Damaged Ducks, Sens' Defense, plus more...
There was plenty of fantasy-related news to draw from this article by Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times regarding the state of the Ducks. It won’t all fit into one paragraph, and it will affect the team over the next month or two or three.
Hopefully you didn’t use a significant pick on Ryan Kesler. The second-line center may miss the first few months of the season following offseason hip surgery. After missing only four games in his three seasons with the Ducks, the 33-year-old Kesler is experiencing from wear and tear resulting from his in-your-face style. Surprisingly, his point totals have actually increased over the past three seasons (43 to 47 to 53 to 58), so I was expecting a regression even if he played a full season.
Because of the Kesler injury, Rickard Rakell is mentioned in the article as moving back to center during training camp and preseason games. This move could turn him into more of a playmaker, so a decrease in goals to go with a corresponding increase in assists seems inevitable if he stays at center to start the season. On the same token, Rakell could move into the first power-play unit in Kesler’s absence, which could provide an additional boost to his value.
If Rakell is back on the wing to start the season, Antoine Vermette could move up to the top 6. The Ducks could also give prospect Sam Steel than a nine-game audition, but his junior team (Regina Pats of the WHL) has named him their new captain, possibly foreshadowing a return to junior.
November 1 was mentioned as the return date for both Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm. We knew that both probably wouldn’t be able to start the season, but at one time it was thought that both defensemen would miss more time than that. Shea Theodore would have stood to benefit should he have not been claimed by Vegas, but the one young defenseman that should be added in the late rounds of single-season leagues for at least the short term is Brandon Montour.
It’s easy to look past Montour’s NHL numbers (six points in 27 games last season), but he’s scored at an amazing pace (0.86 points/game) over his past two seasons in the AHL. Montour should at the very least fill a role on the second-unit power play and with both Vatanen and Lindholm injured could even sneak onto the first-unit power play. If he makes a strong impression on the power play, he could stick with that role even with the injured defensemen returning. There’s real sleeper potential with Montour.
One goalie that I did not think received enough love in the Dobber Fantasy Guide rankings was John Gibson. But the reason is simple: too many injuries. Gibson’s work on his lower body during the summer may help prevent those nagging injuries, as could having a veteran backup like Ryan Miller, who is used to taking on a heavy workload. I could see Miller taking at least every third start, which could result in a more well-rested and injury-free Gibson. Should that happen, Gibson could still start around 55 games and collect 30 wins, both numbers he has yet to accomplish in his career so far.
Over in Ottawa, Erik Karlsson was singing the praises of young Thomas Chabot at Senators’ training camp, suggesting the 20-year-old Chabot is ahead of Karlsson was at that age. Of course, we don’t know when Karlsson will return from his offseason foot surgery. So just as the Vatanen and Lindholm injuries create space for Montour in Anaheim, you can put two and two together and determine that Chabot is more likely to start the season in Ottawa should Karlsson not be ready.
I’m not expecting Chabot to take the fantasy world by storm this year. After all, he is only 20, and it’s not as though he’s going to steal minutes away from Karlsson. Usually young defensemen play sheltered minutes to start, but it’s possible that Chabot could fill your October with a few points to go with some power-play time.
Getting into the lineup for the remainder of the season might turn out to be more of a challenge, and it should be considered a bonus if he fills your fantasy stats all season. In other words, he’s a bit more of a longshot to be a breakout d-man than Montour in my opinion. But at the very least he’s a d-man you want to secure in keeper leagues.
As for Karlsson, you should be dropping him in your single-season rankings. Of course he could still reach somewhere in the 60-70 point range if he were to miss the first month of the season. But hopefully you’re not drafting him around the same spot you would draft Brent Burns or even Victor Hedman.
I know Rick will be providing his fearless forecasts soon, but I’m going to step out on a limb with one of my own: A reportedly healthy Kris Letang will play in more games than Karlsson this season. I’ll duck while you fire your tomatoes at me.
Believe it or not, there was preseason hockey on Saturday. Brock Boeser scored the overtime winner in the Canucks’ 4-3 win over the Kings. Jake Virtanen, who is also battling for a spot on the Canucks, also scored and had a strong game. Boeser’s wrister on the overtime goal is a thing of beauty.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 16, 2017
The talk around the Canucks is that because of the veteran acquisitions by the Canucks this offseason, there may be only one spot for one of Boeser, Virtanen, and Nikolay Goldobin. If you’re worried because you drafted Boeser, he should still have the inside track. Virtanen needs a stronger showing in the AHL than he had last season (19 points in 65 games), so my guess is he’ll be back there again (at least to start). At this point the Canucks might settle for Virtanen being a middle-six forward, even though he was drafted ahead of the likes of William Nylander, Nikolaj Ehlers, and David Pastrnak.
The two teams will play two games in China on Thursday and Saturday, no doubt an attempt to grow the game worldwide. But didn’t they have the chance to with the 2018 Olympics in South Korea?
Sunday will feature two games: the Flyers against the Islanders, and those same Canucks facing the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion team’s first-ever preseason game. If you’re looking for your team’s first game, it is more likely to happen on Monday or Tuesday.
I needed one more topic for today, so I asked my loyal Twitter followers for one. They came through for me.
points lgs vs categories lgs...go
— 🍺BeerBot🍺 (@Go22rd) September 17, 2017
With over a decade now in playing on the online platforms (Yahoo in particular), I’ve become more of a categories league guy myself. I like the well-roundedness of being able to study numerous categories and learn about the strengths of particular players. But I really got my start in fantasy hockey with the points leagues.
If you’re new to fantasy hockey, or you want something that’s not too time-intensive, I’d suggest the points leagues. They’re simple enough to calculate, and you can more easily follow the performance of your team than you can in a league with multiple categories. You can also still enjoy the personalization of owning your own players if you decide to run a draft. More serious players can also enjoy points leagues, which would more likely involve both more teams and more roster spots per team.
Playing in multicategory leagues, however, provides me not only with more to follow but also more to write about. Lots of categories in a league are fun, but categories in a fantasy league are like ingredients in a soup: Too many and the taste is diluted. Different sport, I know, but I’ll give you an example of a fantasy baseball league I play in. The league counts numerous redundant categories, including both hits and batting average; OBP, SLG and OPS (OBP + SLG = OPS); earned runs and earned run average; and wins and winning percentage. You end up with many lopsided head-to-head scores as a result.
But some may then argue that power-play points is a redundant category for that very reason. What are your thoughts? That very argument might be another reason to go with points leagues. But I’d say that the choice is yours and that of your leaguemates. Just pick the option that will provide you with the most fun.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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