Rambling about attacking the waiver wire, the most exciting teams to watch and recapping the action from Saturday …
There was an excellent discussion on Prime Time Sports between Bob McCown, Damien Cox and Richard Deitsch on Thursday about the excitement of the opening night of the NHL.
In particular, Deitsch highlighted the rise of fantasy football as the driving force behind the popularity of the NFL, whereas the low-scoring nature of the NHL made fantasy hockey less appealing. McCown also noted that he watched both games Wednesday night (TOR-OTT and CGY-EDM), and it was the first time in ages he watched two consecutive NHL games.
The Dobber community loves fantasy hockey, but with the popularity of fantasy growing across all sports, high-scoring games are much more fantasy friendly. More goals, more fantasy points, a more exciting viewing experience and more people viewing, lets hope the open floodgates aren't shackled up anytime soon.
Sorry to those who love Jacques Lemaire and 2-1 games with 22 shots on net, but it's not an enjoyable viewing experience. Games can be exciting and low scoring, but goals move the needle.
Every season more people are playing fantasy hockey anyway, but there is potential for even more. And more scoring would help.
And just as I finished writing all that:
NHL fans: Have a column you will love Sunday night. It's mega panel on many topics with nine well-known NHL media members.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) October 14, 2016
I suspect this will be an excellent read.
Here are my favorite teams to watch:
Toronto Maple Leafs – Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and a likely weak defense should mean there are plenty of high-scoring games filled with highlight-reel plays. Plus, the Leafs are my team.
Dallas Stars – Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, John Klingberg and atrocious goaltending. Plus, the Stars attack offensively with a full-out blitz. There is typically end-to-end action, and even better, no lead is safe.
Nashville Predators – Filip Forsberg, P.K. Subban, Ryan Johansen, James Neal and a supporting cast of uptempo players that are fun to watch. I also tied my wagon to Ryan Johansen this summer and in most drafts.
Tampa Bay Lightning – This is the team I hope the Leafs are in three years … only better. Victor Hedman is a pleasure to watch, and then he's followed up by Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson. Tampa plays properly.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Even without Sidney Crosby, it's a lot of fun to watch this club. Evgeni Malkin, especially when angry, is a top-five talent in the league, and Kris Letang and Phil Kessel are great, too. A healthy Crosby is
Edmonton Oilers – Connor McDavid goes a long way, but sticking with the theme, the Oilers aren't likely to be involved in many low-scoring games. Still, the real draw here is McDavid.
Philadelphia Flyers – This is all about the power play. When the Philadelphia power play is clicking, there is no better group in the league. Well at least there isn't a better power play outside of Pennsylvania. There is also typically a lot of feisty play, too.
I'm doing a weekly Waiver Wire column at Rotowire this year, and while constructing my introduction for the opening article, it seemed fitting to share my waiver-wire approach here.
Waiting for talented young players to "prove it" while remaining patient with your struggling late-round picks to is a dail-up era fantasy strategy. A player is either going to have a prolonged hot stretch, a solid season, or flame out quickly. And if you're a wait-for-it fantasy manager, more times than not you're going to catch the tail end of a hot stretch, and you're never going to land the season-long success story.
There is going to be someone in your league playing in the fibre-optic era who will chase the hot hands and add 2015-16 Shayne Gostisbehere immediately. More times than not, you're not adding a player who can be utilized night in, night out throughout the whole season. But let's say you rode a Kyle Turris–J.T. Miller–Mark Scheifele trio last year. It resulted in 12 goals, 12 assists over 28 games, 13 goals, nine assists over 28 games and 16 goals, 16 assists over 24 games, respectively, and totalled out at 41 goals and 37 assists over 80 games.
Sure, it's a cherry-picked example. But J.T. Miller was universally on waivers, and Mark Scheifele likely was in many spots, too. Remember he only played four games in January and had a mediocre 24 points over his first 38 games.
Mixing and matching your final one or two bench spots and viewing the waiver wire as an extension of your bench enables you to make the most of the large pool of replacement-level players in the league. Need more shots and hits in your weekly matchup or on your rotisserie team, then drop a finesse player with slightly more offensive upside for more a grinding type with a high-shot volume.
There is nothing less successful than hitching your wagon to a second-line winger that receives limited power-play time and enduring his midseason slump that returns two points over 11 games.
Maybe you drop the wrong guy, but if your diligent with your roster and keep tabs on the roles your players have on their individual teams, you're going to make the right move more often than not. And often times sitting idle is the worst move of all.
