Ramblings: Drouin, the Pens, a dark horse, more (Jan. 4)

by Dobber on January 4, 2016

Rambling about Drouin (and his agent); also the Pens waking up, a Dallas dark horse and more …

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Happy New Year! All the best for 2016 in both your life – and of course your fantasy hockey league.

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Jonathan Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh has publicly announced that his client requested a trade back in November. He made the trade request public after Drouin was sent down to Syracuse on Saturday. I think the demand is both uncalled for, as well as a mistake. If Walsh can’t see what’s going on here, than what’s he doing representing players? Which goes along with my contention that well-known public figures such as politicians, general managers, agents, etc. truly are no more or less intelligent than anyone else. The Lightning and specifically GM Steve Yzerman are the victims of their own success. They have a crop of prospects and young players who are the envy of the league and most of them are ready to star in the NHL right now.

Make no mistake Mr. Walsh; if Tampa had the roster from one of 25 other teams instead of their own, Drouin would be on a scoring line getting a regular and reliable shift. Even with the same coach and management. This has nothing to do with the coach or the GM. And everything to do with the quality of his teammates. Let’s look at 2014-15. Drouin was too good to be sent to junior, but ineligible for the AHL. So what was he to do? Sure, he could play on the first line. So which player will he replace, Allan? Nikita Kucherov or Ondrej Palat? Wait – he’s not as good as they are?

Alright. So will the second line do? Which player should he replace there – Ryan Callahan or Alex Killorn? Wait, he wasn’t as good as them either? Okay. So it’s settled. He can play on the third line and earn his way up the depth chart. Yes, it will be harder for him to do this playing with Valtteri Filppula than it would be with Steven Stamkos or Tyler Johnson, but if he’s good enough, he can do it.

But the thing is – he didn’t do it. He had to outplay Vladislav Namestnikov for that ice time and he didn’t. That’s not a knock against Drouin, believe me. It’s giving credit to a first-round pick (Namestnikov was 27th overall in 2011) and a more mature player who is coming off of 83 points in his prior 90 AHL games.

Surely you don’t blame Yzerman for that Mr. Walsh, do you?

Now let’s look at 2015-16. Drouin had six points in his first five games before going nine games without a point. This despite seeing 88% of his ES shifts with either Stamkos or Kucherov (who in my opinion is as good as Stamkos). Injuries took him out of the lineup at that point. But before that happened, I don’t see anything wrong with what the coach did. The roster as it stands now is so deep that Drouin will need to earn any ice time higher than the third line. You don’t see Jonathan Marchessault whining, do you? Now there’s a guy who is getting zero breaks. Zero. And he keeps going out there and putting up points with what little chances he gets.

Yzerman could help Drouin get his ice time and quality linemates on a silver platter by engineering a trade that would clear up some of that quality depth up front. But in today’s NHL, that’s a difficult task. Trades hardly happen. But I do know this, Allan – you just decreased the odds of your client getting traded. And I had tremendous respect for you, and that just took a hit too.

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I entered the New Year in a dogfight in my Forecaster keeper league, sitting in first but with fourth place just a few points behind. And after the first six weeks that I had, this is a tremendous accomplishment. I also sat in eighth place in my other two keepers – a 27-year league, plus the league that I run (15 years). As I’ve said here before, what is happening with the Ducks/Penguins/Lightning are killing me. But mostly the Penguins. So on New Year’s Eve when they took off with five goals I figured I was off to a great start. The Pens scored another five on Saturday so I’m as happy as a pig in shit. Especially since it was the so-called “stars” who were putting up the points. Thank you Kris Letang.

Eighth place isn’t as bad as it sounds. In one case, that was about 70 points back. In the other it was about 80 back. In both cases, five really good weeks would put me at or near first. I’ve already cut both leads by five, and I’m within 50 of third (three great weeks would do it).

So here’s to a successful 2016!

