September 29 2015

by steve laidlaw on September 29, 2015

Looking at the latest cuts, the potential downside for Eric Staal, Doughty and buying the Triplets…

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It looks like the Panthers will be giving Lawson Crouse a nine-game tryout with the club in the regular season. I have him making the team for the full season as he has the size and skills to make an impact on the fourth line. I’m not sure that is the most efficient use of Crouse when they can delay the start of his entry-level deal if they send him back after his nine games but they are no doubt feeling pressure to start competing. If Crouse is one of their best 12 forwards then he will absolutely stick around and I get the sense that he is.

The Panthers do have some history of sending highly drafted players down as they did with Jonathan Huberdeau after he was drafted third overall in 2011 but they also have brought players in right away as they did with both Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad. What Barkov and Ekblad have in common with Crouse but not Huberdeau is tremendous size and strength, which is why I have Crouse projected to stick.

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Both Zach Bogosian and Josh Gorges are week-to-week according to Dan Bylsma. This is a big hit to anyone projecting the Sabres for a big leap forward. It also indirectly hurts the fantasy potential for much of the forwards on the roster. You can’t play offense if you can’t get the puck out, right?

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After getting released by the Leafs, Curtis Glencross has now signed a tryout with the Avalanche. He won’t have long to make an impression but he’s got a better shot of making this team than he had of making the Leafs.

My suspicion is that the Avs aren’t totally pleased with their full complement of forwards but with so many youngsters trying to make the club they don’t want to send the message that this guy is coming in here with a guaranteed deal without even needing to tryout. So he’s got a PTO for the next couple of days and so long as he passes his physical and doesn’t poop in Patrick Roy’s shoes that he’ll have a spot in the lineup for opening night. There is definitely room for Glencross in the top nine forwards assuming top pick Mikko Rantanen isn’t yet ready.

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Also signing elsewhere after a release from the Leafs is Mark Fraser who signed with the Senators yesterday. He’ll be their eighth defenseman and there’s little fantasy value here even if he was higher up the depth chart.

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Let’s talk about some cuts:

The Sharks sent their top pick from last summer’s draft, Timo Meier, back to junior. Interesting that they didn’t give him at least a nine-game tryout. This isn’t uncommon for the Sharks, however. Their last top-10 pick, Logan Couture, was sent back to junior without a single regular season shift in his next two seasons after being drafted.

You’ve got to hand it to the Sharks, they may be playoff chokers and they may be in disarray when it comes to their top players but they don’t force it with their top prospects. Something to keep in mind if you’ve got Meier in a keeper league: you might be waiting awhile.

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Kevin Fiala was cut by the Predators over the weekend. On the plus side, he’s headed to the AHL so we may yet hear from him. The cut isn’t that shocking, mind you. The Predators don’t get nearly enough respect for their forward depth because they have some talent there. No superstars, unless you think Filip Forsberg is hitting that level, but a ton of professionals.

They have five forwards left vying for the 13th forward slot with Colton Sissons, Cody Bass, Austin Watson, Anthony Bitteto and Viktor Arvidsson remaining. I have Arvidsson as the top choice, if only because he’s the one guy with fantasy upside. Arvidsson scored 55 points in 70 AHL games in his first season in North America.

That assessment above also assumes that Steve Moses has a spot locked in, which isn’t necessarily guaranteed. Nor are spots for Calle Jarnkrok or Gabriel Bourque locked in either. The point being, there’s room for someone like Arvidsson to grab a top-nine role and make some headway.

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Lubomir Visnovsky and Tomas Kopecky were both released by Chicago, as well as Daniel Paille and a couple others. No surprises here. After Michal Roszival was re-signed there was little room for Visnovsky and up front the Blackhawks have plenty of young options like Artemi Panarin looking to claim spots.

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The Jets sent home a whole pile of players, 16 of them in all. What’s more notable is who is still around including blue chip prospects Nikolai Ehlers, Connor Hellebuyck, as well as Andrew Copp, Nic Petan, JC Lipon and Thomas Raffl.

