With NHL rosters due Tuesday afternoon, we got a good taste of what lineups are going to look like when teams hit the ice for the start of the regular season this week. I thought it would be worth going through a few of them and what that means for fantasy owners.
Top 4 prax lines:— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) October 2, 2017
Even with a different coach, the team seems committed to not giving Frank Vatrano a shot at sticking in a scoring role. I’ve mentioned before his penchant for scoring in the AHL (38 goals in his last 38 regular season AHL games. Seriously). It’s also worth mentioning he has 18 goals in 83 games playing a minimal role on the Bruins over the last two years. It looks like it just isn’t happening for him.
It’s also interesting that both Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork look ready to crack the season in Boston’s top-6. The latter skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand is a great spot for driving the play, though it’s DeBrusk skating in a more sheltered role, but with David Krejci and David Pastrnak. Neither will see much power-play time so upside here is obviously limited, and there’s no telling how long these lines remain intact. It is a good sign that the Bruins are starting to develop and trust their young talent after trading so many elite young talents over the last half-decade or so. These two will be given a chance to succeed, and fantasy owners should keep a close eye on their performances.
Speaking of the Bruins, Malcolm Subban was placed on waivers with the intention of sending him to the AHL:
Malcolm Subban is on waivers.— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) October 2, 2017
We will find out Tuesday afternoon whether he gets claimed or not. After a strong start to his professional career the couple years following his draft, he seemingly fell out of favour with the franchise as he never took the next step. He’s still just 23 years old so there are a couple years of development that could happen, but this isn’t good news just yet. He can get some games in at the AHL level where he would just be Tuukka Rask’s backup, but I’ll be interested to see if a team puts in a claim. Dynasty owners have reason to be nervous right now, but it’s not worth selling pennies on the dollar.
Winnipeg has been messing with their lines, particularly their top-six, with frequency throughout training camp. Their lines on Monday morning looked like this:
#NHLJets lines at practice:— Sara Orlesky (@saraorlesky) October 2, 2017
Perreault-Scheifele – Wheeler
Ehlers- Little- Laine
If I had to guess, the Mark Scheifele line would be used against other top competition with more of a sheltered role for Bryan Little’s line. It needs to be said that if Little stays healthy, he has a 50-point season in his future, easily. We’ll see if things stay as they are, but it would be incredibly fun to watch Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine play together for an extended period. With the wealth of young talent in the league, it’s easy to forget that Ehlers is one of six players to have a season with 25 goals, 60 points, and 200 shots on goal at the age of 20 or younger over the last four seasons. The rest of the list is extremely distinguished.
It appears as though Julius Honka will indeed start the season in the NHL despite concerns he would be sent down:
So, it looks like Julius Honka will start season in NHL. Gemel Smith too.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) October 2, 2017
Obviously, the top power-play unit is John Klingberg’s, which means Honka can only do so much this year. It is a good sign for fantasy owners that the team think highly enough of him at this point to put someone else on waivers rather than just sending Honka down. We’ll see how long he lasts, but this is a step in the right direction.
All the injuries St. Louis has suffered, in particular Alex Steen and Robby Fabbri, has forced their forward lineup to shuffle a bit. This is what they skated on Monday:
Practice lines for Blues: Sobotka-Stastny-Tarasenko; Schwartz-Schenn-Jaskin; Paajarvi-Sundqvist-Thompson; Upshall-Brodziak-Thorburn— Tom Timmermann (@tomtimm) October 2, 2017
I have always had an affinity for Dmitrij Jaskin, though I think he’s better suited down the lineup in a checking role than on the second line in a scoring role. Jaden Schwartz being replaced on the top line by Vladimir Sobotka is of interest, however. The appeal for Schwartz this year was that not only would he skate with Vladimir Tarasenko on the power play, but at five-on-five as well. How things shake out with Steen back in the lineup remains to be seen, but if Steen returns and Schwartz stays where he is, it’s a ding to his potential production.
