As far as news in the NHL is concerned, there really wasn’t a whole lot to come out on Wednesday. I’ll be brief:
- Detroit placed forward Martin Frk on waivers. Given the team is utterly devoid of talent save for a handful of players, this came as a bit of a surprise. Not that I think Frk is great, or will be great, just an odd team to see dump talent.
- Evgenii Dadonov missed Panthers practice with an illness but should be fine. Derick Brassard was centering the third line.
- Both Eric Cernak and Ondrej Palat were back in practice for the Lightning. The latter is a wonder because J.T. Miller has looked really good filling in the top-6 when needed. On the other hand, he’s also looked good on the third line. It’ll be interesting to see what line combinations they go with.
- The Penguins went back to a stacked top PP unit, at least without Evgeni Malkin in the lineup due to suspension. Whether they stick to that is up for debate. Justin Schultz still isn’t back in the lineup, though that seems to be imminent.
- Jeff Carter was at practice for the Kings, not that it matters a significant amount fantasy-wise.
That’s about it. Not much in the way of significant news.
There was a column from Pierre LeBrun at The Athletic discussing some of the key pieces for the upcoming trade deadline. There are lots of good tidbits but two things jumped out at me.
First, the Blue Jackets don’t appear to be trading Artemi Panarin unless they get help in return for this year. In other words, Jackets fans hoping for a picks-and-prospects package are going to be disappointed. Expect something more in line with the Max Pacioretty trade: a good roster player, a good prospect, and a second-round pick. Now, it may be two decent prospects, or a first and a second or whatever, but the outline is there. Don’t expect Dante Fabbro, Eeli Tolvanen, and three draft picks.
The second interesting part was on Eric Staal. He has a 10-team no-trade list but is, presumably, looking to be traded to a contender should Minnesota decide to trade the pending UFA (they should). Winnipeg is mentioned and that makes a lot of sense to me. It would be similar to what they did with Paul Stastny last year and would allow them to move Bryan Little down to the third line, where he and Mathieu Perreault can provide scoring depth. Given that he’s a pending UFA in his age-34 season, the cost shouldn’t be too high. It’s an addition that would make a lot of sense for the Jets.
Today is Valentine’s Day (don’t forget your significant other, readers!) and we only had a couple games on Wednesday night. There isn’t really a lot to cover from the NHL and I have a desire to be topical.
Every year, there are players who change my mind with their play, and I become enamoured with. Usually, these are younger players who’ve impressed in their first year when I wasn’t high on them, but they can be older players as well. For me, a couple years ago, it was Josh Anderson. Last year, it was Jake DeBrusk and Ondrej Kase. Those are just a few examples, here are a bunch more from 2018-19.
About a week ago on Twitter, I did a full mea culpa on Kotkaniemi. When the Canadiens drafted him last June, I thought this was a team over-drafting a player to fill a team need. A player who didn’t warrant being the third overall pick, and a pick the Canadiens would regret. Needless to say, this has been completely wrong.
On the season, he’s sitting over two points per 60 minutes at five-on-five (2.02). The guys directly above and below him are Sebastian Aho (2.03) and Brock Boeser (2.01). As far as primary points/60 minutes are concerned (goals and first assists), his mark of 1.47 is in the 40th percentile of the NHL, and tied with names like Jamie Benn, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Tyler Johnson. Here is how he compares on things like zone entries, exits, shots, and shot assists (passes that lead to shots) to the aforementioned Aho, from CJ Turtoro’s viz (small sample alert):
To boot, Kotkaniemi leads the league in least shot attempts allowed when he’s on the ice relative to his teammates. The other two players in the top-3: Sidney Crosby and Nikolaj Ehlers. He’s been excellent defensively, too.
Keep in mind that Kotkaniemi is doing all this largely in the bottom-6 for a team without many good wingers in the bottom-6. Sure, playing a sheltered role will help his numbers look better, but regardless of his role, he’s an 18-year old non-generational rookie who has looked outstanding by almost any measure. That is significant.
