Ramblings: Daily Fantasy Merger? How Good is Talbot? (Oct. 29)

by steve laidlaw on October 29, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Daily Fantasy Merger? How Good is Talbot? (Oct. 29)

Ramblings: Draft Kings and Fan Duel to merge? How good is Cam Talbot? And more.

 

Yesterday, ESPN reported that a merger between Draftkings and Fanduel was imminent. This is huge news but I am a bit puzzled as to what the actual implications of this will be.

The biggest questions that I want answered are logistical. Where will I be signing in to play my daily fantasy games? I am a faithful Draftkings user, will I simply continue logging in to Draftkings? What about Fanduel users? Will there be a new site altogether? How will be customer information be transferred in this merger and will that information be safe? If I have an account on both sites will they be merged or will I have two accounts under this merged service and should close one? Will my money simply be refunded and will I be asked to create a whole new account? The latter seems unlikely.

It seems obvious that this merger is the result of these companies growing too big too fast and instead of becoming more manageable in size they are opting to try and stay huge as a single daily fantasy provider. They account for 90% of the daily fantasy business, will their merger draw the ire of folks who concern themselves with monopolies?

By combining clientele, this new company will presumably be able to offer larger prizes although I suspect this effect will be smaller than they might hope. The percentage of shared clients has got to be high as virtually all the professionals have been playing on both providers as well as the smaller ones.

Will this benefit the average joe or the professional players or simply have a null effect? Presumably grouping all the joes (fish) in one place will make it easier for the professionals. It won’t necessarily make it easier but it could make their job less time consuming. Assuming this merged company maintains the 90% market share that these two companies currently own the professionals will simply have less scoring systems and player valuations to punch into their formulas and they’ll spend less time inputting lineups. But the fish, well they will remain fish.

This could make it easier on the average joes who may have been trying to make a go of it on multiple providers. This makes for one less scoring system/player valuation set for them to have to try and fail to game. In that sense concentrating their efforts could make them better.

It’s also possible that the average joe may be turned off by playing on the huge company and may take their business to one of the smaller daily fantasy providers. That would help drive up the market share of those other companies but wouldn’t actually help the average joe as they’ll inevitably find professionals concentrating more efforts on those companies as well.

Aside from the logistics, there are also some larger questions that this merger brings about. Can daily fantasy continue to exist predominantly in its own secluded world? Or is the future of daily fantasy with companies like Yahoo! who are entrenched in many other things and offer fantasy sports services beyond just the daily offerings? Will companies still be able to offer up guaranteed million dollar prizes or will daily fantasy be played on a much smaller scale?

I have no idea how it will all play out but daily fantasy is here to stay. In what form? I can’t wait to find out.

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Pavel Buchnevic was back in the lineup and made an immediate impact with a power-play assist. Buchnevic also pushed JT Miller down to the third line, replacing him alongside Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello.

Zuccarello scored both goals for the Rangers, by the way. Looking at how the Rangers are spreading out the scoring, they might have eight guys who put up 40+ points this year. Doesn’t seem like they’ll have one 60-point guy but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am very impressed by their scoring depth.

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It was all Jeff Skinner for the Hurricanes. Welcome back to the lineup, Jeff, glad you could make it. It was the Hurricanes’ home opener and they gave everyone hats. Poetically, Skinner scored a hat-trick and everyone rained down their door prize. Unfortunately, Skinner’s third goal actually grazed Bryan Bickell on it’s way into the net so no real hat-trick. Thank goodness the people didn’t wait on the official scoring to show their joy and we got the hat show all the same.

First win of the season for Cam Ward. I still cannot believe he is the starter and Eddie Lack is the backup but here we are. Full credit to Ward for his win, he played well. He just doesn’t do so often enough for my liking.

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After clicking with Taylor Hall in the Devils’ previous outing, Pavel Zacha was bumped back down the lineup. Invariably, Zacha and Hall shared the ice on the odd shift last night and looked dynamic when they did. Zacha would be the greater beneficiary of a marriage between the two but both would gain value. Zacha does see time with Hall on the top PP unit so there is some Hall exposure there.

Cool profile on Devils blueliner Yohann Auvitu from TSN:

“I said to him, ‘Look, if this doesn’t work out, after two or three months, you can go back home,’” Shero explained. “He looked at me and said ‘No. If I’m coming, I don’t want to give up.’ I was like ‘Wow.’ That’s when I knew we had the right guy. He’s a really interesting guy.”

Auvitu said he never wavered.

