I really like the Robin Lehner signing for the Islanders (Mike breaks it down with his thoughts here, which I agree with). The Isles have two of the best goaltending prospects in all of hockey with Ilya Sorokin and Linus Soderstrom, but neither will be available this season and likely not next year either. So they need a stopgap to get them to 2020. A Thomas Greiss – Robin Lehner tandem is probably just as mediocre as it was last year with Jaroslav Halak instead of Lehner. Except Lehner is clearly signed to be a backup rather than a 1A, and to me that takes the pressure off of both goaltenders. And with Lehner’s injury track record, each time he looks to be stealing that No.1 job he’ll pull a groin or something and Greiss’s job becomes safe again. I think the two of them will enjoy moderate success in a 51-31 split. And if Lehner impresses, as he seemed to in the second half last season, then his next contract could be another shot as a No.1. Between January 7 and March 10 over 19 games Lehner posted a 0.912 SV%, so he is capable of stringing together decent numbers on a bad team. (You can use our fast goalie calculator and set custom dates to get his stats in any of the player profiles – Robin’s is here)
The Islanders also acquired Matt Martin from the Leafs for nothing. Eamon McAdam went the other way, but that was just so the Isles wouldn’t be adding a contract under their allotted 50. So it was just a free player, giving the Leafs more cap room.
Life isn’t over for Isles fans. I think they were a 14th-talented team last year that underachieved. Losing John Tavares just knocks them down to maybe 20th. Their goalie tandem is okay and under Barry Trotz I think we’ll be shocked by how much Lehner’s and Greiss’s numbers improve. If Ryan Pulock and Josh Ho Sang take the next step towards stardom, they’ll have a good defense corps, and the forwards aren’t horrible:
With Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl as extras
With Top 5 coaching, this team will surprise. It will over-achieve, as I stated above it’s a 20th talented team (just off the top of my head) but I wouldn’t be shocked if they push for a playoff spot just from coaching alone. How many times did Barry Trotz do that with Nashville when they didn’t have much talent?
The Coyotes signed Brad Richardson to a two-year deal. After missing most of 2016-17 with an injury, Richardson found his role reduced. But he’s still their top penalty killer, even as his ES ice time dwindles.
The Toronto Marlies signed prospect Giorgio Estephan and I wouldn’t be surprised if four years from now his name pops up as a fantasy option. He was a late pick by the Sabres in 2015 (152nd overall) but they didn’t sign him due to lack of speed and a little weak defensively. But he brings other things to the table – he’s a dynamic offensive player and he’s a leader in the dressing room. The former captain for Lethbridge was traded to Swift Current midseason last year and they went all the way to the Memorial Cup where he had six points in three games there – clutch. The Marlies are doing well with developing prospects so this is a name I will be watching.
The Bruins re-signed Sean Kuraly to a three-year contract. Kuraly is coming off a 14-point season and is proving to be a very solid depth player – he had four points in 12 playoff games, nearly doubling his production rate when it matters most. He doesn’t have any fantasy upside, but is deceivingly productive coming in off that fourth line and I wouldn’t be surprised if he settled in as a consistent 30-point, 60 PIM player. And his 143 Hits last season just scratch the surface – I think he can exceed 200.
“Nail has Failed”. Wasn’t that how the saying went?
The Fail for Nail campaign finally has a winner, and it’s SKA St. Petersburg. The KHL team has signed the former first overall draft pick for one year, so if he makes it a big one then perhaps he regenerates NHL interest. I’ll be checking on his stats from time to time this year.
Here are our Organizational Prospect Rankings for 2018 (heading into the draft). It’s a good read.
The Blues got a steal of a deal by signing Robby Fabbri to a one-year contract worth less than a million dollars. Just goes to show how much an injury can cost you, in this case financially. It was Fabbri’s second ACL injury and he hasn’t played a game for the Blues in 17 months. So the risk is obvious. But we all know how good he is and every one of us fantasy owners have him written – in permanent marker – into St. Louis’ top six. If he plays 80 games he should flirt with 65 points. But therein lies the problem – will he play 20, 40, 60 or 80 games? The Fantasy Guide that picks the correct amount of games will have the most accurate Fabbri projection. And there is no formula on earth that can do that, it’s just blind luck. But that’s how us prognosticators get graded! That’s why I push the other features of my Guide – more than just projections. Anyway, with Fabbri you know what you’re getting, and I think his points-per-game in this improved St. Louis lineup will be around 0.8, but he’ll start slow and finish strong.
Love this quote from Rick Roos in today’s Cage Match:
“Which one of these players would you think has a better shot at point per game scoring this coming season?
Player A (33 points in 33 games to end the 2017-18 season; 41 points in 39 games to start 2016-17) or Player B (39 points in 40 games to end the 2017-18 season; 32 points in 39 games to kick off 2016-17)? Probably Player A, not Player B, yes?
Wow. Watch for today’s Cage Match as the annual “tournament” opens up asking you to vote on breakout players. Crowd-sourcing is the best way come up with great projections so your participation certainly helps.
And don’t forget to vote for the player on each team that you want to see profiled in-depth in the fantasy guide. The voting is in the hockey hockey hockey section of the forum, and then the Top 2 will be in a Facebook poll (the Final 2 for Anaheim are Ondrej Kase and Brandon Montour and you can vote on which one you’d like a deep dive on right here). Keep an eye out on Facebook for future polls as these will all be wrapped up within two weeks.
See you Monday
- Ramblings: An Underrated Star Returns With a Bang, Goalie Controversy Thoughts, Kubalik Kontinues (Jan 20)
- Ramblings: The Amazing Ovechkin, Another Elvis Sighting, Kubalik Continues To Score (Jan 19)
- 21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
- Top 10 Grit Producers
- Wild West: Post Christmas Trends
- Geek of the Week: Blake Goalman
- Ramblings: Updates on Schultz and Kahun; Buchnevich; Bjork; scoring rates - January 21
- Fantasy Hockey Podcast: If You Danault, Now You Know