Rambling about Larsson, Larsen, Panik, Beauvillier, McDonagh, Rieder and more …
The Oilers, the team of the future that most fantasy owners gave up on, continue to roll and Cam Talbot seems to have his act together now too. After his 31-save shutout Sunday he’s 5-1-0 with a 0.919 SV% and just like that his numbers have fallen in line. I may have jumped the gun last week when I said that he may not do Octobers very well. He’s stopped 96 of the last 99 shots he’s faced.
Last year was pretty frustrating to me because I got off to such a rotten start. As December approached it seemed as though I swung on and missed with everything. My teams sucked, my projections (mostly) sucked, and I took it personal. I don’t want to lead any readers astray. Being wrong is part of the job and I don’t mind being wrong a ‘normal’ amount. But last year it felt like three-quarters of what I said was wrong. Of course, things turned around by mid-December and the season ended up not being so bad. Call it ‘average’ in terms of personal success in my leagues and professional success on DobberHockey.
This year seems to be different. I feel like I’m nailing almost everything so far. From not being so hard on Brad Marchand’s outlook, to placing faith in the aforementioned Talbot, to preaching patience with Chris Kreider, everything is coming up Millhouse. Even the youngsters I drafted in my three leagues seem to be flying (Sebastian Aho, Tyler Motte, Artturi Lehkonen, Jake Guentzel, Danton Heinen, Conor Sheary, Alex Wennberg). Anyway, since around Christmas of last year I seem to be on a better roll than usual so I guess that’s good?
Alright, fine. For now downgrade Larsson from the 38 points I projected for him down to 32, and assume that power-play time isn’t coming soon. But it’s still tough to say because the Oilers have only had 18 PP opportunities so far this year – only nine teams have had fewer. And eight of those nine teams have played fewer games than Edmonton. They’re just not drawing penalties.
Incidentally, the Blue Jackets have only had nine power plays so far this year, by far the lowest in the league. They’ve only played four games, sure, but so have the Sabres and Buffalo has had 21 power plays. Columbus is four for nine on the power play, so obviously they need to work on their diving!
Richard Panik has eight points in six games and is among the league leaders. He’s in his fourth NHL season, he’s 25 which is about when they enter their prime, and he’s playing with great linemates. But, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, he’s only taken nine shots. I’ve always been a fan of Panik. I thought he was a great prospect for Tampa but of course they had better ones who were NHL-ready at the same time. And with the Leafs he never really got an opportunity. Now he’s finally getting one. But he’s only taken nine shots. He’s never been much of a shooter as he really focuses on picking his spots. Historically, he’s been a 15% shooter, give or take, at the AHL and NHL levels. So with nine shots he should have two goals instead of six. And instead of two assists, given his linemates and PP time, perhaps he should have three. So he’s a player with five points in six games giving the illusion of eight. So the question shouldn’t be – can he maintain this crazy pace of 1.33 points per game? The question should be – can he maintain this strong pace of 0.833 points per game?
The answer is no, as that pace is for about 64 points. But I’ll reiterate that he’s entering his prime and in his fourth year. So if these minutes (16:21 per game) and PP time (1:56 per game, up from 17 seconds last year) continue, and the linemates generally include Jonathan Toews, then he can certainly get 55. That’s obviously an ideal scenario requiring lots of help (his health, Toews’ health, Toews staying on his line, etc.). So ‘hope’ for the 55 but assume he’ll get to the low-40s. Right now his performance is keeping Vinnie Hinostroza down the depth chart and he’s keeping Nick Schmaltz off the second PP unit.
Another thing I’ve been wrong on this year so far is Islanders prospect Anthony Beauvillier, who is showing that he’s here to stay. I thought he was years away from making the jump, and after a strong camp and even making the opening roster I bumped that up to “two years”. But uh…how about zero years? Five points in five games now and that’s without playing with John Tavares. His linemates last night were Alan Quine and Ryan Strome – and it’s Quine and Strome who are being pulled along. His production is going to eventually force Jack Capuano to use him on the power play, in which case Anders Lee’s hope of a big bounce-back season will be dashed.
Lee, who should be enjoying a breakout campaign because he’s 26 and in his third year, is still stuck with just the one point and his ES ice time is down a good four shifts. His PP time is down as well.
Reminder – line combinations for all teams for the past three games can be found here. And for the latest game can be found here. You can get these directly via the main menu up top under the clever title “Line Combos”.
Sorry, every time I get an email suggesting that my website should get line combos I bang my head on my desk. We’ve had these on DobberHockey since 2008. You can also get these LIVE and in-game by going here and selecting “Latest Regular Season Game” in the drop box. And those live line combos are at the bottom of each player profile page (click on any player name in any article to see those).
