Ramblings: Raanta and Dell Providing Value as Backups (Mar 7)

by steve laidlaw on March 7, 2017 | (4 Comments)
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Raanta and Dell Providing Value as Backups (Mar 7)

Ramblings: Raanta and Dell providing value as backups.

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Antti Raanta got the start for the Rangers last night, his 18th of the season. You get the sense that the Rangers would have liked that number to be even higher, considering Henrik Lundqvist’s age and how well Raanta has performed. If not for an injury in January followed by some personal leave he might have started more already.

Lundqvist is finally showing signs of being human. At 35 Lundqvist is having his worst year in a decade. You cannot write him off but you have to figure that the Rangers are going to be asking a lot more of their backups in the coming years.

Raanta has another year on his deal at a cheap rate before hitting unrestricted free agency. He might push for 30 starts next season, which would push him into range as one of the league’s top backups. He definitely warrants consideration as a handcuff option much like James Reimer to Roberto Luongo.

We’ve got a few long-time stud starters hitting their mid-to-late 30’s who may be relying on their backups more and more. There’s no more obvious example than how Juuse Saros has pushed Pekka Rinne in Nashville but in that case, it is clear that Saros will succeed Rinne at some point. Looking beyond that situation, I am curious to see what the Blackhawks and Kings do with their backup positions.

Both the Blackhawks and Kings look set to lose their backup this season. In years past, the Kings skimped on backups to spend elsewhere, using Jonathan Quick for 70-or-so starts. It seems after this year’s groin injury that the Kings will rely on him less heavily. Given how strong the Kings’ defensive structure is, the backup position could be lucrative. They don’t have the next Martin Jones waiting to come up so they may have to spend in free agency. It will be interesting to see who they bring in.

The Blackhawks don’t necessarily need a great backup, Corey Crawford is at the tail end of his prime. He has struggled enough that Scott Darling has had to save their bacon on a few occasions. He’s headed towards free agency and a potential starting gig elsewhere. They brought Lars Johansson over from Europe but hasn’t been particularly strong in his first North American season. The Blackhawks don’t appear to have their heir apparent ready to come up either. Count them as another team headed towards interesting options at the backup spot.

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Raanta posted a shutout, stopping all 38 shots that he faced. He outlasted Andrei Vasilevskiy in a goalie battle. Vasilevskiy has been strong since getting handed the reins. He is making Steve Yzerman look good for his gambit of selling Ben Bishop.

Mika Zibanejad scored the overtime winner, a rare bit of production for him. After a hot start, he got hurt and he hasn’t been the same since returning from injury with 10 points in 21 games. None of his points since returning have come on the power play where he had been doing damage early in the year. It’s not for lack of opportunity, the Rangers’ power play just stinks.

Zibanejad still has value, especially in leagues scoring faceoff wins, but in most leagues he’s likely waiver fodder.

Good to see Ryan McDonagh contributing last night. He had been held scoreless in the six previous games. Looker on a grander scale, McDonagh has just 10 points in 27 games in 2017. As good of a value as he has been, he is on the chopping block heading towards fantasy playoffs.

Derek Stepan is on the chopping block as well. All the underlying numbers are there for him, he just hasn’t been producing. He has skated 20+ minutes on many nights recently, with top unit power play deployment but he hasn’t registered a PPP since February 5th. Stepan hasn’t scored a goal since January 17th. Since his last goal he has eight assists in 21 games. Not cutting it. Not when guys like Mathieu Perreault and Bo Horvat are red hot and sitting on the waiver wire in most formats.

You can play the chopping block game with just about the entire Ranger roster. Here are their scorers since January 1:

 

GP

Points

MILLER,J.T.

27

22

GRABNER,MICHAEL

24

16

ZUCCARELLO,MATS

27

16

HAYES,KEVIN

22

15

SKJEI,BRADY

27

15

KREIDER,CHRIS

27

14

STEPAN,DEREK

27

14

NASH,RICK

24

12

MCDONAGH,RYAN

27

10

ZIBANEJAD,MIKA

21

10

HOLDEN,NICK

27

9

LINDBERG,OSCAR

25

9

BUCHNEVICH,PAVEL

19

8

CLENDENING,ADAM

18

7

FAST,JESPER

20

5

VESEY,JIMMY

27

5

GIRARDI,DANIEL

21

5

PIRRI,BRANDON

18

4

KLEIN,KEVIN

19

4

STAAL,MARC

18

2

PUEMPEL,MATT

9

2

SMITH,BRENDAN

3

0

KAMPFER,STEVEN

2

0

JENSEN,NICKLAS

3

0

HRIVIK,MAREK

3

0

GLASS,TANNER

1

0

 

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Colour me intrigued by Adam Erne, the Lightning rookie who has been playing a third-line role since the trade deadline exodus. He is also scooping up secondary PP time. In all, Erne has one goal in nine NHL games but he also has 18 SOG, including six last night. He is also hitting people with 24 already.

Erne hasn’t shown the mastery of the AHL level that I like to see having scored 26 points in 39 games this season but perhaps his value isn’t as a scorer but as a multi-category contributor who can pitch in with some offense. We haven’t seen the PIM at the NHL level but Erne is up over a PIM per game in the AHL.

