Ramblings: Playoff sleepers, Gourde, Marody, Quick, Berglund, Vatrano, Vrbata the AHL and more (Apr 9)

by Dobber on April 8, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Playoff sleepers, Gourde, Marody, Quick, Berglund, Vatrano, Vrbata the AHL and more (Apr 9)

It’s getting near that time again, gang! My 13th annual Interactive Playoff Draft List has already been released – and hell, it’s already been updated four times! I plan two more updates, mostly anything I can dig up that’s injury related.

As I’ve said before, I like running two draft lists with two scenarios and then printing them both. I carry them into the draft and by the third round I can see which scenario is easiest to build a team around so I toss the other one. This way I’m not tied to just one draft list and get stuck picking up the dregs of a team just because I happened to lean on them heavily for my list. Pick up the list here.


As for my dark horses. My sleepers. For one, I have no issue with grabbing a bunch of Vegas players. I know many will steer clear of them because they won’t believe in what we’ve seen so far. I have a hunch that many of these drafts will have Vegas players falling! I also like Mathieu Perreault, Ryan Johansen, Erik Haula (Vegas player, but worth pointing out), JT Miller, and Cam Atkinson (of course, right?).

Deep, deep guys I like (for the final round of your draft): Zach Aston-Reese (if the Penguins play 22 games, he could get nine or 10 points), Craig Smith, Anthony Cirelli, Nate Schmidt, Colton Sissons and Jamie Oleksiak.


Soboleski covered most of the rookies in his DobberProspects Ramblings yesterday (here), but he had one oversight. Eeli Tolvanen was missed. But so far, things are proceeding as a fantasy owner’s worst nightmare for a new prospect. First of all, Nashville’s track record for slow-moving their prospects is well known. To me, only St. Louis is worse. And I don’t mean simply having them make the team. Sure, there have been players to join the team at the age of 20. But then what? Then you watch him sit on a depth line and have his production held back when on most other teams he’d be flying. Tolvanen was given one game on the first line. Then he was dropped down. After three games of getting no points, he was benched. A scratch for two games. I don’t really fault the Preds for doing this. After all, they are one of the deepest teams in the league and a Cup favorite. Why mess with that? So I don’t fault the reasoning. But I will be dialling back expectations in the playoffs on Tolvanen and assuming he will be scratched for some – if not most – of the playoff games.


Three 100-point players this year, nine players hit 90! Very excited about that and I hope that is a sign of things to come. Twenty players reached the 80-point mark.

Nikita Kucherov had 57 points in the first 40 games, 43 points in the last 40 games. Along with the rest of the Lightning, he has really slowed in the second half. Yanni Gourde, excepted, of course.


Speaking of Gourde, I’ve been a big fan of his throughout his career. Another one of those smaller, unsigned players who over-achieved his way onto the NHL radar. I had compared him as another Jonathan Marchessault, but on a lesser scale. Then, last season, I saw him in a pair of games against the Toronto Marlies and I came away vastly unimpressed. He had the smarts, but looked too rickety out there. So while I still compared him to Marchessault…I really dialled it down and stressed the words ‘lesser scale’. Well, I was way off. I guess that’s why I’m not a pro scout. And now you know why, when someone asks me “have you even seen him play?” I respond “why?” It’s not my eyes and my scouting talent that helps me determine a prospect’s value in the NHL. It’s taking what the actual pro scouts, general managers and coaches say, and matching that with their team’s needs, their historical tendencies when dealing with prospects, and how quickly prospects adapt to each new league. Watching with my own two eyes really doesn’t help unless the shortcomings or talent is obvious.


Radim Vrbata, who has been a healthy scratch for most of the second half, has announced his retirement from the NHL at the age of 36. He’ll be 37 in June. Vrbata was one of my success stories prior to running this website. Back when getting a good prospect before he even played in the NHL was incredibly difficult because information still wasn’t out there. But I grabbed him when he was with Colorado and before having played in the NHL. He finishes with 623 career points in 1057 career games, 284 goals. He was a four-time 55-point player and two-time 30-goal scorer, with his best season coming in 2011-12 with Phoenix when he had 35 goals, 62 points and was plus-24 with 232 SOG.


Alain Vigneault was fired by the New York Rangers upon season’s end. The new coach could very well have Ilya Kovalchuk on his team. But unless they can get a better goalie and keep Henrik Lundqvist down to 40 games or fewer, it won’t help. I still like the skaters on this team, as well as the pipeline for forwards. But Igor Shesterkin is still several years away, and I don’t think Lundqvist is the right bridge to that.


