Ramblings: The Nuge Out Long Term, Hoffman Hurt, Projecting Eichel (Jan. 19)

by steve laidlaw on January 19, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: The Nuge Out Long Term, Hoffman Hurt, Projecting Eichel (Jan. 19)

Nugent-Hopkins out long term, Hoffman hurt, projecting Eichel, and more.

Kicking things off with Edmonton as the Oilers won a rare road game down in Florida but lost Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the process. He blocked a shot with his hand and went off. Todd McLellan said after the game that Nugent-Hopkins would be out long term. Assuming a broken hand here, looking at a couple of months.

It is looking like we won’t ever get to see the Oilers’ forwards at full strength, which truly is disappointing. On the other hand, even in the Pacific making a run is going to be tough so running into injuries in what amounts to another lost year isn’t the worst.

And calling it a lost year isn’t necessarily correct. Taylor Hall, who scored two goals and added an assist on the empty-netter at the end has re-established himself as a genuine force and team leader. A top-10/15 offensive forward. They also have Leon Draisaitl, who while slowing down is still clearly an NHL centerman. Other players have made strides as well. But ultimately the team is unlikely to be making the playoffs once again.

Lord knows they don’t need another high draft pick but here we go again.

In the meantime, this helps Connor McDavid when he returns. He probably would have found a way to get power-play minutes even with Nugent-Hopkins in the lineup so you could make the argument that the Nuge would have taken the tougher matchups and made things easier for McDavid but Hall-Draisaitl can also do that. Ultimately, there will just be more minutes for McDavid to skate so this is a net positive for him.

This definitely takes a bite out of Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot, especially over the next couple of weeks. Eberle could find a soft landing stealing minutes with Hall and Draisaitl from Teddy Purcell but the Oilers won’t ever stick with that arrangement so it will only be an occasional desperation move.

Lastly, Cam Talbot, playing great and having just signed a fresh new contract loses his best defensive centerman so that won’t help him continue to put up numbers.

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That’s four losses in a row for the Panthers who didn’t play all that poorly last night, making a strong push for a comeback that fell just short. All four of those losses have come without Aaron Ekblad who, it turns out, is a pretty important player. Who knew?

The Panthers don’t go again until Friday so the hope is that Ekblad will be ready to go for that day’s game against Chicago.

On the plus side, Aleksander Barkov has been held off the scoresheet for three straight games. Why is that a plus? Because people foolishly continue to leave him available. Barkov can be had for free in 46% of Yahoo! leagues.

Want a list of players owned in more leagues than Barkov but maybe shouldn’t be?

Alex Galchenyuk – 66% owned

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – 75% owned (this one will surely fall)

Francois Beauchemin – 56% owned

Jarome Iginla – 63% owned

Nick Foligno – 71% owned

Chris Kreider – 61% owned

Mike Green – 65% owned

Niklas Kronwall – 64% owned

TJ Oshie – 93% owned

Henrik Zetterberg – 97% owned

Marian Hossa – 77% owned

Eric Staal – 71% owned

And I could go on.

I’m not necessarily saying that you should drop any of the above for Barkov. What I am saying is that if one of these players is the worst player on your roster that you should if you can. Of course, positions and scoring categories matter but from a pure points perspective I would bet on Barkov finishing ahead of all of those guys.

Looking at the defensemen on the list, none of them should get to 40 points so all are inherently droppable except for in really deep leagues.

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Brian Elliott continues to have beast mode engaged with Jake Allen on the shelf. He made another 36 saves on 38 shots for a win over the Penguins. Before you get too hot for Elliott, recognize that last night’s win merely gets him back to .500 on the season. Up until recently he had been really up and down – one of those goalies you just aren’t sure if you trust.

Allen will also be back eventually and he definitely solidified himself as the #1 in St. Louis. Expectations are such that Ken Hitchcock will go with whoever is winning him games but Allen earned the benefit of the doubt. Enjoy the spoils for now but realize this comes to an end at some point.

