Every Sunday, we'll share 21 Fantasy Rambles — formerly known as 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. Vegas is a team I really struggle with. Their top two lines, one of which Alex Tuch is a part of, are incredible. I know the top line has struggled to score this year but that’s more luck than anything. The second line has been great, particularly when Brandon Pirri was there.
Unfortunately, it’s not a situation where they’re given huge opportunities for success. For example, no forward this year is averaging 19:30 of ice time per game, only three are over and/or around 19 minutes (William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith. They also spread out the power-play minutes between eight forwards: 2:00 to 3:00 PPTOI/game.
So, without loads of ice time and heavy PP usage, can Tuch be a 70-point player? Well, the top line did it last year. Why not the second line this year (or in future seasons)?
Tuch is a very, very good real-life player and a very, very good fantasy option, particularly in leagues that count hits. He’s only 22 years old and has seemingly locked himself into top-six minutes plus one of the power-play units. Maybe he doesn’t hit his true ceiling, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be very valuable in the fantasy game. (jan17)
2. Speaking of guys who produce good-but-not-great numbers because of a lack of power play production (and minutes):
I understand that 26 points in 48 games isn’t a great fantasy campaign for Travis Konecny owners, but he’s second among the team’s forwards in points/60 minutes this year, trailing only Claude Giroux.
He’s also first among their forwards in shot attempts/60 minutes. And he does everything we look for in a player’s underlying metrics: drives the play, shoots, looks for exits/entries with possession, and knows how to find his teammates.
Konecny is a burgeoning star. This is a guy fantasy owners who are currently way out of the league race should be targeting. You can probably get away with a very good roster player and a draft pick to get him. I would be at least inquiring. This kid is going to be a very, very good fantasy asset for the next decade. (jan17)
3. I’ll admit I’d been a bit underwhelmed with Jonathan Marchessault’s production entering Saturday action (31 points in 49 games), especially since I’d used a draft pick just outside the top 50 for his services.
If you felt the same way, you were relieved to see Marchessault score three against the Penguins. Marchessault entered the game with just one point in his previous seven games, so you could argue that he was due. His 182 shots places him in the top 10 in that category. However, despite his hat trick, his 17 goals still doesn’t even place him in the top 50 in that category. Expect a stronger second half from him. (jan20)
4. Since the team-imposed suspension on Sergei Bobrovsky, Joonas Korpisalo has started four of the past six games for the Blue Jackets. A three-game winning streak might have had something to do with it, but Korpisalo had that streak snapped on Friday against Montreal. Bobrovsky was back between the pipes against the Wild on Saturday.
With Bob’s future likely not to be in Columbus after this season, this is a situation worth monitoring. I don’t see Bobrovsky being traded at the deadline, though. Not with the Jackets in a battle for first place in the Metro Division (which the Islanders now lead!). (jan19)
5. It couldn’t have gone any better for coach Barry Trotz in his return to Washington on Friday. Thomas Greiss stopped all 19 shots he faced in the Isles’ 2-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup champions. Greiss has struggled at times this season but he’s allowed just one goal with a .983 SV% over his last two starts. Like Robin Lehner, he’s benefitted from the Trotz/Mitch Korn influence. (jan19)
6. Speaking of Lehner, there were plenty of comments about him on Ramblings and Facebook this week. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important to bring up the drug addiction and mental illness that he has overcome as key reasons for his breakout season. Along with the Vezina Trophy, Lehner should definitely be considered for the Masterton Trophy. If you have an Athletic subscription, take the time to read this October 26 piece on his addiction and bipolar diagnosis.
Someone commented that they weren’t sure what Lehner’s value would be next season with him only being signed to a one-year contract with the Islanders. That’s a very good point, because the Isles also own the rights to Ilya Sorokin, who is dominating the KHL (32 GP, 1.17 GAA, .942 SV%). According to writer Arthur Staple, Sorokin would be on a one-year, waiver-exempt deal if he decided to come over next season (which he is reportedly interested in), although it’s no sure thing when it comes to the KHL. There are also the Sergei Bobrovsky rumors, which you can read more about in the article. Either way, it’s not looking good if you’re holding out hope that Greiss will be the starter. (jan19)
7. One Panthers’ scoring center returned to the lineup perhaps earlier than expected this week. Vincent Trocheck recorded an assist on Friday, while dishing seven hits in his first game since fracturing his ankle two months ago. (I sure didn’t have that recovery time when I fractured my ankle!) Trocheck played on a line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, although he skated on the second-unit power play. (jan19)
8. In spite of his rough start, Nick Leddy has collected eight points (all assists) over his last 11 games. Even though his overall production (one goal and 18 points in 47 games) might not cut it for your team, he is still receiving first-unit power-play time for the Islanders. It might only be a matter of time before he is moved off the first unit, considering that the Islanders’ power play is in the bottom third of the league. The last time I checked, though, first-unit power-play time matters for defensemen.