It was a rare, under-the-radar post-trade-deadline move on March 21, but the Edmonton Oilers may have landed themselves a good one. They acquired forward Cooper Marody from the Philadelphia Flyers for a third-round draft pick. The former sixth-round pick is 21 years old and he’s dominated college hockey for the University of Michigan. His transition to the NHL points-wise should be similar to that of Drake Caggiula. He currently sits 144 on my Fantasy Prospects List but moves up closer to the Top 100 with this trade and the news that the Oilers signed him to an ELC. So he’s turning pro.

Problem is, the Oilers need to make trades for defensemen prospects of this caliber, and not forwards!


Jonathan Quick just won the William Jennings Trophy and as a Quick owner in one league I’ll be shopping the hell out of him this summer. Besides the fact that Quick gets hurt – seriously hurt – a little too often for my taste, but I just don’t believe in the Kings. Were it not for a career season out of Anze Kopitar, they wouldn’t be anywhere near the playoffs (which, as an aside, is the reason I currently have Kopitar third on my Hart ballot behind MacKinnon and Hall).


Patrik Berglund had 12 ES points in the last 15 games. At 29 years of age his points range is well established. He’s also a solid Band-Aid Boy. But you’ve heard me discuss possible next Josh Baileys or Brad Marchands – players who were supposedly established in one points window and then at 28 or 29 suddenly shatter that window. I’d like to respectfully submit Berglund’s name into the mix. No, not to repeat Bailey or Marchand because it’s matter of shifting the window. Marchand shifted 55 points up to 85. Bailey shifted 45 points up to 70. I think Berglund could shift 35 points up to 60. I stress the word “could”. As in – 10%. Not enough to bet on it. And he needs to stay healthy. But I just put his name out there among the seven or eight other names I put out there a few weeks ago (I can’t dig up the Ramblings where I listed them). He fits that profile:

1. Age 27-29

2. Was originally thought to have great upside as a prospect/rookie.

3. Has firmly established a production range.

4. Has shown signs that he could produce well, at least in spurts.


Connor Hellebuyck picked up his 44th win of the season on Saturday and that sets a new record for American-born goaltenders. Yes, the Jets lack experience and that’s why many have ruled them out of winning the Stanley Cup. But the team is awesome and so is Hellebuyck. To me, the Jets get to the Final.


Detroit extended GM Ken Holland for another two years and Detroit fans are not happy. Forgotten is what he’s done for the team for a couple of decades. And then the Red Wings did another weird thing. While all the other non-playoff teams sent their prospects back to the AHL to compete in the Calder Cup playoffs, the Red Wings decided not to send Tyler Bertuzzi. Instead, they want him to gain strength and rest. He was the AHL playoff MVP last year for Grand Rapids. This year? Not even going to play. Strikes me as a weird decision. I really like Bertuzzi’s future in fantasy hockey, multiple categories.


The Edmonton Oilers may have finished 23rd in the NHL, but they have a 16% chance of getting a Top 3 pick thanks to the April 28 lottery. See all the odds here in one cool graphic.


The NHL released the playoff schedule. Of note, the first games begin Wednesday at 7pm EST (MIN at WPG and PHI at PIT). The last possible day is Wednesday April 25. Earliest possible finish is end of day April 19. And no series will have games on back-to-back days, as per usual and as expected. The DobberHockey panel will have our predictions up on Tuesday. As a consensus going back eight years we are 81-38 calling the series! I know that doesn’t add up to 120, so somewhere along the way one of us messed up the addition…when I have time, I’ll go through and re-add it and find the right total. But just know that it’s very, very good.



Join the DobberHockey bracket challenge here. And let’s show the world where the best prognosticators are from!


Dobbernomics! Updated 11am EST

Mankka Crabsters topped all teams with 3862.83 points. MG Rockets close second at 3853.60, and Metalheadz had 3821.48. “Innocence” fell to fourth on the last day at 3819.66. MG Rockets had the highest team value at $81.06.  Myself, I finished 154th in points and 91st in team value (2870.76 and $59.03).

We are working hard to get this up quickly so you can register a team (or league) for a playoff contest. Winner of THIS one will get an Ultimate Fantasy Pack. In fact, TOP 3 teams in points will get an Ultimate Fantasy Pack, plus the team with the highest value (that isn’t in the Top 3 for points) will get one as well!


Henrik Borgstrom’s first NHL goal:

Borgstrom (fantasy scouting profile here) is an early candidate for the Calder next season. Great upside on a young team.


Frank Vatrano has eight points in 16 games since becoming a Panther, but he has four of those points in the final three games of the season. He’s injury prone, but if he can stay healthy he can provide a secondary scoring option for the Panthers – likely third line, second PP unit next year.

