20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts

by Mario Prata on December 9, 2018

Every Sunday, we'll share 20 Fantasy Thoughts from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week's ‘Daily Ramblings’.

Writers: Michael Clifford, Ian Gooding, Cam Robinson, and Dobber

 

1. Jonathan Huberdeau and his 34 points are back up on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and he’s riding red-hot. I'd like to say this is an opportune sell-high opportunity (and it probably is) but it's difficult to turn your back on a guy who looks to be travelling down the career-season road. (dec5)

Over his last 10 games, Huberdeau has 19 points (4g-15a) with multiple points in seven of his last eight games. He’s also at over a point per game (34 in 28 games). And the Panthers wanted to put him on the second-unit power play? (dec10)

 

2. A couple of people tweeted to me their concern about Connor Hellebuyck this past week, and wondered if I still rank him in the top-two on my keeper goalie list. In short: yes. And I think with goaltenders you can’t be emotional about their roller coaster rides.

The Jets aren’t going to get worse over the next couple of years, they’re only going to get better. Hellebuyck is making $6.2 million per year for the next six seasons. Even if he Martin Joneses his way through games, he’s still going to get lots of W’s. I happen to think he won’t suck, but even if he does – the wins will be there. I’m not even looking at his peripheral stats right now since the W’s are still happening – I’ll worry about the lack of quality starts after another 20 games.

Fantasy hockey owners like to micro-manage and tend to panic quickly. And if your league counts SV% and GAA and he’s hurting you more than the wins can help, what are you going to do, drop him? Trade him for a lesser goalie who is currently doing better? I don’t think that’s wise. (dec3)

 

3. With Mark Giordano serving the first game of his two-game suspension Saturday, Flames’ rookie Rasmus Andersson played top-pair minutes (22:59) along with T.J. Brodie and recorded an assist. This was just Andersson’s second point in 27 games. Don’t be fooled, though. There’s been scoring at other levels, so there’s some fantasy upside here. (dec10)

 

4. Back to Giordano: He’s been tremendous this season. He's now up to 29 points in 29 games to jump into the top five in blue line points. What a showing by the 35-year-old. A serious contender for draft pick of the year for many poolies. (dec5)

 

5. Sergei Bobrovsky has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. After allowing eight goals on Tuesday to Calgary, Bob allowed three goals on 13 shots before John Tortorella decided to yank him on Saturday. The only saving grace for Bobrovsky owners was that Torts removed him early so that he wouldn’t eat more goals as opposed to allowing him to see if he could work through it. Thanks, Torts. Bobrovsky owners don’t like eating goals, you know. By the way, Torts seemed to be in a better mood after the eight-goal performance than he was after Saturday’s game. (dec10)

 

6. Blues’ Patrick Maroon has yet to score a five-on-five goal, has just one goal on the season (shooting 3.4 percent despite being nearly a 12 percent career shooter) and his IPP is hilariously low (second-lowest in the league at 12.5 percent). Those will help him bounce back.

One caution: Maroon’s shot attempt rate at five-on-five is about a third of what it was last year and is the lowest of his career. His percentages will turn around but if his shot volume doesn’t, the volume of goals won’t be what we’d expect.

In leagues that count hits and PIMs (or either), Maroon will carry value. The percentages will bounce back but unless that roster bounces back entirely, as well, he won’t achieve the heights we’ve seen from him the last couple seasons. (dec6)

 

7. Connor McDavid was doing McDavid things to the Wild with this goal and three assists and a plus-4 ranking Friday night. Leon Draisaitl was also doing damage on the McDavid line, scoring two goals and adding an assist of his own. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, right Ken Hitchcock?

The lucky third man on the line was Alex Chiasson, who has played on top lines before while not pulling his weight (eg. Calgary). But now Chiasson has 12 goals (including one on Friday), which equaled his total in his one season with the Flames and is only one short of his career high. I’d only recommend Chiasson for as long as he’s on the Oilers’ top line and not for a second longer. I’ll also mention that he’s a prime Cy Young candidate with just two assists (12-2). (dec8)

 

8. The Wild player I’m most concerned about right now is Devan Dubnyk, who didn’t even last half of the first period Friday against the Oilers. Dubnyk was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots. His replacement, Alex Stalock, was somewhat better but did not save the Wild in this game, allowing four goals on 26 shots.

Dubnyk has posted just one quality start in his last seven games (his previous game against Vancouver) and has an atrocious 4.06 GAA and .847 SV% over that stretch, which dates to November 17. Yep, I’m benching him until he shows signs of turning things around. (dec8)

 

9. With Rickard Rakell out for Friday’s game due to an ankle injury, Ryan Getzlaf’s linemates were Pontus Aberg and newly-acquired Daniel Sprong. Although neither of these new Ducks recorded a point in a 4-1 loss to Carolina, both are worth paying attention to in fantasy leagues. Aberg has hung around the Ducks’ top line a fair bit since being claimed off waivers from Edmonton and entered Friday’s game with seven points (3g-4a) over his last five games. Sprong, meanwhile, scored a goal in his first game with the Ducks on Wednesday. (dec8)

 

10. Sprong never really got his footing with the Penguins but he should get a real chance in Anaheim. This team is starved for scoring and he should get a chance somewhere in the top-nine. The question is if he can maintain that spot. This is a good gamble for the Ducks, though.

