Ramblings: News from Russia, Ducks Blue Line, Coyotes Youngsters and more (Aug. 11)

by Neil Parker on August 11, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: News from Russia, Ducks Blue Line, Coyotes Youngsters and more (Aug. 11)

USA TODAY Sports Images - Cam Fowler


After being called out for propping up the Cats in Tuesday's Ramblings, it was fitting that Florida was included in Sean McIndoe's list of five teams that could be this year's Avalanche. His assessment of the Panthers was similar to mine, and I won't be wishy-washy about Jaromir Jagr, Florida is better off without him.




Miro Heiskanen is going to crack the Dallas roster to begin the season, according to Stars beat writer Mike Heika. It obviously would put Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth and to a lesser extent Stephen Johns on notice that their long-term outlook with the team is bleak without improved play.

Additionally, if Heiskanen can tread water in a sheltered role and improve over the course of the season, it's a significant boost. Realistically, Heiskanen is unlikely to carry much fantasy value as a rookie, but he could be utilized similar to how the Rangers deployed Brady Skjei last year. If Heiskanen begins close to 60 percent of his five-on-five shifts in the offensive zone and logs power-play minutes, he could surprise.




Here's a quick read about Pierre-Luc Dubois' outlook heading into his second training camp. He's an important piece for the Blue Jackets, and while he's not necessarily going to be a universal fantasy option anytime soon, settling in as a serviceable two-way center in a middle-line role would be huge for Columbus.

With Brandon Dubinsky ripe for a shut-down role, and Alexander Wennberg in a top-line offensive role, Dubois could land in a lot of soft five-on-five matchups. Columbus also has enough depth on the wings to have three solid lines if Dubois can take the next step.

Additionally, looking at the Columbus depth chart, there doesn't seem to be an alternative option up the middle. A lot is riding on Dubois. 




A few interesting tweets concerning some KHL players:




There isn't a lot to take away from the above, except Kirill Kapirov's fantasy stock tumbling in dynasty/keeper settings. This is just one example, and it might not be tied to the Olympics, but it certainly could be. I'm not going to pretend to know the ins and outs of the NHL-IOC situation, but if the NHL doesn't reach some sort of an agreement, more Europeans might avoid the NHL to represent their countries in the future. It's definitely something to be considerate of.




Here's another handful of deeper dives on three Anaheim blue liners, two high-upside Coyotes and Mike Smith.


Cam Fowler

Randy Carlyle's return was great for Fowler's fantasy output last season. The defenseman posted 39 points while logging a career-high 24:51 of ice time (3:06 with the man advantage) per game. Fowler's hefty role offers a high fantasy floor, and he's also just entering his prime and age-25 season, so continuing to post rock-solid numbers for the next five years isn't a stretch. It will likely be difficult for him to build on last season's production because of the stacked Anaheim blue line, though.


Sami Vatanen

It was a down year from Vatanen in 2016-17, as the power-play quarterback dropped to only 10 points at even strength while posting a career-low 0.5 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five. He buoyed some fantasy value with 14 points on the man advantage. However, once again, he missed time due to injury and suited up for just 71 games. Injuries are becoming commonplace for the 26-year-old defenseman, which might also be a by-product of his small stature (5-foot-10, 183 pounds). While Vatanen underwent offseason shoulder surgery there is still bounce-back potential. After all, he's looked into a power-play role and has a proven offensive track record.


Hampus Lindholm

Offseason shoulder surgery has Lindholm's status for training camp and potentially even the beginning of the season in jeopardy. However, despite endless talent, Lindholm's struggled to establish himself as a strong fantasy asset the past two season. He is an elite shut-down defenseman and driver of possession that regularly matches up against the opposition's top players and still sports a career 53.1 Corsi For percentage. His offensive upside is capped in the defensively tilted role, and his point total has declined in consecutive seasons. Be careful not to overvalue Lindholm's fantasy stock based on his real-world value.


Anthony Duclair

It was a season to forget for Duclair, as he collected just 15 points -- five goals -- through 58 games, and his eight points during a 16-game AHL stint weren't impressive, either. It's way too early to write off Duclair's fantasy potential entering his age-22 campaign, and it's also important to note that Duclair is no longer exempt from waivers, so he's going to have a fair opportunity to make it work in Arizona this year. He scored 20 goals and 44 points as a 20-year-old rookie just two years ago, too, remember.


Dylan Strome

With tremendous offensive upside, Strome is expected to be the No. 1 center at some time in the near future, and he showcased why during his final OHL campaign. Strome led Erie to the Memorial Cup Championship and took home tournament MVP honors while posting jaw-dropping numbers the entire way. After a seven-game stint with the Coyotes to start 2016-17, Strome enters training camp this year with a better feel and will probably need to play his way off the roster and not the other way around. However, Arizona could decide to start Strome in the AHL. He needs to fill out his 6-foot-3 frame, and he also might still need to work on his 200-foot game. The sky's the limit, and Strome could just as easily thrive in camp and take a run at the Calder Trophy.


