Ramblings: Kane, Vrbata, Varlamov and more (Dec 14)

by Dobber on December 14, 2015

Rambling a couple of long shots to stick on your radar; plus Kane, Vrbata, Varlamov and more …

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And the band plays on…

Patrick Kane is up to 26 games. How can the Blackhawks ever lose when they seem to be guaranteed at least one goal each game?

Interesting player from the waiver wire – Dennis Rasmussen.  He was signed by Chicago on June 11, 2014 and I had this to say in the Ramblings:

Rasmussen, 23, had a productive season while playing with Växjö of the Swedish Hockey League. A native of Västerås, Sweden, Rasmussen produced 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) to rank 10th in the league. Rasmussen also helped Sweden win a bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships and the 2010 World Junior Championships. Best I can see here is a Ville Leino-type of start to his career, which as you recall involved most of a season in the AHL followed by half up and half down…followed by a trade that led to him really flourishing.

Sure enough, he had his season in the AHL, and now he’s having his “half up, half down” season. He had 14 points in 22 AHL games this year and now he has three points in four NHL games thanks to two points last night. Ice time is still minimal so I wouldn’t expect too much this year. But I hope for some promising signs, like we’ve seen so far. And then maybe next year he could slide into a top nine roll and become a steady 45- to 55-point player. He’s on my radar now.

By the way, I was able to dig up that Ramblings info thanks to the new Player Search feature (look to the right of the screen on PC, or scroll down if you’re on the phone). I typed in his last name and voila, every Ramblings mention, plus a link to his FP profile.

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David Rundblad, who has been completely disappointing as a pro, has now dressed for four consecutive games for the Hawks. What’s more is that he’s seen a huge uptick in power-play time, averaging around 45% of the available time. He has two points in that span. Too small a sample size to recommend a pickup (unless you’re truly desperate), but very much worthy of putting on your watch list. Let’s see how long this goes.

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Worst SV% this season by a goalie with 24 games played or more:

1. Pekka Rinne 0.907

2. Ryan Miller 0.914

3. Craig Anderson 0.915

4. Sergei Bobrovsky 0.916

5. Martin Jones 0.918

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The Canucks have lost six of their last eight games and this is despite the Sedins being the superstars of old. The reason here is the lack of scoring depth. Sven Baertschi hasn’t emerged as a sudden star, not that he was expected to right away it just would have been nice. But it’s Radim Vrbata. At first it was okay because Alexandre Burrows was doing so well. Burrows had eight points in 11 games to start the campaign. But just three points in 19 games since then.

Vrbata ended a slump of four games without a point by suddenly scoring a hat trick on December 7. But since then, he’s been pointless in two games. Vrbata’s goals are down slightly, but nothing too drastic. It’s his assists that killing his value. Looking at his profile and studying the relevant fancy stats and career shot data, I would say that instead of having nine goals and six assists right now, his numbers should be more like 10 goals and 11 assists. Just bad bounces have caused the gap there. Now, 21 points still wouldn’t be that great, but I think we’re looking at a player who expectation should be closer to his 51 points (from 2014-15) than his 63 points from a year ago.

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And speaking of the player profile pages, Eric Daoust has made a lot of headway in speeding up the load times as well as improving the search box. Right now the search box works well. But what is in the queue is to get an auto-fill going on that search. Each letter you type.

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I want to weigh in for a second on last Tuesday’s news that the NHL has dropped the compensation rule for coaches and GM’s. It was a dumb rule, of course. But I don’t know why rich teams didn’t take advantage of it. If I owned the Rangers, for example, I would hire Guy Boucher, Adam Oates, Todd Richards, Marc Crawford, Benoit Groulx and Randy Carlyle. A million bucks each as “assistant coaches” and allow them to coach in junior. Then, any team that wants to hire a coach would have to give the Rangers a decent draft pick. So for the cost of $5-$10 million, the Rangers would get a couple of draft picks. They can’t spend the money on players due to the salary cap, but there is no cap on coaching or admin staff. So hire them all, even if you don’t have an actual job for them, and then get the draft picks. It’s equivalent to purchasing picks.

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Eight points in eight games now for Jamie McGinn. If an injury doesn’t derail things, I think we’re looking at a career season for him. Currently his high is 38 points.

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The Avalanche announced that they have given Mikko Rantanen permission to play for Team Finland at the WJC. He’s been flying in the AHL with 21 points in 17 games. Read Rantanen’s prospect profile here.

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Semyon Varlamov single-handedly won the game for the Avs Sunday. The team was outshot 43-18 but got the 3-1 win. If you go to Varlamov’s stat page (click his name) and fill out the goalie calculator from Dec. 3 through today…and here are his stats:

5 GP, 4-1-0, 1.39 GAA and 0.958 SV%

This is the Varlamov we’ve waited all season for. Kudos to you if you hung in there with him.

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It took Brandon Gormley 22 games but he finally got his first point as an Avalanche. His ice time is down to around nine minutes per game though, so he has an uphill battle. Meanwhile the player he was traded for, Stefan Elliott, has four points in 12 games and is still getting decent ice time (and staying in the lineup).

With a goal last night, Carl Soderberg now has 11 points in his last 12 games. This is the market correction we’ve been waiting on. The luck-measurement stats PDO, SH% and 5on5 SH% are pretty much back to the norm now and his overall numbers (a 53-point pace) are on target.

Nathan MacKinnon has hit a bit of a wall with just two points in his last eight games (minus-6 in that span). His “luck” numbers needed to move in the opposite direction. And now they have. And as with Soderberg, his stats are now in the normal range. Current pace is 69, I’d have him in that 67-73 range.

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My usual rant about New Jersey and the defensemen. So they can’t score, but John Moore and David Schlemko quarterback the power play. Again, Adam Larsson/ Eric Gelinas/ Damon Severson combine for one second of PP time. Jiri Tlusty is now a penalty killer (2:03 on PK) and not on the power play. John Hynes is living in Bizarro world.

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About three weeks ago I was between eighth and 10th in all three of my keeper leagues. At that point we were in mid-to-late November and it was so hard to stay patient. But I did, and I’m happy to say that I took over first place in one of the leagues. The other two, I’m still eighth. But those teams are Penguins-centric and with the new coach my fingers are crossed. If I can sneak up to fifth by the end of January, I’ll look at making a hard run. Both leagues are fairly tight and first place is by no means running away with it. Patience! This year it seems we need it more than ever, because it started off so wonky.

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If you’re interested, here are my waiver claims this year for my first-place team:

Palmieri, Couturier and Bailey immediately after the draft. Then I grabbed Zidlicky and Kulemin in October. In November I grabbed Virtanen, J. Staal, Connauton, Stewart (who I had dropped three weeks prior), Namestnikov, Martin and Bailey (who I had dropped three weeks prior). My drops included Kulemin, Connauton, Stewart, Virtanen, Couturier, Zidlicky and Semin. As you can see, waivers were not the reason I surged up to first place! It was strictly patience and trusting in my drafting skills. WW guys haven’t helped me one iota (I don’t count Palmieri, he was practically a draft pick).

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If you missed this beauty on Saturday, check it out. Ryan O’Reilly steps on a stick as he slips, he goes roof daddy for the OT win. As an added bonus, you get to hear Rick Jeanneret’s call…