Ramblings: Forsberg Carrying Preds, Deadline Acquisitions Clicking (Mar. 4)

by steve laidlaw on March 4, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Forsberg Carrying Preds, Deadline Acquisitions Clicking (Mar. 4)

Ramblings: Forsberg Carrying Preds, Deadline Acquisitions are Clicking, Yakupov with McDavid and more.

Oh boy, what a packed evening of hockey with 24 teams in action. Let’s get to it!

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Update: With Henrik Lundqvist dealing with neck spasms, the Rangers have recalled Magnus Hellberg on an emergency basis.

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Andrew Ladd is now 3/3 scoring in each of his first three games with the Blackhawks.

Interesting power play combinations with Ladd in the lineup. Check out their combos from the past three games:

56.1%

PP

ANISIMOV,ARTEM – KANE,PATRICK – PANARIN,ARTEMI

26.83%

PP

LADD,ANDREW – SHAW,ANDREW – TERAVAINEN,TEUVO – TOEWS,JONATHAN

 

No question that top group with Patrick Kane and Co. who skate with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are seeing more minutes while that second group with Christian Ehrhoff at the point is the official second unit but you can see times when that second unit starts seeing more usage than the top unit depending on the game. Doesn’t totally bode well for anyone on that second unit, including Jonathan Toews.

Should mention that Ehrhoff notched a power-play assist last night. Maybe a hint of value here? Certainly only for those in deep leagues.

Interesting that Teuvo Teravainen has points in three straight since the acquisition of Ladd and Tomas Fleischmann. Seems like Fleischmann has been a nice fit and they are still finding power-play minutes for him on that second unit. Good to see. I figure these acquisitions would push him down the depth chart. Marian Hossa is still out of the lineup so we’ll have to see how this all shapes up when he returns.

No scores for that top line with Kane and Co. Even they are susceptible to the Patrice Bergeron cloak of invisibility. No one is impervious to Bergeron’s shutdown skills.

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Not much fantasy value to the deadline additions in Boston but I like the upgrades they made. Lee Stempniak doesn’t have the same name value as Ladd in Chicago but his addition to the Bergeron-Brad Marchand line is an upgrade over the likes of Brett Connolly and other youngsters who have filled that spot. He gives that line a lot more offensive punch.

Stempniak still loses a value moving to Boston because he loses power-play time but he has been productive thus far. Two assists for Stempniak last night.

The other acquisition: John-Michael Liles really isn’t fantasy relevant but he was arguably the best defenseman available on the market at the deadline. It was really puzzled with how enamored folks were with Kris Russell and Dan Hamhuis while Liles got no love. Obviously he seemed washed up a few years back but he was really good in Carolina this season and is a solid veteran puck-mover who upgrades things for Boston. His loss will certainly be felt in Carolina.

Liles also had an assist last night skating just under 20 minutes but leading the Bruins in shifts taken.

I was starting to feel bad about the deal I made about a month ago trading Torey Krug for Brayden Schenn. Krug went cold while Schenn has been one of the hottest players in the league. Krug is now producing with points in seven of his last nine games.

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When Ryan O’Reilly first went down with injury the Sabres moved Sam Reinhart back to center after using him as a winger for much of the season. The last couple of games they have moved him back to the wing, loading up a top line of Reinhart, Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. Dan Bylsma thinks that Reinhart’s future may be on the wing given the team’s depth at the center position:

“It does maybe change a little bit with the success that he’s had at wing and the comfort that he has in kind of seamlessly starting there and playing there this year,” Bylsma said in First Niagara Center. “I still think his intelligence of how he plays the game lends itself to being a puck distributor in the middle of the ice, but when you look at a top-six group of forwards or you’re putting lines together, with the success he’s had at wing you kind of feel like being on the wing in a top-six is something maybe he’s been better at for us.”

I don’t know that it matters a ton whether Reinhart is at center or on the wing. As we have seen in Boston this season, you can have three highly productive centermen and use them all on the same power-play unit at once. If Reinhart was moved to center, they would surely continue with such a strategy because he has proven a very effective, though diminutive net-front presence. Simply put, his skills are too good to deny him PP time.

Putting him on the wing likely elevates his upside a bit, however. Instead of skating on the third line with third tier wingers he could instead skate at even strength with the team’s best players. What would the difference in scoring be? 10, maybe 15 points in a best-case scenario?