Obviously, transaction limits and other league settings have an impact on how aggressively you can utilize the waiver wire. But making the odd move and becoming enamored with your 45-point left winger flipping between the second and third line of his own team is a one-way ticket to mediocrity. Play to win, not finished fifth.
If you waited to grab Mitch Marner after his sterling first game, you might not have been rewarded with his goal Saturday.
Time for a tour through the box scores, just note, I've been a Cubs fan for 29 of of the 34 years of my life and by the end of the night will have approached 4,000 to 5,000 words of fantasy hockey content. I didn't have a chance to watch much, so this is a quick-hit list of things that stood out with a fantasy spin.
David Pastrnak registered six shots on net, and no other Bruin had more than three. However, he's still only played 15:11 and 14:19, respectively, through the first two games of the season. He's still a must-own player in all formats given his top-line assignment, but does his power-play role remain when Patrice Bergeron is healthy?
Mitch Marner is up to 18 shot attempts through the first two games of the season, and he has looked consistently dangerous whenever he's on the ice. Also, good on him for the slashing minor — I did watch much of this game.
Nathan Beaulieu received 22:46 of ice time and notched his first assist of the season. The key for him is the hefty ice time, and if he consistently plays above 20 minutes, he'll produce offense. Remember, he only saw 17:46 in the opener. It's also worth noting, Beaulieu still hasn't registered a shot on goal.
Alexander Radulov led Montreal forwards in power-play ice time (4:09). The buy-low window is going to close soon.
Two points for Ryan Dzingel, but he's going to need more than 9:03 of ice time to be a fantasy asset in most settings.
Al Montoya has a .942 save percentage and should be a reliable option whenever he starts.
Craig Anderson has an .887 save percentage through two starts and could be in for a disastrous season.
Yohann Auvitu paced the New Jersey defenseman in power-play time (3:07), and he registered four shots on net. He only received 17:27 of total ice time. Damon Severson played just 17:26 with 2:28 on the PP.
Taylor Hall still doesn't have a point. I don't own him, didn't pump his tires and don't endorse an attempted buy-low attempt.
No player on Tampa Bay had two points and nine of 20 players dressed registered one. Brayden Point tied Steven Stamkos with a team-high five shots on net, and the rookie logged 15:09 with 2:39 of power-play time.
Andre Vasilevskiy turned away 32 of 34 shots in the win.
Dobber's favorite, Joanthan Marchessault registered a goal and two assists Saturday to follow up his goal on opening night. He is a must-add skater. He had a game-high six shots against Detroit and is receiving significant minutes alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr.
Michael Matheson had five shots on goal, a blocked shot and left with a plus-1 rating. He only played 17:28 with just three seconds of power-play time, though.
Jared McCann played the fewest minutes of any Panther.
Dylan Larkin finished with a minus-4 rating, registered just one shot on net and now has just 13 points over his past 34 regular season games.
Nick Ritchie played 21:14, which was even more than Ryan Kesler. It is only a matter of time before Ritchie pads the scoresheet with more than peripheral contributions. He registered six hits and four penalty minutes Saturday.
Justin Schultz notched seven shots on goal in just 14:14 of ice time with only 1:16 of power-play time. That's more valuable in daily contests where you can grab some cheap points from a low-priced flier.
Marc-Andre Fleury might not give up the Pittsburgh crease all that quickly. He's saved 73 of 77 shots faced thus far (.948 save percentage).
Mathew Barzel took three minor penalties Saturday, and he did not register a shot attempt. It'll be interesting to see if he's in the lineup Sunday.
Two games and no points for John Tavares. Perhaps, if he didn't play with the two oldest forwards on the team, he might have more success. Never trust Jack Capuano.
John Carlson had an assist with six shots, four blocked shots and 6:13 of power-play time. If he played for the Islanders, he would have been a healthy scratch.
Braden Holtby has saved 49 of 52 shots to start the season and remains the king of the castle.
Two assists, eight shots on net and 5:38 of power-play time from Brent Burns. That's what you signed up for with an early-round pick.
It's pretty hard to play 19:36 and have a stat line filled with bagels, but Joe Thornton managed. His end of season results are going to be fine, obviously, but he's a hazardous daily games option because of games like this. He didn't even bump into anyone to grab a hit. It has to be harder to do nothing than something, I would think.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic noted an assist and played 5:30 with the man advantage. He's a low-end offensive defenseman, but in league where cross-category production (hits, blocks and plus/minus rating) is included, Vlasic presents a sneaky floor.
