Every Sunday, we'll share 21 Fantasy Rambles – formerly 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. If you own Mathew Barzal, you were waiting for his next goal for a while. As in over a month. Fortunately, the Isles’ center broke his goal-scoring slump (and added an assist) on Thursday. Barzal had gone without a goal in his previous 19 games.
Barzal isn’t one to pile up the goals, as his 18 goals this season is just four fewer than his total last season. With 62 points at the moment, however, he is well short of his 85-point rookie season from last season. This could be the result of having to play the tougher matchups this season versus last season, when John Tavares was still in the fold.
Playing on the top line alongside Barzal, Jordan Eberle might have decent value at this very moment based on where he’s being used, but he’s also staring at his first sub-40-point season (lockout-shortened 2012-13 not included) in his career. (mar29)
2. The Panthers might be out of the playoff race but that isn’t stopping Jonathan Huberdeau. Huby now has nine multipoint games during March to go with nine goals and 23 points over his last 13 games. Too bad I’ve been eliminated in the league that I own him in. Don’t you just hate it when your players cash in after you’ve been eliminated?
Evgenii Dadonov is another Panthers’ forward who has picked up the pace. Over his last 13 games, Dadonov has 19 points (6g-13a). Playing on a line with Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov might have something to do with it. Dadonov has now surpassed last season’s point total and is just two points shy of his first 70-point season. (mar29)
3. It’s been a down year for Rickard Rakell but he might still make it to 20 goals. It’s not the 34 goals like last season, or the 33 he scored the season before, but Rakell has piled up seven goals over his last five games.
Rakell was a recent buy-low candidate through his goalless droughts of 14, 9, 8, and 6 games, up to the point in which he had just nine goals on the season earlier this month. To justify that buy-low, his shooting percentage was at a highly unlucky 6.3 percent, but it is now up to a more respectable 9.6 percent and could still climb further.
In terms of what you can do going forward, look to Rakell as a rebound candidate as he will probably slip in next season’s fantasy hockey drafts based on his overall numbers. He was drafted at around the 70th pick in this season’s Yahoo drafts, but next season he could provide great value if he is drafted outside of the top 100. (mar31)
4. The Cam Talbot era in Philly might be short-lived, but at least he made another start on Saturday (just his second since being acquired). Talbot allowed three goals on 30 shots in the Flyers’ 5-2 loss to Carolina.
Now that the Flyers have been eliminated, the Flyers might start Talbot one or two more times as they play out the string. With this being the second consecutive season that Talbot has posted a goals-against average over 3.00, he probably won’t be considered a starter anywhere. Instead, expect him to land as a backup or at best a timeshare somewhere. (mar31)
5. Nick Schmaltz’ new seven-year extension with an unconfirmed cap hit of $5.85 million might seem like a lengthy extension for a player that has cracked 50 points just once in three seasons, but remember that the Coyotes coveted him enough to pay a significant price (Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini) just to acquire him.
Regardless, he was fitting in well with his new team (14 points in 17 games) before suffering a season-ending knee injury late last December. Even though the trade may appear heavily weighted in Chicago’s favor, it’s one of those that could still work out well for both teams. Salary cap owners would likely prefer to see more sustained production before investing, though. (mar31)
6. Kevin Fiala’s ice time is up 2:40 per game with the Wild versus what he was getting with Nashville. And yet he has just seven points in 15 contests. We expected the jump in ice time but had assumed it would come with a corresponding bump in production.
That hasn’t happened, but as fantasy owners that's the mindset we need to stick to – opportunity increases the odds of success. Just because it’s a ‘fail’ (so far) doesn’t mean we figured wrong. Next year is his fourth and I expect some magic. (mar30)
7. So, does Ryan Strome have upside after all? I mean, obviously not the elite upside we hoped for six years ago, but fantasy-worthy upside?
Now that the Rangers have shed some top players, Strome is usually seeing about 18 minutes of ice time. This is ice time he was given during the first few years of his career and he didn’t do anything with it. Now he’s doing something.