Boston outshot Florida 26-6 in the third period. They r-e-e-e-ally wanted the division title. Ironically, James Reimer beat them – which forces them to play the Leafs. The team Reimer backstopped when the Bruins did that miracle comeback thing you keep hearing about. Also in typical Reimer fashion, he left the game mid-third period with an injury.


Down in the AHL, Chris Terry won the scoring title with 70 points in 60 games. He also led with 32 goals. The highest scoring rookie was Winnipeg’s Mason Appleton, with 63 in 73 games. Pittsburgh prospect Daniel Sprong was next with 61 in 62. Rookie defenseman Sami Niku (also a Winnipeg prospect –damn!), had 53 points in 73 games. Sprong should crack the Penguins next year, though I’m thinking closer to December before he makes the jump for good. The other two are a year away. And I only say that because the Jets are so deep and can afford to let them simmer.

Between the pipes, Garret Sparks led the way with 1.81 and 0.936 numbers. But much of that is the product of coaching and coaching style. Compare it to the other Marlies goalie Calvin Pickard – 2.25 and 0.920. Not as stellar, but still very good (Top 6 in the league). Now let’s look at another example in San Antonio: Ville Husso is a quality goaltending prospect who went 15-13-5, 2.32 and 0.926. Very stellar numbers despite the modest win total. And it becomes more impressive because the other goalie on the same team – Spencer Martin – was 14-15-4 (similar record), but 3.10 and 0.893. That’s huge. And that’s how we can surmise that one goaltender is quite better than the other and that it’s not the coaching style and defensive team beefing up the numbers. In fact, they probably drag Husso’s numbers down if anything. If I’m in a keeper league, I’m taking a real close look at getting my hands on Husso. Not only because of his success this season, but also because of Jake Allen’s failure. If Allen implodes again, then Husso will come and take that job by next February.

While I’m on the subject, I also took a look at Cal Petersen (23-11-2) versus Jack Campbell (11-10-4). They were neck and neck in the first half, but Campbell since declined quickly. Campbell finished with 2.83 and 0.912 numbers while the rookie Petersen was 2.30 and 0.918. Reinforces my thought that Petersen is the heir-apparent to Jonathan Quick and is another good one to tuck away in case Quick has another one of his ‘hurt-all-season’ seasons.


Here are the latest 20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts. See you next week!




14 responses to “Ramblings: Playoff sleepers, Gourde, Marody, Quick, Berglund, Vatrano, Vrbata the AHL and more (Apr 9)”

  1. frozenpools says:

    I agree and disagree with you RE Oilers prospect depth. After trading away Hall, Eberle and less so Pouliot the team desperately needs NHL calibre wingers. They had McDavid and Draisatil and had 3 players over 35 pits. 3! I could score 30 points playing with McDavid.

    They do really need a offensive dman for the PP but I think its overstated as their #1 need. Klefbom did a good job 2 years ago and Sekera was ok as well. Both were hurt most of this past year.

    After trading away so many picks and Hall and Ebs (screw you Chirelli) they system is thin. Somehow. Now they need all kinds of prospects. On the bright side, getting McDavid and Draisaitl is the hard part. Pittsburgh has been effective finding wingers without 1st round picks and it should be possible for the Oilers. It could take 2 years though as I dont think they have the prospect depth required to trade picks/futures at this time.

    • Dobber says:

      the longer I think about this, the more I agree with you. They have no depth anywhere, but defensemen are the greatest need. Players need to stop under-achieving. I mean, how different would this team look if Ryan Strome got 60 points and showed a glimpse of what we thought he was three years ago? And that’s just one guy

  2. Striker says:

    To much prospect depth in StL & Fabbri will be back next season but for how long & simply not enough room on a scoring line for Berglund to be a threat offensively, simply can’t garner enough quality of ice time to be a 60 point player in StL, now in Seattle? Maybe, I’d put the odds of it happening in Seattle at slightly less than 10%. Ha-ha!

    • Dobber says:

      Exactly! And we said the same things about Marchand and Bailey. “No place for him on the top line” or “not enough PP time”, etc. Thus the term “unexpected” haha

      • Striker says:

        Not the same for me. Marchand not even in the same scenario for me, Bailey sure but Berglund doesn’t really do the dirty work in the same way. If Berglund ever scores 40 points again, beers are on me. Ha-ha!

        I also found your comment about seeing players play interesting. I process out data, peoples expectations etc but I also want to see players play as soon as possible & as ofetn as possible when young. I’ve won a ton of trades & it has really helped my perception of what players might become especially if selected outside the top 10, the kids guaranteed every opportunity to be successful in the NHL simply due to investment made by drafting team.

        I saw Kuokkanen play 2 games early for Carolina. His skill set shocked me, his ability to maintain puck possession down low in the offensive zone, chase down pucks & battle for puck possession at 180lbs was impressive. I will take flyers on this sort of player late in my really deep fantasy leagues. This kid is going to be a player & if I didn’t see him play I’d have had to real perception of his skill set.