Two games in, and Zach Werenski has a goal, an assist and nine shots on goal with an average of 21:55 per game. He's also receiving 2:19 of power-play time per night thus far. If you can stomach the plus/minus downside, Werenski is an immediate grab. He's unlikely to maintain a big season throughout the year, though, so it would be wise to look to deal him at some point when his value is highest.
Alexander Wennberg scores. He finished last season with 39 points over his final 54 games, and the pivot already has three tallies this year. Barring injuries, it would appear he's a lock for 50 points with the upside to take a run at 60.
It wouldn't be shocking if Martin Jones finished as the top fantasy goalie this season. Sure, it's probably unlikely, but it shouldn't be a shock. He's going to receive the workload behind a strong team, and he's solid. Two wins with a .940 save percentage to start the season, albeit against basement opponents.
I've been pumping Charlie Coyle's tires for a good year, and now that he's on the top line, it all might come together for the 24-year-old winger. He's found the scoresheet in each of the first two games and has four shots on net and four penalty minutes. Add 2:50 of power-play time per night to his three hits and four blocked shots and it's a nice stat line for a lower-end winger.
I've sat Matt Dumba in a league the first two nights because there is a games-played limit. I might not bench him again. Dumba scored Saturday, but he also took a minor penalty, registered three shots on net, blocked two shots and threw two body checks. He's averaging 3:51 of power-play time through the first two games of the season, too.
Mark Scheifele isn't quite at Connor McDavid's level of production, but the Winnipeg pivot has two goals and an assist with a plus-3 rating, four penalty minutes and six shots on net through the first two games.
Speaking of Chris Kreider, perhaps he didn't hit a plateau. He's registered 14 shots through the first two games of the season and sits with two goals and two assists. The eight body checks are impressive, too. Maybe the linebacker on skates is finally putting it all together.
Vladimir Tarasenko will likely check out as one of the safest first-round picks in each of the next four drafts. Already at three goals and five points with 13 shots through three games, he's a lock for 75(ish) points while taking a run at 300 shots.
Impressive night for Carter Hutton. The backup turned away 33 shots for a .943 save percentage, and he could be a solid No. 3 fantasy goalie if he approaches 35 starts. Jake Allen isn't a beacon of health ahead of him, either.
Richard Panik scored a hat trick. Add Richard Panik at your own discretion. Also, don't be surprised if the player you dropped to add Panik is scooped up quickly by someone else. Perhaps, I'm wrong, but Panik isn't the fantasy difference maker I was referring to earlier.
So much for limiting Duncan Keith's minutes. He's averaging 25:27 per night and has three assists through three games.
Marek Mazanec isn't going to be in the NHL long, or at least he shouldn't be. Juuse Saros is likely the best goalie in Nashville, and he could have a Connor Hellebuyck-like stretch from last year at some point this season. It's obviously not a time to stash Saros in most settings, but you'll certainly want to be ready to pull the trigger when the time arrives.
Joe Colborne dumped a hat trick on the Stars, and it brings him up to 15 goals and 14 helpers over his past 34 games. He's 26 years old and might be in line for a career year. It isn't out of the question to take a speculative flier.
Jiri Hudler posted a minus-2 rating and failed to register a shot through 13:19 of ice time. He's a drop candidate.
Travis Konecny has six shots on net with three assists through the first two games of the season. He's playing a top-six role and receiving power-play time. He was also arguably the fastest rising prospect in hockey last year. Scoop him up.
10 Coyotes hit the scoresheet Saturday, and Martin Hanzal was the only one with two points. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is going to get his, and Max Domi and Anthony Duclair will be fine, but if Arizona finished with five 50-point players, it wouldn't be shocking.
Alex Goligoski logged 24:57 with 7:07 of power-play time. He had an assist, three shots on goal, four blocked shots and two hits. Unfortunately, he went minus-2, which is the risk. The upside is a cross-category beast to fill out your blue line.
I believe Bo Horvat started the game between Alexandre Burrows and Derek Dorsett on the fourth line. That's absolutely the most ridiculous line combination and assignment for Horvat imaginable. He should have peaced out and demanded a trade. Way to stunt a player's growth. I was under the impression that Horvat was a coveted young piece of the core. Unbelievable. The kid capped off last season with 30 points over 44 games. He shouldn't be playing with Burrows and Dorsett.
Over and out, Dobberheads.
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