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Speaking of teams turning it around and helping poolies such as myself, the Islanders scored six times on Sunday. And while, yes, I do own John Tavares and he somehow managed to get zero points on those six goals, I’m happy to see Anders Lee starting to roll. Up until now, Frans Nielsen has slightly exceeded expectations and Kyle Okposo has met expectations. The rest of the team has been crap for fantasy owners. Lee’s two points on Sunday give him five in the last six and he’s still playing with Tavares (the points were via the power play so JT just didn’t get lucky in terms of earning assists). Still, after ANA/PIT/TBL (henceforth to be called “The Shit 3 of the First Half”), there is a second tier of disappointing offense teams of which NYI is a member. I’d probably stick CBJ into that club as well. Columbus and the Isles are scoring okay, but it’s more of a committee thing with the stars about 20 percent lower than where they should be. Not destroying fantasy owners, like The Shit 3 of the First Half, but not really helping either.

But I digress. The Isles scored six times and it was their second six-goal effort in four games. Could things be looking up?

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Valeri Nichushkin scored twice for Dallas. He played with Jason Spezza and Mattias Janmark. Here were the line combos last night:

#1           18.3%    BENN,JAMIE – SEGUIN,TYLER – SHARP,PATRICK

#2           14.2%    JANMARK,MATTIAS – NICHUSHKIN,VALERI – SPEZZA,JASON

#3           11.5%    FAKSA,RADEK – FIDDLER,VERNON – MOEN,TRAVIS

#4           10.6%    EAKIN,CODY – ROUSSEL,ANTOINE – SCEVIOUR,COLTON

Colton Sceviour hasn’t been playing with superstars but he’s still starting to put up points. Give him six in his last seven games now. Prior to that he had six in 31. Could be worth an add for the short-term.

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Two more goals for Jaromir Jagr give him 13 on the season. He had 17 all of last year. His performance in the 2013 postseason had me 100% convinced that he was done. Stick a fork in him. That was two-and-a-half years ago. He’s scored 54 goals since then.

Brandon Pirri alert. When he strings together any kind of streak, he usually keeps it going for a couple of weeks. He has points in two straight now, so get in early. This is on the heels of five pointless games, which came after a five-game points streak.

Remember when I was big on Al Montoya? And he got one chance to become a starter and injuries blew it. This year, the Montoya of old seems to be back. He’s 6-1-1, 1.69, 0.938. Just incredible numbers. Makes me wonder if the Panthers will turn to him a little more in the second half. Roberto Luongo owners need to be wary of that.

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Since his streak ended, Patrick Kane has eight points in 11 games. So no, he hasn’t cooled off any.

Jonathan Toews has eight points in eight games. Yet another star who is undergoing that long-awaited market correction.

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Speaking of market corrections, Mike Hoffman has just four points in eight games. He’s been blanked in seven of his last 13 games. He’s already convinced me that he can be a 70-plus points player. This correction is just pushing him down from that absurd 95-point pace he was on, to a more palatable 70 or 75.

Four points in 10 games for Mark Stone. Minus-6 in that span, too.

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It only took him 38 games, but Kevin Bieksa scored his first goal as a Duck.

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Let’s check in on our favorite AHLer. Sam Gagner had an assist in his first AHL game for Lehigh. Then he was pointless in his other two games and posted a minus-3. I don’t know how some players completely lose their mojo well before their prime, but it’s pretty clear that his mojo is long gone.

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20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts

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I just finished two features in the upcoming Midseason Guide, so ground has officially been broken. I’ll be putting in analysis from various writers over the next week before I dig deep into the stats and finalize second-half projections. This is released Friday, January 8. The features I just finished – 1) delving into the fantasy playoff schedule and 2) a look at a couple of dozen players in Europe to watch for this summer. Pre-order it here!

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Updates to the player search widget on the right side of the website:

– Player's mini headshot shown on the search results page

– Goalie win/loss/otl record is now being shown

– Player's position & team shown in the search results

– If there are multiple search results, the players with the most points are shown first (examples: Stone, Karlsson, etc)

– Players having played no games this season are filtered out

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Finally – I didn’t hear from username “Elliott Landry”. Elliott built up his Dobbernomics portfolio to $98.10M and was the highest in that category. So I want to send you $50 Elliott, you’re the winner! Email me and we’ll discuss setting this up… dobber at dobberhockey dot com