Ramblings: Hamilton and the Hurricanes, Gibson’s Greatness, Ghosting Ghost Too Early?

by Ian Gooding on October 12, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Hamilton and the Hurricanes, Gibson’s Greatness, Ghosting Ghost Too Early?


The Carolina Hurricanes look like they are legit, setting a franchise record in winning their first five games to start the season.

Dougie Hamilton has performed exactly the way you wanted him to when you drafted him in your multicategory league. Friday was no different, as he scored a goal, added an assist, was plus-3, and took four shots on goal. That gives him three goals and seven points in just five games. That ties him for the most over his first five games in Hurricanes/Whalers franchise history. In addition, scoring chances were 19-2 for the Hurricanes while Hamilton was on the ice in this game.

But Dougie still doesn’t get enough icetime or power-play time, you say. Well, I’ve got some good news for you. Check out the power-play use chart from Frozen Pool over the past three games:

Line        Freq       PP – DEFENSE

#1           79.2%    HAMILTON,DOUGIE

#2           16.7%    GARDINER,JAKE

#3           4.2%      GARDINER,JAKE – PESCE,BRETT

In addition, Hamilton has not played fewer than 20 minutes in a game this season, which is a significant step forward considering that he averaged less than 20 minutes per game last season. Hamilton has also received at least 23 minutes in each of his last three games, which is a result of Rod Brind’Amour switching to Hamilton from Jake Gardiner on PP1 recently. If you’ve been patient with Hamilton while his team hasn’t appreciated his talents enough, then it looks like you are finally being rewarded.

Andrei Svechnikov also scored a goal and added an assist in the Canes’ 5-2 win over the Islanders. One of the most popular breakout candidates entering the season, last year’s second overall pick has two points in each of his last four games, although his goal on Friday was his first of the season. I know it’s still early (a point that I will emphasize later), but Svechnikov is currently in a seven-way tie for third in overall league scoring. It already looks like he will provide great value on his 130 ADP in Yahoo.

I just scanned one of my league's waiver wires and noticed Erik Haula at the top of the list of available centers. After he missed much of last season because of injury, Haula was an afterthought in many fantasy drafts. Yet despite that, Haula has been scoring at a 0.69 PTS/GP pace over his last three seasons. That places him around the likes of former teammate Paul Stastny, Kyle Palmieri, Anthony Mantha, J.T. Miller, Yanni Gourde, and Jeff Skinner. With another goal on Friday, Haula now has goals in four of the Canes' first five games while receiving first-unit power play minutes. He's still unowned in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues and could make a great pickup, as the trade to Carolina has helped his value so far (Fantasy Take: Haula Acquired by Hurricanes). 

While I was researching information on Haula, I noticed that Sebastian Aho is being used on the Canes' second-unit power play. Cause for concern, or is this Rod Brind'Amour simply trying to spread out production on a Hurricanes' roster that has gotten deeper over time? Despite the Canes' early-season success, Aho has just one goal and no assists over five games. 

*

Over in the Atlantic Division, the Buffalo Sabres currently hold down first place, having picked up points in each of their first five games. I seem to remember the Sabres getting off to a fast start last season, holding down first overall in late November before the wheels fell off.

Linus Ullmark made 41 saves for the Sabres in the 3-2 shootout win over Florida. The Sabres have been alternating Ullmark and Carter Hutton over the past four games, so this appears to be a goaltending battle in the making. With the Sabres on a four-game week next week including a road trip to California, expect both goalies to continue to see action.

*

In the Anaheim/Columbus game, Ryan Miller gave John Gibson a night off on the second of back-to-backs. The 39-year-old Miller stopped 26 of 27 shots in the Ducks’ 2-1 win over Columbus.

It’s a light night, so I’ll try to appease the guy on my Twitter feed who has been bugging myself and another Rambler to mention Gibson. So far this season, he has been nothing short of sensational, putting forth an argument that he is one of the league’s best goalies if you separate him from the team he plays for. Gibson’s 2.84 GAA and .917 SV% last season were his worst ratios over his past four seasons, although he had set a fairly high standard for himself before that.

Gibson currently is tied for the league lead in wins (3) while posting the lowest goals-against average (1.26) and highest save percentage (.962) among goalies that have played more than one game. In addition, all four of his starts have been quality starts, according to Frozen Tools. There’s no reason that Gibson can’t continue to post top-notch ratios, yet the wins still might not come easily and he might still have to singlehandedly keep the Ducks in games. After five games, the Ducks currently sit among the league’s weakest offenses, having scored just 11 goals over their first five games.

Can Gibson build a legitimate Vezina Trophy argument if the Ducks aren’t a playoff team? Both scenarios could come true this season.

*

Every year I seem to be counselling fantasy owners not to drop underperforming players too early, and every year it seems that these questions appears earlier and earlier.

Case in point: I’ve noticed that there are Forum posts asking whether to drop Shayne Gostisbehere already. First of all, I understand that Ghost has no points this season and that last season wasn’t his finest. I also know that the panic of Ghost owners has been widespread, with his ownership plummeting from near-universal to under 60% already. I need to sell all my shares before the stock market crashes kind of stuff.

So the buyer’s remorse has already arrived after two games. TWO GAMES. There’s nothing wrong with monitoring the situation, but for gosh sakes that’s too early to press the panic button.

I know that some of you are going to say that the 65-point season was an outlier for Ghost. Maybe it will always be his career high. But folks, crack open your Fantasy Guides for a moment. Ghost is projected for 55 points this year. Maybe that’s higher than what you have him scoring. But how does he stack up to the options that are available in your league? If you have an option that you projected as better before the season, then by all means make the move. If the other options are projected for less than 40 points, then I don’t see how dropping Ghost is any more than a knee-jerk reaction.

Due to the early recency effect, fantasy owners can’t scramble to the waiver wire fast enough to pick up James Neal. Absolutely, ride the hot hand. Just remember that he’s only going to cool off from here (he’s shooting at 46.7%, by the way). Do you think Neal is going to score 30 this year? If you believe so and add him today (and yes, I know he’s only available in about 25% of Yahoo league now, so hypothetically speaking), you have to treat him as though he’ll score just 23 more goals, not 30. By adding him today, you’re not getting the seven goals he’s already scored. You’re getting whatever he’s going to score the rest of the way.  

I’ll admit that Neal might be the real deal in Edmonton for longer than a week and that Ghost might disappear even further from the fantasy landscape. Yet don’t let that steer you away from the overall principle of maximizing your team’s value. So while others are tripping over themselves getting to the waiver wire to find the latest hot hand, why not do the opposite and look for the guy who was dropped after an owner became impatient? It’s worked for me. Very simple theory here. Buy low. Sell high.

By the way, Ivan Provorov became available in one league in which he should be owned. Even though I already own Ghost in one league, I decided to pick up Provorov. So as much as I still like Ghost more than many of you do, I’m still not going to predict with 100 percent certainty that he’ll bounce back.

*

In case you missed it on Twitter, I’m participating in a league at the National Fantasy Championships. Here’s the team I drafted:

 

 

This might be the deepest draft I’ve ever participated in, with 360 players chosen in this draft. I should add that this league allows for weekly changes, so I don’t think I’ll be using every player on this roster. Right now I’m not winning my league; in fact, I was down at the bottom a few days ago. But I’m slowly making my way up. Since the draft finished on Sunday, the league only started on Monday.

If you're into some high-stakes fantasy sports, go check it out. 

*

For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.