Ramblings: Sami Vatanen, Jonathan Marchessault, Pavel Zacha (April 4)

by Neil Parker on April 3, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Sami Vatanen, Jonathan Marchessault, Pavel Zacha (April 4)
Sami Vatanen - USA TODAY Sports Images


Sami Vatanen, Jonathan Marchessault, Pavel Zacha and more …


The NHL has decided not to participate in the 2018 Olympics. Perhaps the decision is reversed at some point, but considering the limited relevance to our virtual game, I'll just share my quick addition to the forum discussion.

"In theory, the loss of a best-on-best tournament in the Olympics is a downer. However, the No. 1 showdown in hockey will always be the NHL playoffs — year in, year out, no matter what. There are also all the logistic problems of the NHL shutting down in the middle of the season and scheduling around the Olympics, especially economically.
This decision shouldn't have been a surprise. There is also a better than zero chance the tournament turns out to be more enjoyable to watch."


For me, it's not a big deal. I can understand why it is for others, though.

Here's the NHLPA's statement on the NHL's decision.




Following Mike's lead with some thoughts on the Ducks, it's clear that leaving Sami Vatanen exposed and keeping Jakob Silfverberg protected at the expansion draft is a must.

Head coach Randy Carlyle has handed Vatanen more minutes and more defensive responsibilities, and the 25-year-old rearguard has seen his offensive numbers and possession rates decline. Vatanen has posted a negative relative Corsi For percentage for the second consecutive season, and his 0.39 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five rank 121st out of 125 defensemen with at least 1,000 minutes this season.

Most telling — and concerning — is that Vatanen has also been a significant possession anchor at five-on-five. The nine teammates he's shared the ice with the most this season have all posted a better five-on-five Corsi For percentage away from Vatanen than Vatanen away from them.



Meanwhile, Silfverberg has turned in career-best offensive numbers with 23 goals, 48 points and 225 shots and posted a 51.1 Corsi For percentage despite starting 62.5 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone.

With Brandon Montour and Shea Theodore both exempt from the expansion draft, the Ducks have the defense depth to float Vatanen and not sustain a substantial loss. Losing a 20-goal scorer that matches up against the opposition's top players nightly would be a much more significant blow.




C.J. Smith debuted with the Sabres Sunday and collected an assist. Read more about him here. It'll be worth watching Smith this week because Buffalo is building a strong offensive forward corps, and he posted impressive numbers in the NCAA ranks.

Smith also started Monday's game against Toronto on a line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. That's not a bad spot, but Marcus Foligno replaced Smith to start the second period. However, with the goalie pulled in the last minute of the game, Smith was back on the ice with Eichel and company.




Pavel Zacha has registered an assist in eight of his past 11 games, and he centered Taylor Hall and Mike Cammalleri at practice on Monday. The Devils have home games against the Flyers, Penguins and Islanders before finishing the season on the road against the Red Wings. Zacha is being placed in a situation to succeed and is most certainly an option in deep seasonal leagues and daily contests.




Roberto Luongo is unlikely to play again this season, and James Reimer might be back to start Thursday. Luongo can be dropped, and Reimer probably shouldn't be trusted considering Florida's collapse. Reimer's own poor play is also an issue, as he posted a 4-9-1 record with a .912 save percentage and 2.92 GAA through his past 15 outings.

Many of the Panthers struggles likely align with the absence of Aaron Ekblad, though. He's played just one of the past 11 games (4-7), and Florida has allowed the fifth-most high-danger scoring changes per 60 minutes (12.13) at five-on-five during that stretch. Through the previous 68 games, the Cats surrendered just 10.23 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes at five-on-five, which was the 12th-fewest in the league.

Of course, Florida lost again Monday and allowed another 11 high-danger scoring chances.

Keeping the 21-year-old star healthy is incredibly important.




Here's an interesting read about Ryan Kennedy's rationale for promoting Nico Hischier ahead of Nolan Patrick in his 2017 NHL Draft rankings. There are plenty of reasons to compare Hischier to Jonathan Drouin, as Kennedy did. My under-informed comparison for Patrick is Sean Couturier.

Patrick brings the complete package without any shortcomings, but will his lack of elite talent translate into game-breaking offense at the highest level?

We often face similar choices early in fantasy drafts. Do you go with the known commodity and grab Corey Perry? Or do you chase the upside and momentum Brad Marchand generated leading into the season?

It's easy to cherry-pick examples, and I project Patrick to have a Couturier floor (that's high), but playing it safe early in virtual leagues can leave you in the middle of the pack.




With Shea Weber out of the lineup with a lower-body injury, the Canadiens didn't fork over a significant minute hike to any defenseman. Andrei Markov's 21:31 of ice time was the highest, and the lowest total was Nikita Nesterov's 18:18.

Weber will also miss Wednesday's date with Buffalo, but with Montreal clinching the Atlantic Division on Monday, there might not be a lot of incentive to push any single defender. So, while Markov should see an uptick in value, it might not come to fruition. Additionally, it isn't out of the question to replace Weber is shallow formats, as Montreal could opt to rest him for the remainder of the season.




Jonathan Marchessault was a preseason darling of Dobber's, and I was able to land him with my final pick in 20-team, points-only setting.

He became just the 23rd player of the year to hit the 30-goal plateau Monday, and players of his ilk are likely to slowly become more and more fantasy relevant in the coming years.

Next year, specifically, the addition of Las Vegas will open up a number of roster spots both with the Golden Knights and potentially a number of other clubs. Teams will also likely start to look for skilled players to fill out their bottom lines instead of targeting size and grit.

Jordan Weal, Teemu Pulkkinen, Seth Griffith are names that immediately come to mind, but there should be plenty of capable scores receiving more of a chance over the coming years.Just look at how Columbus creatively utilized Sam Gagner.




It seemed fitting that Evgeny Svechnikov (read more here) provided the shootout-winning goal against Ottawa on Monday. The 2015 first-round pick scored 18 goals and 44 points through 68 AHL games, which comes on the heels of two respectable campaigns — 64 goals and 157 points through 105 games — in the QMJHL.

For our fantasy purposes, it's also encouraging that there is an edge to his game, as Svechnikov had 56 PIM with Grand Rapids this year and 167 over his final two seasons with Cape Breton. A nice finish to the campaign could help his chances of seeing semi-regular duty with Detroit next year. However, the Red Wings still have a crowded forward corps.




I'm still in the midst of covering daily contests, so a lot of Monday was spent researching Tuesday's slate. With that in mind, here are a number of thoughts to keep in mind.

The Ducks have allowed the most high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes (12.82) since the trade deadline.

The Islanders travel to Nashville without John Tavares (lower body) and have allowed the second-most high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes (12.1) for the season.

John Klingberg continues to move the needle with two goals, five points, 11 shots and 10 blocked shots through his past seven outings. Dallas hosts Arizona on Tuesday.

Kris Versteeg has been a key contributor of late for Calgary with five goals, seven assists, seven power-play points and 34 shots through his past 15 games.

Toronto is playing its third game in four nights and hosts Washington on Tuesday. The Capitals should have plenty of motivation to leave an impression against a potential playoff opponent.




It's nice to be back. Thanks for checking in, Dobberheads.