Ramblings: Eberle Getting McDavid Time, Skjei’s Fleeting Value, the Islanders’ Brilliant Top Line (Feb 17)

by steve laidlaw on February 17, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Eberle Getting McDavid Time, Skjei’s Fleeting Value, the Islanders’ Brilliant Top Line (Feb 17)

Eberle getting the McDavid treatment, Skjei’s fleeting value, the Islanders’ brilliant top line and more.


Oh boy, here we go with another Brady Skjei hot streak. He has seven assists in the last eight games and 19 SOG in that stretch. He doesn’t provide this type of scoring consistently, after all he is on pace for 39 points. By definition, a 39-point defenseman is going to have plenty of goose eggs. He is one slick puck-mover however and his ability to feed their speedy forwards in stride is a huge reason the Rangers are one of the league’s best counter-attacking teams.

Skjei skated over 20 minutes for the first time in nearly a month and saw more than a minute of PP time (3:08) for the first time since December 31! If Skjei was used more, he could probably crack permanent fantasy relevance but until that time his value is limited to short bursts.

The Rangers don’t play again until Sunday but have five games in eight days starting that day. Perhaps you can find room for Skjei on your roster.


This is such a fantastic pass by Josh Bailey:

Tavares is what makes this line go but Bailey has stepped up his game as playmaker this season. He leads the Islanders in assists and it’s not just some fluke from playing with Tavares, as evidenced by the pass above. He is tied for 36th in the league with 28 assist on the year and has a similar ranking in primary assists.

Bailey had been a bust for years but now in his ninth season at 27 he is emerging as a fantasy relevant threat. Not too often you see players emerge this late.

Bailey is tied for 50th in league scoring since December 1 with 26 points in 34 games. Meanwhile, Anders Lee is tied for 25th and Tavares is tied for 20th. There’s no other way to describe this trio than as one of the league’s best lines.

Kudos to you if you stuck with Lee through the tough times. It was awfully tempting to give up on him after his struggles the first couple of months of the season, especially after failing to improve last year. He is on pace for 32 goals and 52 points. He might fall just shy of 30 goals, however. His shooting percentage is on the high end at 16.8%, even for an elite net-front guy.

Thomas Greiss remains available in 28% of Yahoo leagues and 45% of ESPN leagues. I suppose we have to keep hyping him. I just assumed that it was understood how good he’d been playing all year. Considering the run the Islanders have gone on since changing coaches, Greiss has been gold.


Tough times for the Penguins defense with both Olli Maatta and Justin Schultz going down with injuries last night. They have revolutionized the game by shopping for defensemen in glass shops, unfortunately it’s a strategy that isn’t without risk.

Kris Letang skated over 31 minutes as this game went into overtime. He’s so damned good but they really ought to avoid stretching him this much. Obviously, nothing they can do about losing two guys to injury, however. Schultz’s emergence has allowed them to limit Letang’s minutes to 25:18 per game, down from 26:57 last season. Now, Letang may be taxed again.

I assume that if Schultz and Maatta miss time that we’ll see Derrick Pouliot make his return, which would be more exciting if Pouliot had ever looked good in his previous cameos or had shown mastery of the AHL level but neither have happened as of yet. He’s 23 and running out of time. We can’t give up because guys like Schultz and Bailey show how long it can take but at least those guys held NHL jobs while finding their way. Pouliot hasn’t even cleared that hurdle. Some of that is opportunity but until recently, the Penguins were hurting for defensive depth and Pouliot was supposed to be a solution.

Marc-Andre Fleury stood on his head for a 4-3 overtime victory over the Jets stopping 44 of 47 shots.

Sidney Crosby reached 1,000 points and then quickly added two more because when it rains it pours.


Enstrom hasn’t been fantasy relevant for a while but his absence will significantly weaken the Jets’ defense that is already short Tyler Myers. Ben Chiarot skated over 24 minutes for the second time since Enstrom went down. Life just got even harder for Connor Hellebuyck.

Hellebuyck took the loss stopping 35 of 39 last night.

