Ramblings: Schneider waived; Drouin and Byron injured; Frost called up; Svechnikov – November 19

by Michael Clifford on November 19, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Schneider waived; Drouin and Byron injured; Frost called up; Svechnikov – November 19

 

Morgan Frost was called up by the Flyers ahead of their game Tuesday night in Florida. The first-round pick from 2017 has 12 points in 16 games in the AHL this year, over a 60-point pace. You can read his Dobber Prospects profile here.

I am really interested to see where they slot him. I’m very much of the mind that Claude Giroux’s days at centre are over and he needs to be moved to the wing permanently. (I had assumed that had already happened but here we are.) Bringing up Frost would allow Couturier to resume 1C duties, Kevin Hayes to take his spot as the 2C, and Frost be sheltered as the 3C. It’s effectively what the Habs did last year with Kotkaniemi and that worked just fine.

Or do they play Frost on the wing and leave Giroux in the middle? They didn’t run lines in practice, so we’ll find out today, I suppose.

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The Devils have put Cory Schneider on waivers. It’s almost certain that he’ll clear, and then he’ll be sent to the AHL.

I know he’s shown flashes of his former self, namely the final couple months last year, but this is basically his fourth year of severe under-performance and this is a team that is desperate to get back to the playoffs. It’s sad to see, but it was also inevitable.

This also means MacKenzie Blackwood is the guy in net for the foreseeable future.

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We got confirmation that Kyle Okposo did suffer a concussion and will be out indefinitely. Man, I just hope that guy is healthy long-term at this point.

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Boston called up a forward and Patrice Bergeron wasn’t even skating before practice. It seems that groin injury he tried to rehab in the summer, but which lingered into training camp, is catching up to him again. The team calls him a game-time decision for Tuesday but I’ll be surprised if he plays.

I don’t know what Bergeron owners can do here except hope for a miracle? It seems like they’ll have to deal with this issue all season.

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Montreal will be without both Jonathan Drouin (wrist surgery) and Paul Byron (knee surgery) for an indefinite amount of time. As a result, Tomas Tatar is back in his normal spot on the top line while Nick Suzuki is moving up to centre the second line, between Max Domi and Joel Armia, as it was in their last game. The third line is Lehkonen-Kotkaniemi-Weal.

Suzuki played a season-high 18:04 on Saturday night and is now, effectively, the team’s second-line centre. Might be worth heading to the waiver wire, depending on the size of your league.

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Gary Bettman said NHL player tracking tech will be available by the playoffs. Remember: this league couldn’t get accurate stats on its website as recently as two years ago. Relying on the NHL to do literally anything right is a fool’s errand. I would really, really hold off on heralding this as the next big breakthrough until we see for certain they don’t have Ovechkin teeing up one timers from Row E in section 121 or Pavelski skating 98 Km/h.

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Washington stuck with their changed lineup, having Kuznetsov between Ovechkin and Wilson on Monday night.

I have to say, it’s weird that they did this considering they were leading their division (and the league) while having strong underlying metrics. Not that I disagree – I think more teams should be proactive with their lineups/combinations rather than reactive. It’s just odd to see from a team at the top of the standings who is also just playing good hockey. This isn’t the 2018-19 Sabres.

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A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Dougie Hamilton and why, even with his unsustainably hot start, I wouldn’t look to trade him high. It’s probably worth talking about his teammate Andrei Svechnikov.

As of Monday, Svech was 13th overall in standard Yahoo! leagues while he was 11th in standard ESPN leagues. I don’t think it’s surprising to anyone that he’s doing well, but doing this well is kind of crazy. I was among the highest rankers on Svech over at FantasyPros and even then he was just inside my top-120 players, or a 10th-round pick in 12-team leagues. There were people who thought he’d be close to a top-100 player, but I don’t think anyone expected top-15. So, how’s this happening?

