulock now and Noah Dobson waiting to usurp at a fraction of the cost.
So, if Winnipeg or Calgary trades for him, perhaps his value goes up in fantasy. Otherwise, I continue to stay away. (sep16)
10. In other Coyotes news, they signed goaltender, Adin Hill to a one-year, one-way deal for 800K ahead of the 2020-21 season. The 24-year-old has proven a very capable #3 for AZ. This gives the team three goaltenders on the books for next season, but just Darcy Kuemper for 2021-22. The team will need to figure that out ahead of the Seattle expansion draft. (sep16)
I'm going to go more in-depth in my next Ramblings but on the surface, this makes little sense to me. Of all areas the Wild are weakest, centre is glaring, and they just traded their top-line centre for a third-line winger. This puts a lot of pressure on guys like Joel Eriksson Ek and Nick Bjugstad to not only step up but thrive in roles they're not accustomed nor have proven themselves capable of. This is a team that has Kevin Fiala, Zach Parise, Mats Zuccarello, and now Kirill Kaprizov as hopefully top-6 wingers. There are useful bottom-6 wingers like Ryan Donato, Ryan Hartman, Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno that are up to that task as well. They have a blue line that is pretty stocked, too.
What they need is help at centre and help in goal. MJ90 can be moved to centre but that was a train wreck in Buffalo and he's largely been a winger for eight years. Someone explain this to me like I'm five. (sep17)
12. The Wild also signed Jonas Brodin to a seven-year deal worth 6M per season on Tuesday. The 27-year-old is an elite shot-suppressing defender. I’m not just talking about ‘pretty good’ or ‘hey, that’s not bad’. I’m talking about the cream-of-the-crop good. (see Evolving Hockey's RAPM here)
The left-shot defender won’t bring a ton to the table offensively, or in fantasy circles. However, he is coming off a career-best 33-point pace. He’s usually good for 50 or 60 hits and 130 or so blocks. Not bad for the multicat depth piece.
In real-life, his brand of defensive play may lead to further injuries and a slowing of the body. Fortunately, he can skate like the wind, so he should have a bit of a leg up. The contract will probably be too rich in a few years, but you’ve got to pay to play. (sep16)
13. Elsewhere, the Wild made it official – Mikko Koivu won’t return next season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another team sign the 37-year-old as a depth piece. He’s been with the Wild for so long, it will be hard to imagine him in any other team’s uniform. Not long after he retires, you’ll probably forget that he played for Team X that signs him this offseason. (sep19)
14. I’m intrigued to see what happens with Nick Bjugstad now that he’s in Minnesota. It seems he’s been around for a while but due to injuries and not getting to the NHL full-time until he was 21, Bjugstad only has five full-ish seasons to his name. In those five seasons, there is a 24-goal campaign, a 30-assist campaign, a pair of 200-shot campaigns, and a trio of 100-hit campaigns. Throw a pinch of each of those seasons in a pot, add thyme, let it reduce for two hours, and we might have a pretty useful multi-cat fantasy hockey player here.
I think there’s a pretty wide range of outcomes for Bjugstad in Minnesota. They have Kevin Fiala, Kirill Kaprizov is on the way, Zach Parise and Mats Zuccarello are still second-liners, and Joel Eriksson Ek had a breakout year, so Bjugstad could be in a fight for a top-6 role. He may get there in spurts, or because of injury, but it’s hard to see him having a full-time top-6 role with PP minutes.
It’s a question of usage. If Bjugstad is on the third line and second PP unit, he could be 15 goals, 35 points, 160 shots, and 80 hits. If he’s second line with top PP minutes, he could be 25 goals, 50 points, 200 shots, and 100 hits. To me, he seems like a player to grab off waiver wires (in non-deep leagues) rather than a guy to draft as a third RW or something. Of course, if he ends up as Minnesota’s 3C and he has RW eligibility, that could still play well in leagues counting faceoff wins. There’s still more to unpack here. (sep15)
15. In case you were wondering if Jared McCann would fit into Pittsburgh’s future plans, the Penguins signed him to a two-year, $2.94 AAV contract on Friday. McCann had his best NHL season in 2019-20, scoring 35 points (14g-21a) in 66 games. McCann’s fantasy value will be stronger if he can be used on the wing on the top 6, but he’s more likely to slot in as a third-line center again. His line combination history shows that he’s been used all over the Penguins’ lineup, which makes his projections that more difficult to determine and not necessarily steady throughout the season. (sep19)
16. A big thank you to Eric Daoust, who has done it again. He has added another great feature to Frozen Tools. This time he created a box score page customized for fantasy. This will be great for daily fantasy sports (DFS) players. You can access these a number of ways, but my preferred method is via the player profiles – just go to their game log and click the link on the date of that game. (sep14)
17. Add notable prospects Dominik Bokk (CAR), Martin Kaut (COL), Oskar Steen (BOS), Adam Huska (NYR), Jakub Zboril (BOS), Alexandre Texier and Emil Bemstrom (CBJ), Pius Suter (CHI), Gaetan Haas (EDM), Evan Bouchard (!) (EDM) and Libor Hajek (NYR) to the list I posted last week of prospects on loan in European leagues. I took the liberty of updating that list in case you want a tracker of sorts…
Edmonton was going all in last week with that list, and now they added a couple of big names since that time. At this point they lead all NHL teams in European loans. (sep14)
18. Carter Hart shouldn’t be blamed for the Flyers’ exit in the second round. That has more to do with the team’s inability to score (2.38 GF/GP during the postseason), particularly on the power play (7.7 PP%). Hart’s postseason 2.23 GAA, .926 SV%, and +6.68 goals saved above expectation were even stronger than his regular-season numbers, all of which is par for the course for the upward trajectory of the 22-year-old goalie.
