Ramblings: Kuznetsov Rising (Dec 10)

by steve laidlaw on December 9, 2016

Kuznetsov streaking, Carlson scores his first, the Saturday Q+A and more.

A couple of nights ago we had no power play combos to look at for the Blues. Last night, they had too many:





Are they committed a three-forward look or a four-forward look?

Both Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri are smoking hot (along with the superstar play of Tarasenko). Meanwhile, Perron has cooled off with no points in five straight. Time to start thinking of other options as he has been pushed to the third line and wavering PP time.

Perron probably finishes with 45-50 points. Fabbri should finish a little higher than Perron and Schwartz should score around 60, health permitting.


Here come the Capitals!

John Carlson netted his first goal of the season:

Meanwhile, Evgeny Kuznetsov now has points in three straight games.

Also, Jakub Vrana scored his first career NHL goal.


I see that Garth Snow is in the giving mood:

I was on board when they overpaid Casey Cizikas because at 25 he still had growth potential, and at the very least, shouldn’t be in decline for the length of his deal. Clutterbuck is 30 and has maxed out as a fourth line player. I know that he is a leader on the team and a penalty killer but these are the types of players you let go when their demands become too high.

Now the Islanders have their entire forward group locked up for next season. This team stinks but they are going to be running it back? My chief concern is how they are going to find roster space for youngsters like Josh Ho Sang or Mathew Barzal with this group locked in. I am sure they will find the room but they aren’t exactly paving the way.

And since they aren’t paving the way, I must ask how this team is supposed to get better and who John Tavares is going to have to play with. Maybe Andrew Ladd rebounds?

Perhaps this is all part of some quid pro quo to help get Tavares signed to an extension. If that’s the case, it’s worth it, even if it means locking yourself into a certain degree of mediocrity.


Minor trade:

There is opportunity for Holland to produce in Arizona that there simply wasn’t in Toronto. The Coyotes are essentially where Toronto was last season. With that, we could see Holland build on what was an intriguing season. He scored 27 points in 65 games but could do a little more for the Coyotes with the right kind of bounces. He did shoot just 6.5% last year. The upside is 30 points in 50 games, although I doubt it happens.

What I wonder is if Holland’s arrival pushes one of Brendan Perlini or Christian Dvorak to the AHL, at least until Martin Hanzal is traded.


This is an opportunity for the Canadiens to stretch McCarron and see if he can be a lineup regular. I love the physical tools that McCarron brings to the table but I’m not convinced he’ll be much of a fantasy option. He has 49 points in 78 games at the AHL level. That’s not exactly elite scoring. I like my players to have mastered scoring in the AHL before taking the leap.


Capitals owner Ted Leonsis threw his support behind Alex Ovechkin going to the Olympics:

"He knows I have his back on this one. If this is what's so important to him and he wants to go to the Olympics, he should be able to do that," Leonsis told ESPN.com. "Alex has meant so much to us. He doesn't ask for much back. … I'm not shy about saying it, I would support the player in this instance."

Wow! Assuming the NHL doesn’t agree to allow the players to go to the 2018 Olympics, would Ovechkin have to sit out all of next season? Would he merely be granted a leave for a few weeks? Would he have to have his contract voided to be able to play? I am genuinely alarmed.


The Jets sent Kyle Connor down to the AHL yesterday. The only surprise is that it took this long. Good prospect but not ready to make an impact.


Time for the weekly Q+A:

For starters, the categories mentioned do matter but only a little. While Anze Kopitar has transitioned away from being a 200-SOG guy, he is on pace for around ~180 for the second straight season. That ain’t bad and since he hits more than Nikolaj Ehlers we’ll call this a wash and just focus on scoring, where Kopitar is still a beast, no matter what you think of his slow start.

Kopitar has become something of a slow starter. Thus far he is shooting just 4.3%. We all know that will bounce back. Kopitar is good for around 70 points a season, give or take a few. He has a game that should age well so while he will hit the dreaded 30-year-old mark next August, we shouldn’t expect him to fall off any time soon.

