Ramblings: Vegas Freeze, More Habs/Bolts Trade Talk (June 18)

by Ian Gooding on June 17, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Vegas Freeze, More Habs/Bolts Trade Talk (June 18)

Vegas Freeze, More Habs/Bolts Trade Talk, plus more...

UPDATE: The expansion draft protection list has now been released! View it here

What a day it was. We saw a mini-flurry of deals before the pre-expansion draft trade and waiver freeze, which included Nathan Beaulieu traded to Buffalo and Mike Smith traded to Calgary. Mike Clifford has you covered on both of the significant deals of the day.

Beaulieu traded to Buffalo

Smith traded to Calgary

As far as fantasy value goes, I like these deals for both Beaulieu and Smith.

Beaulieu heads into a situation that is in dire need of a defenseman with any offensive upside beyond Rasmus Ristolainen. Beaulieu recorded 28 points and 12 power-play points last season, which would have easily placed him second on the Sabres in both categories. This in spite of having the fourth-highest PP TOI and fifth-highest overall TOI among Canadiens’ defensemen last season. Buffalo’s defense still needs major work, but this is a start.

Smith leaves the Coyotes just as they appear to be on the way up. But as Mike said, he’s a league-average goalie who played on a below-average team. As much as a move to Calgary should help Smith’s fantasy value to some degree because of a stronger and more experienced defense in front of him, it doesn't seem at initial glance that Smith is an upgrade in goal for the Flames from Brian Elliott (assuming Elliott does not return).

I can recall two seasons ago attempting to trade my Smith straight across for Elliott when Elliott was in a timeshare with Jake Allen in St. Louis (it didn’t work). Elliott obviously benefitted from a robust defense in front of him in St. Louis, but he struggled at times in his one Calgary season (2.55 GAA, .910 SV%) and seemed to miss the boat on being the long-term full-time starter in Calgary as a result. Smith has averaged about a .915 SV% over his last two seasons in Arizona, so there is an opportunity for him to improve on Elliott’s performance. Long-term, consider Smith a bridge goalie for Jon Gillies, since Smith has two years left on his contract and will be 37 when his contract expires.

So let’s touch base on where we are now.

The expansion draft lists will be released to the public at 10 a.m. ET. There should be plenty of discussion leading up to the Wednesday release of the first-ever Vegas Golden Knights roster. No doubt there will also be some surprises when it comes to players left unprotected. A few players may seem like obvious picks for the Knights, but we’ll have to wait and see to find out what George McPhee has in mind.

But before then, slowly but surely these lists trickle in (or at least specific information from them):

Notable exposed players (so far): Troy Brouwer, James Neal, Tomas Plekanec, Alexei Emelin, Jason Demers, and Dobber Hockey favorite Jonathan Marchessault. Neal and Marchessault should be the most interesting names to fantasy owners and could form a legit top-6 line combination. Marchessault’s contract ($750,000 for one more season) makes him especially appealing. So why wouldn’t Vegas like him? It’s probably premature for me to speculate, though, since I don’t have the entire list in front of me as I write this.

Poll question of the week:

A more specific question might be:

Many Jonathan Drouin owners are giddy over the possibility that Jonathan Drouin escapes a potential third-line situation in Tampa and is virtually guaranteed top-6 minutes for the Habs. That’s great, so the opportunity to improve on last season’s career-high 53 points is there. But one important snag: Who’s going to pass him the puck? Until we know that, Drouin should be considered an unknown commodity.

The Habs’ top two centers (center-eligible players, anyway) last season were Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec. Galchenyuk, thought by many to be more of a natural winger, seems destined to be traded soon if all the rumors are true. It appears Plekanec will be left unprotected for the expansion draft. So assuming that both are gone, Phillip Danault is your potential top-line center.

Danault could be due for a breakout year considering the kind of wingers he has at his disposal (Drouin, Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Radulov if re-signed). But it should go without saying that the Habs are thin at center. Someone like Danault will have to break out, the Habs will have to trade for a center currently outside the organization, or these wingers are going to have very limited ceilings. There’s also the problem of leading sniper Max Pacioretty also playing on the same wing as Drouin, which could further limit Drouin’s scoring opportunities.

I like the high-end talent that Drouin brings to Montreal. But unless something significant happens that Marc Bergevin manages to get right (Habs fans are holding their breath), Drouin is looking at a similar point total to last season. Sixty points in 2017-18? Maybe. Seventy points? The way the Habs are constructed at the moment, not a chance. But I should emphasize that this team’s situation is fluid and that Bergevin probably isn't done. 

This is one detail that’s going to matter if you’re considering drafting Mikhail Sergachev as a sleeper. In case you didn’t catch it in the deal, the picks that LeBrun is referring to are a second-round pick to Tampa Bay and a sixth-round pick to Montreal. Draft picks are a valued currency in today’s NHL, so the joke is that Sergachev will play exactly 39 games for the Bolts this coming season.

If you read one of my previous Ramblings, you’ll know that the Tampa Bay power play is among the best in the league, even without Steven Stamkos. The point of discussion originated from whether the return of Stamkos would cut into Victor Hedman’s power-play numbers, given the “opposite handedness” of Hedman (left) to Stamkos (right). The conclusion was that a Stamkos could reduce Hedman’s league-leading (among defensemen) 33 power-play points because right-handed shooting Anton Stralman appeared to be a better fit for Stamkos.

