Ramblings: Update on Rantanen; injury to Tatar; Brown called up; slow starts – October 24

by Michael Clifford on October 24, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Update on Rantanen; injury to Tatar; Brown called up; slow starts – October 24

 

The update on Mikko Rantanen was about as good as Colorado fans and Rantanen fantasy owners could reasonably hope for. Right now, the timeline for return is 4-6 weeks and he’s being considered week-to-week, but the team said they won’t know the full extent of the injury for a few days yet. We’ll know more early next week, but at the least, it doesn’t appear this is anything that will keep him out for the season, or even for months. Considering how bad the injury looked at the time, that’s a good news update.

With the injury to Rantanen, we got Joonas Donskoi on the top line for Colorado and not Andre Burakovsky. That’s while Burakovsky got the first crack at the top PP unit on Monday night with Rantanen out of the game.  So, for fantasy owners who are looking to make the move on the waiver wire, flip a coin?

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Tomas Tatar was injured during Montreal’s practice on Wednesday while blocking a shot and he didn’t return to the ice. The team hasn’t said the severity of the injury yet, so when we get more information, we’ll pass it along. It may be temporary, but Nick Suzuki jumped to the top line in practice after Tatar left.

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The Rangers changed their lines around again, running a top line of Kreider-Zibanejad-Kakko and second line of Panarin-Strome-Buchnevich. I feel like this will be a running theme all season and it’s going to make owning guys like Kreider, Kakko, and Buchnevich very frustrating.

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Ottawa recalled prospect Logan Brown from the AHL prior to their game on Wednesday night. He was immediately slotted on the top line to centre Brady Tkachuk and Anthony Duclair. I ran out and picked him where I could on waivers because 49 points in 59 career AHL games and if he can show chemistry with Tkachuk, he will be in line for 17 minutes a night with some special teams exposure included. Of course, he could just not work out with Tkachuk, but this could have some upside for the rest of the season.

The reason for the recall is that Colin White will be out a few weeks while Artem Anisimov will miss another week with his injury. And this is not a team that can afford to lose NHL-calibre players.

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Aside from Logan Brown being recalled, the Red Wings also called up a prospect of their own in Evgeny Svechnikov, the older brother of Carolina’s Andrei. Being able to watch Svech the Elder was one of the very few reasons to tune into Ottawa-Detroit, aside it being a four-point game for lottery seeding.

Svech the Elder was skating on what is, I guess, the third line with Taro Hirose and Frans Nielsen, while also getting some secondary PP time. I don’t know how good he will or won’t be down the road, but it’s hard to see him having much fantasy value right now skating on third line in Detroit. He’d have to go nuclear on his own, having an Athanasiou-type season. That’s a lot to ask from a rookie.

Thomas Chabot continued his stellar start to the season with a pair of assists in the win, adding four shots and two blocks along the way. That gives him seven points and 28 shots in nine games, and I think fantasy owners are happy with that.

Logan Brown only played 12 minutes but stayed on Tkachuk’s line the entire night and even got some secondary power-play minutes. He might come around.

Anthony Mantha didn’t score, but he did have five hits to go with a pair of shots. If he keeps up this hitting pace – 13 in 10 games – there’s a huge fantasy season brewing in banger leagues.

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Victor Hedman scored his second of the season, this one with under a minute left in a 2-2 game, to lift the Lightning to a 3-2 win. Other Lightning players may be off to a slow start but in nine games, Hedman has: two goals, six assists, 13 penalty minutes, three power-play points, 11 shots, 16 blocks, and 11 hits. It’s certainly not John Carlson, but it’s still pretty good. We’d like him to shoot more, but with the weapons they have, it makes sense that he’s not.

Jake Guentzel is up to six goals and 11 points in 11 games to go with 36 shots.

With six shots in this game, Patric Hornqvist 21 shots in his last five games. A resurgence coming, perhaps? I hope he plays with Evgeni Malkin when he returns.

Andrei Vasilevskiy was very good with 37 saves in the win.

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Kevin Fiala was officially put on the injured reserve, which means he’ll miss at least two more games. It’s unfortunate, as it seems the Wild have been starting to turn things around a bit after an abysmal start. Maybe it’s just a function of seeing the puck actually go in the opponent’s net, though. 

