Ramblings: Adjusting thinking on goalies, Nylander musings, Beauvillier, Schneider, Jokiharju and more (Nov 19)
The tighter goalie equipment rules are really impacting the game and as a fantasy hockey player I am loving it. However, this is clearly separating the men from the boys when it comes to goaltending talent and it’s not just at the NHL level but it’s permeating down into the AHL. In the long run, this will favor the goaltenders with poise, mental strength, quickness and elite-level reflexes. It hinders the bigger goalies who rely on positioning. And as fantasy owners we also need to adjust our thinking. 0.905 is the new 0.915. Or hell, looking at the AHL, 0.895 is the new 0.915! Only eight AHL goalies with nine or more games played have a SV% above 0.897. EIGHT! So when I look at top prospect goalies down there and I see Ville Husso at 0.879, Cal Petersen at 0.881, and Jon Gillies at 0.856…that’s actually each in the Top 15! Try to wrap your mind around that as you evaluate – I’m still struggling to do that, already catching myself start to write them off when I probably shouldn’t.
Same goes for KHL and European goalies. Can we trust their elite-level play over there if they have to come over here and tighten up the hockey pants, pads and chest protectors?
The top NHL goalies seem to have adapted just fine, with 13 goalies (nine games or more) at 0.921 SV% or higher. But then there are the “have nots” such as Juuse Saros, Marc-Andre Fleury, Braden Holtby, Carey Price James Reimer, Jacob Markstrom, Cam Talbot, Martin Jones, Jake Allen, Matt Murray and Mike Smith. Each under 0.905 with at least nine games played. Is this a pad-size thing? And if so, does this mean they no longer among the top goalie owns? If 13 goalies can put up solid SV% numbers, does this not imply that all the decent starting goalies can and should do the same? It’s our job as fantasy owners to try to figure this out early, but I can’t help but think that for the next couple of years we’ll just be throwing darts until true patterns start to emerge.
Let’s talk William Nylander! A hockey article isn’t a hockey article without that, right? Three options – Leafs re-sign him, Leafs trade him, or Leafs let him play the year in the SHL. The funniest option for me would be to neither trade nor sign him. So he loses a good six million bucks during his prime earning years as Toronto takes a run at the President’s Trophy and perhaps go deep into the postseason. But I think it is 60% he gets traded, 30% he sits, and 10% he signs. That’s my current mindset. Where is your head at with this?
One thing I’ve noticed on the hockey Internet is that Leafs fans and many fans in general really don’t have a grasp of player values in the current NHL climate. They fail to properly factor positional value and even after all this time they still fail to properly adjust for contract value. A top four defenseman is worth more than a top six forward. A top pairing defenseman is untouchable – as untouchable as a franchise forward (so a first-line forward cannot acquire a top pairing defenseman). If a top-four defenseman is signed long term at a good price point (i.e. Adam Larsson), his value is inflated. A lot. So when I saw suggested trade returns floated by Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic, many of those suggestions made sense. Whereas every comment underneath the article laughed the suggested return for William Nylander off as crap. But not only wasn’t it crap, but in most cases I can see the other team asking for more than just Nylander. I mean – Colton Parayko? The Blues would want more. His $5.5 million is locked in for the next three seasons after this one, he’s a No.3 or 4 defenseman with high end two-way skills with massive size. There are maybe 10 of him in the league when there are like 40 Nylanders. If Nylander is traded, he’ll want $7 million on a new team for several years. So St. Louis would watch their cap go up in this trade. It’s just not a fit, but would require a lot more than Nylander. Brett Pesce is a ludicrous suggestion…but then again, that’s exactly what the Leafs would get. He is a No.4 reliable defenseman locked in long term at a safe cap hit ($4 million, five more years). Again with the cap increase, the Leafs may have to actually add more to the pot. And while Jaccob Slavin is a fair swap name-wise and talent-wise – the gap in terms of positional and cap value here makes it extremely lopsided. Toronto could never get a Slavin for a Nylander.
One thought I had was perhaps a deal with Nashville for Mattias Ekholm. However, Ekholm has a sweet contract situation – another three years at $3.75 million are you kidding me? Such a trade would cost far more than Nylander, to the tune of a Top 3 prospect in the system. Frankly I think it would be worth it, given Toronto’s needs and the fact that Nylander is an expendable asset (geez, Carl Grundstrom is looking amazing in the AHL right now and Andreas Johnsson could be a stud with the proper ice time and consistent linemates). Anyway, enough about that, this isn’t a rumors site but just rambling about some thoughts that I had over the weekend. As always, enhanced by beer intake.
