Ramblings: Live Draft Analysis, Neal, Injury Updates (Sept 24)

by Ian Gooding on September 24, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Live Draft Analysis, Neal, Injury Updates (Sept 24)

Live Draft Analysis, Neal, Injury Updates, plus more...

On Tuesday I participated in my first live draft of the season. The draft was for a team in the Experts League, which includes the likes of TSN, NHL.com, Yahoo, and last year’s champion, which happened to be Dobber’s very own Eric Daoust. You can check out full results of the draft here

Here is my team listed below. The first four players are keepers, which aren’t selected in any particular order.  Categories in this league are goals, assists, plus/minus, power play points, shots on goal, hits, blocks, wins, goals against average, and save percentage.

First, some updates with some keeper decisions, since I mentioned the keeper decisions on this team in previous Ramblings.

For skaters, I decided to keep both Drew Doughty and Dougie Hamilton and instead decided not to keep Phil Kessel. (My earlier Ramblings on the topic.) My rationale: Although Kessel was one of my top five goal scorers and my top assist provider last season (usually in his career it’s been the other way around), he provides absolutely nothing in the hits and blocked shots categories. Doughty and Hamilton are both better all-around performers, and it would have been tough to lose a defenseman that could reach 50 points. It’s a bit of a bold move that sacrifices some offense, but I’m more inclined to look at the offensive numbers than the peripheral stats when I decide who to draft.

I also decided to agree with the masses and pick Ben Bishop over Tuukka Rask as a keeper. Here’s my writeup from the previous Ramblings, and a forum thread on the topic. As it turned out, I decided to pick Rask with my first pick in the draft anyway. There was a goalie run to start the draft after the four keepers (I had the fifth pick), so I was considering Jonathan Quick or Corey Crawford, who were still available along with Rask. So sometimes things have a way of working out. As was mentioned earlier, we concluded that Bishop has more upside, but Rask is the safer pick. That could give me good balance in net.

Other picks I’ll mention:

Brayden Schenn: This one received a compliment from Pete Jensen from NHL.com because of Schenn’s hit total. As it turns out, Schenn had the highest hit total (189) last season of any player on this team. The Dobber projection of 70 points might be debatable, but throw in his power-play prowess and he will be an extremely valuable player for this team if he comes anywhere close to that point projection.

Torey Krug: I’m guessing his broken jaw happened at around the same time as this draft. No, I wasn’t watching preseason hockey while participating in this draft. I was trying to balance this draft while eating dinner with my wife and kids, and I’m already a notoriously poor multitasker. But preseason injuries are an unfortunate reality for those who happen to have early drafts. But the good side to early drafts is that you don’t have to wait so long.

Craig Smith: Just for fun, and because this was a deep draft (and because my kids needed to go to bed), I decided to put this on autopick for my final pick. I had no particular inclination to draft Smith, who is not particularly strong in any one category in this league. It never hurts to have a player or two at the start of the season that you’d consider dropping, as it keeps you on the lookout for top waiver-wire options as opposed to being content with your whole lineup. And being content can lead to missed opportunities.

Overall, I like my team. I emphasized drafting a strong defense, which is something that I have become more inclined to do in recent years. I’ve also attempted to make hits and blocked shots more of a priority than when I started in this league. My goal scoring is a bit light, but I tried to make up for that by trying to draft what I thought was the best player available in every round.


With two goals on Friday, Kailer Yamamoto has four goals in three preseason games. Right now he is a top-10 add on Yahoo, even though he was just drafted at 22nd overall (mainly because of his lack of size) and is likely headed back to junior. I’d be curious of Yamamoto’s chances of making other NHL clubs, since the Oilers are obviously deep at the forward position from years of high draft picks.

Assuming he is back in the WHL, Yamamoto stands a strong chance of scoring 100 points (he reached 99 in 65 games last season), even though his season will probably be interrupted by the World Juniors again. Because of his strong camp, move Yamamoto up your keeper rankings.

For more on Yamamoto, check out his profile on Dobber Prospects.


