Talbot Top Ten, Hanifin, Ovie’s Bender, plus more…
Dobber’s Top 300 Keeper League Skaters, Top 100 Keeper Defensemen, and Top 100 Goalie Rankings are out. And of course, they are always subject to debate. I won’t critique these rankings because I know Dobber puts a lot of hard work in them. But I will bring up one goalie ranking that was questioned on Twitter: Cam Talbot as a Tier 1 goalie (rated 10th overall).
After a successful 2016-17 season in which he finished tied for the league lead in wins (42) and led the league in games played (73), Talbot’s fortunes crashed like those of the team in front of him. Among the 42 goalies who played at least 30 games, Talbot finished 35th with a 3.02 GAA and 31st with a .908 SV%. Talbot was even more of a liability in leagues that deduct points for regulation losses, leading the NHL with 31. In standard 12-team league where two goalies start, Talbot was usually not worth deploying. Hardly a return on investment for what was on average the fifth goalie chosen in Yahoo drafts (ADP: 25.6).
Were there any silver linings to Talbot’s performance in 2017-18? Well, he did equal his loss total in wins, still finishing tied for 10th in that category. He also finished tied for the league lead in games played (67) and fifth in time on ice. So if your league awards points for games played or goaltending minutes, move Talbot up your rankings. KHL transplant Mikko Koskinen could cut into Talbot’s starts slightly if he works out as an NHL goalie. That could be a blessing in disguise for Talbot if extra rest improves his ratios.
Speaking of which, that aforementioned 3.02 GAA and .908 SV% were the worst of Talbot’s five-year career. So we’re not talking about a goalie who posts these numbers every season. In fact, his previous career low was the 2.55 GAA and .917 SV% from his first season as the starter in Edmonton. Would you be willing to settle for that version of Talbot? His fortunes seem tied to those of the Oilers, who were without key blueliners for significant stretches. Andrej Sekera missed half of the season, while both Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom played fewer than 70 games.
So if you simply look at his 2017-18 numbers, you might be scared away. But when making your projections you need to go back farther than one season. Talbot is not that bad of a goalie. And the Oilers could be better… could they be much worse? And Dobber will want me to mention that Talbot’s twins are a year old now. So all in all, the tier/rating might still seem a bit high, but it’s not as bad as you might think.
Probably less debated than the Talbot rating, Noah Hanifin pulls in at number 51 on the defense rankings. I’ll mention him because at age 21, Hanifin is already at number 12 on Frank Seravalli’s Trade Bait list over at TSN. Interestingly enough, the Canucks’ seventh overall pick, which was rumored to be offered for Hanifin, is listed as number 7 on the list. Hmmm… #7 at #7… is this an attempt to bait Canucks’ fans?
Even though he was the fifth overall pick three summers ago and has already played three full seasons, Hanifin hasn’t generated a ton of interest in fantasy, only being owned in 13 percent of Yahoo leagues this past season. That may have something to do with the minus-20 this past season, or the combined minus-53 over his three seasons. (Yes, I still use plus/minus in my leagues. I also listen to CDs and even cassette tapes every once in a while too.)
The fact that Hanifin is reportedly being dangled on the trade block shouldn’t raise huge red flags on his offensive upside, though. He scored 23 points in 37 games during his draft season, his only season at Boston College. His power-play time and production dipped slightly over the past two seasons, but his role stands to increase if Justin Faulk were to be the traded Carolina defenseman. Plus if Hanifin continues on his current pace, he could easily push for 40 points in 2018-19. Also keep in mind that he has been more durable than Faulk, missing just four games over his first three NHL seasons.
It’s clear that the Hurricanes want to make some drastic changes, having missed the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons. If they choose to stand pat with both Faulk and Hanifin, it’s possible that Hanifin could start to earn a greater share of icetime and power-play time. Hanifin is also entering that potential breakout fourth NHL season and was the Canes’ top-scoring defenseman last season (one point more than Faulk), so there is some sleeper potential here.
Congratulations to the Washington Capitals, your 2017-18 Stanley Cup champions! In winning a Stanley Cup after waiting 40+ years with a generational player like Alex Ovechkin on your roster for over a decade, Capitals’ fans probably felt like it was never going to happen. So as I was telling one Caps’ fan that I know, soak it in! Now hockey gods, can you take care of some other teams that have 40+ year droughts? Specifically one on Canada’s west coast?
There’s no better place than Vegas to celebrate just about anything, as Ovie and his friends found out.
— dckerNBC4 (@dckerNBC4) June 8, 2018
And I don’t think Ovechkin has stopped partying since Thursday night. In fact, I’m willing to bet he has no idea what the score of the Nationals’ game was.
Alex Ovechkin did a keg stand out of the Stanley Cup 😂
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 9, 2018
And he is literally soaking in the victory.
— Perry Mattern (@pmattern7) June 9, 2018
And just when you thought this party couldn't get any better. Because it’s DC, you knew he’d eventually run into one of the Trumps. Will the Donald eventually make him the new ambassador to Russia?
We got some Russian collusion going on at Cafe Milano https://t.co/jRX48P17tG
— RMNB (@russianmachine) June 10, 2018
Man, what a day. The only fantasy implication is that he better stop partying by the time training camp rolls around.
Here’s a long read from the Washington Post on the Capitals’ past 12 months. Worth checking out, if you have time:
From @barrysvrluga and I: The inside story on the Caps’ run to winning the Stanley Cup, from players saying the core wasn’t working before the season to Trotz nearly getting fired to Ovechkin lifting the trophy https://t.co/Omjo4dcs07
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) June 9, 2018
There probably isn’t a single Capitals’ player – or any player, for that matter – whose fantasy value improved more during these playoffs than Braden Holtby. I wrote about Holtby just two short months ago, which was the time when Philipp Grubauer was announced as the Caps’ starting goalie for Game 1 of the playoffs. I suggested that it would take a lengthy playoff run for Holtby’s fantasy value to be back where it used to be. We know what happened next. So Holtby may not have been in your top 10 at the end of the regular season. But he most certainly should be back there now. Maybe even your top 5.
Now that the season is officially over, the real fun begins for teams that have been sitting idle for a while. A few news items that are sneaking in:
I know a lot of people are excited about Kovalchuk’s return, but remember that he is now 35 years old. To put this in perspective, he was a player who was drafted right before Jason Spezza and one year before Rick Nash, to give you an idea of the high picks at the time. Spezza and Nash aren’t the offensive threats that they used to be, so I have a hard time thinking Kovalchuk will be a 40-goal scorer or point-per-game player. The KHL production is tremendous, but it’s been five seasons since we last saw him in the NHL. This won’t be the last that we write about Kovalchuk, because we’ll have to wait and see where he lands before we make any projections.
The Stars are expected to bring back Valeri Nichushkin on a two-year deal, although the signing can’t be announced until July 1 (TSN). Although he failed to reach 35 points during his two seasons in Dallas, Nichushkin should give the Stars some much-needed scoring depth. Now we’ll see if he can fulfill that promise that made him the tenth overall pick in 2013.
By the way, don't forget about the 2018 Prospects Report, chock full of fantasy prospect goodness…
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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