October 30, 2015

by steve laidlaw on October 30, 2015

What to do with Colton Parayko, Seabrook's hot streak, Tanguay and Iginla reunited and more…

Everyone wants to talk about Colton Parayko as the Blues defenseman scored another goal – his fourth of the season – and landed nine or 10 shots on-goal, NHL.com kept flipping back and forth on that. Either way, good show but I remain lukewarm.

There’s little doubt that Parayko has a wicked shot, but he’s still a third liner, and a second power play unit guy. That can be productive, but he’s got a lot of folks ahead of him on the depth chart.

One guy he’s shaken loose is Jay Bouwmeester, who is currently pairing with Parayko on the second PP unit. Once Kevin Shattenkirk returns from injury, it’s curtains for Bouwmeester’s PP time. Of course, Bouwmeester scored all of 13 points last season, so how relevant was he anyway? Well, he’s only a year removed from a 37-point season, and again, he was skating on the second PP unit. There was an opportunity for rejuvenation. That door is shut.

Bouwmeester, who pairs with Alex Pietrangelo at even strength does pose an obstacle for Parayko still, because those even strength minutes will be tougher to acquire once the Blues get back to even strength. It’s possible that Parayko could team up with Shattenkirk on the second pairing, replacing Shattenkirk’s usual partner, Carl Gunnarson but that would require a good deal of faith on the part of Ken Hitchcock and the rest of the coaching staff. Parayko has skated over 20 minutes in each of the past four games, so that faith may not be unfounded. Just don’t be shocked if Shattenkirk returns to the lineup and Parayko is reduced to 17-18 minutes.

If you really want to get crazy, the Blues might consider dealing Gunnarson once Shattenkirk returns because of Parayko’s emergence. He’s an upcoming UFA and there are rumours that teams have been sniffing around. That would take an even bigger leap of faith from the front office, however, and teams can never have enough defensive depth so making a move now might not be prudent. It’s also unlikely given Parayko is also a right-handed shot.

By the way, whenever Shattenkirk does return, it’ll be Pietrangelo, not Parayko who takes a hit. Pietrangelo’s been skating Shattenkirk’s minutes on the top PP unit. That ends once Shattenkirk returns. And no Parayko is not yet a threat to Shattenkirk’s top PP spot. He hasn’t even wrestled minutes away from Pietrangelo in that role.

If you are looking for a Parayko fantasy comparable, I’d go with Kevin Klein or Jason Garrison. A defenseman with a big shot but is no threat to earn the top offensive role because the guys ahead of him are too plentiful and too well established. Klein and Garrison scored 29 and 30 points respectively, while boasting among the highest plus/minus figures in the league so yes there is legitimate value here even when the scoring slows down.

While we’re at it, check out a list of defensemen who have registered nine shots or more in a single game since 2005-06. It’s mostly a who’s who of elite defensemen but then you spot guys like Kurtis Foster, Brad Stuart and Stephane Robidas on the list and you are forced to consider that Parayko’s nine-shot game isn’t necessarily indicative of future fantasy value.

*

Poor Freddie Andersen just cannot get any help from his teammates. He remains winless across seven starts, despite some really solid numbers (2.32 goals-against average, .932 save percentage). Andersen has received just five goals from the team ahead of him in those seven starts. Unacceptable. The good news, is that it’s hard to see how it gets worse for Andersen, and he’s already a pretty reliable start just without the wins.

*

Tough go for Ryan Strome. He was scratched over the weekend, then he had to sit out last night due to illness. Steve Bernier drew into the lineup but it was Anders Lee climbing back onto the top line.

Frans Nielsen continues to produce since being pushed back onto the top power play unit.

Thomas Greiss got the start and eventual loss for the Islanders as Jaroslav Halak was also under the weather. Good timing for Halak as the Islanders did not bring their best effort in this one. They only landed 19 shots versus 29 allowed.

*

The Hurricanes jumped all over the lame effort tying it up late before getting the overtime winner from Ron Hainsey. That’s back-to-back winners for Hainsey but he’s not even remotely relevant in fantasy so don’t waste your time.

Noah Hanifin is reportedly here to stay. This is definitely one of those situations where the team is showing support for a young player after getting healthy-scratched. Hanifin has AHL options so if he really plays poorly he’s going to get sent down. That’s just reality.

For the record, I don’t mind the healthy scratch at all. We’ve seen it work wonders for some young players. Remember when Johnny Gaudreau sat a game early on last year and then responded with a scoring binge. These guys play so much hockey. Missing one game won’t cripple their development. Sometimes getting the chance to just sit and watch a game is the best way to learn.

That said, Hanifin is not as ready as Gaudreau and is unlikely to produce much in the way of fantasy value this year. He skated just 15:19 last night with no power play time.

