Ramblings: Lots of goalie talk, Couturier, Guentzel, Zadorov, Bonino and more (Apr 23)
I broke ground last week on the 12th annual Fantasy Prospects Report. Picked out the players, selected the DobberProspects writer/scouts I want involved, and wrote over a dozen profiles. In the end, I’ll write about 180 of them myself. The research is always lots of fun. I was more out of touch than usual thanks to my recovery throughout October/November/December, do pulling up my sleeves and digging deep is refreshing. This Prospects Report, which will be out June 1, isn’t yet up for pre-order just yet, but on May 1 I hope to have this and the Keeper/Ultimate Packs up in the shop.
Another thing I really dove into was goaltenders for the Goalie Ranking. I think I found a better way to balance between backups, prospects and shared situations. It’s always tough, but these days even tougher. When a guy like Carey Price can destroy a fantasy team…then you know that goalies are not safe in fantasy hockey and there are probably too many categories dedicated to them in fantasy hockey. The goalie rankings will be posted Tuesday, since I have a lot of content to go up Monday already.
Alexandar Georgiev is a great goalie to roll the dice on for the short term. I believe Igor Shesterkin is a potential franchise goalie but he won’t be along for three years. So Georgiev has a three-year window to take advantage and steal some starts from a fading, aging goalie. Albeit a legendary one, but fading nonetheless. Georgiev could win that starting job on Shesterkin before Shesterkin is ready, similar to the way Jonathan Quick stole it from Jonathan Bernier a decade ago. If you remember, Bernier was the Golden Boy 11th overall pick and was supposed to be the next one…but Quick never let up. So Bernier’s skills eroded sitting on the bench until he was traded.
Calvin Pickard caught such a terrible break this year. Had he stayed in Vegas he would have been a star, because Marc-Andre Fleury was out for half the season. But even so, he went to Toronto and was supposed to be the “next one” in their system. And he’s played like it, too, this is no fault of his play. But Garrett Sparks has been amazing and has pretty much elbowed Pickard out of the mix. Pickard did nothing wrong, and was even solid as an NHL starter last year. He’ll be back and he’ll be a starter in the NHL some day. But that’s just terrible luck.
Ville Husso is in an even better position than Georgiev. His team’s No.1 goaltender is unproven and has far from cemented a status as a legend. Furthermore, Jake Allen makes far less than Henrik Lundqvist. Husso could actually be St. Louis’ starter by the end of 2018-19, leaving Allen as an overpaid backup for the remaining two years of his contract.
You see – so many great goalie options at the age of 22, 23 or 24. So why on earth are you drafting 18-year-olds? A guy in my league drafted Ilya Samsonov three years ago. That’s three years of zero points. Plus this coming season for zero points, plus 2019-20 for minimal points. Five years of just rotting on a fantasy team’s bench. Last summer was when I would have drafted him. Late. This summer I would draft him early. I can have a guy do nothing on my bench for two years, but I just can’t abide doing it for five. That’s five years of trying out other prospects and possibly striking it rich with two of them. Samsonov is the best prospect goalie out there, but wait time is important. Bench space is important.
Filip Gustavsson is another one to add to the Georgiev/Husso list. Craig Anderson laying another stinker of a season could fast-track Gustavsson, who is the only strong prospect goalie in Ottawa’s system.
Speaking of goalies, if Philadelphia had a Top 5 goalie they would have stolen the series from Pittsburgh. I can’t believe how long goaltending has been the story for the Flyers. I feel bad for them because they’ve been trying everything to find a solution, from giving Ilya Bryzgalov a monster contract (he had been a top goalie for Phoenix before that), to signing or trading for any goalie that becomes available. If you look at their depth chart, they have 12 goalies in their system and I think that’s the most of any organization. Reminds me of some fantasy teams – just as hard to solve that problem in fantasy. In the end they’ll need to wait for Carter Hart or Felix Sandstrom to save the day.
One player you can’t blame on the Flyers is Sean Couturier. He factored in on all five of Philadelphia’s goals – and he was a point per game heading in! So Couturier had four points in 19 career playoff games heading into this year, and he had four points in four games heading into Game 5. And then he gets five points all in one game. Well done, sir.
Couturier had five points on Sunday and the rest of his team had five points combined.