You may have noticed a few changes here lately, such as the new link “scoring leaders” for a quick glance at the stats, filtering for position or goalies or rookies as needed. Sometimes a basic quick reference is all we need. Once on that page though I would recommend not clicking the “other stats” link because that’s just a rabbit hole you may not escape from.
Also the player profiles landing page now opens with the career stats and quarterly stats comparison (versus last year). Previously it had landed on the player’s contract info and links to each mention on DobberHockey (now can be reached via “Info/Analysis” tab). This is just to save you a click.
Hampus Lindholm was a surprise scratch later Sunday and in fact was placed on injured reserve. Josh Mahura was called up. Mahura played 19:40 and saw a bit of PP time. Brandon Montour jumped from six to nine points on Sunday, and just like that his stats are almost completely back on track. With Fowler and now Lindholm out, Montour’s PP time has seen a tremendous jump.
But the Anaheim-Colorado game was the Mikko Rantanen show (co-starring Nathan MacKinnon). Rantanen is this year’s Kucherov breakout player, as it looks like he’ll lead the league in points for the entire first half.
The Panthers sent Denis Malgin and Maxim Mamin to the AHL and interestingly enough they did not recall Henrik Borgstrom. Instead, they went with reactivating tough guy Michael Haley and undrafted Dryden Hunt. The latter has certainly put in his time and has done nothing but improve and impress. The 22-year-old had 31 points in 70 games when he was a rookie-pro after his 116-point WHL season earned him a contract. And after his AHL rookie season he went on to post 58 points in 73 games for Springfield.
That being said, Borgstrom is a future star and he has 14 points in 14 games in the AHL so far. He’ll be up by midseason I’m sure.
Another interesting twist to eight-points-in-one-game man Sam Gagner’s career. The Canucks called him back up. He had 15 points in 15 games for the Marlies. With Brock Boeser, Sven Baertschi, Jay Beagle, Brandon Sutter and now Antoine Roussel out of the lineup, it’s amazing that Gagner has slipped so far down the totem pole. I mean, he gets recalled after five injured forwards? What if the Canucks were like most teams and never had more than four forwards injured at the same time? We’d never see him again? Very interesting. Word is that Gagner will line up with Bo Horvat, and it goes without saying that he will get PP time as he is a one-dimensional offensive player. I think he will do well for the first few games, so if you are in need of a depth guy he is worthy of a claim.
When Anthony Beauvillier was dropped in one of my leagues last week, I raised a Spockian eyebrow and then I went to his profile page to have a look at line combos, ice time trend and advanced stats. Last year he had 29 points in the second half and meshed really well with Mathew Barzal so I was pretty bullish of him on draft day in September. I projected him for 45 points but also made him my top sleeper on the Islanders. At the time, his game log showed steady ice time and secondary PP time, not trending downwards and his 5on5 SH% was very low which indicated poor puck luck. So I picked him up and held him. Immediately, he spent two games planted on the bench and barely seeing fourth-line minutes. But I made the investment so I would hang onto him until roster decisions force my hand. The benching seemed to have worked as he posted three goals and four points on November 15 and he scored again in his next game Sunday. Between that addition, the return of Tom Wilson from suspension, and the recall of a guy I claimed and stuck in my minors back on the first day – Drake Batherson – my team in that league has unbelievable depth. This is a 14-team league with rosters of 30 players. My five reserve spots for the coming week are filled by: Cam Talbot, William Karlsson, Dustin Brown, Kasperi Kapanen and Darnell Nurse, with Max Comtois still on my IR. Depth!
I did have a couple of issues (besides the obvious Talbot issue, ahem) and I resolved them both in a single trade Sunday. John Klingberg, injured as you know. And Anze Kopitar. I can’t lose a top defenseman for a month, and Kopitar…I can’t drop him, the guy just had 96 points, but man what if he doesn’t even get 60 this year again? What to do, what to do. I packaged them together along with a first-round draft pick (I have an extra second and an extra third so…) – and acquired Victor Hedman and Nicklas Backstrom. The high pick closed the deal, as I figured the guy would have a man-crush on Hedman (as most people would!).
Thomas Greiss fell apart early in the second period, giving up three goals in five minutes and getting the hook. He had been on a 5-0-1 run prior to that game. He seems to be the guy on the Island now as Robin Lehner gave up three goals on 14 shots in relief and Lehner lost his prior two starts.
