Ramblings: Budaj, Eaves, line combos and more (Nov 14)

by Dobber on November 14, 2016

My thoughts on Budaj, Atkinson, Gagner, Staal, Stecher, Eaves, line combos and much more …


I think the bubble has burst on the love affair in fantasy hockey with Peter Budaj. The Kings play a very goalie-friendly possession system and most capable goalies can truly flourish there (as you see with Quick, and as you saw in the past with Bernier, Scrivens and Jones). But it doesn’t work for everybody (ahem, Jeff Zatkoff) and the lesser ones will show some flaws sooner or later. Budaj has gone 0-2-1 in his last three games and while he has still been fairly decent, his overall numbers have corrected to a level where they should be. I’m glad Budaj stuck with it and is back in the league (if Quick didn’t get hurt, would we have seen Budaj again?). But don’t count on anything fantasy-worthy to come of this for the 34-year-old. What you’ll probably see over the next two months are numbers that are average, with a risk of splitting starts with an almost-healthy Jeff Zatkoff (LBI) and an even greater risk of the Kings bringing in a new goaltender altogether (I’m thinking either Karri Ramo or Reto Berra). Budaj is very much a short-term investment.

Anze Kopitar is day-to-day with an UBI. Los Angeles line combos without him:





I’m sorry, but what a terrible looking group of forwards. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood but Los Angeles sucks. I said it in the summer during the Team-by-Team outlooks I do, but remove Quick and Kopitar from the equation and – yuck. Not even Drew Doughty can save that.


Look for Kyle Clifford to get suspended. Disgusting:


While Patrik Laine has been pointless in two games, that’s nothing like the slump that Auston Matthews is in. Matthews has just two points in his last nine games – both assists. Four goals in his first game, but just eight points in 14 games since.

Another Winnipeg rookie, Kyle Connor, looks as though he’s on his way to the AHL. Hasn’t happened yet, but I suspect it will this week. His ice time has been sliding and Sunday he was minus-2 in the game before leaving as the recipient of that Clifford hit (above). He’s minus-8 on the season which is by far a team-low. Say what you want about the relevance and use of the plus/minus, if it’s so terrible that it sticks out like a sore thumb then that’s not a good thing. Just one goal in 16 games doesn’t help either. If he goes to the AHL he has the talent to easily dominate there and that would be for the best in my humble opinion.

Dobber Darling Connor Hellebuyck (Hell-Boy) is 4-1-0 in his last five and has won three straight. In his last three games he has a 1.95 GAA and a 0.929 SV%. This is the Hell-Boy we expected!


One of the reasons that I like Cam Atkinson so much for a breakout year (and have liked him since he was a prospect) was all the shots that he’s taken. His SH% has been climbing steadily, too (9.7% to 10.4% to 11.9% last year) and when a player takes three shots per game consistently, that’s very promising. This year, so far, his teammates have been scoring. To me this is quite a bonus because he’s racking up the assists. So instead of flirting with 30 goals and getting in that 25 to 30 assist range for a very nice breakout year, Atkinson could actually do the 30-goal thing and then have a pretty sweet assist total to go with it. Columbus won’t keep scoring at this rate, but clearly they’re better offensively than we figured. And Atkinson owners will reap the rewards. This is one ‘Dobber Darling’ that’s working out quite well – and on schedule (he’s now 27).

Sam Gagner has six goals and seven points in his last seven games. There may be something to this guy as he tries to resurrect his career. Any player who is still in his 20s and has an eight-point game under his belt is a player who can never be one hundred percent counted out. Call it a Dobber policy. I picked him up and I’ll be happy to continue monitoring while he’s on my bench (so I don’t risk someone else grabbing him if he pans out).


Joel Eriksson-Ek was scratched on Sunday primarily because it would have been his 10th game. The Wild will likely keep him up for that key (for contract purposes) 10th game, but they are delaying the decision. He is pointless in his last five contests after posting five points in four games to start his NHL career.

Eric Staal has points in three straight and 13 in 14 on the season. Are you buying this? If he failed in Carolina (at the end) and again in New York, should Minnesota be any different? I mean, all the pundits in the preseason said “Well, it was a good signing as long as the Wild treat him like a third-line center. He’s not a first-line guy anymore” Right? His 5on5 SH% (9.62) isn’t crazy high, nor is it out of the norm for him. And his SH% of 11.9% is a little high, but he was there in 2012-13 so it’s not unprecedented. Perhaps his offseason preparation changed and he came into the season in the proverbial “best shape of his life”? I’d still be cautious with him, but I’d tweak expectations up to 57-62 points now.

Erik Haula has been back for three games now and only has the one assist (last night) to show for it. But he’s taken 10 shots on goal in that span and I look to that, along with ice time (which has been decent), as a good sign.


Ryan Dzingel did not score Sunday and has just two points in his last eight games. But he had five shots on goal and saw a season-high 19:41 of ice time. He has nine shots on goal in the last two games, the only two games this season in which he had taken more than three shots. It’s funny, he was earning respect early in the season but not getting much in the way of ice time. Now he has that ice time, but is no longer producing. The higher shot totals are a good sign though.