“That’s not how I do it,” he said. “If you make a commitment and choose to come here, why would you want to go to the KHL after two or three months? If they would’ve sent me down right away, it would’ve been a life experience. I’m learning here on and off the ice no matter what. I think I would learn as much in the AHL. It’s a different perspective here.”

That attitude is so amazing. I aspire to think like that. To view everything, even setbacks as learning experiences. That’s the mindset of a happy person, because achievement isn’t defined by “success” but by what was learned.

Auvitu has real skills too. He’s behind Damon Severson on the depth chart but runs the second PP unit. He has value in fantasy leagues where 30-point defensemen have value because he could get there.

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Michael Hutchinson secured a 35-save shutout victory in Colorado to strike back in the Jets’ crease battle. This after Connor Hellebuyck allowed just one goal in a victory over the Stars. Still a muddy situation. You guys know I think Hellebuyck is the best here but performance matters.

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Big minutes for Mikko Rantanen in his season debut. He skated 18:16 with 3:09 on the power play. He spent a good chunk of his minutes on Nathan MacKinnon’s wing.

The Avalanche lines were scrambled quite a bit but here’s what they predominantly used:

14.6%    EV           GRIGORENKO,MIKHAIL – MACKINNON,NATHAN – RANTANEN,MIKKO

13.72%  EV           BOURQUE,RENE – COMEAU,BLAKE – SODERBERG,CARL

12.39%  EV           DUCHENE,MATT – IGINLA,JAROME – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL

7.08%    EV           COLBORNE,JOE – MARTINSEN,ANDREAS – MITCHELL,JOHN

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Lots of folks are wondering if Cam Talbot is for real. I’m a jaded Oilers fan so I may not the best to answer this sort of question. I still don’t think they’ll quite make the playoffs but they should be in the mix. Being in the mix means Talbot can be relevant even while playing for a losing team. Talbot was a quality option in the second half last season so it’s not like there is no track record here either.

Where would I put him? Not in the top 10 although it’s entirely conceivable that he finishes in that range. He’s in the morass of goaltenders whose ranking will likely be divided by 5-10 goals over the span of a thousand shots. Unfortunately, these are the margins within which we measure goaltenders.

You could try and sell high but I’m not sure who you are getting. Is anyone parting with Carey Price or Braden Holtby? Good luck. Maybe someone panics about Ben Bishop but it’s probably too early for that kind of move. Roberto Luongo, Martin Jones and Cory Schneider are unattainable as well. That means if you are looking at moving Talbot for another option you’ve got to delve into that murky range outside the top five or so where these guys will all finish fairly close to one another. If you’ve got a hunch, by all means pursue it, but there is a reason I do tiered rankings for goaltenders. Goalies are messy, it is really hard to split hairs with these guys. I wouldn’t get so many questions about them if they weren’t.

Since this is essentially a non-answer, can already picture the comments, “what about “goaltender X” would you trade Talbot for him?” I’ve listed above the goalies for whom you’d definitively win the trade. Anyone else and there are questions. Even with the great Henrik Lundqvist there are questions. He has finished a mere 13th in standard leagues for three years running. That’s a nice floor but might you want to risk sticking with Talbot for a potential larger payout? I’d lean towards the high floor but I don’t know your appetite for risk.

Ultimately, we are just eight games in for Talbot. Eight games wasn’t enough to tell you about Talbot last season, nor should it be considered enough this season. I have linked to my pre-season rankings above. They should presumably still be good if you assume that this small sample isn’t enough to tell us much.

I’ll close with this:

Talbot is good and he’s good enough to believe in. The Oilers do not appear to be a disaster. That would seemingly remove his worst-case scenario. Be happy about that. Beyond that, unless you are trading up for a no-brain top-five option you might just be spinning your tires with any notion of “selling high”.

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Just when you thought all was lost for Shea Theodore, the Ducks called him back to the big club. Yes, they might be trying to kill you with these twists and turns. Theodore has a small window to produce while we wait on Hampus Lindholm’s visa but he’s still behind Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen.

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David Pastrnak has been suspended two games for a hit to the head of Dan Girardi. I doubt you are on the verge of dropping Pastrnak given his hot start to the season but I would be tempted to make a move if there were juicy options still on the waiver wire.

Pastnrak is going to soak up a roster spot unproductively and the Bruins have a thin schedule between now and next Sunday (Nov. 6) playing just four games. Pastrnak is going to miss half of those. You could conceivably add a guy off one of the eight teams playing a back-to-back this weekend, and get three extra man games while Pastrnak is out and then potential add him back to your roster when he returns from suspension next Thursday. It just depends on your appetite for risk and short term gain.