Speaking of Klingberg, he’s been out for five games now and the team had immediately turned to rookie Miro Heiskanen, who saw a nice pop in both ice time and PP time. However, after two games (one point), things started shifting to Esa Lindell. The 24-year-old Lindell saw 40% of the team’s PP time Friday and 58.9% of it Sunday. No PPPts, but he scored twice on Sunday and the ice time trend indicates that he’ll be their guy over Heiskanen for the foreseeable future.
Three more points for Alexander Radulov. He’s only played 10 games this year, but 15 points is solid. He’s only been getting better since re-joining the NHL, and at 32 you don’t see that very often.
Since October 15, Ben Bishop is 6-4-1, 2.38 GAA and 0.922 SV% with six quality starts plus a shutout.
After kicking off the season with five points in seven games, and starting off his NHL career with eight points in nine games, Warren Foegele has hit a wall. He’s gone pointless in 13. His ice time remained strong through 10 games of pointless hockey, but he’s run out of leash these last three games and Sunday saw a season-low 10:46. His linemates were Clark Bishop and Phillip Di Giuseppe on the fourth line. He’s looking at another game or two of this, followed by one in the press box and then the inevitable AHL demotion. Rod Brind’Amour is happy with his complete game, otherwise he wouldn’t have been given scoring-line minutes for so long despite the non-production. But in the AHL he’ll regain his scoring touch and confidence. I like him as a future scoring-line player, but had been surprised at how quickly he was moving forward. So I look at this as a step back from the extra step forward that we didn’t expect him to take in the first place.
The Hurricanes won on Sunday for just the third time in 11 games, although the fancy NHL points system looks at their slump as a reasonable 3-5-3 – two games below .500. I look at it as five games below .500.
Off on a tangent now (sorry) – the NHL’s point system shows just four teams in the entire league below .500 (with two games in progress as I write this)! Slide those OT and SO losses into the loss column and you have 15 teams below .500, which makes more sense.
Cory Schneider is still looking for his first win after four starts, but Sunday’s game was his best performance yet as he stopped 23 of 25. He’s still having his training camp right now, give him time.
Three consecutive really strong games for Corey Crawford now. His training camp is over and the rust has been shaken off. And I wonder if the new coaching system has contributed as well. He stopped 39 of 40 shots Sunday and has stopped 98 of 100 over those three games.
Henri Jokiharju has been manning the top PP the last three games. I consider that a trend when it’s under a new coach. In terms of percentages, three of the four games in which he saw the biggest chunk of the team’s PP time happened in these last three games (percentages were: 66.7%, 67.5%, 74.8%). It’s enough to make me dress Jokiharju over Nurse (i.e. my note above) for the coming week – they both play three games, but this PP boost gives him the edge on that decision.
Mikko Koivu has 18 points in 20 games this season and is on a four-game points streak (seven points). I should have given you a heads up that this resurgence would happen because I dropped him at the draft in one of my leagues. In all fairness to me though, I shopped him hard at the draft table for a measly future draft pick and had no takers – so everyone else should be just as embarrassed!
I dropped Koivu and drafted Vitali Kravtsov, announcing boldly “I will draft the first overall pick in our midseason draft right now – Vitali Kravtsov. I’ll drop Mikko Koivu.” The irony is that right now, Koivu would be the first overall pick in our midseason draft now.
Say what you want about Ryan Spooner, but when he first arrives he makes a big splash.— Dobber (@DobberHockey) November 16, 2018
2014-15 was called up for brief stint by BOS. Had 18 points in 25 games.
2015-16 made the team, 33 pts in first 42 games
2017-18 traded to NYR, 16 pts in first 18 games
Well I guess that theory is out the window. Ryan Spooner has not lined up with Connor McDavid, nor has he been an impactful player on his new team. In fact, so far all he’s done has pushed Ty Rattie out of the Edmonton lineup. Rattie had just, for the first time this year, gone two games without a point.
Cody Eakin now has points in six of his last seven games. He’s already at eight goals on the campaign (career high is 19). This is because he has slid into Erik Haula and Paul Stastny’s spot on the second line. It’s the chemistry the Golden Knights were looking for with Max Pacioretty. Who knew?
Pacioretty has five points on the season, but three have come in the last three games (playing with Eakin).
See you Thursday, as I cover off Cliffy that day.
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