Ramblings: Top 10 Remaining UFA’s and more (July 25)

by Dobber on July 25, 2016

Rambling about all these NHL players getting their charges dropped. And my Top 10 remaining free agents…

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This has nothing to do with fantasy hockey, it’s just a rant. Why on earth would Patrick Kane hire Paul J. Cambria as his lawyer? And then, after that fiasco, why on earth would Evander Kane hire him?

Cambria defended Larry Flynt. He has a long list of celebrities he has defended. He is a “bulldog” in the courtroom.  That’s the answer, I’m sure, that the two Kanes were given.

But…on the first point – who cares? A monkey could have defended Larry Flynt. That doesn’t make Cambria a great lawyer. On the second point – who cares? Yes, it’s an impressive client list but really he just springboarded off the Flynt thing and was able to build up a good list. You can flip through the Internet with your eyes closed and point to a random spot on your screen and voila, you have a more intelligent (and cheaper) lawyer.

Why am I so tough on Cambria? Really, just this. The grammar and spelling are horrible. Yes, he claims he was speak-texting, but his entries were also edited. This is a ‘professional’? Don’t hire a man as your lawyer just because he represented some notable clients. Because then ‘you’ become a notable client that he can just use for his next hire (“Hey, I represented Patrick Kane! So I know hockey! Hire me!”). Millions of attorneys in North America. At the very least, hire one who knows the difference between “your” and “you’re” and the difference between “their” and “there”. I’m not really a grammar nazi, but I do come down pretty hard on people who are professionals in any field and who make a lot of money.

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As for the Kane thing (Evander, that is), I suspect this will end up the way Patrick’s did. With people no longer coming forward or fading into the background, evidence getting questioned and then disappearing, and then months from now the charges get quietly dropped. Hey, maybe that makes Cambria a good attorney after all! Hmmm…what’s his secret?

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Ryan O’Reilly’s charges were dropped, remember that?

Semyon Varlamov’s charges were dropped, remember that?

Looks like all NHL players are very law-abiding – maybe sometimes just misunderstood.

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Here are my Top 10 remaining unrestricted free agents, of fantasy interest, as well as some thoughts…

Let me start off by saying if I had to bet money on it, I would bet on ‘fail’ for each and every player on this list. The safer bet is that they won’t succeed in producing decent fantasy numbers. Now, with that in mind, we’ll proceed based on ‘hope’ and ‘potential’ – two of your favorite words, I’m sure.

10. Kris Russell – He is what he is: a 30-point guy whose injuries make him more like a 20- or 25-point guy. That won’t change now. Best fit for him is the Devils, who are dire need of replacing Larsson and getting someone reliable defensively on their blue line.

9. Jiri Tlusty – All the potential down the drain. If you want a tiny spark of hope – he had New Jersey’s lowest 5on5 S%, so he wasn’t getting any lucky bounces. The best fit for him is probably Buffalo or Vancouver. The actual best fit for him is the Czech League.

8. Joni Ortio – Not a horrible goalie, not a great goalie. And like all goalies who are neither horrible nor great, the right situation could prove fruitful. That situation for him is probably Toronto as their backup. Hey, I said the situation for him (not for the Leafs).

7. Radim Vrbata – I honestly think that the 35-year-old has nothing left in the tank, which is why he’s so far down my list. I know on most lists he’s in the top three. The best fit for him is a team that is shy on experienced wingers and yet has a skilled centerman. The more skill, the better. So yeah, the best fit for Vrbata is either Pittsburgh or the Islanders (where he could push Parenteau out of the mix).

6. Alex Tanguay – The only reason I have any hope for the 36-year-old is because he played so well for Arizona once he got there (13 points and plus-5 in 18 games). As with Vrbata, for Tanguay to get any fantasy value he would need a top center. So the best fit for him is also Pittsburgh or the Islanders.

5. Sam Gagner – Gagner, who turns 27 in two weeks, has run out of steam in the NHL. In fact, his relative youth is the only reason I have him slotted ahead of Tanguay and Vrbata. But in his defense, I don’t think he was ever given a chance in Philadelphia. A very short leash. Best scenario for him would be the Devils or perhaps the Islanders.

4. Brandon Pirri – A pure sniper and at 25 he’s the second-youngest player on this list (six days older than Ortio). There’s still some hope for him, fantasy owners. He just needs to pick his spot carefully and then have his agent go to them offering to sign for the minimum.  Pittsburgh would be my first phone call, with the Islanders and the Blackhawks next. The Rangers are another good fit.

3. Karri Ramo – The 30-year-old is recovering from major knee surgery in February. He could be out until October, or perhaps ready as early as September. For him, San Jose still needs a backup. Also, if he offers a cheap contract to Tampa Bay (his former club), perhaps they’ll bring him back as a No.3 – which would free up their hands to trade Ben Bishop.

2. James Wisniewski – I’m not the biggest fan of Wisniewski because of how frequently he gets hurt, so that shows you how shallow this list is when he clocks in at number two. But I will give him this: every time he gets injured and fantasy owners write him off, he responds with a 51-point season. The Devils make a good landing spot for him, same with the Islanders. The Oilers would be great for him (maybe not so much for the Oilers, unless it’s for a short-term deal).

1. Jiri Hudler – I know his play went down the toilet last year but he’s only 32 and he’s just 15 months removed from polishing off a 76-point season! He has 122 points in his last 150 games. But no contract. Yes, I do believe he’s on the decline, but on the right team he could probably get back over the 55-point mark. And again that right team would be the Pens or Islanders.

 

I didn’t count Patrik Elias in the list above because he’s either retiring or re-signing with the Devils. I wouldn’t draft him, as I don’t think he has a 50-point season left in him even if he’s healthy.

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Bonus player – Lucas Lessio. I don’t understand what happened here. Perhaps he told the Habs he wasn’t interested in playing in their organization or perhaps he did something behind the scenes. In 2013-14, the world was his oyster. Here was a prospect drafted 56th overall – quite high – and in that year he had 29 goals in 69 AHL games and he got into three games for Phoenix at the age of 21. So far so good, career on the right track. In 2014-15 He had 31 points in 49 games, though was minus-9. He was called up to Arizona and played 26 games, picking up five points and going minus-10. Not overly impressive, but as a 22-year-old second-round draft pick it’s certainly not enough to give up on him. So in my opinion he’s still on track to at least “see” how things go, regardless of any skating issues.

Last season he had 21 points in 42 games in the AHL (minus-16), traded midway for Christian Thomas. He had two points in 12 games with Montreal.  Not the greatest year overall, but this is the first time things truly look bad. Is that reason to not qualify him and lose him for nothing? At the age of 23? Yes, his odds of success are very slim, but I’ve seen far more hopeless cases get re-signed. We can’t think that because qualifying him would have cost the team upwards of $900,000 they chose to walk away (like the Devils did with Merrill and Smith-Pelly) because they could just make the offer a two-way contract.

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Our player profiles have been fixed to show accurate point totals. We had been unable to go back in and correct the game logs if the NHL makes a scoring change a couple of days after the game happened. Now we’ve found a solution (courtesy of Eric Daoust, who has been great with this). The line production area in the player profile now has their point totals in brackets above. We still have a lot on the go with what we’ve got planned with Frozen Pool – keep checking in!

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