As for the player that was traded for him, Marcus Pettersson, well he’s on a Pens blue line with a lot of mouths to feed on the left side. Regardless, it’s the guys running the power plays that carry the value on that team. Pettersson won’t be one of them. (dec4)

 

11. After busting out of the gate with seven goals over his first four games, Kyle Palmieri scored just five goals over his next 22 games. That’s why his fantasy owners must be especially encouraged by his two-goal performance on Thursday night. Palmieri also took six shots on goal, which was a number that was closer to his per-game shot totals earlier in the season. Even more encouraging: one of Palmieri’s goals was on the power play, where he hadn’t even recorded a single point over the previous 30 days. (dec7)

 

12. What appears to be Elias Lindholm’s breakout season continues. Lindholm now has 10 points in his last five games, is scoring at over a point-per-game pace on the top line, and he’s now only 11 points back of his career high of 45 points and only one goal shy of his career high of 17. And he has over half of the season left. He’s in great shape to smash both totals. (dec7)

 

13. A player I might have given up on too early: Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist now has nine points (4g-4a) over his last five games. This recent hot streak means that Nyquist is close to a point per game (27 points in 30 games). With Anthony Mantha’s injury, Nyquist was moved onto Dylan Larkin’s line. With Mantha expected to be out for the next four to six weeks, Nyquist should be a great waiver-wire target (21 percent owned in Yahoo leagues). (dec7)

 

14. If you’re sitting here wondering why it’s difficult to find great goaltending, look no further than the scoring numbers. So far in the 2018-19 season, a total of 48 players (minimum 10 games) are scoring at least a point per game. Compare that to last season (2017-18), when 24 players scored at a point per game, and the season before (2016-17), when only eight finished the season at a point per game.

Obviously, this season’s number will drop as players regress over a larger sample size. But maybe the NHL’s goaltending equipment changes are having the intended effects on goalies. There will be other factors at play, but there’s no denying that this is a risky time to be investing major salary cap or auction dollars on a goalie. If you’re happy with your goaltending right now, then you are one of the lucky ones. (dec10)

 

15. It’s entirely possible that Boston’s Jake DeBrusk finishes this season with 30 goals, it’s a matter of how much the assists will catch up. All Bruins not on the top line, or not named DeBrusk, are currently sitting with an on-ice shooting percentage under 6.5 percent. Once they start scoring more, and DeBrusk’s IPP turns around, expect him to push for 20 assists rather than 10. He could have a very nice 30-20 season. (dec6)

 

16. Bolts’ 21-year-old rookie Mathieu Joseph was a high-impact junior player and posted strong metrics in the American league as a rookie pro a season ago. He's one to watch if he ever sticks up the lineup. As of now, he's a bottom-sixer with no power-play time. (dec5)

 

17. Cam Atkinson is a difficult cat to get a read on. He pulled this level of play out of his hat through the first 40 games of 2016-17 before falling back down to earth and finishing with 62 points in 82 games. Then in 2017-18, he was stanky for much of the season, recording 22 points in 36 games before going off for 24 points in his final 19 games. That means that's he's produced 32 goals and 55 points in his previous 47 games. Maybe we should start believing in him the way Dobber has for the last decade. (dec5)

 

18. The signing of William Nylander meant that someone currently with the Leafs was either going to be traded or put on waivers. It ended up being the former as Josh Leivo was traded to Vancouver.

Believe it or not, this is Leivo’s sixth NHL season (or part of, anyway), and he’s now played 86 games along the way, amassing 29 points. Not a huge total but he’s also averaged under 11 minutes per game. Going to Vancouver means he should finally have a shot at regular top-six minutes. It’s up to him what he does with them. He’s good enough to play anywhere on that roster but the fantasy value will be up to where he slots. (dec4)

Fresh off the plane from Toronto, Leivo was gifted the most plum of assignments in his Canuck debut last Tuesday, skating alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser at even-strength. It took him just seven minutes to find the back of the net. The assists? You guessed it, Pettersson and Boeser.  (dec5)

 

19. Nikita Scherbak getting claimed by the Kings is interesting. I still respect Scherbak’s skill set and I think he has scoring-line upside, but that upside has seriously eroded thanks to all the injuries that have retarded his development. A prospect can only miss so much action during key years before it takes a bite out of what they can do in the future. I doubt the Kings can coax any of that out of him but I always root for the player. The bigger-name prospects who get waived and then claimed almost always fail. We, as fantasy owners, still get excited over the claims because it offers a glimmer of hope. But really, it’s only a glimmer. (dec3)

 

20. Early in the season, when he was off to a great start, I mentioned Jakob Silfverberg as my favorite breakout candidate (actually mentioned him in the summer a lot, too). But man, he relies on his linemates. As in – a lot.

He clicked with Ryan Kesler and had some good seasons that way but that’s when Kesler was good. And without Kesler, Silfverberg’s numbers suffered. His great start this year was due to a combination of being in his prime now and clicking really well with the talented Max Comtois. As a Silf owners in one league, I was happy when Comtois’ injury was over with…and then crushed when Comtois was sent to junior.

Now, Silfverberg has fallen off the map. Not only is he back on a line with Kesler – but the latter is now an anchor offensively with just 19 points in his last 68 games. It’s like being paired with two enforcers, for all the offense that Kesler and Andrew Cogliano offer to Silfverberg. When, and I do mean when, Silfverberg gets a bloated contract somewhere else next summer, it will be interesting to see how well he does with talented linemates. He relies on them, sure, but when he actually gets them he’ll put points on the board. (dec3)

 

Have a good week, folks!!