Entering Sunday action, Strome had 18 points in his last 23 games, and nine in his last 10. Food for thought: Friday he was on a line with Vladislav Namestnikov and Lias Andersson. His next goal would be his 18th, which would set a career high. (mar30)
8. Mackenzie Blackwood is 3-8-0, 2.90 and 0.901 over his last 11 games. He’s 22, a high draft pick and has bounced back in this his third pro season after having it rough during his first two. I’m not yet ready to write him off as a potential starter for the long term but this year is the most he has played as a pro (40 combined games). (mar30)
9. Andreas Athanasiou scored his 30th goal this past Friday. Unfortunately, the assists haven’t really been there for this year because he’s often placed on a line with the likes of ‘Tommy Stonehands’ and ‘Jimmy Lunchpail’ – for example, his linemates on Friday were Luke Glendening and Taro Hirose.
When he hits his prime in a couple of years, though, the Red Wings should have the talent around him upgraded by that point. Next year, I see another small step forward, perhaps hitting 60 (if anyone does on this team besides Dylan Larkin, it should be him) before his big jump in his sixth campaign. (mar30)
Elsewhere, the early results for Detroit’s undrafted NCAA foray this year are in. Entering Sunday action, 22-year-old Ryan Kuffner was pointless and minus-2 in six games. He had 96 points in his last 67 games with Princeton, as Max Veronneau’s (now with Ottawa) sidekick. Taro Hirose, also after six outings, saw a five-game assist streak come to an end on Friday. Hirose didn’t have a Veronneau to play with at Michigan State and to me has the higher upside. He’s been averaging about 15 minutes per game to Kuffner’s 10, so you know coach Jeff Blashill sees it the same way. (mar30)
10. Hawks’ Alex DeBrincat now has 41 goals – that places him in the league’s top-10 in goal scoring. Not bad for a 21-year-old in just his second NHL season and who many teams thought was too small. DeBrincat is not averse to slumps, though, as he was pointless during a six-game streak before hitting the scoresheet again late this past week. (mar29)
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11. Leon Draisaitl also scored goal number 47 this week, which has him four behind Alex Ovechkin in the Rocket Richard Trophy race. Both Connor McDavid and Draisaitl have now hit 100 points and are in the top-5 in scoring. You’d think that would set the Oilers up nicely for a playoff spot, right? Of course not. You need an entire team, not just a couple of top-end players. The same theory applies in fantasy. (mar29)
12. Dustin Byfuglien finally returned to the Jets’ lineup on Saturday, logging 24 minutes of ice time. Big Buff had missed the past month and a half with an ankle injury. In fact, he has been held to just 38 games this season, so it appears that playing a physical style for a decade has finally caught up to him.
Byfuglien could be in for a bounceback next season if he can stay healthy most of the time, but I’d be weary of drafting him as high as he has been in recent seasons. He averaged as the 40th pick in Yahoo drafts last fall, but I’d suggest waiting at least another round or two for the multicategory beast next season. (mar31)
13. It was Happy Quinn Hughes day last Thursday in Vancouver, as the seventh overall pick in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft made his NHL debut. He was paired with the recently-resurgent Luke Schenn in just over 15 minutes of ice time. For fantasy owners who were lightning-fast in adding Hughes to their lineups, he recorded his first NHL point by assisting on Brock Boeser’s second-period goal. Hughes did much of the work on the goal, hopefully giving us a preview of things to come.
No first-unit power-play duty for Hughes (in that game), as the Canucks went with a four-forward first unit with Alex Edler on the point as per usual. However, 3-on-3 overtime with Hughes, Boeser, and Elias Pettersson was a sight to behold. Amazing stuff. (You can also check out Hughes' profile on Dobber Prospects.)
Elsewhere, with Thatcher Demko in net, the Canucks’ roster on Thursday provided a real glimpse into the future. Demko stopped 37 of 39 shots in earning his second win in three games. It looks like the Canucks will alternate between Demko and Jacob Markstrom the rest of the way, so plan accordingly. (mar29)
14. Following three straight 30-point seasons and back-to-back 35-point seasons, things were looking bright for Colton Parayko heading into 2018-19. The team added names like Ryan O’Reilly, Patrick Maroon, David Perron, and Tyler Bozak, giving them loads of scoring depth. With Parayko’s stout peripheral production, a 40-point season would have made him a top-10 multicategory defenceman.