It should be noted his secondary assist rate at five on five is exorbitantly high. As in, roughly 150 percent higher (1.21 per 60 minutes) than last year’s rate (0.48). He’s top-5 in the NHL among regular forwards, and his rate is considerably higher than the league leader last year (Alex Tuch, 1.01). In fact, Svech’s rate this year is about 50 percent higher than the person who finished 5th last year in this regard (Tyler Bertuzzi, 0.81). It won’t tank his value completely, but we can expect his rate to slow significantly over the balance of the season, adding maybe 7-8 secondary assists to his current total (5) rather than the 15-16 he’s on pace for as the moment.

The power-play production is also a concern. I mean, yes, it’s great he has nine PPPs so far, but it should also be a concern for his fantasy owners. The team has scored more than 13 goals per 60 minutes with him on the ice at five-on-four. Last year, no regularly-used power-play forward finished over 13 on-ice goals per 60 minutes, only one finished over 12, and only two finished over 11. Finishing over 10 would put him in the 90th percentile, to give you a reference on how high 13 goals per 60 minutes is. At his current pace, we’d expect somewhere around 28 more PPPs for Svech this year. With some regression kicking in, we’re closer to 20, and even that would be high.

Svech is currently on pace for 1344 total minutes played as he’s still earning under 16:30 per game (16:25 per game in November, 16:24 in October). He’s also on pace for nearly 90 points. Just three players in the last decade have managed even just 70 points with that little ice time per game: Marchessault in 2017-18, Pastrnak in 2016-17, and Tyler Johnson in 2014-15. Before that, it was Pavel Datsyuk and Maxim Afinogenov in 2005-06 with 87 and 73 points, respectively. Forget managing 90 this year – without significant ice time increases, expecting more than 70 from Svech is expecting a lot.

This is certainly a case where I would sell high (not in keeper/dynasty leagues, obviously). I love Svech as a player and he will be a perennial all star. He also has some pretty significant regression coming and does not have the ice time cushion to soften the blow. Worse, he could lose ice time once the points stop coming as fast as they are. Now would be the time to move on in return for a significant piece.

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One thought I had over the weekend was about the future of the Arizona Coyotes, namely what they should do for player acquisitions. This is just me, well, rambling for a little bit.

As of Monday afternoon, Arizona is tied for third in the West (technically being in fourth because Colorado has played one fewer game). The team isn’t much better than middle-of-the-pack in terms of shot share or expected goal share. I think they’re good enough to get to the playoffs, if only because the West isn’t very strong and their goaltending tandem is among the best in the league with teams like Boston, Dallas, and the Islanders. As long as the netminders hold up, this should be a team getting a wild card spot.

So, what do they do to bolster the team? Despite improvements made offensively, this team is still 20th in goals per 60 minutes at five on five. (Again, that’s an improvement – they have largely been close to the worst in the league in scoring since the lockout.) I hope they don’t make any big additions, sacrificing any of their top prospects for a short-term gain. Someone like Tyler Toffoli would make sense – a guy who can score but whose value has been driven into the dirt, thus making him relatively cheap to acquire.

What the team does this offseason is much more interesting. Going after Taylor Hall would make a lot of sense this summer, if they can make it work, cap-wise. Most of their players are already locked up, with depth guys like Christian Fischer and Vinnie Hinostroza needing contracts. What Arizona needs more than anything is a game-breaking forward. At the same time, Hall will be 29 for next season. Do they want to sign him until his mid-30s when he’s already shown a penchant for being injured?

Arizona needs a true game-breaking forward. Guys like Schmaltz, Dvorak, and Stepan are all good players, but they need someone who can single-handedly win them games. There were hopes Clayton Keller would be that guy (from myself included), but it’s not looking like he’ll end up being that guy. Could it be Barrett Hayton? Or are they going to have to bring someone in? Might all be far-fetched, but at least we’re now having this type of conversation for Arizona, rather than looking for which injured player’s contract they’ll take.