Eichel gets paid, Pouliot gets traded, plus more…
Let’s start with the major news of the day, shall we? Then we’ll focus on what you’re about to encounter.
Jack Eichel has agreed to an eight-year contract worth $80 million dollars. Yes, that’s $10 million per season, which puts Eichel among the top 10 in salary in the league. Fortunately, salary cap leaguers will have the opportunity to plan ahead for the massive cap hit, as Eichel still stands to earn $925,000 on his entry-level deal for one more year before the $10 million kicks in.
And yes, absolutely, keep Eichel after this season in salary cap leagues (and it goes without saying in all other leagues). If you want to win, you pay your studs, and Eichel is a stud. Some fantasy leaguers though Eichel’s ADP of 13.3 was too high, but he was on a near point-per-game pace (57 points in 61 games), and he’s only going to get better. Among players that played at least 40 games last season, Eichel’s 0.93 points/game was 11th in the NHL. That was a number better than Jamie Benn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Seguin, John Tavares, and Alex Ovechkin, among others.
If Derrick Pouliot had been traded a season or two ago, he may have received his own Fantasy Take column. As it stands now, though, his trade to the Canucks for Andrey Pedan and a fourth-round pick will only receive mention within the Ramblings. This is an easy one for me, though, since the Canucks are my team and I’ve owned Pouliot on my keeper team since his draft year.
Pouliot needed a new home. The Canucks needed a defenseman for the power play. So this trade makes perfect sense, although I had no idea that the Canucks had interest in Pouliot. As a Pouliot owner I’m thrilled that he finds a new home… anywhere. And as a Canucks’ fan I’m thrilled that they have another potential power-play option, even though his defensive miscues might result in frequent healthy scratches. But it is worth mentioning that Travis Green coached Pouliot in Portland (WHL), so there already is familiarity.
If you’re wondering why in the world the Canucks would trade the physical Pedan and a fourth-round pick for a defenseman that was passed over time and time again on a broken-down Penguins’ blueline, consider the Canucks’ power-play blueline options. Alexander Edler? Been there, done that. Troy Stecher? He was a pleasant surprise for the Canucks last season, but expectations shouldn’t be sky-high. Michael Del Zotto? We’ll have to wait and see what he looks like. But his fantasy value gets a huge boost with this move, since he won’t need to unearth someone like Kris Letang or Justin Schultz for power-play time any longer.
But there probably won’t be many immediate fantasy ripples, as it seems as though the Canucks will take their time to develop Pouliot (Sportsnet). But if Pouliot is ever going to be meaningful in fantasy, it appears more and more likely that he’ll need to do so as a post-hype sleeper.
By the time you read this, Opening Night is likely only a matter of hours away. Finally, we’re into games that matter, and an actual fantasy lineup to set. So you might need to check Goalie Post for the latest starting goalie information. Maybe not for Wednesday so much, as there are usually few surprises because teams will usually send out their usual starting goalie on opening night. But over the coming days, you’ll need to start making some real lineup decisions, if you haven’t been already.
Throughout the summer, I’ve been writing about various players that have either been in the news or have popped into my head for whatever reason. But now you’ve chosen your players for the most part, although trades and waiver-wire pickups are always on option. So just as you shouldn’t make major last-minute changes before an important presentation, now is probably not the time to second-guess all your projections. It’s time to focus on what’s in front of you, so I’m going to give you a few bits of advice.
Game 1 is one game out of 82
Sometimes the first game of the season is a foreshadowing of things to come. Remember Auston Matthews’ four-goal outburst against Ottawa in his first NHL game last season? You might, but you’re probably less likely to remember his 13-game goalless drought through late October and into much of November. Hopefully you exercised patience through that, which I know you did because of his vast potential.
Here’s an even better example: Remember Fabian Brunnstrom? He scored a hat trick in his first NHL game in October 2008, causing everyone to rush to the waiver wire for his services because the rest of the season was going to be much like this. By October 2010 he had been placed on waivers. Had he recorded that hat trick in mid-February, there probably wouldn’t have been that kind of interest.
The lesson here is to be patient. Don’t throw your plans out the window after one game. Or one week. Or even one month. During that first month I like to get a sense of what my team is about, so I might actually be one of the less active owners on the waiver wire during that period. The exception occurs when that owner looking for instant gratification impulsively drops a player that can clearly make my team better.
This strategy is particularly important in head-to-head, where March and April are the most important months and many teams make the fantasy playoffs. In roto leagues, getting a good head start is probably more important, since teams on top can make considerable distance on the teams at the bottom.
Line combos can change
Are you worried that Ryan Strome started the preseason as the right wing on Connor McDavid’s line, but ended it centering the third line alongside Jussi Jokinen and Drake Caggiula? We know that coaches like to juggle their lines, and besides, Kailer Yamamoto may not last past his nine-game trial, which would change things again.
If you drafted Strome, hopefully you didn’t draft him solely for that reason. He had an ADP of 163 in Yahoo, which all things considered makes sense. Strome has averaged 29 points in 70 games over his past two seasons, so a 50-point season is a considerable jump from his recent production. But stash him away anyway if you can in hopes that he makes his way back to the McDavid line. Because riding shotgun could pay some serious dividends at some point this season.
Don’t know what the line combinations have been for the most recent game or all season? Remember the Frozen Pool line combination tool. It’s watching the games that you don’t have time to watch.
Don't panic with every player transaction
A bit of a scare for those who had selected a Golden Knight or two as a sleeper:
We have assigned forwards Vadim Shipachyov and Alex Tuch, and defenseman Shea Theodore, to @Chicago_Wolves.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 4, 2017
Now before you rush in panic to the waiver wire for a replacement, read below…
VGK don't open until Friday. Shipachyov likely will be back. Theodore didn't need waivers. Time for McPhee to trade a D so he can return.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) October 4, 2017
Remember how many d-men the VGK drafted? A trade should clear a spot for Shea Theodore. Besides, even if Theodore isn't called up right away, he was the last one sent down, so he'll probably be the first one called up. That's what a bench is for. But if he stays in the minors awhile and you need immediate help (and it's a single-season league), then make the move. The Golden Knights would love to have Theodore in the lineup, but they also don't want to lose a veteran off waivers for nothing.
However, while we're on the subject of the Knights, they have placed James Neal on the injured non-roster list (Sportsnet). I mentioned just over a week ago in the Ramblings that I thought Neal was overvalued. Hopefully you didn’t draft him at or above his ADP.
With that I wish you nothing but the best of luck this season. Except, of course, if you’re facing me! But if you’ve been frequenting Dobber Hockey, then you’re in good hands.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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