Ramblings: Valeri Nichushkin, Aaron Ekblad, Canucks goaltending and more (Sept. 20)

by Neil Parker on September 20, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Valeri Nichushkin, Aaron Ekblad, Canucks goaltending and more (Sept. 20)


Rambling about Valeri Nichushkin, Aaron Ekblad, Canucks goaltending, Vladimir Sobotka, Zach Werenski, Radek Faksa, the Boston blue line and more …



It looks like Valeri Nichushkin is peacing out to Russia with love. I can now stop monitoring Dallas line combinations daily to see if he's playing with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, and for that, I thank him.

He's obviously off the seasonal fantasy radar, and given his underwhelming production to start his career in spite of immense talent, he's a case-by-case own in dynasty/keeper leagues. There is absolutely no guarantee he returns to the league, and just how good he is remains up in the air. It would have to be a deep bench to warrant a stash.


Sticking with the Russian saga, Vladimir Sobotka still isn't out of his KHL contract and his status for training camp is up in the air. Assuming full health for 82 games, Sobotka could approach 20 goals and 45 points, which has value, especially since he moves the needle in the peripheral categories.

St. Louis is likely counting on him after letting David Backes walk, too. Patrik Berglund is likely the biggest beneficiary if Sobotka isn't around. Berglund is a downgrade statistically across categories, though, and he isn't fantasy relevant in many leagues.




Aaron Ekblad missed the game against Russia Monday with an upper-body injury. This is a wait-and-see situation leading into the season, but fantasy owners should hope for him to sit out until he is 100 percent healthy. That might not happen given the potential stakes Team North America is targeting.

If this is a shoulder injury, it could be something that lingers. Ekblad is already in danger of losing some power-play time — and production — to Keith Yandle, so starting the season at full health is important to his fantasy stock.




Jack Skille has signed a professional try-out contract with the Vancouver Canucks. I've always wondered why Skille hasn't been able to put it all together at the highest level. He skates well enough and has an excellent shot, but between injuries and just never being given a legit shot to thrive, it's been downhill.

He's likely just a body for camp, and it wouldn't be surprising if Skille isn't in the league opening night. Guys like Brendan Gaunce, Emerson Etem and Markus Granlund just received some mild competition — Tuomo Ruutu was recently extended a PTO contract, too.


Sticking in Vancouver, general manager Jim Benning announced Ryan Miller is the unquestioned No. 1 goalie Monday. This obviously comes on the heels of Dobber's endorsement of Jacob Markstrom in yesterday's ramblings. Handicapping personnel decisions is more important than talent in some cases, and this may be one example.

First, Miller has only started 96 games over the past two seasons with Vancouver, and he has been nothing more than mediocre: .914 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average.

Also, here is the projected blue line for the Canucks: Alexander Edler, Christopher Tanev, Luca Sbisa, Erik Gudbranson, Ben Hutton and … Nikita Tryamkin? … Alex Biega? … Andrey Redan? … Philip Larsen?

Markstrom is an intriguing fantasy option because he could prove to be a monster in the save percentage column, but with 35 starts, he's not a personal priority in yearly settings.




Radek Faksa is nursing concussion-like symptoms and didn't play Monday. Stars general manager Jim Nill said Faksa will be re-evaluated Tuesday. I touched on Faksa earlier this summer here, and his fantasy prospects only increase if Valeri Nichushkin is out of the mix.

First, though, he needs to be healthy, obviously. Concussions are finicky injuries and can crop back up, so stay tuned for updates on Faksa. He's a player on the rise.




Zach Werenski missed a game in the prospect tournament with a lower-body injury, but it was a precautionary move. Werenski is likely going to have nice stretches this season and some serious scoring droughts. He projects as a better flier in daily contests in 2016-17 and left to keeper/dynasty settings for now.




What if it is Joe Morrow who climbs the depth chart and not Colin Miller?

Torey Krug's return timeline is a bit murky, so his training camp will be important to monitor here, too.

Morrow has proven to be a capable offensive contributor at the lower levels, and after a full season with the Bruins (albeit with plenty of time in the press box), he could eat into some of Miller's ice time and production to start or at points throughout the season.

I'm far more hesitant to hand Miller a 30-point season now than I was a three weeks ago. Morrow is a long-shot asset for this season, but his ascension or lack thereof will have an impact on Miller, and Miller is a trendy grab in deep leagues.





This is a tournament he should be dominating. He's 23 with a four-year career in the NCAA under his belt. In fact, if he did anything other than light it up, it would be a major red flag. Let someone else overvalue this showing.




Here is a quick read on Max Jones. The first-rounder is expected to return to the London Knights for an extended role as a go-to player, according to general manager Bob Murray.

He projects as the heir apparent to Corey Perry, both for the Ducks and poolies who are looking for a multi-category contributor with a nasty side.






He'll receive a shot once injuries strike, so be ready when that happens. Remain patient in keeper/dynasty leagues, too.




This was an excellent show:



And it's absolutely awesome to have real hockey talk back. Here are a few quick notes after checking in.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the North American team in ice time in the opening game. He's a buy-low candidate in keeper/dynasty settings and a really nice late-round target in seasonal leagues this fall.

Steven Stamkos fired four shots on net and looked good in the opening game. He's building momentum leading into the season and should have a bounce-back showing now that he's healthy and without contract distractions.

John Tortorella might go to a short bench quickly in the game against Canada Tuesday. Here's a quick rundown of what Canada brings on lines two through four: size and speed. Good luck with a short bench, Torts.

Bob McKenzie is a sharp-dressed man.

McKenzie expects Connor Carrick and Frank Corrado to battle for the final spot on the Toronto blue line with Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Martin Marincin, Matt Hunwick, Roman Polak and Nikita Zaitsev locks for the roster.

Up front, McKenzie expects William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Nikita Soshnikov, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to all break camp with the Maple Leafs. Its makes for an interesting state of the union for the forward corps, and the where veterans like Leo Komarov, Colin Greening and Tyler Bozak slide in will ultimately determine there fantasy fate. Training camp should yield some answers.




Sid Seixerio suggesting the former USA players are treating this Team USA like a Nagano Hotel Room was hilarious Monday.






Thanks for stopping by, Dobberheads.