Ramblings: Bruins, Lightning, Ryan Strome, Artturi Lehkonen, Jakob Chychrun and more (Oct. 4)

by Neil Parker on October 4, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Bruins, Lightning, Ryan Strome, Artturi Lehkonen, Jakob Chychrun and more (Oct. 4)

 

Rambling about the Bruins and Lightning, Ryan Strome, Artturi Lehkonen, Jakob Chychrun and Yahoo Friends and Family Auction …

 

These are the lines the Bruins used in practice Monday.

 

Austin Czarnik is an interesting piece. He has the confidence of Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy, as Cassidy leaned on Czarnik heavily as bench boss of the Providence Bruins last season.

Obviously, nothing is set in stone during training camp, but David Pastrnak sitting atop the depth chart with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand is a huge boost to Pastrnak's fantasy stock. Bump him up at least five points in projections and a round or two in rankings.

 

***

 

Tampa rolled out these lines Monday:

 

 

 

Obviously, the Ondrej PalatSteven StamkosJonathan Drouin trio is an encouraging sign for Stamkos and Drouin. And it makes sense that Brayden Point is just a place holder for Nikita Kucherov.

Additionally, a third-line unit of Vladislav Namestnikov, Valterri Filppula and Ryan Callahan would be a sound group capable of matching up with a scoring line from most teams. And they would be able to drive possession against most third lines around the league.

 

Here's a lengthy recap of Bob McKenzie's spot on TSN 690 Montreal concerning Nikita Kucherov. In short, McKenzie suspects if there was ever going to be a big-ticket offer sheet, it would be for Kucherov.

“If you really believe Kucherov was a special player – and he’s demonstrated fairly quickly that he might be… he’s got 22 goals in 45 playoff games – if you were to give this guy $7-7.5 million a year times seven, which would be the max number of years you could give him, it would cost you a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and a third-round pick.

“Now, that’s a steep price to pay and maybe Tampa matches no matter what. But boy oh boy, if anybody did offer Kucherov $7 million-plus on a seven-year deal – if Tampa matched, they’d have to be throwing some pretty significant bodies overboard to accommodate being ready to be salary cap compliant by 5 p.m. on a week tomorrow.”

If you're an Eastern Conference team with playoff aspirations and cap space (Boston, Ottawa), you can put Tampa Bay in an awful pickle. These things never happen, but you'd think putting a contender in a tough spot financially would be enticing, and there's a first time for everything.

 

As for Kucherov, he is still unsigned and won't report to camp without a deal. Tampa Bay has $5 to $5.5 million to ink him up. Unlike Johnny Gaudreau, this is a worrisome situation. Calgary has much more wiggle room under the cap, and Kucherov always has the out to Russia.

There is no such thing as a slam-dunk, risk-free pick in the early rounds, but there are also plenty of high-end talents with similar floor-ceiling combos going at the same point of drafts as Kucherov. It's easy to say he's going to sign and be in the lineup opening night, or suggest just the opposite, but we'll just have to wait and see.

 

***

 

 

Artturi Lehkonen is receiving an extended look in a scoring role. He'll either crack the roster or return to Sweden, and he's worth tracking. Earlier this summer, I highlighted his monster playoff showing in the SEL with 19 points through 16 games. His coach in Sweden compared him to Mattias Janmark.

 

***

 

Jakob Chychrun is making a strong case for a roster spot and logging huge minutes along the way. He is expected to grab the nine-game run to start the season, and the Arizona organization is forward thinking and appreciative of his elite skating ability. And, the Coyotes had no issue with youngsters Max Domi and Anthony Duclair playing significant roles last year.

Chychrun is a solid bet to be one of the better defensemen from his draft class, and he is surrounded by a talented youth movement poised to skyrocket the Coyotes up the Western Conference ranks in the coming years. His dynasty stock is pointing straight up. He still isn't worth drafting in the majority of yearly setups, though.

 

***

 

 

 

I'm not an expert concerning Ryan Strome's typical in-game nature, but being involved is typically a plus. My feel — and again, I could be very wrong — is Strome coasted through games and stretches without much passion, and it led him to be uninspired and eventually benched and exiled to the minors last year.

The old adage of throwing and taking a hit early to "get into the game" might have some legs for Strome. The eye test last year also highlighted a player who was content to rely on his skill and live largely on the perimeter.

Strome is a popular rebound candidate, and being engaged and holding opponents accountable is an encouraging sign. It's obviously just an exhibition game, but all the same, it didn't work when he was playing it safe and soft in the peripheral areas last year.

