Ramblings: Dobber with thoughts on Chiarelli, Talbot’s future, his Midseason Awards ballot and more (Jan 28)
I released the 11th annual Midseason Fantasy Guide just 17 days ago – still relevant thanks to the All-Star Break pressing pause on the season, but won’t be for much longer. It has deeper, more-ready prospect info, plus KHL/Euro/NCAA free agents, trade block musings, an analysis of your league’s playoff schedule and of course second-half projections. It’s a great way to step back and take a look at your team, take a look at your league, and figure out a strategy for the second half. It also supports the site and damn if it isn’t a great read. It’s also my longest ever at 231 (!) pages. Pick it up here!
Regarding the Peter Chiarelli firing. I thought he did a solid job in Boston, especially early on, and thought Edmonton hired a good one. Clearly I was wrong. But one thing I won’t pin on him is his drafting of Jesse Puljujarvi. He had to draft him or fans would have been up in arms. Besides that, Puljujarvi was widely believed to have fallen into his lap as a gift. I begrudge him the Hall for Larsson deal as a bad trade, but that’s also a statement of the way things are in the NHL. If Larsson was a forward, that deal doesn’t happen. If Larsson was making $6 million per year, that deal doesn’t happen. If Larsson was an RFA, that deal doesn’t happen. In the salary cap era where decent minute-munching defensemen with upside are a rare commodity, they become overpriced. So it was a bad deal, but not the worst in NHL history as many say (I also never in a million years would have guessed Hall would ever win the Hart Trophy). I figured at the time it was the 20th best forward in the league who is injury prone, for the 65th best defenseman in the league who has some upside. Instead it turned into the fifth best forward (give or take) for the 90th best defenseman (give or take). Had it turned out that Hall remained the 20th best forward and Larsson improved to the 40th best defenseman, well we’d look at that deal differently. But it was bad deal after bad signing after bad luck that all added up.
What I think is the true reason for Chiarelli’s poor results and ultimate firing is his handling of staff. Nobody talks about this because the big trades (Larsson and Reinhart), draft picks (Puljujarvi) and signings (i.e. Milan Lucic) get the headlines. But bottom line is he could have prevented a lot of this if he had a firmer hand on his overall business. The scouting staff has been truly terrible. Maybe they don’t need a full purging the way the Leafs did several years ago, but I’m sure a good half of them have to go. There is no excuse for poor late-round picks time after time. There is no excuse for going after Griffin Reinhart if a proper scout (or several scouts!) watched him play. And besides the scouts, Chiarelli needed to have more of a say in what the coach does. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but the Oilers used to have an analytics staff (and if that’s no longer the case, then that’s another shortfall of Chiarelli’s). If they advised something repeatedly and consistently, he needed to listen and insist that his coach react to it. Catch it early on that Lucic was better as a third-liner than a first-liner. Understand quickly that Kris Russell doesn’t need to be signed long term. Stress to the coach that a player like Ty Rattie is either first line or waste-of-time. Give him 10 good games in a row there, or even 15. Then send him to the minors if it doesn’t work. None of this one game here, one game there, with press box or fourth-line duties in between… because that’s just wasting everyone’s time. If your coach won't cooperate with that plan, then don’t sign Rattie to a one-year deal. That’s a communication-with-the-coach issue. Have a better scouting staff in place – both amateur and pro – have an analytics staff (if you don’t have one) and have better communication with the coaching staff (a firmer hand, too), and results would have been much different even with a couple of bad moves and signings.
That’s all I have on that for today.
The PHWA midseason awards can be found here. I had a ballot, and here is who I voted for:
Hart – Johnny Gaudreau, Blake Wheeler, Nikita Kucherov. Kucherov won. I had him third because of Brayden Point (who I had fifth). Point is so underrated it’s ridonk. In fact, I wonder if Point being in the lineup gives Tampa more wins than Kucherov. Things that make you go hmmmm. And I love Kucherov, he’s one of my favorite players, this isn't a knock against him.
Selke – Travis Zajac, Sean Couturier, Anthony Cirelli. I had the winner, Bergeron, fifth, and the runner-up Barkov fourth. I looked at penalty killing, zone starts, effectiveness at driving possession, and even offensive production. I felt these three were the best fit overall considering those factors. Zajac very underrated and the other two will be on Selke ballots in the future, mark my words. Voters went for the sexy 'name' picks.
Jack Adams – Bill Peters, Gerard Gallant, Claude Julien. Barry Trotz won, as I think most fans and media are shocked about how the Isles are doing. On my part, the Islanders are about six points ahead of the pace I projected them on. He’s not going to get my vote because of three extra wins. Then again, looking at it now, why did I put Gallant there? In the end, Vegas is still an expansion team and he is still working wonders with them. The first line has become ordinary and yet he’s coaxed offense from the other lines to make up for it.
Rod Langway (defensive defenseman) – Ivan Provorov, Ryan Murray, Seth Jones – Voters gave it to Mattias Ekholm. Journalists vote, and I don’t think many dig into the numbers the way I do. The sexier names got the votes here, too – Ekholm, Giordano, Victor Hedman.
Comeback Player – Ryan Murray, Mark Giordano, Cam Atkinson. Robin Lehner won this one, and this is my bad. I missed Lehner, stupidly. He would have been my first. I was reaching with Atkinson, unable to find a suitable player to vote for at third.
