Ramblings: Seattle Hires Francis As GM, Ranking Defensemen (July 19)

by Ian Gooding on July 18, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Seattle Hires Francis As GM, Ranking Defensemen (July 19)


Seattle is one step closer to being a full-fledged NHL franchise, hiring Ron Francis to be their first GM.
 


Francis might be criticized as being the Seattle franchise's choice, since the Hurricanes did not make the playoffs at all under Francis’ time as GM there from 2014 to 2018. However, general managers cannot necessarily be evaluated on how the team performed during their tenure, as player personnel moves need time to come to fruition.

Despite being under the tight budget of the Hurricanes, Francis seemed to leave the franchise in a better state than it was before, drafting Sebastian Aho 35th overall in the 2015 draft and weaponizing cap space by acquiring Teuvo Teravainen in 2016 when the Blackhawks needed to shed Bryan Bickell’s contract. Those decisions were key in helping the Canes break their playoff drought and advance to the Eastern Conference Final this past season.

The Seattle franchise still have a way to go yet, as they don’t have a team name, logo, uniforms, or players. With Seattle set to start play two seasons from now, Francis will have plenty of time to mock draft players who could potentially be left unprotected in the 2021 expansion draft.

Here are the expansion draft rules for the Seattle franchise, which will basically be the same as those for the Vegas Golden Knights (who will receive yet another benefit from the league and not need to participate in the expansion draft.)

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Remember Andrei Markov? I hadn’t thought about him for a while. At least until this news dropped today.
 


In case you needed to catch up on Markov, he’s been playing for Kazan Ak-Bars in the KHL for the past two seasons. His first season was solid, as he recorded 33 points in 55 games. However, he slipped to just 14 points in 49 games in 2018-19.

Habs fans can get excited about the prospect of a player who is ten games shy of one thousand in the bleu, blanc, et rouge suiting up for their team again. He might even be an upgrade over one or two of their current blueliners. However, he’s now 40 with scoring numbers that have clearly slipped. If there’s fire with this smoke and Markov somehow makes his return to Montreal, he isn’t someone that you should be targeting in fantasy at all.

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The July 2019 single-season Roto Rankings are now up! Well, they’ve been up for several days. Have a look when you have a moment.

Also, I appreciate any feedback that I receive, as I may not have accounted for everything. Something I will ask for in the feedback, though: I tend to get a lot more of “you should move Player X up” than “you should move Player Y down.” Yes, I realize some players’ rankings seem too low, but that is the case for many players. If I move a player up, at whose expense should that be? Again, I like any constructive feedback because I know that you’re paying attention and getting involved. 

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One comment from the rankings: “No Matt Dumba in the top-100 roto seems crazy.”

Okay, let’s find out if that’s true. I admitted that Dumba may have been omitted because he missed over half the season due to a pectoral injury. Before the injury, Dumba was on pace for a 56-point season with 22 points (including 12 goals) in 32 games. What’s more, he had also equaled his career highs in power-play goals (6) and power-play points (12).

Dumba’s 0.69 points per game played ranked him 15th among defensemen who had played in at least 30 games. Similar blueliners around him included John Klingberg (0.70 PTS/GP) and Roman Josi (0.68 PTS/GP). Both Klingberg and Josi are listed in the top 100. Also, had Dumba played a full season, he was on pace for 30 PPP. That seems a little high, but 25 PPP seems reasonable. Only six defensemen reached that total in 2018-19.

Over Dumba’s last full season (2017-18), he reached 50 points (14g-36a) in 82 games (0.61 PTS/GP). His games-played totals prior to that were 76 and 81 games, so avoiding injuries hadn’t been a problem up until 2018-19. Among d-men who had played at least 30 games, Dumba ranked 21st, with similar players around him including Jake Gardiner (0.63 PTS/GP) and Wild teammate Jared Spurgeon (0.61 PTS/GP). Neither Gardiner nor Spurgeon are within the top 100 in the roto rankings.

I think Dumba is on the edge of the top 100, and I’ll have to give this one some more thought. This comes back to if I add him, who do I remove? I don’t think it’s Klingberg (#94), based on the above. Torey Krug is also on the edge (#98), but he has also ranged between 0.64 and 0.83 PTS/GP (50-60 points) and 24-30 PPP over the past three seasons (in spite of playing only 64 games in 2018-19, no less). Dumba deserves to be in the discussion of a place here, but it’s not going to be that easy to fit him in. 

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Is Drew Doughty too high in the roto rankings? I’ve got him at #62 because I like his ability to produce points and hits while logging major minutes. Among defensemen who had as many hits as Doughty (168), only Jeff Petry had more points (and only by 1). As well, only six defensemen had more power-play points than Doughty did last season. This in spite of a power play that was ranked in the bottom 5.

Doughty is simply not deterred by the 26 to 28 minutes he regularly averages. He has not missed a game over the past four seasons, so expect the Kings to continue to roll him out with regularity with a mostly otherwise inexperienced blueline. That has to count for something. He will soon reach 30, though, so injuries could become a factor. Dustin Byfuglien has already begun to experience this (69 and 42 games over the last two seasons), so with Doughty playing a similar style and even more minutes it might only be a matter of time before games are missed.

There is another downside to all that icetime, and that comes in the form of plus/minus from playing on a rebuilding team. His minus-34 was easily the worst of his career and can only go up. However, with the Kings not expected to improve significantly, it’s unlikely it will end up on the plus side. As well, his 154 shots were his lowest total in his last six full seasons, which might be a result of having to spend more time in his own end.

To the comment in my Roto Rankings about moving Byfuglien up toward Doughty, I’d actually prefer to move Doughty down closer to Byfuglien. Why won’t I move Byfuglien up? I’m concerned about Buff’s ability to stay healthy at this point in his career. Age (34) is now a factor, and he’s going to be leaned on even more now that Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers have left. An injury-free season from Buff could be a monster season. However, players that play his style of game don’t tend to age well.

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Why did I rank Alex Ovechkin number 1 over Art Ross Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov in the roto rankings? There was a good discussion in Mike’s Tuesday Ramblings on when Ovechkin will finally regress. I’m not sure anyone really knows the answer to that.

Compare their performance in roto categories last season.

 

G

A

+/-

PPP

SOG

HIT

Kucherov

41

87

24

48

246

44

Ovechkin

51

38

7

28

338

223


If you’re talking about a pure points leagues, Kucherov is clearly the better option. However, Ovechkin clearly brings it in two categories that Kucherov can’t: shots on goal and hits. In a similar type of Yahoo league last season, Kucherov and Ovechkin were ranked 1 and 2 respectively. I wrote about this back in June in the Ramblings, but I thought I’d revisit it again since I might reconsider moving Kuch up to number 1.

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