Ramblings: Islanders Injuries; Timo Meier Breakout Potential; Oshie; Hartman – January 8

by Michael Clifford on January 8, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Islanders Injuries; Timo Meier Breakout Potential; Oshie; Hartman – January 8

With bye weeks arriving, the NHL loaded up Sunday’s schedule with 10 games. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, be sure to check which teams are taking the week off and adjust lineups accordingly. Maxing out (or close to maxing out) games played is important, even more so when there are fewer games to pick from.

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Both Josh Bailey and Andrew Ladd missed the Islanders game on Sunday with injuries. We didn’t really get much of an update on either:

I guess it’s good news that Ladd shouldn’t be out long, though there isn’t much for clarity on Bailey. As soon as we learn anything we will pass it on but with the team off until Saturday, it’s doubtful we get much from the team until then.

For Sunday’s game, Ladd was replaced by Anthony Beauvillier and Alan Quine took Bailey’s spot on the top line. Jordan Eberle took Bailey’s spot on the top PP unit.

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Sebastian Aho (Islanders defenceman) got his first two career points on Sunday including his first career goal. He was also paired with Nick Leddy at five-on-five for the entire game and even got some power-play minutes on the second unit. He didn’t crack the 20-minute mark but it’s worth tracking his usage once the Islanders come off the bye. They need all the defensive help they can get and with the team fighting for a playoff spot, maybe they rely on Aho more than they had anticipated initially.

He was sent down to the AHL but it’s due to the bye week. I suspect he’ll be back up when the team returns to action this weekend.

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Quick update on the other Sebastian Aho:

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As far as rookies go, I don’t think too much was expected of Nolan Patrick. Unlike Nico Hischier, who was given (you could say earned) the top-line role once Adam Henrique was traded, or Clayton Keller, who is probably the best offensive player Arizona has, or Brock Boeser, whose shooting was lauded by some, Patrick seemed destined to not be featured on this particular roster in this particular season. Maybe he could slot in as the second-line centre, but that wasn’t a given.

All that said, it’s hard not to be disappointed with his season. Going into Sunday afternoon’s game, he had just eight points on the year and at times had been a healthy scratch. His shot rate isn’t very good though that should improve over the years. He’s also last among the team’s forwards in adjusted shot share by a pretty wide margin. Again, that’s not too surprising for a rookie, but you’d think with sheltered competition and favourable zone starts that he’d be a little better in this regard. He hasn’t been.

We know that not all young players develop in a straight line. Some guys like Keller come out guns blazing. Some guys like Victor Hedman can take a few years to really hit their stride. There hasn’t been too much good to come out of Patrick’s rookie season, though. I want to ask his dynasty owners: is there any sort of panic setting in, and for those who don’t own him, are you trying to trade for him?

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While on the subject of Flyers centres, Sean Couturier scored goals 22 and 23 of the season for him in the team’s 4-1 win against Buffalo. He’s on pace for more goals this year (45) than his previous career-high in points (39).

It has been a remarkable offensive season from Couturier, but please exercise some caution. He’s now shooting an even 18 percent on the year. His previous career-high was 11.7 percent, and was a career 9.4 percent shooter coming into 2017-18. Yes, he’s shooting nearly double what his career rate was. I am not saying that with better line mates and more ice time (he’s well over 21 minutes a game) that he can’t be a good offensive player. I am definitely saying that I wouldn’t rely on him to push, or break, the 40-goal barrier on a regular basis.

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Don’t forget the Dobber Hockey Mid-Season Guide will be out later this week! Grab the information you need for the home stretch in your fantasy hockey leagues. Just follow this link here.

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Andre Burakovsky was back in the lineup for the Caps after being scratched for a couple games. He was slotted on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Alex Chiasson where he stayed for the game, playing under 11 minutes.

The Caps have three games this week and then their bye week comes. Maybe Burakovsky can work his way up the lineup, but if it takes him a couple games to do so, he won’t have much use on redraft fantasy hockey rosters for the next couple weeks. I wouldn’t be running to the waiver wire to add him unless you don’t really need production from a roster spot for a few weeks.

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Now that Timo Meier is seemingly sticking around the top line for San Jose, it’s probably time to start taking his value in redraft leagues seriously. Over his past 20 games, before Sunday afternoon’s tilt – which haven’t all been on the top line, mind you – he’s managed 51 shots and is playing about 15:30 per game.

The following chart from Hockeyviz.com should be taken with a little grain of salt. He’s played nearly one-third of his ice time with Joe Thornton and that’s going to skew things a little. All the same, it’s pretty crazy how good this team has been offensively from dangerous areas with Meier on the ice (red is good):

Since being a top-10 pick a few years ago, Sharks fans have been waiting for Meier to be part of the next generation of top-end scorers the team needs. It looks like it’s finally starting to happen. If you were going to try and buy him in deep keepers, or dynasties, then time is running out. It seems a matter of time before a full-blown breakout hits (even without top PP minutes).

