The Friday Ramblings with some injury updates and the fantasy hockey Q+A.
That third line with Parise, Haula and Pominville was buzzing all game. Pominville extended his scoring run with a power-play assist on a Niederreiter goal (Nino staying hot as well!) Parise was held quiet but had a number of chances. He looks healthy and back to his usual self. I wonder if that will translate to an extended run of good play down the stretch.
No Tyler Johnson for the Lightning last night. He is out with an undisclosed injury and may miss some extended time:
#tblightning Cooper said Tyler Johnson out tonight. And likely tomorrow too unless he makes drastic recovery. Hurt last game— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) February 10, 2017
Connor Hellebuyck made just his second start since Ondrej Pavelec was recalled. It didn’t go particularly well, although he was forced to make some big saves. Ultimately, he stopped 31 of 34, which is as good as anything you could have expected Pavelec to provide. Pavelec is set to miss about a week’s worth of action so get your Hellebuyck starts in while you can.
An update on Paul Stastny:
Stastny doubtful for tomorrow, not long term.— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) February 10, 2017
That’s good news. Hopefully this doesn’t derail his hot streak. Of course, Stastny has had several hot runs only to be derailed by lineup changes and other factors so we can’t count on him to continue at a point-per-game rate the rest of the way.
The prognosis on Andre Burakovsky is much worse:
Andre Burakovsky out until mid- to late- March with a hand injury, Barry Trotz said.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) February 10, 2017
Q+A time! Been a while since I did one of these:
@SteveLaidlaw Outlook on Schneider in a keeper league (Ws + Sv%)? Also have Matt Murray so do I hold Schneids for Sv% or try to move him?— Aneil Manhas (@aneilmanhas) February 10, 2017
The question of whether or not to sell or hold should always come down to the return you can get, rather than some inherent need. Sure, if you’ve got Price, Dubnyk, Holtby and Bobrovsky and can only start one goalie per night then you should be shopping but you wouldn’t pick any one specific guy to sell but rather pick the guy who gets you the best improvement elsewhere.
Back to your specific situation, I’d look to see how much you can use Cory Schneider the rest of the way. If you start two goalies per night then you are fine keeping both, if you only start one you’ll want to see how much overlap there is between the Penguins’ and Devils’ schedules the rest of the way. If there’s a ton of overlap that second goalie is a bit of a waste.
As for Schneider’s specific outlook, I am a fan. He’s been an above-average goalie for years who put in a couple months of struggles. He has already started to turn things around. Across 14 appearances since January 1, he has a 0.930 Sv%.
Schneider turns 31 this spring so he’s still a couple of years away from where I really start to worry about goaltenders. This fall was the first chink in his armor. Another up-and-down season and I’d start being concerned that his age and environment are too taxing but I’m not there yet. The Devils stink but they have an avenue to improvement and Schneider is a big part of that. I wouldn’t be in a hurry to trade him but I also never turn down good trade value.
@SteveLaidlaw In deep roto keeper w/ all normal scoring cats, would you trade Hedman for Tarasenko or Panarin? Deals on table for both...— Front Seat Coasters (@FrontStCoasters) February 10, 2017
Assuming by “all normal cats” you mean that this league is standard scoring with goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, penalty minutes and shots on goal. If it’s anything else, the answer could change, particularly if you score blocked shots where Hedman grades out well.
Hedman has been a beast this season, and would be in the Norris conversation were the Lightning any good or were Brent Burns human. This is the kind of elite production we have been waiting for from Hedman for years. He’s 26, in his prime and finally delivering.
That said, I don’t think Hedman is so good that I would turn down an elite forward for him. Defensemen are fickle. They rely so heavily on their teammates’ ability to create offense. Other than Burns, Erik Karlsson and perhaps a few others, you can’t really say that any other defensemen drive offense for their teams. Most defensemen can put their forwards in advantageous positions with their great defensive play: holding both bluelines, making crisp breakout passes, getting point shots on goal, etc. But most defensemen don’t really get up into the offensive zone to create direct offense on most shifts. Hedman is starting to push into that elite offense-driving range but we shouldn’t overreact to a breakout season.
