Rambling about the Penguins and how the line combos are shaping up, thoughts on Klefbom, Medvedev, Montreal's hot line in camp – and more…
We made it! Training camp and actual hockey news. And a good 25% of hockey drafts are in the books. It's the best time of year because we're all tied for first. We're all filled with hope. This is also the time when my Fantasy Guide gets updated every two or three days – or even daily, if the news demands it. And certainly starting next Monday it will be daily as the transactions and news starts to snowball.
First let's talk some Pittsburgh. I'm focusing a lot of my attention on Pittsburgh and Edmonton because that's where the two best players are and any news with regards to line combinations, power play units and strategies will make waves in the fantasy universe.
First of all, it's training camp. That's when things are tested. Most tests never see the regular season. Keep that in mind. But the Penguins (coach Mike Johnston) are trying out the idea of 1A/1B power-play units. So you have Sidney Crosby – Phil Kessel – David Perron – Kris Letang – Chris Kunitz as one unit. Then you have Evgeni Malkin – Patric Hornqvist – Beau Bennett – Nick Bonino – Derrick Pouliot as the other.
I don't think they go with two units. But I do suspect that these are the 10 power-play guys. That means Pouliot over Olli Maatta, and Bennett over Sergei Plotnikov.
However, at even strength you see Maatta and Letang together while Pouliot is stuck with Lovejoy.
In this other piece on the Pittsburgh training camp, Kunitz and Plotnikov got first shot at the coveted LW spots. But Dupuis, Bennett and Perron are impressing with their conditioning and hustle.
I'll just quickly address the Josh Ho-Sang thing, as it's old news by now. But here is a guy with tremendous talent and his reputation has been unfairly beaten up in hockey circles because he has the nerve to be publicly confident. But being in that kind of situation – that "I'll show them" kind of situation – how do you allow for error? Being late for training camp? He wasn't going to make the team anyway, but he could have served notice that next year he'll be a factor. In such a situation, you shoot to get to the rink two hours early. That way if you're a half hour late you're still 90 minutes early! We're talking about applying for a job that pays millions of dollars per year – and you can't hand your application in on time? I'm disappointed. I was pulling for him. I'm not saying his NHL career is over before it starts, but this is terrible. He has a lot of ground to make up and he'll have to do it on the ice in junior.
This is cool. An 18-year-old model took a selfie of her in bed with a sleeping Jaromir Jagr in bed behind her. She tried to blackmail him with the picture and he just basically shrugged and ignored her. So the picture got published and really all it did was make her look petty – and a cheater. Because while Jagr is single, she wasn't. And he still doesn't care. Well played, sir.
More oldish news, but I still wanna weigh in. The Oilers are going all in with their team. That Oscar Klefbom signing was huge at seven years. But think about this – if Edmonton finally surges forward this year, and I think they will, look what they have in terms of their core locked up: Klefbom until 2023. Nugent-Hopkins until 2021. Sekera until 2021. Hall until 2020. Eberle until 2019. Pouliot until 2019. That's six key guys signed for the next four seasons, plus Connor McDavid who isn't going anywhere. Plus, there's lots of room to maneuver next summer because Nikitin, Purcell and Schultz (if they choose) are off the books – that's about $13 million freed up.
It looks like Brendan Smith will get a little bit more an offensive opportunity under new coach Jeff Blashill. I get the sense that he'll be transitioned there over the next three seasons and that we'll see signs of improvement this year in terms of production. Nothing huge, just a step. In the Guide I have him for 19 points in 72 games, but I'd hope to see him approach 30.
Adam Henrique "feels great" after wrist surgery five months ago. In scrimmages he was playing with Pavel Zacha and Kyle Palmieri. The rookie Zacha was moved to the wing, as you often see with rookies.
Here's a line that really clicking for Montreal. Alex Semin is on a line with Alex Galchenyuk and converted winger Lars Eller. If this line sticks, and if they stay healthy I think they will, then what you'll see is a comeback season for Semin. And finally that breakthrough we've been waiting for from Eller. I'll be watching this situation, and it's happening because Eller was moved to the wing and Galchenyuk to center.
Prospect Charles Hudon is also really impressing in camp. There's a spot for him if he can beat out Tomas Fleischmann and Jacob de la Rose, and possibly Brian Flynn. Stranger things have happened. You can read up on Hudon with our fantasy scouting report here.
Evgeny Medvedev is impressing in Flyers' camp. The 33-year-old first-year NHLer has been playing with Michael Del Zotto, lending hope to the possibility that perhaps he can put some points on the board this year.
Some minor camp cuts were made late Sunday, but the only one of note (though still expected) was Arizona cutting Nick Merkley. They also cut Joey Crabb, effectively ending his NHL career in all likelihood. I'll have all the cuts in the Fantasy Guide, updated a lot, as they happen.
Ryan Whitney has retired from hockey at the age of 32. It was his ankles. He called them "nursing home ankles". We saw the rapid decline in his play, so quick it happened before our very eyes. But he had 50 goals and 259 points in 481 career NHL games. His best season was when he was 24 years old – he had 59 points in 77 PIM and was one of the top fantasy defensemen to own, period.
Big news coming today – watch for it. I'm launching a free DobberHockey pool, but not just the usual one. This one is for the 10th anniversary and involves more prizes than I've ever given away. Pretty big deal. Seriously, check in later today for the details and then get all your friends to join!
Also later today – I owe you a Goalie Rankings! Not a lot of changes to be made there, but I still need to polish it up.
ONE MORE THING!
Click on a player name above. Look what Eric Daoust has done with the player profiles! The PDO is in there and it changes to a deeper green the further from the norm it goes (indicating a "sell high" situation) and to a deeper red the further from the norm it goes the other way ("buy low"). We now have same thing for OnIceSH%. So not only do you have the stats you need, and the game-by-game stuff (and you can call it up for preseason, playoffs, etc), but now we have some of the basic advanced stats in there WITH general recommendations as to where they will trend in the future if their stats are a little too "lucky". Also listed, for your convenience – zone starts.
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