Rambling about shared nets, Dougie Hamilton, DSP, Kuhnhackl, Donskoi, Silfverberg and more
Today’s rant is about elite prospect goaltenders and how they suddenly give a large portion of the fantasy hockey community a thick pair of blinders. This isn’t a new trend, and the experienced poolies can take them off. But by and large, this is a thing. It’s a serious thing, and I’m going to address it.
John Gibson. Andrei Vasilevskiy. Jake Allen. Those three are the obvious current examples. Past (but still modern-day) examples include Cory Schneider, Jonathan Bernier and Michal Neuvirth. Just because a stud prospect is champing at the bit, does not mean the starter is in trouble. That doesn’t mean that a trade can’t or won’t happen that would solve the problem. But it doesn’t mean that the proven starter is going to lose his job.
Let’s look at two past situations:
Jonathan Bernier vs. Jonathan Quick – Bernier had Golden Boy status and Quick did not. However, Quick was riding some huge numbers. He was winning hockey games. There are organizations out there that don’t even have a starting goalie. They’re not easy to get. So when you have one who is proving himself, you don’t mess with it. Quick was winning, so Bernier rotted on the bench for several years until he was traded. This also happened in the case of Roberto Luongo vs. Cory Schneider.
Carey Price vs. Jaroslav Halak – In this case, neither goaltender had the proven track record, but both goalies were playing fairly well. Halak was playing slightly better, but Price was the Golden Boy. In this case, Halak was traded rather quickly.
Now let’s tackle the three new cases:
Andrei Vasilevskiy vs. Ben Bishop – This is the easiest of the three. Vasilevskiy is an elite prospect and future NHL star. Guess what? Doesn’t matter. I mean, seriously, what are you hoping for? What is his team hoping for? That he could be…oh I don’t know… a three-time 37-win goalie before he turns 30? Man, it sure would be nice to have that. Wait a minute, wait a minute – they already do. Sorry Vasilevskiy owners, if you think that just because he “might” become God’s gift to goaltending does not mean that he supplants a stud. Bishop is 107-46-16 over the last three years and this season is his best one yet. Vasilevskiy’s Comparable Situation: Bernier, circa 2011. Which means he won’t get a net of his own until a trade two years from now.
Jake Allen vs. Brian Elliott – This one is different from the above because both of these goalies get hurt all the time. If they were healthy, it would be cut and dried. Elliott would be the elite 30-year-old stud and Allen would be the future star prospect. Allen, like Vasilevskiy, wouldn’t have a chance. But Elliott gets hurt every 15 to 25 games, usually during an insane hot streak. And that means Allen gets plenty of chances. Allen’s Comparable Situation: Neuvirth, circa 2010. Which means Elliott would need to go to a new team (just like Semyon Varlamov did in 2011)…but then Allen would just blow it by getting hurt anyway (just like Neuvirth did).
John Gibson vs. Frederik Andersen – Everyone’s favorite. Fantasy owners love to debate me on how elite Gibson is. Maybe he’ll be elite, but he’s not there yet. Right now, Andersen edges him in the stats and frankly the play too. Andersen is an RFA this summer (edit: he was a UFA on the cap sites but this was corrected to RFA some time in November, nearest I can tell) and if he is traded elsewhere then both goalies instantly become Top 10 in fantasy. But if he re-signs, which is more likely, then Andersen will remain barely in the Top 20 and Gibson barely in the Top 30. Because they’ll eat each other’s starts. Gibson’s Comparable Situation: Carey Price, circa 2010. Will Andersen be on a new team next year, similar to Jaroslav Halak moving to St. Louis?
Dougie Hamilton’s three assists last night give him 29 points in his last 47 games. It took him 25 games to get a feel for the new system, and that’s just long enough for poolies to look back at his 45-point season (or so) sometime in July and feel indifferent. But you’ll know the truth. You’ll know that after the 25-game mark a 60-point blueliner beast emerged. And that’s when you target him in your keeper.
Niklas Backstrom had his first start of the season and it was a win, allowing just one goal. The last time he had a win that saw him allow one or less was November 24th, 2014. Given that Jonas Hiller has been a train wreck in five of his last six starts and the Flames are on the precipice of non-playoffs, I think they have seen enough of that guy to make a decision on what they will do with him this summer. They want to see more of Ortio, and I think they want to see a bit of Backstrom too. Backstrom will disappoint…yet I can imagine Calgary brass being a little intrigued. Was it just the abdominal injury? Is it behind him now? Can they sign him as a backup next year for a rock-bottom price and he turns into a steal?
Montreal prospect Mike McCarron has 40 hits since he was recalled 12 games ago. And 29 SOG. So regardless of the measly two points, he can help a lot of leagues in the other categories. But the points will come.
