Every Sunday, we'll share 21 Fantasy Rambles — formerly titled 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. Can we mention how good the Coyotes have been this year? Sure, they’re not currently in a playoff spot, but they’re also just two points out of a wild card position.
They’ve done this with significant (and in some cases, season-ending) injuries to the likes of Alex Galchenyuk, Antti Raanta, Jason Demers, Jakob Chychrun, Christian Dvorak, Michael Grabner, more recently Nick Schmaltz, and now (possibly) Oliver Ekman-Larsson. We’ll know more on the latter’s knee injury early this week.
That’s their top-line center, third-line center, a top-six winger, a top-nine winger and penalty killer, two top-four defensemen, and their starting goalie. Each of those names (save for OEL) has missed at least 10 games, and some will miss much, much more than that. And yet, they’re two points outside of a playoff spot.
General manager John Chayka has put together a very solid roster. They absolutely need more top-end talent up front, but this is a team to watch in 2019-20. (jan24)
2. With Ekman-Larsson out of the lineup last Wednesday, Alex Goligoski played just under 25 minutes. It was his third-highest mark of the season and his highest in a month. He also skated on what would be called their top PP unit with Galchenyuk and Clayton Keller. Something to keep in mind. Check your waiver wires if you need some depth on defense. If the OEL injury is serious, Goligoski stands to be the immediate beneficiary (as morbid as that is, let’s hope OEL is ok). (jan24)
3. Tomas Hertl. The 25-year-old is having a career-season. He’s already matched his career-high in goals (22) set last season and is just one shy of his career-high in points (45). He’s vying for the award for best value in fantasy drafts at this point. (jan23)
4. Habs’ Jeff Petry has 34 total points, 12th among all defensemen, one more than Victor Hedman. Among all defensemen with at least 500 minutes at five-on-five this year, he’s 15th in points/60 minutes. The two defensemen directly above him in that category are Roman Josi and Tyson Barrie. At all strengths, he’s 17th, just behind Matt Dumba. He’s also in the top-20 for defenseman shot share at five-on-five. He’s averaging over 2.5 hits and over 2.25 shots per game. Why wouldn’t he be a fantasy all-star? (jan23)
5. The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) released their midseason awards this past week. If I’m not mistaken, this is the second year in a row they’ve done so. It’s just the normal awards we’re used to seeing at the end of the year, only with about a 50-game sample. It basically gives us something to talk about during the break.
That said, centers are favored over wingers but it’s hard to see Mark Stone not winning the Selke Trophy if he continues his current play. With Stone on the ice, the Sens allow nearly 12 fewer shot attempts compared to what they normally allow, which leads the league in this regard.
Driving offense? Stone is second league-wide. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s running away in relative shot share league-wide. I know it seems like playing favorites for an exceptional player on a bad team, but he’s almost always like this. He deserves, at the least, very strong consideration to win, with all due respect to both Patrice Bergeron and Aleksander Barkov. (jan25)
6. Hopefully you didn’t draft Anze Kopitar thinking he would match last season’s career high of 92 points. He won’t even come close to that this season, as he is currently on pace for 57 points. That’s really a down season when you consider how many more players are scoring at or near a point-per-game pace this season. His current scoring pace of 0.69 PTS/GP is at the same pace as his total from two seasons ago, when he scored 56 points.
But there is hope for Kopitar. So far in January, he has collected five goals and eight points in 10 games. Considering that he has yet to score a power-play goal (with nine power-play assists), one would think that he should be due. The way that Kopitar drives the play for the Kings, you’d have to believe that he can score at a higher pace than this.
Kopitar collected 41 points in 33 games after last season’s All-Star Game. Only five players had more points after that point. He’s also historically been a slow starter but strong finisher. Between the All-Star Game and the end of the regular season, Kopitar has finished within the top 50 in points in each of the previous three seasons. (jan27)
7. After scoring a career-high 69 points last season, Rickard Rakell was sidetracked for a month by an ankle injury. But even if you remove the injury, Rakell’s scoring rate is way down, as he has just eight goals all season and is only on pace for 52 points.
There’s reason to be positive this season if you’re a Rakell owner, though. Last year, he had a better post-All-Star-Game pace (1.03 PTS/GP) than his pre-All-Star-Game pace (0.8 PTS/GP). And as for the eight goals, you could argue that he hasn’t has puck luck just as he hasn’t had injury luck. Rakell’s 7.6 SH% is well below his career average of 14.6%, which could result in his goal total nearly doubling over the second half.
Rakell might end up lining up with Ryan Getzlaf and whoever, and he’s not going to have a ton of scoring options around him during the second half in Anaheim. But for the reasons listed above, he seems worth a gamble for a stronger second half. (jan27)
8. It’s difficult to express how much losing Ondrej Kase (torn labrum) for the season hurts the Ducks.
While Rakell is still waiting for his shooting luck to turn, Jakob Silfverberg is plodding towards his usual 20 goals (though we’ll see if injuries catch up), and they’re still waiting for Corey Perry to return (though that may be soon). This team has had to endure significant injuries for basically the last two seasons, but this is one that will be difficult to overcome given their difficulty to score as it was.
