October 29, 2015

by steve laidlaw on October 29, 2015

Brodie returns, Flames shuffle their lines, Kessel clicking with Malkin and more…

TJ Brodie returned to the Calgary lineup last night, skating 25:10 alongside Mark Giordano. He got just 13 seconds worth of power play time, however, so don’t go looking to him for fantasy production.

Dougie Hamilton was reduced to just 15:36 of ice time, a season low, but he also had perhaps his best game, at least statistically. Hamilton finished the night with his second goal of the season and seven shots on-goal. He even managed a plus-rating for just the second time this season. A positive sign for Hamilton but I’m not ready to buy. He also was run out there with the top power play unit, which could be his saving grace fantasy-wise.

Jonas Hiller left the game after a collision with Bobby Ryan. His health status is up in the air. This could be the break Karri Ramo needs to get back in the Calgary crease. That said, unless the Flames are going to play better I’m not sure the Calgary crease is where he wants to be.

Joni Ortio came on and stopped all five shots that he faced but was hung with the shootout loss.

The Flames mixed up their lines a bit last night, which is worth taking a look at:






















Sam Bennett definitely comes out smelling like roses getting to skate with Johnny Gaudreau at even strength and with Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on the top power play unit. He scored a goal and an assist, which is what one needs to do when afforded such an opportunity.

Joe Colborne also jumped on the chance to skate on the top line by scoring a goal of his own. He was also particularly productive for those in rotisserie leagues adding seven hits and five blocked shots.

It would be foolish to read too much into all of the Flames’ production from this one as it came against a bottom-10 squad in terms of goals-against. The Senators are particularly unwieldy with regard to shots allowed. And indeed they allowed the Flames to land 38 SOG.


It’s a funny interplay that goes on with shots against as it portends to goalie stats. On one hand, if Ottawa wasn’t allowing a league high 33.3 shots per game, Craig Anderson’s numbers might look ugly after allowing three goals or more in five of seven starts. On the other hand, Anderson might not have allowed so many goals if he wasn’t facing so much rubber. Ultimately, what’s really helping Anderson’s fantasy owners is the prolific Senator offense, which has helped him win four of seven starts.

What do you do as an Anderson owner? Do you sell in case the offense dries up and those high-scoring wins turn into losses? Or do you hold hoping for the defense to tighten up? Count me in the latter group because Anderson hasn’t done enough where you could sell him to the folks who allowed him to slide down the draft order in the first place.

With Mike Hoffman sitting out last night Bobby Ryan found some minutes on the top line with Kyle Turris and Mark Stone. Those minutes were far from plentiful but they did result in Ryan’s first goal of the season against an actual goaltender (and second overall). Perhaps this is what he needs to regain some confidence.


Some positive returns from the Evgeni MalkinPhil Kessel pairing combining for goals in each of the past two games. Safe to say they’ll stick for the foreseeable future. David Perron replaced Sergei Plotnikov on the line as the latter was scratched. Perron found an assist in what could be a very productive role.

Beau Bennett returned for the Penguins, skating on the third and fourth line and scored a goal.

No points for Sidney Crosby, which is becoming an all too common refrain. I had him for 100 points this season. At this point, that’s not even a remote possibility.

Daniel Sprong skated a team low 9:30. Despite this, it sounds like the Penguins intend to keep Sprong around for the full season.

If you are in a keeper league with a games-played limit for your minor league roster, then this only serves to hurt you. While Sprong is getting valuable experience against the best in the world, he’s also toiling away on the fourth line, not producing much in the way of fantasy value. So all this is really doing is accelerating the timetable where you’ll have to call him up, and if he’s not yet ready to be a fantasy contributor then this hinders your asset management.

I’ve been quietly shopping Sprong in one keeper league for this exact reason. We have a limit of 100 games played before our prospects losing minor league eligibility. At this rate, I could be forced to call up Sprong before next Christmas. Nothing suggests he’ll be a valuable fantasy contributor by then.

A similar story played out with Tom Wilson of the Capitals a few years ago. We are still waiting for Wilson to find his offensive game. At least in his case, he could provide value in hits and PIM.

Whether or not Sprong actually sticks around remains up for debate. But I know I’m rooting for a demotion.


The Sharks continue to get reinforcements. Paul Martin made his return to the lineup over the weekend and he’s teamed back up with Brent Burns. Nothing for power play time, however, so there’s minimal fantasy value there.

