Rambling about the NHL’s left-hand vs. right-hand shots, Rantanen, draft prep and more …
Last Fantasy Guide update was Saturday. I also updated the Draft List. Updates start coming fast and furious (daily or even multiple times per day) when camp opens and there are lots of changes.
So I’m thrilled about the World Cup so far. When the format was first announced, I thought it was bold and a possible winner. Then, as the WCH approached, I had second thoughts. The players ducking out with injuries was concerning me. Turned out to be much ado about nothing. In fact, I bet the absent players who were iffy about going (ahem – Jiri Hudler) or were on the fence with their injury are regretting it now. I think even Team Europe is desperate to win this thing.
Pick up Jaroslav Halak now and bank on him to be a Top 3 goalie this year. Why do I say this? Because, for our expansion draft, I was struggling between leaving him unprotected or Mats Zuccarello. I chose to protect Zuke, and Halak was selected from my team. That means he’ll be a superstar Hall-of-Famer now. And after his World Cup performance Saturday, it’s already showing signs of coming true.
Jacob Markstrom really impressed me Sunday. He faced down the Russians and beat them handily, actually taking a shutout into the final two minutes. It took a few years longer than we figured/hoped, but he is a pretty confident starting NHL goaltender. He stopped 27 of 28 shots.
By the way, Henrik Lundqvist was just sick. Nothing big. Or so they say.
Of course Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Erik Karlsson are the PP quarterbacks for Team Sweden. But it was interesting to see that the next guy they turned to was Anton Stralman over Victor Hedman. Tampa does that, too. That’s the advantage of being a defenseman with ‘some’ skill who is a right-handed shot. By the numbers last season:
560 skaters shoot left while 338 shoot right. That’s 62.4% shooting left.
187 defensemen last season shoot left, while 119 shoot right. That’s 61.1% of defensemen who shoot left.
So you can see the advantage in owning a defenseman of average offensive skill but who shoots right. Because, all other things being equal, he will be the one getting the PP time instead of the ‘equal’ left-handed shooter. In fact, even if the left-handed shot is a better player he may still get the short end of the stick when it comes to divvying up power-play time. Furthermore, if the coach rolls with four forwards on the power play, odds are that the fourth forward will be a lefty. So who will they turn to as the defenseman on the unit? The righty.
This is the reason I had projected a bump for Anton Stralman when Tampa Bay acquired him as a free agent. And it’s the reason I’m projecting a bump for Adam Larsson. Not the wussy bumps that other people are projection – I mean a serious bump. Flirt with 40 points, sleeper for many more. And since I’m discussing Stralman here, I think he has more to give too.
And what can I say about Team North America? Russia will be up against them in do-or-die mode, and the way TNA looked last night…it’s looking like it will be ‘die’. Finland couldn’t do a thing against them. And frankly, TNA getting stifled by the Czech Republic was the best thing that could have happened to them because it was in pre-tourney action. Now they know what it’s like. They know that frustration.
And should anybody be surprised about this team? I mean…arguably five or six of these players would be on Team Canada or Team USA right now. So that’s a quarter of the team. And, by extension, that means two or three spots on Canada or USA are currently being filled by players who are there ‘because’ the real players for that spot are on Team North America. In other words, those teams are slightly weaker for it. Theoretically. And at least a dozen other members of TNA would at least be in the conversation to make Canada or USA.
So I spent my Sunday doing draft preparation. It’s that time of year again. My draft with the guys from Forecaster Magazine (Keep 12) is this coming Saturday and it will be my eighth draft with them. On Sunday is the DobberCup Hockey Pool draft, the 15th. The following week, on October 1, is the league that started it all – this will be my 27th draft for that one. I was 15 when I started in it.
Anyway, for the Dobber draft I already had my list whittled down to 100 players. My last pick in that one is 72nd overall. If I use that pick, I would be dropping Rocco Grimaldi. So I may or may not use that pick. Rosters are 34 players in that one – full keeper. I cut the 100 down to 87. Just 15 more cuts and I’m ready.
For the Forecaster Draft I turned to FantasyHockeyGeek.com as always. Five years of using that tool and I won the league three times, was second once (but just a couple of points) and then last year I was third. After running the tool I then went through and adjusted based on my needs. Here are the 12 players I kept:
C – Brassard, Fabbri (C/W)
W – Ovechkin, Benn, Radulov
D – Carlson, Barrie, Suter, Yandle
G – Talbot, Bishop, Quick
As you can see, I’m set in goal and pretty deep on D. So I deleted all available goalies except for 12. And I moved those 12 down my list to the point where I’d be stupid not to take one just for the sake of owning the value. (SIDEBAR: I did that three years ago with Bishop. He was still sitting there in the eighth round and even though I was set in net I took him. Three years later I still own him.) I then went through and bumped up all the C/W players by a lot, and C players by a little. Then I went to the bottom of the list and started bumping up potential keepers/young prospects who may only help a bit this year but could really help down the road.
After that I just went to Fantrax and put my list in.
This is very tough news for Mikko Rantanen owners. He suffered an ankle injury and is out for 2-4 weeks. So call it three weeks, which means he’s out until October 9. That means he misses all of training camp. Do you think a team will put a rookie on the roster with no training camp? Nope. So he’s going to start the year in the AHL. I had him making the team this year and doing fairly well, but now I have to assume at least two weeks in the AHL. Perhaps longer, if he starts slowly there. The domino effect of this injury could well be at least 10 NHL games missed before he joins the Avalanche. Just one of those poorly-timed injuries. If he got hurt last week, he’d catch the last week of camp and probably make the team. If he gets hurt two weeks from now, then he’d just miss the start of the season and then likely go directly on the NHL roster. But for that to happen right now? It’s the perfect storm, really.
Duncan Keith may miss the first game of the regular as he is still rehabbing his knee. For now, I’ll call it two games missed and adjust the list accordingly (look for that Guide update later today).
DobberProspects launched their new Podcast on the weekend. You can check it out here as they interview Gus Katsaros from McKeen’s Hockey. Latest prospect Ramblings from Sunday here and from Saturday here. If you’re in a keeper league and you want to track your prospects, there’s no better place for it. That’s what DobberProspects is for, and now the content is really humming over there…
And in case you missed it on Saturday, I polished off my annual Offseason Fantasy Grades. Winnipeg is here, as well as a rundown of the letter grades for all 30 teams.
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