 

***

 

Connor Hellebuyck's new goalie mask has more of a Winnipeg Jets feel than St. John's Ice Caps, or is it just my ignorant optimism?

It does have Jets all over it, after all.

Hellebuyck will ascend to the top of the depth chart or Paul Maurice will be fired. Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson cannot hold Hellebuyck down on the farm for long, and Hutchinson isn't going to be claimed off waivers. Again, perhaps it's just ignorant optimism on my behalf?

 

***

 

I had an excellent strategy in place for the Yahoo Friends and Family auction ($200 budget) last night and I almost executed it perfectly, but I got nabbed price enforcing twice and bought Tyler Johnson ($10) and Joe Thornton ($13). The result was my goaltending is awful, and I'm the goaltending guy.

All I did was price enforce early on, and I actually goofed up big time, twice.

I always jump bid good players I'm not going to end up winning to speed up the process. If Carey Price is going for $45, why sit there and bid a dollar at a time. I bid $28 and let others go from there. Additionally, I always try to type in my bids because if someone jump bids and you are just clicking the one up button, next thing you know, you're on the hook for a massive salary when you were intending to bid $7.

So, I accidently bid $122 on Phil Kessel and Jack Eichel in my attempt to jump bid because the "1" didn't select/highlight and I just punched in 22 and hit enter. The first time it was corrected and we just restarted the bidding. The second time, I felt so stupid, I was willing to eat the salary and just live with it. Thankfully, the room realized my intention and having a competitive league trumped sticking someone with an unintended bid. We had some laughs, and I owned it.

Onto my club, my first purchase was Filip Forsberg for $24 as the 46th player off the board. I proceeded to buy Thornton, Devan Dubnyk ($18), Mark Scheifele ($21), Adam Larsson ($2), Charlie Coyle ($4), Max Pacioretty ($25), Johnson and James Neal ($18) over the next 24 buys.

I almost left with better goaltending, except I underestimated how quickly everyone went to the dollar days and was afraid to put out Robin Lehner, Cam Talbot and James Reimer too early in fear someone would pay more than the dollar I had left for them. They all went for a dollar, and I missed them all.

Obviously, with one or two of that trio, my goaltending still wouldn't be great, but I have confidence in my in-season ability to make it work with or without pieces of that trio.

 

Here was my strategy in a nutshell: let everyone blow their brains on the top players and then swoop in and have my pick of a slew of second-tier players. I also wanted players who play on good teams because I didn't want to have to worry about plus/minus.

 

Here is my initial budget, targets and final roster.

 

Targets based on expected price and flow of auction:

C

John Tavares

Aleksander Barkov

Mark Scheifele

Ryan Johansen

Tyler Johnson

Auston Matthews

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Nazem Kadri

Nick Bjugstad

Mitch Marner

 

LW

Filip Forsberg

Jonathan Huberdeau

James van Riemsdyk

Ondrej Palat

Nikolaj Ehlers

Evander Kane

Jordan Staal

Brock Nelson

Colin Wilson

Nick Ritchie

 

RW

Nathan MacKinnon

James Neal

Alexander Radulov

Patric Hornqvist

Mats Zuccarello

Brendan Gallagher

Patrik Laine

Sam Reinhart

William Nylander

Jiri Hudler

Charlie Coyle

P.A. Parenteau

Nino Niederreiter

Ryan Strome

 

D

Dustin Byfuglien

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Victor Hedman

Ryan Suter

Colton Parayko

Anton Stralman

Matt Niskanen

Morgan Rielly

Trevor Daley

Adam Larsson

 

 

G

Carey Price

Devan Dubnyk

Marc-Andre Fleury

Robin Lehner

Jaroslav Halak

Cam Talbot

James Reimer

Connor Hellebuyck

Calvin Pickard

 

Final Roster:

 

So, overall, I'm definitely pleased with this team. Because it is a rotisserie league with games played limits, I don't have to push the panic button on my goaltending yet, either. I've already begun to shop Johnson and Thornton, but I might have to deal Scheifele to land a guy I want.

As long as my skaters start strong, I'll be dealing from a position of strength and offense isn't going to be a problem, hopefully.

Every auction is different, and the importance of having a budget cannot be understated. I just hope my goaltending can suffice, or I can land an upgrade. But hopefully Hellebuyck is going to save the day.

You can find the entire league here.

 

***

 

I'm going to work on a bold predictions article for next week, so keep an eye out for that because this is my last ramblings until next year. It was an honor to be asked to join the club in April 2014 and a privilege to return this summer. The content and community is top notch, and I cannot understate how motivating it is be held to task for every word. Keep demanding the best and you'll receive it here, Dobberheads.