Sergachev, in case you’re wondering, shoots left-handed. So if the Lightning decide to adapt a three-forward, two-defenseman power play, don’t expect Sergachev to replace Stralman on the first-unit power play anytime soon. It’s not inconceivable for two defensemen who shoot the same way to play on the same power-play unit (P.K. Subban and Ryan Ellis are an example). But don’t expect Stralman to disappear anytime soon, since he has two more years left on his contract with the Bolts. 

Sergachev is very young – he will only be 19 at the start of the season. Even though he has loads of offensive upside, the Bolts don’t need to rush him in. I’m going to bet the under on those 40 games.


Since the announcement went down shortly after the Drouin trade, the Eric Gudbranson contract didn’t receive much love from my fellow Ramblers. Of course, Gudbranson isn’t a strong defenseman fantasy-wise anyway. His new one-year, $3.5 million contract could serve two purposes for the Canucks: 1) as a prove-it, bridge-type contract before the Canucks make a long-term commitment on a defenseman who didn’t have a great season, and 2) a possible rental for the Canucks to sell if they are well out of the playoff race. My hope is for option 2 if the Canucks are serious about this rebuild.

Remember that Gudbranson was the third overall pick in the 2010 draft behind Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin and ahead of Ryan Johansen and Vladimir Tarasenko. With the shift in today’s game toward speed, lumbering defensemen like Gudbranson simply don’t hold the same value that they used to. But there are probably still some GMs who would value the old-school qualities that Gudbranson would bring, should the Canucks decide to trade him.


One other piece of news that flew under the radar with all this Vegas stuff: Ryan Kesler is expected to be sidelined for 12 weeks because of hip surgery. If that’s the timeline that occurs, Kesler should be ready for the start of the season, although he may miss the start of training camp. Although he appeared to be a diminishing asset when he was traded from Vancouver to Anaheim, Kesler put up his best point total (58 points) since all the way back to the 2010-11 season, when he scored 41 goals and 73 points.


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


  • Striker

    Go back & read posts chronologically from the bottom up.

    Here’s what I have so far. Not accounting any Anh, Clb, or Nas players. Can’t decide which of the 5 Nas F’s Vegas might select & assume a side deal is coming here. I assume when the dust settles it may be Aberg+.

    Marchesseault, Shipachyov, Brouwer.
    Nosek, Lindberg, Perron.
    Raffl, Eakin, McGinn.
    Clifford, Kruger; assuming the rumor is true, Dano.
    Spare Rychel.

    de Haan, Dumba.
    Methot, Dotchin.
    Emelin, C. Miller.
    Dhillon, TvR.
    Reinhart, Sbisa.
    MAF, Grubauer, Ullmark, Altshuller; waiver expempt, missed him in list above, Pickard.

    Vegas is going to be able to parlay/trade those D into a solid returns.

    • Striker

      My cap hit to Vegas not counting Ullmark & Ultshuller being sent down to the AHL, Picard traded, RFA’s Reinhart, de Haan, Lindberg, Dotchin, Grubauer still needing be signed & any players from Anh, Clb or Nashville not yet factored in is $51,525,500. Based on the roster I have chosen above.

  • Striker

    At 1st blush here is what I have for Vegas’s selections. No where near final as far more research required & there are several teams extremely hard to decide which player will appeal to Vegas most. Also a few surprises not the least of which is NYI protecting 5 Dman & 1 of them isn’t de Haan!

    Vegas has to come out of the expansion draft with 9D, 14F, 3G & 4 wild cards. Not accounting for any further side deals as yet except for the 3 teams we assume Vegas has side deals with now, Anh, Clb & Pit but assuming MAF is selected; just weather anything else is included. I have also not included Min but to get me to pass on Dumba would cost a fortune, more than Calgary paid to get Hamilton! Who wouldn’t want this asset as part of their future. He & de Haan would be a solid #1 future pairing.

    G’s. MAF, Grubauer, Ullmark & Ultshuller; both waiver exempt, Picard; traded to another team almost immediately.
    D’s. C. Miller, TvR, Reinhart, Emelin, Lovejoy, de Haan, Methot, Dhillon & Sbisa.
    F’s. McGinn, Brouwer, Eakin, Nosek, Marchesseault, Clifford, 1 of Nas’s 5 F’s; Aberg, Neil, Wilson, Smith, Scissions, Lindberg, Raffl, Perron, Rychel & Dano.
    I haven’t accounted for any players from Anh, Clb or Min as yet, nor a sweetener from Pit if 1 is to be paid. If I had to select from these teams now it would be Manson, Dumba & Anderson nor am I doing so for solely a 1st & in the case of Dumba see above.

    This is going to be a very good team before any side deals. Good being relative, as few superstars but some solid building blocks. I leaned to younger players where possible.

    • Striker

      I missed Dotchin from TB in the D.

    • Striker

      Interestingly enough my 1st run thru I didn’t include many C’s, only 2 Eakin & Lindberg, although Vegas did sign Shipachyov, so selecting Sheahan over Nosek & Lehtera over Perron might make more sense, again the tough decisions to try & make.

      I assume this will be addressed in trades/side deals.

    • Striker

      The interesting dynamic is acquiring waiver exempt players & with the exception of in net this is virtually impossible at the point of the expansion draft but will open up in trade/side deals. Not an issue at forward as they only have to select 14, they will most likely carry at least 13 & many side deals/trades I assume will be for waiver exempt forwards to some extent unless upgrading to a star forward.

      Having to select at least 9 Dman means they will have to flip at least 1 as most teams carry 8. This won’t be an issue. Moving a Dman with a pulse can be achieved easily. Finding buyers for Emelin, Lovejoy, even a Sbisa wouldn’t be difficult. Tons of teams need any Dman that can even play in the NHL.