Every Sunday during the regular season, we’ll share 20 Fantasy Thoughts from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week’s “Daily Ramblings.”
1. We’re kind of at a loss as to what to do about Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor in keeper leagues. He could push for 25 goals and 50 points this year which is a very stellar season, of course. The lack of peripherals like penalty minutes and hits ding him hard in multi-category roto leagues but the production has been solid. Is he a star in the making, or just a good player who happens to play most of his minutes alongside two of the most talented forwards in the league (Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler)?
2. Since Christmas, which is right around when he was put onto the top power-play unit, Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk has 26 points, 11 of which have come with the man advantage, in 27 games. He’s still a 5-on-5 beast on the “3M” line but the extra power play use kicks him from a 55-point threat into the 70-point range. He won’t get there this season because of a slower first half but keep this pace in mind as you head towards the fantasy playoffs and also for drafts next season.
The Panthers may not be a playoff team but they’re a team that you want to target for your fantasy playoffs. Over the last three weeks of the season, they play 13 times, more than any other team. So if you want to target Barkov, he won’t come cheap because he’s been scoring at a point-per-game pace. But Dadonov would be a superb fantasy playoff target, as he’s only owned in 27 per cent of Yahoo leagues. Even if you had to trade for him, you probably wouldn’t have to break the bank.
4. Leafs’ Mitch Marner has 11 goals and 20 points over his last 17 games. Not only has he turned his season around, but he is now the Leafs’ leading scorer with 51 points. What sophomore slump?
5. With an assist on Saturday, Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere is the third defenceman to reach 50 points this season. He has posted monster numbers in February in particular with 16 assists, a plus-12 rating and one goal in just 12 games. That’s the highest number of assists, points, and plus-minus by a defenceman this month, and he’s also in a three-way tie for most power-play points by a d-man this month. Is it possible for Ghost to be the highest-scoring defenceman in the NHL by season’s end?
6. With the Flyers 9-0-2 over their past 11 games, Petr Mrazek is a great option in net at the moment. Although he allowed three goals to the Senators on Saturday, Mrazek has now posted back-to-back wins in his first two games as a Flyer. I won’t say he’s a must-start, but because of his new situation he’s a preferred option in many instances if you have three goalies and can only start two.
7. Nick Schmaltz has been excellent at doing everything except shooting the puck. As anyone who has owned Chicago forwards in fantasy over the years knows, your player’s value is inextricably linked to coach Joel Quenneville’s whims.
Schmaltz is a first-round pick who was touted for offence and is producing offensively while doing all the underlying things we’d expect (besides shooting) for that offence to continue. A common fantasy mantra is to bet on talent and Schmaltz is showing it in spades. Keep him in mind when September rolls around as a depth centre.
8. Colton Parayko is on pace for a career-high in points, shots, hits, and blocked shots. Not bad? Funny thing about all this is that his season probably should be better than it is.
The problem will continue to be power-play minutes. He’s third among Blues’ defencemen in this regard, both per game and in total time on ice. Alex Pietrangelo was on the top unit to start the year and Vince Dunn has been there of late, while Parayko has usually been tasked with mop-up duty on the second quintet.
Parayko will still likely reach double-digit power-play points, which is fine, but as long as that hierarchy remains his fantasy upside is capped. Just keep that in mind for September drafts: 50-plus point seasons for Parayko are very unlikely unless he gets those prime man-advantage minutes.
9. I did not think Teuvo Teravainen would maintain his early season scoring pace but he’s been pretty good all season long. The Hurricanes still need more scoring but Teravainen turning into a 20-goal, 50-point guy is a step in the right direction.
10. In Florida, Frank Vatrano gets a fresh start. It’s impossible to understate how excited we were about him just a couple of seasons ago. As a 21-year-old rookie pro, Vatrano scored 36 goals and 55 points in 36 AHL games, splitting time between the AHL and NHL. He didn’t have the same success at the NHL level posting only eight goals and 11 points in 39 games with the Bruins, skating limited minutes, but he did demonstrate a penchant for shot volume averaging 2.5 shots on goal per game.
Vatrano ran into injuries the past two seasons and eventually got surpassed on the Bruins’ depth chart by an exciting group of rookies including Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork. You can’t totally blame Vatrano for struggling given the circumstances. There’s some upside for Vatrano if he can find chemistry on a scoring line. We’ll see how much of a shot he gets. He’s a nice low-cost bet for Florida.
11. Nolan Patrick has goals in four straight games. Keeper leaguers have to be particularly excited about what Patrick is flashing in the net-front role while Wayne Simmonds is out nursing an injury. Is it something Patrick could fill in years to come?
Simmonds has one more year on his steal of a deal and then hits unrestricted free agency at 30. The Flyers should move on at that point and let someone else pay for his twilight years. Simmonds is already showing signs of wear. He remains the league’s premiere net-front man but guys who play as he does break down quickly. This season’s injuries are an indication of that. Someone is going to give Simmonds a boatload of money, and much like the Milan Lucic deal, it will be regrettable before the ink has even dried.
12. With Shea Weber out for the season, we’ll see Jeff Petry continue to be a lively option as Montreal’s No. 1 defenceman. Since Weber went down, Petry is averaging 25 minutes a night and has put up seven goals, 19 points, 10 power-play points and 89 shots on goal in 28 games. He’s also a minus-13 during that stretch but we’re a believer in the ‘punt plus/minus’ strategy.
