Ramblings: Rakell’s Return, Ranger Dominance, Werenski Love (Nov. 2)

by steve laidlaw on November 2, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Rakell’s Return, Ranger Dominance, Werenski Love (Nov. 2)

Rakell’s return, the Rangers’ dominance, Werenski love and more.

 

The Rangers continue to roll over teams. I am thoroughly impressed with the depth of size, speed and skill they boast throughout their lineup. They have nine or 10 guys who could score 20 goals and 50 points, with a few who have potential for more. Their defense group appears weak outside of Ryan McDonagh but it doesn’t seem to matter.

McDonagh, by the way, extended his assist streak to eight games. Quite the run, especially when you consider he has 10-goal potential. A slow down is coming at some point, but similar to Ryan Suter’s hot run to start last season, it could be enough to propel McDonagh to a 50-point season.

Jimmy Vesey led the offense with a three-point night. His shooting percentage is out of this world but it is important that he is producing because in this lineup any slippage and there is someone on your heels looking to grab your minutes. Vesey is skating 15 minutes a game with 2:39 per game on the power play. That’s officially second unit PP time so we might see the minutes taper off as the season wears on but the Rangers have both units producing so don’t expect a huge drop off. At this rate 25 goals and 50 points looks like a real possibility. That’s a bump from the 40 points I was expecting.

Welcome back to the lineup, Chris Kreider. No signs of rust for the big man. Two assists and five SOG. Breakout season here we come!

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It’s been this kind of year for Robby Fabbri:

One of 35 saves for Henrik Lundqvist’s shutout.

Four straight games without a point for Alex Steen. I’m not ringing the alarm bells yet but going off the eye test, I see some signs of slippage. Any Blues fans with some insight?

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Zach Werenski people! Two more assists for the stud defenseman. He is still available in a good chunk of leagues as his ownership is at 55% on Yahoo and 58.4% on ESPN. I don’t think it’s too much to ask we get his ownership into the 80% range. Seriously, in what league is a 50-point defenseman not relevant?

The Nick Foligno bounceback season is also for real. He is back to skating big minutes and seeing usage on the Blue Jacket top PP unit. I’m not buying him to continue at this point-per-game pace. Nor do I think he’s scoring 70 points again. Could he sneak a 60-point season in there? What about mid-to-high 50’s? I’m a fan of his usage and linemates.

I feel like I could talk about the Blue Jackets all day. This team is just undervalued in general.

I am out on Brandon Dubinsky now, however. He’s still seeing some PP usage but they’ve got him skating with Matt Calvert and Josh Anderson at even strength. He’s basically in full shutdown mode.

Scott Hartnell and Boone Jenner are also fairly well buried in this lineup. Lots of intriguing names but Foligno, Alexander Wennberg, Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad and Werenski are the ones to buy. Everyone else is for the birds.

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Signs of life from John Klingberg with an assist. That’s his second in three games. This guy is worth trying to buy low on. The injuries in Dallas have been crippling but at some point they are going to start scoring more. There’s still enough talent that they won’t be held quiet for too long. I’m not sure using Antoine Roussel on the top power play unit is a solution to what ails that group, however.

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There’s the Nikita Kucherov that folks thought they were buying at the draft table this spring. Two goals, two assists and suddenly he is up among the scoring leaders. You can make some big moves early in the season. This is Kucherov’s second four-point game of the season. He skated over eight minutes with the man advantage in this one so perhaps don’t count on that kind of good fortune going forward.

Now we await Ondrej Palat’s breakout game. He is scoreless in five games and has just four points in 10 games thus far. He is also seeing his power play role diminishing towards more of a second unit spot. He skated 6:45 with the man advantage last night but that accounted for just 42% of Tampa Bay’s PP time. Palat was skating with Kucherov and Steven Stamkos for much of the game but didn’t get in on any of the offense.

I am growing impatient, especially when I know it has taken supreme good fortune for Palat to produce at a 60-point level in the past. Your appetite for bailing should depend on league size and what’s available on the waiver wire but I would note that Palat is not some tent-pole guy you drafted in the top five rounds where you should absolutely be married to him. If there’s an appealing option on the wire, make the move. For instance, I dumped Palat for Tomas Tatar. Similar upside here, and similar slow start but Detroit plays thrice between now and Sunday and it’s all on off-nights. Plus, I like Tatar’s usage better. What could go wrong?

Jonathan Drouin got knocked from the game early following this collision:

I have no clue if that’s dirty or not as both players played the puck but de Haan does appear to follow through to the head, which, whether you intend it or not, is a no-no in today’s game. A good chunk of Tampa Bay’s power play came as a result of the major penalty de Haan was assigned.

That sounds like good news to me.

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Interesting but I am still ordering everyone to the escape pods.

John Tavares desperately needs some help, but none is coming. I’ve heard the notion that the Islanders should have just kept Kyle Okposo if they were going to give all that money to Ladd. I’m not convinced they had the option with Okposo. He may have wanted to leave.

Anders Lee skated just 9:37 in this one. Because the Islanders spent so much time killing penalties you cannot totally hold that against Lee but he does appear to be falling out of favour. He hasn’t gotten a sniff of top line or top power play usage, after once seeming like Tavares’ future running mate.

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Impressive game for Nazem Kadri. He spent much of his time as Connor McDavid’s shadow but managed two goals, including the overtime winner in just 14:05 of action. He is shooting 23.5% so far, putting those shooting percentage woes into the rear view. Also unlikely to take over 250 shots again, however.

