Ramblings: Is the Schedule too Dense? (Nov 19)

by steve laidlaw on November 19, 2016

Capitals face multiple injuries, the schedule is too dense, Cam Ward showing value and more.

Just a heads up, if you came looking for game recaps, that section will be light today. Focused a few tidbits and then the Q+A section.


Okay, now the injuries are just getting out of hand. The Capitals lost an entire line’s worth of players to upper-body injuries last night with Andre Burakovsky, TJ Oshie and Lars Eller each going down. The status on those three will hopefully be updated later today.

Pierre LeBrun suggests that it might be a result of the condensed schedule:

"I’ve talked to other GMs about this. I think we’re all going to need 27 to 30 players this year," said Nill. "It’s just reality. You start playing four games in five or six nights, with all the travel, it’s going to be tough."

It is likely a confluence of issues causing the injury spike. I have long contended that the schedule is too damned long. Condensing the schedule just makes it even more strenuous because you are removing the recovery time for these guys who are already likely over-trained as it is. Remember my pet theory that Kris Letang is so injury prone because he is working out too hard in the gym? He can’t be the only one this applies to.


Back to the Capitals, perhaps three forward injuries is enough to get top prospect Jakub Vrana called up to the big club. He has scored eight goals and 11 points in 14 AHL games this season. I don’t know if he is ready but I do know he is talented and could make a big splash on a scoring line.

We might also see Justin Williams shake off a slow start if his role gets an upgrade. He has languished on the third line and second power play unit for much of the season. Not an ideal role. Mind you, having Williams in a third line role is awesome for the Capitals, just not for Williams fantasy owners.


Ryan Sproul is one of the few intriguing players on the Red Wings this season. He isn’t skating full time but he has potential. He skated over five minutes on the top PP unit beside Mike Green last night. Unfortunately, Thomas Vanek is due back on Sunday and probably gobbles up those minutes with the Wings going back to a four-forward look.

Remember Sproul’s name should Green get hurt. Sproul is a natural replacement for Green as a right-handed shot.


The Canadiens got bested at their own game out-shooting Carolina 33-18 but losing 3-2.

Cam Ward (CAM WARD!!!) has been playing very well of late having boasted a quality start (a start with a league average save percentage or better) in seven of his last nine outings. His overall numbers are still subpar and that’s likely his destiny but we know that goalie numbers are crazy. I wouldn’t be shocked if Ward finished the season with a league-average save percentage. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I wouldn’t be shocked. Time to start considering this guy, even if it’s just for a spot start.

I scooped up Victor Rask as a streaming option for this weekend. So far so good as he rewarded me with a two-point effort. I didn’t just make the pickup randomly. Rask is the Hurricanes’ #1 centerman and they are mostly back to full strength with Justin Faulk back in the lineup. Rask is heating up again with three goals and four points in the past four games.

Minor line adjustment for the Hurricanes:





This splits up the trio of Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho that went off last weekend. It also leaves Lee Stempniak on the third line picking up scraps. If you have been using Stempniak as a a filler, it is probably safe to dump him for the time being.


With Chris Kreider back in the lineup check out the Rangers’ lines:





Mind you, the lines have almost been irrelevant with how well they have done rolling all four.

Michael Grabner was down to just 10 minutes of ice time on the fourth line but he scored a goal anyhow because his speed is instant offense when you turn it over in the wrong spot.

JT Miller was held off the board but I was excited to see he got some PP time, even with Kreider back. Miller has seen less than a minute of PP time per game on average but an increase would go a long way to powering a breakout season.


With Patric Hornqvist out with a concussion, Scott Wilson did indeed draw back into the Penguins’ lineup and he also saw serious usage on a line with Sidney Crosby. No points for Wilson but he did land four SOG in 16 minutes of action.

Chris Kunitz was questionable to play but wound up in the lineup registering a pair of assists.


Big night for the Flames’ new top line of Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan and Troy Brouwer as the trio combined for all six points on the Flames’ only two goals. Great spot for Bennett as he is freed of the added center responsibilities he had been facing and also will see bigger minutes than if Johnny Gaudreau was still in the lineup. I expect to see Bennett receive LW eligibility in Yahoo! leagues soon, which would only add to his value.


