Ramblings: Free agent goalies, boring Karlsson talk, why Vegas is here – and more (May 28)
It’s getting close to that time! My 12th annual Fantasy Prospects Report is out on FRIDAY AFTERNOON. Pre-order here! Approximately 600 prospects profiled, with upsides, likelihoods, where they fit in, how long you have to wait and more. If you’re wondering why that guy in your league keeps drafting the best rookies and longer-term prospects while with you it seems to be flipping a coin – well, it’s because he or she has been buying my FPR for the last decade or so.
I was looking through the UFA goaltenders for this summer and I will list and rate them all here for you. A rating of 10.0 is a Connor Hellebuyck type, a rating of 0.1 is Anti Niemi type, a rating of 5.0 is like a Steve Mason or Scott Darling…
1. Jaroslav Halak, 6.5
2. Anton Khudobin, 6.0
3. Jonathan Bernier, 6.0
4. Carter Hutton, 6.0
5. Cam Ward, 5.2
6. Laurent Brossoit, 5.0
7. Harri Sateri, 4.5
8. Andrew Hammond, 4.3
9. Michael Hutchinson, 4.2
10. Ondrej Pavelec, 4.0
11. Kari Lehtonen, 3.5
12. Chad Johnson, 3.3
13. Scott Wedgewood, 3.0
14. Adam Wilcox, 2.5
15. Eddie Lack, 1.5
As you can see, there are no easy fixes for teams struggling to stabilize goaltending and it’s why all teams should have at least seven and ideally nine or 10 in the system. Instead, what we see is five or six per team and then they cherry-pick from the NCAA or Europe as needed.
However, there are several goalies hitting RFA status this summer and a couple of them can be acquired I’m sure. Philipp Grubauer and Calvin Pickard lead this list, as well as David Rittich. And I think it’s a good idea to hit Juuse Saros with an offer sheet that Nashville will of course match but then they’d be stuck with $12 million or more just for goaltending.
The number one question I get asked these days by casual hockey fans is about Vegas. As in – what the hell? They exceeded my preseason expectations by 40 points, but by the end of the season I had bought in. To me, beating LAK and SJS was easy as they were the two worst playoff teams in my humble opinion. So that was the luck of the draw. But Winnipeg? Possibly the best team out there? Don’t blame inexperience on this one because Vegas is in the same boat other than with Marc-Andre Fleury. Anyway, what is the secret to the success of this expansion team?
1. Some GMs are idiots. Back when we were discussing the expansion draft and how Vegas would look. I discussed my own expansion draft in fantasy and how several other GMs were scrambling to do their best to make the worst players available that they could. To me it was needless stress and the cost often outweighs the savings. I wouldn’t give an expansion GM so much as a rolled up piece of used hockey tape to lay off a player. Everyone loses one, we’re all on equal footing. What if Vegas took Josh Manson instead of getting Shea Theodore in order to take Clayton Stoner? Is Anaheim really worse off any more than any other team? What if Vegas took Josh Anderson or Alex Wennberg instead of William Karlsson, and later on Columbus gave them a pick to take their bad David Clarkson contract in a separate deal? The Panthers made Jonathan Marchessault available in exchange for Vegas taking Reilly Smith off their hands. What if they didn’t do that and just protected Marchessault? The salary cap would be bloated, Smith wouldn’t have busted out in that way, but would the Panthers be any worse off than the other teams? The answer is no. Each team would lose something, and instead of stockpiling all these draft picks, Vegas would have a normal amount – and they would have a weak team. This isn’t on all the general managers. This only on Dale Tallon (FLA), Jarmo Kekalainen (CBJ) and Chuck Fletcher (MIN). The lesson here is – stop panicking. Let your player go. Don’t be an idiot.
2. William Karlsson. I expected Marchessault to do well and he was my favorite to become a possible star. And we all knew that Vegas had a great coach, a great goalie, and eight NHL defensemen (some with really nice upside). But the wildcard here is Wild Bill. And assuming Point 1 above has already happened, than the kicker here is Wild Bill. That’s what put them over the top. If you add a 40-goal, 80-point guy on any team and they are going to improve by 20 or 30 points. If Ryan Strome scored 40 goals and added 40 assists, then the Oilers are a playoff team easily. If the Hurricanes waved a magic wand and Philippe Di Giuseppe scored 40 goals and 80 points over above what the rest of the roster did, and voila – the team gets 100 points. If Kyle Okposo was healthy last year and had a career season with 40 goals and 80 points, what would be we saying about the Sabres today? This is Vegas. A deep, well-coached team that stumbled ass backwards into a superstar. A third superstar, since they already had Marchessault and Fleury.