It does appear that Chicago rookie Alex DeBrincat will be with Chicago to begin the campaign:
#Blackhawks forwards, presumably:— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 2, 2017
Saad, Toews, Panik, Sharp, Schmaltz, Kane, DeBrincat, Anisimov, Hartman, Hayden, Kero, Wingels, Bouma.
With every fibre of my being I just want DeBrincat to get a legitimate shot at skating with Patrick Kane. Not a Jakub Vrana-half-a-game-and-then-pushed-down-the-lineup shot, but at least a half-dozen games to let them get some chemistry started. Kane can carry just about anyone, but the pure offensive talent DeBrincat can bring is something very few, if any, players on the Blackhawks roster can bring. If you are still to draft, keep him in mind late. If he’s available on waiver wires in 12-team leagues, make sure you need that last bench spot. DeBrincat, if everything breaks right this year, is a Calder candidate.
The question is what to do on waiver wires.
He has 50-point potential, and can help in peripheral areas as well. This is a player I have ranked as my #30 right winger, which means he gets a roster spot in 12-team leagues. If you are weak at the position, I would be aggressive on the waiver wire. Don’t worry if he doesn’t skate with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan out of the gate. I think he eventually makes his way up the lineup if he doesn’t start there.
I had some people send me in questions to answer before the season starts.
The first question was how I would rank Anders Bjork, Jakub Vrana, and Clayton Keller in a standard league. I would rank them as follows: Keller <GAP> Bjork, Vrana.
Keller has an assured role in Arizona’s top-six with likely top power-play minutes. Neither of the other two players can boast the same. Even if Bjork and Vrana stay in their respective team’s top-six mixes, they will not be on the top power-play unit, and that’s a problem with upside.
When looking at Calder candidates, I do have DeBrincat as a possibility if everything breaks right, but Keller has the talent and the guaranteed situation to bring it all together. I would be surprised if he’s not a 45-point player this year.
Question number two:
How would you rank Hischier, Keller, Okposo, Gallagher and Burakovsky this season? Goals: 4 points, PP Goals: +1, A: 1.5, SOG: 0.5, +/-: 0.5— Mike Halbany (@mhalbany) October 2, 2017
In a league that favours goals so heavily, I really like Gallagher and Okposo ahead of the rest here. The others are nice players, but both of those two wingers are going to at least start the season their team’s respective top lines and top power-play units. They’re also playing for teams that shouldn’t be among the lowest scoring in the league.
After those two, it’s really a matter of how much everyone believes in their talent. I would gamble on Hischier next, but have no problem taking any of those guys in any order. I would rank them Hischier-Keller-Burakovsky, but as far as goal scoring is concerned, they’re likely interchangeable.
The last question is a trade question:
Would you give up kopitar or Hedman for schenn in h2h g/a+_/pim/sog/shg?— chester (@cuethechuckD) October 2, 2017
I would absolutely not trade Victor Hedman for Brayden Schenn in a league that doesn’t count hits. I know people are enamoured with Schenn’s power-play upside coming from Philadelphia, but it’s not certain everything will translate. He likely won’t be counted on for penalty killing, and won’t contribute much in penalty minutes.
I would consider trading Kopitar, however. As much as I love him as a player, the franchise just isn’t giving him reliable line mates that can help him rebound production-wise. He is shooting less, is often in the top-10 for Lady Byng voting meaning he doesn’t take many penalties, and the production is a question mark now. That trade is fine, but I Hedman is way too much of an overpay.
For those worried about Shayne Gostisbehere’s health, it appears he’s making the trip to California with the team. Whether he plays is another question, but it’s definitely a good sign he’s traveling with the team.
Nico Hischier was mentioned earlier and he’s been part of a question that I’ve been thinking about all off-season, and still don’t have a good answer for. I want to put it to the readers, then: if you could only have one of Hischier or Nolan Patrick for this fantasy season only, which would it be and why? Let’s assume it’s standard roto categories and they can be drafted for similar draft spots.
I would lean Hischier despite playing for a lower-scoring team just because he should get prime power-play minutes. I could be convinced otherwise. What say you, Dobber heads?
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