Leddy has reached the 40-point mark in each of his previous three seasons, so he’ll be doing his job for your roster if he assumes a half-point-per-game pace for the rest of the season. I think that’s worth a buy-low pickup. (jan18)
9. The Wild didn’t go ‘wild’ in the scoring department on Saturday, but they scored enough to defeat the Blue Jackets by a score of 2-1. One particular line of interest featured two new members of the Wild: Pontus Aberg and Victor Rask, the latter who was playing in his first game with the Wild.
Both Aberg and Rask assisted on the game-winning goal scored by new linemate Zach Parise, who has now reached 20 goals. This line combination could be positive for Aberg and Rask while giving the Wild three solid scoring lines. Aberg is already on his fourth NHL team in three seasons, while Rask was a huge disappointment this season (six points in 26 games in Carolina), so both players clearly have something to prove here. (jan20)
More about Aberg: He was often deployed with Ryan Getzlaf while in Anaheim, it seems as though teams are willing to try him with their top scorers. But if he’s not scoring, teams don’t want him in their lineups. I added Aberg for a few weeks during his run in Anaheim, but I’d be looking for continued ice time with Parise and consistent scoring before adding him again. (jan18)
10. One day after being traded for Victor Rask, Nino Niederreiter made his Hurricanes’ debut. He was held without a point, took four shots on goal, and skated a total of 16:57 on a line with Justin Williams and Greg McKegg, which also included some second-unit power play time.
Obviously this is a fluid situation as Niederreiter adjusts to his new team, but this doesn’t seem like the kind of usage that would motivate me to add him right away (24 percent owned in Yahoo leagues). For more on Thursday’s Hurricanes/Wild trade, see our Fantasy Impact article. (jan18)
11. John Gibson owners can breathe a sigh of relief. The Ducks’ overworked goalie stopped all 37 shots he faced in picking up the shutout on Thursday, and then held the fort for another win on Saturday, 3-2 against the Devils. Since his last game off on December 18, Gibson had appeared in 11 consecutive games and not picked up a single victory – a span of nearly an entire month.
The Ducks are in a logjam for one of the final two wild card spots in the Western Conference, so it’s clear that Gibson will need to carry this team if they are going to make the playoffs. But in the meantime, he may continue to have a tough time earning wins. (jan18)
12. Part of the Ducks’ shakeup this week involved the recalls of prospects Max Jones and Troy Terry. It just so happened that Terry scored both his first NHL goal and added his first NHL assist on Saturday afternoon.
The punchless Ducks (30th in the NHL with 2.35 GF/GP) could use Terry’s offense, as he now appears to be NHL-ready (37 points in 32 AHL games). Terry lined up with Jones and recently reacquired Derek Grant, giving the Ducks what is truly a brand new line. That might be what the Ducks have needed, as they have now won two games in a row after losing 12 in a row before that. (jan20)
13. Peter Cehlarik was called up by the Bruins earlier this week and immediately skated on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk in his first game. This is important because it resulted in the healthy scratch of David Backes.
I had hopes that Backes could flourish alongside a playmaking center and a talented, young scoring winger but he’s simply floundered. Some of his play-driving metrics were strong as recently as last year, so I don’t think he’s fallen off the map as a player.
With that said, the 20-goal, 50-point seasons are long gone. If he can be a solid two-way, bottom-six winger for the balance of his contract, I think that’s the best Boston can ask for. (jan17)
14. Jordan Binnington has literally come out of nowhere to be one of January’s hottest goalies. With a 28-save win against the Senators, Binnington now has wins in four of his last five games. He has now at least forced a timeshare with the struggling Jake Allen, although there is definitely a case where he should be the outright starter in the short term while the Blues try to climb back into the playoff race.