It’s safe to say that all Hurricane defenseman fantasy value starts and ends with Justin Faulk, at least until the team improves.

*

The Flyers dusted off the statue that is Vinny Lecavalier and he even got an assist! He was on the ice for just 7:16.

Claude Giroux has avoided getting lumped in with Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby and all the other slumping superstars because he hasn’t yet had a scoring drought of longer than one game but overall he’s got just five points in nine games and seems to be fairly intently focused on being a playmaker rather than a scorer. We need to see more Giroux the scorer, because Jakub Voracek is more of a natural playmaker.

Giroux did have a stretch of three games in which he landed 18 SOG and it’s in that stretch that he scored all three of his goals. Not a coincidence.

Crosby is facing the same sort of issues, though he did notch a pair of assists last night. It seems as though these superstars get so used to teams ganging up on them and taking their shot away that they get tunnel vision and only look for the pass. Shooting should still be the number one option when the opportunity presents itself. These guys are among the best in the world, however, so you know that once the 82 games is up, they’ll have struck the right balance and found more points than just about anyone else.

*

Travis Zajac is on some kind of scoring streak with four goals and seven points in the last five games. I have him in one league and I’m enjoying the production but I’m also ready to dump him as soon as a sexier option comes along. I don’t even buy Zajac for 45 points this season and I’m in such disbelief about his current hot streak that I can’t even credibly peddle him to anyone in my league. He’s just there to give me a nice early-season boost while I wait for Pavel Datsyuk to return from injury.

*

Look at some cool infographics on what makes Cory Schneider an elite goalie. While Schneider is an elite goalie, it’s mostly smoke and mirrors from the team’s offense that has him as one of the best fantasy netminders so far. If you are an owner, are you prepared to sell high?

With Schneider, it’s less about the underwhelming goalie you get in return, because it’s unlikely that he’ll perform much better than Schneider from here on out – especially not in GAA or save percentage. Instead, it’s about upgrading yourself elsewhere while grabbing a netminder who should perform much better the rest of the way.

For instance, you try to turn Schneider and Kyle Turris into Sergei Bobrovsky (or Tuukka Rask) and Steven Stamkos. Something along those lines.

*

Patrick Roy finally made the obvious move of reuniting Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay. It’s no surprise that they, along with Nathan MacKinnon combined for both Avalanche goals and all six points on those goals. Move whatever other parts you need to but keep those two together, they make magic.

Check out the Avalanche lines from last night:

22.45%

EV

IGINLA,JAROME – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

17.14%

EV

DUCHENE,MATT – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – SKILLE,JACK

9.8%

EV

COMEAU,BLAKE – EVERBERG,DENNIS – SODERBERG,CARL

8.98%

EV

GRIGORENKO,MIKHAIL – MCLEOD,CODY – MITCHELL,JOHN

8.57%

PP

IGINLA,JAROME – MACKINNON,NATHAN – SODERBERG,CARL – TANGUAY,ALEX

 

*

I made a conscious decision not to deride the Triplets for their incredibly high on-ice shooting percentage from last season because they were just so damn good I figured they could keep the good times rolling. So far, these guys can’t buy a break. Tyler Johnson is the only Lightning forward without a goal and both Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov aren’t doing much better. In most games, they are at least producing great chances and simply coming up short. They didn’t do diddly last night and it’s a bit concerning.

Their on-ice shooting percentages at even strength so far? 3.28, 3.33 and 2.99 respectively. That’s far too extreme a market correction. They may have stunk last night but the Triplets are coming people.

I recently made a pitch of my Jason Spezza for Kucherov. This is in a keeper league and I actually think I lose the deal short-term even though I’m trying to buy low on Kucherov. The idea is that were Kucherov rolling, I’d have no shot at acquiring him. Because he’s slumping I maybe take on some short-term pain for some long-term gain.

My team is loaded with veterans on the wrong side of 30 so if I can nail Kucherov here my mix becomes more palatable, if not Palat-able (shoot me, please.) And with the added bit of youth I might be more comfortable pushing some of my picks and prospects into the trade market to load up for a run this season.

If the bulk of my production continues to come from guys in their thirties plus Patrick Kane and PK Subban, I probably don’t have enough talent for two years from now to be anything but a bottom feeder. Kucherov makes a third cornerstone.

My potential trade partner might benefit from Spezza as well. He’s got an extremely young group and it’s one that could dominate if all his guys break out at the same time. Spezza gives him more credibility to win now. Here’s hoping the deal works out.

*

In other Lightning news, Jonathan Drouin sat out with a minor injury and is day-to-day. He is doubtful to play on Saturday.

