Ramblings: Subban, Budaj, Grubauer, Kovalchuk, Ekman-Larsson, and More- June 14

by Michael Clifford on June 14, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Subban, Budaj, Grubauer, Kovalchuk, Ekman-Larsson, and More- June 14

Just a heads up that fellow Dobber writer and editor Cam Robinson will be releasing his draft rankings today. Cam puts in a lot of work to follow all the players you need to know for your dynasty drafts and I would very much recommend checking out his work. You can view his Twitter feed here.

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Cam’s work should help supplement your reading from the Dobber Prospects Report that is available in the Dobber Shop here. I’m sure you have your copy already though, right?

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Remember those trade rumours about PK Subban? Remember how those rumours never, ever made any sense in any possible context outside of an incredibly lopsided trade like, say, Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall?

Predators GM David Poile told TSN’s Pierre LeBrun explicitly that Subban will not be traded. I know we heard that from Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin once upon a time but there’s one key difference between the two general managers: Poile knows how to build a successful roster.  

For those hoping the reigns would be turned over to Roman Josi, no such luck just yet. Nashville is still in it to win it and trading a former Norris Trophy winner (and current Norris Trophy finalist) who is still on the right side of 30 years old just isn’t in the cards. Moving on.

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A somewhat minor trade on Wednesday as the Kings acquired (re-acquired?) goaltender Peter Budaj from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Andy Andreoff.

Budaj will presumably be the backup to Jonathan Quick in 2018-19 while Andreoff will… well I’m not sure what Tampa wants to do with him.

This also, presumably, means that Louis Domingue will be the backup for Andrei Vasilevskiy in 2018-19. Domingue was acquired early in the season but only played a dozen games for the Bolts as Budaj was the primary backup. Domingue is an RFA but he will be cheap so this may be a matter of saving a couple hundred thousand on the backup goalie.

Anyone with Jack Campbell shares in dynasty leagues, you’re going to need an injury to someone ahead of him now. Kudos to those who hung on to their Domingue shares, though.

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More goaltending news.

According to quotes from Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post, Phillipp Grubauer may not be in a Capitals jersey next year. This isn’t a big surprise – TSN has him on their trade bait board and based on that I wrote that they may look to move him after the signing of Ilya Samsonov – but that he wants to go somewhere he has a chance to start is interesting.

All told, there really aren’t many starting jobs available right now. Look across the league and ask yourself how many teams could Grubauer be traded to and immediately be their full-time starter? Maybe a half-dozen at the most? The rest he’d be going into a timeshare and would eventually have to win the job.

We’ll see where he actually ends up. He could very well be a starter next year or find himself somewhere hoping to get 30-40 starts. I will be interested if it’s the right situation.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we have a Game 7 tonight! The Calder Cup Final will be decided as Texas won Game 6 to push it to the distance against Toronto.

Dobber heads, hit me with some thoughts on the series from either team. I will fully admit I haven’t watched a single AHL game but intend to not miss this one. What are you watching for?

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It has been reported by TSN that the Arizona Coyotes and Oliver Ekman-Larsson have essentially agreed to an extension. They have to wait until July 1st before actually signing the contract and we know how nothing in the NHL is done until it’s official. However, it appears this is the direction they are going.  

Cap league owners are going to have a big decision to make. Were he to sign a deal with an $8-million AAV, he would be tied for the second-highest cap hit among all defencemen. Anything more than that and he’s in second place all by himself. That is a lot to pay in a cap league for a guy who, other than being pretty reliable for goals, isn’t really elite in any specific category at the moment. His hit totals are good but not exceptional. His blocked shot totals are meager. His shot rates have plummeted and even in a healthy 2017-18 season he didn’t reach his heights from a few years ago. Beyond that, do we have the belief that Arizona will score enough goals for him to reach/surpass the 55-point plateau of 2015-16?

Keep in mind that his average ice time per game has fallen four consecutive seasons. He played over two minutes fewer per game in 2017-18 than he did in 2013-14. Depending on point rates, the drop in ice time alone would knock 4-5 points off his final total. Losing 10 percent of production through nothing but ice time allocation is significant.

