Rambling about Johnny Gaudreau's contract demands, Bolts goalie duo, Kris Versteeg's fit with the Oilers, Anthony Duclair's upside and more …
Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman addressed the elephant in the room concerning his goaltending duo and the looming expansion draft at the end of the season. He'd like to keep them both, and at this stage of the season, it's extremely likely he looks to make a trade at the end of the season.
There is no way he swaps his No. 1 goalie — who is also arguably a top-three talent in the league — at the deadline with Tampa Bay making a run for the Stanley Cup.
There is a lot of love for Andrei Vasilevskiy right now, and based on talent, for good reason. He's only going to receive approximately 20 starts, though, and that's not enough to warrant a selection as anything more than a bench piece. And while it's obvious he's the next man up in case of injury, the whole trade angle to starts is no longer applicable.
In a vacuum, Connor Hellebuyck is a much more appealing bench stash because he should outperform Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson and become the No. 1. It's extremely unlikely Vasilevskiy is able to steal even a 50-50 timeshare from Bishop.
Not only are my expectations high on Ryan Johansen, Nashville general manager David Poile is also looking for big things from the 24-year-old pivot. Johansen's conditioning has been called into question in the past, so it's worth noting Poile highlighted Johansen's excellent summer and that the center is "in good shape."
Yet, what else is Poile going to say?
Johansen's already been in Nashville for a couple weeks, though, so it's likely he's putting in the time to be ready for training camp and the beginning of the season. I'm bullish, and view Johansen as a building block grab early in drafts and capable of returning a top-10 showing in the point column.
A few nice tweets for your viewing pleasure:
Braden Holtby's mask that he will be auctioning off after the WCOH to support Gord Downie's charity of choice. pic.twitter.com/qiXwXm2eIr
— Scott Salmond (@SAMMYSAYS2010) September 9, 2016
— Team North America (@TeamNA_WCH) September 9, 2016
Kris Versteeg inked a professional tryout agreement with the Edmonton Oilers Friday. It's a nice fit for the veteran if he can crack the roster, and he projects as an upgrade over Matt Hendricks and Iiro Pakarinen. Plus, Versteeg offers some solid experience that should help the young core.
It's a situation to monitor, but the fantasy ripples are minimal. The likely avenue to fantasy value for Versteeg would be climbing the depth chart following an injury.
I highly recommend checking out Peter Harling's Prospect Ramblings from earlier this week previewing the upcoming NHL Draft. He touched on 15 players to keep tabs on, and it was a bang-up job.
Gaudreau is an interesting player entering his third season and prime at 23. His five-on-five numbers (2.26 points per 60 minutes last year) were elite but didn't see a jump in power-play points. With consecutive seasons with 21 PP points, there is some room for improvement with the man advantage, which should help Gaudreau's point floor and mitigate any drop in five-on-five production.
Additionally, with Gaudreau, it is always worth highlighting his incredible production at home last season: 23 goals, 33 assists, plus-21 rating and 113 shots through 40 games. And he was purely mediocre on the road.
It isn't a huge concern, but it is definitely something to monitor, especially in daily contests. Gaudreau is a top-10 selection in points-only settings and top-20 target in fantasy leagues. Yet, I'm still a little worried his career could mirror Patrick Kane's in terms of injuries.
Anthony Duclair could be the sneaky Coyote to howl loudest this season, or at least provide the most bang for your fantasy buck. He's ranked 144th at ESPN, and 142nd at NHL.com, which makes him a potential mid-round target.
Among skaters with at least 750 five-on-five minutes last season, Duclair ranked 45th with a 1.97 points per 60 minute, and his 0.72 first assists per 60 minutes ranked 51st. He finished the season with 30 points at five-on-five and 32 at even strength.
He averaged just 14:23 minutes per game last season and took only105 shots. Many will look at his 19.0 shooting percentage and yell for negative regression, but with an uptick in shot volume (likely to come with more ice time), Duclair can decline in his efficiency and still post a solid goal total.
Duclair has room to grow on the power play after posting just 12 PP points last year, too. However, he did average a healthy 2:50 per night with the man advantage, so any improvement likely won't be impacted by an increase in PP time. Still, if the Coyotes improve as a unit (20th-ranked 17.7 power-play percent last year), it stands to help add a handful of tallies over the course of the season for Duclair.
I stumbled upon a blog site with a Fantasy Hockey Rankings tool. It's free and I wanted to plug in DraftKings' scoring settings to see what popped out. The only stats not included were the bonuses for shootout goals and hat tricks. Typically, I wouldn't share something like this, but it's got nothing on the products provided here and is essentially just a statistical database you can manipulate.
Here are the top-30 skaters in DK points per game over the past two years:
Here at the top-30 goalies in DK points per game over the past two years:
There isn't significant fantasy analysis to glean, but it certainly was interesting to see Kyle Okposo so high in the rankings. Additionally, Vladimir Tarasenko's placement as an elite scorer and fantasy option is pretty well presented here. Also, for daily players, it does highlight the potential for defensemen to move the needle in your lineups with eight rearguards cracking the list.
What sticks out most in the goalie ranks is the exclusion of Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick. It's easy to explain, though. Saves are king in daily contests, and Schneider and Quick rarely post 30-save nights. For example, Schneider and Quick combined for 28 games with 30 or more saves last season. Henrik Lundqvist had 28 on his own.
Perhaps what was most telling about this quick exercise was the significance of knowing your scoring settings and not making assumptions about players based on those settings.
Rule No. 1 in all fantasy sports is understanding the ins and outs of your league, but it's pretty easy to know the ins and the outs but not adjust your rankings or draft approach accordingly. Corey Perry hasn't reached 70 penalty minutes in any of the past three seasons, but he's still widely viewed as a plus-contributor in the category, and that's just one example.
This week, I was doing a football draft where there were two IR slots. I didn't do the research ahead of time to find out if a player listed on the PUP list was eligible to fill one of those slots. I used two selections on Dion Lewis and Tony Romo with the hope I could move them to the IR and then just add my defense and kicker through waivers. The risk being I could have likely selected a better defense and kicker with the selections I used on Lewis and Romo. It all worked out, and Romo and Lewis are stashed in IR slots, but even with a strategic plan — and well thought out, in my opinion — in place, I realized I didn't fully do my homework and research to ensure it was going to fly. I just assumed it was going to work, just like I assumed Perry still moved the needle significantly in the PIM column.
You know what they say …
Enjoy the weekend and World Cup tease, Dobberheads.
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- Ramblings: Colin White signs long-term; Jaskin to the KHL; positional battles - August 22