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. As you probably already know, perceptions of John Tavares to Islanders’ fans completely changed when he decided to fulfill his childhood dream and play for the Maple Leafs. Even though the jersey that Tavares wears has changed, his fantasy value hasn’t changed much.
For example, if you adjust the scoring inflation that many skaters are experiencing, Tavares’ place in the scoring race (in the top 25) is comparable to his place last season (in the top 20). JT is on pace for more goals and shots and better plus/minus, so the gains to his fantasy value are there. However, his power-play point total is down, which may be the result of a power-play unit that has struggled at times. Tavares has been a PPTOI leader for both the Islanders and Leafs, but he has averaged about 30 fewer seconds of power-play time this season. (mar1)
2. As consistent a goal scorer as Mike Hoffman has been, this campaign is the first time he has reached 30 goals in spite of scoring at least 20 in his previous four seasons. I’m sure glad I didn’t trade him in my keeper league when the you-know-what hit the fan in Ottawa last season. I don’t make a habit out of trading players for pennies on the dollar, though. Even when my fellow owners like to tease me with those kinds of offers. (mar1)
3. It’s pretty amazing Alex DeBrincat fell to the second round in his Draft year — he’s now up to 36 goals on the year. The shooting percentage is high (just under 20 percent) but he’s landing nearly three shots per game and looks every bit the productive forward he was expected to be. Maybe teams will stop drafting based on size. (feb28)
4. At the risk of being overly simplistic, much of Mikael Granlund’s improvements in the fantasy game over the last three seasons can be attributed to three things: shooting more, power-play production, and playing with Mikko Koivu.
It’s easy to forget that just a few years ago, Granlund was the guy who wasn’t living up to expectations. He had just 31 goals through his first 240 career games, playing at a 45-point/82-game pace from 2013-2016, through his age-23 season. Following that season, he saw a move from center to the wing and his production has since grown significantly: 62 goals and 185 points in 221 games. He doubled his goal output in fewer games while raising his 82-game point pace to 69. It has been a huge turnaround for the top-10 pick from 2010. (feb28)
5. Ryan Donato’s fantasy value has immediately improved with a move to Minnesota. Donato now has at least a point in all five games he has played for the Wild, with seven points over that span. Donato had averaged just 12:30 of ice time this season in Boston, which is a number that has jumped to over 15 minutes with the Wild.
To compare, Charlie Coyle, who was traded in exchange for Donato, has been held without a point in his four games as a Bruin. Dating back to his time with the Wild, Coyle has now been held without a point in his last 11 games. (mar3)
6. Kevin Hayes isn’t really a goal scorer. It’s not to say he can’t score, but he’s never averaged 2.5 shots per game, has cracked 20 goals once, and he may not get there this year. Winnipeg doesn’t need him to score, though. They have a plethora of goal scorers. They need players who can generate conditions conducive to scoring, and players to find their goal scorers. Hayes can do exactly that. (feb26)
7. So, Erik Gustafsson appears to be the real deal, eh? The 26-year-old has 17 points in his last 14 games and has been cruising at an unbelievable pace since late-November. His 39 points in 39 games stretching back to November 24th are the third most by a blueliner in the league. He trails only Brent Burns (47), and Mark Giordano (40).
Incredibly, his metrics aren’t that far off. Sure, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to convert on 11 percent of his shots as he has this season – certainly not the 15.4 percent he’s clicked on during the last three months, but his IPP and even-strength shooting percentage are right where they should be.
He’s feasting on the power play with Hart candidate, Patty Kane, soon-to-be 40-goal man, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Jonathan Toews. There aren’t too many better spots for an offensive defenseman to make hay. Additionally, the 26-year-old has been accruing his points in a manner that predicts continued success. Of his 45 points, 32 have been primary.
That leaves two questions: How do we value him moving forward, and what does this mean for the high-end blueline prospects that Chicago boasts in the pipeline? Follow the link for more … (feb27)
8. In his Flyers’ debut on Friday, Cam Talbot stopped 30 of 33 shots he faced in earning a 6-3 win. That’s eight goalies that the Flyers have used this season, which is now an NHL record. Talbot was also playing his first game since February 9. Since his acquisition, it’s been a steady diet of Carter Hart and Brian Elliott. Talbot isn’t an ideal own, as Hart is expected to return shortly from day-to-day ankle injury. (mar2)
9. Damon Severson is on pace for his first 40-point season. That 40-point season would come in the magical ‘fifth’ year, so there’s a bit of post-hype sleeper here. One note, if you’re in a league that counts plus-minus: Severson has never been a plus player, and his career total is minus-78 over those five seasons. (mar2)
Scott Gordon is clearly showing confidence in the second-year D-man. Under Dave Hakstol, Sanheim averaged just over 16 minutes per game but he is up to an average of more than 21:00 per game since Gordon took over as head coach. Sanheim is owned in just 8 percent of Yahoo leagues, in case you’re wondering. Don’t assume that Sanheim will supplant Shayne Gostisbehere on the first-unit power play, yet Sanheim seems to be arriving as a bonafide NHL defenseman. (mar1)
If you're still catching up on this past week's NHL Trade Deadline deals and their fantasy hockey implications, be sure to visit our tracker for a clear and comprehensive breakdown of each — links to the trades themselves, to player profiles, as well as to our discussion forums.