There are so many features and tools on this site that I’d spend all day talking about and describing them. You should take a few minutes and explore the Frozen Pool section – everything from the Hot/Cold section to the report generator to trade/player comparisons to the Game Planner to a Fantasy Manager (where, if you’re logged in, you can put in your team and it will track), etc.
Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle cost Ryan McDonagh some points over the last couple of years, but as I indicated in the Guide, those guys aren’t holding him back this year. And already he’s at five points in six games. A return to the 40-point club is in the bag if he plays even 70 games this year. If you look at his profile here you’ll see under his stats (last five years) that his %PP (the percentage of the team’s available PP time) is up to 57.5%. The last two years this was in the mid-40s and in his 43-point season this was 54.0%. Kudos to you if you got him in the draft, I think he was a great pick.
Speaking of Kreider, he is day to day with a neck strain. Oscar Lindberg drew in, returning from his hip surgery. Lindberg played 10:37 and had one shot. I’m not very bullish on Lindberg. The Rangers don’t play until Wednesday so hopefully the Kreider is back. He has seven points in five games and 23 shots on goal. Even three shots per game for Kreider would be a significant step forward.
Still looking for his first point after five games – Anthony Duclair. Still looking for his first goal and has just two assists – Max Domi. I caught a bit of criticism for projecting a bit of a sophomore slump for these two, but so far it’s looking pretty accurate. They won’t be held back for long and will still have fine years, but I don’t see an improvement on their rookie season. Year 3 will be much, much better.
I had compared Tobias Rieder to Zemgus Girgensons when speaking with friends of mine, in that both players are best suited for the checking line but had impressive rookie seasons because their team really needed them for offense that year. But once the team’s prospect pipeline started flowing onto the roster and filling the top six with skilled players, Rieder (and Girgensons) would slip down the depth chart. I’m sure a lot of you listened, but I know that a GM in my league refused to listen and saw big things for Rieder. So far, however, he has seen just 1:21 of PP time for the entire season – or 16 seconds per game. Eight of his points last year were on the power play, so 29 were at even strength. My expectation for this season is not much higher than the 30 points.
So far Louis Domingue is 0-4-0, 5.03 and 0.851. The Coyotes are probably eyeing the top pick next summer so maybe they don’t care, but if there’s any pressure at all from the fans then you can add them to the list of teams that need a goalie (Los Angeles is obviously another one). Unless someone signs Karri Ramo, who at last check is still recovering from surgery in the spring, a goalie would need to be acquired via trade. I’ll re-submit my suggestion from last week: Reto Berra. And I wonder if Berra is worth picking up and holding for a few weeks – just on the hunch that he goes to a new home.
Berra is 2-0-0 and has stopped 39 of 40 shots in the AHL so far.
Derrick Pouliot’s comeback season is over before it began. No, he’s not out for the season, but his injury is a “longer-term lower-body” and when you’re a bubble player chances are you’re not going to work your way back into the lineup very easily. He was already behind the eight ball, but this was poorly-timed. I’d like to see him put in 20 successful AHL games when he’s healthy, and then return to the NHL and actually make a splash. He’s not making his mark, the way he did as a teenager in training camp.
The Penguins play four games in the next eight days and the Post-Gazette speculates that Sidney Crosby will miss all four of them because he needs to have a full-contact practice before he can play in a game. I need him in my lineup, as do we all. But I’m grateful they’re taking this slow because I don’t want to lose him again a week after he returns. A 70-game season could still be salvaged.
Philip Larsen has three points in his last two games, finally rewarding the Canucks for giving him all that PP time. If you go here and click on %PP, you can see that Larsen sees the second highest percentage of available PP time on the team. He gets an astounding 67.5% of Vancouver’s power-play time (Henrik Sedin leads at 67.6%). Two of his three points were on the power play and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. I’ve never been a fan of Ben Hutton, who dropped off the map after the 10-game mark last year in terms of production. And Alex Edler hasn’t been fantasy-useful in years. I had Larsen as a sleeper in the Guide, and had to argue with my writer about his Fantasy Prospects Report outlook (I ended up tweaking upwards by a lot). Nobody had faith in Larsen because of his failures with Edmonton and Dallas.
But here is why I’ve liked him. First, the Canucks traded for him out of the blue and gave up a draft pick (fifth round) to get him. Second, they signed him immediately – as if afraid of losing him. You don’t do all that if you plan to beef up your farm team. So he was going to get a chance. Third, Larsen shoots right. I won’t get into why that gives him an edge because I’ve done that several times already. Fourth, the Canucks have a huge need for a PP quarterback. If Edler was the answer we would have seen a 40-point season at some point in the last five years. If Hutton was the answer he would have had more than 17 points in his last 59 games (five of those on the power play) last year when he was seeing more than two minutes of PP time per game. The job was Larsen’s to lose.
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