Hart is ranked #6 on Dobber’s most recent Top 100 Keeper Goalies, a ranking that increased two spots since July. You would have been able to draft him somewhere in the 70-80 range in 2019-20 drafts, but you’ll need a higher pick than that come 2020-21 draft season. (sep13)
19. One quote I found interesting from Flyers coach Alain Vigneault at the end of their playoff run was that he found Travis Konecny to be pressing and that led to some low-percentage plays. I found something similar, where Konecny’s shot rates had increased in the playoffs but his individual expected goals (a proxy for shot quality) had declined.
That’s one of the missing pieces we need to the Konecny Postseason Puzzle. If Konecny were putting added responsibility on his shoulders to bear the burden of playoff scoring, it would stand to reason he would be forcing shots, as evidenced by his shot quantity/quality rates.
I have no concerns about Konecny’s future fantasy value. He’s going to produce, and he’s going to be a multi-cat performer. It’s a matter of whether he’s a top-25 player in 2-3 years, a top-50 player, or a top-100 player. We’ll see. (sep15)
20. François Gagnon of RDS was reporting that a contract for Joel Edmundson from the Habs was imminent, and that it was expected to be in the 3-5 year range around $4M a season. That did come through, as he signed for four years at $3.5M per season with a 10-team no-trade clause. A few notes:
- In the four seasons leading up to Bergevin signing Karl Alzner in 2017, per Evolving Hockey, Alzner was worth one win roughly every 2000 minutes of ice time. That’s basically third-pair status and, unsurprisingly, Alzner has spent most of his Montreal tenure in the AHL.
- In the four seasons leading up to Bergevin signing Ben Chiarot in 2019, per Evolving Hockey, Chiarot was worth one win roughly every 4000 minutes of ice time. That’s close to non-NHL level. Unsurprisingly, he was a negative-win player in 2019-20, and the pairing of Weber-Chiarot wasn’t very good in the postseason, coming in at 48.1 percent expected goal share and 42.4 actual goal share. (With that pair off the ice, the Habs had a 57 percent expected goal share and 55.8 percent actual goal share. Shutdown pairs only work if they’re good.)
- Over the last four seasons, per Evolving Hockey, Edmundson has been worth negative 1.7 wins, making him worse than either Alzner or Chiarot at the point where he’s signed. Is that good?
They'll have nearly $12M in cap space tied up between Alzner/Chiarot/Edmundson (before Alzner’s eventual demotion and whatever savings that entails). That’s three defencemen taking up roughly 15 percent of cap space and there may not be an NHL-calibre blue liner in there. Chiarot may be fine as a 6/7 guy.
Anyway, I’m real interested to see how this works out for the Habs. My guess: poorly. I'll happily correct myself if he's a 1-2 win player for his four seasons. (sep17)
21. Still with the Habs, there may not have been a player who benefited more from the 2019-20 season being rescued than Carey Price. Many hockey fans scoffed when Price was named the toughest goalie in an NHL player’s poll, especially with a very ordinary 2.77 GAA and .910 SV% over the past three seasons and a negative goals saved above average in both 2017-18 and 2019-20. Maybe this was just playoff Price again, where he provides more bang for the buck on his massive long-term contract. However, a 1.78 GAA and .936 SV% looked like signs he could return to dominant form.
Don’t discount the presence of Jake Allen as providing Price with the extra rest he needs. Price started both games of a back-to-back four times in 2019-20, which is something we probably won’t see with Allen now in the fold. Price allowed a total of 15 goals in the second game of those four back-to-backs. (sep13)
Have a good week, folks – be safe!!
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