Ramblings: Dadonov to Ottawa, Toffoli vs. Gallagher, All-Canadian Division?

Ian Gooding

2020-10-16

After a flurry of activity over the first few days, the free agent frenzy period has officially cooled off. We were treated to one significant signing on Thursday, however.

Evgenii Dadonov signed a three-year contract with Ottawa with a cap hit of $5 million. You can read Mike's Fantasy Take here. This was a signing that Ottawa could easily afford as they attempt to reach the cap floor. At age 31, Dadonov becomes the second-oldest forward on the team while giving them a first-line scoring option. He has scored at least 25 goals in each of his three seasons in Florida since returning to the NHL from the KHL.  

From the Florida side of things, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are now without their most frequent right winger from last season. Since these two will probably run away with the Panthers scoring race (assuming Hoffman doesn't return), whoever fills into that spot for any significant length of time could be up for a big boost in fantasy value. Initially, and assuming he's healthy, my money will be on Patric Hornqvist. He's used to playing with elite scorers in Pittsburgh, and there's almost assuredly power-play time there as well. You know, I kind of like him as a potential sleeper even though he's 33 years old and hasn't played more than 70 games in a season in four seasons. Call me crazy.

Fantasy Take: Hornqvist Shipped to Florida for Matheson, Sceviour

After that, you've got recent acquisition Vinnie Hinostroza and Brett Connolly as possibilities to at least get a sniff on the top line, and that will probably happen because Hornqvist will probably miss time due to injury. Long term, and assuming Barkov and Huberdeau don't leave Florida when their contracts are up in two and three seasons, respectively, this represents a golden opportunity for Owen Tippett. In his first AHL season, Tippett scored 19 goals and 40 points in 46 games. With some roster turnover in Florida, Tippett seems like a strong bet to make the Panthers roster this coming season. He also has first-line potential (view his Dobber Prospects profile).

Fantasy Take: Vinnie Hinostroza Off to Florida

Perhaps we hear news on Dadonov's former Panther teammate Mike Hoffman soon.

If not for COVID, I don't think we would have seen Tyson Barrie, Hall, and potentially Hoffman all signing one-year contracts.

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The New York Rangers also took care of business on Thursday, signing two of their RFAs.

First, Alexandar Georgiev signed a two-year contract with a cap hit of $2.425 million. With Henrik Lundqvist bought out and moved to Washington, Georgiev will not need to worry about a full-time spot with the Rangers. In spite of the Rangers goalie logjam, Georgiev has played at least 30 games in each of the last two seasons. Expect him to take on a similar percentage of games in 2020-21 as he serves as the second goaltending option behind Igor Shesterkin.

Later on Thursday, Tony DeAngelo agreed to a two-year contract with a cap hit of $4.8 million. You may remember that DeAngelo broke out in a big way in 2019-20, scoring 53 points (15g-38a) in 68 games. Only John Carlson, Roman Josi, and Victor Hedman recorded more points than DeAngelo. As a top-notch offensive defenseman but a liability defensively, DeAngelo is trending more toward being a power-play specialist as opposed to a minute-munching blueliner like the aforementioned Norris Trophy finalists.

While Joe Thornton is waiting for an NHL contract, he has joined HC Davos in Switzerland. The Leafs and Sharks have reportedly expressed interest.

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Earlier in the day, the October version of the Top 100 Roto Rankings went live. I've included injury updates and free agent signings, so there are quite a few changes this month. Check them out, and feel free to leave any feedback. I will address any questions, comments, and other feedback at a future date.

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Within hours of a major signing or trade, we usually have our Fantasy Take articles published. Sometimes we don't have to wait too long to find out what possible fantasy implications will be, even if they're not on the ice. Such is the case for the Tyler Toffoli signing, which you can read about here.

Mere days after the Toffoli and Josh Anderson signings, fellow right wing Brendan Gallagher signed his own big contract (6 years, $6.5 million cap hit). Gallagher had one year left before he hits UFA status, and reports had already surfaced that his agent and GM Marc Bergevin had broken off contract talks.

