Ramblings: Schneider vs. Blackwood, Aho vs. Eichel In Roto (Aug 3)

by Ian Gooding on August 3, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Schneider vs. Blackwood, Aho vs. Eichel In Roto (Aug 3)


The 2019-20 Dobber Hockey Fantasy Guide is now available! That means you can now download your copy if you’d already preordered it. If not, you can now purchase yours at Dobber Sports. Believe me, it’s worth it. If you’re a busy guy (like I am), download a copy to your phone or other device, then have a look through when you have a few moments or are waiting for something. The season doesn’t start for another two months, so you don’t have to read it all in one day!

Inside you’ll find the usual projections for each player by team, plus sleeper picks, draft review and Calder nominees, advanced stats, breakdown of the 2019-20 schedule, and more! As well, I should mention that the Fantasy Guide is updated as more signings, trades, injuries, and other events affect player projections. You just have to log back in, go to your Downloads folder, download the latest version, and view the updates in blue.

*

The New Jersey Devils have built a strong case to be the NHL’s most improved team in 2019-20 with the offseason additions of P.K. Subban, Jack Hughes, Wayne Simmonds, and most recently Nikita Gusev. So when discussing the Devils as a team, the conversation naturally turns to the goaltending. As in, can Cory Schneider have a comeback season? Or is this the season that Mackenzie Blackwood becomes the full-time starter?

Anyone making a case for Schneider as a bounce-back candidate will point to his second-half stats. After Schneider went over a full calendar year without registering a win (partially due to injury), he posted a 2.28 GAA and .927 SV% from the point of that win (February 15) through to the end of the season. Of course, health will have to matter for Schneider to have success, as he missed time in 2018-19 due to hip/abdominal issues. Yes, Schneider made it onto Dobber’s latest Band-Aid Boy list, which was published this week.

If Schneider experiences additional hip issues or falls into another funk, Blackwood will be primed to earn lots of work. Blackwood was a popular waiver-wire pickup in late December after he posted back-to-back shutouts, and his end-of-season numbers (2.61 GAA, .918 SV%) as a rookie certainly weren’t bad. Those numbers were actually better than his AHL numbers from each of the previous two seasons, which could either be taken as a sign of improvement or somewhat concerning that the NHL numbers were a fluke. In addition, Blackwood had been demoted to the ECHL in 2017-18.

Schneider should still be considered the starter here. However, I’m willing to bet the under on Schneider starting 50 games because of potential lingering hip issues. As a result, Blackwood could see at least 30 games, which would make him a popular waiver-wire grab again at some point. He shouldn’t be considered an elite goalie prospect by any means, but he could be a serviceable option anyway.

Coincidentally, after I wrote this, I found a thread in the Forum on this very topic, complete with a poll on which Devils’ goalie would start more games. Feel free to weigh in.

*


I replied to this tweet saying that additional category values might override any point differences between Sebastian Aho and Jack Eichel. You can purchase your copy of the Fantasy Guide to find out which player is projected at 86 points and which one at 82 points.

In the lastest Roto Rankings, I have Eichel at 19 and Aho at 27. So the two aren’t that far off, as they shouldn’t be. Here’s a breakdown of their roto categories from the 2018-19 season:
 

 

GP

G

A

+/-

PPP

SOG

HIT

Aho

82

30

53

+25

24

243

65

Eichel

77

28

54

-11

26

303

70


It’s amazing how similar their seasons where last seasons, particularly in goals, assists, power-play points, and hits. In fact, it’s almost as if they’re the same player! Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Regardless, it doesn’t appear that additional categories will have much of a difference here.

Aho has the clear advantage in plus/minus, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the results of the two teams in 2018-19. If Buffalo is a better team in 2019-20, then that gap should be reduced. However, Eichel has averaged a minus-20 over the past three seasons, so it’s a concern in leagues that count that stat.

Eichel holds the advantage in shots, although it’s worth mentioning that Aho’s shot total in 2018-19 resembled what Eichel’s was in the previous three seasons. Eichel’s 303 shots placed him in fifth in the league in 2018-19, which boosts his value further.

A good point was raised on Twitter in that Eichel is still a Band-Aid Boy and Aho is trending upward. However, Eichel has been a better points-per-game producer over the last three years (0.99 to 0.81). That might not be totally fair to Aho, who has played in one fewer NHL season and could thus be considered lower on his growth curve.  In addition, Aho scored 49 points in his rookie season while receiving over three fewer minutes of icetime per game than he did in 2018-19.

Eichel’s advanced stats show as being relatively normal, particularly with shooting percentage. Aho’s advanced stats are as well, although his PDO (1018) is slightly higher than Eichel’s (993).

Aho was eligible at all three forward positions in Yahoo leagues last season, while Eichel was only eligible at the center position. If you’re in a live draft, I could see the case of drafting Aho ahead of Eichel, particularly if you have separate C, LW, and RW slots. Maybe it’s pedigree, but I think Eichel still has the higher scoring upside.

As for the rankings, what I will most likely do is bump Aho up the rankings a bit. For what it’s worth, Eichel was drafted in the third round and Aho in the fourth round of this mock draft in the Forum.  

*

The Leafs have signed forward Matt Read to a professional tryout contract. Read spent most of 2018-19 in the AHL, playing just 12 games with the Wild and scoring one goal. He has reached 20 goals and 40 points twice in his career, so he could find his way onto the Leafs’ roster (or another team’s roster, since they also might be watching) with a strong training camp.

*

Speaking of the Wild, here’s a very interesting long read into what happened during the Paul Fenton era in Minnesota, by Michael Russo of The Athletic. A lot of detail in here. Honestly, you’ll read some of it and think “no big deal”, but there’s some other stories that either makes Fenton look completely incompetent or like the evil boss that no one wants to work for. It’s fair to say after this debacle, he shouldn’t be considered for any further jobs as an NHL GM.

If you don’t have an Athletic account, here’s a good snippet of a few of the stories, which include Fenton’s failed attempts at firing Bruce Boudreau, the Nino Niederreiter/Victor Rask trade, and the Kevin Fiala/Mikael Granlund trade. If you're a Wild fan, yeesh.
 


*

It doesn’t sound like Ken Holland has been able to convince Jesse Puljujarvi that Edmonton is the place to be. According to a Finnish newspaper, Puljujarvi has stated that he would like “a new start with some other team.” There’s a good chance Puljujarvi spends the season in Europe if the Oilers can’t arrange a trade. Don’t expect a return for the Oilers that would normally be the equivalent of a player picked fourth overall just three years ago. Even if Puljujarvi plays in the NHL this season, it’s a reach to think that he’d receive any kind of top-6 minutes.  

*

According to Elliotte Friedman, there are four more arbitration filings for 2019:
 

*

For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.