Ramblings: Goalies again – lots of goalie chatter. Also Nylander, Neal, Aberg and more (Dec 3)
In fantasy hockey, goaltending is key. Goaltending is also the Achilles heel. There are literally only five or six goaltenders you can count on today that you know* will be helpful two seasons from now. The rest are on a dart board and you hope you have the guy that the right dart lands on. The best you can do is go after the ones with the best opportunity and follow the contract. Teams are amazingly loyal if a goalie gets that Golden Boy status – and that happens if he’s a high pick, signed to a high contract or a big asset was coughed up for him.
If you have a Top 30 list of the goalies getting the most fantasy points, and a Top 30 list of the actual talented goalies, those are two completely different lists. And in fact, 10 of those goalies that are on one list won’t be on another. The Blues are following Jake Allen right into the black hole. The Sharks are doing the same with Martin Jones. The Oilers will do the same with Cam Talbot and the Penguins with Matt Murray. The loyalty lasts as long as two-plus seasons, or even longer depending on just how bad things get. But all we can do is follow the opportunity, regardless of how we feel about the goalie’s actual talent.
This is my long-winded way of saying – if you went after Scott Darling a year-and-a-half ago, you made the right move. Myself, I didn’t go after him hard as I didn’t like his talent at all, only his opportunity and contract, but I certainly would have loved for him to fall into my lap. Getting him was the right move. He started 47 games for Carolina – that means that after 46 portions of a dog’s breakfast that he served up, they still gave him another start. And this is an example of a team giving up on him quickly – most teams would keep trying until 100 games or more (ahem, Allen) of futility. In advance, if you tell me that Goalie X is going to get 30 starts over the next 40 games I am going to be interested in owning Goalie X 10 times out of 10.
Side note (but related): my confidence in Matt Murray getting his act together and becoming a good starter sits at 99% due to the above Golden Boy rule and ongoing opportunities. My confidence in Cam Talbot getting his act together sits at 85% because he’s struggled a little longer (twins still keeping him up at night? Exhausted wife?), and because his contract actually runs out soon. But I harken back to when he first arrived in Edmonton and “lost” the starting role by late November to a red-hot Anders Nilsson. He got the job back then and he’ll get the job back now.
Early in the season when he was off to a great start I mentioned Jakob Silfverberg as my favorite breakout candidate (actually mentioned this in the summer a lot, too). But man, he relies on his linemates. As in – a lot. He clicked with Ryan Kesler and had some good seasons that way, but that’s when Kesler was good. And without Kesler, Silfverberg’s numbers suffered. Well, his great start was due to a combination of being in his prime now and clicking really well with the talented Max Comtois. As a Silf owners in one league, I was happy when Comtois’ injury was over with…and then crushed when Comtois was sent to junior. Now Silfverberg has fallen off the map. Because not only is he back on a line with Kesler – but Kesler is now an anchor offensively with just 19 points in his last 68 games. It’s like being paired with two enforcers, for all the offense that Kesler and Andrew Cogliano offer to Silfverberg. When, and I do mean when, Silfverberg gets a bloated contract somewhere else next summer, it will be interesting to see how well he does with talented linemates. He relies on them, sure, but when he actually gets them he’ll put points on the board.
Michael Grabner suffered what, in looking at the picture circulating Twitter Sunday, appears to be pretty devastating and he is out indefinitely. Not to be morbid and to just gloss over that, but sliding my fantasy hockey hat back on I like how this shakes up the Vinnie Hinostroza line. Perhaps Vinnie gets another chance with a quality winger and center (and sheds his other linemate, Brad Richardson, in the process). Hinostroza has 12 points in his last 21 games and points in each of his last two. Not great, but after Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz he’s been the next best forward. His points-per-60 is 1.9.
William Nylander has signed, as you well know, and he signed at a number that was higher than what was rumored to be his asking price – and definitely higher than what we heard was the rumored offer. This is a shocking loss by Kyle Dubas and I can’t help but think there will be more to this and that the book has not closed. Yes, signing Nylander late means that the cap hit will be much higher now (over $10.2) for this season. And yes, that will mean that his salary will be hard to move. But not impossible. And I am almost certain that Nylander will be traded before next October. For what it’s worth, Arizona, Philadelphia, Colorado, New Jersey and Carolina have the cap space and are a trade fit in terms of giving up a defenseman. In the book The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh, Walsh was quick to trade away any disruptions to the team or to his overall philosophy and long-term winning strategy. Dubas truly respects what that book has to say and I really don’t think we’ve seen the end of Nylander-gate.