Mike Smith

With approximately 55 starts behind a good team, Smith is in position to have a solid fantasy campaign in his new digs. Smith is huge (6-foot-4), and his puck-handling ability should prove to be an excellent fit with Calgary's elite blue-line corps. It's easy to highlight that Smith has been nothing better than a league-average goalie for a number of years, but league-average numbers are nothing to shake a stick at, especially when it's easy to fade him in daunting matchups. He's not necessarily a goalie to reach for, but Smith shouldn't be ignored in the middle rounds, either.




Thanks for checking in, Dobberheads.



  • Striker

    This should be the only Olympics missed. The NHL will be locked out for China so players can pay their own way & insurance to go play as NHL participation will be assured in the next CBA. They players will have to concede something to get this privilege.

    Not that I wish to have a political debate nor discussion but does anyone else think the western world should be opting out of North Korea entirely. No need to answer more a statement than a question really. I grew up thru an era where this happened occasionally. 76 & 80.

    • yellerknife

      the 2018 Winter Olympics are in South Korea (not North), if that’s what you’re referring to.

  • Striker

    The 3rd line C job is Dubois’s to win or lose with Karlsson lost in expansion.

    • Neil Parker


  • Striker

    Heiskanen isn’t physically ready for the NHL at 170 lbs, nor mental ready having just turned 18 on Jul 18th, add in immigration from another country & his making it would put him in excredibly elite company & seriously buck the odds of probability.

    Dallas already has 8 D on their roster that have to clear waivers to be sent down nor does that include Honka; 3 full AHL seasons, who is ready to start getting 3rd pairing minutes like Skjei & see some PP time. Heiskanen may get a cup of coffee if injuries hit so as waivers don’t come into play for others; 9 games max, & then returned to Finland.

    I can’t compare Heiskanen to Skjei even saying Heiskanen may be deployed similarly. Skjei spent 3 years in University after being drafted, a full season in the minors & then got a 7 game cup of coffee late in the 2015-16 season, playing 5 playoff games as well that season before starting his NHL career at 22 in a sheltered role last season. Skjei did average 17:38 TOI/GP in a 3rd pairing role & Vigneault didn’t even start giving him PP time until late in the year.

    Not that it matters but I drafted Skjei in both my protector fantasy leagues last September, since traded in both right at our trade deadlines for solid draft pick compensation as no room on my rosters at D for Skjei.

    • Neil Parker

      I was surprised to see Heiskanen etched into the lineup, too. Obviously, there is no guarantee.

  • Striker

    I wouldn’t say called out, I said I don’t share your optimism. I don’t see how this roster with the injury issue’s they have can compete against the best in the East or even the average for that matter.

    I could care less careless about Jagr, way to slow for today’s NHL & he plays a puck possession game. Like Ron McLean I’m convinced Boston’s acquisition of him cost the Bruins the cup.

    Huberdeau, Barkov, Vrbata.
    Dadonov, Trochek, ?
    ?, Bjugstad, ?
    Haley, Mackenzie, Sceviour.

    That’s a new old #1 RW at 36 in Vrbata. A new #2 LW in Dadonov who played 55 games in the NHL in 2009 thru 2012 & who is the the #2 RW & #3 LW & RW?

    Significant change generally leads to a significant adjustment period & what 3 wingers are filling those 3 spots? Rookies?

    I rarely go with the pack, usually I’m quite the opposite. I took some serious flack for projecting NJ last season to add 25 to 30 goals against; putting them at about minus 49 to 54, after trading Larsson & had them finishing 12th in the East. I was wrong then as well, they ended up minus 61 & finished dead last at 16th.

    Things could change between now & opening day but if rumors are to be believed & Florida has to get it’s actual salary to 65 mil another player is getting shipped out. That may still be Demers, it may be someone else or Viola may just have to suck it up & accept a payroll over 70 mil.

    We will revisit before the season starts & rest assured we will discuss at their 1st 25 games played mark, the All-Star break & seasons end. As it stands today I have them 15th in the East with 54 days till the season starts. Might that change before opening day? Only if solid NHL players are added. Expecting several of these players who have had on going injury iossues to stay healthy all year seems like a serious long shot to me & as I said with 2 concussions in 1 year I have concerns about Ekblad. Add in a rookie NHL coach & I’m out, ni slight to Boughner but like everything there is an adjustment period & that’s just a shit load of change.

    • Neil Parker

      Right — too many unknowns. As you noted, there are also too many things that need to break in the Cats’ favor.
      Solid analysis. I’m willing to take it on the chin when I’m off the mark.

      • Striker

        Not meant in a negative way at all. Just an alternate viewpoint. Love your work, thought process & writing style. Not seeing things the same on everything isn’t a bad thing. Keep up the good work.

      • Karl Paquette

        How do you think Bjugstad and Dadonov end up?

      • Striker

        I have serious concerns about Florida’s roster at present but with the losses of Jagr, Jokinen, Smith & Marchesseault that’s some serious PP time to be redistributed to what players are left.

        Huberdeau, Barkov, Vrbata.
        Dadanov; RW?, Trochek, ?
        ?, Bjugstad, ?
        Haley, MacKenzie, Sceviour.

        I don’t know what to project for Bjugstad really, 15 to 20 goals 40 to 45 points? Trochek is due to breakthrough, in ls & 65 to 70 points. Lack of player depth should allow for extra quality icetime to off set stronger checking faced.