*

Big comeback win for the Oilers against the Canadiens but let’s remember that the Oilers are still one of the league’s worst. Their offensive surge, keyed by Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl to name a few, is promising as hell for the future but there is still plenty to be improved upon.

Good start to the season for Draisaitl, however. In game one after getting called up scoring two goals alongside Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the way to make your mark and stick around. Draisaitl is not an asset in one-year settings though. He may have produced in this top-six role but the odds aren’t great that he’ll continue to see such an opportunity when Jordan Eberle returns.

Justin Schultz will miss 2-4 weeks with a back injury. That means an extended run of relevance for Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom. So far it’s Klefbom taking advantage with assists in three straight games, including two on the power play.

*

Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch for the Canadiens after going scoreless in his previous three games. What do you think, is this where his season goes off the rails or does he respond with a strong performance against the Flames tonight?

I’m still optimistic that Semin will produce when healthy. Not huge numbers since he’s not getting time on the top power play unit but 40 or so points in 65 games still seems plausible. Chalk that up as a five-point deduction from my pre-season projection though. A slow start was never part of my projection.

*

Brilliant performance by Michael Hutchinson against the Blackhawks, turning aside 45 of 46 to move to 4-0 on the season. So far, he and Ondrej Pavelec have done more than enough to ward off any chance of Connor Hellebuyck jumping into the crease. It’s been Hutchinson finding the wins much easier so far but Pavelec is getting more starts.

The Jets’ next four games come in a pair of back-to-backs so there’s no chance for Hutchinson to run with his hot streak just yet. After November 5th, however, they don’t have another back-to-back until the end of the month so Hutchinson just needs to hang on for two more strong starts if he wants an extended run in goal.

Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mathieu Perreault continue to fly in limited action. They skated just 12 or so minutes apiece but were dangerous throughout combining for one goal but creating several other chances. Having such a strong second line really pushes the Jets to another level.

*

The Blackhawks definitely had their chances last night as you can tell by their gaudy SOG total but they continue to struggle to find offense without Duncan Keith. They’ve scored just six goals in four games since Keith went down and all but one of those have come on the power play or during 3-on-3 overtime.

Brent Seabrook has points in all four of those games and six overall without Keith. But remember, Keith will be back before Christmas so now is the time to start shopping Seabrook.

Teuvo Teravainen was a healthy scratch last night but he’s been buried in the lineup once again so don’t look to him for much fantasy value just yet. Artemi Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov have grabbed the top-six spots that Teravainen would have used to vault himself into fantasy relevance. Panarin, who is basically a right-handed Patrick Kane won’t be giving up his spot any time soon. Tikhonov is on much feebler ground.

*

How much of a murderer’s row is the Central Division? Six of its seven teams were in action and they went 5-1 with the only loss coming in an intradivisional matchup. Currently the Blackhawks are sixth in the division, outside the playoffs. How unfair is that?

You can make a pretty compelling case for each of the Central’s best six teams to be in the NHL’s top 10 and yet one of them is going to miss the playoffs. No really, it’s going to happen. It’s why I projected the Blackhawks to miss the playoffs in our pre-season experts’ panel. But before we go any further, let’s also consider that I had the Flames winning the Pacific. Oops!

The takeaway is that the Central was always going to be death and the Pacific was always going to be shit. Someone had to be left out in the Central and someone had to win the Pacific. What’s incredibly ruinous about all of this is that the best thing a team from the Central can do might be to finish fifth and cross over to the Pacific playoff bracket for the easier path.

Oh, and I know that it’s only 10 or so games in and that a lot can change but I think it’s important we acknowledge how ridiculous things are shaping up to be so that we aren’t surprised come April.

*

It looks like Brandon Saad’s turn to sit out with illness as he won’t travel to Washington for tonight’s game. We may have to wait until this bug runs its way through the Blue Jacket dressing room before we can figure out exactly who John Tortorella is favouring in his lineup.

*

Rich Clune signed an NHL deal with the Leafs and will likely replace Mark Arcobello who was placed on waivers. Clune has some potential in deep leagues that score hits and PIM but Mike Babcock doesn’t necessarily have a history of using enforcers so Clune will have to prove he’s here to play hockey.

As far as Arcobello is concerned, would anyone be surprised if he was claimed by the Coyotes who are currently facing some injury woes at the center position? If they had a dense schedule over the next week I might even suggest taking a flyer on Arcobello but they only play once between now and next Thursday.

*

Slava Voynov officially signed with SKA of the KHL. It is a three-year deal and he signed his retirement papers so it is unlikely that we will see him back in the NHL any time soon.

*

Dobber’s latest for Yahoo! focuses on some newcomers worth your attention.

*

Check out Brendan Ross’ latest prospect ramblings.

*

Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.