Only 27 players remain in camp so you can bet a couple of those still around will stick full time. It looks as though Copp will grab the fourth line center spot, while Ehlers is a good bet for the third line.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell seems to think Petan could stick as a new kind of fourth liner. An interesting premise, if nothing else.

Hellebuyck won’t stick around because he’ll stay better ready to take over if an injury happens by milking starts in the AHL but I swear he should be the starter. If the Jets really want to get serious Hellebuyck has the most talent and will be the guy who gets them their first playoff series win. I just wonder how long until they realize that’s the case.

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The Senators also cut a pile, sending home 23. Some real talent remains with Matt Puempel, Shane Prince, Chris Wideman and Thomas Chabot all pushing for roster spots. The Fraser acquisition above doesn’t really help Wideman’s chances.

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The Rangers cut five yesterday including former first round pick, defenseman Brady Skjei. This isn’t all that surprising given how loaded the Rangers are on defense. Skjei is also headed into his first year as a pro so a season in the AHL is unlikely to do anything but help his development. It should be mentioned that Skjei did little to show he has much upside as a fantasy asset during his three years of college hockey so it will be interesting to see how much potential he flashes as a pro.

Notably, Oscar Lindberg is still in camp for the Rangers. Teams are circling, hoping that the Rangers send him through waivers. This is unlikely but stay tuned.

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Six cuts for the Hurricanes yesterday, including promising young forward Sergei Tolchinsky. It’s not an outright surprise but given how thin the Hurricanes are up front it’s tantalizing to think about Tolchinsky getting an opportunity right away. This is probably for the best long term but you always want to push for the dark horse.

Brock McGinn is still kicking with just 15 forwards left in camp. He’s got a really good chance of making the team and can produce right away if you score hits.

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The Stars made eight cuts yesterday including big time defenseman prospect Julius Honka. The Honka news isn’t so devastating since we know what a stud John Klingberg is for the Stars. If we were still wondering if Alex Goligoski was really the top option on the Stars’ blueline the decision to cut Honka would be more questionable. With Klingberg around the Stars can take a lot more time with Honka.

Lingering with Dallas for the time being is Radek Faksa. He hasn’t done much since his draft year but given he was a lottery pick back in 2012 the Stars are hoping he isn’t a sunk cost. With just 13 points in 38 games as a pro, it does look like Faksa needs a lot more time.

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Really nice breakdown on how underrated Eric Staal is in the average fantasy league by Terry Campkin over the weekend. I do have a couple of points of contention so with all apologies to Demetrios Fragopoulos, let me toss my Contrarian hat on for a minute here.

Terry offers up the following chart to demonstrate not only how undervalued Staal is but also his potential to shoot up in value should he out-perform his projection:

Rank

Player

FHG Value

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

PPP

64

Eric Staal

31

24

39

0

56

244

14

25

Eric Staal – What if?

48

30

40

0

56

255

20

That’s all well and good but it doesn’t really demonstrate the downside, which is what we saw last season. It’s totally possible that the Hurricane supporting cast is so dreadful again this season that Staal puts up another forgettable season. What does the full story look like?

Rank

Player

FHG Value

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

PPP

64

Eric Staal

31

24

39

0

56

244

14

25

Eric Staal – What if best?

48

30

40

0

56

255

20

119

Eric Staal – What if worst?

22

23

31

Minus-13

41

244

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In our worst-case scenario, where Staal repeats last season’s performance to a T and grades out damn near his average draft position of 130. In this scenario he ranks between Mike Ribeiro and Sean Monahan in terms of value. Monahan is going ahead of Staal at 103, on average so Staal still provides some value here but the real value comes from Ribeiro who is going 170th on average.

I’m bullish on Staal too. I do have him climbing back up into the 60’s for scoring, which places his value much higher than where he is currently going, I just think you have to consider the downside as well.