GM of the Year – I asked if I could vote for Steve Yzerman and Mark Spector shot me down. But Frank Seravalli said that I should do it because it would generate discussion. But the two emails were far enough apart that I had already changed my vote. Something to think about, though – Yzerman made that team and he left on his own terms. The best team in the league. Should the GM of the Year go to the GM who is no longer a GM? Anyway, my vote went to David Poile, Doug Wilson, Brad Treliving. The latter won, and for some reason Lou Lamoriello got third even though he did absolutely nothing but screw up the Jan Kovar stuff.
Look at this comment here in a recent Ramblings. Guy almost had his trade vetoed in late November for giving up Tyler Seguin for Mark Giordano. Now look at the deal today. This is one great reason why you should be very careful with your veto rules. Only veto if you are one hundred percent certain that it is a ‘buddy deal’ meant to stack one of the teams to give them the win. That is it. Do not veto bad trades that are just bad trades. Imagine if the trade was vetoed and he lost out on the possible Norris Trophy winner?
Just sifting through the stats leaders and I noticed that Mark Giordano is tied with Evgeni Malkin with 52 points. However, Giordano’s plus/minus is better by plus-48 (!). He’s plus-29 and Malkin is plus-19. Yes, it’s a stupid stat, but crazy discrepancies like that interest me. We’re approximately 48 games into the season so Giordano has literally been on the ice for an extra goal-for vs. goal-against for each game, as opposed to Malkin.
I’ve been driving the point home again and again that you should follow the contract in trying to best-guess the goaltending environment in today’s NHL. Cam Talbot had the big contract and was given start after start despite being the inferior goalie this year – you saw this time and again even in the first half of January. The Mikko Koskinen signing of a long-term contract has now changed that dynamic. Now “following the contract” leads us to follow Koskinen, not Talbot. Just in case you needed clarification on that, or a reinforcing opinion.
So what happens with Talbot? Can he bounce back with another team? Flip a coin on that one. Lots of moving parts. Today, and this could change with more signings, but today it looks as though this summer will be the most wide-open goalie market in history. Tons of unrestricted free agents of which Talbot is one. It’s a game of musical chairs, but it’s also a balancing act. If he sets his price too high, teams will sign one of the many other options. If he sets his price too low, he’ll be a backup. The line is probably $3 million. So $2.9 million is a backup situation, $3.1 million is at least first dibs on being a starter. If, say, Corey Crawford has to retire then perhaps Chicago signs Talbot for $3.1 million. Talbot gets dibs as the starter, probably starts blowing it, and then Collin Delia gradually elbows his way in thanks to the perfect scenario (no expectations and no pressure). Or he signs for $1.75 to be Anaheim’s backup. But watch the number and adjust accordingly. I don’t have high hopes for him, but after seeing Devan Dubnyk turn his career around in Arizona-Minnesota and seeing Brian Elliott and Robin Lehner enjoy rebounds at different times in their careers, I wouldn’t be the house on anything regarding Talbot.
Frozen Tools update – last week we added starting goalie info (from Goalie Post) to each goalie’s player profile, whether or not he starts that day. Now we’ve added DobberProspects links to the player’s scouting profile is the player is still a prospect. Simply go to the Info/Analysis tab. Check out Antti Suomela as an example. And, furthermore, we have added Dobbernomics information in the Info/Analysis tab (with his DN value and his FPTS). Check Nikita Kucherov as an example.
It’s the All-Star Break and these Ramblings still seem a little light, so I was down the rabbit hole that is Frozen Tools and ran some reports based on the last two months. Looking at things since December 1, Johnny Gaudreau leads all scorers with 44 points in 25 games (Kucherov has 43, Patrick Kane at 42).
Other stats since December 1
Matt Martin 103
Brandon Tanev 89
William Carrier 85
Adam Larsson 84
Milan Lucic 84
Name that sticks out further down the list – Zach Aston-Reese with 76 Hits despite just 19 games.
Andy Green 65
Alex Edler 62
Olli Maatta 60
Name that sticks out further down the list – Jordan Oesterle at 47 BLKS
Most FO Wins with at least 56% success
Ryan O’Reilly 327 (56.9%)
Jonathan Toews 323 (56.1%)
Sidney Crosby 306 (57.8%)
Travis Zajac 262 (59.0%)
Sean Couturier 247 (61.1%)
John Tavares 237 (56.2%)
Name that sticks out further down the list – Derek Ryan at 131, but he’s at a 61.8% win rate.
Name that sticks out further down the list for a different reason – Mark Scheifele has 231 FOW…but 290 FOL for a 44.3% win rate. Yikes!
Best in-close shot ratio – this is where I compare shots taken (by forwards, minimum 20 games since December 1) at the 0-15 feet range compared to their shots taken 31-45 foot range. It’s interesting to see the types of players we own – do they drive the net or do the play the perimeter and have a great, accurate shot. Here are the net drivers and garbage-goal types:
Warren Foegele 21 shots at 0-15 feet, zero shots at 31-45 feet. Ratio of infinity!
Anders Lee 29 and two, 14.50
Wayne Simmonds 28 and five, 5.60
Joe Pavelski 24 and five, 4.80
Connor McDavid 36 and nine, 4.00
Sam Bennett 20 and five, 4.00
Worst in-close shot ratio – on the other hand, players with a lot of shots from a distance are the guys with that laser-beam shot that finds the holes:
Patrik Laine four shots at 0-15 feet, 31 shots at 31-45 feet, 0.13 ratio.
Jesper Bratt two and 13, 0.15
Artemi Panarin six and 34, 0.18
Kevin Labanc two and 11, 0.18
Claude Giroux six and 30, 0.20
See you next Monday.
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