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We’re now three weeks into the season and getting close to the point where we can’t say, “It’s still early.” It’s not quite that point – it’s another couple weeks before we have a real workable sample – but it’s getting close.

Even without a reasonable sample, it doesn’t stop fantasy owners from worrying about players. Is this the year age finally catches up and Joe Pavelski’s fantasy value goes splat? Are the super-rookies going to struggle all year? Is Aleksander Barkov going to manage even 25 goals? Fantasy owners everywhere have at least one player they’re unsure about. Let’s take a look at some guys under-performing to start the year. All stats as of Wednesday afternoon. 

 

Nino Niederreiter

This one hurts because I was expecting a big year from Nino and he’s put up a pretty big dud to start the season. Sitting at zero goals and three assists with 20 shots through nine games. It’s been a rough three weeks for the former Wild forward.

If there’s one good sign of turnaround, it’s that after bottoming-out at 13 minutes a night in back-to-back games, Nino played over 15 minutes in three straight games and then surpassed 18 minutes in the team’s most recent contest. After putting up just seven shots in his first four games, the last of which he managed a season-low 13:41 in TOI, he has posted 13 in his last five games, a lot closer to what we expect for The Nino.

 

Erik Karlsson

This would probably depend on the type of league where he’s owned. Those in leagues without plus/minus are probably fine with his performance to date, even if he is only averaging two shots on goal per game. The issue is being minus-8 through eight games. This will come as little surprise, but he’s getting no help from his goaltenders behind him, as they’re playing to a tune of an .867 save percentage at 5v5 when he’s on the ice. That will correct itself and his plus/minus will not get worse in a linear manner. Other than that, Karlsson looks like the EK we know and love.

 

Nikita Kucherov

Another guy off to a point-per-game pace and yet underperforming. There are concerns, though.

The first is the power play. A big reason Kucherov was able to get to the highs he did last year was his 48 points with the man advantage. Right now, he’s on pace for 20. That would take him from his league-leading 128 points last year to 100 this year. Still excellent, but not what he was drafted for. The response from the team in this regard has been to remove forward Brayden Point from the top PP unit. Ok then.

The second concern is the shot rate. At this point of the year, it has declined about 30 percent at five on five, and that’s… that’s a lot. Losing 30 percent of 246 shots knocks about 70 or so shots off his total from last season. Again, not why he was drafted first or second overall.

It’s still very early, and again, this is a guy who is at a point-per-game pace and he’s underperforming. Though I do wonder if he can be had right now in a trade for someone like David Pastrnak? Pastrnak-plus?

 

Alex Radulov

I’m completely out on the Dallas Stars. I had hopes of a Jamie Benn turnaround but I’m just out on this whole team. This was a franchise that looked to play with tempo in 2018-19 under Jim Montgomery and they played with about as much tempo as octogenarians doing aquacise. The only reason they got anywhere was Vezina-calibre goaltending from Ben Bishop. Fast forward a season and they’ve looked average-to-terrible in most games they’ve played save the one home against against the Ottawa-effing-Senators. They blew the doors off the worst team in the league and still have a nearly identical shot share on the season to Minnesota, a team where half the roster qualifies for discounts on Wednesdays at the grocery store. Not only is this team not exciting to watch – save for when Klingberg or Heiskanen decide to just do what they feel like – but they’re probably bad. Unless this team is lights out on the power play, it’s going to be a tough year for fantasy owners. I would be looking to get out from underneath anyone of note here.

 

P.K. Subban

A couple power-play points would probably make all the difference in his perception right now because having zero PP points three weeks into the season is not a good look. Of course, it’s not all, or even mostly, Subban’s fault. There is a lot of blame to go around as to why the Devils haven’t been off to the start they’d like.

The power play obviously won’t keep shooting zero percent with him on the ice, but we’ve already seen some power-play changes, including Sami Vatanen to the top unit. Whatever ends up being the magical combination that gets the PP going, that will be the combination that gets run. Whether that includes Subban or not, who knows. At the least, he’s still putting up solid peripherals so even if he’s more a 40-point guy than a 50-plus guy, he could still be solid in roto leagues. Might be worth checking in on whoever has Subban in your league to see if they’re frustrated with him yet and what the cost might be.