To be fair, I always liked Theodore. I thought his small samples showed well in Anaheim and just watching him play, you saw a defenceman who could skate and pass out of danger and would always look for an offensive opportunity. That kind of cooled off in Vegas’s inaugural season (remember when he started the year in the AHL?) but is back in full force this season.
I won’t inundate with more charts but his entries/exits with possession are great. They usually have been but that has continued this season. Defensively there are still issues, but those aren’t huge concerns for us fantasy-wise as long as it doesn’t lead to a loss in ice time. Theodore’s ability to drive offence cannot be overstated: among 132 defencemen with 700 five-on-five minutes this year, he’s fifth in driving shot attempts for his team relative to his teammates. The four guys ahead of him: Dougie Hamilton, Thomas Chabot, Erik Karlsson, and Brent Burns. That’s pretty good company. He’s also 15th in individual shot attempts per 60 minutes, sandwiched between Kris Letang and Victor Hedman. Again, really good company. At all strengths per 60 minutes, his shot rate is sixth, behind only Hamilton, Burns, Karlsson, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Roman Josi. I think you guys gets the point.
This is a very, very good offensive talent. His issue for fantasy is playing enough minutes to really be a top-tier talent. He’s playing 16:48 per game at 5v5, which leads the Golden Knights, but they have four defencemen over 16 minutes. League-wide, that mark is in the bottom 50 percent of regular defencemen. They also split the PP duties. He can be relied upon for close to 40 points with his current setup, but if he ever starts to earn more minutes, there is a lot of upside beyond 40 points.
I wrote a little bit on Kyrou a few weeks ago and there’s really not a lot to add to that. I wasn’t really high on either he or Robert Thomas coming into the year, though a lot of that was because of the depth of the Blues forwards. Though Kyrou was never able to establish himself in the NHL, his brief appearances this year looked great both by the eye and by the numbers. He needs to shoot more and not be a pure setup guy, at least give the opposing offence something to think about. All the same, I think he has a very bright future both in the NHL and the fantasy game, though his upside will depend on that shot rate getting better.
I’ll let my Twitter feed introduce you here:
DYK: Travis Konecny is t-10th in goals/60 minutes at 5v5 since the start of last season. The two guys just ahead of him: Kucherov and Laine https://t.co/0908MOKynV— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) February 13, 2019
anyway, he's super good, and it'd be super awesome not to see him on the fourth line again.— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) February 13, 2019
In terms of media visibility, you’d never guess Konecny was not only budding into one of the young stars in the league but is a star right now.
The good news is that Konecny will have talented players to play with for years to come. Sure, guys like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are getting up there in years, but neither has shown that they’re hitting a wall yet. Even if they do, there are guys like Nolan Patrick, Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, and Travis Sanheim, not to mention the prospect cupboard.
He’s found his way to the doghouse at times but he’s about to finish his age-21 season, which means he’s just about to start his prime scoring years. He’s entering those prime scoring years as already one of the top goal scorers in the league at even strength over the last 130-plus games. I’m not sure it’s possible to buy low on him in dynasty leagues but it’s probably worth checking anyway.
I’ve touched on Chabot before and just a cursory search of ‘Thomas Chabot’ here at Dobber will reveal a lot more on Chabot from this season. I won’t feed a fed horse here so I’ll let most of what I’ve written stand.
What I will say is that there is still some work to do defensively. Like Theodore, he’ll need to be better defensively to really earn a lot of minutes. With that said, if Cody Ceci doesn’t return next season, there really isn’t much in Ottawa for Guy Boucher to lean on minutes-wise. It’s not like in Vegas where if Theodore isn’t performing, the coach can turn to Colin Miller, or Nate Schmidt, or even Brayden McNabb. In Ottawa, they turn to… Christian Wolanin? Ben Harpur? Mark Borowiecki? It’s basically Dylan DeMelo and that’s it.
Chabot has the look of a defenceman you build a franchise around. He’s still just 22 and has just over 100 NHL games under his belt. This team is rebuilding but having someone like Chabot is nearly as good a start as a general manager can hope for.
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