Now for some Q+A:

First, I am assuming this is for points only. I typically like to come up with scoring ranges for players when assessing value. Some guys you need to make a wider range because of volatility but the bare minimum is a 10-point range.

Steen: 30-50 points

Considering his early struggles, plus his mounting injury history (he’s hurt right now) I just can’t get behind Steen. Even hitting 50 might be too high. He has averaged 13.5 missed games over the past eight seasons. Assuming he gives you 68 games, at his current scoring rate he’d finish with 40 points. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt that he can crank it up a bit on the high end. I’m also not ruling out a season from hell.

Karlsson: 70-80 points

He’s the best defenseman, period.

Total: 100-130 points


Voracek: 65-75 points

Now that the brutal 2015-16 season is behind us we can get back to a normal projection for Voracek, which means a very high floor. His ceiling would be higher if I could guarantee full time usage alongside Claude Giroux but Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn have a leg up in that regard.

Letang: 45-65 points

Letang has already missed some time and will probably miss some more before the season is done. He’s a gem when he does play and should produce at near a point-per-game rate.

Total: 110-140 points


I give the edge to the Voracek/Letang side. If I had any confidence in Steen (who has been underrated for years) I’d give his side the edge. I really hate missing out on any chance for Karlsson.


I thought the time to dump Richard Panik was two weeks ago. Pitch him like a ragged head of lettuce.


I don’t know your scoring system but in almost every scenario I’d rather have Karlsson. He should put up similar points as Pavelski but will do so from the defense position, which is a huge advantage. There should be more 50-point forwards available on your waiver wire than 50-point defensemen.  

Oh goodness, Giordano and Luongo by a long shot. Quite simply, Giordano is better than Ekblad and Luongo is better than Varlamov. Winning on both ends.


Sell high if you can but I often question how possible this really is.

Maroon is a fine player but he only has fantasy value when skating with Connor McDavid and he’s already been shuffled off that line so his short run of value has been extinguished. Jump on him when he takes his next turn.

Eaves is always getting opportunities to fit in with the Stars’ stars but he can never stay healthy enough to make it last. Somehow, through all the injuries in Dallas he has remained mostly healthy. Enjoy it while it lasts but I am not even projecting him for 40 points. He has never scored more than 32 in a season.

I am intrigued that Eaves is shooting more than ever before. He’s up around 2.5 SOG per game. If he could sustain that over 60 games played (which would be his most since 2010-11) then he’d hit 150 SOG for the season. 20 goals and 150 SOG isn’t bad, but again he has to stay healthy enough to get there. I am not making that bet.


It doesn’t necessarily make for good mailbagging but I have to admit that I just don’t know. Perhaps the Blues’ beat writers would have a better answer for you. I don’t know if Yeo has any favourites and who those favourites might be.

Typically, if I don’t know the answer, I’ll dig around to find one. That way we can both learn but here, I am just plain out of my depth. There are simply too many moving parts here. The team will be different next season with guys like Kevin Shattenkirk, Nail Yakupov, Colton Parayko and Patrik Berglund hitting varying degrees of free agency.

One hunch I have – and this is irrespective of who the coach is – is that Shattenkirk will be gone and Parayko will be their #1 offensive defenseman. As good as Pietrangelo is, he doesn’t have Parayko’s shot. Guys like Shea Weber, Brent Burns and Parayko who have bombs simply change the geometry of the ice. But again, we don’t know what will shake out and we could all do a better job of admitting what we don’t know.


I think Schwartz scores more from now until the end of the season.


DeAngelo has always had talent so I’d say the sky is the limit. Keith Yandle put up huge points alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson a few years ago so it’s not a Highlander situation where there can only be one. The folks at Dobber Prospects can tell you more about DeAngelo than I can but the early returns are positive.

I’m on board with most prospects with pedigree who show well in their transition to the pros. DeAngelo has score 50 points in 77 AHL games. That’s showing out quite well.


I am probably dumping Turris and Drouin but those two are in a gang along with Schwartz, Skinner, Atkinson and Ehlers where you are splitting hairs.



Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.