Ramblings: Training Camp News, Who Am I Drafting?

by Ian Gooding on October 1, 2017

Training Camp News, Who Am I Drafting, plus more…

Let’s start with some training camp news and notes:

Sleeper alert: Anders Bjork is expected to play in the Bruins’ top six alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Bruins’ coach Bruce Cassidy also mentioned that Bjork is a possibility to move to the left side to play on a line with David Krejci and David Pastrnak (CSNNE). Either way, Bjork is a great target in deeper leagues at the moment, since Cassidy seems committed to him playing on a scoring line.  

Another sleeper alert: Devils’ coach John Hynes says there is a “strong possibility” Pavel Zacha centers the top line between Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier is projected to center the second line with newly acquired Marcus Johansson and Drew Stafford (NorthJersey.com).

I’m not quite ready to proclaim the fearless forecast that Zacha finishes with more points than Hischier, but Zacha (5% Yahoo owned) is slipping under the radar in a lot more leagues than Hischier (48% Yahoo owned). A Devils’ fan that I know has told me that Zacha has worked out hard this offseason and looks half a step faster like he was carved out of granite. And that Zacha would score between 55 and 60 points this season.

Speaking of second lines, 2017 second overall pick Nolan Patrick is expected to start the season on the second line between Wayne Simmonds and Jordan Weal (Philly.com). Patrick seems to have already vaulted ahead of Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, and Jori Lehtera on a crowded center depth chart, behind only Claude Giroux.

I caught this during the second intermission of the Leafs/Wings preseason game: Zach Hyman is expected to start the season on the Leafs’ top line with Auston Matthews and William Nylander. He spent considerable time with Matthews last season, although all of his 28 points were scored at even strength. But if he’s a productive option with Matthews, then he may earn some power-play time at some point.

It's only the preseason but Jake Virtanen has four goals. It looks like he’s going to make the Canucks. I still can’t quite get over the fact that I think he needs another season in the AHL, since he recorded just 19 points in 65 games there last season. But that’s not how Travis Green would be evaluating him. It looks like Green worked wonders with Virtanen last season while both were in Utica of the AHL (Vancouver Province).

Expect Kailer Yamamoto to make the Oilers at least for a nine-game trial (Sportsnet). You’d think the Oilers would have learned their lesson about bringing up first-round picks too early. But should Yamamoto earn a spot, he has earned it on merit with five preseason goals. Regardless, I love watching this kid play and believe that he has a very bright NHL future.

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Here’s Dobber, Steve, Rick, Mario and I sharing our fetish picks (the one player we are targeting and when) for Sportsnet.

If you live in Canada, tune into the Hockey Central Season Preview on Sportsnet TV today (Sunday) at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT), where Dobber’s projections will be discussed.

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There is so much awesomeness in this picture.
 


We need at least one more season of Jaromir Jagr in the NHL. Make it happen NHL GMs!

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Because ‘tis the season to post fantasy draft results, I’m going to post another one of my own. On Saturday night I completed what I expect to be my final draft of the season. This is a league that I started when I was the content manager at fantasyhockey.com, so some of the league members were former writers. Our way of keeping in touch, I guess.

This is a Yahoo league with scoring categories are G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP, SOG, W, GAA, SV%, and SO.

Here are my results:

I won’t run through every single pick here – just a few of my more notable ones.

Not surprisingly, Connor McDavid was picked first overall, which I was totally expecting. I was actually considering picking Brent Burns at second overall because of his dominance in various categories, but I don’t get a pick that high every day. So when you get a chance to take Sidney Crosby at second overall, you take it.

Sort of a spoiler alert, if you haven’t read the Sportsnet article I posted above:

I managed to pick both my own fetish pick (Brayden Schenn) and Dobber’s (Cam Atkinson), so let’s see if those combined Dobber Hockey fetishes pay off. I picked Atkinson earlier because I didn’t think he’d be around by the next round (ADP 73). Then I discovered my fetish pick still available, and then remembered that I wanted to pick him at around pick 75! So I was sweating bullets while the other end of the snake ran its course through the next 21 picks. To my surprise, there he was at 95! Again, read the article as to why I like him so much. Whatever you do, draft him in the top 100.

Not long after my Schenn pick, I wanted to pick another forward. Viktor Arvidsson was there for the taking. But now I’m hearing rumblings that he might get split up from Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg? (Tennessean) So I realized I had cold feet with Arvidsson. Sorry, Steve.

At that point I thought that the best player available was Craig Anderson. I already drafted two goalies (Sergei Bobrovsky, John Gibson). But I then remembered that a) Four of the ten categories in this league are goaltending, and b) The Ducks play on more off days (Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Sunday) than any other team (58.5%), which is usually true of the Ducks every season for some reason. So even though I can start only two goalies per day, I shouldn’t expect a lot of games in which one of my prized goalies will be on the bench.

I’ll fast forward to my final pick. I realized I didn’t add any sexy sleepers at that point, and I wanted to get in on the fun that some of my other leaguemates were having. This isn’t my deepest league, so I realized that the likes of Jonathan Marchessault, Bo Horvat, Nolan Patrick, and Evgenii Dadonov were still available. Marchessault and Horvat were picked early in the round. Then I realized that I made the rookie mistake of drafting only two left wingers (Schenn and Henrik Zetterberg).

So I searched for left wingers. The two that caught my attention the most were Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Miller. I love Rantanen’s upside, but I can’t help but wonder whether his plus/minus will be a major anchor on my team. With 56 points last season, Miller is to me one of the most underrated fantasy options out there and just seemed like the better pick. He has improved his point total in each of his five NHL seasons, so he’s going to be one heck of a bargain at pick 215 if he can continue that trend.

On another note, what are the chances that you retain any picks after around 200? I’m hoping I can with Miller, who was the second-to-last pick in this draft. The last pick, also known as Mr. Irrelevant? Playoff hero Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Were there any other picks of interest to you? Let me know in the comments.

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Finally, here’s a list of players I own in multiple leagues this season, along with a brief explanation as to why that player appeals to me. Beyond Schenn, it could be a list of honorable mentions for the fetish pick. I guess it’s a list of players that I thought provided great value where they were ranked and what they could provide to the various scoring categories in my leagues.

Brayden Schenn: Described earlier. If you don’t have time to read the Sportsnet article, he’s a power-play specialist whose point total could increase if he lines up with Vladimir Tarasenko.

Dustin Byfuglien: An absolute must-own in multicategory leagues, and he holds his own in points leagues too. Plus I don’t have a problem drafting top-tier defensemen early.

Drew Doughty: Another multicategory beast. Dougie Hamilton very nearly made this list too because of his similar stats to Doughty.

Shayne Gostisbehere: Now that the sophomore slump is out of the way, watch for big things.

Ryan O’Reilly: A very cheap 55-60 points that I have been drafting in Round 15 (around the 170th pick) of a 12-team draft.

Elias Lindholm: His Carolina team is quietly getting better, and he was one of the hottest players in the second half last season (36 points in 45 games).

John Gibson: See above regarding the Ducks’ schedule. Plus I think Ryan Miller’s presence puts less pressure on the oft-injured Gibson.

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For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.