Both forwards on the table are 25 years old but one is a clear peg above the other. Tarasenko produces awesome shot volume. Since breaking out in 2014-15, Tarasenko has the fifth most SOG in the league behind only Ovechkin, Burns, Pacioretty and Seguin, averaging just under 3.5 SOG per game. That’s a 284-shot pace. Gold in standard leagues.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that goal-scorers peak early and that Tarasenko may already be exiting his peak. Perhaps he never again hits the 40-goal plateau. It’s good news that he is on pace for his first 40-assist season.
I would expect that Panarin’s game will age better than Tarasenko’s due to better playmaking but I wouldn’t expect either of these guys to really start tailing off for another three or four years and even then they’d still be very good. You can get caught up in looking too far down the road in keeper leagues. Tarasenko is 25 and the best player right now. Click accept.
@SteveLaidlaw Cap league with banger stats. Who has better long term value, Marchessault or Arvidsson?— DJ Blok (@BlokzylDaniel) February 10, 2017
I am a proud Viktor Arvidsson owner in a cap league. I have been raving about him for years on this site. This season, people are finally taking notice and it seems every trade conversation I have, someone asks for Arvidsson. I laugh in their face every time.
Arvidsson will be a restricted free agent this summer and we should expect he’ll receive a substantial raise. Arvidsson has the arbitration hammer, which increases his leverage a bit but you can imagine he’s the type of player the Preds are trying to keep long term. They have a history of betting big on their young players, locking them up to deals that seem expensive in the short term but turn into bargains long term. They’ve done it with Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Patric Hornqvist, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson and more recently, Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok.
Not all of those deals have worked out. Smith and Wilson stick out in this regard. Still, paying around $4M annually for middle-six talent in their 20’s isn’t the worst thing in the world. These are players whom other GMs could talk themselves into.
Don’t be shocked if Arvidsson is making north of $4M next season. But he’s the next Brad Marchand/Brendan Gallagher. I firmly believe he can be a 30-goal/60-point/250-SOG guy. $4M for this type of talent is a bargain, although he won’t help you in “banger categories.”
Jonathan Marchessault offers another year of affordability but doesn’t come with the same guarantee of production that I feel Arvidsson brings. He also won’t help you in the “banger categories” but he might just settle into being a 40-point third-liner who shows flashes when top-six opportunities open up. And if he does splash, he’ll hit unrestricted free agency in 2018 where we would expect someone to overpay.
Give me Arvidsson all the way.
@SteveLaidlaw Pastrnak or Ehlers in a keeper/dynasty?— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) February 10, 2017
I have made it well-known that I am a Pasta-farian and he would be my answer here. We’re talking about two of the brightest young stars in the league, both busting out at the age of 20.
I could see the argument for siding with Ehlers, the Jets seemingly have a brighter future than the Bruins. They have an elite young centerman in Mark Scheifele, an elite young sniper in Patrik Laine, and some really good supplementary veterans.
Pastrnak doesn’t have anyone to grow with. He’ll be counting on Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand remaining elite for the next few years and then he has to hope that help starts to arrive. But this trio is elite now and the lack of competition for minutes works in Pastrnak’s favour today. I try not to look too far down the road.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either guy. I make all my rankings based on tiered setups and these two would be in the same tier. If I have to pick one, I’m picking Pastrnak but my projection for both is similar.
@SteveLaidlaw Given who may be available, how good will Las Vegas be next year?— Bill Cann (@Bottlenecker93) February 10, 2017
Undoubtedly this team is going to be bad, at least they will be coming out of the expansion draft. I did a mock draft on this back in December but it looks seriously outdated. I went through the process again and came to some a few conclusions:
1. When you go through the process you ultimately end up with a team loaded with bottom-six forwards and third pairing defensemen. I doubt that Vegas will actually wind up with all of these sorts of players. While they all have some value, they all also need playing time. For instance, I have them picking 11 defensemen, all currently in the NHL. At least three of those guys would have to be sent to the minors and it is unlikely that any of them would clear waivers so taking such players would be a waste.
Instead, I’ll bet you see some side deals where Vegas ignores a player with marginal value, drafts a UFA who they may or may not sign and gets a late draft pick (likely starting out as future considerations) for their trouble.
