Tuesday, Sept. 1

by Neil Parker

Tommy Wingels - USA Today Sports Images


Tommy Wingels, Milan Lucic, fun with keepers and a closer look at 10 players ranked out of whack at ESPN  ...


Our Ramblings have been a touch off kilter the past two days, so make sure to catch up with Ian's notes from yesterday.




Tommy Wingels is an interesting fantasy player entering his age-27 season. He has reached the 200-hit bar in consecutive seasons and been a swingman in and out of the top six.

His offensive output wasn't worth targeting in most formats, and especially if your fake league's settings don't include hits. He has scored 31 goals and posted 74 points through 152 games the past two seasons. 

The linked article suggested a breakout campaign is in the making, and it isn't out of the question to suggest Wingels puts together his best offensive season to date. Add his respectable shot totals to his hits and even a slight boost in offense could make Wingels a nice late-round grab.

Still, hits are his greatest asset, so you'll likely want to avoid him in leagues not including them. Plus, while 20 goals and 50 points are possible, it would be wiser to temper expectations for a 20-goal, 40-point showing.

All said, if you're playing in a league rewarding body checks, pump Wingels up a notch as a target in your draft. There is enough cross category production to buoy his fantasy stock, and there is the chance for another level of offense.

Those entering the daily racket should target high-volume shooters like Wingels as reliable low-budget contributors to fill out their lineup and open up cap room.




Milan Lucic talked about playing for the Vancouver Canucks recently.

The reality is the Los Angeles Kings aren't assembled to take on his likely salary demands in the offseason, so a one-year stint with the Kings is entirely possible.

What I have trouble envisioning is Lucic heading to what will be left of the Canucks for the 2016-17 season. He is a competitor who has won and played for strong hockey teams.

Vancouver is heading entirely in the wrong direction currently, and they should be looking at a rebuild.

Additionally, if Vancouver were to sign Lucic to be a go-to guy, he would become part of the problem and not the solution. It is nothing more than a guessing game at this point, but heading to a losing team doesn't seem likely for Lucic. Being counted on as a top-offensive producer doesn't seem ideal for his fantasy stock, either. He is a supporting piece.

For this season, you might want to pump the breaks with the power forward, too. On the surface, things appear solid, as Lucic could line up with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, but his foot speed could be a serious issue. Seeing Lucic relegated to the third line shouldn't shock anyone, and his power-play time isn't guaranteed, either.

It would be foolish to expect Lucic to completely bust, and he does enough in the peripheral categories to hold fantasy value. Just banking on 25 goals and a return to 60 points is a stretch, especially with Los Angeles willing to play to the 2-1 variety most nights.




I posted my keepers for one of my leagues, and apparently the team I inherited lacks draft picks. I floated a few trade offers over the summer for Sidney Crosby, but ultimately it made more sense to keep him, play a season, and reassess during the season or next summer.

The current roster looks strong, and there are enough young building blocks that it shouldn't be devastating to lose out on a number or early draft picks this year. A few boom-or-bust gambles might be in store.


1 Sidney Crosby

2 Drew Doughty

3 Mike Green

4 Braden Holtby

5 Blake Wheeler

6 Max Pacioretty

7 Mark Stone

8 Steve Mason

9 Kyle Okposo

10 John Klingberg

11 Eric Staal

12 Cody Franson


1 Patrick Maroon

2 Adam Clendening

3 Aaron Ekblad

4 Ryan Ellis

5 Michal Neuvirth

6 Philipp Grubauer

7 Ryan Murphy

8 Anders Lee

9 Radko Gudas

10 Martin Jones

11 Nikita Zadorov

12 Rasmus Ristolainen

13 Alex Killorn

14 J.T. Miller

15 James Reimer

16 Mika Zibanejad


Center is the only real weakness, but I suspect Crosby-Staal-Lee are more than capable of carrying the load. Lee is a favorite breakout target, and Staal is a well-known local of bounce-back territory entering the season.

Plus, with Neuvirth with the Philadelphia Flyers and donning a new mask, "it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."

Am I right?




One side note about keeper and dynasty leagues, it is a lot of fun to rebuild a team and look ahead, but remember the most important season in all leagues is the current one.

So much can change from year to year, and people often go wild with youth movements at the expense of their current roster. There can be sneaky value found in the reliable veterans.

The virtual games are all about having fun, so if building a team for the future is more important or fun than being competitive in the now, then go for it. Those looking to be competitive shouldn't rule out the boring veterans, like Franson who we're having fun talking about of late.




There was a commenter asking about ESPN's rankings … sure!



Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets, 8th forward: I'm enamoured with Johansen, but this is too high of a ranking. He is ahead of Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin and Corey Perry among others. Just meeting value is a best-case scenario, and us fantasy folk need to avoid those type of investments.

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames, 22nd forward: Logan Couture, Gabriel Landeskog, Zach Parise, Max Pacioretty and Anze Kopitar are all ranked lower, and they're all safer investments than Gaudreau. Making a pint-sized sophomore your No. 2 forward is ill-advised.

Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks, 37th forward: In an assists-only league, maybe. Sedin doesn't shoot, he doesn't take penalties, he doesn't score goals, and he might not crack 65 points. Let someone else take him, and in case you skimmed to here, I'm not very bullish on the Canucks.

Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers, 22nd defenseman: While the Blue Shirt captain is one of the safer rearguards in both the real and fake game, his upside is likely capped. Plus, don't overestimate what you're actually receiving. 35 points with a high-end plus/minus rating will only take you so far. Plus, he may lose power-play time to Keith Yandle.

Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avelanche, 9th goalie: It isn't outrageous, and Varlamov has a 40-win season on his resume. You're also endorsing your goalie's team when you select him, though, and hitching your wagon to Colorado's tender as your No. 1 in the fake game should be avoided.



Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers, 55th forward: Gobble it up while/if it lasts. Hall has a history of injuries, but his production while healthy is nearly elite, and he enters the season just 23 years old.

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning, 17th defenseman: A top-five talent on arguably the best team in the league, what's not to like? There have been injuries to interfere with his progression, but the cross-category production is roster-foundation material.

Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks, 16th goalie: Even if you expect Chicago to take a step back, and for Scott Darling to approach 25 starts, Crawford is a top-10 goalie. He has top-five upside and is one of the safest options between the pipes.

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins, 89th forward: Chips in across all categories and has scored 20 goals in all four of his full seasons in the league. With more openings in Boston, Marchand is on the verge of a career year at 27.

Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres, 82nd forward: If your league includes hits, Kane receives a huge boost, but even without them, he is a high-volume shooter who will see prime-time minutes for the first time in his career. There is huge upside, as Kane already has a 30-goal campaign on his resume, after all.




Thanks all.




2 Responses to “Tuesday, Sept. 1”

  1. Neil Parker says:

    I don't expect a "breakout" but an uptick could happen. You're looking at a 20-goal, 45-point ceiling with all kinds of hits. There is a lot of value in a lot of leagues, but without hits as a category, I would aim higher.

  2. audiopile says:

    Wingels was dropped in my league.  At his age it might be too late for a breakout. Thing is, when I look at SJs RW position I can't see who else will sit on those top 2 lines.