        I’m no scout just a hockey freak but I need to see players play to determine my final ranking, especially for those 20% that don’t follow my standard development curve. I don’t want the best prospect but the best prospect with an opportunity to play. I rarely sit on prospects but trade them if someone is willing to over pay substantially. Example drafted Keller in 1 16 team ,9 keeper league, all offense, in the 3rd round & flipped him for a 1st & Larkin with in 2 weeks. Just kept saying no until finally I had to say yes, even though RW the position Keller is moving to in our league next season carries a pretty significant premium. I planned to retain Keller but I will keep Larkin as my #2 C & with that 1st I should get a really good to exceptional player. I never gamble I’ll take the proven player.

      • Dobber says:

        I know, man. My meaning was that of a lesser scale. Much lesser scale. Can’t stress that enough.
        If Berglund plays 80 games is the question. But if he does, and fails to hit 40, then beers on me good sir

  3. Striker says:

    Interesting. I had LA to make the playoffs this season, just but I didn’t have Kopitar to have a career year just an average 1. Jeff carter missed 55 games which seriously effected Pearson & Tiffolli’s production as they had no 1 to play with really but when you can ice Kopitar, Quick & a D of Doughty, Martinez, Muzzin & Forbert you don’t need much more to be a playoff team.

    Making the playoffs in the new NHL is no easy feat. I picked 6 of 8 in each conference but won my standings poll by a significant margin. I didn’t have Philly & NJ in the East but NYR & Car. I didn’t have Vegas & Win; had them just missing, in the West, I had Edm & Cal, but I had the fights for the 2 wildcard spots in both conferences tighter than they were. I didn’t expect teams to tank it as much now as in the past due to the lottery odds but tanking is still alive & well.

    As for Quick I own him in 1 of mine as well but have no intentions of moving on from him having turned 32 in January. He has been injured in 2 of 9 seasons, last season seriously the reason I was able to acquire him & in 2013-14 where he played 49 games but 26 in the playoffs to win the cup. In his 9 years as a starter for LA he sits 3rd in GP for all goalies with 509 & that’s with only playing 17 games last season, Rinne has played 512 & Lundqvist 540. The only goalie to play more games adding in the playoffs where Quick sits 3rd over those 9 years as well with 81 is Lundqvist. That is incredible consistency & health. All his man games lost have come in 1 season really, last season.

    LA added Phaneuf, improving 1 of the best D’s in the NHL, the youth all has more to give, Pearson, Tiffoli, Forbert, Iafallo, Kempe & there is more coming. Reider was a great acquisition to help flush out a checking line although currently playing on a scoring line. LA is an elite level shut down team with exceptional penalty killing & defense, they have more than enough depth to roll 3 lines with some semblance of scoring, making Quick a top 10 goalie in almost any format. Quick played 52 this season, 3 off my must play to a be a real starter baring serious injury. He finished 7th & 8th in my 2 fantasy leagues, tied for 7th in 1 of my draft leagues, 6th in the other.

    We see at least 1 upset in the 1st round of every playoffs, often 2 & Philly beating Pit for me wouldn’t be an upset they only beat them by 2 points in the regular season. LA beating Vegas would be an upset. I haven’t mapped out by various scenario’s yet I will start today but at 1st blush that would be the obvious 1.

    • Dobber says:

      I dunno, I just have it in for LA. I hate their style. They used to be my favorite team, too (the Gretzky years)

      • Striker says:

        With Sutter gone & the youth coming they should open it up a little. Few teams better built to play playoff hockey, they play it all season long. Ha-ha!

  4. Username says:

    Tolvanen should play over bums like Hartnell who is a liability and takes too many stupid penalties. Tolvanen was good enough defensively and had a few looks offensively. They should give him a legit shot on the third line with Järnkrok and Bonino and try him as the trigger man on the PP. He wasn’t put in a position to succeed.

    • Nathan says:

      Tbh I get your point and do think Tolvanen will be a big asset next year and would be valuable this year, but you’re asking the number 1 team in the league to shake up what got them there when there was just 5-6 games left in the season. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a coach in the NHL who wouldn’t have done the same thing Laviolette did. You’re right and it’s a classic case of valuing cooked, mediocre veterans over inexperienced youth that is so infuriating about today’s NHL coaches… but All that said, I still think Laviolette is one of the best coaches in the league and this is splitting hairs. It’s not like if they don’t win the cup its going to be because Hartnell played over Tolvanen.

  5. Sean Mitchelmore says:

    Got your russians mixed up! Shestyorkin is with the Rangers, Sorkin is Islanders.