Rambling about preseason action: Lehkonen, Motte, Guentzel, Skjei, Zucker, Lehner and more …
Last Fantasy Guide update was Tuesday, but that update was very minor compared to the two updates I did on Monday (yes, updates are so frequent now that they’re often a couple of times per day). If you got the Monday update, it’s probably not worth your while grabbing the Tuesday one. Only some minor camp cuts and no lineup adjustments or projection adjustments.
If you want, you can stay on top of all the preseason stats and line combo data. Use the Report Generator here and change the drop box to “exhibition”. You can see points, SOG (including distance from the net, PP and SH shots), TOI, line combos and advanced stats – whatever report you wish. Or if you want to look up a specific player, click any player name in any of these articles. When that player’s profile comes up, you’ll need to change his drop box (default is still set to last season) to “exhibition”.
Example – Justin Abdelkader. Clicking his name will give you his regular season data. Change that drop box at the top to 2016-17 Exhibition – or just click here. It actually rolls out prior preseasons, line combos, PP and PK data, etc.
Abdelkader was named an alternate captain of the Red Wings yesterday.
Cuts of note:
WPG – Kosmachuk, Comrie, Roslovic
NSH – Saros, Richard, Aberg, Girard, Trenin
LAK – Trotman
These are the only prospects who were cut that interest me. But they weren’t expected to make their team. The nitty-gritty starts now, as most teams seem to be under 30 players left in camp.
Barret Jackman announced his retirement yesterday. He signed a one-day contract with the Blues and retired as a Blue. He was never overly fantasy relevant other than in his rookie year when he had 19 points and 190 PIM. He remained relevant for many years if your league counted blocked shots, hits and PIM. He was a frequent 120+ BLKS defender.
Mike Santorelli also retired, which is a surprise because he is only 30 and contributed to the NHL last year. In fact, when the Ducks got off to an ugly (ugly!) start, he led the team in scoring at the 10-game mark. He had that one big year with Florida (82-20-21-41), but that was when the desperately needed the offense and had no one else to turn to. Once they got some options, he slipped down the depth chart and the offense disappeared. Same happened in Vancouver in 2013-14 – he went on a hot run but then got hurt, ending up with 28 points in 49 games. Overall he had 138 points in 406 games. Santorelli started this season in the Swiss League but had to retire due to injuries.
Minnesota prospect Alex Tuch is among several Wild players forced to miss some preseason action due to the flu. He was back last night though, but was pointless in 13:29 of ice time.
The line of Jason Zucker – Joel Eriksson-Ek – Chris Stewart were on the ice for both Colorado goals against last night. Eriksson-Ek will probably not make the team, but he’s a top fantasy prospect for next year. Stewart and Zucker are risks to spend time in the press box this year. Both need great starts. Zucker will probably have a longer leash, but not by much.
Something that isn’t captured by Frozen Pool in preseason action are the games that are in different locations. If there’s no box score, then there’s no data (when box scores get filled in later, then the data gets pulled). So last night the Carolina-Buffalo game was in “Hockeyville” (Marquette, Michigan). All I can really say about that one is that Robin Lehner got a shutout. He’s a nice dark horse goaltender. Although the Sabres won’t get a pile of wins, if Lehner can stay healthy I think he gets close to 30 wins. And that’s a big if, as he tends to get hurt a lot. But that’s why he’s a dark horse and not a sure thing. I’d love to own him as a No.3 goalie.
And the Habs- Bruins game was in Quebec City, so the box scores were unavailable too. But those of you on forward watch for these two teams will be interested to know that Daniel Carr and Artturi Lehkonen each scored. My gut tells me that Lehkonen wins the job over Carr. And how well Lehkonen does after 10 or 15 games will determine if he gets demoted (and thus returns to Sweden) in November and Carr gets called back up – or if Lehkonen stays.
When I look over the box scores in preseason games, I focus on the ice times of the bubble players. If he’s getting 10 minutes then I know he’s not in serious contention for a roster spot (or he got hurt, but I digress). If he’s getting 18 minutes (forward) or 20 minutes (defenseman) with loads of PP and/or PK time, then I know the coach wants to get a real close look at him while the games do not count.
In the case of the Rangers – Islanders game last night, Brady Skjei played 25:10 and saw 1:06 on the PP. Adam Clendening saw 21:02 and 2:47. So Clendening is being looked at as a possible depth PP solution, Skjei is being looked at as a roster regular. We knew that already, but it’s an example of the ice time showing that. Clendening will either be cut (and called up at times), or a No.7 guy. Skjei could be the next Ryan McDonagh – don’t expect much this year or next, but long-term he could surprise you.
Nicklas Jensen getting 14 minutes and 1:14 on the power play tells me he’s on the way out, even though he scored. Nate Gerbe getting 20 minutes of action tells me that he’s being taken very seriously as a regular roster player, though not in the top six (no PP time).
You also have to balance what you see in the ice time with what you know of the player. Anthony Beauvillier is probably not going to make the Islanders, but the fact that he got 17:47 of ice time and 1:10 of PP time indicates that he’s at least being given a chance. And the coach wants to know what he has in the kid. Perhaps he even gets to stick for a couple of regular season games – after all, he had five shots on goal and dished out three hits.
