Ramblings: Hoffman Heating Up? (Nov 25)

by steve laidlaw on November 25, 2016

Is Hoffman heating up? What are the wayward fates of Plekanec, Nestrasil and Ryan Murphy?


Alert! Games start at 1:00 pm Eastern today so make sure you have your lineup set. It’s rare for the NHL to do this but it seemingly happens every holiday.


Carey Price got things back on track with a 2-1 victory over the Hurricanes.

We saw the second straight game of the Max PaciorettyTomas PlekanecBrendan Gallagher line. They produced one goal, with Pacioretty ringing another chance of the crossbar. Enough to earn an extended run together?

Plekanec notched a secondary assist, his first point in eight games. He has been an absolute dud with just six points in 21 games and I don’t see it turning around. Plekanec used to be a top power play option, but he has ceded those duties to Alex Galchenyuk. He is down almost a minute and a half of ice time from last season averaging just 17:10 per game and most of that lost ice time has come on the PP where he averages just 1:10 per game. Plekanec will frequently see zero PP time in a whole game.

Plekanec probably still has the skills but he doesn’t have the role and at 34 he doesn’t have the skills to overcome a bad role. He is still averaging about two shots per game, which keeps him relevant in certain deeper formats but I wouldn’t be expecting more than 40 points out of him at this point.

Nathan Beaulieu had to be hospitalized earlier in the week and while reports where that he was fine, he clearly is not as he did not play last night. His injury, whatever it is, has not been disclosed. Enter Mark Barberio, who skated 15 minutes with some secondary PP time. Probably not worth a pickup.


Cam Ward took the loss but was stout stopping 20 of 22 shots that he faced. Not good enough to qualify for a quality start. He’s had nine of those in the past dozen games.

Pump the brakes on that one. As I mentioned with Chad Johnson yesterday, Ward is a short-term option, while Steve Mason is a long-term option. Don’t dump your long-term guy. Instead stash him and scoop Johnson or Ward off waivers and drop your weakest skater instead.

Also, regarding Johnson: some folks thought that I wasn’t giving him enough credit. Maybe not. Johnson has been solid as a backup throughout his career. But Brian Elliott has been solid as a starter throughout his career and the Flames stink. To think that Johnson’s going to overcome those obstacles to start 50-55 games while giving you fantasy relevant numbers would be heading into the dominion of the unicorn. I can’t ignore the possibility of its existence but I don’t actively believe in it either.


Coming into this season I was intrigued to see what Andrej Nestrasil could do for an encore after a hot run at mid-season that was cut short by a season-ending injury. Looking back, I see that he only had 12 points in a 20-game stretch prior to that injury. He did it in limited minutes, while skating alongside Jordan Staal, which I suppose makes it impressive but I must have been off my rocker thinking he had done better.

The Nestrasil-Staal combo has not been reprised as Nestrasil has barely managed to get into the games, having suited up for just eight so far. He has been buried by more talented, younger options. What if he had never gotten hurt? Might have scraped together a career. He’s 25 so the door isn’t completely shut but it’s closing.


Ryan Murphy is on the trade block. You can understand why. The Hurricanes are loaded with quality young defensemen and don’t really have room for Murphy, who has spent the past three seasons yo-yoing between the NHL and AHL. He is currently in the AHL on a conditioning stint but he’d have to clear waivers to go down full time. As seldom as players are claimed on waivers, he certainly would not but at the same time there can’t be much market for him.

Recent trades of former first round picks who haven’t found a foothold have not yielded strong returns. Dylan McIlrath netted Steven Kampfer and a conditional seventh round selection, while Nail Yakupov returned Zach Pochiro and a conditional pick. You just don’t get much for these guys, and you typically have to take a contract back because everyone is afraid of hitting the limit.

Murphy’s a sunk cost but he also provides some insurance against injury, although the Hurricanes have other options to consider like Klas Dahlbeck.

Whenever I think of Murphy, I think of how long it took Ellis to cement himself but he was a full-time NHLer by his third pro season. Murphy is already working on his fourth. Moreover, Ellis is just built more stoutly and thus can play a larger role. Not that Murphy is incapable of finding a role, he just has to do it all with positioning.

I wonder if, to a certain extent, the NHL has just passed Murphy by. He terrorizes the AHL whenever he goes down with 64 points in 81 career games but it has not translated to the NHL. He has great skating and distribution skills. A few years ago, when defensemen who could really skate were more rare, Murphy was a potential change of pace. Now there are bigger, stockier players who can do the same. For goodness sake, Brent Burns is making end-to-end rushes multiple times per game. Why bother opting for the smaller option.

