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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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BRACKET CHALLENGE!

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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