Rambling about how an expansion team today could have really helped certain players; plus some sleepers as well as Sunday’s games…
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There are no expansion teams right now. In fact, as you know, expansion teams are so far back in history that half of the readers here can barely remember them. Today, every team is established. And even the rebuilding teams have a deep farm system with lots of draft picks. There is no team that remotely resembles an expansion squad. No team is ‘forced’ to play a bubble veteran who is suddenly lacking a key component to his game.
Remember Tony Hrkac? Brian Bradley? Sylvain Turgeon? Norm MacIver? They flourished on expansion teams. Today, these players are named Sam Gagner, Cody Hodgson, Chris Higgins, Brandon Gormley. If there was an expansion team today, one or more of these players would become revived stars. But instead, the weak teams are all established and they would much rather play one of their many prospects. And they’ve kept their big scorers and are building around them. They don’t need to retrofit a scorer with holes in his game just to generate some goals.
Timing is everything, my friends. If the likes of Gagner and the gang started sucking three years from now instead of today, then they’d probably be flourishing with an ugly expansion team around them. Instead, I’m sure it will be off to Europe for them.
Wow, if the Penguins keep scoring like this, I’ll win all my leagues despite how far behind I currently sit in two of them. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you Mr. Sullivan. Let’s review:
Patric Hornqvist had two assists. Gives him seven points in his last four games. And just like that, his production is about what his career average is.
Sidney Crosby has five points in three games as he slowly closes in on a point-per-game this season. Another 20 points in 13 games would get him there – and you know Sid can do this (and has many times).
Phil Kessel has five points in five games. He’s still struggling to score goals, but because he’s getting the ice time and hot linemates he’s getting the cheap points for now.
Evgeni Malkin has four points in two games. He’s quietly snuck up to seventh in league scoring. Seventh. Washed up? Maybe in about eight years.
Olli Maatta has points in three straight. That being said, I’ll be surprised if he gets to 30 this year.
Kris Letang missed the Sunday Carolina (5-0) game, which is why we finally didn’t see his name on the score sheet. Otherwise, I’m sure we would have. That’s how ‘money in the bank’ he’s been lately. He injured his arm or possibly his shoulder, but it doesn’t sound as though it’s long term. Perhaps one more game missed, or none at all.
In my one league, we have a fun rule where each year each team can ‘sign’ a player who is 24 and older who is not yet on a team in our league. You get one of these per season and it is first come, first serve. Otherwise, the only way to bring on a player into our league is by drafting him. Last year I jumped the gun and used mine the very night of the first regular season game – and the hunch really, really sucked (thank you Cory Conacher). So this year I resolved to stay patient. So while others grabbed the hot hand – Condon, Lindberg, Brouwer, Berra, Spurgeon, Demers, Stempniak, Ward – I hung in there. And I planned to continue hanging in there, but made a sudden decision Sunday morning. And it wasn’t who I thought I’d grab. My watch list of 25 players (including Komarov, Beleskey, Hansen, McGinn, Michael Stone and Ekholm) didn’t even have him on it. His name? Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and I’ll explain why.
He had a three-point night on Saturday, which raised an eyebrow. I noticed on NHL.com that his goals and assists added up to 23 points now. I knew he wasn’t on my watch list, how did I miss him? I clicked his name on the app and checked out his game-by-game and noted that he had 11 points in his last 11 games. Ah, so that’s how I missed him. He snuck up quickly.
Here’s what I know about him. He’s a highly-respected defenseman in the league. Obviously, since he was a part of Team Canada at the Olympics. He made the NHL as a teenager and after some initial success offensively, he started getting pigeonholed in a defensive role. This was despite some pretty impressive QMJHL numbers. And for the last several years he hasn’t held any fantasy relevance at all whatsoever (unless your league counts BLKS). That’s what I know.
So what do I need to find? A few things. Vlasic has a new coach this year and so what I would like to see is his per-game %PP time as well as his year-to-date %PP time and compare them to prior seasons. So to get those answered, I of course went to the new Frozen Pool player profile page (Vlasic’s page is here). So Vlasic actually has 20 points in his last 29 games. His %PP (the percentage of the team’s available power-play time that he’s out on) has been up around 30%-40% over the last dozen games. Season-to-date he’s at 39.8%. His points-per-game is 0.60. Last year his %PP was 27.4% (and 0.33 points-per-game). The three prior years his %PP was 12.0, 9.4, 10.1. So this year Vlasic is clearly seeing unprecedented power-play time under the new coach. It convinced me enough that he’ll get at least a career-high of 40 points and he actually has a shot at 50.
