Ramblings: Laine, Aho and Werenski Electric Rookie Debuts (Oct. 14)

by steve laidlaw on October 14, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Laine, Aho and Werenski Electric Rookie Debuts (Oct. 14)

Marchand is regression-proof, and electric young stars Laine, Aho, and Werenski made their debuts.

Two days into the season, there has been an offensive boom. In 13 games, teams have combined to score 89 goals (not including shootouts), a rate of nearly seven goals per game (6.85). That’s an extra goal and a half per game over last season’s 5.34 average. Apparently the goalies haven’t even made their equipment changes yet as there have been hiccups in production. What gives? It’s most likely just random luck but I’m hoping it isn’t. Whatever the case, this isn’t a complaint. Goals are fun!

The wonderful side effect is that seemingly ever player you drafted has scored. In this world the only bad fantasy picks you could have made was drafting any goalies at all. Well, that’s not entirely true. A few goalies like Roberto Luongo have done well. Also Antti Niemi is a top-five fantasy goalie right now! Gotta love the early season.


We’ll start with the Bruins who appear set to continue eschewing defense in order to score goals. I’m down with this.

Brad Marchand picked up where he left off at the World Cup netting a pair of goals in a five-point night. And he did it without the help of Patrice Bergeron who is currently out hurt. Instead, it was David Backes filling in on the top line with David Pastrnak. They both also scored two goals apiece in what was just a dominant game from the Bruins’ top line.

I specifically did not include Marchand in my regression piece for the fantasy guide this summer. He is legit. 40 goals is within reach. He damn near got there last season. Watch him work the Blue Jackets defender:

It is worth remembering that even with Bergeron out, Marchand still didn’t see top PP unit usage and seemingly never will so that hinders his ultimate upside.


Two-point night for Alexander Wennberg. In one of my guest spots this summer, I recall being dismissive of Wennberg but I am coming around on him, especially in tandem with Oliver Bjorkstrand. Say what you will about John Tortorella’s coaching but he is giving his youngsters a chance to thrive offensively. Isn’t that what we all want to see?






We know the Brandon Dubinsky line is going to take on top opposition whenever possible. That opens up Wennberg, Bjorkstrand and Scott Hartnell to take on lesser lines.

What I like most about how these guys are deployed is that they are being used together on the top PP unit, and are joined by another youngster with Zach Werenski running the point.

Werenski notched his first point, an assist, and landed five SOG in 20+ minutes. Not bad for a debut. The fantasy community appears to be up in arms about how under-owned Werenski is so I’ll note that he remains available in 94% of Yahoo! leagues, though that number is sure to increase in the coming days.

For my part, I am happy to enjoy Werenski as an undervalued daily fantasy option for the next few weeks but it remains to be seen if he can clear the 50-point bar I hold my defensemen to in shallower daily starts leagues. If he can continue to produce shots at a high rate, I’ll be more interested even at a more reasonable scoring pace of 35-40 points because at least he offers the nightly shot production as my reason to keep him over a hot waiver option.

Oh, and Brandon Saad owners, looking at the lines above, I’m sorry for your luck.


I would consider Werenski in one league but I already burned a move scooping up Ryan Strome to fill in for an injured Kyle Okposo. I’d like a mulligan on that one. He went minus-two with no points, no shots, and the same sour taste that I had in my mouth watching him last year. He’ll get a few more games in my lineup but the leash is short.

Also, what odds can I get on Jack Capuano as the first coach fired? Check out this top line:


Jason Chimera on the top line while Mathew Barzal is a scratch? Why did they keep the kid around again? I already regret pencilling the Islanders into a playoff spot. Poor Tavares.


Meanwhile, on the other New York team Chris Kreider looked awesome, scoring a goal, adding an assist and piling up seven SOG, plus four hits. He’s a multi-category dreamboat and maybe this is the year he finally puts enough offense on the board to be must-own in all formats.

The line of Kreider, Pavel Buchnevic and Mika Zibanejad really clicked, and they did enough to steal away almost double the power play time from the presumptive top unit. Brandon Pirri jumped on with those guys and had a goal and an assist. I’m not sure Pirri will be entirely relevant but he’s a threat for double-digit PPP if you need a category filler.

Back to Kreider. This is his fourth full season, which means it’s breakout time. After essentially back-to-back 45-point seasons, it’s time for Kreider to threaten for 60. We’ll see if he gets enough ice time to get there. He also needs to be more consistent than in the past.


Montreal’s top line got off to a nice start with Brendan Gallagher netting a pair of goals. I like all three of Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty to crack 60 points this season. Gallagher would have done it last year if not for injury.

Alexander Radulov looked really good skating on the second line with Artturi Lehkonen and Tomas Plekanec. This line doesn’t have the upside (or power play minutes) of the top group but they’ll see enough to have flashes of production and value in deeper settings.

Al Montoya continues to be a great backup and spot start option as he performed well filling in for an ill Carey Price.


Buffalo’s injury woes continue to mount as notorious Band-Aid Boy Evander Kane went down in a heap and had to be taken to hospital. No word on the extent of his situation as of yet.


