Ramblings: Dobber’s back! With too much fantasy hockey talk to summarize… (Oct 25)

by Dobber on October 24, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Dobber’s back! With too much fantasy hockey talk to summarize… (Oct 25)


Ramblings: Dobber’s back! Too much fantasy hockey rambling to summarize… (Oct 25)


We’re only about nine games into the season and my knee-jerk reactions to what’s happened so far is kept to a minimum. I’ll pick up a few minor pieces based on strong early play and drop the guys I had already earmarked for streaming purposes or as failed sleepers. But 90% of my team is intact and I’ll hold true to my drafting. Usually that works, occasionally it doesn’t – but if it doesn’t, then flailing around in a panic certainly won’t help matters. Of note:

1. The Oilers are a playoff team and a great one. So they’ll get going at some point and when they do – all of their players will go nutty on the scoreboard. Let’s just hope this suffering won’t be as prolonged as the Penguins a couple of years ago. Remember, the Pens fired Mike Johnston on December 12, 2015. Then the players really took off. I shot from eighth place to second by March. But December, as I learned, was a tad too late. I couldn’t close the deal. But had this started in mid-November, then it would have been plenty of time. Anyway, point is, as long as the Oilers don’t take until mid-December, they will get it together and some of their players right now are a ‘buy low’. I’m talking about Oskar Klefbom, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Cam Talbot and even Ryan Strome.

2. The Kings suck. I felt this way in the summer and I still stubbornly cling to the notion today. Right now they are enjoying the ‘new coach surge’. But as with Vegas, Los Angeles will start to sink. The Jeff Carter injury makes that statement a lot easier to say, too.

3. Toronto and Chicago will slow down – both in wins and in scoring. The Leafs are on the rise and the Blackhawks are moving in the opposite direction. That’s how I felt in the summer and nine games won’t change that. But the prolific scoring has been fun to watch.


There are other things that I don’t buy, so let’s run through another edition of ‘Dobber’s Not Buying It’. And by “another”, I of course mean “I’ve never done it before and may not do it again”…

Not buying Dustin Brown. I’m all in with the Anze Kopitar resurgence, but when Brown’s decline started, he got tons of quality ice time and PP time and still didn’t produce. Year after year he was tried on the top line and given PP time on many trial bases, but he failed. Now, with a new coach, it’s working? Not buying it. Advanced stats point to his having about five points right now, but for good luck.

Not buying Mike Green. This isn’t due to what fancy stats say (they only point to just a bit of good luck, but otherwise he’s earned his production). It’s due to facing weaker defensive teams and his four-point first game inflating his number right now. He’ll slow, and also have his inevitable injury. Still looks like a great rebound season for him, but just not to this extent.

Not buying Ryan Hartman or Bryan Rust. Here are two pluggers who will top out at 55 points if they’re extremely lucky and play with their superstars a lot. But likely they are each worth 45 points, and certainly not at their 80-point pace.

Not buying Will Butcher. Well, yes, I’m sold on him being a legit PP guy and huge fantasy asset. But he’s not the next Erik Karlsson or even Shayne Gostisbehere. At this early stage I’d carefully consider him a potential 50-point guy.

Not buying Chris Stewart. See Brown, Dustin (above). The production will drop as the injured return.

Not buying Olli Maatta. Even if I was buying it, I’d be too afraid of injuries to dive in on such an asset.  He’s usually paired with Justin Schultz and right now (how I look at it) he’s stealing the points that Schultz would normally get. This will reverse itself. Note that the above was written before Tuesday’s game – and Schultz left it at the end of the first with an undisclosed injury.


On the flip side – I’m not buying the slumps of these players as trends. They’ll turn it around and at this point can be acquired at a lower price than usual: Cam Atkinson, the Oilers I noted earlier, Jakob Silfverberg (notorious slow starter, huge second halves), Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Torey Krug, Kyle Okposo and Jonathan Marchessault (when he’s back).