11. Since arriving for his second tour of duty in Edmonton, Sam Gagner has scored three goals in eight games, with these three goals all within his last six games. If you’re Edmonton, what have you got to lose by sticking him on the first-unit power play, similar to the way he was used in Columbus two seasons ago?
12. Canucks’ fans were happy to get something back – anything at all, even a bag of pucks – for Erik Gudbranson. So maybe it was a bonus that Tanner Pearson scored his first goal as a Canuck on Thursday, or at least it was one of the few bright spots for the Canucks. Pearson is getting his chance to play on the top line with Pettersson, so you could add him in a deeper league in the hopes that a new team will provide a short-term spark. I have to at least say that he’s looked okay so far. You can also check out the Pearson trade fantasy impact. (mar1)
13. As is currently the case with Jake Gardiner (back), one injury to one of the Leafs’ Big Four of Gardiner/Morgan Rielly / Jake Muzzin / Travis Dermott on the blue line leads to the Leafs trotting out Ron Hainsey/ Nikita Zaitsev / Igor Ozhiganov on the right side of their defense. It shows the fragility of the blue line. If a center gets hurt, they can move William Nylander to the middle. If a winger gets hurt, they’re so deep they had Andreas Johnsson on the fourth line for big chunks of the year. If one of their left-shooting defensemen get hurt, well, you see the result. (feb28)
14. Sami Vatanen was activated off IR and back in the lineup this week, though I’m not sure how much fantasy value there will be. Given that he’s a guy without high levels of peripheral stats, he’s reliant on point production. I don’t think there’ll be much of that for the next little while as the Devils struggle with numerous injuries. (feb28)
15. Jimmy Vesey has six points in his last four games since joining the top line following Mats Zuccarello’s trade. I thought it would be Pavel Buchnevich being given the chance but it’s been Vesey on the top line, averaging over 20 minutes a night. I worry about lineups being shuffled eventually but Vesey is pretty close to a must-own right now. (feb28)
16. Jeff Carter recorded two assists on Saturday. This isn’t usually big news, but Carter had been held without a point in his previous nine games and is still without a goal in his previous 12 games.
I was hoping that Carter would have been traded out of LA at the deadline to a better situation but rumor was that he was threatening to retire if he was traded. It’s still possible that Carter could rebound to some degree next season, but there are a ton of other better options at center if you are pushing to win this season.
When I talk about “a better situation”, I mean that only the Ducks have a lower goals-for total than the Kings this season. Also, the Kings’ win on Saturday was their first win in 11 games, so these are lean times in LA. (mar3)
17. Since James Reimer is out of the lineup due to injury, Sam Montembeault made his NHL debut on Saturday. The rookie made 22 saves in an eventual 4-3 overtime loss to the Hurricanes. His AHL numbers (3.16 GAA, .901 SV%) aren’t serving as proof that he’s NHL ready yet, so keeper leaguers should exercise patience.
If the Panthers shop for another starting goalie in the offseason, then Montembeault will be in the AHL another season or two anyway. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if the worn-down Roberto Luongo ‘retires’ on LTIR before his contract expires. (mar3)
8. When David Pastrnak went down with the injury two weeks ago, many fantasy owners were concerned about Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron continuing their torrid paces. Marchand has 11 points in the nine games without his opposite winger. Bergeron has just eight. (feb27)
19. Sasha Barkov is clicking right along this season at an 86-point pace and creates magic on a nightly basis. He’s another player who has started to shake the moniker of being injury prone. He’s hasn’t missed a game this year and only sat out three games last season. (no jinx). (feb27)
20. There was a lot of hubbub on social media following the trade of Brandon Montour from Anaheim to Buffalo. The hubbub was largely around whether Montour’s poor 2018-19 season is a reflection of him, his team, his coach, or some combination of the three.
To be sure, Anaheim’s injuries have negatively affected almost everyone on that roster. All the same, Randy Carlyle was the coach for Montour’s entire NHL career to date. Laying this year at Carlyle’s feet while disregarding the previous two seasons is disingenuous at best.
Though he’ll have time to develop his defensive game, at this point, Montour is a much better offensive defenseman than a defensive one. His blue line defense has been subpar for his career and he doesn’t do a good job limiting shots from the dangerous areas
There’s a very real possibility that Montour performs similarly to new teammate Rasmus Ristolainen: passable offensively but poor defensively, and the offense doesn’t make up for the lack of defense. It’s a question, then, of whether Montour can flourish under a new coach on a new team. (feb26)
The gamble for Buffalo was sending prospect defenseman Brendan Guhle and the first-rounder for Montour. I’ve always liked Guhle’s ability at both ends and was seemingly coming into his own in the AHL the last year or so. He’ll get an immediate shot in the NHL with Anaheim, though that’s obviously a very poor situation. (feb26)
21. Gustav Nyquist ’s fantasy fortunes hinge on his placement, and as far as the move to San Jose goes, this is likely a downgrade for him.
There are only two right-handed shots currently in the team’s top two lines, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi. It’s possible they go with three lefties on the second line, pushing Donskoi to the third line, but I think it makes more sense for Nyquist to replace Marcus Sorensen on Thornton’s line. We’ll see how that shakes out. Nyquist has moved to a better team but it’s not necessarily a better situation fantasy-wise. (feb26)
Have a good week, folks!!
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