Ramblings: Lightning One Win Away, Senators Waive Ryan, Petry Signs Extension (Sept 26)
Nearly a calendar year after the 2019-20 season started, and nearly two months after bubble hockey began, the Stanley Cup may be awarded in less than 24 hours.
Tampa Bay 5, Dallas 4 OT (Tampa Bay leads series 3-1)
Kevin Shattenkirk played overtime hero in Game 4, scoring a power-play goal at 6:34 of overtime.
In the post-game interview, Scott Oake asked Shattenkirk about his decision to choose Tampa Bay after the Rangers bought out his contract (maybe that was a blessing in disguise?) If that decision results in a Stanley Cup, it was 100 percent the right call. Shattenkirk has recorded points in three consecutive playoff games after going six games without a point. He'll be a UFA again after the season and should draw plenty of interest.
This wasn't your typical playoff game as far as penalties called, particularly late in the third period and in OT. Late in the third period, Corey Perry hooked Brayden Point, ahem, between the legs, for a clear penalty – yet Point was also somehow called for embellishment?
Then early in overtime, Mikhail Sergachev held Tyler Seguin on a scoring chance (the right call). Not long after the Lightning killed the 4-on-3 from the Perry/Point penalties and then the 5-on-4, Jamie Benn received a tripping call on this play.
Maybe this gets called during the regular season, but this is not typically a penalty in overtime of the Stanley Cup Final. Even if Stars fans complain, they did receive the benefit of the Point call earlier. Perhaps it was an opportunity for an even-up call (another typical pattern in playoff hockey).
Point continued to make things happen, scoring two goals. He now has multiple points in back-to-back games and is building a case for the Conn Smythe. So is Nikita Kucherov, who with two assists now has 25 assists during the postseason – the first player since 1993 to record that many assists in a postseason. However, Victor Hedman (the most popular choice among Dobber writers) should still remain the favorite.
In a losing cause, Joe Pavelski scored two goals for the Stars in 23 minutes of icetime. Pavelski now has points in three consecutive games and 12 goals during the postseason. He is now just one goal behind Point for the postseason lead, appearing much more comfortable with the Stars than he did during the regular season. His fantasy value deserves a small boost after this postseason.
Tyler Seguin did not score a goal (again), which brings his goalless drought to 13 games. However, he recorded two assists to end his five-game slump without a point. From what I saw, he appeared to play a strong game and looks like someone who is long overdue for some puck luck. I'll predict that he scores a goal before the final is over, even if it ends after Game 5.
As expected, Steven Stamkos was out of the lineup in Game 4. The Lightning won't rule him out for the rest of the series, but I have a feeling that Game 3 was simply a cameo appearance. It's extremely doubtful Stamkos was 100 percent when he returned for Game 3, but his presence seemed to give the Bolts a much-needed lift (and a goal!)
The NHL buyout period began on Friday and will remain open until October 8. The Senators got things started by waiving Masterton Trophy winner Bobby Ryan, who had two years left with a $7.25 million cap hit on his contract. After the personal challenges that Ryan has faced, I hope he lands on his feet somewhere. And I think he will.
Retaining Ryan's contract may have seemed necessary for the Senators to reach the cap floor, but Pierre LeBrun tweeted the following (see second tweet):
To clarify, the Senators have four second-round picks in this year's draft and three second-round picks in next year's draft.
As for the "bad contracts," I would think there would be no shortage of teams that would approach the Senators. A contract with a higher cap hit than actual salary to pay would be more ideal, as would a strong sweetener being thrown in. Despite what you might think about the Senators, they are dealing from a position of strength here. If they are still struggling to reach the cap floor, there are lots of other ways they can spend money, which could even include offer sheeting an RFA like Pierre-Luc Dubois or Mathew Barzal. An offer sheet might make some sense (if they're daring enough to do it), but it might not fit the penny-pinching ways of Eugene Melnyk.
The Montreal Canadiens locked up an important part of their defense, signing Jeff Petry to a four-year, $25 million extension that will kick in after the 2020-21 season. During his time in Montreal, Petry has developed into a borderline Top 100 Roto Rankings option. Consider his per-season averages over the last three seasons, compared to all NHL d-men:
12 goals – 11th
30 assists – 19th
4 power-play goals – tied for 5th
15 power-play points – 17th
169 shots – 22nd
178 hits – 9th
23:25 total icetime – 25th
Although he'll be 37 when his new contract ends, Petry has been more of a late bloomer than other blueliners. Top-pairing defensemen aren't easy to find, and they don't come cheap.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out our Fantasy Take on this week's Penguins/Panthers trade that was on, then off, then on again. Mike wrote a comprehensive piece on the many implications of this trade (although he had more than enough lead-up time to prepare the article before the trade was official!) 😊
I'll highlight a point that Mike made on the two main parties of the trade while adding my own experience in owning each of these players at one time in my keeper league.
Hornqvist hasn’t played more than 70 games in a season since 2015-16. Yep, he's a certified Band-Aid Boy. You can't draft him until the later rounds, simply because you have to project based on the usual number of games missed as opposed to the per-game totals. Yet when he was in the lineup for the Penguins, he was on their potent first-unit power play, deployed as their version of Tomas Holmstrom. From 2009-10 to 2017-18 (lockout-shortened season not included), Hornqvist was a consistent 20-goal scorer. He was also on pace for at least 20 goals over each of the past two seasons, if not for the injuries.
He may get used in that spot again with Florida, especially with at least one of Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov departing. In addition, a team like the Panthers seems quite unlikely to spend to the cap given the current economic conditions. There's still some offseason yet to play out before any final projections take place, but it looks like there will be some room for Hornqvist on another strong first-unit power play. So as long as Hornqvist is healthy, he's still an effective bench option in fantasy leagues.
I would pick (Matheson) up off waiver wires rather than draft him. Back in 2016-17, I bought into Matheson after he was logging 20 minutes per game as a rookie. He appeared to be on the fast track to be a dependable top-4 defenseman who could deliver a bit of offense. Not long after, the Panthers were bullish enough to sign him to an eight-year extension.
Fast forward a bit, and the Panthers were able to get rid of Matheson's contract as he hasn't developed the way they had hoped. If the Penguins really trade Kris Letang as rumored, then could Matheson pick up some major power-play time? The chances of that scenario occurring aren't that high, but it's worth mentioning that Matheson has more goals over the past four seasons (33) than Ryan Suter, Colton Parayko, and Mattias Ekholm over a similar number of games. (You wouldn't rank him among those defensemen in fantasy because he generates noticeably fewer assists and power-play points, though.)
Ultimately, I have no idea how the Penguins defense will shake out. In acquiring a left-shot defenseman in a team full of left-shot defensemen, Jim Rutherford looks like the guy hammering anything on his keyboard trying to get his computer to work.
For more fantasy hockey discussion, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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