Kase in under-appreciated by the league but I’m sure he’s not by his teammates. They’re going to need a Herculean effort from John Gibson and a big turnaround from Rakell over the final couple months to get to the postseason. Recovery time could be as much as six months, which is significant, but it would also give Kase a couple months (hopefully) to train before having to head to Ducks camp. (jan25)
10. Both Tyler Bozak and Zach Sanford were activated from the Blues’ injured reserve and played last Wednesday night. The result was Jordan Kyrou (and Jordan Nolan) being sent to the AHL. It doesn’t appear that this will be the year for Kyrou to break out, but he’s definitely a player to remember for next season. (jan24)
For players who could potentially finish the season on a high note, don’t forget to pick up your copy of the Midseason Guide. There are also a lot of prospects and potential call-ups covered, so even those without a league title in their sights will find information quite useful for keeper/dynasty teams, or even looking ahead to next season.
11. Dylan Strome has been given new life in the Windy City. He has 15 points in his last 13 games and has reignited the chemistry with junior linemate, Alex DeBrincat on the Hawks’ second line. He’s also loving life on the top power-play unit. (jan23)
12. Vladimir Tarasenko now has six goals and 10 points in his last 11 games. This is another player who had a slow start to the year, especially by his standards, but that has really started to look like himself since Christmas. Now, if only Jaden Schwartz could get of the schneid (he’s shooting 3 percent on the season). (jan24)
13. In the four games since being acquired by the Hurricanes, Nino Niederreiter has four goals, 17 shots, and is playing nearly 17 minutes a game. That TOI mark would be a career high for him (by a lot) and he’s getting lots of power play time as well. This is a trade that’s going to work out very, very well for the Canes. (jan23)
14. Justin Faulk is a favorite punching bag for some, and that’s fair given his calamitous fall in fantasy over the last couple seasons, namely in the goals department. All the same, his hit and shot totals are very stout (he’s on pace for his most hits in four years) and a 30-point season with his level of peripherals (he’ll fly past 200 shots as well) has a lot of value. Imagine if his shooting percentage ever reverts to what it was a couple years ago? (jan23)
15. Sens forward Colin White said he should be back in the Ottawa lineup after the All-Star Game. He had been playing very well on a line with Brady Tkachuk and Mark Stone. I’d like to see him get another chance there. (jan22)
16. Teams that lost out in the Milan Lucic derby have to be thanking their lucky stars that they were unsuccessful in signing him, provided that they didn’t sign their own white elephant contracts that summer (Loui Eriksson, Troy Brouwer, David Backes, and Andrew Ladd all come to mind first). This is where auction drafts can be tricky, because you’ll end up paying too much for at least one player and end up trying to stretch your dollar on the rest.
It’s important that with any player, you set a maximum price that you’re willing to spend. Don’t exceed that price. If someone else is willing to go higher, let them pay that price. They’ll have to patch up the resulting holes in their roster afterward. In a salary cap world, value wins the day. (jan26)
17. It looks like Oscar Klefbom will return for the Oilers now that the All-Star Break has passed. This is huge for the Oilers if they truly want to make a run for the playoffs, as he’s easily their best defenseman and the team has looked near-dead since his injury. Good news, fantasy owners! (jan22)
18. Speaking of the Oilers, who put both Ty Rattie and Ryan Spooner on waivers. I’ll admit, I got sucked into Rattie’s performance alongside Connor McDavid at the end of last year and in the preseason. I didn’t end up drafting him anywhere, but I have used him a lot in DFS. It, uh, hasn’t gone well. Maybe these guys can catch on elsewhere.
Thus concludes the Jordan Eberle trade tree. Outcome: not great!
19. One last bit on the Oilers: they signed goaltender Mikko Koskinen for three more years with an AAV of $4.5-million. That seems like a pretty big gamble on a 30-year old goalie (31 next season) with 31 career NHL games. Not to mention the team needs to completely overhaul their winger depth from top to bottom, needs another top-4 defenseman, and already has $73-million committed to next season. This should be a team looking to spend as little as possible in goal to try and upgrade elsewhere and this … this is not it. (jan22)
20. There was a stretch just before the ASG Break where Mat Barzal saw his ice time get reduced for six consecutive games, with a nearly-season-low 15:30 just last Sunday (his season-low is 14:53). Perhaps Barry Trotz is winding him down for the season-ending run. I would keep my expectations low for him when it comes to Tuesday’s game. (jan21)
21. Collin Delia’s save percentage after 10 games is still a nice 0.923 and he’s running a 60 percent Quality Start number. Corey Crawford is back skating, but not yet with the team, and seems to be intending to return to the team this season. He could be one to two weeks away. (jan21)
Have a good week, folks!!
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