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. With Beau Bennett injured, there was an opening for Daniel Sprong to jump onto the third line and skate double-digit minutes for the Penguins. He took full advantage, scoring a goal and pumping four shots on net against Ottawa on Thursday. I really like what he has to offer. Of course, I don’t think it matters how much he produces – he’s still getting sent down before he hits 10 games – especially with both Eric Fehr and Pascal Dupuis back skating. Not worth picking up for the long term in one-year leagues.
2. Still no points for Sidney Crosby. Make a really strong pitch for him right now. Like really strong. Your best player (assuming you don’t have Ovechkin in a roto format) plus something else tasty, just to see if you can move the needle. Don’t be insulting, you won’t get him for a song, but if you can swing something like Patrick Kane or Steven Stamkos for Crosby after some sizzling starts then this is the time to do it because when it’s mid-season and Crosby is leading the league in scoring you won’t even get a response.
3. Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza are producing big time secondary scoring for the Stars. Again, this is what we all hoped for last year. Better late than never. I’m way more confident in this production continuing for Spezza for a few reasons. First and foremost, his presence on the top power play. It is just way easier for Spezza to keep producing if he’s skating on the top unit instead of the second one like Hemsky is. We’ve also never reached a point where we really thought Spezza was cooked as a player, like we had with Hemsky. Spezza is injury prone and his lack of engagement at times can be frustrating, but he’s nowhere near Hemsky’s level in either regard.
4. The Blues have been without Kevin Shattenkirk for two games, which meant Alex Pietrangelo stepped up. Pietrangelo is too big of a name to be floating on the waiver wire, so maybe the only move here is for Pietrangelo owners to take advantage of the temporary boost to try and sell him for someone a little more productive. When Shattenkirk returns, Pietrangelo will start looking more like a 35-point defenceman than one who may reach 50 points.
5. Nights like Wednesday are why I drafted Erik Karlsson third overall in the Dobber Experts League. There’s such a disparity between Karlsson and the rest of the guys at his position that he’s almost unfair. He has points in just three of six games this season but because two of those games were so outrageously productive he’s one point shy of the league lead.
6. I know a lot of Sergei Bobrovsky owners out there are starting to panic. This is when you pounce! Bobrovsky is a classic second-half guy. He crushes during the months of March and April, which is winning time in head-to-head leagues. Obviously, you’d like some good goaltending out of him before you hit head-to-head playoffs, because you actually have to qualify to reap the rewards. Suffice to say I don’t think you’ll be on the hook for too many five- and six-goal nights.
7. At this point, Ryan Murray may be the only Blue Jacket defenceman worth rostering with any regularity. He once again was the only defenceman on the top power-play unit and also managed to go plus-1 in the big loss to the Maple Leafs.
8. I’m intrigued by Marian Hossa snagging some top unit power play time lately. Obviously, the Blackhawks were seeking a spark for both Hossa and their struggling power play. On Saturday night, Chicago’s power play went 2-for-5 and Hossa had a goal and an assist on the man advantage. He has scored at a 30-goal/60-point rate the past three seasons. I’m taking that money to the bank.
9. A big welcome back for Zdeno Chara, who had two assists in his second game back. He skated a team-high 24:12 and helped lessen the burden on Torey Krug, who nevertheless skated more than 20 minutes of action. Looking good for Krug owners, even though the diminutive defenceman was held off the board Wednesday.
10. This hot start from the Coyotes seems like a house of cards. I just can’t picture Anthony Duclair or Martin Hanzal or Max Domi scoring more than even 50 points this season. Just not enough juice there in the desert, especially knowing Hanzal’s health history.
11. On the flip side, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler are all still looking for their first points of the season. Just as surely as you can expect the Coyotes’ luck to turn, so too can you expect the same for these Ducks. How confident are you in making a strong buy-low pitch for these guys after down seasons last year and a cool start to this one? Would you offer Henrik Zetterberg for Getzlaf? Would you offer Blake Wheeler for Perry? A used dish towel for Kesler? I’d risk it all but the dish towel.
12. Anton Stralman continues to improve. He’s 29 now, so just past the middle of his prime. I love it when defencemen break into the league with hype about their offensive potential, but they don’t show it for a few years. Then the hype becomes more about their defence and possession game. And now, Stralman is a complete player who is rebuilding his offensive game based on that foundation. I’m starting to nudge his projection closer to 47 or 48 points this year.
13. Connor Brickley scored his first career NHL goal Tuesday night. He also has 10 PIM so far in his four-game NHL career, but that’s a blip. He’s probably a 70+ PIM guy with potential for 35 points as a rookie.
14. I can’t stand this. John-Michael Liles, from Planet Useless, hogs 3:07 of PP time while Noah Hanifin saw 0:00. If you recall, Liles hogged PP time from Andrej Sekera last season. And for what? The 10 or 15 points that he’ll get?
15. Mark Giordano was pointless through his first four games, but Dennis Wideman had three points. Wideman is a guy I figured would take a huge step back due to Giordano returning and having Dougie Hamilton on board. Haven’t seen any sign of that happening yet, but then again there has been tons of PP time to go around so far. There’s also been the injury to TJ Brodie, which sure helps Wideman’s ice time.
16. Defenceman Colton Parayko scored the first two goals of his NHL career. The Blues’ rearguard makes for a great pickup early on.
17. Against Columbus, Nazem Kadri finally got the goal he’s been pressing so hard for. Through five games Kadri has 27 SOG, a ludicrous total. If he can even sustain 3.0 SOG per game for the full season that would be an impressive feat and would easily establish a new career high. Even if the points aren’t there, Kadri is definitely taking strides as a fantasy asset.
18. Brock McGinn scored a goal and added an assist in his NHL debut Friday. I’ve tooted his horn before, but that was just as a depth rotisserie asset. If he’s getting top-line minutes, even in Carolina, that’s a huge deal. I’m not sure he has value in the average pool yet, though. He’s more for a niche market where if league depth is extremely thin then he could become a steal. All told, McGinn skated 15:11 and 13:38 with no power play or penalty kill time in his first two games. The lack of power play time is the only thing keeping me from pushing all-in on McGinn.
19. David Backes has been struggling from a points perspective, skating as the third line centre in St. Louis. He does have a spot as the net-front presence on the top power play unit, but even that hasn’t proven fruitful so far. It’s only a matter of time for Backes, but you have to wonder with the slower start if maybe he’s headed for a serious points drop into the 40s instead of a slight drop to the low-50s.
20. Speaking of struggling vets, Radim Vrbata remains scoreless for Vancouver through five games. He does have 19 SOG though so he’s clearly making the effort. I’m not panicking about Vrbata if I’m an owner. The shots are there so the goals will come. But they won’t come at last year’s rate because he isn’t getting the even-strength minutes with the Sedins. Those are instead going to Brandon Sutter (a goal and two assists Friday night). Vrbata is still on the top power-play unit and gets plenty of chances to uncork one-timers.
With files from Darryl Dobbs.