November 5, 2015

by steve laidlaw on November 5, 2015

Perry, Perron and Shaw all get the monkey off their back, Skinner needs a fresh start, and more.

Today we celebrate DobberHockey’s 10-year anniversary! I became a DobberHockey reader in early 2007 and it didn’t take long for me to get hooked. I was spending way too much time focusing on my first ever fantasy league as an escape from my studies and coming here was the perfect outlet. The columns and daily ramblings provided a ton of info for a newbie like myself and set me on the path to victory. How else would I have figured out to grab Mike Green and Mark Streit before they became household names?

I often joke that I got a major in fantasy hockey at university and if that’s true, the DobberHockey forums were definitely my classroom. It’s where most of my strategies and notions on fantasy hockey were shaped. It’s where I learned to write.

People often talk about the “fork in the road” moment where their life could have veered one direction or another. The day I typed “fantasy hockey assistance” into my web browser was surely one of those for me. If I didn’t stumble into this crazy world of fantasy hockey, who knows what I might have gotten hooked on instead.

I wasn’t here from the beginning but in my almost nine-year association I’ve experienced some tremendous personal and professional growth. DobberHockey will always be inextricably linked to this time in my life, no matter where I end up down the road.

Thank you, Dobber, for creating this space and for allowing me the opportunity to develop as a writer.

Thank you to all our writers, past and present, who have helped and continue to help me in my fantasy leagues. The learning never ends.

Finally, thank you to all of our readers and forum members for continuing to come back and make this a safe space to bounce around ideas and share tips and strategies. It’s ultimately you guys that make this all possible. Dobber, myself and the rest of the writers, we wouldn’t be able to provide you this content if not for your loyalty. The guide purchases, the clicks, the comments, the forum posts; they are the fuel that keeps this engine humming. I hope we’ve lived up to your standards.

Here’s to another 10 years of being the best damned fantasy hockey site in the business!

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Brian Elliott had a wacky one. Giving up four goals on 15 shots in the first period. He got yanked, then put back in and then yanked again after a collision as Jonathan Toews and David Backes crashed into the goal. Ultimately, Elliott came away hurt, possibly concussed.

To make matters worse, Jake Allen slammed the door after allowing a goal late in the first period, stopping 27 of 28 shots, and grabbing a come-from-behind overtime victory. This thrusts Allen into the lead spot in the battle for the Blues’ crease.

Of course, we all know that Elliott will still see action, as long as he’s healthy. And we also know that at some point Allen will stumble. When Elliott jumps back into the pole position, don’t be shocked.

The Blues needed six goals to complete the comeback, which meant lots of heroes.

David Backes scored a goal and an assist giving him three goals and four points in the last three games. He’s starting to find some offense but I would caution that he’s not even a lock for the Blues’ top power play unit, which really hinders his potential now that he’s been fully removed from top-line duties alongside Alexander Steen. 50 points is starting to look like the ceiling here. That changes if Backes can get back on the top power play unit though. He has scored 10 power-play goals in each of the past two seasons, which really helped to drive his scoring total towards 60 points.

Colton Parayko continues to produce in Kevin Shattenkirk’s absence putting up a pair of assists. Ride him until he goes cold. I still think 40 points is the absolute maximum for Parayko so please don’t overvalue him.

A neat little reminder for how fantasy hockey can turn on a dime is the Blues’ 2013-14 season when they had three defensemen (Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester) all on pace for over 50 points at the end of December. Only one of them made it, with Pietrangelo barely hitting the mark with 51 points.

Right now it looks like the Blues are loaded with offensively capable defensemen but it doesn’t take much for a cold streak to start up.

It doesn’t look like the tryouts for Martin Havlat or Dainius Zubrus have gone particularly well. The Blues called up Magnus Paajarvi. For what it’s worth, Paajarvi has been respectably productive down in the AHL with seven points in seven games this season. Paajarvi skated 13 minutes on the third line last night. No points but he did fire off four SOG.

