Ramblings: Addressing league apathy. Also thoughts on Elliott, Saros, Leafs’ LW and the toughest team to forecast (Aug 13)

by Dobber on August 19, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Addressing league apathy. Also thoughts on Elliott, Saros, Leafs’ LW and the toughest team to forecast (Aug 13)

Ramblings: Addressing league apathy. Also thoughts on Elliott, Saros, Leafs’ LW and the toughest team to forecast (Aug 13)

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The last update of the Fantasy Guide was in on Friday night. This is why I leave the final three articles untouched (projected standings, projected team goals-for, my Calder picks) – it gives us (myself included) something to look forward to for updates during the weeks when there really just isn’t any action in the NHL world…

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I’m approaching my first re-birthday. When I reach the anniversary of my stem cell transplant on August 30 I will provide my readers with an update on my health, what all has happened in my battle with leukemia and where things stand. So be sure to look for that. (Spoiler: it will be good)

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Once again I turned to Twitter for help with Ramblings topics this week. I always seem to do that in the second half of August and the first week of September. Steve Laidlaw, who will be back here in two months, has been putting together his own projections for the season (it never hurts to do that, and compare). His was the first question – asking me which team or teams was the most difficult to forecast. And the answer to that is always the teams that are the deepest and have the most to consider. The more moving parts you have to deal with, the more things could go wrong. This mainly revolves around teams that signed a couple more players than needed, as well as have a couple of prospects who need to clear waivers in order to be sent down. Further complicating things would be if that team also has a couple of prospects who could be sent down without clearly waivers – but are too good. Try juggling all that! So for me the team that immediately popped into my head was Vancouver.

We can all guess the top nine on that team, but if you look in the Guide you will see that there are 10 more players getting games. Assume Tim Schaller and Jay Beagle are on the fourth line, and Elias Pettersson is on the team for sure. That’s 14 locks and two more spots for the eight players. Assume we hardly see Brendan Gaunce and Reid Boucher. And although the advanced stats and increasing ice time with every game seems to indicate that Travis Green really likes Darren Archibald, let’s call him a spare part as well. You still have Tyler Motte, who has been very good in a two-way role for the team but doesn’t need waivers to be sent down. You have Adam Gaudette who is close to being NHL ready and is a great prospect, but again – doesn’t need waivers.  Brendan Leipsic, Nikolay Goldobin and Jake Virtanen need waivers to be sent down. So now what?

Anyway, you have to look into the Guide to see how I have things shaking out, but you also need to factor in which lines would the player be useful on and on which ones is he useless? That makes it tough.

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Another tough one involves the teams with superstars about to be traded. I honestly thought about creating a second section for both Ottawa and Columbus. If Erik Karlsson or Artemi Panarin get traded before the season starts, I may just put a giant red X through the entire section and re-do it for that update. Can you see that? That may be the best way to serve you.  The domino effect there is massive. Most players getting projections rolled back, but a handful actually getting a bump. The worst would be if you have your draft and make your picks based off my Guide, and then the next day one of Karlsson or Panarin gets traded. Just like that, your picks become terrible. One day after making them.

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The Leafs’ goaltending situation after Frederik Andersen was also a tough area. Two top AHL goaltenders on one-way contracts who have to clear waivers to be sent down, plus Curtis McElhinney coming off a year with stellar numbers. What will happen? Well, I believe a goalie gets moved. But how long will they carry three?

And speaking of goalies – what about Carolina? How on earth do you project that mess? Either goalie could surprise and have a decent year. Both goalies seem destined to have a terrible one. But if one of Scott Darling or Petr Mrazek regains his form then that goalie gets 60 starts and is a massive dark horse pick. But if they both do the expected and repeat last year’s crap, then you’re looking at 45 games each as they take turns sucking and getting pulled a lot throughout the year.