The other point I wanted to bring up was Terry’s use of Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar for comparison. These are totally fair comparisons to make, especially considering where they all fall in the Fantasy Hockey Geek rankings using Dobber’s projections. The one point that needs to be made about how there is value in drafting Staal later on versus where his comparables, Toews and Kopitar, are going is that it says as much about how overvalued those two are as it does about how undervalued Staal is.

Toews, in particular, might be the most overrated player in fantasy hockey this season. He’s going 17th on average in Yahoo! leagues more than 50 spots ahead of his FHG ranking. On the plus side, he is capable of living up to that ranking. If we run a “what if?” scenario using Toews’ best ever season he grades as a top-20 player worthy of such a draft position:

Rank

Player

FHG Value

G

A

+/-

PIM

SOG

PPP

69

Jonathan Toews

39

28

42

20

34

187

15

20

Jonathan Toews what if?

66

32

44

25

26

233

25

 

Is Toews going to repeat his best ever season? Maybe but if we did a curve of possible outcomes where does that “what if?” scenario show up? Somewhere on the fringes no doubt. Given where Toews is currently going in leagues there is almost a zero chance he outperforms his draft position, which is just frightening to think about.

So yes, it is great that you can get Staal at a similar projected value as Toews with a pick much deeper into the draft. The take home, however, is as much about not wanting to be one of the suckers reaching for Toews as it is that there is tremendous value to be had in Staal.

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Check out Dobber’s latest for Sportsnet looking at the top-30 defensemen for keeper leagues:

In my estimation, the top two candidates on this list to drop in ranking by November are Pietrangelo and Green. The latter due to injury and the former due to his increasing role as a shutdown guy while Kevin Shattenkirk logs the PP minutes.

I agree with both of these but I’d like to add Drew Doughty to the list. He’s still in the top 10 somehow despite having not finished in the top 10 in defenseman scoring any year but his magical 2009-10 season. In fact, last season was just Doughty’s second trip into the top 20 in defenseman scoring in his career and just his third time scoring more than half a point per game. Is he really still riding the coattails of that one dynamite year?

I vote that Doughty be banished into the 20’s until he proves he’s more than a 40-point defenseman who had one exceptional year. In multi-category pools a top-10 ranking is fine for Doughty but not in points-only.

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TSN’s Scott Cullen looks at some players to be wary of heading into this season. Solid list. Odds are you’ve already about the case against most of these players from my article in the Dobber Guide. If you haven’t, you should pick it up!

I do have one quibble. Cullen zeroes in on Tampa Bay’s Triplets because of their ludicrously high on-ice shooting percentages from last season. I typically zero in on that stat as a red flag but in this case, I think it’s more important to note just how young these three are and just how little they actually skated. Tyler Johnson is the oldest of the bunch at 25 years old, while Palat received the most ice time with 17:26 on average. None of them received more than 40% of the power play ice time available.

It’s as plausible that these three take another step forward with increased usage as it is that their overall efficiency drops. To me, that balances the scales and clears my conscience. I’m drafting the Triplets high.

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Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.

 

7 responses to “September 29 2015”

  1. Max says:

    Sorry to put this on your ramblings Steve – but is Dobber going to do an over/under for prop bets this year? Like this one?

  2. striker777 says:

    Ian.

    Assuming Ehler & Burmistrov are locks to make Winnipeg's roster what other players are going to be waived to allow Copp, Petan, Raffl & Lipon to potentially make Winnipegs 23 man opening night roster. Are any of these players rewyers really suited to 4th line role's as the top 3 lines look set.

    Ladd, Little, Stafford.

    Perreault, Scheifele, Wheeler.

    Ehler, Lowry, Burmistrov.

    Thorburn, Fraser, Halishuk.

    Spare Peluso.

    I guess any of the bottom 3 could be waived but Winnipeg also has 10 Dman that need to clear wavers. Going to be interesting & at least 2 other players can play C as well if Maurice was so inclined. Perreault, Burmistrov.

  3. Big Ev says:

    Fraser will not be the sens eighth Defenseman. He was signed solely for the AHL. Wideman definitely has a spot locked up.