It’ll be hard for cap owners to justify rostering him. He could be a 15-goal, 50-point defenceman and still not be worth anything close to his cap hit. He has to be a sure-fire top-5 fantasy defenceman in your setup and at this point, in his situation, OEL is anything but sure-fire.

A final note here. This should give fantasy owners a gauge of what to expect for Drew Doughty when he’s a UFA next year. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Kings and hits the open market, there will be a bidding war, and anything close to OEL’s AAV will be a pipe dream. Doughty’s cap league owners should be budgeting for $10-million a season and figuring out whether he’s worth that number in your setup.

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While on the subject of defencemen, if he doesn’t re-sign in Washington, where do you Dobber heads want to see John Carlson land? Let’s paint the picture first.

Though some might see him as driven purely by the power play, over the last five seasons, Carlson is 12th in the league in points per 60 minutes at five-on-five. In that span, he’s nestled between Mark Giordano and Alex Pietrangelo. Pretty good company.

Of course, he’s been very productive on the power play as well, coming in second in points/60 minutes behind only Kevin Shattenkirk. All told, he’s tied with Roman Josi and Dougie Hamilton in points/60 minutes at all strengths over the last five seasons.

Now, back to the original question, if he doesn’t go back to Washington, where do fantasy owners want him to go?

I’ll say this much: the Carolina Hurricanes are at the top of my wish list.

We’ve seen the reports that some shake-ups are coming to Carolina. It seems likely one of (if not both of) Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin will be traded. This is a team with loads of cap space both this year and next, even factoring in extension for the likes of Elias Lindholm, Teuvo Teravainen, and Sebastian Aho. They already have Martin Necas in the pipeline, and Valentin Zykov seemed to fit in well at the end of the year. They also have the second overall pick at this year’s draft which should be a game-breaking winger. Assuming they bring back some scoring when they trade one (or two) defencemen, they’ll need a reliable puck-mover who can quarterback a power play. Carlson seems to fit that bill.

We have a young team that should improve their scoring talent for next year. It is also a team that, with good goaltending for the first time this decade, could threaten for a playoff position, and has a lot of cap space at their disposal. It seems like the perfect fit for Carlson from a fantasy perspective.

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There has been enough written on Ilya Kovalchuk’s return – Dobber covered it a few days ago – but I am absolutely drooling at the prospect of him donning a San Jose Sharks uniform. Hear me out on this.

Dobber went over what a potential Islanders lineup would look like with Kovalchuk signed and John Tavares coming back with the team. Allow me to do the same with the Sharks, but substituting Tavares with Joe Thornton:

Evander KaneJoe PavelskiJoonas Donskoi

Tomas HertlLogan CoutureKevin Labanc

Ilya KovalchukJoe ThorntonTimo Meier

The issue we run into is cap space. Hertl is an RFA and needs a new deal. Matt Cane’s projections have him at just under a $4.75-million AAV. Assuming Paul Martin is bought out, the Sharks would save about $2.8-million in cap space. That leaves roughly $10.8-million for both Kovalchuk and Thornton and that’s without mentioning they have RFAs at the bottom of the roster like Chris Tierney and Dylan DeMelo needing new contracts. Again, using Cane’s projections, the additional AAV of those two would leave a little under $7-million for both Kovalchuk and Thornton. In other words, Thornton would need to take a real team-friendly deal.

Does he do that? Does he sign a one-year, $1-million deal if they can sign Kovalchuk and give him one more chance at the Cup? I’m frothing at the mouth at the prospect of a Kovalchuk-Thornton-Meier line playing in a sheltered role with favourable starts. Maybe the knee surgeries have caught up to Thornton, but if he can play 14-15 minutes a night being the distributor on the top PP unit, that might be enough to float an excellent third line.

What say you, Dobber heads? Does this scenario work out? If not, where do you want Kovalchuk to go?

 

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