If you’ve enjoyed what Josh Anderson has provided for the Blue Jackets this season, there’s a good chance that Erne could help you in your league. Read more on Erne here.

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Kari Lehtonen defeated the Washington Capitals last night and performed well doing it. That was his second straight win with 40+ saves. In fact, Lehtonen has won four of his last five starts, all four of those wins of the quality start variety. Lehtonen actually has 11 quality starts in his last 17 appearances.

The problem is that when Lehtonen is bad it’s an implosion. It makes it so that it’s damn near impossible to cherry pick a run of hot play.

There is some evidence to suggest that Lehtonen has actually been good this season but that the Stars’ defense has been allowing such high-quality chances that Lehtonen’s numbers have been substandard. I don’t necessarily buy this theory but I do wonder if the Stars have just been so bad that no goalie could look good behind this team.

Jiri Hudler was a healthy scratch after three straight scoreless outings. Probably safe to write him off after a brief dalliance on the Stars’ top PP unit. Instead, they had Patrick Sharp and Cody Eakin skating with the big guns. Sharp netted a pair of points.

We saw the return of the loaded top line with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza skating together at even strength. This could bail Spezza owners out at just the right time. Spezza has three goals and five points in his last four games.

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Alex Ovechkin has gone quiet again. He has just one point in the last six games. Not a big enough sample to get concerned, especially because his minutes are up but it’s worth pointing out because he didn’t have a great start to the season, either.

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Alex Burrows has three goals and four points since joining the Senators. He’s only skating about 12-13 minutes per game and only secondary PP usage. Enjoy the surge while it lasts but I suspect this is a short-term thing and may wear off by the time your fantasy playoffs start. My point being, don’t go out of your way to bring him on but if you’ve got room he’s worth exploiting. It helps Burrows’ cause that he is getting a regular shift with Mark Stone who is a driver of offense.

Stone was held scoreless in his first three games back from injury but has assists in back-to-back games. Good sign. Stone is one of the better second-half players in the league.

Since Craig Anderson’s return Mike Condon has started three out of 12 games. I feel safe in dumping Condon at some point in advance of the fantasy playoffs but I’ll probably wait until Saturday or Sunday just to be sure. I will be making the move during this week’s matchup in order to save my moves for the following week just in case I need to get a couple of extra man games or injury replacements.

The next time someone tells you that Erik Karlsson isn’t a good defensive player:

That was highlight machine David Pastrnak he eliminated on that play. Brilliant.

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Martin Jones has been quietly mediocre over the past month. His numbers since February 4th: 3-1-4, 2.72 GAA, 0.901 SV%. I definitely cherry picked to get those numbers. He’s much closer to league average if you include his other two starts since the All-Star break. But the point is that he has been slumping, at the wrong time for fantasy owners.

Enter Aaron Dell, who has come out of nowhere to provide some elite numbers as a backup. He has started three of the last seven games for San Jose and won them all in impressive fashion. If you are hurting in goal, Dell is worth considering. He might even start some more down the stretch to help keep Jones fresh, although any thoughts of him stealing the #1 gig would be premature.

If you are a Jones owner, you may especially want to consider this handcuff.

Joe Thornton finally notched his 1,000th career assist. First ballot Hall-of-Famer.

As well as Kevin Labanc has played, he hasn’t been particularly relevant for fantasy despite some top line deployment. He hasn’t scored an NHL goal in the 2017 calendar year. 25 straight games while playing a ton of shifts alongside the aforementioned Thornton.

Labanc was a healthy scratch last night with Melker Karlsson grabbing his top line gig. Joonas Donskoi returned from injury skating 14 minutes on the third line.

Jannik Hansen still has not joined the Sharks due to visa issues. Not that we expect him to be fantasy relevant.

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Mathieu Perreault saw his seven-game scoring streak come to an end last night. Still, he was on an impressive run clicking alongside Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. Even after a scoreless game, Perreault warrants consideration.

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Check out the latest DobberProspects ramblings for low down on some of the end-of-season prospect signings that have started to trickle in.

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Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

 

  • Alex Foltz

    So would you rather have Dell, Saros, Grubauer, or hang on to Budaj?

  • messier1701

    one thing about the rangers pp he always seems to take off a unit after 30 seconds, i would just stay with your best players for most of the time like pitt does, he just cycles the units too frequently. and changes the pp combinations every game, maybe develop some structure where same guys can go out. Not to criticize AV in ANY way i think he’s an amazing coach. looking at TB on theirs they seem way more assertive with passing and shots, rangers seem a little tentative, they definitely have enough skill to score some goals. It is interesting dumping some rangers who arent producing after this week since their playoff schedule does not seem great.

  • Nick Porter

    Good read as usual Steve

    While poking around frozen pool I noticed Esa Lindell has been seeing some top billing PP1 time, handfuls of this time being as the 1 Dman in the 4 forward setup. Not sure how long it has been going on but has anyone watched these games? How is he looking?

  • ChrisP

    Interesting to see Brady Skjei tied for 4th in the most points since Jan 1 ahead of some pretty important scorers for the Rangers.