I thought I'd bring this one up specifically because I need to make a keeper decision on both Gallagher and Toffoli in one keeper league. My original intent was to keep Gallagher but not Toffoli, but the Toffoli signing combined with a potentially reduced role for Gallagher makes this decision tougher for me. 

A Gallagher and Toffoli player comparison shows that they are somewhat similar players. A Twitter follower referred to Toffoli as "Gallagher-lite", which makes perfect sense, particularly for last season. Here are some comparisons.

2019-20 season:

NameGPGAPTSPTS/GPacePPPSOG
BRENDAN GALLAGHER592221430.73515226
TYLER TOFFOLI682420440.655110203

Last 3 seasons:

NameGPGAPTSPTS/GPPPSOG
BRENDAN GALLAGHER22386631490.6729806
TYLER TOFFOLI23261641250.5427680

Frozen Tools has the full player comparison between Gallagher and Toffoli. Just for fun, you can add Anderson in there as well. I didn't, mainly because Anderson scored only four points in 26 games last season (which is one reason that I think seven years at $5.5 million for him is quite a risk). I also didn't because Anderson is a different kind of player who provides a banger skill set that the Habs are missing.

One Montreal writer mentioned that because Gallagher scored only one goal on the power play in 2019-20, he'd lose his power-play role to Toffoli and Anderson. Considering how often Gallagher shoots (3.8 SOG/GP) and scores (30+ goals in two of his last three seasons), I'm not sure I'm buying that. I'm willing to bet the Habs will use Toffoli on the first-unit power play regardless, as he was a great fit there in Vancouver (5 PPP in 17 combined regular season/postseason games).

Montreal coach Claude Julien's comments about wanting his team to play like the Islanders concerns me fantasy-wise. Having three productive lines spread out might be the best way for the Habs to go, if you consider their roster construction (no real scoring superstars). That probably means good production for everyone, although it might be a reach to assume a major breakout from anyone.

Note: Mike mentioned in yesterday's Ramblings that Toffoli might move to the left side, which I've also heard elsewhere. That move would certainly help both Anderson and Gallagher.  

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If you're looking for a hint as to what the 2020-21 NHL season will look like, Vegas owner Bill Foley may have let the cat out of the bag on Wednesday.

I wouldn't count on the border reopening by the new year unless COVID cases miraculously decrease. That's why I would also bet on a Canadian division and (by my math) three similar-sized US divisions, at least to start. A Canadian division? Let's go!

For example, Canucks fans have shared a division with the Oilers and Flames for as long as I can remember, so they've definitely seen their fill of the Alberta teams. What about more Toronto and Montreal, though? An all-Canadian Division would never be a permanent thing because of time zones. Yet if there's one silver lining to COVID, it's allowed us to experiment with different formats that we wouldn't normally see.

In his interview with Las Vegas radio station KSHP, Foley also confirmed what was news earlier this week: that Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to remain with the Golden Knights in 2020-21. This isn't necessarily all about the Golden Knights not being able to trade Fleury (although I can't imagine there was heavy demand with many other goalies on the market), but instead much has to do with the clean-up shoulder surgery that Robin Lehner is undergoing this week. Lehner is expected to be ready for camp, though.

This is all related because Foley also thinks that the season will start on February 1 and will be a 48- or 56-game season. If the Stanley Cup is awarded before the Summer Olympics in July (remember, this is a priority because both are NBC properties), then the NHL is no doubt looking at a condensed schedule. Teams will need to have a strong second goalie (and maybe even a decent third goalie) with what will likely be a high volume of back-to-backs, even though there's an obvious risk when it's time for the Seattle expansion draft.

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For more fantasy hockey discussion, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency NSH Players
14.9% NICK BONINO MATT DUCHENE MIKAEL GRANLUND
14.2% CALLE JARNKROK COLTON SISSONS AUSTIN WATSON
14.2% VIKTOR ARVIDSSON FILIP FORSBERG RYAN JOHANSEN

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