The new Panthers second line of Henrik Borgstrom, Frank Vatrano, and Evgenii Dadonov has looked very solid in their limited time together. Now, I’m of the mind that Dadonov is good enough that he can drive the play for an entire line, so almost any line with Dadonov is going to look good. But in my limited viewings at the NHL level, Borgstrom can be a playmaker for both Dadonov and Vatrano, two guys we know can finish.
Vincent Trocheck should be back this season but it will not be anytime soon. They should give Borgstrom (and that line) some leash. Teams can never have enough scoring and this line has the potential to be a lethal second scoring line. Let the kids play.
We have a lot of Bruins updates to make so I’ll let Amalie Benjamin fill everyone in:
To recap: Bergeron, Chara on ice in contact jerseys. DeBrusk, Vaakanainen on ice in non-contact jerseys.— Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin) December 19, 2018
When Gemel Smith was put on waivers, it was sort of an indication that Bergeron would be ready to go soon. With Bergeron in a contact jersey at practice, it seems like his return is imminent.
As mentioned in one of my recent Ramblings, I do wonder what they do with David Krejci. The new-look top line with him between Marchand and Pastrnak has looked fantastic, and the shot share and expected goal share numbers back that up. It would make sense to have Bergeron as the “second line” centre with Jake DeBrusk (when healthy) to try and lengthen the lineup that has had trouble with depth scoring this year. Also mentioned in that recent Ramblings, it’s easier said than done considering we’re talking about breaking up arguably the best line in hockey. I don’t expect Bergeron to start on the “second line” but I do wonder if it’s not at least in Bruce Cassidy’s mind.
Just for clairty, Bergeron was skating as an extra in that practice and is more likely to return this weekend than Thursday night.
Martin Necas has been loaned to Team Czech Republic at the World Juniors, and will join (a hopefully healthy) Filip Zadina. Colour me suddenly very interested in watching the Czech Republic at this year’s tournament.
Not overly fantasy relevant, but it appears Brandon Pirri may be filling in on the second line for Max Pacioretty while Pacioretty recovers from injury. At least in the short-term. I’ve always been a fan of Pirri’s goal scoring, something the Golden Knights have lacked this year. Let’s see what he can do.
While there’s been a lot of speculation surrounding the reasons Patrik Berglund didn’t show up for Sabres practices and games, there’s no speculation about the future with his team: he was placed on unconditional waivers for purpose of contract termination. If he clears (he will), he’s free to sign anywhere he wants. There’s a lot more to this story than we know so let’s reserve judgment until we know more.
Both Patric Hornqvist and Dominik Simon were skating in normal jerseys for the Penguins in Wednesday’s practice. Hornqvist returned, skating on the third line with Derick Brassard and Tanner Pearson, and was back on the top PP unit to the detriment of Jake Guentzel. Simon was not in the lineup Wednesday night, however.
A couple days ago in these Ramblings, in the spirit of the holidays, I posted my naughty list for players who’ve under-performed through the first 30-plus games of the season. Today will be the nice list, or players who are over-performing through the first 30-plus games of the season. This will be over-performance compared to ADP and preseason ranks, and we will be assuming standard Yahoo! 12-team leagues. That means goals, assists, power-play points, plus/minus, shots, and hits.
Throughout the offseason, and just before the season started, I implored people to draft Lee where he was being drafted. Among left wingers, he was often drafted as a bench player or at the very bottom of the LW3 tier. Remember that he scored 40 goals last year and, sure, that was with John Tavares, but expecting him to fall off the map was extreme, especially considering how much he could help in peripherals.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Lee has 12 goals and 25 points in 33 games. In those 33 games, he’s averaging 2.8 shots and 1.3 hits per contest. That production, in and of itself, isn’t special, but the peripherals help a lot, as does the fact that he’s a staple of the top PP unit.
Can he keep up what he’s doing?
Well, he’s shooting 12.9 percent overall, and is a career 14.6 percent shooter. If we count just his games pre-2016, which was when he was not *always* skating alongside Tavares, he was an 11.1 percent shooter. In other words, he’s perfectly in range of what we can expect for him.
At five-on-five, he’s shooting 8.9 percent, considerably lower than the 2016-18 seasons which saw him shoot over 16 percent in both of them, but much more in line, again, with what he did earlier in his career. His shot rates are normal and his individual points percentage is normal. Those are all good signs.
Where the issue comes is how the team is performing with him on the ice. At five-on-five, the Islanders are shooting 11 percent with Lee on the ice, and the team’s save percentage is .943. Both of those are too high, particularly the save percentage, and a decline will likely mean a (slight) drop in assists, and potentially a significant drop in plus/minus. He’s sitting at plus-6 right now, he could easily go minus-6 the rest of the way.
The thing is, even if he’s a minus-6 instead of a plus-6, he has enough value elsewhere to be a borderline top-100 player (he’s a borderline top-50 player right now). Don’t worry about the PP production; with Tavares gone, Lee is getting a little under 20 percent more shots on target than last year, which means repeating his 14 PP goals from last year is well within reach.
In all, I wouldn’t have a specific problem with shopping Lee. If left wing is a position of strength for you and you need to fill a spot for a good defenceman, or trade him for a couple of draft picks in a keeper league where you’re out of it for the year, that’s fine. But barring health issues or a serious run of bad luck, he should be fine for the rest of the year as a starting player in 12-team leagues.
Unlike Lee, I was not high (or even reasonable) on Parise coming into the year. He finished the 2017-18 season just fine with 12 goals and 15 points in the final 18 games. I took that as a guy on a hot streak in a small sample and not that it would portend what we would see to start the 2018-19 season. To date, he’s been roughly a top-75 player in standard Yahoo! leagues. That’s after perhaps not being drafted in 12-teamers or being drafted as a bench option.
The first thing to point out is that Parise is currently enjoying a career-high 16.7 percent shooting. His three-year average coming into this season was 10.8 percent and 12.7 percent is the best he mustered in any season in which he played at least 50 games (2014-15).
But it’s not at five-on-five where he’s been getting a bit fortunate; he’s shooting over 11 percent which is nothing extreme. Rather, at five-on-four, he’s shooting over 26 percent, which would be a career-best for him by a wide margin (he only has one season over 20 percent and none over 21 percent). This has led to him ranking sixth in goals/60 at five-on-four league-wide (via Natural Stat Trick).
The problem, of course, is that the Wild are one of the teams who split their PP units; they have 10 players averaging at least 2:10 of PP time per game, but none more than 2:40. In other words, there’s no ice time cushion for when (if?) the shooting percentage declines.
Fantasy owners have a decision to make. At five-on-five, there’s not much to worry about, most is well within norms. That includes his plus/minus. At five-on-four, though, we should see a goal drought soon. As fantasy owners know, losing PPPs is a double whammy because it hurts overall production as well as the specific category. He won’t fall off the map by any stretch, but he won’t be as valuable the rest of the way as he’s been so far without a streak of good fortune. And the injury history is always lurking in the background. I would have no problem trading Parise for a similarly-valued player at a position of need.
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