Ramblings: Toronto Wins! Also Thoughts on Rask, Jones, Tarasenko and more…

by Ian Gooding on May 26, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Toronto Wins! Also Thoughts on Rask, Jones, Tarasenko and more…


Toronto is going to the final! It may not be the Stanley Cup Final, but across Canada there have to be more people cheering for the Raptors than there would be if the Leafs went to the final. Even if they lose to Golden State and Kawhi leaves after the season, this is totally worth it for the Raptors. Unfortunately, I would still bet on both of those scenarios happening. However, the present is one hell of a ride for those fans.
 


Yes, fantasy keeper owners can learn something from the Raptors. If you have a chance to make your team better, even if it’s just for one season and it sacrifices your future, then why not go all in? It was a risky trade for the Raptors when it happened, but now they’ve advanced farther than they ever have in team history. As much as DeMar DeRozan is a solid player, the Raptors weren’t getting a sniff of the NBA Finals had they stood pat.

You can easily sacrifice the present in order to stockpile for the future. Having reserves for next season and beyond is important, but I don’t play the fantasy game so that my team can be better five years from now. Look for ways to improve your team in the present. If you can’t because you have already made the decision to rebuild, look for prospects that you can harvest sooner rather than later. You may not be able to wait that long. This philosophy might seem to run counterintuitive to the idea of building for the future, but it’s possible to continue to stay competitive for a lengthy period without having to tank. The two Stanley Cup finalists are an example of that.  

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At the World Hockey Championship, it’ll be an NHL veteran-laden Canada squad facing a Finland team with very little NHL experience. The Canadians defeated the Czechs 5-1 on Saturday, while the Finns squeaked by a Russian team with numerous NHL stars by a score of 1-0.
 


Canada is clearly the favorite on paper, yet they just advanced past Switzerland by the slimmest of margins in the quarterfinal. So there’s no guarantee of Canadian gold here. Even if Finland loses on Sunday, this is an amazing showing for them.  

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Don’t forget about the 2019 Fantasy Prospects Report, available in one week (on June 1). This is a solid publication that will help you evaluate draft-eligible prospects for your keeper pool, as well as NHL team-owned top prospects. It’s a valuable resource to me as I decide which prospects to target for my keeper league. The ETAs (estimated time of arrivals) and scoring upsides listed for each player will help make those decisions easier for you as well.

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On the last Keeping Karlsson podcast, Elan and Brian discussed how Tuukka Rask’s playoff run could affect his fantasy value going forward. In hindsight, allowing Jaroslav Halak to play nearly as many games (40) as Rask (46) turned out to be a great move to ensure that Rask wasn’t overworked for this playoff run. Assuming that the Bruins don’t have to make a late-season push to earn a playoff spot next season, then it would make sense that they would use the same strategy again next season.

This is something I’ll have to think about over the summer, as I decide whether to keep one of Rask, Devan Dubnyk, or Robin Lehner. Rask’s playoff run could certainly add to his value, but we might need to temper our expectations if Rask has averaged just 50 GP over the past two seasons. Someone like Martin Jones would be projected to start at least 10 more games and would probably earn more wins as a result, yet it wouldn’t be worth it to draft Jones ahead of Rask because Jones’ ratios will be significantly worse than Rask’s. However, if your goalie scoring only counts wins and shutouts, then you might have to do the unthinkable and draft Jones ahead of Rask, even if it’s clear by watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs which goalie is better.

As for Jones, the tweet I posted in yesterday’s Ramblings showed how awful his GSAA (goals saved above average) is. In case you’re not familiar with the stat, here’s a writeup on it from In Goal Magazine. You might be curious (as I was) about how Jones fared with that stat during the regular season. Well, cover your eyes if you're a Jones keeper owner. According to Hockey Reference, Jones ranked 66th among 67 goalies listed in GSAA. Only Jonathan Quick had a worse number (although his was significantly worse that Jones’ and everyone else’s).

In spite of numbers that make it clear that the Sharks have been winning in spite of Jones, I can’t see them making a change in net this offseason. Jones is under contract for five more years at $5.75 million, with the term at least as much as the cap hit making that contract difficult to move. Doug Wilson is likely already preoccupied on making a number of other decisions to be thinking about the goaltending anyway. Yet with the Sharks' window starting to close, I wonder how many more seasons that Wilson decides that he's okay with Jones, assuming that what you see from Jones is what you're going to get. The Stanley Cup Final run of 2016 certainly bought some time (and helped buy the current contract) in that regard. 

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Vladimir Tarasenko was another player that was discussed on the latest Keeping Karlsson podcast. Although Tarasenko has easily the most upside of any St. Louis scorer, we have to be careful not to overvalue him. We can consistently pencil him in for 30 goals, which he has reached in each of the past five seasons. However, over his six full NHL seasons, Tarasenko has never scored more than 75 points in a season. There is room for more and the point total is goal-heavy, though. In the present state, Tarasenko reminds me of what Rick Nash used to be (minus the injuries).

From a multicategory perspective, you always know that you’ll get the shots from the Tank (at least 250 over each of the last five seasons). Only three players have taken more shots than Tarasenko over that span. However, the power-play points tell a different story. Tarasenko is 32nd in that category over the last five seasons, which may have something to do with not having an elite-level scorer or two to surround him. The Blues run three solid scoring lines, yet I can’t help but wonder what Tarasenko’s numbers would be like with a top-10 center.

Having said that, Ryan O’Reilly has been a great acquisition for the Blues and the type of player that has been the difference between this Blues’ team and the ones of the past.

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The Jets have signed backup goalie Laurent Brossoit to a one-year contract worth $1.225 million. Brossoit posted solid numbers as a backup last season (13-6-2, 2.52 GAA, .925 SV%). Our Capped writer Alex MacLean weighed in on Twitter.
 


If Brossoit can be one of the league’s better backups for a second consecutive season, then he could earn himself both a better contract and more playing time a year from now. In spite of better GAA and SV% numbers than starter Connor Hellebuyck, I don’t see Hellebuyck losing much playing time next season. Why? Look at the contracts. Hellebuyck will earn over $6 million for five more seasons.  

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As I mentioned yesterday, I’m continuing to work on bringing back the Top 100 Roto Rankings. It’s looking like I’ll have something ready for June, even though I still have more work to do here. In the meantime, you can check out December’s rankings. I understand that a lot has changed since then, yet I’d still appreciate any feedback that you can give me.

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.