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It took a penalty shot but Andrew Shaw finally scored for the Blackhawks. He added an assist to help force a bit of air into the lungs of his drowning owners. Shaw remains a fixture on the Blackhawks’ top power play unit but he has never produced enough to warrant the position. His career high of five power-play goals just isn’t enough for a guy planted in front of the net for such a talented group. The fact that the Blackhawks rank 14th in power-play efficiency over the past three years is damning.

Teuvo Teravainen continues to make the most of his opportunity to skate in the top six. With Marian Hossa still nicked up and Viktor Tikhonov scratched, Teravainen has scored two goals and added an assist in two games alongside Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. He could go on a real run if the Blackhawks keep him on this line. Remember Kris Versteeg’s hot run from last season that began with ga spot alongside Kane?

Marko Dano scored a goal in just 8:53 of action, which is what he needs to do if he wants to stick around.

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I’m not sure how the rest of the game shook out but the first period of Jets-Leafs was all about the lines of JVR-Kadri-Komarov and Perreault-Scheifele-Ehlers going head-to-head for some wonderfully wide-open hockey trading chances at each end.

The Scheifele line got the better end of it in the first, scoring a pair of goals, one from a pinching Dustin Byfuglien, and the other from Mark Scheifele himself, but the Kadri line was not without chances. It looks as though the Leafs’ top line would eventually find one as Leo Komarov scored during the second period.

I find it hilarious that I am becoming the official torch bearer of the “Nazem Kadri has fantasy value” club because it wasn’t that long ago I was critiquing his credentials as an elite fantasy prospect. Oh how the times change. Kadri continues to average 4.0 SOG per game, a 328-shot pace. The list of seasons where a player fired over 300 shots and failed to score at least 30 goals is a short one (just 35 examples in all) and littered with defensemen.

The only forward you’ll find on that list who failed to score at least 60 points or 20 goals is Jason Blake who manage the latter feat once, during his first season in Toronto and the former feat twice. I suppose the Blake example might help explain why not even Leaf fans are on board with Kadri but if you watch the games, Kadri is no Blake-like puck chucker. He generates real scoring chances.

Whether or not Kadri can sustain this shooting binge is up for debate but even with some pull back in the total number of shots, Kadri’s fantasy case remains strong.

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David Perron scored his first goal of the season. He has bounced up and down the Penguins’ roster but seems to have settled onto the second line alongside Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel with three points in the last four games. Those are his only points of the season. His ceiling is limited because of a lack of time on the top power play unit but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him score at a 50-point pace the rest of the way. It should help that he has the monkey off his back.

I plucked Chris Kunitz off the waiver in one of my keeper leagues. This is a deep league too. Shocking to see how far he has fallen. Now skating on the third line with second power play unit duties, Kunitz’s fantasy value has all but dried up.

We still haven’t seen the Penguins’ offense get rolling yet though, and maybe Kunitz springs back to life in the event Pittsburgh starts scoring more than the 2.25 goals per game they are currently averaging. Kunitz’s precipitous drop from relevance might have something to do with that lack of scoring though.

Whatever the case, I’m giving Kunitz the benefit of the doubt at least a few weeks longer. I also have him in the Dobber Experts League where I am struggling to get out of the dreaded middle of the pack. A productive player in Kunitz’s slot would probably go a long way for me, especially as he lays waste to my games-played limit.

These are both deep leagues, with few good options on the waiver wire. If you are in a shallower league staring at a hot option like Brad Marchand or Artemi Panarin or Mathieu Perreault on the waiver wire, you can feel free to dump Kunitz.

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Chris Higgins made his season debut for the Canucks but skated just 9:58. Getting eased in. Check out the Canucks’ lines from last night:

16.97%

EV

SEDIN,DANIEL – SEDIN,HENRIK – VRBATA,RADIM

16.51%

EV

HANSEN,JANNIK – HIGGINS,CHRISTOPHER – HORVAT,BO

10.55%

EV

CRACKNELL,ADAM – DORSETT,DEREK – MCCANN,JARED

10.09%

EV

BURROWS,ALEXANDRE – SUTTER,BRANDON – VIRTANEN,JAKE

5.05%

PP

SEDIN,DANIEL – SEDIN,HENRIK – VRBATA,RADIM

 

Higgins’ upside is limited as it is but on a line with Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen it is almost nonexistent.