Again let’s look to the example demonstrated by the Bruins this season. Ryan Spooner, the Bruins’ third-line center who skates on the top PP unit has scored at a 52-point pace for much of this season while behind the likes of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. During the 10-game stint that Krejci missed from December 28 – January 21, Spooner scored nine points, a 70-point pace. This is a rather simple extrapolation and shouldn’t be taken too literally but does provide some scale for the difference in value that sticking on the wing might mean for Reinhart.

No points for Reinhart last night though both Eichel and Kane got on the board.

Keep an eye on Zach Bogosian who has three multi-point games in the last six games. He has seven points in that span. Perhaps it’s just an aberration but his minutes and power-play time have been up and he’s been getting more shots off as well. Colour me intrigued.

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The latest line tinker for Calgary involved Sam Bennett jumping up with Johnny Gaudreau instead of Sean Monahan. It didn’t stick:

13.87%

EV

BENNETT,SAM – FROLIK,MICHAEL – GAUDREAU,JOHNNY

12.61%

EV

COLBORNE,JOE – FERLAND,MICHEAL – MONAHAN,SEAN

8.82%

EV

BOLLIG,BRANDON – JOORIS,JOSH – STAJAN,MATTHEW

7.98%

EV

BACKLUND,MIKAEL – BOUMA,LANCE – HATHAWAY,GARNET

 

Meanwhile, Jonas Hiller, instead of playing his way to a new contract is playing his way right out of the league.

Dougie Hamilton continues to be a beast with 10 points in 16 games since the All-Star break. Now, if you break it down he had seven in seven coming out of the break, followed by just three in the last nine but with defensemen you are always getting the rollercoaster ride. The overall trend is of upward production.

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I have talked about the hidden value of Joonas Korpisalo for a while, how about the hidden value of Cam Talbot. Since January 1 he has a 0.927 save percentage and a 2.25 goals-against average. He also has a losing record in that span but he has been even more valuable than Korpisalo over a span of more appearances. Talbot is available in 52% of Yahoo! leagues. I’m contemplating a move because Craig Anderson is killing me and also hurt.

35-save shutout for Talbot last night. Which explains the gushing.

Another game with Connor McDavid for Nail Yakupov and he scores a goal in this one. Five SOG too. Great spot for him.

Patrick Maroon also scored last night making his Oiler debut but he started out much deeper in the lineup.

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I have talked a lot about how the Penguins, at full strength should be a beast down the stretch. TSN’s Travis Yost examined Pittsburgh’s improvement since hiring Mike Sullivan and how their improvements may carry over to the playoffs. The Penguins have been a really strong possession team the last few months and have been generating way more scoring chances.

Illuminating profile on Sidney Crosby in Sports Illustrated:

Crosby says he lost his confidence, which, if true, is a stunning admission for a player who from the moment he could tie his own skates was basically better than everyone else on the ice. It wasn’t just that barren five-game streak to start the season: Crosby had only three goals in his first 19 games and six in his first 32. He was pressing, trying too hard to make plays for his linemates, including Kessel, with whom he had no on-ice affinity, rather than using his famous hockey haunches and remarkable balance to bull his way into scoring areas. “You start thinking, What about that bounce? Or, How did that puck not go in?” Crosby says. “A puck goes off the post, which is normal, but you start to dwell on it. The fact that I wasn’t scoring kind of compounded my situation.”

Of course, we all could have guessed confidence was an issue with those early struggles. We also figured he would snap out of it eventually, which he did. What I really liked about this profile was that Crosby seemed to have really benefitted from the struggles. Instead of injuries being what held him back it was all internal, a different hurdle than what he has faced at any other point in his career.

“I learned a lot about myself this season,” he says, eyes on a game playing on a nearby TV. “If I’m not scoring, can I do other things well? Are you going to be good defensively? Are you going to have a good attitude? Are you going to try to drag everyone down with you? Are you going to make excuses and give up, or are you going to find ways to make yourself better for everyone else?”

Crosby is clearing trending downward as a fantasy asset. In a couple of years, he may be more in the range of Jonathan Toews than the superstar levels we are used to. This season’s struggles are a part of that process.

Justin Schultz was not in the lineup again last night but the word is that he will be getting in soon.

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The Filip ForsbergMike RibeiroCraig Smith line continues to be the main line of interest for Nashville. Forsberg had another three-point game, his sixth multi-point effort in 15 games since the All-Star break. He has 19 points in that span. Meanwhile, I hear James Neal and Ryan Johansen are going to open a donut shop together.

Smith, who is available in two-thirds of all Yahoo! leagues is looking like a really sharp pickup right now.

