Ramblings: Dobber here –wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas … (Dec 25)
And have a very safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve celebration. Enjoy this time with your family and friends. I’m happy to say that I will as this tough year can now be put behind me.
In the October 25th Ramblings, the last ones that I did here, I made some statements in an effort to calm folks down from knee-jerk reactions. Browsing through them, I’m happy to see that they’ve mostly come to pass. Edmonton and Cam Talbot are winning games, Jonathan Marchessault has certainly exploded (even beyond my wildest expectations), and both Ryan Hartman and Bryan Rust have calmed down. So far, Los Angeles and Dustin Brown have not come down to earth. They have a little bit, but not enough. That “new coach adrenalin” that we expected has lingered a lot longer than expected. John Stevens has really gotten the most out of Anze Kopitar.
In case you haven’t heard, the Midseason Guide is indeed a go. I’m feeling great and, knock on wood, things continue this way. I learned in November that they can derail in a hurry (that was a rough month for me) but I feel better than I have in a long time and if in the small chance that things turn badly, I have a great team ready to take on more (and you all agree – Steve, Ian and Mike are superb, plus the man behind the scenes Mario Prata was cofounder of The Forecaster and he’s been great support as well). So this is a go and will be released January 12 (pre-order it here) and work has already begun on it!
One other thing I said October 25th – I was very hard on King Henrik Lundqvist. Since then he’s gone 15-5-2, 2.41 GAA and 0.929 SV%. Oops. Still gas in the tank after all. He turns 36 in March and makes an excellent “sell-high” opportunity for keeper league owners who have fallen out of the race for first this year. And at the same time, he’s fairly good acquisition if you’re going for it. Because he’s making $8.5 million next season, the season after that, and in 2020-21 as well. He’ll be 39 when his contract is up. Can he be like a Hasek, Cujo or Brodeur and continue late in his career? He can probably continue to be a capable goalie behind a strong team, even with Igor Shesterkin likely heading this way by 2020. And in keeper leagues I don’t look beyond two years anyway, so landing him could actually be a “buy low” as owners start to get uncomfortable with his age. As long as your expectations are for a .915 goaltender who will get 30 to 34 wins a year after this one (as I think he tops 35 this year).
This year’s Brad Marchand is Josh Bailey. I’m on board with him as the real deal. Players don’t normally break out at 28, but Marchand did and now Bailey is doing it. Marchand hinted at it when he was 27, just like Bailey did – with a bigger than expected season that we all figured would regress a little the following year and instead things exploded to new heights. Unbelievably, I was lucky enough to have both players on my team during said explosions! For those curious…
Bailey: 18 of 25 ES points with John Tavares on his line (72%).
Tavares: 21 of 31 ES points with Bailey on his line (68%). Six of those 10 points were with Jordan Eberle on the line instead of Bailey.
So who is next year’s Bailey/Marchand (and I’ll add Jonathan Marchessault to the category, though he hasn’t been in the league long)? Geez…who knows? But I’m hanging onto my talented players who are 26 and 27 years old enjoying success that’s slightly above expectation. You don’t want to include guys who are already at superstar production rates – like Brayden Schenn. Look a little below that, at the players in the mid-20s for points right now. This player needs to be fairly well established as 35- or 45-point players and you’re a little surprised that they’re going to get 55 this year and there’s no way that they’ll get 75 next year (ahem – we felt this way about both Marchand and Bailey at 26).
There are several players you may suggest, but I’ll stop you right now because they’re too young – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Rickard Rakell, Gabriel Landeskog. Can’t write them off for 75 yet because they haven’t firmly established their range. I’m talking ‘true’ surprises.
But a guy like Yanni Gourde is a rookie, yet he’s 26 and surprising at that 55-pace! I’ll count him. Haula, Zucker, Smith and Gourde. I say there’s a 50-50 chance we get another Bailey/Marchand next season and if so I believe it will be one of those four. I guess that means…a one in eight chance of a home run, against a seven in eight chance of a 40-point anchor?
As for Gourde, you may remember my comparing him to Marchessault and Marchessault’s situation several times over the last year or two. Here is what I had to say about him in the Fantasy Prospects Report last summer:
Gourde appeared as a blip on the fantasy radar to close the 2016-17 campaign, appearing in 20 games for the Lightning and posting eight points. Prior to his modest NHL success, the 25-year-old Gourde had been an AHL regular over the prior three seasons for the Syracuse Crunch. The undrafted forward has scored at every level, from the QMJHL to three straight 40-plus point seasons in the AHL, so it’s no surprise that he was able to find the score sheet for the Bolts when given the opportunity. As an undersized center, Gourde struggled in the faceoff circle in the NHL winning just 37% of his draws, and could need to adjust to playing wing if he is going to stick with the club full time. Count on him to be up and down between the AHL and NHL next season, and take a flier if you need a quick scoring boost.
Upside – Jonathan Marchessault (25-35-60+, 40 PIM)
3YP – (15-25-40, 40 PIM)
Certainty (NHL, Upside) – 60%, 30%
Expected arrival – Now or never.
DobberHockey Draft Advice – Don't bother, unless your league is very deep and you have a roster spot you can waste a late pick on.
Cautious draft advice aside, he’s really flourished on a team that really needed some secondary offensive help. He has opportunity with Tampa where Marchessault didn’t. And he’s certainly cashed in.
See you back here on January 15 – my target date to return to Ramblings every second week.
Give the gift of Stem Cells!
I encourage you to register as a stem cell donor. A stranger just bought me more time (I may not have lived another year) – and he or she may have cured me and I live a full, normal life (fingers crossed – so far so good). You can do that for someone too. If you’re between 18 and 40, look into it.
In Canada – register here.
In the USA – register here.
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