You mention a concern about LA in general, which is warranted. They don’t have much in the pipeline but it takes one strong draft choice to change that, especially with how quickly players are making an impact. Plus, the Kings just seem to be able to cobble enough offense with what they have. Kopitar scored 74 points last season despite skating half of his shifts with Dustin Brown. He’ll get enough time with Tyler Toffoli to remain an effective option.

Ehlers is awesome and could emerge as a 60-point guy as early as this season. Perhaps he will start giving Kopitar a run immediately. That said, I don’t know that he has Kopitar’s ceiling. There is a lot to get excited about in Winnipeg but I wonder if that will work against Ehlers. Do his specific skills demand that he be used on the top PP unit? I’m not selling a perennial 70-point guy for the potential of one. At some point the scales will tip but I don’t think we are there yet.


I prefer Marner, he has more upside. Point-per-game upside. He won’t do it this year but he’s in a good spot. Even if the Leafs aren’t a winning team, they are constantly producing offensive opportunities. Marner hasn’t found consistency, particularly struggling on the road with just five points in 13 games away from the Air Canada Center. But he should push to finish with 60 points.   Rakell is riding a massive wave of good fortune and I want to see what happens when things even out. Rakell is good and he’s playing over half of his shifts with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf but before his return from a minor injury he had an on-ice shooting percentage of 12.5%, a personal shooting percentage of 21.7% and an individual point percentage of 87.5%. Basically, everything is going in while he’s on the ice and he gets a point nearly every time that it does.   Ultimately, Rakell doesn’t skate on the Ducks’ top PP unit so when the regression hits he doesn’t have that to lean on. I’d expect him closer to 50 points when all is said and done. Of course, he went out and scored another one last night.  

Brayden Schenn is simply the better fantasy option. Whether it’s multi-category or points-only, Schenn sees the sort of deployment that can get him to 60 points.

Nugent-Hopkins is being turned into a defensive guy. Nugent-Hopkins offers more offense than he has shown so far, even in a defensive role, but he won’t sniff 60 points. He may not even get to 50 if his luck doesn’t start to turn.


Viktor Arvidsson is a gem. I’ve been sitting on him in a dynasty league for a few years. I love the shot volume he has produced at every single level. He is a relentless pit bull of a player in the mould of Brendan Gallagher. Arvidsson doesn’t see enough PP time to be a huge fantasy producer, averaging only 1:12 with the man-advantage per game.

The flip side of Arvidsson not seeing enough usage to be a star, is that the Preds have so much depth that a guy like Arvidsson sees enough minutes to be productive on the margins. On a top-heavy team, he’d be buried behind the likes of James Neal and Filip Forsberg but on Nashville he still sees nearly 16 minutes a night, with some time alongside the big guns like Forsberg and Ryan Johansen.

Arvidsson is on pace for 50 points and nearly 270 SOG. I bet he finishes around 45 points with closer to 230 SOG, although that could go higher if the PP minutes become more consistent.


That’s about as sideways a deal as I have seen. When I rank players, I always do so in tiers. I do it to simplify decisions. I have my own personal preferences within those tiers but for the most part I stick with the tiered system and don’t fiddle around much with it. Backstrom and Giroux are in the same tier. So are Skinner and Atkinson. You could go either way. Six of one, half dozen of the other. I always lean towards the status quo if the deal is sideways. There’s obviously a reason you picked the players you did in the first place.

One factor worth considering: do you want Jeff Skinner and his concussion history in a keeper?


The deal with Zach Parise is that he is old and can no longer drive offense on a nightly basis the way he used to. He’s a 60-point guy now but plays such a physical game that he can’t get into all 82. So now he’s a 70-game player who will score at a 60-point pace. The result of all these factors is something closer to 50-55 points.

A guy finishing with 50 points in 70 games can easily go through a stretch with just nine points in 20 games, especially if his shooting percentage has dropped from a career average of 11.4% to just 7.4%.

It is worth monitoring Parise’s minutes. He has lost over a minute of ice time per game from last season, much of that has come on the power play where he has bounced between the top unit and the second unit. If he is limited to the second unit, he becomes a 45-point guy.


Without question I would be taking a chance on Mika Zibanejad. These guys are all 50-pointers who can get to 60 but only one of them is on the right side of 30. (Note: Oshie will turn 30 later this month.)




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