Pekka Rinne took another ugly loss as far as the stat sheet goes but he has been really good lately. Last night ended a stretch of six straight quality starts (a 0.917 save percentage or better) from Rinne. He should give you more good than bad as we close the season.

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I know we are basically supposed to be done with the Devils but they scored five last night so we’ve got to talk about it.

Mike Cammalleri might be done for the year, which is a terrifying notion for fantasy value in New Jersey.

Kyle Palmieri had a three-point night but that nearly doubles his output since the All-Star break. In fact, Palmieri has just 14 points since January 1, a span of 17 games. Not great and he has probably been their best player in that span.

Adam Henrique scored a couple of goals but we haven’t really heard much from him since 2015 either.

Devante Smith-Pelly can be added to the list of players to score in their post-deadline debut with a goal and an assist alongside Henrique and Sergey Kalinin. If he sticks on this line it might be the best opportunity he has had in his career but if history is any indication he will fizzle out after a few games.

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After just one game with the Islanders Shane Prince was bounced off John Tavares’ line. Check out the lines:

20.87%

EV

NELSON,BROCK – STROME,RYAN – TAVARES,JOHN

16.52%

EV

CIZIKAS,CASEY – CLUTTERBUCK,CAL – MARTIN,MATT

13.91%

EV

KULEMIN,NIKOLAY – LEE,ANDERS – PRINCE,SHANE

11.3%

EV

BAILEY,JOSH – NIELSEN,FRANS – OKPOSO,KYLE

 

But guess what, Prince still scored his first goal as an Islander. He needs to keep this up otherwise he becomes a healthy scratch whenever Mikhail Grabovski returns to the lineup.

By the way, Crosby catches hell all the time for how difficult it is to find wingers for him. How about Tavares? We could certainly blame guys like Anders Lee, Ryan Strome and Josh Bailey for not taking advantage of all the opportunities they get to skate with Tavares but at the end of the day isn’t Tavares also supposed to make these guys better? Seems like the only guy who ever really clicked there was Kyle Okposo and the Islanders seem set on keeping those two split up for the most part.

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This was just happenstance but Mark Scheifele scored two goals last night and Mathieu Perreault, not Nikolaj Ehlers, got assists on each of them. This makes some sense as Perreault is also on the top power-play unit with those two but one of the goals of the even-strength variety. This second goal was just one of those line change snafus. So don’t bail on Ehlers because of Perreault. There is room for both to be fantasy relevant down the stretch.

Scheifele has five goals and 10 points in his last seven games. This is the mini-breakout that leads to the massive breakout next season. I could see Scheifele just completely usurping Bryan Little as the #1 centerman. But take note of this proclamation now because if we’re hitting the pre-season next year with a ton of Scheifele buzz and Little is being undervalued I could easily reverse course. I care about value and a lot of times that calls for going against the grain.

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The Ducks continue to roll with their 10th straight win. I swear the Coyotes just handed them this one by starting Niklas Treutle in net. I’ve little doubt that Treutle has some potential but he has a 0.909 save percentage in the AHL this season. Not ready for the big time yet. Poor guy got banged up conceding five goals on just 16 shots before the mercy hook came after two periods.

The Ducks didn’t even have Ryan Getzlaf in the lineup last night as he sat out with a lower-body injury. He is hopeful to play on Saturday.

Jamie McGinn is 3/2 since coming over from Buffalo. Two goals thus far. He has been a big hit.

Two assists for Sami Vatanen last night. His overall numbers for the season aren’t great but that’s thanks to the terrible start this team got off to. Since January 1 Vatanen has been cooking up some good scoring with 17 points in 27 games. Almost all of that has come on the power play (13 of the 17). He ranks 18th among defensemen in scoring since that time. 17 in 27 is a 52-point pace for those keeping score. I have felt since Vatanen arrived that he had 50-60 potential.

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While we are on the subject of defense, I was struck with the question of Kris Letang vs. Shayne Gostisbehere while listening to the latest In This League Fantasy Hockey Podcast. This specific question wasn’t asked but the notion was there in one of the listener questions posted. Specifically, I am wondering what you would do for next season. This year, I’m rolling the dice that Letang stays healthy over the final month. It’s such a short time frame that this makes sense.

For next year, it’s a different story. 82 games. Letang never gives you 82 games anymore. He might only give you 60. Is 80 of Gostisbehere worth more than 60 of Letang? Probably. What if it’s 80 games of Gostisbehere vs. 70 of Letang? At what point is there more value in Letang and does that mean you are drafting Letang ahead of Gostisbehere next year.

