Ramblings: Dobber’s proposal for future Skills Competition; Opening up the Twitter mailbag…
First, some non-fantasy hockey stuff. My thoughts on the NHL All-Star weekend. I think the surrounding hype and fan-friendly events leading up to Sunday was fantastic. I also think the NHL nailed the ASG format. Love it. Three-on-three action was enjoyable, and probably about as close to realism as you’re going to get . Currently, three-on-three overtime doesn’t have a lot of hitting and it’s all about controlling the puck. And when a shot opportunity is taken, it either results in a goal or turnover (generally speaking). You didn’t get the same sense of urgency in the ASG, but again – this is as close as you’re going to get it. And a mini-tourney is a great way to go, with the winners of the Skills Competition getting to choose their opponents was another nice touch. I liked the celebrities introducing each team – it creates a nice aura. The Top 100 players is obviously not something you’re going to see again so I won’t get into that (it was great seeing all the old-timers there though).
So that leaves the weakness of the weekend. The Skills Competition. And I have some suggestions and I’ll use my little soapbox here to present them.
1. Less is more. This one is key. The confusing little drills were boring and a waste. They lost fan interest in an awful hurry and even the players were only half-assing it. Get rid of them. No four-line challenge. No deke-the-pylon challenge. No flip-passes into the tiny nets. No goalies firing from the other side of the ice. Get rid of them.
2. If Snoop Dogg can’t keep it clean, then find another DJ.
3. Cut the event from two-and-a-half hours down to just two hours.
4. With the two confusing events removed, there is some spare time available and that should be used to make the remaining three events bigger. Here is my proposed outline:
a. Begin with eight heats of fastest skaters (instead of four). This is 16 skaters.
b. Accuracy challenge (as is).
c. Four heats of fastest skaters, pitting the eight winners of the first heat against each other.
d. Hardest shot – and increase the competitors to 16 from eight.
e. Shootout challenge (as is)
f. Hardest shot – four best shooters compete.
g. Two fastest skaters from the second heat will try for the record, and they should get a running start the way Dylan Larkin did last year.
There it is. Simple, just sticking to the basics, and keeps the fans watching. We all want to see who is the fastest and who takes the hardest shot. This is the best way to show this.
As for the lack of intensity, well, you’re gonna get that regardless. There is no 100% fix. But I think the better game that we saw in the ASG Final is an example of what we would see in all three games. Eventually. If we stick to this format year after year, and if the Skills Competition creates the buzz that I think it could (with the above changes). The players weren’t taking the game seriously in the two prelims but in the last game, once it was 2-1, both sides really woke up and put in the effort.
More incentive – instead of $1 million cash to split, which they didn’t care about, why not offer each player on the winning team $75,000 for their hometown towards arena upgrades. They’d have their family and old friends behind them and they wouldn’t want to let them down. Just a thought.
It was the first trade deadline in my main keeper league on Sunday night. It’s a cool little rule that encourages trading. We have unlimited trading until 11 o’clock last night – and then we have three trades per team until the NHL’s deadline day. So there’s a bit of a scramble to do some deals while it doesn’t cost anything. And then the three-trade limit over the next four weeks usually results in another mini-scramble on the actual deadline day. You can see the rules to that league if you go to the main menu above and click “features” and “starting a keeper league”. This is League 1.
Interesting note – James Wisniewski has signed with the Chicago Wolves, the affiliate for St. Louis. When last we saw James, he was released from a tryout by the Lightning and he then signed in the KHL. That didn’t work out (four points, 39 PIM in 16 games on a team that is led on the blue line offensively by former NHLer Jonathan Blum).
The Bruins sent down Zane McIntyre and recalled Anton Khudobin. Khudobin played 10 games in the AHL and posted a save percentage there of just 0.892. The once-promising goaltender hasn’t done anything to indicate he could reach his upside in over three years. The Bruins called Khudobin up on the 27th, sent him down on the 28th, called him up on the 29th – doing the opposite with McIntyre. This may have something to do with cap jockeying, but is also related to the fact that McIntyre will play in the AHL’s All-Star Game.
Follow me on Twitter – here.
I took questions on Twitter yesterday, seeing as there are no actual NHL games. Time to answer them here in the Ramblings…
@DobberHockey Matt Murray, your predictions for his season post ASG but then also your early tip for him next season too without Fleury?— Leigh Eustace (@leigheustace) January 29, 2017
Great question – and I say this because 1000 of you reading this article could also use some further thoughts on this situation. For the rest of the season, the Penguins are going with the hot hand. But they’ll lean towards Matt Murray – and in the second half of March he’ll have to play his way out of the job (he won’t) in order to lose it. They’ll want him to be entrenched as the No.1 goalie heading into the postseason with the hopes that he leads the Penguins to another Cup. The team has 34 games left, and with Murray playing nine of the last 10 in late March/early April – that leaves 24 games, which I’m guessing will be close to a split. But I think that if one plays really well, he’ll see consecutive starts. So while it may be a 12/12 split – the split won’t happen like: one for Murray, one for Fleury. It will be more like five for this guy, four for this guy, six for this guy, two for this guy, etc. In the end, mark Murray down for 21 games and Fleury for 13.