The New York Rangers – a great team with weak goaltending. Yes, I’ve been down on Henrik Lundqvist for about a season and a half now. But that’s about when his play started declining. And now it’s worse than ever, and who can they turn to? Why…Ondrej Pavelec, the worst goalie this side of Antti Niemi. And the thing is, the Rangers can’t fix this. Too much pride and reputation on the line with Lundqvist. King Henrik is a legend – you can’t trade him and you can’t find another starter and make Lundqvist the backup either. So you’re stuck. Don’t get me wrong, he has his moments. But so do all below-average NHL goaltenders. Thankfully, he’s not yet in that ‘terrible’ category. Yet. And yes, I’ve seen four Rangers games this year, including his shutout (and were it not for two goals called back in the first, it would not have been a shutout).

The Rangers know Lundqvist is losing his edge, too. That’s why they traded Antti Raanta. To avoid a goalie controversy because they knew Raanta would show Lundqvist up. Get rid of the controversy and maybe Lundqvist plays better. Less pressure. But that didn’t work, and now they’re stuck.


With the big four-point night, John Tavares is now up over a point-per-game (10 in nine). Off the top of my head, at least in recent years, Tavares has been a second-half guy. Seeing him in midseason form can only mean good things. For his linemates (Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle) as well.

Defenseman Adam Pelech had three assists for the Isles. He was a nice producer at the junior level but hasn’t translated that to the pro game yet after three AHL/NHL seasons. However, Coach Doug Weight is scratching Ryan Pulock and so Pelech is now sneaking in there for second unit PP time (one PP assist) so he could have some short (three games in next six days?) term value.

Calvin Pickard went through waivers…and Antti Niemi gets claimed? Florida is short a goalie and Antti “The Pylon” Niemi is the answer when they could have had Pickard? Arizona’s Louis Domingue is getting shelled badly and the Coyotes have no other options…but Pickard wasn’t worth a grab as insurance? The Maple Leafs may never need to use Pickard this year. But smart management is preparing for such a situation. If Frederik Andersen gets injured, Toronto would have been screwed. The way two other teams are right now. Poor Domingue – in the short-term he’s shown that he can flourish under Dave Tippett’s system, but clearly the Rick Tocchet system isn’t goalie friendly.

Don’t panic over Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s lack of goals and horrible plus/minus. Well…maybe the plus/minus (see last year). To me he’s still a 50-point defenseman and I’m confident that last year was the exception and not the rule.


Ondrej Kase has five points in five games, thanks to a pair Tuesday. His AHL numbers offer a small sample size, but year-over-year the production improvement is impressive. It’s hard to gauge European players who jump quickly to the NHL from a second-tier pro league in Europe (Kase came from the Czech’s second league). Another example of this is Jesper Bratt, who came from the Swedish second league. So Kase is a wildcard. His ice time is still minimal at 12 or 13 minutes, and his linemates are Joe Lunchpail and Tommy Stonehands. But he’s starting to get PP time. For now I consider him just a hot depth guy, but with definite wild card potential. Perhaps he produces until Silfverberg shows up.

Brandon Montour has four of his five points in his last five games.

Kalle Kossila earned his first NHL point. He was a top scorer in college and made a solid jump to pro, culminating in his start this year (six points in five games for San Diego). He’s just getting an NHL taste right now.


Speaking of first NHL points – Philly’s Travis Sanheim is on the board now, too. His ice time has improved the last three games and he’s getting a taste of second unit PP time as Ivan Provorov’s partner.

Brian Elliott has been a tough own, eh? Again. His four wins have been real solid fantasy-wise, but his two losses were five and six goals allowed. So you don’t know what you’re getting when you activate him.

Nolan Patrick left the game with a concussion on this play:

Kevin Bieksa with the one-punch KO on Radko Gudas:


The game I watched was three quarters of a snoozer – Edmonton and Pittsburgh. Was so hopeful of a 6-5 run-and-gun. Ah well. There was action, but more scrambly action than the jaw-dropping sort. Cam Talbot was fantastic though in the OT loss. Three straight solid games for him as he slowly shakes off the slow start.

I really like Riley Sheahan as a checking-line guy for the Penguins. He fits much better than Scott Wilson ever did.


