Ramblings: Karlsson, Strome, Maroon, Ennis, a Sharks prospect and more (July 9)
I always stress to fantasy owners – never hold onto a prospect you hope will be as good as Player X, if you can actually use him to get Player X. This applies to the real-world case of Erik Karlsson. Dallas should give up Miro Heiskanen, simple as that. If Karlsson signs an extension, then voila – you have your defenseman who could be as good as Erik Karlsson signed for the next eight years. And his name is Erik Karlsson. And don’t tell me how he’ll lose a step in four years or has lost a step now – this guy is the Crosby of defenseman and he has not lost a step now, and won’t in four years. Nicklas Lidstrom had 70 points when he was 36 and so could Karlsson. He’s that good. Generational. Hold onto Heiskanen and miss out on Karlsson? Don’t be stupid.
Speaking of stupid, Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion can redeem himself here by either re-signing Karlsson (obviously not going to happen, but one can dream?) or getting a huge and satisfying return on him in a trade. And to do that, he needs to let this thing drag out for at least a month. There’s literally no rush here, play one team off the other. Rinse, repeat.
Scott Maran’s hard line on Ryan Strome yesterday (here) generated a ton of discussion. I’m still tempted to put him on my fantasy roster, acquiring him at a low price…but I haven’t put out feelers yet so clearly I’m not very confident in him. It’s that “what if he plays with McDavid” intrigue that I (and many of you) often fall victim. It’s a lottery ticket. I think we all know who the favorites are and we all have hunches as to who will likely get first dibs there. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi are my two guesses, with Ty Rattie and Kailer Yamamoto as the runners up, but I wouldn’t discount Drake Caggiula, Pontus Aberg or Strome either. Likely scenario? Everyone gets a few games on the McDavid line, resulting in mediocre totals for everyone and lots of waiver-wire scrambling throughout the season as players get hot and cold. Just like always.
Long shots – Cooper Marody and Tobias Rieder.
The San Jose Sharks signed Vladislav Kotkov to a three-year entry-level contract. Kotkov was ranked 75th in our Fantasy Prospects Report for the 2018 NHL Draft…and then he wasn’t drafted. The Sharks may have gotten a steal there. Here is what Peter Harling wrote about him in the FPR:
The big 6-3 Russian winger made his North American debut after being selected 32nd overall in the 2017 CHL Import Draft. In his rookie season he produced 21 goals and 49 points but slowed down as the season wore on which is a red flag for scouts. Kotkov is a versatile and well-rounded player, he has size, a good first step, has skill, and can play in all situations. While he is a well-rounded player that is good all over, he does not really excel in any one area.
He also compared him a little to Alex Radulov in terms of upside. When players like Kotkov slip through the draft and can just be signed by NHL teams, I’d be trading my fifth/sixth/seventh round picks for assets all the time. What’s the point in keeping them? If I could swap my fifth and sixth rounder and get a fourth in return, I’d do that for sure! Especially if I could just turn around and sign a couple of Top 100 ranked prospects who fell through the draft (there were several of them this year).
The Sharks were always this team that lacked prospect depth, but hit home runs with one of them every year or two. Doing the FPR for 12 years I have observed this. But now they actually do have a handful of promising guys who could make a mark within three years.
It’s looking like Patrick Maroon will sign with the Blues, although right now the official party line is that things are still not settled yet and the Blues have a good chance. Maroon is from St. Louis, which is why he would bother to sign with a team that is already so deep. The Blues this summer are getting pretty powerful – if Jake Allen ever decides to suddenly see his potential, then this team becomes elite.
If and when Maroon signs, I will break it down for you in terms of fantasy implications.
Here is an interesting interview with the agent for Artemi Panarin (may be behind a paywall). Of note: “he loves the team, he loves the coach. It’s not the team or the way they treat him. It’s about, does he want to spend the next eight years in Columbus? That’s the only thing at stake right now. If it was a two-year deal we probably would have done it. But it isn’t a two-year deal. It’s gonna have to be an extended, seven- or eight-year deal put in place.”
Everyone loves the Tyler Ennis signing for Toronto. And what’s not to love? He has some upside and there’s virtually no risk. A very small contract that could be buried in the minors, plus a one-year deal that doesn’t handcuff them, and he cost them no assets. And I’ve always liked Ennis, as you probably know. But what’s the point? He’s not going to get a shot. Fourth line? Why? Ennis was a potential star who was derailed by injuries which stunted his development as well as probably hurt his actual skill level. Any upside that he has left can only be seen on a scoring line. Put him on the fourth line and you may as well put him in the press box. And for him to be on a scoring line, two of: William Nylander, Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman need to be hurt. And they need to be hurt for an extended period of time because even if Ennis clicked on one of the big lines he would just lose his spot as soon as the regular player returned from injury. This won’t happen, so I ask again – what’s the point? In fact, this could even hurt the team more than help, as it will almost certainly mean that Josh Leivo spends another year in the press box and Andreas Johnsson’s ice time gets cut or downright eliminated. Does that help his development? Does it help the team win? I sincerely hope it works out for Ennis – as I said, I like him – but I just don’t see it. And besides all that, I think Minnesota gave him some good linemates and decent ice time last year, especially early on. Nothing came of it.
Quick thoughts on Anthony Duclair – I don’t think he can bounce back and I don’t have any faith in him as a fantasy asset. Columbus is a good fit, for what it’s worth. But if I owned him I’d still be dropping him.
Beau Bennett has signed to play in the KHL for Dinamo Minsk. The 26-year-old at one point was the Daniel Sprong of Pittsburgh prospects – sure to make the team, certain to be a scoring-line winger, and in high demand in fantasy hockey leagues. But one injury after another killed his development. The guy couldn’t tie his skates without suffering an injury that sidelined him for two months. Three years of that later and he was no longer the same player.
The Ducks made a great depth signing the other day in Andrej Sustr. He’s their No.7 defenseman and I think that’s great, although it does push Jacob Larsson back to the minors to start the campaign. Anaheim’s D: Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Montour, Josh Manson, Marcus Pettersson, Luke Schenn and now Sustr. This also knocks Korbinian Holzer off the roster and pushes Andy Welinski back to the minors too.
I spent the weekend in Montreal and on Friday I had some drinks in Boucherville with Mario Prata, who was one of the founders of The Forecaster and who now runs my marketing and other special projects. I had also invited any readers out who were in the area and it was nice to meet one long-time reader who came out. It was a fun evening and I always enjoy getting to know the readers, especially the long-time ones with names that I recognize and can now put a face to.
Later in the night this reader confided that his wife passed away from cancer a couple of weeks ago and it was quite obviously shocking to hear. I won’t mention his name, because it’s deeply personal and I don’t want to overstep. But it was really great talking to you, thank you for coming out, you are a stronger man than I – and cancer really does suck.
If you are able to give to Pancreatic Cancer Canada, as a small gesture to a fellow fantasy hockey comrade, here is a link. I am lucky – my cancer (leukemia) is curable and I’m on the right track. But there are some cancers that are still in need of a cure. This is one. And it moves quickly, completely destroying lives and families in its wake.
See you next Monday
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