Ramblings: Jimmy Vesey, Sean Monahan, David Pastrnak, Evander Kane, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Aleksander Barkov (Aug. 20)

by Neil Parker on August 20, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Jimmy Vesey, Sean Monahan, David Pastrnak, Evander Kane, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Aleksander Barkov (Aug. 20)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - USA TODAY Sports Images

 

Jimmy Vesey signs and looks at Sean Monahan, David Pastrnak, Evander Kane, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Aleksander Barkov …

 

The Jimmy Vesey saga ended Friday, and Cliffy filled us in yesterday. It was a touch surprising Vesey ultimately decided to sign with the Rangers given the glaring needs on the blue line within the organization.

The connection between Kevin Hayes and Vesey could have had a huge impact on the deal, but as Mike noted, Hayes stands to lose opportunities with Vesey now on board. The other player negatively impacted was J.T. Miller, as he's also now likely looking at the top-six group from below.

From a team standpoint, it's a nice grab for New York. However, the Rangers now have a solid group of middle line forwards without a go-to scorer. Derek Stepan has flashed that upside, and Rick Nash once was, but currently, it's going to have to continue to be a committee approach.

Additionally, the Rangers used just four lines for more than 200 minutes of five-on-five ice time last year, and three of them featured Mats Zuccarello. Expect there to be plenty of shuffling with this group again.

Tidying up, like Mike, and as I hinted Monday, expect Vesey's fantasy value to fall short of the asking price this season. There has been too much hype and the name recognition alone will drive up his perceived value. In reality, he's a middle-line winger without any professional experience. The reason he was so sought after was because Vesey is NHL ready, cheap and owns some upside. His fantasy upside might only show in flashes this year.

 

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The other big news Friday was Calgary re-signing Sean Monahan to a seven-year, $44.625 million contract with an average annual cap hit of $6.375 million. I looked at Monahan in depth already this summer.

That take is a touch negative and suggests there might not be much room for offensive growth from Monahan. And that concern remains because improving his 200-foot game is likely more important than adding five or six points over the course of the season.

Still, Monahan is one of just 12 players to score at least 60 points in both his age-20 and age-21 seasons. His company is elite, too. And to that end, Monahan can maintain his current production while shoring up some other areas of his game without losing fantasy value.

View him as a high-floor grab with slight upside along with a potential upgrade in all-around production on an improved team. Looking at this from the Calgary perspective, it's a nice cap hit for a core piece who has already shown capable of producing at a high level.

 

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While working on some point projections, I came across a couple tough calls.

 

David Pastrnak

With a solid 53 points through his first 97 career games (82-game pace of 44.8 points), Pastrnak appears poised to take a nice step forward entering his third season. Among skaters with 1000 minutes at five-on-five over the past two seasons, Pastrnak also ranks 13th with 2.24 points per 60 minutes.

However, he also has received just 101:23 of power-play time over his first two seasons and likely won't see top-unit work this year, either. It's a significant blow to his upside, and unless he jumps significantly in even-strength minutes, hitting 50 points will be next to impossible.

Expect to see plenty of positive ink surrounding Pastrnak entering the season, and there is no questioning his talent or upside. It's just a matter of whether he will receive enough PP time to pad his dominant production at five-on-five.

 

Evander Kane

One, he can't stay healthy with the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season as his only full campaign during his career. Two, he's posted an underwhelming 7.9 shooting percentage over the past four years. Three, of the players with at least 100 minutes of power-play time last season, Kane ranked 256th of 278 in points per 60 minutes with the man advantage.

It all adds up to a player who passes the eye test with speed, skill, physicality and a willingness to shoot while also driving possession, but one who has also consistently failed to live up to expectations following his 30-goal showing during the 2011-12 season.

And while Kane is set up for success in a solid top-six group, the three concerns are also accompanied by overhanging legal concerns and an inability to avoid negative attention. In all likelihood, someone else in your draft room will think higher of Kane than you should.

 

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There have only been 12 instances where a defenseman scored 25 points while posting 75 penalty minutes over the past three years, and Dustin Byfuglien and Dion Phaneuf are the only two players to accomplish the feat in all three campaigns. P.K. Subban has done it twice.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson was an interesting name to see fit the requirements last season (55 points and 96 PIM), and with Arizona creeping closer to respectability, his plus/minus rating could also become a nonfactor sooner than later.

All said, he's entering truly elite company, and should be one of the first defensemen off the board in all drafts because of his high floor and improving cross-category coverage. Plus, Alex Goligoski should allow for a few more offensively slanted shifts and opportunities for Ekman-Larsson this season. You're going to turn a profit in most cases with Ekman-Larsson this year.

 

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If Aleksander Barkov plays 80 games this season, what would be the over/under for his point total?

70?

Handing out 70-point seasons should be reserved for the truly elite talents, and over the past three years, there have only been 54 instances from 34 different players. It's an incredibly tough benchmark to hit, yet at times fluky given Nick Foligno and Jiri Hudler have achieved the feat.

Obliviously, the issue with Barkov is his health. He has averaged 63.7 games per season since entering the league. So, it would be foolish to blindly count on 82 games in 2016-17. However, if he produced at 0.89 points per game as he did last year, he'd still post 62 points over 70 games.

With center being the deepest position, you can tack on replacement-level numbers for 10 to 15 games and still receive a 68- to 74-point campaign from that roster spot. Barkov could also take a step closer towards a point-per-game return, which would lessen a short absence even more.

All said, everything is pointing to a huge season for the fourth-year star, so don't let his injury history sway you from the potential of a true breakout campaign in the early middle rounds.

 

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Enjoy the celebration tonight, Hip fans. And thanks for checking in.