Ramblings: #OskarStrong, Saturday Goalie Starts, Hall Trade Imminent?

by Ian Gooding on December 14, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: #OskarStrong, Saturday Goalie Starts, Hall Trade Imminent?


The hockey world was abuzz on Friday with the news that Taylor Hall was a healthy scratch from the New Jersey lineup for “precautionary” reasons. As of my writing this (and not necessarily of your reading this), Hall has not been traded. Yet when he is, you can expect one of us at Dobber Hockey to break down the trade from a fantasy perspective.

On a side note, I don’t think I’ve seen as many fake trade tweets as I had on Friday. Some folks need to get a life. By the way, please check the source of the tweets before retweeting. And thank you for reading my Twitter etiquette tip of the day.

The low-hanging rumor is that Hall would be dealt to the Devils’ opponent on Friday, the Colorado Avalanche. With an 8-0-1 record including a win against New Jersey on Friday, the Avalanche aren’t skipping a beat, even without their starting goalie and star rookie defenseman. And of course, what their team could be with Mr. Hall.

In the meantime, the Devils face another rumored Hall suitor today (Saturday), the Arizona Coyotes. With alternatives likely readily available on a busy Saturday, move Hall to your bench for the time being. 

Is this a preview of life without Hall for the Devils? This doesn’t take into account any current assets that would come Jersey’s way, though.

Even strength:

#1           20%        HUGHES,JACK – SIMMONDS,WAYNE – ZACHA,PAVEL        

#2           17.6%    BRATT,JESPER – HISCHIER,NICO – PALMIERI,KYLE                

#3           17.1%    COLEMAN,BLAKE – GUSEV,NIKITA – ZAJAC,TRAVIS             

#4           14.6%    BOQVIST,JESPER – MCLEOD,MICHAEL – WOOD,MILES      

Power play:

#1           62.5%    GUSEV,NIKITA – HISCHIER,NICO – HUGHES,JACK – PALMIERI,KYLE

Perhaps preparing myself for an article that I may need to write this weekend, Nikita Gusev might be the player with the most to gain from a Hall trade. Gusev plays at the same position as Hall (left wing), he’s on the lower end of the PPTOI among Devils on Friday’s first-unit power play, and his overall icetime still remains at around the 13-14-minute range. Gusev also took five shots on Friday, which since November 5 places him second in shots on the Devils (just over 2.5 shots/game) behind only Hall.

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So… it’s been quite a past few weeks for coaching changes, hasn’t it? Two of the teams affected recently (Dallas and New Jersey) were in action on Friday. Unfortunately for those Devils fans calling for the firing of John Hynes, new coach Alain Nasreddine is still waiting for his first win after five games (0-4-1). The Devils have scored just one goal in their past two games and sit 30th in the league with a 2.39 GF/GP after a promising offseason. Hence the desire to trade Hall, in case you were still wondering why. For more, see the Fantasy Take of the New Jersey coaching change.

P.K. Subban… 19 games without a point and counting. Anyone want to suggest that his life as a celebrity and Lindsey Vonn’s fiancé isn’t getting in the way of his $9 million per year occupation? Subban was, however, third and not fourth on the PPTOI pecking order on Friday. That’s how far the bar has been lowered.

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Valeri Nichushkin deserves your attention once again. Nichushkin scored a goal on Friday, giving him six goals over his past 10 games. Nichushkin had not scored a goal in his previous 91 games, during which time many keeper owners decided to give up on him. To boot, he’s enjoying this success with Matt Calvert and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Imagine what he’d be capable of with Nathan MacKinnon. Even though the talent and pedigree is there, I’d want to see Nichushkin promoted to a scoring line before reinvesting in him for the long term. Of course, continued scoring will get him that promotion.   

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Oskar Lindblom has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer. With further tests next week and treatment after that, Lindblom is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. Lindblom had already missed Wednesday’s game with what was described at the time as an upper-body injury.

Obviously, the greatest concern is for the 23-year-old Lindblom’s health and recovery. Yet it is worth mentioning that Lindblom was tied with Travis Konecny for the Philadelphia team lead in goals with 11, and Lindblom was on pace for 49 points. Konecny is of course sidelined with a concussion, with both players frequent linemates of Sean Couturier. To the surprise of some, Lindblom has worked himself into the mix as a top-6 forward for the Flyers. His absence could lead to an increased role for youngsters Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost.

Again, I write about a fantasy game understanding that this is a young man who will be fighting for his life. So I wish nothing but the best to Lindblom, his family, and those close to him.
 