Evgeni Malkin has been out of the lineup for five games now and the Penguins won all five. In all this season, the team is 10-4-1 without him. If the Penguins don’t go to the Final this year, I would be hard-pressed to support their decision to hold onto him. I’ve been fine with it until now, generally not jumping on the ‘they have to trade Malkin’ wagon. But something has to give and the window is closing. In six years, this team is probably a non-playoff one again. So five more cracks at it. Do you want to waste those by being stubborn? Think of what the Pens could get for him. A couple of top prospects, a second-line center, an experienced No.4 defenseman…maybe a couple of picks?
With an assist last night Patric Hornqvist has 16 points in his last 17 games. But what’s more important to me is the fact that he’s 10 games away from playing – gasp – 82. If he can become a full-season guy and is now clicking with Sidney Crosby then I really love his outlook for next season. Remember, many of the Penguins wingers over the past decade took two or three years to start rolling with one of their big guns (i.e. Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis).
Tom Kuhnhackl, whose father was once called the German Gretzky, picked up three points and 12 PIM Sunday. He has six points and is plus-7 in his last eight games. He’s playing on the third line though, so don’t look for it to last. He took several years to get rolling in the AHL, I would imagine it takes him similar in the NHL. More on Kuhnhackl here.
Phil Kessel has just two points in the five Malkin-less games so far. He’s playing with Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin. So that about does it for this bust of a season. He needs three points in the final 10 games to get to 50. Can he do it? Gun to my head, I’d say “yes”. But I wouldn’t voluntarily bet 50 bucks on it.
Five of the six defensemen picked up points for the Penguins in their 6-2 win Sunday. Trevor Daley picked up three points and he has four in the five Malkin-less games (yes, right now we measure Pittsburgh games as Malkin-less). Though just one of those points came on the power play, where he should be actually getting the boost.
The last time Braden Holtby gave up five goals was on November 3. He’s still on track for 49 wins this season, which would be a new NHL record (48 and 47 by Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo in 2006-07).
Take it easy there Devante Smith-Pelly. Geez, you take a couple of days off of paying attention to everything in-depth…and this happens. I nearly fell out of my chair when I discovered that he has seven goals and 10 points in nine games with the Devils so far. His ice time with New Jersey sits around 16 minutes per game, which is obviously a big jump from what he was getting anywhere else. The Devils don’t have a ton of options on their wings right now and if they don’t sign a scoring-line winger in the summer I’d be very intrigued. DSP teased us before when he had a strong playoff a couple of years ago for the Ducks (five goals in 12 games). Of concern though is his zero power-play points so far, despite playing on the first unit.
New Jersey line combos:
#1 26.8% BOUCHER,REID – PALMIERI,KYLE – ZAJAC,TRAVIS
#2 14.3% BLANDISI,JOSEPH – KALININ,SERGEY – SISLO,MIKE
#3 12.5% HENRIQUE,ADAM – KENNEDY,TYLER – SMITH-PELLY,DEVANTE
#4 11.9% FARNHAM,BOBBY – GIONTA,STEPHEN – RUUTU,TUOMO
Palmieri’s 10 points in his last nine games is helping Boucher gain fantasy relevance. Boucher has five points in his last seven.
Scott Wedgewood started his first career NHL game and stopped 27 of 28 for the win. I haven’t heard if they’re gonna roll with him again but given that Kinkaid struggled in his last three outings I would imagine they will. Especially with the Devils still hanging in there for the playoff race.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury. He had just two points in nine games prior to that. It puts his first career 45-point season in jeopardy, I was kind of pulling for him. He’s not expected to be out long term according to CSN.
With two assists Sunday, Joonas Donskoi has five points in his last four games. He’s putting together quite the solid rookie season with 34 points and he has 31 of those points in the last 55 games. Nice FA Euro scoop by the Sharks last spring, well done.
James Reimer picked up his second shutout for the Sharks on Sunday, his second in three games. He just does not want to ever give in. If his team makes him the backup, it’s like he refuses – and then puts his money where his mouth is. His numbers as a Shark:
3-1-0, 1.27 GAA, 0.952 SV%
Meanwhile, Martin Jones has been great and only getting better with nine consecutive starts of allowing two or fewer goals. But Reimer is seeing to it that Jones won’t get three starts in a row. That’s how it’s been since Reimer arrived.
Mike Smith returns and wins both his first two starts, but finally took a loss Sunday. But even then, he was good. In fact, so far he has allowed just three goals on 107 shots.
I keep looking and Jakob Silfverberg as a player with so much potential at both ends of the ice, but isn’t given opportunities offensively because he’s so good defensively. And in my points-only keeper league I can’t bring myself to consider him a dropsy this offseason. After six points in 39 games to start the year, he has 23 in 32 since then (58-point pace) with the goal Sunday.
Patrick Kane returned later in the game after taking this hit. Should he have?
Sam Bennett didn’t return from this hit. It was nearing the end of the game so that’s not saying a lot…but you never know with these things.
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