Speaking of the player profiles, over the past couple of weeks Eric and Michael have been working on getting this search box going so that it auto-fills with the player name as you type, without sucking a whole bunch of your computer resources. Sunday, Eric put the finishing touches on this. So a big thanks to him, and now these profiles are simple and quick to navigate. Bookmark it! This is an amazing resource for fantasy hockey research.
The Oilers really jumped the gun on this but as a Cam Talbot owner I’m as happy as a pig in shit. You just knew before the season that they really wanted him to work out and were going to force it to work if that’s what was needed. And sure enough, for the first two-and-a-half months he was pretty weak. And yet he was still getting put out there until finally Anders Nilsson stole the job from him. Talbot didn’t even steal it back, he just kind of got transitioned back in over time and he started playing better and better. I’d say he’s been ‘the guy’ for about a month now (at best). And for that they handed him $12.5 million over three years. Let me tell you, with that kind of money his odds of becoming a top fantasy own just skyrocketed. If you thought Todd McLellan was under the gun to give him most of the starts before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Emerson Etem’s four games with the Canucks have seen him garner more ice time than he was getting with the Rangers. By a wide margin. He’s up around 14:30 per game now. No points to show for it yet, but he does have 10 shots on goal and at least two per game. I don’t have high hopes for him at all, but you can’t see he’s not getting the opportunity now.
Henrik Sedin has just six points in his last 12 games. He was taken out of the game Sunday after getting hit from behind (more on that below).
Anders Lee is in a slump, but he’s shooting the puck like mad with 13 SOG in the last three games. The dam is going to break at some point soon. I still think he’ll beat last year’s 41 points by at least five or six. His current pace is 36. Here were the NYI line combos last night:
#1 9.7% BAILEY,JOSH – LEE,ANDERS – NELSON,BROCK
#2 9.7% CIZIKAS,CASEY – CLUTTERBUCK,CAL – MARTIN,MATT
#3 9.3% NELSON,BROCK – STROME,RYAN – TAVARES,JOHN
#4 9% GRABOVSKI,MIKHAIL – STROME,RYAN – TAVARES,JOHN
Some line juggling there due to Grabovski’s game misconduct in the first (15 PIM). Here is the Grabovski boarding call:
Henrik Sedin is likely out for at least the next three games and I’m sure Grabovski will be suspended for that long as well. In the case of Sedin you saw Jared McCann’s ice time shoot upward as he slid onto the first line. He played with Daniel Sedin and the two combined to set up a goal. McCann is probably going to be a decent waiver grab for at least the next week.
Valtteri Filppula has 10 points in his last nine games. During that span his portion of the available PP time has increased by about 15% (from about 40% to about 55%) and his ice time is up about two minutes per game (likely just accounting for the PP time). Four of those 10 points have come on the power play. No surprise since he’s still playing with JT Brown and Ryan Callahan on the third line. So I don’t see the production continuing forever, but for the short term he’s definitely on fire. And with him as a threat on the third line it sure helps the forwards in the top six catch a break.
Nikita Kucherov has points in 13 of his last 14 games and 19 points in that span.
After their big winning streak the Panthers are floundering a bit, winless in three now and just three goals scored during that span.
Kudos to you Justin Williams owners. You sure fell into a good one late in your draft. The guy is playing with Evgeny Kuznetsov and the two have chemistry. So that’s like winning the lottery. Sure, Williams is ‘only’ on pace for about 59 points, it’s still a good 15 points higher than where we figured. His hat trick last night gives him seven points in his last five games.
Braden Holtby left Sunday’s game with dehydration. So perhaps he gets a rest for Tuesday’s game and gets back in there Friday. Just a guess.
It’s bothering me that the Flyers still haven’t put Jordan Weal into the lineup. I understand his missing two games as he gets used to their system. But to continue scratching him isn’t right. He deserves a look.
Shayne Gostisbehere returned to the lineup this weekend and played 18:52, with 4:39 on the PP Sunday, and 20:59 on Saturday.
David Perron scored his first game as a Duck. And no he was not put on the big line as Bruce Boudreau kept Rickard Rakell there. However, with the team down 3-1 in the third there was some line mixing and Perron did find his way on there – Ryan Getzlaf assisted on his goal. I’m wondering if Boudreau will try that right from the start next game. Perron played with Kesler and Silfverberg to start.
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