Point is looking great this season, but I think on the power play he’s especially strong and as a trio he, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are formidable. Yes, the actual line is with Yanni Gourde instead of Johnson, who manned the point on the PP in the game I watched (I assume is still the case). But I wonder how great the line would be if put together at even strength. Johnson is on pace for mid-50s this year which sounds about right. But line him up with Point and Palat and I think he can get back up to 70.

Kicking myself for trading Vladislav Namestnikov in one league last month. I got a first rounder for him (future) plus an asset that I used to upgrade to another first rounder (again – in the future). I took advantage of the “linemate hype” in which people get excited because Player X is on a line with a superstar or two in the preseason, and then two games into the season he’s off that line and fantasy-useless. Unfortunately for me…he hasn’t been removed from that line. And it ain’t gonna happen short of an injury. So I lost that one for sure.

Mikhail Sergachev has seven points in his last four games to go with 11 shots. Victor Hedman has two points and six shots in that span. Sergachev seems to be horning in on Hedman’s sweet PP time so you could see Hedman decline this year (I always point to Shattenkirk’s impact on Pietrangelo in cases like this).


Habs win! Habs win! Five goals in the last two periods as Montreal stopped hitting snooze on their regular season alarm clock and got out of bed. Names we haven’t seen on the score sheet in forever, suddenly appear – Weber, Galchenyuk, Pacioretty! Let the market correction begin?


Last night’s game of no fantasy help – Vancouver and Minnesota. Literally no help. I doubt many poolies had Anders Nilsson (shutout) and those with Devan Dubnyk in points leagues got a quality start, but a loss (probably net result is barely above zero points). And the lone goal was unassisted, by Jake Virtanen who I’m betting nobody had active. Tyler Ennis and Joel Eriksson Ek had five shots apiece, so maybe you snuck a little bit of help there. But otherwise, this game did nothing for us!


I want to say that I’m not buying Adrian Kempe. After all, a player who can barely achieve a point every two AHL games after two seasons can hardly expect to do better than that in the NHL. But with two more points last night and the added ice time thanks to the Jeff Carter injury, and I have to buy in. Seven points in his last four games. He’s a highly-touted prospect, I could just never figure out why. Now I’m seeing it. Just needs some skill around him. Last night’s line combos:






















For those of you who are interested in my health and an update on my battle with cancer, I wanted to stick an update on a new page, but couldn't figure out how to do that in this new system we have. There’s no hockey below, so if you’re not interested – no need to take a look. But below is the update.




Today is Day +55 after my transplant. I was released from the hospital on Day +19, which was two or three weeks ahead of schedule. Things continue to progress well. My blood counts are up to that of a normal human being. I’ve also slowly eased my daily workouts up to two miles per day on the treadmill, with gradually heavier dumbbells and about 40 sit-ups (increasing by one each day). So my strength and energy are returning slowly but surely. One positive from all this – my chemo caused me to lose 25 pounds, which shot below the weight that for eight months I was working so hard to get below! For the life of me I couldn’t get below 219 – was working out daily for two years, but the eight months leading up to my diagnosis my weight stayed the same. Well, chemo shot me right through that threshold. It’s cheating, but I’ll take it!

On the negative side of things – I do still need to go to the hospital each week, I do still have my Hickman line (tubes sticking out of my chest), and I still don’t feel “right” in my torso. The latter is related to exhaustion and anxiety, so unfortunately that means that staying up to write Ramblings on a regular basis is not in the cards yet. I can pinch hit, but I won’t take on a regular day for a few weeks yet.

Everything else, as I said, has been positive. The negatives are just a reflection of time – hell, I have barely been out of the hospital for a month after spending over two months in there. I still have to worry about infection and sickness, as my immunity is at a minimum (but building). But time will cure all those things. As I noted in the summer, January was when I hoped to become a “new man” so there is no need to expedite that just because I’m impatient and some things are going well.

That’s about it. You can find me in the forum – I posted over 50 times last week so I’m starting to get more active again. And on Twitter (@DobberHockey). Thank you everyone for your tremendous support, your words kept me going at times.

One more thing. I encourage you to register as a stem cell donor. A stranger somewhere in this world bought me more time (I may not have lived another year) by donating stem cells to me – and he or she may have completely 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.