Ramblings: Selling High on Carlson, Power Play Regression, Goaltending Duos, Markstrom & Forsberg (Oct 23)

by Cam Robinson on October 22, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Selling High on Carlson, Power Play Regression, Goaltending Duos, Markstrom & Forsberg (Oct 23)


Vancouver visited Detroit in the final match of their four-game road trip. Jacob Markstrom started his second consecutive game after missing three while away to deal with personal matters. Over that span, rookie, Thatcher Demko stood tall. The 23-year-old won two while posting a 0.944 save percentage. 


Demko has a lot of motivation to produce when called upon this season. His reward may be convincing management that Markstrom – who is in the final year of his contract, is replaceable. But it won't be easy. Markstrom was near the top of the heap for quality starts a season ago and has only built on that early in 2019-20. 



The 29-year-old stopped 31 of 33 on Tuesday – including several bell ringers and allowed the Canucks to score five straight in the third period to take the game 5-2 and complete the road trip 3-1. Bo Horvat recorded a hat trick. Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, and Quinn Hughes each had two helpers, and Vancouver went 2/5 on the man-advantage. Surprise, surprise, the top power-play unit is far more effective with Hughes running things instead of Alex Edler


Vancouver is… kinda fun this season. What a trip.


Tuesday evening saw the Leafs walk into Boston on the tail-end of a back-to-back to face a well-rested Bruins team. Without their captain who remains on the shelf with a broken finger. They were outshot, outhit, and mostly outplayed by the Bruins in a 4-2 defeat. 


William Nylander is benefitting from Tavares' leave as he soaks up the top power-play deployment. He skated 6:04 up a man and recorded a power-play assist. 






Filip Forsberg remained out for this third consecutive game after sustaining an elbow to the head a week ago. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest he’s suffering from a concussion. A shame as I projected the Swede to hit new highs this season. It’s also (and obviously) a big blow to Nashville who is the early league-leaders in goals-per-game. 


Forsberg has been godly at even-strength early on this season for the Preds. Take a gander at the heat maps of the team with and without Forsberg on the ice. His ability to produce unblocked shots from below the dots is unmatched on the squad. 



Here’s hoping this isn’t a long term issue. And as always, maybe try and kick the tires on a potential trade for him. Historically, injuries have held down his final counting stats, but when he’s in, he should be highly impactful. 


His absence wasn't felt too badly on Tuesday as the Preds trounced the Ducks 6-1. It was the rare off night for John Gibson who has been unbelievable this season. He'll shake it off. 



Vasiliy Podkolzin channelled his inner Sidney Crosby with this backhand on Tuesday. 


If you’re in the market for a potential game-breaking multicat guy, Podkolzin is probably your ticket. He’ll be a couple of years, but the potential is big time. 



Jack Eichel has himself a big outing with two goals and two helpers. That brings him to 14 points in 10 games. The breakout is here and it is spectacular. 



I’m a staunch advocate of buying low and selling high. Not that it means I don’t constantly fail to capitalize on opportunities. But I’m convinced that this is the absolute best time to deal John Carlson in a keeper league. We know he’s on an absolute heater – and no one will purchase him with the expectation that his pace will continue. However, they might just bite on another career-season on a player who has yet to cusp the 30-year mark. 


Currently, Carlson is ticking away at nearly thrice his normal shooting percentage – mostly due to his continually decreasing volume and some good fortune. His IPP is sitting at 77 percent when it should be hanging around the 45-55 range. Coupled with the likely decline of the Capitals in the coming years and his own mortality, these numbers are the reasons to sell. 


The reasons that you can sell him to competitors are obvious. Over the last two-plus seasons, only Brent Burns has more even-strength and total points than Carlson’s 85 ESP and 157 total points. On the man-advantage, it’s not even close. Carlson’s 72 PPPs are 12 more than second-place, Keith Yandle. Carlson’s role on the Caps top unit is beyond reproach and it remains a top 10 unit as it has for the last half-decade. 


So go on, go and sell him for a juicy haul while targetting players with their primes yet to come and in equally promising situations. Or ride him to a championship. Both good options.



Speaking of power-plays, regression to the mean doesn’t just occur in with individual players. It occurs on a team-wide scale as well. Here are a few teams that are set to go up or down with the tide of luck. 


New Jersey

Currently clicking away at a visually appealing 6.9 percent, things will undoubtedly get better for the Devils. Firstly, their top unit has featured anywhere from two to four new faces on it from last year depending on the blend. Finding cohesion is key – perhaps even especially when operating with more time and space. They need time to gel. Secondly, on paper, the weapons at their disposal should be feasting while up a man. 


Keep in mind, in the last five seasons, only the dreadful 2016-17 Avanlance have failed to hit the 13 percent mark over a full campaign. 


Buy low on those Devils. 



It’s difficult to imagine things getting any worse in the Lone Star state right now. Things on the ice have only been outdone by the tornado that tore through town last weekend. However, a team that can roll out Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alex Radulov, John Klingberg and either Joe Pavelski or Roope Hintz should absolutely convert at more than a nine percent rate. 


Side note


Definite buy-low opportunity on Seguin and Klingberg – who are both still prime-aged players and who have historically been very consistent. I’d shy away from the 30+ gang though, and that includes Benn. 



These two teams have been terrorizing penalty killers early this year. Heading into action on Tuesday, the Oilers were punching their ticket at a 38.5 percent rate, while the Bruins and their 37.5 percent conversion were not far behind. 


However, we haven’t seen a team convert at 30 percent in over 40 years. Last year’s Tampa Bay squad and their 28 percent total were the highest we’ve witnessed and that was nuts. Edmonton and Boston will witness a drag. Just be prepared and don’t overreact – especially for the Bruins. That top unit is consistently deadly, they’ll maintain a very high rate. 



Quick update on the tantalizing 2020-crop coming our way. As of Tuesday morning, each of the three CHL leagues are being led in points by a draft-eligible forward. 


QMJHLAlexis Lafreniere 13GP 10G, 24A, 34P

OHLQuinton Byfield 13GP 11G, 16A, 27P

WHLConor Zary – 12GP 5G, 15A, 20P


This is an unheard-of development. And while it’s unlikely Zary will be able to maintain that spot, Byfield and Lafreniere are going to the mat in this battle for the top spot. Next week, I’ll catch you up on the Euro players who have been producing in pro leagues.


Please, for the love of god, procure more 2020 first-rounders. Just trust me. 



If there is one tandem I’m seriously buying into this season, it’s Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta. First of all, they’ve been very strong to begin the year, with Kuemper handling the lion’s share thus far. That’s been the result of a Raanta injury and Kuemper’s strong play. However, expect them to bounce back and forth.


The reason I’m so into it, is that the Coyotes are all of a sudden a strong shot suppression team at even-strength. 


Coming into Tuesday's contest, Arizona had allowed the fewest even-strength chances against, averaging just 6.7 per game. Compare that to the 31st ranked New York Rangers who have sacrificed an average of 13 per game. 


This goes without saying, but I’m definitely not buying any stock in Henrik Lundqvist or Alexander Georgiev. Although I am a champion of Igor Shestyorkin. He’s the real deal and should slide in to perfectly mesh with this burgeoning young core.


Shestyorkin, by the way, has a 0.952 through his first three AHL contests. 


Kirby Dach scored the first of his career. It almost held up as the game-winner, but the Golden Knights tied it with 90 seconds on the clock and then proceeded to win it in a shootout. Still a memorable moment for the most recent third overall selection. 


I'm unconvinced that Dach will spend more than nine games in Chicago this season, but if he does, keep the expectations muted. His true value will reveal itself three or four seasons down the line. 



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