Ramblings: Aho Offer Sheet, Fantasy Impacts on Coyotes, Blue Jackets (July 3)

by Ian Gooding on July 3, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Aho Offer Sheet, Fantasy Impacts on Coyotes, Blue Jackets (July 3)


First off, I hope you were able to check out our Fantasy Take pieces from a very busy July 1. If there’s any you’ve missed or would like to take another look at, you can view them on our Fantasy Take page.

To give you an idea, we had 18 new Fantasy Takes published on July 1, plus the July 1 Moving Day Tracker. Since Dobber was technically on holiday, I was the lead that day. With the help of Mike and the vacationing Dobber, this was a much easier task. So I wanted to give these two a special thanks for what turned out to be a fun and successful July 1. As well, thanks to Mario for updating the tracker and creating graphics, as well as all the backend contributors for setting things up. And also thanks to my wife and kids for allowing me to focus on my endeavor for several hours (mostly uninterrupted) on what was supposed to be a family day.

And of course, thanks to you for stopping by and supporting Dobber Hockey.

*

July 2 was a much, much quieter day for player signings than July 1. Nothing earth-shattering in terms of signings, but the one big piece of news was surrounding the “offer sheet.” Yes, I think you know which one by now.

Although they haven’t filed the paperwork yet, the Carolina Hurricanes plan to match the five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet from the Montreal Canadiens for the services of Sebastian Aho. I’m assuming the Canes will delay the official word until close to the end of the seven days in order to keep the Habs from acting upon any Plan B that they might have. You could call it an opportunity cost payback for trying to poach their player.   
 


So what might that Plan B be for the Habs? Marc Bergevin could try another offer sheet on someone like Mitch Marner or Brayden Point, I suppose. Maybe they make a play on the unsigned Jake Gardiner, if he’s not signed by the time the seven days is up. Beyond Gardiner, though, the field thins out in terms of potential impact players. As a result, the Habs might have to settle for 2 or 3 lesser players with their leftover cap space. See NHL.com for the most notable remaining UFAs. For a longer list, see Cap Friendly.

I wonder about the relationship between Aho and the Hurricanes going forward, especially when his agent said that Aho wants to play in Montreal. In addition, the five years would give Aho UFA status more quickly than the Hurricanes would have wanted. So I’m sure as much as the Hurricanes are confidently stating that there was never any doubt that Aho would be extended, I’m sure behind the scenes this was not what they’d hoped for, especially with the contract being frontloaded ($21 million over the next 12 months). Bergevin targeted what he thought was low-hanging fruit because of the Canes’ internal budget and the owner’s perceived cash flow situation with his failed football league.

For the reasons I listed above, I wonder if both teams get screwed over at least in some minor way because of the offer sheet. And as entertaining as offer sheets are for us fans, GMs at large might view this as another example as to why offer sheets are an ineffective and risky maneuver that have the potential to burn bridges.  

Here’s a list of players who have signed offer sheets. I was surprised at how many players during the earlier days switched teams because of offer sheets, some of whom were players you might barely remember if you followed hockey back then. Since the turn of the century, there have been nine offer sheets. Guess how many weren’t matched? Just one. You might remember Dustin Penner. Looking back, I’m sure Anaheim was happy they grabbed the first, second, and third round picks from Edmonton for Penner, though Brian Burke didn’t seem like it at the time.  

*

I’ll take a question from a few days ago from my Phil Kessel trade fantasy take:

Any thoughts on how this affects Dvorak's output? Will he get more of a role as a 2C?

In an interview with The Athletic, Rick Tocchet noted that Carl Soderberg, Nick Schmaltz, Christian Dvorak, and Barrett Hayton could all play on the wing. Which line that would be remains to be seen, but usually a move to the wing means that a player moves up the lineup, not down. Schmaltz and Derek Stepan look like the top two centers on the Yotes for now, so I don’t see Dvorak as the 2C at the moment. In fact, the potential Coyotes lineup in the story had Dvorak listed as the 4C with rookie Barrett Hayton and one of Christian Fischer and Conor Garland. But in reading the story, I didn’t get the impression that these were the locked-in lines at all. The Coyotes’ forward group as a whole seems to have plenty of mobility anyway.

I also saw a few comments about Schmaltz being a player to own or target because of the Kessel acquisition. Maybe he should have been number one instead of number two on the “Players This Helps” list, as Tocchet says he plans to pair Schmaltz and Kessel together because they are “great off the rush.” I have a feeling Schmaltz will be ranked too low in a lot of predraft rankings because of his injury last season (played only 17 games for the Coyotes, 40 overall). Yet in that short sample he was by far the Coyotes’ most productive player (0.82 PTS/GP). Considering the price that the Coyotes paid for Schmaltz (Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini), you know that Tocchet will give Schmaltz a long look with Kessel.

*

Looking back, one affected team that I don’t think received enough attention in our Fantasy Takes was the Columbus Blue Jackets, considering how hard their roster was hit on July 1. There are a few possible reasons for that: 1) There is a lot to consider when writing Fantasy Takes, so something can easily be overlooked (hey, we have all summer to figure things out), 2) The focus was on the teams that acquired former Blue Jackets’ players (Florida, NY Rangers, Nashville), and 3) The Jackets were/are in a state of flux with three significant departures and still could add some pieces (just over $17 million in cap space). Mike provided the Gustav Nyquist fantasy take, which may shed some light on the situation in Columbus. I also mentioned the CBJ goaltending situation in the Sergei Bobrovsky fantasy take.

To the commenter in the Matt Duchene fantasy take who said Duchene’s departure helps Pierre-Luc Dubois, yes it absolutely does. In our Duchene to Columbus fantasy take from earlier this year, we mentioned that bringing in Duchene hurts Dubois. So with no real replacement for Duchene, this helps Dubois again. For more evidence, check out Dubois’ splits:

Oct 4 – Feb 19 (before Duchene trade): 59 GP, 22 G, 29 A, 51 PTS (0.86 PTS/GP), 2:47 PPTOI, 18:36 TOI

Feb 22 – Apr 6 (after Duchene trade): 23 GP, 5 G, 5 A, 10 PTS (0.43 PTS/GP), 1:04 PPTOI, 15:27 TOI

I even remember dropping Dubois in one single-season league in my fantasy playoffs because he had gone 11 games without a point. Far from an ideal time to deploy him while the Jackets had loaded up for a playoff run, but now he should be back as the first-line center. Expect his production to be closer to where it was before the Duchene trade.

Another Blue Jacket who could be aided by the Duchene departure is Alexander Wennberg. I know what you’re saying: You don’t want to waste a center spot on a guy who scored just two goals all season. The fact is, though, he might be the Jackets’ number two center (though I wonder at this point if they’re considering bringing back Ryan Dzingel). Wennberg is just two seasons removed from a 59-point campaign and is only 24 years old, so there could easily still be something there. Remember that his scoring will be assist-heavy, as his career high in goals is 13.   

As Mike mentioned, Nyquist should replace Artemi Panarin both at even-strength and on the power play, so there may not be as many Columbus players helped by the Panarin departure than by the Duchene departure. Two to watch could be Josh Anderson and Boone Jenner, who both had relatively low power-play point totals (7 and 3, respectively) compared to their overall point totals (47 and 38, respectively).

*

For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.