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Still with goaltenders, I was asked about Brian Elliott and the goalie situation in Philadelphia. When should he be taken? This is a team just primed to anoint an elite goalie. I think this team is now ready to make a weak goalie average, an average goalie good, and a good goalie great. I think Elliott is an average goalie, so being on this team will make him good. But will he be healthy? You can place good money on his being out once or twice with an injury that sidelines him for a month. I don’t think it will be quite as bad as last year when he had just 43 starts. But I have no data to back this – he hasn’t played 50 games in the last six seasons so how can I possibly say differently now? So I put him in for 49 games in the Fantasy Guide. Although I have him listed as a Tier 3 goalie for the purpose of drafting him in one-year leagues, Elliott is my favorite from that Tier. If you already have two Tier 1 goalies, or a Tier 1 and a Tier 2, and it’s later in the draft when you start looking for that No.3 goalie who you can start sporadically, I’d seriously try to target him.

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One last goalie question. I was asked about my confidence level in Juuse Saros becoming the starter in 2019-20. Pekka Rinne winning the Vezina was obviously worst-case scenario for Saros owners. But Rinne’s contract is up after this season and unless 35-year-old Rinne is in the Vezina conversation again, I think the mantle gets passed to Saros. Confidence Level: 85%

And even if Rinne wins another Vezina, can Nashville pay him?

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Feel free to add in the comments what you do, if you’re a commish. I don’t join leagues where I just know everybody online. I need to have some kind of relationship with them. So if anyone in these situations has suggestions, please share. But for the leagues that I’m in with people I know we have rules in place, most of them put in before we even started. My three leagues are on 29 years, 18 years, and 12 years.

First, draft attendance is mandatory. If you miss three drafts in six years you’re out. There is also a 24-hour trade response rule. And every year at the draft we vote, secret ballot, on the worst GM of the year. Submitting a blank ballot is allowed, but if a GM gets eight votes (15 teams) then he’s fined $20 along with the embarrassment that goes with that.

I also try to sprinkle in little things, neatly spread out across the calendar, that keep it interesting. I have unlimited free trading in the league up until the last Sunday in January at 9pm. This creates a mini-flurry of trades that weekend as managers try to make early moves without it costing them a transaction. Then, from that point until 9pm on the NHL’s trade deadline day, each team is allowed three trades only. So the motivation is there to trade earlier while it’s free. Then there is another flurry of deals on deadline day. On top of that, each team is allowed to sign an undrafted player – one per year – provided he is over the age of 24. Because they only get one, GMs spend a lot of time looking at available players and keeping an eye on everything as they try to determine the right time to make a claim. Wait too long and someone else grabs him. Take him too early and he could fizzle out on you. Tim Heed was grabbed last year, as was Jordan Oesterle. But so was William Karlsson – I missed him as I wanted to give him one more game. So it’s a balance. But those things are all tools that I use to keep all the GMs interested throughout.

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A Twitter question about the LW’s in Toronto… The most common left winger for Auston Matthews will be Zach Hyman. For John Tavares it will be Andreas Johnsson, but I believe Connor Brown will get first shot there and he could actually surprise. But failing that, I think Johnsson gets a shot there by December and it could pay off. Kadri’s left winger will be Patrick Marleau.

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Barzal will still be a star this year, but how far back he slips will depend on how Jan Kovar adapts. I think Barzal sticks with the same linemates and the team will try Kovar between Anders Lee and Josh Bailey. If that works out, then that line will be decent with three players hovering around 55 or 60 points. Barzal would then be good for mid-to high-70s playing with Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier. If Kovar flops, then Barzal has to move up to that line and I wonder how much that changes the way he plays. In that circumstance I’d roll him back to the low-70s.

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Update on our Frozen Tools:

1. Individual Points Percentage (IPP) in the Advanced Stats report now has separation for even strength IPP and for power play IPP, as well as overall IPP

2. The fresh new Report Generator can now export to CSV files (just like the old Report Generator). Line combo tools as well.

3. The shots-on-goal tool wasn’t giving any data in the longer distance shots columns. This has been fixed.

Ever-evolving!

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See you next Monday.