The two above reasons are the answers to the question: why Vegas?
Also – why in the hell wouldn’t the NHL start Game 1 on Sunday? They hate ratings? Why start it on a Monday? It made the weekend a lot less enjoyable – nothing beats beer with friends in front of the game. I understand the Vegas arena was booked for “Pink”. They can’t set up the rink by Sunday evening? It’s a three-day weekend in the US and the NHL and NBC were more than happy to drop a game on a Sunday afternoon during Canada’s long weekend, why not the same for the US?
Did anyone notice in the handshake line last…geez when was it…all the way back to last Wednesday I guess (see? Too much time has passed!)… Anyway, did anyone notice Nicklas Backstrom keeping his glove on his right (injured) hand and instead awkwardly reaching across his body to shake hands with his left? The hand hasn’t healed yet.
Then again, it’s been several months since the last game I think, so it’s probably healed by now.
I love trade rumors and I think all hockey people do, so I completely understand the topic being broached and discussed. What I can’t understand is the obsession with them. Take Erik Karlsson, for example. To me, that’s worth a five-minute discussion on talk radio and a small blurb as part of a bigger online article, as well as a forum discussion topic. But it ends there. After that it becomes boring. And yet I turn on the radio and people are still discussing it, spending 15 minutes on it easily. And article after article is being trotted out. People actually read those? Why?
When Karlsson is actually traded, color me interested. But why waste time reading about rumors and opinions on the matter when it may not even happen? Likely – sure. Even 99% likely. But nothing is certain. And being traded by draft day, while again likely, is also not certain. He could move during training camp or two months into the season. By the time it happens, people could have read as many as 15 articles on the speculation – none of them getting it right – and spent a combined three hours listening to podcasts and radio hits on it. Again none of the talks getting it right. Why bother? So damn boring. Yet hockey rumor sites kick fantasy hockey sites’ ass in terms of traffic. Hockey rumors made Eklund into a bit of an online empire! And why? I don’t think I’ve read a single thing on that site. Maybe once years ago, I can’t recall. I’m sure what I read ended up wrong though! But people by the thousands read them.
Anyway, there’s my blurb-within-an-article. I’m done.
Here is something that was kind of quietly slipped into Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts and not really mentioned anywhere else – Ryan Kesler may not be playing next season. At all. His hip is in a bad way and although he won’t have surgery, they are trying a rehab method and he may end up taking the year off. Anyway, if that happens he won’t return until he’s 35 and I have my doubts if he can regain any fantasy relevance at that point. I also don’t like it for Jakub Silfverberg owners, unless they can find him a talented center to play with. He seems lost without Kesler – and the ‘real’ Kesler never really came back last year.
Friedman also touched upon the Lou Lamoriello move to the Islanders and how it relates to John Tavares. It’s an experienced guy and a fresh voice to speak with Tavares and convince him to stay. The Isles will improve – Friedman believes (and I agree) that they will take a run at Ilya Kovalchuk and they will also upgrade their goaltending. I wonder if the latter move would have to involve moving one of their two stud prospect goalies. Because a trade is needed to solve that problem. As I pointed out above, free agency isn’t the solution.
I’m starting to get the usual requests for an early – partial – copy of my Fantasy Guide, and I’m thrilled you all value this as much as you do. It’s flattering. But there are many issues with doing this. First, I start it late. Teams are not set, more or less, until July 3. That’s when most of the UFA’s are signed. So I can’t even start it until July 4. Second, the writers send in their articles and analysis around July 25. So before then you have a Guide with half the team projections done, and no articles. This Guide takes 80-hour work weeks for three weeks leading up to August 1. Thirdly, because this takes 80 hours of my time per week – I’m often getting these types of email requests during that nutty period. Reading the email, replying, attaching some kind of version of my unformatted and half-finished Guide takes a few minutes out of my ‘crunch time’. So instead of being released at 3pm on August 1, maybe it’s released at 3:05pm. Multiply that by eight or 10 requests and now everyone has to wait an hour! And finally, I don’t really want my projections leaking early. I hope with this explanation you understand. But I am grateful to be put in a position where I can actually write this in the Ramblings.
By the way, why do some of you have drafts in July? Seems crazy to me. If you have one, please explain the reasoning. Shed some light! Because no hockey books are out yet…maybe that’s the point?
I want Ovechkin to win the Cup. I want Vegas to complete their Cinderella story and it becomes a major motion picture. Can’t have both, so push comes to shove – I would rather see Ovy win it. Enjoy the Cup Final!
See you next week
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