Ramblings: Jumbo Joe to TO, Potential Top 100 Roto Players (Oct 17)
It's going to look weird after 15 consecutive years in teal. Joe Thornton has signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Leafs. Thornton is the NHL's active leader in points (1,509), but at age 41 he might have to battle fellow aging veteran Jason Spezza (among others) for a spot in the lineup. The Leafs have made a point of adding experience to their lineup this offseason, also adding Wayne Simmonds and Zach Bogosian. Imagine a Leafs fourth line with Thornton centering Spezza and Simmonds.
Thornton recorded 31 points (7g-24a) in 70 games last season, but 12 of those points came in his last 19 games mainly on a line with Timo Meier or Kevin Labanc, so there could still be something left in the tank. However, the Leafs are covered with Auston Matthews and John Tavares as their top two centers, so Jumbo Joe would likely only elevate to the top 6 in the event of an injury. Still, it will be great to see one of the league's most interesting players lace 'em up for at least one more season. But if he wants to win a Stanley Cup, is Toronto really the right choice? 😊
The Flames signed winger Andrew Mangiapane to a two-year contract with a cap hit of $2.425 million, avoiding arbitration. Mangiapane scored 32 points, including 17 goals, in 68 games last season while spending significant time on the Flames' second line with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund. He picked it up in the second half, scoring 17 points over his last 26 games. He is an exciting player to watch, and he seems like a solid bet to fit into the Flames' top 6 again in 2020-21.
2017 second overall pick Nolan Patrick accepted his qualifying offer for one year at $874,125. Patrick, whose career has been derailed by injuries, missed the entire 2019-20 season (regular season and postseason) due to migraine disorder. Hopefully he's able to resume his career in some form in 2020-21.
This year's second overall pick also signed a contract on Friday. Quinton Byfield signed his own three-year, entry-level contract with the Kings. Expect Byfield to return to the OHL (whatever it may look like), although he will have a chance to crack the Los Angeles roster for at least a nine-game audition with a strong camp. For more, see Byfield's Dobber Prospects profile.
The Top 100 Roto Rankings have now been updated for October. Included are 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 was recently asked a question about who I could see breaking into the Top 100 this coming season. I'll try to answer that with some names that I currently have on a "wait list." This is by no means a complete list, and I'm sure you can provide me with more suggestions below. I've discussed some of these names already as potential Top 100 additions, but I'll list them again anyway in no particular order.
I kept Toews on this list because someone asked me where he was ranked in the Top 100 (which I took as them expecting to see Toews there). You can read my explanation and examination in a September Ramblings. To summarize, Toews stacked up comparably to other names on the Roto Rankings list. I had a spot ready for him, then Miro Heiskanen went on a heater during the postseason. So I decided to wait. Then Matt Murray was traded and a really good opportunity arose for Tristan Jarry, who posted some nice numbers. So I'm still waiting.
Toews will need a stronger start than he had last season. After he scored just a goal and an assist in his first 11 games in 2019-20, I decided to drop him from the list. Center is the deepest position and Toews' lifetime value to the Blackhawks far surpasses what he's been able to do in fantasy. Yet in spite of Stan Bowman's decision to go young and inexperienced in net, the Hawks still have numerous scoring options for your fantasy team.
Cam Robinson will probably tell me that Dahlin should already be in the Top 100. Cam's reminders on Twitter have helped me here, as Dahlin is not a player to sleep on. In his sophomore season, Dahlin scored at a 0.68 PTS/GP pace, which places him in the top 15 among blueliners and ahead of names like Shea Theodore, Keith Yandle, and Brent Burns. Dahlin's four goals and minus-7 ranking would have pushed him down, as would the time missed due to injury.
With Taylor Hall joining the fold in Buffalo, I'm going to have to give serious thought to adding Dahlin. I'm thinking that Dahlin's power-play points in particular could benefit. Dahlin has finished with 20 and 19 PPP over his two NHL seasons, a number that only five defensemen have surpassed over that span. Dahlin is entering his third season, the Sabres have added Hall to their arsenal… oh man, I better find a spot for him soon.
This may be a crazy thought, but the Sharks could make the postseason in 2020-21. If there's a Canadian division, then there have to be multiple American divisions. They'll likely be organized by geography. That means you'll have a Sharks team in the same division as Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Arizona, who all appear to be in some state of rebuilding. Meanwhile, the Sharks are an "all-in" team that happened to miss the postseason.
I digress on Hertl, I suppose. How this relates is that multiple key Sharks missed significant time due to injury last season, including Hertl, Erik Karlsson, and Logan Couture. Hertl's 0.75 PTS/GP won't get him back on this list on its own, but like many Sharks, his scoring was down in 2019-20. The season before, Hertl seemed to have arrived, scoring at a 0.96 PTS/GP pace. Players like Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, and Dylan Larkin had scored at a similar pace.
If the ship turns around for the Sharks in 2020-21, expect Hertl to be a major part of that. In the meantime, I'll wait and see what happens. He could provide surplus return on his draft-day value.
Somebody asked me about not including Ehlers back in June, which I addressed in a Ramblings. I won't repeat what I wrote, but basically summarize that my main concern with Ehlers was the power-play time. If only one of their first-unit power-play options could get trad… Oh, what's this? Patrik Laine trade rumors?
Assuming the Jets don't receive a top-6 forward in return, Ehlers could benefit big time from a Laine trade. Last season Laine was on the power play 68.6% of the time, while Ehlers was out there just 28.5% of the time. On even-strength points alone, Ehlers was 12th in the entire NHL with 52 EVP. None of the players above him had fewer than 17 power-play points, while Ehlers had just five. A Laine trade is going to be what it takes to move Ehlers into the Top 100.
When I remove a player from the list, I might keep him on the wait list. This is the case for Boeser, who I removed after he failed to reach 20 goals in an injury-shortened 2019-20. Despite that reduced goal total, Boeser's scoring rate (0.79 PTS/GP) was not that far off from his scoring rate in his previous two full seasons (0.81 PTS/GP, 0.89 PTS/GP). It just became more assist-heavy. This was also the case in the postseason, when he scored just four goals in 17 games, but finished with a more respectable 0.65 PTS/GP.
Boeser's fantasy value was hurt by the trade deadline acquisition of Tyler Toffoli, another right wing who took over Boeser's spot on the first-unit power play and seemed to thrive there. In fact, an offseason rumor circulated that the Canucks were planning to shop Boeser and keep Toffoli. That obviously didn't happen, now that Toffoli has signed with Montreal. The player who benefits the most from Toffoli not returning is Boeser, and I now highly doubt that Boeser is traded before the season.
In order to return to this list, Boeser will need to stay healthy. Over those three full seasons, Boeser has never played 70 games in a season (69 is his career high). Now that his situation is more settled, he might be able to exceed his draft-day value.
Got any suggestions for the Top 100? Leave 'em below. Better yet, give me a player or two I should pull out to make room.
As I've been working on these rankings for over a year, I've discovered that there are well over 100 players that could be in the top 100. But there can only be 100 players there. It all makes for great debate.
For more fantasy hockey discussion, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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