Nikita Soshnikov made his return to the lineup and while he was used in a fourth line role he showed a ton of skill. If he’s a fourth liner, your team is in good shape.

Don’t look now but Freddie Andersen has turned in three straight quality starts. He stopped 44 of 46 to hold off the Oilers.

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Oscar Klefbom with an impressive eight SOG last night. He also rang one off the inside of the post that narrowly missed going in. He is still ceding the top unit PP minutes to Andrej Sekera.

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There’s the Predators offense we all wanted to see. They loaded up their top line with Ryan Johansen, James Neal and Filip Forsberg. The results were explosive with all three registering a pair of points. Johansen finally score his first goal of the season. We know the Forsberg-Johansen-Neal combination won’t stick forever but here’s hoping they stick together for a nice run that gets this team rolling.

Second win of the season for Pekka Rinne. I know folks want to see the Juuse Saros takeover but I think Rinne’s going to be competent enough to hold him off. That doesn’t mean Rinne will be a great fantasy option, but he’s going to win a lot of games.

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Artem Anisimov is your league leader in scoring. At what point do we take this seriously? He scored just 42 points during Patrick Kane’s ludicrous season so seemingly he shouldn’t improve on that but with 13 points in just 10 games, he’s already over a quarter of the way to his first 50-point season. He’s also shooting 35%. The only advice to give is to hang onto this as long as possible and hope that his binge lasts long enough to make him a trade commodity. Also, as referenced above Nick Foligno has a 70-point season under his belt. Sometimes the inexplicable happens. Enjoy the wave but don’t be afraid to jump off once he cools off.

Check out the sweet move by Tyler Motte:

Motte isn’t relevant in many leagues but he’s got some talent for those in DEEP leagues.

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On Insider Trading yesterday it was noted that the Kings did some paper transactions to get Jonathan Quick onto long term injured reserve. The relief from this move opens up the cap space necessary to bring in a more expensive goalie option. Will they make such a move? That remains to be seen. We know Jaroslav Halak is available but the extra year on his deal makes that option untenable.

I think the Kings will try to avoid spending on an expensive goalie replacement for as long as possible.. If they can tread water until a better goalie option comes available or until Jonathan Quick returns, they’ll be better for it. They might even be able to turn some of their savings into a deadline acquisition that helps bolster the lineup rather than the goaltending. It all depends on the Kings hanging around without having to make a salary adding move to fix the goaltending. When the best available option is Ondrej Pavelec, it certainly emboldens you to roll the dice.

Last night was Peter Budaj’s first truly bad game. A few more and the Kings need to kick some other tires. Remember, they are also trying out Anders Lindback. Presumably he gets a crack before they do anything bigger.

Just as alarming as their goaltending, will the Kings score again? They’ve now been shutout in three straight. The good news is they get Pittsburgh tomorrow night who will be skating the back half of a back-to-back.

I have been getting lots of questions about Alec Martinez’s hot start and how he’s taken over Jake Muzzin’s spot as the #2 guy alongside Drew Doughty. I’m not too worried about Muzzin. He probably gets 40 points again, and outscores Martinez. It seems Martinez gets a chance with Doughty two or three times a year but it never sticks. Maybe this year it’ll be different, I’m not optimistic, and I’m a Martinez owner in some deeper leagues.

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Welcome back Rickard Rakell!!!

A three-point night for Rakell is a great way to reward fantasy owners for their patience. I don’t love his usage, as he skated with Antoine Vermette and Joseph Cramarossa at even strength and was mostly on the second power play unit. It’s worth watching where he lines up going forward.

Nick Ritchie was my big waiver wire pickup for this week thanks to Anaheim’s loaded schedule and his ice time alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, looks like an injury could be derailing this one:

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Marcus Johansson is scorching hot with five goals in the last three games. He’s shooting 33% so we know there’s going to be a slowdown but because Johansson sees second line and top PP unit minutes there’s real breakout season potential here. After three straight seasons in the 45-point range maybe he pushes 55 or even 60 points. That Johansson’s hot start has come alongside slower starts for guys like Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and even Alex Ovechkin tells me that there’s some serious market corrections to come.

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Mikkel Boedker got some run alongside Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski but it wasn’t until late in the game alongside Tomas Hertl that he finally scored. Boedker is looking like a sunk cost for the Sharks. He did most of his damage last season skating huge minutes on the power play. They’ve got no room for him on their top PP unit in San Jose. He does bring the speed dimension but hasn’t yet found a fit in the Shark lineup. I cannot advocate Boedker as an option in anything but the deepest of leagues.

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The injury bug has struck Martin Hanzal once again:

It was inevitable although I did have some hope that Hanzal would tough it out as best he could given his upcoming UFA status. A big year could lead to a huge contract.

Dylan Strome skated a season high 16:49. Hanzal’s injury could be the ticket to keeping him around past his ninth game but it’s worth noting he’s only at game four so Hanzal would have to miss an extended period to force this into play.

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Matt Murray is scheduled to start for the Penguins tomorrow night, his first of the season. As always, check GoaliePost daily to confirm your starters for the day.

With Murray out, Marc-Andre Fleury got in a nine-game head start but he still may come up shy of the 60-start mark. With 73 games remaining, Murray could get into one third of the games and start about 25 games. Fleury would thus finish with 55-60 starts depending on just how many starts Murray steals.

Given the back-to-back Fleury will likely get back in goal on Thursday against the Kings.

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Hilarious story of the time Jeremy Roenick pranked Torrey Mitchell and Devin Setoguchi.

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Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. Follow him on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.