Well Dobberites, the days of our beloved Managing Editor, Steve Laidlaw bringing sage advice and poignant takes is done for the season. Steve will be off saving our West Coast forests from the summer blazes and you’ll all have to deal with me.
As the season closes and the playoffs wrap up, I’ll be taking some deeper dives into some specific topics. Until then, expect a mix of rundowns from the night’s contests and a deeper think.
My self-proclaimed speciality is on the prospect side of the ledger and while you can still read my weekly Ramblings, Draft Rankings and Mailbag over on DobberProspects I’ll still bring that voice to these main Ramblings.
The league has never before witnessed such impactful results from the youngsters of the game and I believe that any leagues, including the one-years need to be well informed of who’s who in the world of prospects.
Before we tackle the NHL games, over in Sweden a triumphant series concluded between the Allsvenskan (tier two) champion Timrå IK squad and the SHL cellar-dweller, Karlskrona HK for the right to play in the top league for next season.
The storeylines ran deep in this one, as Canucks’ prospect, Jonathan Dahlén had an opportunity to exercise a contractual out-clause back in January to move to an SHL team (which he was heavily recruited) or cross the pond and join the Utica Comets of the AHL.
As the league's leading scorer and team leader, he instead decided to stay with the organization that he’d been a part of since he was 16 in order to push for the promotion.
Down 3-1 in the series, Dahlén and his mates refused to go quietly into the night, winning three straight contests including an exciting game seven victory on Friday.
Jonathan Dahlen with a goal in Timrå’s incredible game seven victory for promotion to the SHL.— /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) April 6, 2018
They trailed the series 3-1.
Dahlen finishes the playoffs with 14 points (8+6) in 10 games.
He leaves the team a living legend #Canucks
It is expected that Dahlén will now join Utica for their playoff run.
Speaking of Canucks' prospects, the newest Vancouver signee and former Northeastern standout, Adam Gaudette was named the Hobey Baker Trophy winner as the NCAA’s top player on Friday. The rangy centre led the nation in goals (30) points (60) and power play points (27).
He’s the first Canucks’ prospect to ever win the award.
Friday night’s Chicago vs St Louis game was the marquee match and represented the tail-end of a home-and-home set after the Blackhawks stunned the Blues when Duncan Keith fired home just his second goal of the year with nine seconds left in regulation to rob the Blues of a crucial point.
The Blue Notes came into the evening trailing Colorado by a single point for the final wild card spot in the West and this time they weren’t letting their old Central division foe get the better of them.
The stars mostly took the night off as it was Patrik Berglund playing the hero by scoring a hat-trick, recording five shots on net and five hits in under 15 minutes of ice.
We now have ourselves a doosie of a Saturday evening tilt as the Blues will head into the Mile High city to take on the Avs with a playoff spot on the line. St Louis holds a one point lead and their 41 ROWs (regulation + overtime wins) stands one ahead as well.
It’ll be simple for Colorado: win in regulation and they’re in the playoffs. Anything else and it’s the dreaded bubble finish. They’ll be catching a tired Blues’ squad but there will be no shortage of incentive and energy.
We can only hope to see a tie game late and have the Avs yank their goalie for the dramatic push for the W.
In the early game, The Bolts had to fight off the 31st placed Sabres’ squad in a dramatic back-and-forth match in which both Casey Mittelstadt and Alex Nylander recorded their first career goals in the first period.
Steven Stamkos sat this game out and will miss the final regular season contest as well. Word is he is expected to be ready for game one of the first round.
Brayden Point recorded his 12th game-winning goal – tying Stamkos’ club record set in 2011-12. What a season it's been for Point and we can only assume that his 66 points are just the tip of the iceberg moving forward.
Nikita Kucherov became the second player to hit triple digits this season and we may just see another if Claude Giroux can find the scoresheet in his final game on Saturday.
With the 7-5 victory, Tampa moved two points ahead of idle Boston and back into top spot in the East. The Bruins hold a game in hand but trail in ROWs.
Whichever team takes that division and conference title will face off against the second wildcard team while the other gets the Maple Leafs in round one.
Speaking of that Eastern Conference wild card spot, the NHL dropped a bombshell on Friday announcing the potential for a tie-breaking play-in game.
Should the #Flyers lose their final regular season game to the #NYRangers by two goals, and the #FlaPanthers win their final two regular season games in shootouts, a tie-breaking game will be needed.— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) April 6, 2018
And. That. Would. Be. Awesome. https://t.co/t41JtFBAm9 #TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/VjNQ1VSQdg
Basically, if all major tie-breakers are knotted at the completion of the 82nd game, Philly and Florida would play a winner take all game to see who gets in.
Talk about drama.
Speaking of playoff action, don't forget to check out DobberHockey's Free NHL Playoff Boxes
No big deal, but Phil Kessel just finished his season with 92 points, besting his previous career-high by 10. You can’t help but love this guy.