Lots of PP time handed out in the Columbus-Nashville game, so we’re able to get a look at the prospects held in high regard there. Of course Alexander Wennberg saw a ton of PP time (4:46), but let’s focus on Sonny Milano (4:35), Oliver Bjorkstrand (4:46) and Daniel Zaar (4:25). Bjorkstrand had two points (one on the power play) and Milano had an assist. Meanwhile, last year’s AHL playoff revelation Lukas Sedlak saw just 14 minutes of ice time and minimal PP time, so he’s obviously on the way out and I wouldn’t expect him to be taken seriously as a productive option in the coming season. Pierre-Luc Dubois saw just 13:33 and 1:25 – those are numbers that tell me “goodbye”. He was a minus-1 and had a penalty. But clearly Tortorella is looking more closely at Milano and Zaar than he is PLD.
Bjorkstrand will make this team and he will get more than 40 points. Mark it! In the Guide I have him as a strong sleeper for 50 points.
Zach Werenski, another great sleeper, had 24:54 and 5:14 (!) ice time numbers. He scored on the power play, too. He won’t be as prolific as Gostisbehere was last year, but boy will Werenski ever be productive in 2016-17. Watch him.
For Nashville, it was interesting to see Vladislav Kamenev getting just 11:52 of ice time, though he did get 2:14 on the power play. Given that Kevin Fiala saw 16:23 and 3:26, it’s clear which player the coach wants to see more of at this juncture. Though on this team I suspect neither rookie would have a big impact in 2016-17 in fantasy hockey.
Nick Bjugstad only played a couple of shifts in the first period and then left the game. I don’t know what happened there, but he’s injury prone so I am a little concerned.
The Panthers, even though they didn’t have a regular roster, seemed to be playing it like a real game. Youngsters weren’t being given the ice time, but some depth roster players like Colton Sceviour were tried out on the power play. That’s the coach trying to see what he has in those depth guys, and it’s proof positive that the Panthers’ roster is full with no room for a prospect right now. That’s as we expected though.
For Dallas – Denis Gurianov (13:08) and Matej Stransky (12:14)…but Cole Ully had 16:37 and 3:20 on the PP. Ully’s not going to make this team this year, but it’s interesting to see the coach want to look most closely at him versus the other guys – but Gurianov got the game winner (shootout)! But again, Ully was the third Dallas shooter, Gurianov was the fifth. The coach wants to see Ully. First guy called up?
Let’s go to Chicago – all eyes on the Blackhawks and Tyler Motte versus Nick Schmaltz. Those who have been reading me (and the Fantasy Guide) know that I prefer Motte over Schmaltz. Schmaltz takes nights off and has been criticized for lack of consistency. Motte is a little sparkplug who brings it every game. Schmaltz scored in the 6-1 win. Motte picked up an assist. Schmaltz had 14:15 and 2:19 of ice and PP time. Motte had 13:42 and 0:26. Motte was stuck on a line with Kruger and Hartman (ouch!). Schmaltz played with Panik and Panarin (better). This one will be closer to call than I thought.
It was newly-signed Alexandre Fortin who got to play with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. Fortin, who was skipped over in the draft completely. Twice. Was signed by Chicago. Not because he’s big or because he put up a pile of points (just 43 in 54 games). I wish I could express some confidence in his upside as a prospect. But I can’t, and I’m just confused about what they saw in him to not only sign him when they could have drafted him, but to keep him so long and put him on a great line. He has my attention, but I don’t know what to expect. I admit I’ve never seen him and I did not see this game last night (to be honest I watched the Blue Jays – these Ramblings are 100% by the box scores).
Ryan Sproul was minus-3 against the Hawks, which doesn’t really help his case.
Interesting to note that Teemu Pulkkinen was back in the lineup for Detroit. His shoulder surgery was supposed to keep him out until November. I think it’s safe to say that he’s not 100% though – he’s just doing everything he can to not lose his place in the grand scheme of things for the Wings.
It was tough to gauge the Red Wings’ kids though because Chicago came out with most of their big guns (Keith, Kane, Panarin) whereas Detroit did not.
Just 10:09 of ice time for Colorado prospect J.T. Compher, so I’m starting to doubt that he’ll make this team. Generally if he’s on the path to a roster spot the coach will load him up with ice time and responsibility. He did look pretty good on the power play, from what I read from beat writers.
It’s starting to look as though Drake Caggiula will make the Edmonton Oilers. I was first in line among the doubters – I thought he could make 25 NHL teams, but not this one. I thought he chose a poor team to sign with. He’s proving me wrong. This writer believes he’ll make the team as the third-line centerman and they’ll move Leon Draisaitl to the right wing. But before you go hard after Caggiula, here is a cautionary tale that I found interesting (PS – I remember Shawn Heaphy from his Stratford Culliton days, was one of my favorite players as a kid when I lived there).
Jake Guentzel is taking a real good run at making the Penguins’ opening roster. If that happens, he could have fantasy relevance at some point – as could any forward with offensive skill who makes this team. But make no mistake – Guentzel is the most talented prospect on the team. So if not this year, then next.
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