Four-point night for Paul Stastny who had all but worked his way to fantasy irrelevance. Naturally, I am playing the guy clinging to Stastny in multiple leagues. Woe is me.

I don’t think Stastny suddenly springs back to life here. Stranger things have happened but having watched enough Blues action this season he just isn’t involved enough to be consistently scoring. And that’s even while acknowledging his presence bouncing between the first and second line and on the top power-play unit.

By the way, sneaky Band-Aid Boy this Stastny fellow. After skating in all 82 games in his rookie season Stastny missed 128 games in the past eight seasons, good for over 10 games missed per year and he has already missed 17 this season.

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David Warsofsky got a concussion on Sunday after tripping over a fallen official and landing on his head. With him out, Derrick Pouliot finally got the call to join the Penguins. Pouliot did not, however, get into the lineup as Kris Letang was able to go.

Two assists for Letang as he continues to be the engine that drives the Penguins.

Carl Hagelin found some time skating alongside Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. He even notched an assist in 18:30 of action. I don’t think he’ll have continued success in this spot but it is intriguing. Remember that Malkin made Blake Comeau relevant a year ago.

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I was expecting Coyotes-Sabres to be an absolute outpouring of offense going both ways. Instead, it was a 2-1 final. Not willing to let the game go without some sort of fireworks the teams went ballistic after the final buzzer. Five players were given misconducts for their actions including Rasmus Ristolainen who had just two PIM on the year up to this point.

Ristolainen also had a pair of power-play assists so this was an all-around good night for the young defenseman. Also involved in the fracas: Shane Doan, Antoine Vermette, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zach Bogosian. Nice way to pad the stats.

Two wins in a row for Chad Johnson. I can definitely see him getting the bulk of the starts for Buffalo down the stretch. Not because he is particularly exceptional but rather because Robin Lehner just isn’t all that great. Johnson has put up some pretty decent numbers though so let’s give credit where it is due. His save percentage sits at .920 in 28 appearances, the most he has ever made in a single NHL season.

Jack Eichel with two points to end a three-game scoreless slide. This is cherry-picking but Eichel has 15 points in his last 14 games. If you subscribe to the notion of guys getting more comfortable as their rookie season wears on then you are probably into Eichel for the second half of the season.

For some perspective, check out how some other top centermen finished up their rookie seasons:

Nathan MacKinnon – 39 points in 43 games

Steven Stamkos – 32 points in 43 games

John Tavares – 26 points in 40 games

Nugent-Hopkins – 17 points in 25 games

I’m not sure that tells you anything or not, other than that there is a wide spectrum on which Eichel might finish. I like Eichel for a stronger second half so I could see 25 points in his remaining 36 games, which would get him to 54 points. Not bad and right in line with the projections. That’s not getting him the Calder though. Artemi Panarin is running away with that.

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Blake Wheeler is having one of the quietest top-10 scoring seasons in some time. Some of that comes from folks assuming he will fall out as more proven guys climb the ranks but I feel like some of it comes from folks just ignoring what is taking place. No points for Wheeler last night but not for lack of trying. He fired 10 SOG but was thwarted by Semyon Varlamov each time.

Wheeler does probably fall out of the top 10 but that will have more to do with superstars doing their thing than it will have to do with Wheeler failing to be great. He is great. I think he gets his first 70-point season.

I still remember when Wheeler was on the “all the tools but no tool belt” team. Great to see that he has put things together, he just needed to get out of Boston. You could make on heck of a roster with the players the Bruins have moved out of town. I saw folks doing that for the Blue Jackets after the Johansen deal and you could probably do something similar for Boston.

Of course, if you are a Bruins fan you do the Wheeler trade over 100 times even knowing what he has become. Yeah, Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik for Wheeler and Mark Stuart is a loss on paper but Peverley scored 12 points en route to the Bruins’ Cup win. Flags fly forever. There’s a pile of lessons here for those of you in keeper leagues.

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This was just the third time in the last 10 games that Varlamov had allowed fewer than three goals against. That’s just untenable for a regular starter in fantasy leagues. Varlamov is capable of getting as hot as any goalie but he is too inconsistent for my taste.