On one hand, a new opportunity in Vegas might give James Neal that boost that he needs for his fantasy value. On the other hand, he could be viewed as an overvalued player, having an average draft position of 107 on Yahoo. This is a grouping with the likes of former Nashville teammates Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen as well as Jake Guentzel and Mark Stone. Would you choose Neal over any of those forwards? I don’t think I would.

In his three seasons on a Predators team that has more offensive weapons than the Golden Knights team that he is joining, Neal cracked the 25-goal mark and the 45-point mark just once. Granted, he missed at least 12 games in each of those two seasons. But there should also be an injury deduction for Neal, who has missed at least that many games in three of his last four seasons overall. Yes, he’s a Band-Aid Boy.

Neal could be leaned upon heavily in Vegas for top-line minutes and first-unit power-play time. But where are you drafting Jonathan Marchessault? What about Vadim Shipachyov? Maybe you’re targeting them, but you’re not drafting them in the top 100 or even shortly after. We’ve gotten kind of used to ranking Neal high after his 81-point explosion in 2011-12 with Pittsburgh. But we shouldn’t be drafting him well before other Vegas forwards.

Where Neal could hold some real value, though, is if he is traded at the deadline. Should Neal find his way onto a line with a true top-end center (like Sidney Crosby when Neal was traded to Pittsburgh), then he would be a player to target.


In case you were wondering whether an NHL player would weigh in on U.S. President Trump’s recent comments on the national anthem protest situation in the US, after so many other athletes in other sports have…

Needless to say, this is not a discussion that will end anytime soon. I wonder if an NHL player will actually protest the anthem the way that NFL and now MLB players have. I would have to bet that it won’t be a Columbus Blue Jackets player.


The injuries are already stacking up for the St. Louis Blues. First Patrik Berglund and Jay Bouwmeester, and now Alexander Steen has a broken hand. Steen’s absence, however long it may be, could create opportunities for either Tage Thompson or Klim Kostin to crack the opening-night roster, or for Ivan Barbashev to earn power-play time.


More injury news from late Saturday: Oliver Ekman-Larsson left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. The latest update, as of this writing:

You’re probably best to lower OEL a few spots if you have a Sunday draft.


For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.


  • Russ

    Yikes, what did Eric do to the 4 protected players I left him? When I gave up the team, I had Holtby, Byfuglien, Wheeler and Stamkos as my 4 protections. Hard to argue with a 1st place finish though! Good luck this year Ian!

  • Striker

    I would have protected Rask over Bishop but I don’t clearly understand your scoring system for goalies. How many points for wins? No points for shut outs? How are you converting SV% & GAV to points?

    I don’t like Dal D. Methot this year & Hanhuis helped tremendously but Dal isn’t a good defensive team. Hitchcock, those 2 Dman, the additions of Hanzal & return of Janmark are all positives devensively but Seguin & Benn have shown little willingness to play even a remote defensive game although Benn has tried harder, it takes the whole line committed to doing so.

    Has Dallas really improved that much more than the roster they iced to start last season? Gone are Eaves, Sharp, Hemsky, Hudler & Eakin. They will be better but will they make the playoffs? I currently hace them on the outside & missing.

    Arz, Cal & Win are all sigficantly better, nor do I think Vancouver & LA are as bad as last season. Wins are getting harder to come by. Parity is alive & well, the new draft lottery rules have taught teams that tanking now as no reward. The standings will be far tighter this season than we have seen in decades. The differnce betwen finishing 8th in either conference & 13th could be as little as 4 points, no more than 6. That’s incredible tight. Teams could be looking at missing the playoffs on the tir breaker, regulation & OT wins.

    • Ian Gooding

      This is a roto league, so you’re awarded overall points based on your place in the standings in each category. Shutouts aren’t used as a category, just W, GAA, and SV%.

      My main reason for picking Bishop over Rask was the presence of Ken Hitchcock. From my colleague Rick Roos regarding the Hitchcock effect:

      Goals allowed by 2001-02 Flyers (the year before Hitchcock took over) – 192
      Goals allowed by 2002-03 Flyers (Hitchcock’s first year at the helm) – 166

      Goals allowed by 2005-06 Blue Jackets (the year before Hitchcock took over) – 276
      Goals allowed by 2006-07 Blue Jackets (Hitchcock took over after game 20) – 244

      Goals allowed by 2010-11 Blues (the year before Hitchcock took over) – 228
      Goals allowed by 2011-12 Blues (Hitchcock took over after game 13) – 155

      • Striker

        I remember that post. There is no significant downside to either really. Injury is a concern for both. Bishop more a playoff time

        A coin toss really I just prefer Bos in the atlantic to Dallas in the central.