Letang fell outside the top 50 in Yahoo! drafts this year, going 55th overall on average and as the 11th defenseman off the board.

Letang has been the best defenseman in fantasy hockey since January 1 with 30 points in 25 games to rocket all the way up to fifth in defenseman scoring. This will probably push his stock higher for next season. He is pushing a pace only Erik Karlsson can match. If Letang can score near a point-per-game pace maybe he only needs 60 games to outscore Gostisbehere next season.

I’d probably take Letang over Gostisbehere. When injuries happen you hit the waiver wire and can typically do okay filling that void. Hell, a Letang owner this season could easily have stumbled into Gostisbehere as an injury replacement only to find out he had two studs on his roster for the second half. You can bet I’ll be making this a Twitter poll at some point.

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Calvin Pickard is becoming a bit of a problem for Semyon Varlamov. Pickard got the start last night after doing well in relief of Varlamov on Tuesday in their tough loss at Minnesota on Tuesday night. Pickard has won three straight starts while Varlamov has lost three straight. I’d still lean towards Varlamov seeing more action. He’s the golden boy with the big contract but it’s down to the nitty gritty so the guy wins gains an edge.

Mikkel Boedker is now 2/2 in games for the Avalanche. Great spot for him alongside Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon. I don’t care how cold MacKinnon is.

You can probably forget about Carl Soderberg now. He had a really nice run November-January with 31 points in 42 games but he has just six in 14 since the All-Star break and is now marooned on the third line with Blake Comeau and Shawn Matthias. Also, his top unit PP minutes have eroded as well.

Soderberg sat on the waiver wire in my salary cap league for months before finally getting scooped up a month ago. Bad timing. Despite his productivity, Soderberg was left alone because of his salary, his age and his potential to go Casper on us in a real hurry as he did midway through last season.

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Neither Jiri Hudler nor Teddy Purcell was able to go last night as they continued navigate their work visa situation. They were able to play the other night in Winnipeg because that was in Canada. Not so lucky for tonight’s matchup. I don’t understand why this is an issue every single year. Couldn’t this be taken care of before a trade actually goes through? So anyone on the block applies for a work visa well in advance, or would this not fly? I never thought I’d want to learn about immigration law for fantasy hockey…

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Sorry for the “East Coast bias” but I’ve got nothing on the two late-late games.

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Patrick Sharp is out with a lower-body injury. Expected to miss about a week.

Patrick Eaves has not been around to jump on this opportunity as he is out with pneumonia.

The Stars have instead called up power forward prospect Brett Ritchie. Ritchie has done some real damage with 28 points in 35 games at the AHL level this season. Read more on Ritchie here.

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Carey Price held a press conference yesterday announcing his desire to return to play this season. Here is a particularly telling quote:

It should also be noted that Price indicated he definitely will not be playing in the World Championships this spring as his wife is due with their first child at the end of April.

Price is unowned in 11% of Yahoo! leagues meaning that most simply have him stashed on the IR. It should be noted that Price does not appear on the “Can’t Cut List” in the Yahoo! database so teams could have opted to free up an IR slot by dumping Price. They didn’t. Savvy move. I hope he gets back with enough time to impact the H2H playoffs. One of my squads could use the boost.

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TSN’s Frank Seravalli has the latest on Ilya Kovalchuk’s situation:

“What I'd say on Kovalchuk: There’s a lot of different rules that apply to his situation,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters in Denver last week. “It’s a complicated situation, so unless and until he wants to come back to the National Hockey League, he wants to sign a contract, I’m not going to be able to tell you definitively what rules apply and how they apply.

“What I would say is, having signed his voluntary retired list form and being on our list, that gives the Devils preferential rights to his NHL (rights).”

First and foremost, the article references on multiple occasions that it is Kovalchuk’s preference to stay in the KHL so keep that in mind. Then you look at the above quote and realize there are going to be a ton of hurdles for him to clear if he does return. It’s all really interesting and I suggest you read the full Seravalli article. For my money, I’m not wasting time or roster slots on Kovalchuk unless I’m in a deep keeper where I can stash him in the minors and I don’t have to give up anything of consequence to get him.

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Really important piece from James Mirtle on former minor league enforcer Rob Frid who has had his life ruined by the effects of concussions suffered during his playing days.

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Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. You can follow him @SteveLaidlaw.