World Cup pre-tourney, E-Kane, Gibson, Kadri, plus more…
The World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament continued on Saturday with another match between Canada and the U.S. There are many reasons that people don’t like the World Cup of Hockey (Bettman’s keeping players out of the Olympics, cash grab, risk of injuries, North America and Europe aren’t real countries, among others). But the fact is that if you’re a serious hockey fan, you’re going to tune in simply because of the level of talent on the ice.
John Tavares scored two goals to lead Canada to a 5-2 win over the United States, forcing a split between the two teams in their back-to-back exhibition games. Like Friday’s 4-2 win by the U.S., Saturday’s game was a physical affair. Ryan Kesler was a marked man after his hit on Shea Weber on Friday, taking hits from both John Tavares and Joe Thornton. I’m surprised Tavares wasn’t handed a boarding penalty on this hit.
Just in case you missed Kesler getting drilled (boarded, maybe?) by Tavares pic.twitter.com/gfkqMW5Kia
— Shane O'Donnell (@shane1342o) September 10, 2016
The Americans ultimately took four penalties in the first period (so did Canada, eventually), but Canada made them pay, scoring two power-play goals. The Shark combination of Joe Thornton to Logan Couture scored Canada’s first goal. In fact, some hockey fans from the Bay Area might secretly be pulling for Team Canada.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 9, 2016
In other World Cup of Hockey action, Patric Hornqvist and Loui Eriksson each scored two goals to lead Sweden to a 6-3 win over Finland. Canucks’ fans (like me) don’t have a lot to get excited about this season, but a sneak peek of Eriksson playing alongside the Sedins is something to look forward to. Eriksson already has experience with the Sedins, having played together during Sweden’s 2013 World Hockey Championship gold medal.
In the other game, Ales Hemsky scored the shootout winner to lead the Czech Republic to a 2-1 win over Russia.
In other news, the Bruins are attempting to sign Brad Marchand to a long-term extension before the start of the season, according to CSN New England. Marchand has a year left on his contract and could fetch a long-term deal that could cost the Bruins $7 million per season.
Taking a peek at the Bruins’ cap situation, they will have around $14 million to play around with next summer, while also needing to sign Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak, among others. This won’t be an easy signing for the Bruins, who have been in all kinds of cap difficulty since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.
My hockey read of the week is this one from The Hockey News about Devin Setoguchi and his battle with substance abuse. If you found that article interesting, you may also want to listen to this revealing interview that Setoguchi had with the TSN 1040 afternoon show a few days ago.
Devin Setoguchi: Clean and sober after alcohol nearly ended hockey career https://t.co/eE6FdPpeBk
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) September 9, 2016
I don’t know what Setoguchi’s chances are of getting back in the NHL. Most professional tryouts result in the player not making the team, and he will need to impress on a Kings’ team that already has Tyler Toffoli, Teddy Purcell, and Dustin Brown under contract. So I would say he probably won’t make the Kings. But it is nice to see him get his life back in order. Hopefully he can continue a meaningful hockey career, but more importantly, put these demons behind him.
From one player that has experienced off-ice issues to another, could Evander Kane be a draft-day sleeper? Earlier this summer in another Ramblings, I discussed how his fantasy value would be hurt by his legal troubles while answering a question about the possibility that he would reach 60 points.
Recently, Kane was added via free agency in my auction league for a bargain basement price that was practically minimum wage. He was also one of the first players off the board in this league, which uses a forum for its auction bidding. So he was virtually ignored by all but the one owner who added him (who also happens to be a Sabres fan). He is only owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues. In other words, fantasy owners aren’t touching him with a 10-foot pole.
So where will you find Kane ranked? Try 233 in Yahoo, behind even the unsigned Alex Tanguay. But if Kane is too risky for you, you can find onetime Fantasy Hockey Geek favorite Anders Lee and Tyler Ennis behind Kane at the left wing position. At number 233, I say why not go for it?
Having said that, there is some new evidence in his case to support the charge of trespassing, according to the CBC.
Is John Gibson a top 10 goalie? The Ducks’ starter is ranked as high as 28 by Yahoo (7th ranked goalie), but 64 by ESPN (12th ranked goalie). So there’s some variability with his ranking, mainly because he has never played a full season as a starting goalie.
I acquired him this week in a multiplayer deal in which as a condition of acquiring him, I had to take on another player that has a horrible contract in this particular league (Nazem Kadri – more on him shortly). It’s a fantasy trade that resembles a salary-cap-era kind of trade, like the one where the Blackhawks had to part with a top prospect (Teuvo Teravainen) in order to dump a salary that they’d been trying desperately to get rid of (Bryan Bickell).
Detractors of Gibson will also mention that his proneness to injury is a reason that he hasn’t played a full season. But he really doesn’t have a long enough NHL track record to be a full-fledged Band-Aid Boy. Gibson’s value also depends on how much of a contender the Ducks really are. To me, they are one of at least a half dozen teams that should make the playoffs in the West, but they don’t stand out among any of those teams.
All in all, I was happy to acquire Gibson for a salary that was very generous compared to what top-level goalies are going for in this league.
Something that I noticed shortly after acquiring Kadri is that all of a sudden, the Leafs don’t look so bad at center. Kadri, Tyler Bozak, and now Auston Matthews up the middle? Even if you can’t stand the Leafs, you have to admit that’s still not that bad. The Leafs will no longer need to try to stretch Tyler Bozak out for more than 45-50 points for first-line production.
With Auston Matthews now the main focus on the Toronto-based sports networks (using the words of someone I know), Kadri is now officially flying under the radar. But in case you’re worried about Matthews’ presence diminishing the fantasy value of Kadri or Bozak, Mike Babcock has stated that Matthews is expected to start the season as the third-line center, although that will probably change at some point during the upcoming season. William Nylander could be Matthews’ winger, while Mitch Marner is expected to battle for a spot.
While the Leafs transition to Matthews, Nylander, and Marner, it’s safe to assume that Kadri and Bozak could both produce in that 45 to 50-point range that we’ve come to expect. At least for this season. These aren’t guys that you build your fantasy hopes and dreams around, but decent enough players that could help you fill out your roster.
Lastly, with it being 9/11 today, be sure to thank a first responder or military person that you know for everything that they do. Having a close friend that works in this field, I can tell you that there can be unbelievable stress in that job. Also take the time to reflect and to be thankful.
Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding
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