That didn’t come to pass, obviously, as Parayko sits with 26 points in 78 games. His peripherals and plus/minus have meant a solid fantasy season, but he’s still yet to attain anywhere close to his ceiling. The problem is his assists, as he has managed just 16 total thus far, and just two primary assists at five-on-five. Among 114 defenseman with at least 1000 minutes played at five-on-five, he has the fourth-lowest primary assist rate.
Parayko will be in tough to reach his ceiling now that he’s apparently third in line for power play minutes. It doesn’t mean he can’t be very valuable in fantasy leagues. With the Blues loaded with both rising and established stars, and Parayko due for a rebound in his assists next year, it seems very possible he’s a top-10 blue liner in multicategory leagues in a year’s time. (mar28)
15. Sergei Bobrovsky is showing up when it matters most – for his squad and for his fantasy owners. Much has been said about the pending unrestricted free-agent and the likely anchor of a contract he may sign on July 1. Well, the two-time Vezina winner has been near the top of the heap for the last three months.
Stretching back to the beginning of February, Bobrovsky is 16-7-0 with six shutouts and his season save percentage is now up to .912. He’s had a few clunkers mixed in there but the overall theme is positive.
He remains a tier one guy heading into 2019-20 – especially if he finds himself on a contender next fall. (mar27)
16. If I’m sitting down to draft a one-year league next fall, I’m pencilling Jordan Binnington into a tier-2 position. I feel that’s as aggressive as anyone should be. We’re constantly burned by the masked men, that drinking the kool-aid too quickly will send you on a not so welcoming trip. (mar27)
17. Darcy Kuemper continues to be a rock for the desert dogs. This season could've easily been a write-off for Arizona when Antti Raanta went down in November, but thanks to Kuemper, the Yotes still have a slim shot at some playoff revenue. He's posted a quality start in 35 of 52 outings, while his 0.922 save percentage on the year is top-5 amongst ‘regular starters’.
Kuemper’s value lies at this moment, as we won't be seeing him earn this amount of starts next year. That is unless we see a team make a play for the 28-year-old via trade. He makes 1.8 million next season before hitting unrestricted free agency. (mar27)
18. Reports came out last Tuesday that Hurricanes prospect and Hobey Baker finalist, Adam Fox, will return to Harvard for this senior year. This could a big blow for the Hurricanes, who targeted Fox in last summer's blockbuster trade with Calgary. In fact, Fox could become a free agent in 2020 if he decides to and that would be great news for all the teams in search of a young, super offensive right-shot defender. Fox would have plenty of suitors. (mar27)
19. To give some positivity to the realm, I’m quite enjoying the trio of Jordan Greenway, Luke Kunin and Ryan Donato. Those three have been lining up together at even-strength and on the team’s second power-play unit. All three possess decent multi-category upsides. (mar26)
20. Former first-round selection Jared McCann is with his third organization but appears to have found a fit in Pittsburgh. McCann has great wheels, a heavy release and loads of tenacity. He’s finally cracked the second power-play unit, but 31 of his 34 points have come at even-strength or while shorthanded. There remains some intriguing upside with the 22-year-old, especially if he maintains his space in the top-six moving forward. (mar26)
21. Petr Mrazek is yet another unrestricted free agent in the summer ahead and he’s completely revived his career. The Hurricanes were likely going to move on from him come July and now I think they’re interested in hearing what he’s looking for.
If I was GM Don Waddell, I would see if I can’t lock him in for two years at a low cap rate of perhaps under $3 million. Carolina was a destination for one of the many UFA goaltenders this summer but Mrazek is doing what he can to shut the door on that opportunity for those people such as Cam Talbot, Brian Elliott and Robin Lehner.
Have a good week, folks!!
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