Ramblings: Barbashev Suspended, Skinner Contract Signed, Ranking Leafs (June 8)

by Ian Gooding on June 8, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Barbashev Suspended, Skinner Contract Signed, Ranking Leafs (June 8)


The NHL has suspended Ivan Barbashev one game for his hit to the head of Marcus Johansson during Game 5. See the hit below, which the officials seemed to miss. Fortunately, Johansson was able to stay in the game.

Barbashev was credited with a total of six hits in this game, which places him second in the entire playoffs in that category (80). Evander Kane is the leader with just one more, so Barbashev will only be able to pass him if the Blues lose Game 6 and he returns for Game 7. Barbashev has been part of a hard-hitting fourth line with Oskar Sundqvist (68 hits), which deserves much of the credit for St. Louis’ ability to batter its opponents on its march toward the Stanley Cup.

Barbashev finished ninth on the Blues with 86 hits during the regular season in spite of playing 80 games, so this seems to be a newfound element to his game. If Barbashev can carry this hard-hitting style into next season and beyond, he could be an attractive option down the road for multicategory leagues in particular.

As for who will replace Barbashev for Game 6, Robby Fabbri is a possibility. Fabbri hasn’t played since Game 3. The more physical Jordan Nolan could also draw in.  

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The Jeff Skinner contract is a done deal. The Sabres have locked up the winger for eight years at a total of $72 million (AAV $9 million). Skinner is now the second-highest-paid player on the Sabres, just $1 million per season behind Jack Eichel. In his May 17 Frozen Tools Forensics, Grant mentioned that Evolving Wild predicted an eight-year contract worth $8.5 million for Skinner, who was listed as a tier-one free agent in this article. This sizable contract could push the asking price for the likes of Artemi Panarin and Mitch Marner even higher (beyond $10 million), with a potential domino effect on lower-tiered free agents as well.  

I profiled what Skinner staying in Buffalo means from a fantasy perspective back in my May 31 Ramblings. With shooting percentage likely to regress somewhat (14.9% in 2018-19 compared to 8.7% in 2017-18), it’s going to be difficult for Skinner to score 40 goals again, even with top-line minutes alongside Eichel. This might not be an ideal contract, but Skinner and Buffalo seem like a great fit for each other anyway.  

The Skinner signing also reinforces Eichel’s fantasy value and will also make his fantasy owners sleep easier. A points increase for Eichel might have been inevitable anyway, but nearly two-thirds of Eichel’s even-strength minutes and even-strength points in 2018-19 were with Skinner on his wing.

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Just to clarify something else I wrote on May 31, Brock Boeser is not eligible for an offer sheet. Neither is Charlie McAvoy. See the post from Cap Friendly on the difference between Group 1 players and Group 2 players (this is why I prefer breaking down fantasy hockey more than the finer details of contracts). Group 2 players are eligible for offer sheets, while Group 1 players are not. You can read the entire Twitter thread for more details.
 


You can read more about what a potential Boeser contract could look like in this week’s Frozen Tools Forensics.

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Before this next section, I’ll mention that the Top 100 Roto Rankings will be back in one week. Throughout the periods of the summer where hockey news is few and far between, I’ll discuss the rationale behind a few of my choices while they’re fresh in my mind.  

Deciding where to rank the Leafs’ top three forwards isn’t easy, and I might be setting myself up for criticism from Leafs’ fans who watch their team more closely than I do. In the end, it looks like I’ll be able to squeeze all of John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews into the top 25 of my roto rankings. I currently have Matthews as the lowest of the three, but I could easily envision a scenario in which he is the top-ranked of the three by the end of the season. In case you think he should be the highest-ranked of the three, I’ll explain my perspective.

Past injuries aren’t necessarily a reflection of future injuries, but certain players receive an injury discount because of a usual number of games missed per season (Evgeni Malkin is an example). As it stands, Matthews has averaged 65 games missed over the past two seasons, which might be enough for him to land on the Band-Aid Boy Trainee list. In comparison, neither Tavares nor Marner have missed a game over the past two seasons.

Durability matters, and sometimes it can be the difference if everything else remains equal. Notice that Matthews’ and Tavares’ goals-per-game and points-per-game numbers were nearly identical in 2018-19.
 

 

G/GP

Pts/GP

Matthews

0.54

1.07

Tavares

0.57

1.07


In a pure points league, I might go with Marner over the other two next season. I’ve watched more Leafs’ games than I’d care to admit (yes, I sound like a true Western boy), and I’ve often left thinking that Marner was the Leafs’ best player in that game.

Having said that about Marner, Tavares’ goal total far surpassed that of Marner, which matters in leagues that separate goals and assists because goals are harder to come by than assists. So I would prefer Tavares over Marner in multicategory, and I have to discount Matthews slightly because of the recent injury history. Again, that could change as the season starts. Also, these aren’t major difference between the three Leafs.

Of course, all of this assumes that Marner re-signs in Toronto. It’ll be a lot of money, and it’s fun to imagine the drama that an offer sheet would create, but I think he’ll be back in TO.

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Having said I’d watched more Leafs’ games than I’d like to admit, I’m genuinely happy for the Raptors, who are just one win away from an NBA title! The heightened interest in the NBA Finals in Canada might be taking away from the Stanley Cup Final, but there’s nothing like a blown call to revive NHL discussion, isn’t there! There might be more eyeballs on Game 6 not only to find out if the Stanley Cup is awarded to the Blues, but also to see how the officials call the game. Will Cassidy’s criticism of the officiating result in Boston receiving enough favorable calls to force a Game 7? It should take much more than that, of course. But with the playoffs having gone the way they have, you never know.

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