By the way, this is a good time to mention that NO ONE is playing on Monday. Halloween is a complete day off league wide. I’m not sure why but it effectively makes the next matchup period a six-day week. There are still several teams playing four games in those six days, however.

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With Bryan Little officially placed on injured reserve the Jets have called up Marko Dano. We haven’t seen him used in a major offensive role so he isn’t necessarily fantasy relevant.

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Now for some Q + A:

“Low” is a relative term. In my tiered rankings, I had him in tier four which encompassed defensemen ranked 17-24. That’s still pretty good and firmly places him in the realm of fantasy relevance, even with my stringent demands of production from my defensemen. The reality is not so much that Duncan Keith is low but rather that the defense position is becoming more loaded with good options.

Small factors like Keith’s offseason injury, his age and the lack of depth on the Blackhawks made him less intriguing. As did his diminishing shot totals.  Other than his Norris calibre seasons, Keith has been a 45-point defenseman. His potential to pop is always enticing, but it’s his high floor that keeps him relevant. There are simply juicier options.

 

Continuing the defenseman theme, here’s how I’d rank the above in standard leagues:

Zach Werenski

Aaron Ekblad

 

Fantasy Relevance

 

Jake Muzzin

Oscar Klefbom

 

I’ve been harping on this a lot but I want my defensemen to have 50-point potential with a large shot volume for them to make my roster on a nightly basis. If they can’t meet those thresholds they are spending more nights in my lineup doing nothing than they are doing something. I’d be better off using that roster space on hot options playing a dense schedule. The latter two aren’t making the cut for me. I’m not averse to using them if they get hot and/or are playing a dense schedule but I am just as happy to let them sit on someone else’s roster, more often than not, putting up donuts.

And yes, I do have Werenski ahead of Ekblad. Overreaction? Possibly. I thought Ekblad would take another step, so far it hasn’t happened. Maybe some of it is due to the injuries for the Panthers but Keith Yandle is healthy and he was supposed to help fix their power play. That hasn’t happened, Florida’s power play stinks. Without a boost in PPP, Ekblad’s going to have a much tougher time reaching my threshold of production. The plus side, Ekblad is shooting more than ever averaging more than three shots a night. That has kept him relevant even while he has struggled.

Werenski is shooting just as much as Ekblad but is actually producing points and doing it for a supposedly worse team. Werenski already appears to be the more dynamic offensive talent. Nothing about Ekblad’s “proven” track record suggests to me he is the better option. Maybe if he had already hit the 50-point mark we could consider him more established. He hasn’t so he’s as much a wild card as Werenski.

And just to be absolutely crystal clear, I like them both. They both sit above the Fantasy Relevance bar. I just like Werenski more.

He could be worth dumping. Based on his current usage you aren’t likely to get a 50-60 -point season out of Hartnell. At around 12 minutes per game, with less than a minute of PP time, there is some risk that Hartnell could fall below even the 40-point mark.

I don’t see that last bit happening. Hartnell still has value and could be traded to a contender. He is someone I’d look for to have a big end to the season somewhere that they need a veteran scorer who can provide a net-front presence.

As for whether you drop him or not, I can’t answer that without context. As always, specific questions get specific answers. Not knowing the scoring, or who you’d be picking up I can’t advise one way or the other.

 

Getting back to the Talbot discussion above, this is in a hair-splitting zone. I think Hellebuyck is the best goalie of them all but the Flyer tandem is better. They certainly play on what appears to be a better team.

 

I like Landeskog a little bit more. Much higher established production in the PIM department. Everything else is even across the board. One area to consider is H2H playoff schedule. I know it’s early but assuming you make playoffs, which one of these guys is going to give you more games? It’s a small advantage to mine when everything else is the same.

Another factor to consider: do you already have a linemate/teammate of one of these two? There’s some merit to pushing your chips in on one line and totally owning the production when those guys produce. With how much we’ve seen the Colorado lines get shuffled I’d have some questions about focusing too much on that with Landeskog.

Other things to consider:

Where is your team strong? Where is it weak?

For instance, you might need Schenn’s PPP advantage more than you need Landeskog’s PIM advantage.

There is probably a larger discussion to be had regarding the merits of certain scoring categories versus others in terms of where to allocate your focus. I have a friend who emphasizes owning Faceoffs, Assists and SOG. I place my emphasis on SOG and other peripherals, while completely ignoring plus/minus. I find that scoring comes and goes but peripherals like SOG and Hits are more dependable. It all depends on how exactly your scoring system breaks down.

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Reminder: Pavel Datsyuk is really good.

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We may have reached oversaturation of outdoor hockey:

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Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.