Ramblings: Preseason Check Ins, Colin White and more (Sept.20)

by Neil Parker on September 20, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Preseason Check Ins, Colin White and more (Sept.20)

Colin White - USA TODAY Sports Images


Determining how to evaluate the Five W's of preseason games is important to succeeding in the late rounds of deep-league drafts. Below are a few notable performances from Monday's games that stood out and why.


Kyle Okposo registered four shots and logged 19:15 of ice time. It's encouraging to see Okposo in position to put the puck on net. Following a down season that ended with some injury concerns, Okposo is in position to have a solid rebound showing with Buffalo's improved outlook. 

Jake McCabe registered an assist and had four shots and two blocked shots. There aren't many fantasy settings where McCabe is going to be a serviceable fantasy asset to start the season, but he offers some cross-category appeal and modest offensive upside for cavernous settings.

Joseph Blandisi recorded two assists and won 11 of 16 faceoffs. Faceoffs aren't important, but coaches and talking heads love a guy who wins in the dot. Blandisi has flashed offensive upside in the past and has been a scorer at every level. There are openings to seize in New Jersey.

Neal Pionk logged the second-most minutes (22:55) on the Rangers and scored the overtime-winning goal. I'm going to try this spin-o-rama Friday, and for what it's worth, Pionk posted solid numbers in the NCAA the past two seasons.

Charlie Coyle scored and registered seven shots over 23:34 of ice time. This is exactly what you expect to see from a player in his prime that's playing against inferior competition. The 25-year-old forward has also improved his point total in each of the past four seasons.

Mike Reilly recorded six shots and logged 23:26 of ice time. With a job up for grabs on the Minnesota blue line, Reilly's offensive upside and puck-moving skills will allow him an opportunity to crack the roster for Opening Night. He has 53 points through 102 AHL games the past two seasons.

Connor Hellebuyck saved 34 of 36 shots and played the entire game. Steve Mason projects to receive the bulk of starts for Winnipeg, but Hellebuyck could push for this to be a near-even timeshare. He's going to be cheap in drafts, and there is plenty of upside.





Andre Burakovsky-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Jakub Vrana

If Washington goes with these lines atop the depth chart, it's probably a best-case scenario for all six of these forwards. Burakovsky and Backstrom flashed chemistry during the playoffs, and Backstrom projects to be more of a goal-scoring threat alongside Burakovsky than in years past.

Vrana is obviously the biggest beneficiary, and if he's able to secure that role for an extended period of time to start the season, he'll be a solid asset in the majority of settings. It's also worth noting that Vrana opened training camp on a line with Burakovsky and Backstrom. The takeaway is that Vrana is going to be given a legitimate shot to lock up a top-six role, so he offers tremendous fantasy upside.




It might be difficult to rely on many Dallas forwards if Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov are locked in as the top line. There is enough supporting talent for fleeting stretches of offensive production, but consistent scoring and reliable fantasy returns could be difficult to come by after the top three.

Jason Spezza is probably the exception. He should see enough power-play time with the big boys to move the needle, and unless injuries take a significant toll, the veteran should cruise to value if selected in the second half of drafts.

The real virtual gains will be hitting the third wheels during the stretches when Radulov-Benn-Seguin are split up for spells.




At first glance, Jay Bouwmeester's ankle injury is a blow to the Blues, and in particular, Jake Allen. However, St. Louis has defensemen ready for work at the highest level, and Joel Edmundson is likely ready for an extended role. Jordan Schmaltz is now seemingly a lock to crack the roster to begin the season.

Look for Jake Walman to crack the roster for Opening Night with a strong camp. He'll likely shuttle between the AHL and NHL most of this season. Vince Dunn is the other candidate, and he has a full season of AHL duty under his belt finishing second in rookie-defensemen scoring.


DobberProspect Profiles:

Jake Walman

Jordan Schmaltz

Vince Dunn




My boy, Anders Bjork scored Monday night and skated with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron again in Tuesday's practice. Well, in fairness, Bjork is Joe Haggerty's boy, and I've just followed up on his enthusiasm, here, and here.

It would be shocking if the Bruins didn't utilize David Backes as a third-line forward, either in the middle or on the wing this season. Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano have had their opportunities and flashed upside, but neither has taken a top-six job and run with it.

