My philosophy on when to drop players early, plus Thornton, Matheson, Sproul and more …
Generally speaking, my philosophy for the first month of the season is to either acquire or hold. I only look to drop a player if there is a player available who I like – then at that point I go over my roster and drop the least valuable one. Notice I didn’t say “biggest dog”. Because when we’re talking about your bottom two or three guys, we’re talking about three players who aren’t really helping your team. So what difference does it make if you drop the player with four points who ‘might’ get 50 or the player with two points who ‘might’ get 45? In terms of impact on your team – none. So the players you keep are going to be the players who other GM’s value. Who cares what you think of him, maybe he can be a deal sweetener in a trade. So I’ll look at three guys who are dogs and if I need to drop one, I’ll generally drop the one with lowest worldwide ownership. Unless I need that position, of course – look to position first, then ownership.
Anyway, I have a lot of faith in my drafting and I’m always looking at the waiver wire and the latest “drops” in the league. So the first month I’m not looking to drop a player, if it happens – it happens. But for the first four weeks I base it on the value on the waiver wire and not on going sour on a guy. If you are sour on a player in Week 2 after five games, then it could cost you. This year I was able to pluck Conor Sheary off the wire. And Jakob Chychrun (it’s a keeper league), who I could use as a deal sweetener with rebuilding teams.
But being patient also makes clear some of your weaknesses a month in. I think a couple of my players are also of concern to you guys so I’ll share my thoughts. Ben Bishop, Tyson Barrie and Derick Brassard.
Bishop – He’s a quality goaltender, truly one of the best, and this is just a little slump. But there’s a problem with that. He has a top prospect behind him. Another problem? He’s also a bit of a lame duck because his team can’t afford to keep him next year so they have little motivation to play him through any slumps while the hot young gun is playing so well. My problem here is compounded by the fact that I also own Jonathan Quick. Right now I’m pretty much riding Cam Talbot – and now you know the reason why I’ve slipped out of first place and will continue to slide until I address the issue. I’m using Quick and Chychrun (see?) as trade bait to acquire a decent goaltender. I won’t be trading Bishop because things will turn out good for him. He’s too strong a goalie for it not to work out. But it’s going to be rough for a few weeks – and perhaps even a few months. He got the win last night, so I guess that’s a start…
For insurance, I have Pavelec, Berra, Ramo, Brossoit and Stolarz. I had Pavelec and Brossoit to begin with – Brossoit as insurance on a Talbot injury and Pavelec I grabbed in September just in case he got traded. I’m glad I did now, given the sudden goalie troubles that have hit. Something will give.
Barrie – I wish I knew what the Avalanche were doing. But no team is this bad – fewer than two goals per game heading into Tuesday. Think ‘Anaheim’ from a year ago. The goals will start happening and Barrie will be key to that. I’m still dressing him, as his modest totals are barely good enough. Now is not the time to trade or shop Barrie.
Brassard – He was acquired to play with Bobby Ryan and he is indeed playing with Bobby Ryan. But the strategy of bringing in a left-shooting center for Ryan isn’t working. Looked good on paper, but hasn’t panned out. Look – 89% of his ES shifts so far (and nearly all of his PP shifts) have been with Ryan. Kudos to the new coach Guy Boucher for pressing forward with this experiment. He’s going all in. But Brassard is a 60-point guy on a 30-point pace. This has gone on for 16 games and even the most patient coach won’t go beyond 20. So either the two of them click by the weekend, or Brassard gets new linemates next week. Either way, the points will come and there will be a market correction.
Cam Ward is 3-1-2 in his last six games. He stopped 22 shots for his first shutout in 13 months. Carolina has held the opposition to just 69 shots on goal in the last three games.
Joe Thornton had five points in his first four games…but just six points in his last 12. Anytime he runs into a slump fantasy owners are going to worry. He is, after all, 37. But he’s on pace for 56 and I believe he’ll be in that 60 to 65 range and I think that’s where everyone’s expectations are, pretty much.
Is it time to worry about Alex Ovechkin? I say no. Because I think last night’s game will serve as a wakeup call. Ovechkin saw just 14:12 of ice time – and we haven’t seen numbers like that from in years (I went back three years and found nothing lower). He was on the ice for the tying goal and the OT winner by Cam Atkinson. Ovechkin is pointless in his last four. Let’s see how he responds.
The Mitch Marner – Tyler Bozak – James van Riemsdyk line lit up the Preds last night, including four assists by Bozak. Those three now lead the Maple Leafs in scoring – Marner and JVR have 15 points each. Marner had three points in six games to start the year and has 12 in his last 10. Forget Kessel, Bozak has a winger just as good!
Auston Matthews was held without a point again and has just two in his last nine games. He had 10 points in his first six games (i.e. seven more than Marner), but just two in his last 10 (i.e. 10 fewer than Marner).
PK Subban was minus-3 in that game. He has just eight points and is minus-7 in 15 games so far. I seem to remember a lot of people scoffing at my summer position that Montreal’s trade was not horrible. Now even the biggest sceptics must admit – it is not horrible.
My picks for coaches to be fired – if three get fired this year, this is the order and these are the coaches:
First – Jack Capuano, NYI
Second – Peter Laviolette, NSH
Third – Willie Desjardins, VAN
If there’s a fourth it will be Paul Maurice.
Carey Price’s 13-game win streak and record 10-gamer to start the season – is over. But he didn’t lose it in regulation.
This is why I like Michael Matheson so much (hint: you need to see the final replay angle to see exactly what he did):
Another player who is up there in the standings is Steven Stamkos, with 20. But Stamkos may not get a chance – he left the game in the second with a knee injury. No word on severity. Here was the injury:
One thing the injury did was put Kucherov back on Tyler Johnson’s line. He immediately picked up an assist. We’re obviously pretty clear on Kucherov’s offensive impact by this point – nothing would get Johnson out of his slump better than a Stamkos injury that keeps Kucherov on Johnson’s line.
With two points last night, including his first career NHL goal, Ryan Sproul has four points in six games. Both his goal and his assist were on the power play and that’s more than earned his way onto the roster for next game too. Until Niklas Kronwall returns, Sproul could surprise for the short term.
You see this often – a young player with upside gets scratched for lack of effort. He comes back strong with some big games which lead to a nice hot streak. Robby Fabbri scored twice in his first game back and he scored again last night. I had him on my bench last week but after he followed up a healthy scratch with two goals – I made sure he was in my active lineup.
With Fabbri heating up, David Perron heating up, and Colton Parayko (four points, 19 SOG, last five games) heating up – the Blues could be on the cusp of starting a nice little run. Jake Allen owners certainly hope so.
For a full list of hot or cold players, just click the word “hot” or “cold” in any article on this site (that is, if you’re too tired to go all the way to the Frozen Pool section and use the menu there!)
Nail Yakupov was a healthy scratch. It’s just not looking good for this guy at all. For his career.
Connor Hellebuyck had a 27-save shutout win and has won four in a row. To get that shutout against Chicago, when Richard Panik had five shots, is pretty huge! Yeah, I said the Panik thing tongue-in-cheek. But that’s because Panik never shoots. The five shots give him 26 on the season, he had been averaging barely one shot per game up until that point.
Ho-hum Patrik Laine scored again. He has 12 already. Of note, he played 19:52 to lead all Jets forwards. So he’s already their go-to guy.
With Taylor Hall out (LBI – no idea how long), Beau Bennett saw a season high for ice time at 17:17. He also picked up an assist. I suspect that Bennett can be reasonably productive as long as Hall is out, we’re just not sure how long he’s out.
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