Joonas Donskoi made his return last night and was right back on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Donskoi is definitely intriguing in deeper leagues.

The Sharks power play continues to struggle without Logan Couture going 0/2 last night. They couldn’t so much as gain solid offensive zone possession, let alone generate scoring chances. Joel Ward got the call as the Couture replacement last night but the whole unit looks disjointed.


It sounds like whatever has been ailing Ryan Johansen is clearing up. He could be good to go by Friday, which is positive news.


Some interesting thoughts here from Bob McKenzie on comparables for Petr Mrazek and Dylan Larkin:

I think there will be a point in time where Petr Mrazek might do the same sort of thing in terms of the athletic ability to dominate his position, when he gets older and more experienced, as what Price has been doing.

It’s still anyone’s game in Detroit’s net. Mrazek does appear to be “winning” the battle with five starts to Jimmy Howard’s four. And he’ll continue to hold an edge with each goalie certain to pull one half of this weekend’s home-and-home against the Senators.

Thus far the numbers are almost dead even. What the Red Wings need is not improved goaltending, it’s improved play beyond the crease as they are getting outshot on almost a nightly basis.

It gives you some idea of how good they think Larkin is. They won’t come out and say it publicly, but they think he’s got a chance to be a special player. Somebody who really has unbelievable leadership qualities.

“The unspoken thing in Detroit is that he might – and I say might because it’s too big a mantle to throw on anybody – but maybe he becomes Detroit’s Jonathan Toews.

I can definitely see the comparison for fantasy purposes. Larkin definitely has that kind of fantasy upside. In particular, I love his ability to generate shots. He’s landing about 2.5 per game so far but you just know he’ll figure out a way to get more as he gains experience.

Larkin will definitely slow down for owners in one-year leagues but if you’ve got him in a keeper, hold on tight. I’ve got him in one league and the offers are coming in steady but nothing to make me flinch. Only way I move Larkin is for an established star. Otherwise, my prognosis is patience.


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

Reinhart is whip-smart. On the power-play, coach Dan Bylsma said the Sabres’ first three extra-man goals “don’t happen without his positioning in front.”

Reinhart looked a step too slow in his first couple of games but seems to be adjusting to the speed of the NHL game. I expected him to get sent to the AHL when Brian Gionta returned from injury but he’s stepped his play up. Hard to see a demotion now that Evander Kane is hurt. The Sabres just don’t have the depth.

Interesting thinking from Mike Babcock when he revealed Jake Gardiner was out of the lineup. Toronto’s coach said he would put Morgan Rielly on the power play, but didn’t want to. Why not?

“Because I want him concentrating on other things.”

That helps to explain a lot. I wonder if by mid-season if Rielly figures out these “other things” if he earns the right to skate on the power play. Could make for a great second half addition if that’s the case. Stay tuned.


Gus Katsaros examines David Krejci’s early offensive surge:

The two goals against Arizona gave him six (3-3-6) at 5v5 and six points on the 5v4 power play (2-4-6), firing a career high 23.33% – a highly unsustainable pace, even if the Bruins have scored a league high nine power play markers coverting at a 32.1% efficiency in just over 41 minutes – 22nd overall in the NHL. Krejci has almost matched the eight 5v4 points from the 2014-15 season making the special teams boost early in the season a nice bonus.

I definitely feel like 70 points is possible, even with how much good fortune has been involved in Krejci's early production.


Sportsnet’s Stephen Burtsch takes a look at how the game is embracing shorter defensemen.


Connor McDavid talks fitness with Sports Illustrated.


Prospect Jeremy Bracco has left Boston College to sign on with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. There’s probably a way to spin this as negative or positive depending on your pre-established biases but this seems like a null impact move. There isn’t enough evidence that there is one correct path to the NHL so the change in venue for Bracco’s development really doesn’t change his outlook.

One wrinkle with this move is that it will allow Bracco to engage in training camp with the Leafs next fall, which he wouldn’t have done had he continued at school. If nothing else, it’ll give him more exposure.


Check out my latest Waiver Wednesday piece for six players widely available in fantasy pools that you should pick up.


Pierre LeBrun wonders what is in store for the Canadiens after their hot start to the season, with some interesting thoughts from Daniel Briere, Doug Gilmore and others.


FiveThirtyEight with an excellent piece on an astrophysicists attempt to predict sporting outcomes in real time. Not a hockey story but definitely a must-read article if you are interested in the future of sports technology.


Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.