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Jack Roslovic suited up for his second career game, first this season, in Sunday’s game against San Jose. He was on the fourth line with Marko Dano and Matt Hendricks.

It’s nice to see Roslovic get in the lineup, and he did take Adam Lowry’s spot on the top PP unit as well, but it’ll be hard to have a lot of value playing in the bottom-six with the minutes he got (under eight). We’ll see if his role changes this week but like Burakovsky, the Jets have three games and then hit their bye, so I wouldn’t pull a hamstring running to the waiver wire to grab him in one-year leagues.

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St. Louis was in Washington on Sunday afternoon and Brayden Schenn was split away from Vladimir Tarasenko. We’ve seen this happen in sporadic spurts this year, but this seemed inevitable. The team hadn’t scored more than three goals in any one contest for 13 straight games.

This kind of sucks for Schenn, but keep in mind that Tarasenko can produced with just about anyone; he scored 40 goals in 2015-16 playing about half his minutes with Jori Lehtera. I wouldn’t be too concerned about Tarasenko’s production outside of the concerns we already had (namely shooting percentage). In fact, both he and Schenn scored in the team’s overtime loss.

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Florida may have lost in the shootout, but we got this goal from Sasha Barkov, so maybe it was worth it?

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TJ Oshie was taken off the top line for the Caps early in the second period in their game against St. Louis and replaced by Devante Smith-Pelly. Oshie was moved to the third line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly.

It has been a rough year for Oshie production-wise. His 82-game pace for goals this year is 26, which isn’t bad out-and-out bad, but there are red flags. His shots per game is down to 1.86, the lowest for him since his rookie year, and that’s despite playing slightly more per game (18:47) than his career average (18:37). It’s not that his shots aren’t just finding the net, either: his 8.99 shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five (before Sunday’s game) is by far the lowest of his career (10.75 last year and 10.78 in 2013-14). In fact, of out 247 forwards with at least 400 minutes played, he’s 232nd in shot rate. He was never a volume shooter, but he was 169th out of 234 forwards last year. Not great, but a lot better than 2017-18. The names at the bottom of the list with Oshie this campaign are basically passers and grinders. Oshie is neither, so this is a problem.

There have been talks of injuries and he did suffer a concussion last month. Maybe there’s something wrong that we don’t know about. All I know is that playing nearly 19 minutes a game, shooting nearly 17 percent, and having an 82-game pace of 26 goals as a goal scorer isn’t great. Shooting percentage regression was inevitable, but his shot rate is becoming a real problem.  

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Ryan Hartman remained on the second line in Chicago’s 4-1 win against Edmonton while also sticking on the top PP unit. He had an assist, three shots on goal, and played a whopping 20:58. His previous single-game high for minutes this year was 18:36 on New Year’s Eve.

He's not shooting as much as he has in prior seasons, but he’s still at a very healthy 15.85 attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five, in the same neighbourhood has guys like Auston Matthews, Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Seguin, and Mike Hoffman. Remember, he scored 19 goals in 76 games last year playing fewer than 13 minutes a game. If he can play anywhere from 17-18 minutes a game, in the role he’s being given, there is very good offensive upside here. With a top-six spot and top power-play minutes, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be rostered in 12-team leagues by now, especially now that we’re hitting bye weeks.

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There was a scary situation in the Tampa Bay game as Lightning defenceman Dan Girardi went down to a knee to block a one-timer and took it straight off the back of his head:

He was down for a few minutes but skated off the ice under his own power. He did not return to the game but the Lightning indicated that he would be ok. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious.

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Boone Jenner had seven shots on goal in Columbus’s 3-2 shootout win over Florida, but failed to hit the scoresheet. He’s now shooting 4.4 percent on the season.

Jenner was a career 11.3 percent shooter before this season so there is clearly a lot of bad luck going on here. He’s still usually getting 18 minutes of ice time so John Tortorella still trusts him. He’s very valuable in multi-cat leagues and he should be able to turn around that shooting percentage in the second half.

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Pavel Buchnevich was a healthy scratch for the Rangers in their game against the Golden Knights. I don’t know how to explain this, honestly, and can’t properly express myself without a string of expletives so I’ll just let it go for now.

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Hey, Karl Alzner had a multi-point game! He scored his first of the year against Vancouver and assisted on Brendan Gallagher’s game-winner in the third. It was Alzner’s first multi-point game in which he scored since March of 2015. His contract is an utter disaster but this was a nice game for him. So, silver linings and all.

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Boston’s top line is seriously rolling right now. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand both scored for Boston in their 6-5 overtime loss to the Penguins on Sunday night, each their 17th goal of the season. I guess they were tired of being tired with Patrice Bergeron at 16 goals. The three of them have 10 goals combined over the last four games.

A couple games ago they were on the ice for their first goal against at five-on-five this year but it’s incredible how good they are.

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Sidney Crosby had three assists in that win, bringing his season up to 15 goals and 43 points in 44 games. It wasn’t long ago – literally like four days – that people were still freaking out about his season. There’s still half a season left and a lot of regression to go. Buckle up.