13. Some Andrei Svechnikov vs. Filip Zadina chatter. We’re on team Svechnikov, and we’ll take it one step further suggesting that we would take him first overall out of the 2018 draft class in fantasy hockey leagues. That even means going ahead of Rasmus Dahlin.
It’s so much easier for wingers to translate scoring at the next level and Svechnikov is scoring at unruly levels in the OHL. Even though Dahlin is the best defenceman prospect to come around in years, we still don’t know exactly how his game will translate. He’ll clearly be awesome but will he be fantasy awesome?
We’ve had some great rookie defencemen step in over the past few seasons and they’ve topped out at around 45 points. So much of defencemen value is related to situation because (outside of freak seasons) you’re not getting more than 10-15 goals from a defenceman. Just look at Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Arizona. He’s a gem but has yet managed only one season with 50-plus points. Maybe our tune changes if Dahlin lands somewhere juicy but there’s just a lot to overcome for Dahlin’s fantasy value to match his real-world value.
On the other hand, we feel confident that we’ll be getting seasons of 20-plus goals and 60-plus points right out of the bag from Svechnikov. Dahlin needs to be a 50-point guy right away to beat that for fantasy value, and he could be that. We’re just not going to gamble on it.
14. We can’t really make heads or tails of the Coyotes trading Tobias Rieder and Scott Wedgewood to the Kings for Darcy Kuemper. They even extended Kuemper for two more years at $1.85 million per. It was only a few months ago that they traded a fifth to land Wedgewood while they were dealing with their goalie crisis. We guess Wedgewood didn’t work out but you’d think they’d have wanted to give Kuemper a trial run before extending him? Mind you, Kuemper was exceptional with a 0.932 save percentage as a King.
How does this affect Antti Raanta? Not much. While he’s an upcoming UFA, the Coyotes are actively trying to extend him and are rebuking trade calls. It makes sense for both sides to meet in the middle. While Raanta could go to market this summer, there aren’t going to be many openings. Both sides can lock in some security. we’d count on that going down in the coming weeks. That means Raanta continues as a valid No. 3 fantasy option (or No. 2 in deeper leagues). He has been unbelievable in the second half, running his save percentage up to 0.923.
15. The Habs sent Nikita Scherbak back to the AHL after a nine-game cameo. He barely played, averaging just 12:52 per game, with secondary power-play time. He scored three points in nine games, two of which came on the man advantage. This wasn’t a large enough sample to be certain of his ability to sink or swim but he sure looked like a power-play specialist if nothing else. In 12 career NHL games, Scherbak has three power-play points.
More excitingly, Scherbak has scored 30 points in 26 AHL games. He’s too good for that level. Look for him as an intriguing option next season if Montreal can balance out their roster better, moving some of the oodles of wing talent they have out of Scherbak’s path.
16. Defenceman Michal Kempny won’t sniff the top-three mix of John Carlson, Matt Niskanen or Dmitry Orlov in Washington, so we aren’t talking much fantasy relevance here. He could bump veteran Brooks Orpik out of the lineup for the odd game to give the 37-year-old a rest, which would hurt folks rostering Orpik in hits/blocks leagues. Youngsters Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey are also at risk of losing minutes, but neither is at the stage of fantasy relevance.
17. We would absolutely love to see Patrick Maroon traded to Tampa Bay. He’s a play-driving winger who could do the dirty work playing on a line with Steven Stamkos, which would allow Yanni Gourde to move down to the third line and help bolster the depth.
Maroon has proven both in Anaheim and Edmonton that he can play very well with elite players even if his goal scoring took a dip from last year to this year with the Oilers. He would be a very good net-front presence on the power play, helping block the vision of the goalie and clearing the cross-ice passing lanes.
18. A lot of the speculation surrounding Detroit’s Mike Green has him going back to Washington but we’re not sure how much it’ll help his fantasy value if he does. He wouldn’t supplant Carlson on the top power-play unit and should the Caps’ five-on-five scoring dry up (they do lead the league in shooting percentage), it wouldn’t leave much hope for Green to be a significant fantasy contributor.
New Jersey could use Green, we think. Will Butcher has one power-play assist and just four total points going back a month. That team, as they head into the playoffs, could use a true power-play quarterback. It could only help all the Devils forwards on the top power-play unit and could even help Green boost his numbers a bit. We don’t think the Devils will actually do it but it would make sense if they want to add an offensive defenceman at the deadline.
19. All the attention has (rightly) been on other Penguins skaters for their production over the last couple of months, but Jake Guentzel is starting to heat up in his own right with nine goals and six assists in his last 10 games.
Guentzel’s is a pretty funny case of expectations. After his season last year, speculation was running wild that Guentzel was a future 40-goal scorer and living up to that level is really hard to do. We don’t imagine there’s a single fantasy owner out there who is happy with the 23-year old winger’s production but he’s on pace for 26 goals playing second and third line minutes with inconsistent power-play time. That is really, really good. And yet, he’s a disappointment in fantasy this year. Funny, that.
20. It’ll be curious to see what Taylor Hall’s average draft position will be this coming September. Nico Hischier is only going to get better and Kyle Palmieri on the top line has added another goal-scoring dimension. Were we to hazard a guess right now, Hall will be a top-30 pick next year.
Hall’s official point streak now stands at 14 games. The unofficial personal point streak now stands at 21 games because of a thumb injury that caused him to miss three games. He is now a top-10 option in points per game (1.16). Is he a sell high candidate? Arguments for the idea might include the lack of scoring options around him in Jersey, a slightly higher-than-normal shooting percentage (12.5 per cent), and his injury history. It would have to be a top-tier option coming back, though.