Carl Soderberg with two more points. He continues to produce strong numbers. That’s 23 points in his last 28 games. He bounces around the lineup quite a bit but what I like is that Soderberg has been seeing consistent top unit power-play minutes lately. That won’t likely continue given the options the Avalanche have but you may as well strike while the iron is hot.

Check out the Avalanche lines:

25.57%

EV

DUCHENE,MATT – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

18.32%

EV

COMEAU,BLAKE – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – SODERBERG,CARL

14.89%

EV

MCLEOD,CODY – MITCHELL,JOHN – SKILLE,JACK

12.98%

EV

IGINLA,JAROME – MARTINSEN,ANDREAS – WAGNER,CHRIS

 

That’s a good spot for Soderberg. Not a great one but a good one.

Not sure I love this arrangement for Jarome Iginla, who scored a power-play goal last night. But Iginla is on his last legs so I’m not sure he deserves better linemates.

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The Senators lost Mike Hoffman to injury last night. He went head first into the post and did not return to the game.

If Hoffman misses time this really opens up a spot for Milan Michalek to jump into the top six. It also helps to crush the already floundering Senators offense but it’s an opportunity for Michalek nonetheless.

The lone Senators’ power play last all of 11 seconds thanks to a Bobby Ryan goal but the power-play unit was arranged as such:

Mark Stone – Michalek – Ryan – Mika ZibanejadErik Karlsson

Like I said, good opportunity for Michalek.

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Strong showing for the Sharks outshooting the Senators 35-17 but they ultimately lost in the shootout. Some of that is on Alex Stalock who just isn’t a guy I am a fan of for fantasy purposes.

The Sharks’ lines got thrown into the blender in this one but by the third period Logan Couture was skating with Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward on the second line. He scored his second goal of the season and has points in four of the last five.

Couture still doesn’t look 100 percent to me. I think the All-Star break will do wonders for him. I definitely think he’ll be one of the late-season stars this year. Think 28 points in the final 34 games post-All-Star.

Four goals and seven points in six games skating on the top line for Tomas Hertl. Hopefully you got in on him as a waiver pickup and took advantage of the Sharks’ dense schedule plus this grand opportunity. Three more games for the Sharks this week so if he is still out there give Hertl a spin.

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Just a heads up, there is some speculation that Scott Hartnell may get scratched tonight. If you have other lineup options go in their direction.

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Mike Cammalleri hopes to play tonight. If he does, we might see a return to relevance for Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique.

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The latest on David Krejci is that he will travel with the team but won’t play against Montreal. Sounds like he is close. That means it is time to start shopping Ryan Spooner around. You probably won’t find any takers but it’s worth a shot.

Spooner will still see time on the top power-play unit so his value doesn’t dissolve entirely, just remember that with Krejci in the lineup his scoring comes and goes.

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Injury update for David Savard, he will miss four weeks with an oblique strain. Looks like more time for Seth Jones.

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It sounds like Henrik Sedin will be out until after the All-Star break. Big opportunity for the already hot Bo Horvat.

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Esa Lindell has been recalled by the Stars to replace an injured Jordie Benn. Lindell has floated under my radar due to the presence of John Klingberg at the NHL level and Julius Honka at the AHL level but Lindell has produced down in the AHL with 25 points in 42 games.

Also on Lindell’s list of accomplishments: leading the top Finnish league in defenseman scoring last season with 35 points in 52 games, taking home the award for top defenseman in the league and scoring six points in eight games for Finland at last year’s World Championship. Clearly this guy has talent.

Replacing Benn that would seemingly set Lindell up with limited minutes but we will have to see how they use him. My suspicion is he will skate on the third pairing and second PP unit.

For more on Lindell click here.

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Pierre LeBrun looks at how the Hurricanes’ emergence in the playoff race adds further complexity to the Eric Staal situation.

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Ian Gooding lets you know which goalies to start this week.

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Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw. For more help in your fantasy league, pick up the Dobberhockey Mid-Season guide full with over 600 player projections for the second half of the season.