Nikita Scherbak getting claimed by the Kings is an interesting one. I still respect Scherbak’s skill set and I think he has scoring-line upside, but that upside has seriously eroded thanks to all the injuries that have retarded his development. A prospect can only miss so much action during key years before it takes a bite out of what they can do in the future. I doubt the Kings can coax any of that out of him, but I always root for the player. The bigger name prospects who get waived and then claimed almost always fail. We, as fantasy owners, still get excited over the claims because it offers a glimmer of hope. But really – it’s only a glimmer. Valentin Zykov is another example – I hope for the best, I think if given a chance he could do well, but in the end my money is on failure. And with Zykov it’s a damn shame because we’re literally two months after calling him one of our favorite sleeper picks.
Another point on Zykov – the Oilers gave up Ryan Strome for another Zykov, but in that case his name is Ryan Spooner. To give up an asset to acquire a skill set…and then a couple weeks later acquire that skill set for free, seems short-sighted.
With 26 minutes left in regulation the Ducks were losing 5-1. They scored five times in 21 minutes to win it. Braden Holtby just folded like a cheap tent, giving up the five goals on just 10 or 11 shots (not exactly sure). Holtby had been playing well lately though, winning five in a row, so not really sure what happened other than perhaps fatigue.
Pontus Aberg tallied three points and has six in four games still playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell. It’s time to start taking this guy seriously now. He’s streaky, but as long as Randy Carlyle is coaching (ahem), it looks as though Aberg will stay on that line even if his cold drought lasts a dozen games. We just saw it happen – four points in 12 games (before the six in four) and still stayed on that line.
Josh Morrissey, as told here dozens of times, is the recipient of the bulk of the PP time with Dustin Byfuglien out. But Jacob Trouba won’t be ignored either. In the five games that Big Buff has missed so far, Morrissey has seen 59.5%, 66%, 84.5%, 50% and 58% of the available PP time. Generally speaking, Morrissey gets about 30% in the games that Byfuglien plays. Morrissey has tallied five points in those five games, with three of them coming on the power play. He has definitely made him case as the heir apparent for that big PP slot and could probably start taking it over on Buff sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Trouba usually sees minimal PP time (this year). But while Buff is sidelined he has seen 0%, 0%, 15.5%, 50% and 42%. No PPPts (none on the season overall, in fact), but something has sparked him as he has four points in the last three games during Byfuglien’s second injury stint. He’s still paired with Morrissey at even strength, so perhaps he’s just feeding off the hot hand that Morrissey is wielding coming off the power play. Regardless, an injured Byfuglien means a productive Morrissey and Trouba.
Mark Scheifele has marched into the NHL’s Top 10 in scoring 19 points in his last 12 contests. He has 14 SOG in his last three games.
A couple people tweeted to me their concern about Connor Hellebuyck yesterday, and wondered if I still rank him in the top-two on my keeper goalie list. In short: yes. And I think with goaltenders you can’t be emotional about their roller coaster rides. The Jets aren’t going to get worse over the next couple of years, they’re only going to get better. Hellebuyck is making $6.2 million per year for the next six seasons. Even if he Martin Joneses his way through games, he’s still going to get lots of W’s. I happen to think he won’t suck, but even if he does – the wins will be there. I’m not even looking at his peripheral stats right now since the W’s are still happening – I’ll worry about the lack of quality starts after another 20 games. Fantasy owners like to micro-manage and tend to panic quickly. And if your league counts SV% and GAA and he’s hurting you more than the wins can help, what are you going to do – drop him? Trade him for a lesser goalie who is currently doing better? I don’t think that’s wise.
I make a Martin Jones sucks joke the night he makes 40 saves on 41 shots, but I stand by it! He’ll get the W’s as long as the Sharks a good (that clock is actually ticking though), but his peripherals will never be great.
Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog are unstoppable. I’m going to stop checking Colorado summaries. If it’s 3-0 then MacKinnon and Rantanen have three points each, Landeskog with two. If it’s 5-4, then MacKinnon and Rantanen enjoyed five-point nights. There, I just became more efficient – no more Colorado box scores.
Vancouver placed Brendan Leipsic on waivers. An interesting name that I hope gets claimed (there’s that “glimmer of hope” crap again)
Unless James Neal gets traded, and that’s doubtful because they just signed him, he is not going to get better. His production is shot, his ice time is low, his linemates are weak and there is no reason to believe any of this will change. Plus, he’s a Band-Aid Boy and he hasn’t had his regularly scheduled injury yet. In case you were holding onto some hope for him and just needed a nudge, there it is. Nudge. He picked up a point Sunday, but it was a secondary assist and it was on the power play when the Flames spent half the game on the power play. Not really a scenario where you can expect points to come flying in regularly.
My law of starting goaltenders is beginning to bear fruit with Mike Smith, who has won his last three starts and has allowed four goals on 67 shots (22.3 shots per game so the team is coming together for him now, too).
Henri Jokiharju saw 5:11 on the power play Sunday and came up empty, including zero shots. He has three points in his last 14 games, but is “the guy” on the power play for Chicago under the new coach so don’t give up on him just yet.
See you next Monday.
*We don’t really know, who are we kidding? We thought we knew about Carey Price and well, here we are.
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