Ramblings: Dobber’s Over/Under Bets, Ristolainen and Kucherov Sign (Oct 12)

by steve laidlaw on October 11, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Dobber’s Over/Under Bets, Ristolainen and Kucherov Sign (Oct 12)

Dobber's Over/Under bets, Ristolainen and Kucherov sign, and more.

Pick up the Fantasy Hockey Guide here. The final update was yesterday morning, so projections are updated through that point.

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BREAKING:

Jack Eichel screamed in pain this morning as his leg went under him awkwardly. He had to be helped off the ice, but this does not look good.

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HOCKEY STARTS TODAY OMFG!!!!!!

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Laidlaw checking in for Dobber. Dobber promised you his annual take on over/under bets for today and passed along the following:

Highest Confidence Bets

Troy Brouwer

OVER

39.5

Patrick Kane

UNDER

87.5

Jaromir Jagr

UNDER

54.5

Bobby Ryan

OVER

53.5

Evgeni Malkin

OVER

56.5

Joe Thornton

UNDER

74.5

Tyler Johnson

OVER

49.5

Auston Matthews

OVER

52.5

Patrik Laine

OVER

40.5

 

Confident Bets

Dylan Strome

UNDER

45.5

Max Domi

UNDER

57.5

Jack Eichel

OVER

63.5

Henrik Zetterberg

UNDER

53.5

Connor McDavid

UNDER

86.5

Milan Lucic

OVER

50.5

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

OVER

47.5

Alex Galchenyuk

OVER

53.5

Alexander Radulov

OVER

53.5

Derek Stepan

OVER

53.5

Rick Nash

OVER

46.5

Ryan Johansen

OVER

62.5

Adam Henrique

OVER

45.5

Alexander Steen

UNDER

55.5

Mitch Marner

OVER

39.5

 

Much like my bets, Dobber has a lot of overs. Could be inherent to the odds makers’ strategy or perhaps we are just far too optimistic.

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More big moves yesterday as the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed their outstanding RFAs.

The Lightning got a really good deal on Nikita Kucherov signing him for three years at nearly $4.8M per season. That will help them manoeuver under the cap this season. The problem is that in three seasons Kucherov will be arbitration eligible and just one year away from hitting unrestricted free agency. There will be hell to pay, as the Lightning will undoubtedly have issues keeping their core together. But it also means that Kucherov will be producing at an elite level for them for three more seasons. Chalk this up as a win.

The Sabres, meanwhile, got Rasmus Ristolainen to sign a six-year extension worth $5.4M annually. This continues the trend of RFA defenseman contracts escalating. Just a couple of months ago, Morgan Rielly signed his own six-year extension worth $5.0M annually, Seth Jones signed a six-year extension that matches Ristolainen’s and now Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm will be asking for more than what Ristolainen got.

It wasn’t that long ago that Roman Josi received a seven-year extension worth $4M annually that many mocked. Now it’s an absolute bargain.

The margin for error on these deals is growing smaller, as the escalation on these deals has not matched the escalation of the salary cap. While, the cap has gone up 13 per cent since 2013, when Josi signed his deal, Ristolainen’s deal comes in at a 35 per cent increase on what Josi got.

Or, to look at it another way, Josi’s extension would take up 6.2 per cent of the 2013-14 cap of $64.3M, Ristolainen’s deal will take up 7.4 per cent of the current $73.0M cap. One per cent may not seem like a huge deal but teams claw tooth and nail for every bit of cap space so this stuff matters. So while Ristolainen, Rielly, Jones and Lindholm should be outperforming their deals once they reach seasons four, five and six they won’t be doing so to the same degree as Josi. There is also an increased risk baked into these deals taking up a larger proportion of the cap because we cannot be absolutely certain these players will continue to develop or even avoid regression.

More importantly, will we reach a point where signing the next batch of RFA defensemen to long term deals becomes untenable? Will guys like Zach Werenski, Noah Hanifin and Mikhail Sergachev be asking for over $6M to do a longer deal? I don’t begrudge the players wanting to get paid. I just worry that this escalation is going to result in another lockout as the owners try to claw back more leverage.

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Anyhow, the Ristolainen news is huge, especially with the Sabres potentially being without Kyle Okposo and Ryan O’Reilly for opening night.

Okposo, O’Reilly, Ristolainen, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart should make for one hell of a top power play unit. I have optimism for all five in fantasy this season.

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The Flames scooped up Kris Versteeg out from under the Oilers’ nose on a one-year deal. One could argue the Oilers didn’t have room for Versteeg since they appear set to allow Jesse Puljujarvi to begin the season on the third line, rather than in the AHL. There were also injury concerns with Versteeg that aren’t going anywhere. It’s entirely possible the Flames have themselves a lemon.