If Boston looks to have three balanced lines, there is a spot for Bjork in a top-six role with Spooner or Vatrano slotting in down the lineup.




Tuesday's biggest news was the announcement that Colin White will miss six to eight weeks after breaking his left wrist blocking a shot in Monday's exhibition game. This almost guarantees that White will begin the season in the AHL to get his feet back under him.

Additionally, with Derick Brassard and Erik Karlsson already set to miss the beginning of the season, Ottawa is beginning to look like a favorable matchup to open the season. This might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but Ottawa is like the 2000 Red Wings and 1985 Oilers with Karlsson on the ice, and without Karlsson on the ice, the Senators resemble their 1992-93 version.

Downgrading Craig Anderson and the entire Ottawa roster slightly isn't out of the question. It could be a slow start, and potentially a very slow start.




It was an honor to have my goalie and defense tiers featured at the Roto Arcade. Take a peek because they're not your traditional breakdowns.






Thanks for stopping by, Dobberheads.




  • Pat Fraser

    One thing I want your advice Neil is why (VAN) give contracts to Sam Gagner & Thomas Vanek just to play them on PP and rise up some stats … why don’t play Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Markus Granlund and Nikolay Goldobin to give them some PP experience and maturity and forget about the stats … sometimes I don’t understand some decisions they make, give experience to your young players guys …

    • Neil Parker

      There is a lot to be said about bringing up young talents and putting them into positions to succeed. Having a veteran presence helps ensures that happens. Too many youngsters without the right supporting cast hasn’t worked in previous Colorado and Edmonton rebuilds, for example.
      Additionally, Vanek and Gagner aren’t going to stop Horvat or Boeser from climbing the depth chart if they’re ready.
      I’m not defending Vancouver’s curious offseason, and in no way am I optimistic about their short-term outlook. With that said, when the majority of the young Canucks are ready to be impact players, the questionable signings of the 2017 offseason will probably be gone or slotting into supporting roles.

      • Neil Parker

        Put another way, you’ve got to roster a team of 20 players for 82 games. If you throw out a bunch of 20-year-old rookies, there is potential for their development trajectory to plateau in a hurry.

      • Pat Fraser

        I understand what you say … but dont agree totally with you … the Sedin brothers are getting older, They are the exemple to follow not sure Thomas Vanek, Sam Gagner and Loui Eriksson will be giving totally 100% effort to the task ahead though … not convinced …

      • Pat Fraser

        Here’s another one, look at this guy Kyle Wood (Arizona), 6’7” 235 lbs. 43pts last year in AHL, looks like Parayko and looks ready. Why trade for Demers when we know he’s only there because Chychrun is injured for a while …

  • Striker

    Boston isn’t paying Backes to be a 3rd line player he will play RW on the 2nd line with Krejci. I assume Vatrano will get 1st crack at the #2 LW spot. There is room for 2 young scoring forwards on the 3rd line potentially but will Boston want 2 rookies playing on the same line with Spooner?

    I assume Bjork will have to battle it out with Agostino & FK for a spot on the Bruins roster. It’s possible FK could push Spooner to the wing. Czarnik, Heinen, possibly even Purcell; should they sign him off his PTO, are in the mix as well.

    The business side of hockey will come into play unless someone just steals a job so a players waiver eligibility is a factor in who will make the final 23 man roster due on Oct 3rd.

  • Striker

    Doesn’t winning faceoffs lead to puck possession in most cases?

    • Neil Parker

      I agree that Backes is paid to be more than a third-liner player, but I think he can slot into that role at even strength and still make enough of a difference on special teams to justify the contract.
      I have a feeling that Bjork is going to steal a job. Call it a hunch. I could be wrong.

      Faceoffs definitely lead to possession, but it’s been statistically suggested that the impact of a single faceoff win or loss doesn’t have much significance in the outcome of games.

      • Striker

        We all pick our breakthrough, sleeper, prospects, etc. & Boston has 2 top 9 spots potentially available as we stand know so Bjork is as an option. I’m reluctant to pick prospects before most will in any pool format. I take the left overs, like Skjei lat season paid nothing for him chosen late in both pools.

        Backes will play as the #2 RW, take that to the bank. At least as TOI/GP goes.