2. Vegas is forced to take at least 20 players already signed to contracts for the 2017-18 season and these contracts have to amount to at least $43M on the 2017-18 salary cap. This restricts some of the swings that Vegas can take. Again, they probably don’t want 11 defensemen all vying for minutes, especially since you have to assume they’ll also be active in the UFA market after they draft their team.
There will be players that they draft who have contracts for 2018 that they have no intention of using on their roster. There won’t be too many players in the draft who will fit this criteria because these players have to have been playing in the league recently to qualify for exposure.
A good example of this sort of player would be William Carrier or Justin Falk off of the Sabres. I mean, Vegas could use these players on their roster, after all, the Sabres have this season but they would be organizational depth on most teams.
3. Another side effect of the contracts limit is that smart teams are going to leave their restricted free agents unsigned. For instance, it’s going to be next to impossible for the Canadiens to protect Nikita Nesterov but he’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
Vegas has to hit that contracts limit so they can take at most 10 swings on guys without contracts but that leaves them with 10 negotiations they are going to have to make during the summer, on top of all the work they’ll have to do filling out organizational depth, drafting, scouting, signing unrestricted free agents. The last thing they’ll want to do is negotiate a bunch of RFA contracts, especially with players who could take them to arbitration.
I have them picking a bunch of RFAs with arbitration rights in my latest mock but only because I just went through the process of taking the best player available. They’ll make side deals and avoid picking a bunch of these guys but it’s a guessing game figuring out who they’ll make these deals with.
4. There are only a few teams that have real tough decisions to make and you can bet that almost all of them will figure out a way to trade out of their problems. As currently constructed, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Columbus, Nashville, Minnesota and the Islanders are the teams with the toughest decisions to make.
Anaheim will almost certainly lose one of Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson or Jakob Silfverberg and they might even have to expose two of those players. Even trading a defenseman doesn’t guarantee them immunity because they would still have to get Kevin Bieksa to waive his no-move in order to protect whichever three of Hampus Lindholm (he’s not going anywhere), Vatanen, Fowler and Manson remained after said defenseman trade.
If I were the Vegas GM there is an amount of draft picks that it would take for me to not poach Silfverberg or one of those defensemen but it would be on the order of what one would expect to receive as compensation for losing a restricted free agent to an offer sheet. I’m talking first round pick, plus incentives.
Essentially, Anaheim is losing a major asset unless they blow it up trading multiple defensemen between now and the expansion draft. They fancy themselves contenders so that window is probably closer to between the end of their playoff run. Don’t be shocked if in mid-June they trade for Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog.
They wouldn’t be the only team with this notion. The Islanders are either exposing two of Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey or they are leaving two of Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey and Ryan Strome available. The latter option also means Casey Cizikas is exposed as well.
Logic dictates that they’ll protect the maximum number of forwards plus Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk and Hamonic, while leaving de Haan and Hickey exposed. Since de Haan is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, they would take the gamble that I discussed above and leave him open.
They could also follow through on the much-rumoured Hamonic+++ trade for Duchene.
The wrinkle in all of this is that if I am in the Avalanche front office, there’s no chance I’m trading Duchene or Landeskog until after the expansion draft. The Avs have to protect Francois Beauchemin and Erik Johnson because of their no-move clauses. They also presumably want to protect Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov.
They don’t have too many forwards worth protecting beyond Duchene, Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikhail Grigorenko (remember, Mikko Rantanen is a free protection). What if they decide they want to protect Mark Barberio (which they probably should)? Then they get put into a spot where they’ve got five defensemen they need to protect. You’re trading for one under these circumstances? They can probably get Beauchemin to waive his NMC so this is likely moot but it has to be considered.
5. Bottom line, there just aren’t that many impact players who are going to be available in the expansion draft. More and more teams are filling out their rosters with good depth options so filling out the Vegas lineup with quality depth isn’t really an advantage. They’ll need to draft and sign impact players outside of the expansion draft. There are some of those available but the timing isn’t great. Sucking some depth off of every NHL roster will help them to be competitive but they are going to bend to teams with genuine superstars. It could be a while before they land one of those.
Rest in peace, Mike Ilitch.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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