OR…

They scooped up this season’s Lee Stempniak. An under-the-radar veteran with legitimate skills just waiting for the right opportunity to pop. This is kind of a Schrodinger’s cat situation though. We won’t know if Versteeg’s career is alive or dead until we open the box that is this season.

There is plenty of speculation that Versteeg will get time on RW alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, which would be awfully nice but keep in mind that Troy Brouwer is most likely to land the PP time with these two so he only has so much upside in this situation. In most leagues, Versteeg can safely be left on the waiver wire.

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The Kings officially signed Devin Setoguchi to a one-year deal. Like Versteeg he has some potential as this year’s Stempniak but I have even less optimism about this one. Actually, I don’t have much optimism for the Kings at all. They are returning their core of Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Jake Muzzin, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick but outside of that the roster is really thin. You can compete nightly with a core like that but it’s going to be tough when you face deeper rosters.

On the human side of things, I hope Setoguchi earns his keep in LA and can resuscitate his career.

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A good reminder for both of the situations is that Versteeg mostly flopped in his 14-game trial with the Kings last season, following the trade deadline scoring four goals and five points.

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The Islanders have done it again:

Once again, Ryan Pulock will open the season in the minors. Two possibilities, the Islanders are unwilling to give the young player a chance, or he hasn’t been good enough to deserve a spot on the team. Considering 19-year-olds Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal will both open the season on the team, I’d lean towards the latter although the answer is probably somewhere in between.

What’s interesting about these cuts is that it leaves the Islanders with just six defensemen on the roster. That’s a precarious situation to say the least. Most likely, they’ll try to get by with the six defensemen while they give Beauvillier and Barzal nine-game trials. Once they sort out their forward situation a bit better, they will recall a defenseman.

They also have three goalies on the roster with Jean-Francois Berube sticking around as the third wheel. It seems the Islanders are awfully waiver averse, aside from the PA Parenteau move earlier this week.

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In case any of you were panicking.

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In an alternate piece, I touched on some of the waiver moves that went down yesterday if you were looking for info on those.

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I was feeling Matt Dumba as a breakout candidate for this season when he started seeing top unit PP usage to close last season. Over the second half Dumba scored 15 points in 41 games, including seven PPP, all while skating nearly three minutes a night on the man advantage. With a new coaching staff this situation is in flux and it looks like it might be Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon on the top PP unit. This situation bears watching.

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Take note of the arrangement here. I have seen Alexander Radulov go ahead of Brendan Gallagher in many drafts but I value them the other way around. Gallagher is on the top line and top PP unit. That line could boast three 60-point players.

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More cuts yesterday as rosters were finalized:

Curtis Lazar, who has been dealing with a bout of mono was sent down to the AHL. I imagine Lazar will be back but this is not a player who will be fantasy relevant. The Senators have too many talented forwards ahead of him.

Anthony Mantha was sent back to Grand Rapids, which means Andreas Athanasiou has made the team.

Folks who invested heavily in Mantha years back are probably getting antsy to see what he can do at the NHL level but he’s probably a couple of injuries away. Mantha’s a bit divisive as many see him as a big player who excelled in junior based on physical attributes but lacks the hockey IQ to produce at the next level. Mantha has performed reasonably well at the AHL level but I’d like to see him hit near the point-per-game mark before getting really excited. He does forecast as a potential net-front presence somewhere down the line.

As for Athanasiou, he showed well last season ranking as one of the league’s most efficient scorers on a per-minute basis producing 2.38 P/60 at 5on5 over a small sample. It remains to be seen if that can carry over to a larger sample or if he can do so in a bigger role. When I see how much of his production came off the rush, I am fearful that this may be a Michael Grabner situation. That said, Grabner did score 30 goals once. There are also hints that Athanasiou has more substance to his game. I’m not paying for him like he’s a blue chipper but if he comes cheap, he’s the sort of high upside prospect to take a swing at.

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Dmitri Filipovic looks at four underrated forwards who could have breakout seasons.

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Dan Boyle, now retired, has some thoughts on the way the game is played today.

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Finally, the return of Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts:

14. New Colorado coach Jared Bednar on Mikko Rantanen, before camp began: “Yes I think he's ready…real good player.” Rantanen got hurt in a rookie game Sept. 17 and hasn’t played since, so it robbed the Avalanche of more looks to make sure. He got a nine-game tryout last season and will get a shot at something longer this time.

My best comparison for Rantanen is Patric Hornqvist. I expect a hefty shot volume out of him once he clicks full time.

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Thanks for reading. Follow me @SteveLaidlaw.