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You can read the Fantasy Take of the Dallas coaching change from Mike Clifford’s point of view. I’d agree that interim head coach Rick Bowness won’t likely change much from Jim Montgomery’s system, as Montgomery’s reason for dismissal wasn’t performance-related. And so far, there hasn’t been a whole lot to pull out either.

The Stars’ second game under Bowness ended with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jamie Benn, who is on pace for a career-low 40 points, scored his seventh goal of the season.

John Klingberg missed Friday’s game because of a family illness, but he is expected to be in the lineup today (Saturday).

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As for the Vegases, Shea Theodore broke an eight-game stretch without a point by recording two assists. In spite of the slump, Theodore has maintained his spot on the top power-play unit and continues to log over 20 minutes per game most nights. In fact, Theodore is the one constant on the first-unit power play, averaging nearly a minute more in PPTOI than any of his teammates. I traded for Theodore a few weeks ago thinking he would shake the cold stretch. That still hasn’t happened, but I’m fairly confident that it will. With 93 shots, Theodore currently sits in the top 10 in shots among defensemen.

Max Pacioretty scored a goal and added an assist, which gives him goals in three consecutive games. With 30 points in 35 games, Patches is on his way to a comeback season, as he is currently just 10 points shy of last season’s total. He’s been especially valuable in multicategory leagues, as his 142 shots trails only Alex Ovechkin and Nathan MacKinnon.

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The December edition of the Top 100 Roto Rankings will be posted on Sunday. In the meantime, I thought I’d cover one non-injury riser and faller. In the meantime, have your say, as these rankings are constantly a work in progress.

Shea Weber

During the summer a commenter asked why Weber had not been included in the top 100. I said that Weber would need to stay healthy, as he had missed around the same number of games that he had played over the past two seasons. Well, Weber has not only remained healthy, but he has rocketed up the Roto Rankings faster than one of his slapshots. In fact, if not for John Carlson’s exploits, we might be talking about Weber as fantasy’s most valuable blueliner so far. (Who do you think won the Weber/Subban trade now?) I can’t think of a reason that he’ll slow down… but there’s the injury history. If you feel particularly uneasy, shoot for the moon with a trade offer or two.

Pierre-Luc Dubois

With Artemi Panarin leaving Columbus, we figured that scoring would be down among key Blue Jackets, especially Panarin’s most frequent linemates from last season. Those linemates according to Frozen Tools were Dubois and Cam Atkinson. While Atkinson has recovered after a slow start, Dubois is disappearing off the map with no points in his last six games and no goals in his last nine. Dubois is only showing a slight decrease in goals, yet he is only on pace for barely half as many assists as he recorded last season. Dubois is only 21, so there are likely better days ahead. Yet with the Jackets near the bottom of the league in offense, it will be difficult for him to replicate last season’s 61 points.  

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Confirmed starting goalies for Saturday, according to Goalie Post:

Anders Nilsson, OTT (vs. CBJ): Nilsson has just one quality start in his past six games while being tagged with two really bad starts over that span. A home matchup against the aforementioned Columbus offense might be what the doctor ordered, if you need to use him.

Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (@ANA): Alexandar Georgiev has forced the veteran Lundqvist into a timeshare. King Henrik’s 67 percent Yahoo ownership suggests that some owners are still drafting/adding him out of name value. The Ducks are a bottom-5 offense (2.56 GF/GP), so this is a better-than-average spot to start Lundqvist.

Frederik Andersen, TOR (@EDM): Andersen looked great on Tuesday in Vancouver, but then stunk it up in the third period on Thursday against Calgary. If you’re worried about the matchup and Andersen tiring because it’s his 100th consecutive start, Connor and friends aren’t as imposing as they might seem, as they are a middle-of-the-pack offense once you factor in everyone else.

Darcy Kuemper, ARI (vs. NJ): I’ve already mentioned the disaster that is the Devils right now. They are on a road trip playing their second of back-to-backs. Kuemper continues to be reliable, so start him with confidence here. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find another goalie that I would start over him in this situation.

Aaron Dell, SJ (vs. VAN): The last time the Canucks visited the Shark Tank, they torched the Sharks for five goals. The Sharks haven’t improved defensively since then, and Bob Boughner’s debut resulted in six goals allowed to the Rangers on Thursday. As erratic as Martin Jones has played, Dell hasn’t really been any better. The Canucks are a boom-or-bust top-third offense, but surely there are better options on a busy Saturday.

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.