Yannick Weber has been skating alongside Alex Edler on the top power-play unit for the past six games and it’s been hit or miss. The Canucks have connected on 29.4% of their power-play opportunities during that span but Weber has just one point in those six games. Keep an eye on him for now.

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What excellent timing for Corey Perry, scoring his first goal of the season with just six seconds left in last night’s game, helping to force overtime. The Ducks would eventually win in the shootout giving Freddie Andersen his second straight win. One more and we can call it a *gasp* streak.

That whooshing sound you hear is the floodgates getting ripped open for Perry. Ryan Getzlaf was back practicing after his appendectomy and should be back soon. Now that Perry’s got the monkey off his back the goals are going to start pouring in. Just watch.

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There’s still no timetable for Zach Bogosian’s return to the Sabres’ lineup.

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Some great goodies in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

21. Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter experimented with Marian Gaborik away from Anze Kopitar, and one opposing coach said he saw why. “Gaborik is more of a freelancer, and sometimes Kopitar looks frustrated with it.” (The coach is not Maurice. As usual, no named source is used for anonymous comments.)

We know Gaborik is eventually going to find some goals but this is really interesting insight. 36 of Gaborik’s 46 points from last season came with Kopitar on the ice and 54 of Kopitar’s 64 came with Gaborik on the ice. These two are inextricably linked but might they be better off apart? I’m still campaigning hard for a Tyler Toffoli-Kopitar combo.

Kopitar, by the way, is ‘good’ after some concussion concerns following Tuesday’s game against the Blues.

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Bob McKenzie profiles three excellent young players seemingly at the crossroads of their careers.

If we're all being honest here, I think the Canes would say Skinner needs to be far more assertive, that he needs to play harder and go to the blue paint with a lot more authority; not be so careful. On the flip side, I think Skinner would say he needs to play a lot more, certainly see a lot more power-play time; be used and trusted in a lot more meaningful situations with better players.

I think, more than anything, Skinner needs a healthy season, which he hasn’t had since he was a rookie. Constantly having to battle back from one ailment or another, several of which have been concussions has got to be taxing. Does he even have the confidence to go to the dirty areas? To get into knife-fighting range, where the majority of goals are scored? Skinner’s shot chart from last season doesn’t suggest he was all that fearful of the blue paint.

What we know for certain is that Skinner saw steep drop in power-play time from 3:05 per game in 2013-14 to 2:06 per game in 2014-15. The result was seven fewer power-play goals and 13 fewer power-play points. No wonder he struggled.

That doesn’t totally justify Skinner’s disengagement this season. Instead, it’s an even further drop in ice time, down to just 15:34 per game, even as his power-play minutes have risen slightly. His 2.3 shots per game represent the lowest pace of his career.

McKenzie’s piece suggests that the Hurricanes aren’t shopping Skinner but they also aren’t averse to moving him if the price is right. A fresh start could be the best thing for both sides. Skinner may not be playing well enough to have earned Bill Peters’ trust but trust is a two-way street. Right now, it’s tough to envision Skinner getting out of this rut without a trade. Let’s get Skinner on a team willing to use him.

Just for a brief moment, can you imagine if the Kings had targeted Skinner instead of Milan Lucic? Oh what could have been.

Rick Roos has more on Skinner in his latest Cage Match.

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My latest Waiver Wednesday piece has a bit of advice on replacing Connor McDavid.

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I have been appearing on the Hockey Unfiltered show on SiriusXM each Sunday for a Fantasy Five segment. You can listen to this week’s show here. I typically appear in the 12:45 EST slot if you want to catch us live.

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Justin Bourne has some excellent analysis on the backhand-shelf deke and how it is creating opportunities for NHL scorers.

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Pierre LeBrun with a little bit of info on the NHL and NHLPA meeting about future Olympic participation.

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Brad Mills with an insightful piece on life on the hockey bubble.

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Wade Redden talks about the physical challenges of being an aging NHL defenseman.

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Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.