It was only one game against one of the league’s best but the Red Wings did nothing to dissuade my opinion that they are a defensive tire fire. If not for Petr Mrazek, I can only imagine the score of last night’s game. Mrazek will win this team some games but he needs help.

The Red Wings were without Niklas Kronwall but Kronwall’s a shell of his former self at 35 years old. He is no longer fantasy relevant and is not going to move the needle enough to make the Red Wings a strong defensive squad.

They did get two goals out of Thomas Vanek, which is a bit like finding a $20 in an old jacket.

Frans Nielsen had a nice debut for the Red Wings with a goal and an assist. No points for Tomas Tatar but I am pretty sure it will be one of those two linemates who leads the Red Wings in scoring this season. That probably isn’t an impressive feat, however.


Yohann Auvitu notched an assist in his NHL debut. He was a pre-season star leading the Devils in scoring and is a seasoned pro coming off a year in which he led the Finnish league in defenseman scoring. There is pedigree and opportunity here. He led all Devils defensemen in power play time last night.

Auvitu doesn’t meet my bar for defensemen being productive on a nightly basis but again, I don’t mind him as a cheap daily fantasy option until he gets more recognition and thus more expensive.

Of course, I do think Damon Severson and his big shot should probably be the #1 guy for the Devils but they just might be in a situation where their #1 guy isn’t on the roster. They should call up Philly who suddenly have more defensemen than they know what to do with – a great problem to have.

Same old story for the excellent Cory Schneider. Not enough offense ahead of him to pull out a win. At least they got a point, and hey, PA Parenteau got on the board.


Jonathan Marchessault is already making an impact filling in for Jonathan Huberdeau. He scored a goal skating on the Panthers’ top line.

Aleksander Barkov scored a goal and an assist, which is an excellent start for everyone calling for his superstar emergence this season. I don’t question the talent. I just wonder if he can stay healthy enough to push 70+ points.

No points for Keith Yandle but he was up over 25 minutes of ice time. I know it was in an overtime game but still, 25 minutes of ice time? That might be more than he ever saw playing for the Rangers. I’m liking this already, even if I own zero shares of Yandle in fantasy leagues.

Watch Michael Matheson manhandle Severson before setting up the overtime winner.


Stellar performance from Marc-Andre Fleury, in another great matchup between the Capitals and Penguins, as he stopped 39 of 41 shots in a shootout victory. He was always going to be the Penguins’ #1 but it’s kind of nice that Matt Murray got hurt so we could avoid the circus.


Andre Burakovsky scored a pair of goals skating on the second line with Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. It’s crazy to think that not long ago Backstrom and Johansson were top line options but instead they make for a great second line.

Burakovsky probably doesn’t see enough PP usage to be a consistent fantasy option but when he’s hot, he can score with the best of them.

Alexander Ovechkin was held scoreless but that won’t last. The question is, how many games before he and Backstrom are reunited? They always find a way to get paired up again.


It wasn’t quite four goals but Patrik Laine scored a goal and an assist in his NHL debut. The Jets’ other rookie Kyle Connor got an assist on Laine’s goal too.

The Jets are all about Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele though. The pair combined for two goals and five points, including the overtime winner. No scores for Nikolaj Ehlers, the third wheel on that line but he won’t stay quiet for long.


Yet another rookie sensation, Sebastian Aho, notched an assist in his NHL debut for the Hurricanes. He skated only 14:48 but over four of those minutes were on the power play.

The line of Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Elias Lindholm is probably the “sexiest” but for my money the most intriguing line on the Hurricanes is the one featuring Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask and Lee Stempniak.

The latter trio combined for three goals despite being primarily used on the second PP unit. This is Skinner’s chance to reignite his career and his fantasy value.


He only skated 8:30 with no power play time but Nail Yakupov scored a goal and an assist in his second game with the Blues. It’s hard to project fantasy relevance with that kind of ice time. It’s also difficult to see how he gets PP time on this team given all the weapons they have and that’s with Jaden Schwartz out injured. Still, it’s nice to see.


As I referenced earlier this week, it was indeed Jared Spurgeon pairing with Ryan Suter on the top PP unit for the Wild. The duo saw over five minutes of PP time. Matt Dumba wasn’t far behind with 4:40 of his own on the PP but ultimately, I still don’t like where this is trending for Dumba. Suter scored a goal and had five shots in over 28 minutes. Apparently it’s status quo in Minnesota.

Teemu Pulkkinen skated just 7:20 on the fourth line.


Patrick Eaves is back in our lives as third wheel on the Stars’ top line and top PP unit. Patrick Sharp? Jiri Hudler? Brett Ritchie? No. Patrick Eaves. He notched an assist too.

The thing that kills me is that you see flashes of talent from Eaves. There’s obviously a reason he keeps getting opportunities there. He just isn’t consistent enough to string together the scoring for real fantasy relevance. So he maxes out as an intriguing waiver wire plug.


Jonathan Quick was placed on IR and is expected to be week-to-week with a lower-body injury. No firm timeline yet.

That’s Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj. Neither of whom I have any interest in for fantasy purposes. This might tank the Kings’ season.


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