Rambling about which stars to target and which ones to shed as we head into the unofficial second half…
I don’t want to get too much into the NHL All-Star Championship. I do think they found the right format. I do think they need a weekend like this for the fans. The excitement in Nashville, and each city that hosts, is well worth it. The skills competition is fun (I’ll admit I only watched the hardest shot). The three-on-three was pretty interesting (I’ll admit I only watched the first one, missed the last two). There’s no hitting in All-Star Games and not a lot of hitting in three-on-three action, so this was the right fit.
John Scott was the MVP, even though he wasn’t one of the three finalists. Fans wrote him in using the hashtag #voteJohnScott.
And that’s it. I’m sure you’re tired of the coverage by now, and it’s not fantasy relevant. Well, one more thing. Scott’s first goal on his first shift Sunday:
The AHL All-Star Game is Monday night. The skills competition was Sunday. The results of this one interested me because I don’t know the players as well as I do in the NHL…
The AHL added four youths from the New York area to this competition, aged 13 and 14. I wonder what the background is there. Why 13 and 14? Anyway, the one kid John Beecher set a time of 15.863 for his fastest skater entry. The slowest ‘regular’ AHLer in that contest was Cal O’Reilly at 15. 495. So that Beecher time, at his age (14) is pretty damn impressive. Between the catchy name and that skate time, I’ll remember him in 2020!
Winner of the fastest skater was Derek Grant, a Calgary prospect who at 25 has the size (6-3, 202) and obviously the speed, but he also has 21 goals and 36 points in 28 AHL games. This is a late-bloomer season if I ever saw one as his AHL career best is 38 points and that’s over a full season. We do have a profile of him (here) over at DobberProspects, but our outlook for him isn’t exactly sparkling…
New York Rangers prospect Ryan Graves won the hardest shot at 103.4 mph. His profile is here, though it’s over a year old (we do have a new NYR scout covering the team now, should be updated soon).
Speaking of the AHL, at the break we have two players dominating in terms of points per game – Mark Arcobello (Toronto, 42 points in 33 games) and Seth Griffith (Boston, 46 points in 35 games). Toronto’s TJ Brennan, a defenseman, actually leads the AHL in points with 47 (in 46 games). I’m thinking that Arcobello, Brennan and the aforementioned Grant are the modern day versions of Jason Krog, Darren Hayder, Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux. Michel Mongeau, anyone?
These are players who produce huge numbers in the AHL year after year, but barely get/got a sniff of NHL action. These players can produce in the NHL in the right circumstance with the right expectation. Usually they lack size/toughness, speed, or defensive acumen. If you build a coaching system around that weakness, they can put points on the board for your team. It worked with PA Parenteau and Matt Moulson. It worked for Jeff Hamilton (remember him?) for a season or two. This is why, although I’m writing off Brennan, Arcobello, Chris Bourque, Travis Morin and probably Bud Holloway…I’ll always pay attention if a rebuilding team that has a good fit gives them a shot.
For example, if the Leafs have a fire sale – and they will – and if that fire sale involves moving Dion Phaneuf and Matt Hunwick, then I would pay attention to Brennan if he were to get the call. Ditto for Arcobello if the Leafs trade Parenteau, Matthias, Boyes and Grabner. But just for short term. Once the summer hits, they’d return to ‘useless’ fantasy status.
On a side note, the Leafs signed those borderline players to short contracts because a) they wanted to give the kids in the system another year to develop and b) they plan to flip as many as they can into draft picks. Brilliant strategy. You know your team is going to suck, so sign a bunch of desperate free agents to one-year deals and maybe turn three or four of them into second, third or fourth rounders. Then for the final five weeks you start filtering in the kids to see what you have. That’s when they’ll really see what they have in Martin Marincin and Frank Corrado – they plucked those two off waivers just to have potential players who they can look at in March.
Connor McDavid was recalled from his conditioning stint in the AHL, by the Oilers. I guess I should have led with that. There’s still some doubt as to whether or not he’ll be in the lineup right away tomorrow, but the thinking is that it will happen soon. If not Tuesday then Thursday. If not Thursday then Saturday. Certainly by Saturday. If it was my call, I’d have him start next Tuesday, the ninth. What’s the rush? Your organization’s future rides on this, so do it right. With four games in six nights, let him sit them out.
That being said, I don’t think they’ll do that and yes I would activate him in fantasy.
The Islanders, Flyers, Caps, Habs and Oilers play four times this week between Tuesday and Sunday. You can get a weekly look at how best to take advantage of weekly schedules via our Looking Ahead feature. Here is the last one, from Friday. I dropped Riley Sheahan and used one of my 20 remaining moves to pick up Mikhail Grabovski. The pickings were slim, so Grabovski stuck out like a sore thumb amidst a barren wasteland of weak available forwards. But I wanted a four-game guy with some upside, and he has points in his last two games. So I benched Namestnikov (two games) and will see how Grabs does.
Expected to slow, final two months:
Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin, Chicago – The Blackhawks are the only team with fewer than 30 games left in the schedule. Just 29 games left on the slate for that team. Kane’s points-per-game average sits at 1.38 and I think he ‘cools’ to 1.15. Can you call that ‘cooling’? Couple that with the low games, and you can also probably assume he sits Game 82 as the Hawks rest him for the playoffs, and the possibility of an injury (he seems to get at least a minor one each season), and we’re in for a slowdown. I think 78 games and 102 points (29 in 25 games). And of course, if Kane cools then Panarin is a given.
Patrice Bergeron and other Bruins – Bergeron is on pace for 74 points, which would surprise all of us. I can’t see him reaching 70, though 69 would still be an amazing season for the guy. Especially when you consider what he does defensively. Loui Eriksson is already slowing down, with just five points in his last 11 games. David Krejci is another one – seven points in his last 10 games. A great year for Ryan Spooner (on pace for 62 points), but young players new to the league often slow down in the latter half. And with his teammates slowing, he’ll slow too.
Expected to pick it up, final two months:
I mentioned last week about the games played and how Philly, Anaheim, the Isles and Caps have played just 47 games. SJS, PIT, CGY and TOR have played 48 games. So I expect great things for the superstars with the extra games remaining: Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. These are the players I’ll single out for big second halves and could be bought on the cheap right now.
The Ducks are scoring now and they can thank the secondary scoring for opening things up. Silfverberg – Perron – Kesler are forcing the opposition to focus on them. And that will eventually have the domino effect that Anaheim fans had hoped would happen back in October. Honestly, I blame Chris Stewart and Carl Hagelin. Hagelin for not fitting in (he certainly is now, with Pittsburgh) and Stewart for just plain sucking. They were supposed to replace Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri and they definitely did not.
Ian’s Puck Daddy article from Friday – still very much relevant because no games have been played.
In case you missed it, Jeff Angus was back for a one-off appearance last Thursday. Here is what he had to say.
I hope you enjoyed the walk down memory lane, reading some of Angus’ work again. And…guess what? Wednesday you readers are going to be bitten by a Maaasquito… That’s right – the man who throws himself into the numbers unlike anyone else: Ryan Ma!
Your MVP of the 2016 NHL All-Star Game Championship…
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