After Couturier’s nine points, not one player on the Flyers had four in these players. The so-called best player Claude Giroux had three points in six games and was minus-10. Couturier had nine in five and was plus-1. Couturier was second on the Flyers in average ice time (22:09) behind Ivan Provorov (24:52). We all have been saying that Couturier busted out this year because he played with Giroux. Next year I think we’ll be saying that Giroux had a good year because he played with Couturier. Or a bad one because he didn’t play with Couturier.
By the way – word got out after the game that Couturier played the last two games with a torn MCL! In the regular season he’s missing at least 10 games with that. In the playoffs he’s getting five-point games.
But the Flyers are out and Couturier wasn’t the only player in that game to get five points. Jake Guentzel actually scored four consecutive goals to give him five points as well. Cha-ching. In my one league that counts the playoffs I cashed in on Guentzel, Sidney Crosby (three points) and Kris Letang (also three points). I’m the defending playoff champ and had a slim lead before Sunday. No longer slim.
In a bit of a surprise going in, Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Patric Hornqvist returned from injury and picked up three points so I guess Malkin wasn’t missed. It’s the playoffs so we’ll never know if Malkin had a charley-horse or two broken legs until he’s back, the Pens are eliminated, or they win the Cup.
Carl Hagelin took a big, clean hit here and left the game. Watch it – it happens immediately:
I’m a little worried about Matt Murray. Hasn’t been right these entire playoffs. His team has been kicking ass in front of him. But he won’t steal any games if he doesn’t get back to beast mode.
In the fantasy league I spoke of (above), there is a player on my team I will be dropping in September by the name of Nick Bonino. In the meantime – thanks for the three points on Sunday, Nick! Again – the lead is no longer slim. I kept Bonino just for the playoffs, but I did expect more in the regular season out of him after he signed with Nashville. Maybe even enough to squeeze onto my pro team in the regular season. But he was so bad he’s not even keeper-worthy. And it’s a full keeper league, too.
Bonino has five points in five games. So I guess if he has this incredible postseason, I may have to keep him just for next year’s playoffs. This, after my preaching about the importance of roster space.
The Predators this round – Kyle Turris gets just one point, Colton Sissons has seven. Mattias Ekholm has six points, Roman Josi has two. Kevin Fiala manages just one point, while Austin Watson has six. Did someone flip the Nashville scoring stats sheet upside down?
This is obviously a team to be reckoned with when you can shut down the second and third lines, but the fourth line eats you for dinner. Bonino and Watson were each a plus-7 while defenseman Ekholm was plus-9 in the series. And Ryan Hartman was a healthy scratch.
The Preds gave up a decent prospect in Victor Ejdsell, plus a first-round pick to get Hartman for the playoffs. And he was in the press box.
The Avalanche gave it a good run, but in the end they had to dress guys like Colin Wilson, so…
In all seriousness though, this team wasn’t expected to make the playoffs and they had their top two goalies out, plus their top defenseman.
Only four players on Colorado were plus-players in the series, and just one of those played more than 12 minutes per game – Nikita Zadorov. Zadorov also tallied three points and 32 PIM. He really picked up the physicality down the stretch. If you include the regular season, Zadorov had 83 PIM in his last 30 games (to go with eight points). I wonder if he could get 25 points, 120 PIM and 300 Hits next year?
Gabriel Landeskog, who was arguably the team’s best player in the series and had seven points, finished with a whimper. He was minus-4 on Sunday.
Nashville versus Winnipeg deserves to be the semi-final. Such an entertaining second-round match-up though.
I saw one headline yesterday about John Tortorella guaranteeing a Columbus win. I saw another headline promising a Columbus win. The media can drive me nuts sometimes. It’s not a guarantee unless the word “guarantee” is in there somewhere. It’s not a promise unless the word “promise” is spoken. What we have is a statement, nothing more.
After yesterday’s two eliminations I’m 6-0 for the round. Just need a pair of comebacks to get the sweep – Columbus and Toronto.
Former Dobber Darling – Brett Sterling (remember him?) – announced his retirement. He’s a few days away from turning 34. Bad luck with poorly-timed injuries cost him when he had his NHL chances early on.
I didn’t get to vote this year on the NHL Awards, other than the Bill Masterton. Because I’m in the international chapter of the PHWA – the biggest chapter – they have to rotate voting. I voted the last three. However, the nominations that are being announced are pretty much in line with what I would vote.
See you next week
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