Ramblings: Injuries to Schneider, Saad and Klingberg, Keeper League Rebuilding Strategy (Mar. 5)

by steve laidlaw on March 5, 2016 | (9 Comments)
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Injuries to Schneider, Saad and Klingberg, Keeper League Rebuilding Strategy (Mar. 5)

Ramblings: Schneider, Saad and Klingberg all hurt, keeper league rebuilding strategy and more.

Light Friday slate but it was the trade deadline in my salary cap keeper league last night and stuff went down! It was kind of like the NHL deadline, with most of the deals going down at the very last minute. We had three processed just before the proverbial horn, two of which were mine. One of those deals, I know I lost. In fact, I probably lost both but I was pushing all in. I tried like hell to find better deals where I could mitigate the long term loss but alas it wasn’t to be had so I settled for pure short term gain and nothing else.

I want to talk about the one specific trade because I feel it serves as an example for how rebuilders need to act in keeper leagues. The trade:

I received Nikita Kucherov and Emile Poirier in exchange for Connor Hellebuyck. Fairly reasonable on the surface but let me set up the background.

This is a multi-category salary cap league with 24 teams and an expansive farm system where skaters can stay on the farm until they play 160 games and goalies can stay on the farm until they play 80 games.

As a contender, Kucherov is VERY appealing to me on a contract that pays him less than a million this season but he is also very likely to get paid this summer. Very seriously paid. He might get the Tarasenko contract, which would effectively octuple his salary. Kucherov would still be an asset he loses a lot of value this summer.

Meanwhile, Hellebuyck has another year on a great contract and should be the Jets’ starter next season. He is also minors eligible for another 53 games having played 26 this season. That’s a ticking clock that works against me. Assuming Hellebuyck reaches the end of his minors eligibility by the end of next season, I would be forced to call him up and with Marc-Andre Fleury and Brian Elliott already on the roster I’d be dedicating three main roster spots to goalies, which is generally a bad idea in this league. When there are so many teams, many of which roster only one goalie, rostering three sets you back big time in skater categories. So I have this clock to think about within which Hellebuyck has the most value.

The other GM doesn’t have a starting goalie but he is rebuilding so he’s in no rush to find his goalie of the future. That’s a very important note because it plays a key part in these negotiations.

At one point this GM had John Gibson and dealt him for a package including Kucherov, Morgan Rielly and Brock Boeser. A very good haul. My feeling, with Hellebuyck was that I should get a similar sort of return. We batted around ideas for a while but never got anywhere close to that. He set his line in the sand: Kucherov + Poirier for Hellebuyck and sat on it. I probably tried a couple dozen different possibilities. Unshaken, he stuck to his guns. As a contender, the clock was on me more than it was on him and in the end I caved. Very well-played on his part.

Anyone who decides to go into a rebuild needs to be able to draw that line in the sand and demand a trade that will definitely help them win long term. You need to be able to say “to hell with it,” and sit on an asset even as it depreciates. Unless a guy retires you literally cannot lose them for nothing. You can, however, lose them for less than they are worth if you acquiesce to the demands of a persistent contender not looking to lose a trade.

Stand firm and perhaps you don’t make a trade and perhaps your asset depreciates but if you don’t demand it of contenders to overpay with futures to acquire your proven established talent, you’ll never get ahead. You’ll be stuck on the hamster wheel of perpetual rebuilding.

I’ll give you another example. Last season, I was a playoff bubble team in one of my keeper leagues but Patrick Kane went down and my team was fading fast. I shopped Pavel Datsyuk around but all of the offers were, to put it bluntly, dog shit. No contender was willing to pay for what was still a very impactful asset. So I kept Datsyuk knowing that he’d still be good again this season. My team is in the hunt for a championship with Datsyuk playing very well and Kane back at an MVP level.

One last thought on rebuilding: contenders will often say to you, “but think about how this will help your draft position after you trade me such and such player.”

This should set off bullshit alarms. That line above is used car salesman garbage.

What he’s really saying is, “I don’t want to give you anything else so I’m going to try to create this ‘asset’ in the deal out of nothing and hope that you buy it.”

Don’t buy it. Draw your line in the sand and be willing to walk away. You’re rebuilding, you have nothing to lose except the trade at hand. He, on the other hand, has a championship at stake. You hold the cards.

Anyhow, so I probably lost that deal, unless I win the championship, because flags fly forever but I figured that there was a great lesson here and I had to share.


The big news of the night was Cory Schneider going down in New Jersey’s loss to the Stars. It does not look particularly good:

No timetable just yet but let’s assume this costs Schneider some time. Might we see the Devils shut him down for the year? Any lost time effectively squashes their minimal playoff hopes. Keith Kinkaid sure isn’t going to carry the team and no Kinkaid does not become a fantasy option to pursue.

Devante Smith-Pelly scored again last night. He’s 3/2 since joining the Devils and skating some meaningful minutes. Perhaps this is finally his big break? Probably not but we should keep monitoring this situation.