No doubt there is room for the smaller player in this league. Every season we see new examples like Jonathan Marchessault. But you have to be AMAZING to overcome the size deficit. You also have to find the right team willing to give you the chance. There are lots of defense-needy teams out there but how many would be willing to take on a project to solve their issues?

I wonder if Murphy’s destiny is to be picked by the Vegas Knights where he can get a fresh start. The clock is ticking for him to land a full-time gig.


Is Mike Hoffman finally heating up? Four points in two games since returning from injury. Could still be an aberration. The Sens are not producing offense under Guy Boucher, although credit them for winning the shot battle against Boston last night.

Craig Anderson is a stud. After starting out with four poor showings, he has eight quality starts in the past 10 games. In one league, my trio of netminders is Anderson, Semyon Varlamov and Cory Schneider and it’s Anderson who I am most dying to use these days.

Ryan Dzingel was knocked from the game but returned:


The Bruins were without Zdeno Chara last night as he is out with an undisclosed injury. Chara is also doubtful for tonight’s game against Calgary. Boston is returning home for this game so we cannot rule Chara out like we could if the Bruins were still on the road.

Chara isn’t what he used to be but pairing with Brandon Carlo has helped him bounceback as a shutdown guy. With Boston potentially missing Chara and on a back-to-back plus travel involved, I have a feeling that the Flames could make for a good streaming option or perhaps for daily fantasy.

Calgary plays tonight and then Sunday so the schedule is lined up for them to be useful. Unfortunately, I don’t see anyone worth actively targeting.

Sam Bennett was skating on the top line but he is scoreless in three straight and has been dumped onto the third line the past couple.

Kris Versteeg is back and skating on the top line but I’m not biting.

Dennis Wideman might be the best option as he has snuck his way onto the top PP unit.


So the Predators continue to do this goalie carousel thing with their backup spot, all the while Pekka Rinne is cementing himself as the #1. Pay no mind to this shuffling until we hear Rinne is out for an extended period.


Please excuse me while I use my nipples to scrape the ice off my windshield…


The Canucks extended Ben Hutton for two more seasons at $2.8M per. Hard to get excited about this one way or the other.


The NHL released an official list of all the players who must be protected in the upcoming expansion draft. It unearthed some surprise no-movement clauses, like the one owed to Jordan Staal.





Now for the Q+A portion, which comes early this week because I am off tomorrow.


Tough to know definitively without knowing the scoring but if we assume this is a standard head-to-head format, I could see some merit in opting for the Simmonds/Lehner side.

Voracek is definitely going to score more than Simmonds but in a standard league, I like Simmonds’ multi-category production a little more. Voracek is no slouch here, mind you.

I think you take a hit in goal going with Lehner over the Philly tandem but Lehner is proving reliable. He just needs to stay healthy and he’ll operate as a Schneider-lite.

What really appeals to me is the flexibility that this deal can add to your roster. You don’t have a tent-pole in net, which is a big mistake, though one that can be easy to make. Without a tent-pole you need as much flexibility as possible to stream in hot options like Johnson. You can do that better with a mediocre #1 like Lehner than you can with the Philly tandem.

Of course, I wouldn’t do the goalie swap outright. I need the Simmonds upgrade to solidify this move. Unfortunately, without knowing the exact scoring the degree to which I prefer Simmonds may shift.


He also added Erik Johnson as a possible option.

I’d rank them as follows:




I do wonder how many moves are allowed in this league because it’s possible that this should just be a short-term acquisition and that you should expand your scope to include all options with a favourable upcoming schedule to maximize the roster spot. If you are locked in after making a move here, Johnson easily offers the highest floor and likely the highest ceiling as well.


I wouldn’t be using Puljujarvi beyond daily fantasy. As good as he has looked, everyone looks good with McDavid but no one sticks. Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic are going to see the most looks with him, think 60-70% of the games. Everyone else gets cameos here and there but nothing to rest your cap on.

Maybe in a couple of years, Puljujarvi will get a shot but I think that Eberle is so one-dimensional as a scorer, he is always going to keep getting looks with McDavid to help spark the goal-scoring.


I am a big Ristolainen fan. He will probably get going once Eichel returns to the lineup. That said, Pastrnak is taking a run at 40 goals this season. I don’t think I can turn that down.


Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.