@DobberHockey What do you see for Hellebuyck? after the ASG and in the next 2-3 years?— jshouly (@jshouly1) January 29, 2017
My confidence in Hellebuyck hasn’t wavered even 1%. He’s an awesome goalie and he’s on one of the NHL’s teams of the future. So to me he’s a definite “buy” in keeper leagues. This obviously isn’t his year, so rest of season my expectations are low. He’s barely above .500 hockey and his SV% hovers around .910 so I’d expect that to continue. But this team will get better. And just like I said with Edmonton – when the Jets turn the corner it won’t be gradual and it won’t be with a big warning sign. It will just happen quickly and catch everyone off guard. Could be next year, or could be the year after that. I doubt it goes beyond that. But when this team turns the corner, Hellebuyck will be a Top 10 fantasy goalie easily (just like Cam Talbot).
@DobberHockey is vesey worth keeping over duclair as a final spot?— Alexandre Lussier (@lusshouse) January 29, 2017
Absolutely. I don’t trust Duclair, he’s on a weak team, he has young and skilled competition on the way, and his upside is limited. I think he could be a 30-goal, 60-point guy but ‘likely’ you’re looking at something more like 25 goals and 45 points. Whereas I’m not quite ready to peg Vesey yet. He’s on a deep team so he’s being brought along slowly, but in two or three years I think his upside is about 10 points higher than Duclair’s – and in the meantime I think he matches Duclair point for point (or better).
@DobberHockey can Ehlers keep up this kind of production for the 2nd half? Should I be comfortable with him going into playoffs?— Gavin Bradley (@GCoop23) January 29, 2017
Absolutely. In fact, he may do even better because he has Patrik Laine back, and last season he had a very strong second half.
@DobberHockey Burakovsky, JT Miller or E. Lindholm – who do you like for ROS and beyond? Roto keeper league.— danno (@drack55) January 29, 2017
All three of these guys are hot right now – Miller 12 points in last 11 games, Burakovsky 12 in his last eight, Lindholm 10 in his last 11. Which one keeps it up the rest of the way? I’d just be throwing darts. I feel safest with Miller. And Miller is my pick for future seasons – probably the lowest upside of the three, but again I like how safe he is and his upside is still very good. And he’s also slightly better for SOG and hits.
@DobberHockey What's going on with OEL? not shooting?— BeerBot (@Go22rd) January 29, 2017
Absolutely. His shot totals are way down this year. But also consider the fact that he has nobody to pass to right now with Max Domi hurt. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is on pace for 44 points, which is his point totals from 2014-15 and from 2013-14. But it’s disappointing compared to the 55 he tallied in 2015-16. But that was when Domi was healthy and Anthony Duclair was producing at the top of his game. And Shane Doan was a 47-point player instead of a 30-point player.
@DobberHockey long term keepers need to hold 3…Laine, Draisatl, Backstrom, Voracek, Scheifle ?— Bryan Gamble (@brygamble) January 29, 2017
In a Keep 3 situation like this, I package up two of them and try to upgrade. Can Laine and Draisaitl get you Patrick Kane? Anyway, these are all great players and there is no wrong answer here. If it’s me, I keep Scheifele (because he’s doing it now), Backstrom (because he always does it) and Draisaitl.
@DobberHockey long term keeper. Only keep two goalies of three. Have price. Deciding between hellebuyck and vasilevsky. What would you do?— Alex Zegers (@alexzegers) January 29, 2017
Hellebuyck for me. Vasilevskiy has had more time to prove himself, has been more inconsistent, and even a little injury prone.
@DobberHockey pts only league, offer is Foligno (who can be kept in the 7th rnd next yr) to a bsmt team for Patrick Kane (who can't be kept)— John Cooper (@jdcoop_99) January 29, 2017
If it helps you win, you make the deal. If it doesn’t, then what’s the point in getting or keeping Kane?
@DobberHockey if you had to pick one of elliott or helly, which goalie puts up better numbers ROS?— Nicolas Roppo (@NRopps31) January 29, 2017
Neither. Both will put up terrible numbers the rest of the season. But with a gun to my head, have to pick one, then I guess I go with Elliott because he has shown that he can string together a hot streak this season.
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