Ramblings: Dion’s Royal Debut (Feb 16)

by steve laidlaw on February 15, 2018

 

Dion Phaneuf’s first shot in a King uniform and was on net, rather than high and wide. I know, I’m shocked too. He would later score a power-play goal skating 18:56 with secondary power play usage. He also had no penalty kill time. Could less be more for Phaneuf? I can’t help but think that a lack of PK time will hinder his multi-category value a bit. A bit of a new-team surge could get him back on pace for 30 points, which is around where he should finish.

With Phaneuf in, Kevin Gravel and Paul Ladue were both scratched. Ladue had received some secondary PP usage of late, but appears to be the odd-man out. Even if he can displace Christian Folin or Derek Forbort as a lineup regular, the top for defensemen for PP time are set. And they are set for years as they all have multi-year contracts. He might need a trade to break in somewhere else.

Phaneuf was paired with Alec Martinez all game, while Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin were the top pair. They still have the option to split things up and roll out one of their top three guys on different pairings, but you know that Phaneuf will have a strong partner in any of these setups.

There is hope that Jeff Carter will start practicing with the Kings when they return from their road trip. That road trip ends next Tuesday, February 20. Assuming a week of practice before he gets back into the lineup and he should be playing again by the time head-to-head playoffs roll around. That’s the optimistic take, anyhow.

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Also scoring in his debut after this week’s trade: Marian Gaborik. He also added an assist. Again, new-team surge. He did, however, skate 18 minutes with the hot duo of Matt Duchene and Mike Hoffman, as well as seeing secondary PP time. Could there be something here? Yes, Gaborik still has skill to offer, but how long until he gets worn out? I don’t think his body can hold up for very long so I won’t overreact to this strong start.

Duchene, by the way, notched three assists giving him 19 points in the last 18 games.

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In their third game sans Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly’s usage wasn’t quite as insane. He “only” skated 22:07, taking merely 25 faceoffs. He was up over 24 minutes and 35 faceoffs in each of the previous two games. That’s crazy usage for a forward.

Also perking up without Eichel: Evan Rodrigues. Never thought we’d see Rodrigues achieve fantasy relevance, but the forward is doing well skating 16+ minutes a night centering the second line with Kyle Okposo and Evander Kane. He is also getting top PP minutes in Eichel’s slot. Rodrigues has five points in the last five games. Intriguing.

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Breakout four-point night for Clayton Keller, who has perked up with eight points in the last five games. He has really slowed after a hot first month, but that first month showed us how talented he is. Perhaps he can put together another crazy run.

It’s worth remembering that strange things can happen with talented players over smaller samples. After the trade deadline last season Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar were top-30 scorers. Would you be shocked if Keller finished up the season with a crazy run of 20+ games with point-per-game play? The Coyotes have been more competitive in the second half, albeit without much offense. Don’t overreact to this hot streak but acknowledge that something productive could be happening here.

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Brayden Point was banged up and questionable to play last night but wound up taking the ice for 17+ minutes. That kept the trio of Point, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn together. Killorn bagged his sixth goal and 11th point in the past eight games. That line is hot!

It’s worth monitoring if there’s some slippage in Point’s game in the next couple of weeks. There could be something nagging at him. No signs of decline yet.

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Nick Backstrom is heating up with goals in five of the past six games. Perhaps time to jump back in on Tom Wilson then. Wilson is the third wheel with Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. With that kind of star exposure, he can pile up points, like the three he had last night.

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Nico Hischier is also heating up with six points in the last three games. I loathe his lack of top unit PP usage. He doesn’t have a PP point since December 29. It’s enough to make me shy about scooping up Hischier during this hot streak.

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After a mid-season slump Jeff Skinner is perking up again with goals in three straight and points in four straight. He had been testing my patience, but the winger is a virtual lock for 30+ goals and 250+ shots.

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Duncan Keith finally has the monkey off his back scoring his first goal of the season. This was also his first point in six games, and first PP point since January 9. Even with the goal, I’m still out on Keith who isn’t seeing enough usage for me to use a roster spot on in standard leagues. Get him back on the top PP unit and we can talk. Mind you, he is on pace for nearly 200 SOG, which is an excellent floor for a defenseman.

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Check out the hands on big man Nick Ritchie:

 

Also note the assist by Ondrej Kase, one of three points for the winger last night. He quietly has 15 points in 16 games since the start of January and is doing it without the benefit of top unit PP time. I don’t love the massive shooting percentage spike from last season’s 6.5% to this season’s 16.4%, but as a sophomore we don’t yet know his true shooting value. It’s likely somewhere around 10-12% as is the case with most skilled forwards.