It’s been a historically offensive season in the NHL, and we as fantasy managers can only hope that it continues moving forward.
Nine players have 90 or more points this year.— /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) April 6, 2018
There have been 11 90+ point getters combined over the previous seven seasons.
Last July 1st gave a modicum of hope that GMs were learning not to throw massive term to UFAs the moment they hit the market.
Kevin Shattenkirk, last season’s most eligible bachelor, earned himself just a four year deal to the tune of 6.65 million. The yearly output is reasonable, but in season's gone by he would have likely had a bidding war going and an automatic term of seven years.
However, as some clubs steer clear and prefer to build through the draft rather than back up the Brinks’ truck for player’s ditching their original organizations – as is the appropriate method during this salary cap era, we still see teams become lost at valuing their own free agents – despite some overwhelming evidence to say it’s time to move on.
Last year, TJ Oshie converted on a historically high 23.1 percent of his shots – eight percent higher than his career average. That led to a career-high in goals (33) and an eight year deal worth 46 million.
He was clicking at 11.1 percent at even-strength – also a career-high.
Surprise surprise, this season he’s back shooting at his career averages during all situations and is on pace for a mere 18 goals and 48 points. He’s 31 years old and has seven more years at 5.75 million per.
Oshie was just a recent example of a team valuing a big performance in a contract year and (I guess?) hoping the unsustainable numbers could be replicated.
This offseason, we’ll see if teams have learned a collective lesson as, William Karlsson (RFA), Sven Baertschi (RFA), and Anders Lee (eligible to be extended July 1st) are positioning themselves to test the mental fortitude of their respective GMs.
Baertschi has clicked on 17. 1 of his shots to score 14 goals and 29 points in 53 games – four percent higher than his career average. As mentioned, he’s a restricted free agent looking for a substantial raise on the 1.8 million he had been earning. With Nikolay Goldobin requiring waivers next season and appearing to be a legit NHL player, the smart move may be to deal the 25-year-old rather than likely overpaying him.
We shall see though.
Meanwhile, Anders Lee has quietly become one of the most dangerous net front men in the league and sits tied for 12th in goals the past three seasons with 88. That has him wedged amongst Joe Pavelski, Filip Forsberg and Artemi Panarin.Over the past two seasons, he sits tied for fifth in goals league wide with Brad Marchand and Auston Matthews. Ahead of players such as Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, and Vladimir Tarasenko.
He’s also been clicking on nearly 20 percent of his shots this season after converting on 17.8 percent a season ago – a far cry from the 11 percent his finished with over the course of his first three campaigns.Lee does work around layup territory so it’s expected he’ll have a slightly higher conversion rate than an outside shooter, but it’s risky business to expect a near-20 percent rate to continue.
The powerful winger has been earning a modest 3.75 million and will be eligible for extension on July 1st. The Isles will have their hands full trying to sign captain, John Tavares but expect them to begin talks with their big bodied winger as well, and expect it to be a costly venture.
Another RFA with massive red flags is also one of the best stories of the season. What William Karlsson has done with Vegas has been remarkable. His 43 goals thus far sit third in the league after his previous career high of….nine goals back in 2015-16 ranked a slightly less impressive 263rd.
These 43 goals on 184 shots works out to a 23.4 percent shooting percentage. That’s the fourth highest mark in the last 20 years. His career average before that was 7.7.
Top Shooters since 1997-1998
- Mike Ribeiro 25.2% 2007-08
- Sergei Kostitsyn 24.7% 2010-11
- Curtis Glencross 23.6% 2011-12
- William Karlsson 23.4% 2017-18
Karlsson is coming off a paltry two-year bridge deal worth a million per and is going to licking his chops at the opportunity to sign a lengthy and lucrative deal. The former Blue Jacket does own arbitration rights which could result in a one or two year contract if the team or player decided to go that route, but the Golden Knights could be left with an unhappy player heading towards unrestricted free agency.
Another bridge deal that buys a year of UFA status would be prudent but watch for the lucrative long term contract and subsequent dip in metrics bringing the whole party back to earth.
Players can get hot and skew metrics but often it’s over the course of a month or three. It’s when a guy beats the odds and maintains sky high conversion rate over the course of a full season that things get dicey and even more so during a contract year.
General managers need to be extra wary of those players just as fantasy mangers need to be. Selling a player after a tremendous season may be difficult to swallow but give me a consistent 60-point player over an out-of-nowhere 70-point guy any day.
The hockey community is in shock tonight as the SJHL Humboldt Broncos team bus was involved in a terrible accident. At the time of writing there have been an unknown number of confirmed fatalities.
It’s difficult to put into words the feelings that occur when something so devastating happens. This will be felt by so many people and alter lifes forever. Please hug your loved ones a little tighter tonight.
I speak for all of us at DobberHockey when I say that those involved and everyone affected are in our thoughts and we are wishing and hoping for the best.
Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3
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