Guess what, no good news for the Stars either. They lost John Klingberg to injury early on in this one and he did not return:

Alex Goligoski picked up the slack skating with the top power-play unit. He picked up two assists, though neither were related to time spent on the power play. Expect him to have continued relevance if Klingberg misses significant time.

The Stars had some interesting line combos with Patrick Sharp out of the lineup:

















A few items to consider here:

Brett Ritchie on the top line. That may someday be his permanent home. He skated just 11 minutes and was held scoreless but he did have three shots and eight hits. The Ritchie brothers are hit machines.

Ales Hemsky on the top power-play unit. Always notable though not necessarily productive.

Valeri Nichushkin with two points skating on the second line. Good spot for Nichushkin. I’d like to see a permanent spot there. Less pressure to produce since he isn’t with Benn and Seguin. Instead, he has some good linemates some decent minutes and a chance to contribute a little bit of offense, say an average of a point every second game.


Joonas Korpisalo, ladies and gentlemen. He just keeps getting it done. Since the All-Star break, he is 8-3-2 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a 0.921 save percentage. Just try telling me that your fantasy team couldn’t use that sort of production. For some perspective, Korpisalo is the last goalie to beat the Ducks. A real hidden gem and I won’t stop talking about him. Maybe he’s your Schneider replacement.

David Savard led the Blue Jackets’ offense with a pair of goals. That brings him up to three on the season after scoring 11 last season. I figured Savard was going to be the top dog on Columbus’ blue line but Ryan Murray has now passed him and of course Seth Jones’ arrival pushes Savard down even further. At this point, Savard is off my fantasy radar except for in really deep leagues.

Jones, meanwhile, has been a solid contributor since landing in Columbus. He has 13 points in 24 games with the Blue Jackets, a respectable and certainly fantasy relevant level of production.

Brandon Saad notched an assist in just 10 minutes of action. Bad news, he left with an injury and did not return:

This was Saad’s first assist since January 21. He did score eight goals in those 16 assist-less games but ultimately that’s a drop in fantasy value from where he had been. You’d definitely rather have the goal scorer than the assist man though. Anyhow, we will have to see if he has any relevance at all down the stretch given this injury.


Edmonton went with Laurent Brossoit on the second half of a back-to-back. It did not go well as the rookie gave up six goals on 27 shots. These back-to-backs on the road are so often let-down games however.

The Oilers also experimented with some interesting line combos:




















Indeed that is Patrick Maroon slathered up and down the Oilers’ top six. They are giving him a chance to produce after scoring from the third line in his debut. Nail Yakupov didn’t suffer much bouncing between having Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl as a centerman. Instead it was Zack Kassian who was dumped to the third line.

If both Kassian and Maroon are with the Oilers next season we may see a situation play out where they battle for a top-six job. There is probably room for only one of them if there is even room for either at all. We could definitely see it go back-and-forth however. Advantage Maroon right now after the two assists and after that third line got smashed last night with each member going minus-three.

Adam Clendening was a healthy scratch last night. So much for him making a fantasy impact. Andrej Sekera grabbed the minutes on the top power-play unit and notched two assists. This ends an eight-game scoreless drought for Sekera. He was showing some signs of being an asset down the stretch but those fizzled with the aforementioned drought. He’s seemingly been too inconsistent in Edmonton to take a flyer on.


With Henrik Lundqvist out due to neck spasms Antti Raanta got the start for the Rangers and he got the win too stopping 32 of 34 against the Capitals. Doesn’t seem like Lundqvist is going to miss much time however.

Seems like there is still some undercurrent of folks who believe that Eric Staal has more to offer than third line duties in New York. I’ve said it plenty but I’ll keep repeating for new readers, Staal is a great fit as third line center. He isn’t passing Derrick Brassard or Derek Stepan. He isn’t good enough. He can contribute to the Rangers, it just won’t be in a fantasy relevant way.

Last night Staal didn’t even have a shot on net. Very reminiscent of his time in Carolina this season. He skated 14:56 with a bit of time on the second power-play unit. His lone contribution to the box score was a single blocked shot. Oh and a few faceoff wins, I suppose. Time to start treating Staal like you treat Vinny Lecavalier.

By the way, good night for Stepan with a goal and an assist. Stepan has not fulfilled his potential but he still flashes brilliance every now and again. He has 12 points in 16 games since the All-Star break, a really solid run of relevance.


The Penguins announced that Marc-Andre Fleury will start today’s game, which means it is likely that Matt Murray will go on Sunday at New Jersey. Favourable matchup right there although the Penguins might be drained playing their fifth game in seven days. That’s another option for you off the waiver wire.


I missed this yesterday but Brayden Schenn left Thursday’s game against Edmonton after hitting his head on the ice. He did play a few shifts afterwards but eventually left the game and did not return. He is questionable for today’s game.


Also hurt on Thursday night: Nikolaj Ehlers who took a shot to the face in overtime, directly leading to the Islanders’ winner. Insult to injury. Ehlers is out indefinitely with an eye injury. There goes a great waiver pickup.