15. Apparently, general manager Peter Chiarelli is ready and willing to make a splash. Rumours have swirled of late that the Oilers are willing to move this year’s first-round selection to push for a playoff spot. And according to Elliott Freidman on the NHL Network, Jesse Puljujarvi has joined in on the fun as an official trade chip.
Firstly, if ownership allows Chiarelli to destroy their future even further by dealing that pick or Puljujarvi, then there must no longer be any doubt; Chia has some disgusting dirt on Daryl Katz.
Whatever happens in Edmonton (and I assume it’ll be an unmitigated disaster), Puljujarvi getting out of town seems like the best hope for his fantasy value moving forward. Either that or a locked in spot next to Connor McDavid. A scenario that does not appear to be in the cards. (jan16)
16. Back in the middle of November, I wrote part of a Ramblings on three young defensemen with standout starts to the 2018-19 season: Thomas Chabot, Miro Heiskanen and Henri Jokiharju. Since then, none have proven themselves anything other than standouts.
Though Chabot just returned from injury, Heiskanen is playing for a boring team, and Jokiharju’s ice time is declining, the results have still been very good for all three since the time of writing. It’s truly a triumvirate of talented defensemen, all of whom could be in the upper-tier of blueliners in a few years’ time (Chabot may already be there). (jan15)
17. Nolan Patrick’s two-goal, two-assist game earlier this week was his first point(s) of any kind in 10 games, his first multi-goal game of the year, and his first multi-point game since November 1. I will say, the young Flyer has looked better than his points give him credit for. He just needs more time. (jan15)
18. Carl Soderberg now has 16 goals on the season, which ties a career high. He’s also over two shots on goal per game for the first time in his career, and the additional shots are leading to goals. Who knew. (jan15)
19. I don’t care how great Thatcher Demko is, I am the lone wolf of the DobberHockey writers – Demko isn’t going to usurp this.
Jacob Markstrom is posting stellar numbers, he was a highly-touted prospect (more highly-touted than Demko is now, even), and yes, he had some rough years and took six years longer to ‘make it’ than we wanted – but he’s getting it done and he’s making $4 million next year.
So, he’s getting all the starts he wants for the next year and a half. And you know what? If he keeps posting a 0.920 SV% as this team gets better, the best prospect in the world isn’t going to take it from him. I’ve seen it before and I’ll see it again (remember Jonathan Bernier was the next big thing, but couldn’t wrench the job away from a fella named Jonathan Quick who got there a year earlier).
If Markstrom continues to play above average and gets paid $4 million next year, what if they extend him in the summer? You know the Canucks will try to lock him in, so what if he gets extended for even higher salary for three or four more years? Then what happens to Demko then? I’ll tell you what happens – he gets the Schneider treatment. An extra couple of years too long in the AHL, plus far too long as a backup goalie.
So, here I am. The lone wolf. I think highly of Demko and his upside. I would trade him away in my keeper league because I want someone who will actually play a lot in the next couple of years. (jan14)
20. Blue Jacket Kevin Stenlund played his first and second career NHL games last weekend. He’s a solid middle-six prospect that had a great training camp and, as an AHL rookie, was heading toward a 20-goal season until his recall. He was plunked on a line with Alexander Wennberg and Anthony Duclair in his debut weekend. (jan14)
21. Chasing backups is something that I don’t do in keeper leagues unless I see a chance at the player becoming a starter. I had mild interest in Casey DeSmith, now that interest is gone. I have interest in Collin Delia, I have interest in David Rittich, and I like Cal Petersen over Jack Campbell. That’s it. (jan14)
Have a good week, folks!!
- Ramblings: Hamilton and the Hurricanes, Gibson’s Greatness, Ghosting Ghost Too Early?
- 21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
- Ramblings: Fast Starting Oilers, Kakko’s First Goal, Lehner/Raanta Season Debuts (Oct 13)
- Looking Ahead: October 11 through October 23
- Ramblings: The 10 Biggest Worries (Of My Projections)…and The 10 Guide Projections I’m Not Budging (Oct 14)
- The Journey: Next in Line - The Pacific Division
- Geek of the Week: Can Kevin Labanc Be A Breakout Star?
- Saturday's NHL Picks: October 12, 2019