I wonder if Paul Maurice is the next coach to go. How many coaches have been shown the door already because of underwhelming goaltending? The Jets are technically still in the hunt, although they realistically aren’t. Their team save percentage is just 0.898, 25th in the league. With the success of all these coach firings, you wonder if the Jets play copycat.

After his slow start, likely due to rust from holding out during training camp, Jacob Trouba has scored 21 points in his last 30 games.


Nino Niederreiter got ejected for interference after this collision with Patrick Sharp:

Niederreiter clearly trips over another Stars player before running into Sharp. Can’t imagine there will be added discipline for this one. Collect your penalty minutes and be content.

Sharp continued on and appears to be fine. He remains trade bait!

Interesting look at how Bruce Boudreau’s teams have consistently beaten the percentages:

The interesting thing with Boudreau and his teams though is that their generally fantastic PDO isn’t driven by just shooters or just goaltenders. Over this 10-year stretch, Boudreau’s teams shot about 8.5 per cent at 5-on-5, which is about 0.7 per cent better than league average. That means in any given season, his team was immediately +14 goals better on merely conversion rate than your average team. (An 8.5 per cent shooting percentage would be tops in the NHL over that span.)

It's something to consider if you are riding guys like Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker.


Mike Condon will not go quietly into the night, recording his fifth shutout of the season. I loved what he did while Craig Anderson was out, holding the fort but I kind of wish he’d go away so I could drop down to three goalies and roll out an extra skater.

Come head-to-head playoff time I will have to make the move but I am going to hold onto Condon as long as he keeps grabbing starts from Anderson because you never know what might happen and if I make the move too early, I’ll be stuck with only two goalies. I assume, many of you are in a similar spot.

I have a playoff spot locked down so I’m not worried about the rest of the regular season. My focus is on the fantasy playoffs and making sure my roster is optimal. If you’re still battling it out, you might have to dump Condon but if you can avoid it, I suggest buying as much time as you can. However, if it’s a hot starting goalie on another squad that you are looking at then you can probably dump Condon.


Despite the loss, Cory Schneider made his fifth straight quality start. His save percentage is slowly climbing out of the gutter and he has basically been his normal self since January 1. The Devils stink so there won’t be too many wins to be had but at least he’s good enough to safely start again.


Here’s an interesting tidbit to further yesterday’s discussion of the impact Martin Brodeur is having in St. Louis:


It was only a matter of time before the Flyers got their power play going again. They went 1/3 last night with Brayden Schenn scoring his league-leading 13th power-play goal. That ended a five-game scoring drought for him.

Claude Giroux assisted on that PP marker ending a five-game drought of his own.

The Flyers had Michael Del Zotto back from a bone bruise but he was limited to just 13 minutes of action. Not much fantasy value in Del Zotto at this point, beyond leagues that count blocked shots.


In his second game alongside Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle scored a goal and added an assist. That ended an eight-game drought for him. You know the rules by now: play with McDavid, produce like a star. However, I wonder if this had as much to do with the McDavid effect as it did the Flyers using Michal Neuvirth on back-to-back nights or the Flyers’ defense/goaltending in general.

One of the few Oilers who didn’t get on the board last night was Milan Lucic. That’s not particularly surprising considering Edmonton got no power play chances and he has essentially turned into a $6M PP specialist. Check out this article on Lucic’s declining production this year and try not to be terrified:

In a nutshell: Lucic is scoring twice as much as he normally does on the power play, and half as much at even-strength. That’s exactly what happened to Dustin Brown at the same age, incidentally: His 5-on-5 scoring collapsed and his power play scoring spiked. Since then, his power play scoring has returned to previous levels while his even-strength numbers have stayed bad, turning his contract with L.A. into one of the worst in the NHL.

What a terrible deal they are locked into. On the flip side, at least it means they won't have the cap space to make the same mistake with Patrick Maroon in two years. 

If I’ve got Lucic in any fantasy leagues, especially keeper leagues, I’m trying to sell now.


As expected, Antoine Vermette was issued a 10-game suspension yesterday, however it is almost certain that he will appeal the decision:


Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.