Every Sunday this season, we’ll share 20 Fantasy Thoughts from the writers at Dobber Hockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week’s “Daily Ramblings” on DobberHockey.com.
1. Michael Stone is a guy you’ll want to start looking at, as his minutes are starting to take off. He skated a team-high 25:02 Monday night and has skated more than 25 minutes in each of the past three games. A big chunk of that has come on the top power play unit as he has joined Oliver Ekman-Larsson as the second defenceman on the power play. Stone notched a power-play assist Monday and has a heavy shot that should be utilized well in this role. I could see a 40-point season if everything breaks right, but even if he comes up closer to 30 points, he could flash similar production to what Johnny Boychuk did for the Islanders last season.
2. Morgan Rielly scored a late goal for the Leafs on Monday and is garnering a ton of minutes alongside Dion Phaneuf, but he’s still not getting the top power play minutes I need to see to get on board with his fantasy value.
3. A pair of assists for Nazem Kadri on Monday was a nice reward for fantasy owners who have stuck it out thus far. He is shooting the puck far too much to not have fantasy value. Kadri has just one goal so far and a 2.6 shooting percentage. He’s an 11.9 per cent shooter, so you just know the pucks are going to start going in.
4. Poor Dougie Hamilton continues to struggle. He skated only 16:07 on Monday and 15:36 Wednesday. Somehow, he was still minus-2 in those games. Drop immediately.
5. Mike Green is expected to miss the next two-to-three weeks. A part of me wants to advise you to use this as an excuse to dump Green altogether after his dreadful start to the season, but I also know that the Red Wings aren’t close to hitting their huge potential since Pavel Datsyuk has yet to play. If the rumours are true and Datsyuk can get back soon, Green’s worth hanging on to, because his second half could be explosive.
6. Speaking of Datsyuk, he is on schedule to be back in two weeks. He can’t get back soon enough. The Red Wings have slipped to 20th in goals per game and are dead last in shots on-goal per game, even after firing 30 at Andrew Hammond Friday night. Datsyuk may not be a cure-all, but he worked wonders last season. In games Datsyuk played, the Red Wings averaged 2.95 goals per game. In games where he didn’t, that fell to 2.37, which, coincidentally, is not far off from where the Wings are at this season (2.30).
7. Jimmy Hayes has eight points in nine games. But, he picked up three of those points Tuesday night and four on October 14. He went pointless in six games. I don’t trust the production. I think he’ll chip in the offence – that’s obvious – but he won’t drive the offence. He’s currently out-producing his brother and he’s not a better talent than his brother. Jimmy is a ‘sell high’ player and you can play up the fact that he’s almost at a point-per-game.
8. In his first game for Buffalo without Evander Kane in the lineup, Johan Larsson picked up two assists. He added another Friday night. Go pick him up now and then come back to this page and finish reading.
9. John-Michael Liles – 20 minutes of ice time and 1:46 of PP time. Noah Hanifin – a healthy scratch. Drives me nuts.
10. Vincent Trocheck had a three-point night on Tuesday and has points in three of his past four. Man, I’m a big fan of this 22-year-old, but every time I start believing that the “breakout” has begun, he hits a wall. He has nine points in 10 games despite secondary ice time.
11. The Sabres have been outshooting opponents all season, at a clip of 6.9 shots per game, which is a great sign for those invested in skaters on this team. You have to figure their offence will perk up above their rate of 2.27 goals per game. In particular, Jack Eichel is going to find some more offence and indeed he scored Friday night. It’s been all goals for Eichel so far, as his linemates have yet to cash in one of his passes or rebounds. His five-on-five on-ice shooting percentage is sitting at a cool 2.48 per cent, which tells you he’s definitely due for some help. He’s had a revolving door of linemates, but his most common one, Evander Kane, won’t be back from injury for a while.
12. Joffrey Lupul scored the lone goal for Toronto in Friday’s loss. He’s an interesting fantasy piece. Unless you are in a deep league, Lupul is waiver fodder. But he’s also skating more than 16 minutes per game and receiving top power play minutes for the Leafs. He’s also healthy for the first time in what feels like forever and getting 2.8 SOG per game. So far, that hasn’t led to many points, but there’s some intriguing value here… if he stays healthy.
13. The early returns on Cam Ward aren’t terrible, but they also aren’t what you’d consider good. He’s 4-4-0 with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. He’s basically hitting the bare minimum for competent save percentage on a team that is doing an impeccable job of suppressing shots at just 25.5 per game, good for second in the league. Ward isn’t the type you can just roll out on any given night. He’s a third goaltender at best, or a second in deep leagues. The best way to utilize his type, and I’d include Arizona’s Mike Smith, Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov and Philadelphia’s Steve Mason in this group (just to name a few), is to very selectively deploy them.
14. Brian Campbell may be experiencing a bit of a resurgence. He’s got five points through 11 games, though three of those came in one outburst. He’s averaging 2.0 SOG per game after averaging 1.43 the past three seasons. Campbell’s minutes are way down, but that’s because he’s no longer being used on the penalty kill, a nice reprieve from some hard minutes for the veteran. He’s now skating just 19:58 per game, just a year removed from averaging up over 26 minutes. He’s seen his overall percentage of power play time fall below 50 per cent. It will be interesting to see if that creeps up as the season rolls on, though it seems unlikely as him and Aaron Ekblad have been split up between the two power-play units. Campbell is owned in just 26 per cent of Yahoo leagues, which means there’s plenty of opportunity to make him a pick up one of these days.
15. If you are considering picking up Dale Weise after Friday’s hat-trick you need to stop. Walk away from your device of choice. Run to the nearest body of water. Hurl yourself into it.
16. Everyone wants to talk about Colton Parayko. The Blues defenceman scored another goal – his fourth of the season – and landed 10 shots in Thursday’s game. Good show, but I remain lukewarm. There’s little doubt that Parayko has a wicked shot, but he’s still a third liner and a second power-play unit guy. That can be productive, but he’s got a lot of folks ahead of him on the depth chart.
17. Noah Hanifin is reportedly staying in the NHL. This is definitely one of those situations where the team is showing support for a young player after getting healthy-scratched. For the record, I don’t mind the healthy scratch at all. We’ve seen it work wonders for some young players. Remember when Johnny Gaudreau sat a game early on last year and then responded with a scoring binge? Missing one game won’t cripple development. Sometimes getting the chance to just sit and watch a game is the best way to learn. That said, Hanifin isn’t likely to produce much in the way of fantasy value this year. It’s safe to say the only Hurricane defender with fantasy value is Justin Faulk, at least until the team improves.
18. Travis Zajac is on some kind of scoring streak with four goals and seven points in the past six games. I have him in one league and I’m enjoying the production, but I’m also ready to dump him as soon as a sexier option comes along. I don’t even buy Zajac for 45 points this season and I’m in such disbelief about his current hot streak that I can’t even credibly peddle him to anyone in my league. He’s just there to give me a nice early-season boost while I wait for Datsyuk to return from injury.
19. Justin Schultz will miss 2-4 weeks with a back injury. That means an extended run of relevance for Andrej Sekera and Oscar Klefbom. So far it’s Klefbom taking advantage with assists in three straight games, including two on the power play.
20. Teuvo Teravainen was a healthy scratch Thursday night. Don’t look to him for much fantasy value just yet. Artemi Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov have grabbed the top-six spots that Teravainen would have used to vault himself into fantasy relevance. Panarin, who is basically a right-handed Patrick Kane, won’t be giving up his spot any time soon. Tikhonov is on much feebler ground.
With files from Darryl Dobbs.
For more Fantasy Thoughts from Dobber Hockey, click here.