        Hitchcock will bring Dallas’s goals against down as well. No where to go but down. I would make a similiar argument in many of those other stops.

        Hitchcock will implement his man for man preasure the puck system he likes. It’s effective especially compared to what ever D system Dallas has played for the last few years since Nill took over as GM.

        Yeo’s system was far more effective & way better for Allen last year. Similiar but more of a zone coverage than preassure the man system.

        Hitchcock’s system can lead to very good Dman getting to far away from their goalie & Dallas’s D isn’t any where near as good or as effective as Stl’s 1 of the best in the NHL.

        Can you give me an example of who that scoring system worked then. Still don’t get it?

  • BeauRyker

    NHL players need to be real careful regarding the anthem thing. The liberals/socialists have this country sitting on a powder keg. If you think we won’t dump the NHL just as we have the NFL, you’d be sadly mistaken.

    • Scott_Hunter

      Do you really think it’s the socialists defending their constitutional rights or the racist white guys with tortches screaming “Make America white again” and “Jews will not replace us”?

      • BeauRyker

        Thanks for helping me make my point.

      • mick

        who cares, Trump is the embodiment of what the world thinks of Americans.

      • BeauRyker

        You know, that comment started out pretty good…but then you just couldn’t help but show your ass. Typical libturd.

      • Jared Sparrow

        If you think a professional athlete using their platform to demonstrate or speak out against racism and police brutality is wrong, then you are a part of the problem.

    • Ian Gooding

      If you’re willing to dump the NHL because a player protests the anthem, how much of a fan are you to begin with? It’s the fairweather fans that will turn the game off, like my very conservative friend who couldn’t watch an NFL game because some of the Seahawks were kneeling. He was never a big NFL fan to begin with. He wouldn’t do that during an NHL game.

      • BeauRyker

        Yeah, I’m a fan. A big one. I can’t wait for hockey season to start every year. But am I willing to stop watching them act like whiney brainwashed little children? You betcha. It’s just a f**king game. Life goes on.

      • brad park

        See ya.

      • BeauRyker

        LOL Thanks, cupcake!

      • Ian Gooding

        Honestly, if you’re willing to completely walk away from a sport that you claim to be a huge fan of because a player demonstrates political views that are different from your own, then you’re as easily offended as the people that you claim are easily offended.

      • BeauRyker

        It’s simply a matter of respect for your country. You don’t have it, I don’t need you. NHL, NFL, MLB need Americans. We don’t need the NHL, NFL, or the MLB. There are a million others ways to be entertained without our country being sh*t on.
        As I stated before, life goes on.

      • pdupuis

        The right to protest is a right provided by the Constitution. If you disagree with that right perhaps you should look for a different country to live in .

      • Hugo Twigg


      • brad park

        Odd reply, since you’re the one who is whining like the child who wants to take his ball and go home, but that’s often the case with the chronic complainers.


      • BeauRyker

        LOL Thanks.
        I think I’ll wait to comment further until the grownups get here.

      • pdupuis

        Hasta la vista baby. Don’t let the door hit you where the Lord split you.

      • Richard Algajer

        National anthems are super lame.

  • Yves G.

    Curious about your Raanta pick, he will make a pretty strong #3.
    Were Smith, Lehner and/or Darling off the board at that time?
    And anyhow, how did you rank these 4, I see them all pretty even keel, plenty of starts, strong but risky upside.

    • Ian Gooding

      Raanta was picked at 140, Darling at 72, Lehner at 111, and Smith at 105. I would rank Darling and Lehner ahead of Raanta, but not Smith. Although Smith will probably earn more wins playing for a better team, I think Raanta could post better ratios. Raanta will at the very least be an upgrade from Smith in the Arizona net.

      • Yves G.

        I ended up picking Raanta as well, ahead of Darling but with Smith/Lehny off the board, both our cross to bear!