The Jets are so thin I’m not sure there is a player to take advantage of this. One of the defensemen will pop onto the Jets’ top PP unit or perhaps Drew Stafford.


One positive for you: Jason Zucker has been activated off the IR, which means he should be ready to play today.


The latest on John Carlson:

10 games left means somewhere around Friday, March 25th at New Jersey. That may be too late in the season for some of you. For most this is the weekend of the H2H semi-finals so pretty important. This timing will also mess with the value of Matt Niskanen who looks like a stud until Carlson returns.


The Hockey News has an interesting column featuring its top 10 rising prospects from its Future Watch issue:

3. Jake Walman, D, St. Louis Blues (+41)

Last year: Not ranked

This year: 35th

Poor Walman has made more headlines for quirky off-ice exploits than for his achievements on it of late, as he was famously cursed leading up to the 2016 World Junior Championship. As a dual citizen, he opted to play for USA, but the IIHF ruled him ineligible. Canada then accepted him, but he hurt his shoulder and missed the tournament. Time to put that snafu aside and focus on the good. Walman, 20, is an outstandingly poised and slick puck-moving defenseman. He’s also proven he can put the puck in the net. He had one goal in 41 games all last season and tripled that this season in one October game with a hat trick. Walman has 13 goals in 27 games with Providence College.

Walman is the name you are least likely to have heard of and thus most likely to be able to capitalize on. I hyped him up back in the fall in advance of the World Junior tournament but, as mentioned, an injury kept him out of the competition. He is still an excellent prospect and yet another reason why the St. Louis Blues might consider moving on from Kevin Shattenkirk before his contract expires next summer. Read more on Walman here.


Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. You can follow him @SteveLaidlaw.


  • Bobby ‘Ankle Busting’ Clarke

    Hey Steve,
    Would you be able to send me the details on your Keeper league multi-category salary cap league with 24 teams and farm system? Sounds super interesting and I want to start one with a bunch of friends. What site(s) you use also interests me!

    Great read. Cheers!

    • Allan Phillips

      My main league is a 12-team salary cap ($200) league where salaries are set by auction, and if you like their price, you can sign them for up to 5 years. We have a separate prospect draft, and when brought up and signed, they have a $5 salary for 5 years. It’s rotisserie without a lot of peripherals, mainly scoring categories and goalies. There are frequent trades in this league because it is much like the NHL, where you can load up at the deadline if you are in the running and those out can build. This year, we had more draft pick trading than ever before because we moved to Fantrax, which gave us a lot of nice features. Because of the auction and limited contracts, we have healthy turnover of top players every year, which gives EVERYONE a shot EVERY year. I’ve played in many leagues and it is by far the best I have played in. It keeps everyone interested and active for the most part. A few bits of advice: keep it simple – don’t have 37 scoring categories because it makes it difficult to adjust your team’s performance by trading. Use a cap that’s adjusted to the size of the league (i.e. $72.4M for 30 teams, adjust it up for 24 teams or less). Put mechanisms in place that will encourage people to trade and only allow limited stacking of teams. I’ve seen too many leagues where one bright owner will take advantage and build a powerhouse that they never have to break up, which leads to owners who can’t compete and who wind up quitting. My 2 cents, for what it’s worth.

      • Bobby ‘Ankle Busting’ Clarke

        Great info this sounds really interesting thanks!

  • David

    Steve, you’re a ramblings BEAST. I love you.

  • Chris Liggio

    Derek Stepan may be the most underrated pivot in hockey. I don’t say that because I am a Rangers fan I say that from a pure appreciation of the game standpoint. His confidence is brimming now and he is finally healthy. I picked this year to be the year he can finally score 70 points and it did not happen but the skill is there. What he has been doing since the break is the Derek Stepan I’ve watched for years now.

    • steve laidlaw

      We’ve been hoping for that 70-point season since the lockout shortened year. Looking more like a dream than an inevitability.

  • Pat

    What’s your advice on goaltending during a rebuild? I am currently sitting on Rask, Hellebuyck, and Vasilevskiy in a 12 team, 21 man roster, keep 14 pool, only wins for goalies, playoffs included. I don’t expect to be competitive next year, so I don’t mind waiting to see how Hellebuyck and Vas’ situations play out, but will realistically only be able to protect 1, or maybe 2, of them after next year. Should I keep them based on skill? Track record? Potential future situation? I can afford to wait to see how Winnipeg and Tampa handle Pavelec and Bishop after next year, but also have good offers for both my young goalies in the meantime. Logic tells me to keep Rask, but if Vas does get Tampa’s #1 spot, then I see that as home run.

    • Chris Liggio

      if this is keeper you should kick the tires on returns for Rask.

    • steve laidlaw

      Rask is a no-brainer to keep. I’d need the full roster to really know who all to keep but you don’t just give up star goalies in their prime. My advice would likely be to hang onto all three goalies and see what shakes out. If you do get an offer for one of them, it should be a deal that consolidates your keepers. You are rebuilding so you need to be getting the single best asset in every deal. Depth won’t help you the way it will help a contender.