Whether this is a legit breakout, or fool’s gold, Kase is producing 2.86 points/60 at even strength, which puts him eighth in the league behind only Nathan MacKinnon, Brad Marchand, Jaden Schwartz, Mathew Barzal, Nikita Kucherov, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. Prettyyyyyyyyyyyyy, pretty good. This type of production typically portends to future success, especially since he hasn’t had elite linemates for most of the season, spending only 11% of his shifts with Ryan Getzlaf. This production isn’t all Kase, but there’s a strong argument that he is the one driving the line with Ritchie and Adam Henrique.

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Zach Aston-Reese is the latest to get a bump next to Sidney Crosby. He has three goals and four points in the last four games. Worth a flyer in deeper settings.

It hasn’t yet born fruit, but Justin Schultz has taken over the top PP duties from Kris Letang over the past nine games. In those nine games Schultz has four points, while Letang has five. Letang is still the man, but there is opportunity here for Schultz, whose slump this year has dropped his ownership to around 50% in Yahoo leagues.

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50-save shutout for Jaroslav Halak. No one saw that coming! That was just the third time in the last 16 starts that Halak had allowed fewer than three goals. Can’t see this performance has me on board, though he does have a .921 save percentage since the All-Star break.

Is Nick Leddy coming around again? The Islanders’ power play has perked up and Leddy has benefitted with seven points in seven games, four of those coming with the man-advantage.

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The Rangers’ top scorers since the All-Star break:

 

Points

GP

JT Miller

5

8

Kevin Hayes

5

8

Michael Grabner

3

8

David Desharnais

3

8

Mats Zuccarello

3

8

Ryan McDonagh

2

4

Brady Skjei

2

8

Mika Zibanejad

2

8

Rick Nash

2

8

Nick Holden

2

8

Tony DeAngelo

2

8

 

Yup, tank mode has been engaged. Of course, much of this time has been without Pavel Buchnevich, who got hurt in the Rangers’ first game coming out of the break. He is the key to their offensive success. At this point, if you own any Rangers you have to be begging for trades.

Getting Buchnevich back would help a lot. As would the return of Chris Kreider who practiced on Wednesday for the first time since his surgery. He hasn’t yet been cleared for contact, but should be back by early March in time for head-to-head playoffs.

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Watch Dustin Byfuglien unleash a one-handed clapper:

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You can read my take on the Blues’ acquisition of Nikita Soshnikov here.

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Another minor move yesterday saw Ville Pokka sent to Ottawa in exchange for Chris DiDomenico.

DiDomenico was able to fill a depth role in Ottawa but was nudged out by the Gaborik acquisition. If he does crack Chicago’s lineup it will be to displace Lance Bouma or Tomas Jurco. I don’t think there’s any fantasy relevance here.

There is still some hope that 23-year-old defenseman Pokka can provide some production for fantasy owners. He has always put up good AHL numbers with 127 points in 266 games across four seasons, and is a mobile right-shot option. That he couldn’t crack a thin Blackhawks defense corps in any of his four years is damning, however the Senators have had no qualms about giving big minutes to bad defensemen over the past few seasons. Maybe this is Pokka’s chance?

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Check out Ian Gooding’s latest Finding Fantasy Value piece for some good waiver wire options.

Also check out the latest prospect ramblings from Cam Robinson.

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Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.

 

2 responses to “Ramblings: Dion’s Royal Debut (Feb 16)”

  1. anonymouse says:

    Is this the real Duchene or should his owners be looking to sell high?
    Last season he had just 41 points in 77 games but still had a stretch of 22 points in 23. Granted, that was towards the beginning of the season and before the GM told him they were looking to trade him, but he still managed to put together an impressive, long hot streak in an otherwise very bad season. On the other hand, Sens’ offence has been trending up and they have an amazing fantasy playoff schedule. To hold or to sell?

    • Nathan says:

      He seems to have good chemistry going with Hoffman right now, but I think this more correction to his horrid start as an senator than anything. I think he’s pretty much a 60 point guy through and through, with about 20-25 of those being goals most years- so if you can get more than a guy like that in return for him, then yeah, sell high. Otherwise you’re probably best just holding on at this point, cause I’m not sure who would give you a top tier forward or top d-man in return for Duchene with how his year has gone. He shouldn’t go through the kind of slump he did earlier this season again and the playoff schedule for Ott is a nice bonus.