Ramblings: NHL Top 100, Your Mailbag Questions (Jan 28)

by Ian Gooding on January 28, 2017

NHL Top 100, your mailbag questions…

The NHL released its Top 100 players as a part of All Star weekend, having already announced 33 players who primarily played between 1917 and 1966. Having a list like that is a great way to celebrate the NHL’s history with the league coming up to its 100th season.

One thought: I would have liked to have seen the players ranked. As a child, I can remember reading a book that listed the NHL’s top all-time players, ranked from 1 to 100. I believe the book was by Stan Fischler, for those of you old enough to remember it. Wayne Gretzky was ranked number 10 at the time, which was believed to be a debatable ranking even though his Oilers were just beginning their dynasty. I recognize the difficulty in ranking players of different eras, particularly as you go further down the list.

I managed to find another Top 100 book on my bookshelf (when my family doesn’t know what to buy me for Christmas, they often buy me hockey books, which are better than socks and underwear). This one is The Hockey News Top 100, written in 1997. Not surprisingly, Gretzky is listed as the number one player and is on the cover. I find it interesting how easily Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and Mario Lemieux at this weekend’s event admitted that the late Gordie Howe was the greatest of all time.

So there’s some reading material if you would like actual rankings of all-time players. And we all know how those of us in fantasy hockey like our rankings. I realize that the books might be a little dated, but just plug in the more modern-day players and let the debate begin (or continue).

With only six players from the list currently active (Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr), there was also discussion on Twitter about the lack of modern-day players in the top 100 (Evgeni Malkin, Joe Thornton, Jarome Iginla, to name a few possibilities). Keep in mind that this list spans 100 years, and there are other players who are still writing their legend.

We simply don’t know whether some of the league’s other top current players will be top 100 material someday, at least until their careers have ended. So no Connor McDavid on today’s list, although I’d be willing to bet that he will be on any top 100 list by the time his career finishes.

To discuss the modern-day players, see the thread called NHL.com/100 on the Forum.

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On to the mailbag. Thank you for submitting your questions. It’s a win-win: You receive some advice for your fantasy team, and I can create enough content to reach Dobber’s minimum word count for this article.
 


I’ll say this: In general, I’m not a big fan of 2-for-1 trades when I’m being offered the “two” players for my “one” player. I like them even less if the offers become 3-for-1, and of course even less beyond that. The “one” player is usually the most valuable and thus difficult to acquire, and I may even have to drop a player to make room for that extra player. So to convince the other owner to even consider trading McDavid, I’d advise offering one and only one other significant piece in addition to Auston Matthews in order to acquire Connor McDavid.

I can’t answer the question by listing a specific name or even a specific position. What you should probably do is analyze the other owner’s roster. What area(s) could use improvement? Do you happen to have a surplus in that area? What could you offer that the other owner would be interested in without subtracting too much value from your roster? Would the other owner likely consider dropping a player in order to make the deal happen? I’ve turned down offers like this in the past simply for the last reason.

Good luck with your offer!
 


Earlier this season, someone asked me which Colorado goalie would be better to own. My answer was neither, unless there are no other options and you are in danger of missing your minimum number of goalie starts.

I have to admit, I saw Calvin Pickard play live earlier this season and he’s not a bad goalie at all. More importantly, Pickard should be receiving at least two-thirds of the starts now that Semyon Varlamov is out for the season. Unfortunately, the Colorado defense simply looks lost out there, and it’s only going to get worse should the Avs strip their roster as one of the only two guaranteed sellers at the trade deadline (Arizona would be the other).  

There is a line that I draw at picking up a goalie. One that requires that a goalie has a better than .900 SV% and a lower than 3.00 GAA, although that can change depending on the year. Pickard is near those numbers on the season, and I wouldn’t expect that to change much. According to the Report Generator Goalie Big Board, Pickard currently ranks 44th among goalies this season. That’s only two spots ahead of Varlamov. Or to put it another way, he’s not rosterable in a 12-team league in which each team owns an average of three goalies (36 goalies taken).

I would pass on Pickard this season. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stash him away in a keeper league that has no quota on the number of keepers. Besides, things can only get better in Colorado.
 


This is a perfect one to run through the Compare-A-Player, since I don’t have firsthand experience in owning either player in a keeper league at the moment. Something that jumped out at me with this season’s comparison: In spite of missing 20 games, Alex Galchenyuk has just four fewer points than Sean Monahan. That computes to a 0.9 points/game for Galchenyuk versus a 0.6 points/game for Monahan.

If you go back the previous two seasons, though, Monahan’s point-per-game total has been higher each season.

 

Galchenyuk

Monahan

2015-16

0.68

0.78

2014-15

0.58

0.76


So is Monahan really the better player? This week’s Frozen Pool Forensics focuses on the struggles of Monahan’s linemate Johnny Gaudreau, and it’s fair to say that Gaudreau’s struggles and injury absence have rubbed off on Monahan. Galchenyuk’s 20 percent shooting accuracy seems quite high relative to his career average of 13.7 percent, while Monahan’s 12.7 percent rate is a little lower than his career averages.

Galchenyuk checks out as the better player this season. But in a keeper league, I think I’ll lean toward Monahan. But it’s a close one.
 


A month ago, I would have had Jacob Markstrom projected as the Canucks’ starting goalie next season. But a recent run from Ryan Miller no doubt has Canucks’ GM Jim Benning thinking hard about re-signing Miller for next season. If Miller isn’t re-signed, don’t count out the Canucks pursuing a veteran goalie who would at least battle Markstrom for starts next season. So there’s a very real chance that Markstrom is the backup again in 2017-18 and starting fewer than 40 games.

There’s also top prospect Thatcher Demko in the system, but his mediocre AHL numbers (2.84 GAA, .901 SV) suggest that he’ll need at least one more season on the farm. So if Miller is gone and the veteran goalie brought in is more of a backup, then Markstrom is the starter and should start at least 50 games.

It’s going to be very difficult to project Markstrom at the moment. But I’m going to hedge and assume that he starts 40 games, winning 18 of them while posting a 2.50 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
 


Steve Mason has been a rollercoaster this season. Check out his month-by-month splits:

Month

GAA

October

3.46

November

2.64

December

2.53

January

3.05


At best, Mason has been league average ratios-wise for a starter while proving he can carry the load for an extended period. At worst, you don’t want him anywhere near your fantasy team. But the good news is that the better Mason may be returning, as he has posted wins in each of his last two starts and a 34-save shutout of the Rangers in his last start. Michal Neuvirth hasn’t been any kind of threat to steal starts this season, so Mason will at least provide the volume that you need.

I’m more concerned about Petr Mrazek not starting enough games, though. He just simply hasn’t been any good all season, with his numbers getting even worse into December (3.52 GAA) and January (3.32 GAA). Jimmy Howard grabbed the starting job away from Mrazek before Howard was injured. Now Mrazek is even having a tough time holding off third-stringer Jared Coreau for starts.

Mason is risky, I know. But so is Mrazek, and he doesn’t get as many starts. Yes, I would cut Mrazek for Mason rest of season.

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Finally, if you have more questions, please send them my way, and I'll answer them in the Sunday Ramblings.

Enjoy your Saturday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.