It would seem that David Krejci is waking up. He has three points in his last two games. And that means that his linemates are waking up as well – Ryan Spooner and David Backes.


But of bigger note in that Boston-Colorado game is the play of Semyon Varlamov. After losing his grip on the starting gig, Varly has followed up a win on Friday with a 44-save loss on Sunday (45 shots). That’s a confidence booster if I ever saw one and it makes our Calvin Pickard-hunch a failed one. For now…

Matt Duchene’s concussion cost him at least Sunday’s game and there’s no telling if this will be a one-week thing or a two-months (or longer) thing. Damn concussions…

Line combos without Duchene:


#2           21%        BOURQUE,RENE – GREER,AJ – SODERBERG,CARL




I don’t give Troy Stecher enough (any?) love here because to be honest I’m not a fan (from a fantasy standpoint). But I do have to acknowledge the fact that he has three points in his last four games and he’s taken 10 shots in the last two games. He has two things going for him – he’s a right-handed shot, and he’s pretty much forced their other right-handed shot (Philip Larsen) to the press box. Larsen has four points in 13 games (Stecher has three in seven) and two PP points. But at this point it looks as though Stecher has stolen the job. Now we’ll see if he can put fantasy-worthy points on the board or if he just Ben Huttons his way to a quick 15-game start and a disappearing act for 60 games after.


Tyler Seguin had three assists Sunday which gives him 12 points in his last seven games. And that, my friends, is how a superstar goes from out of the scoring race up to the top of it in two weeks.

Patrick Eaves has played no small part in that hot streak. He’s been mentioned here in the Ramblings plenty of times over the last two years and often floated over the last two summers as a possible sleeper pick. And that’s because, at times, he gets put on the Seguin – Jamie Benn line and keeps up. But without exception, he gets hurt. He’ll fly along for a week or two…or three… and then ‘boom’, broken ankle. But if your league has an IR then there is no reason why he should be sitting on the wire right now. Get him! Eaves has seven points in his last five games, four of them goals and four of them on the power play.


Michal Neuvirth is out for the next month with an LBI. Typical Neuvirth. Anthony Stolarz is worthy of a pickup because he’ll be recalled and he will get a start soon (my opinion). And because Steve Mason hasn’t been all that great, an “adrenalin rush” type of performance from Stolarz could steal some starts. You saw Louis Domingue do that one year ago (and if you remember – I suggested grabbing him, too).


Alexander Radulov – points in three of the first eight games. Points in seven of his next eight games. Think he’s getting comfortable? Nine points in those eight games, including the assist Sunday.

Check in on the PK Subban vs. Shea Weber trade by using this tool here.  Side-by-side comparison.


Artem Anisimov was pointless in two games to start the year, then he had points in 11 straight, and now is pointless in two games again (plus a game missed with injury). All of his numbers point to a market correction. In fact, the numbers indicate that he should have about half of the points that he actually does right now.

Patrick Kane. More ridiculousness:


Tyler Ennis gets hurt too much to develop into a game-breaker. So much potential and I honestly believe he could have been a star. But when year after year he gets injured (either playing through it or missing time), it eats away at any improvement/development he would have otherwise enjoyed. Now he’s out again with a groin injury and on injured reserve.

Ryan O’Reilly is also out with an upper-body injury. Without knowing for sure, I suspect that he has been trying to play through it for at least a week. With Ennis, O’Reilly and Jack Eichel all hurt, here were Buffalo’s line combos on Saturday:


#2           9.3%      KANE,EVANDER – OKPOSO,KYLE – REINHART,SAM



So the Larsson line and then a whole lotta line juggling.


Michael Grabner – I’m still not buying it. I’m still not believing it. But he’s definitely riding a wave of confidence and if you own him, enjoy the ride. He shouldn’t be on any waiver wires now. He scored a pair on Sunday to give him 10. Second in the league (tied).

Patrick Maroon – for some reason I’m buying this. I guess the difference is that Maroon is steadily improving, year over year, whereas Grabner declined and was often scratched and now suddenly he’s a superstar. I’ll take the steady rise over the unexpected pop any time. Plus, Maroon’s production can be explained by his superstar linemate.


The latest DobberProspects Ramblings can be found here. You may not know this, but they post four to five Ramblings per week plus a feature. So daily content over there on top of the profile updates. A full staff of 30.


You probably heard that Bryan Bickell was recently diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). All the best of luck to Bryan and his family as he faces this battle. I have an uncle who was diagnosed thirteen years ago and I’ve seen the different stages. But I also know they are making huge strides and great progress and I honestly think a cure will be found and rolled out in my lifetime. My uncle was at ‘wheelchair stage’ about five or six years ago and then the decline stopped after treatment that he received at around that point.  He hasn’t gotten any worse and has a very positive attitude. Anyway, I’m no doctor but I really think we’re on the cusp. Never give up hope.


And of course – the 20 Fantasy Thoughts for the past week.


Don’t forget to set your Dobbernomics lineup! And it’s never too late to join! I still can’t get back into the Top 30 but dammit – I will, you can count on it.