Thoughts on Zatkoff vs. Greiss, the issue of tanking, the New Jersey Devils and more …


Back from vacation, but not really. Drance is enjoying sunny Cancun and I couldn't find a replacement for him. So with me camping with the wife and kids…I have these ramblings prepared in advance. I'm back Sunday, so the Monday ramblings will be fresh - not that you need them to be all that updated in mid-August…as if you needed my fast take on the Kyle Beach news (he signed to play in Austria).

Ah Beach. I remember having him too low on my Prospects Rankings and it drove some of the readers nuts. From age 18 to 20, he was too low and that was consistently the biggest criticism at the time. It just goes to show - these are prospects, and the ones who take the longest to make the jump are also the bigger risks. Beach, as a power forward in a deep Chicago system, was five years away at best. Easy to keep out of the Top 200 list.


I guess it was just my instinct that caused me to assume that Thomas Greiss will be the backup for the Penguins this year. After all, he's a really good goaltender who is somewhat proven and was signed by the new Pittsburgh management (i.e. Jim Rutherford). But I'm reminded that Zatkoff was actually an underrated goaltender in his own right and he played fantastic in a backup role last season. He is also on a one-way contract - though it was signed with the old management regime. My money is still on Greiss, but Zatkoff shouldn't be counted out. The fact that his contract is for two years hints to me that the Pens are hoping that Greiss can show 'starter' ability and that in 2015-16 they would have a Greiss-Zatkoff tandem.


Is the NHL taking the first step towards preventing the use of their stats for things like pool managing sites and advanced stats sites, as well as other tools like Frozen Pool? Puck Daddy makes note of a change in's Terms of Service. A snippet of the wording:

"You may not - Engage in unauthorized spidering, scraping, or harvesting of content or information, or use any other unauthorized automated means to compile information;"


MLB tried to claim rights over their stats against fantasy baseball - and lost the court battle. But had they won, they would not like the results. Sure, some of the big sites would pay the "rights fees" to run fantasy baseball…but if all the little guys bow out, fantasy baseball takes a big hit. And, by extension, so would TV ratings. Most fantasy owners enjoy watching their players on TV. If it's difficult or more expensive to play fantasy sports…they won't play anymore. Which means they won't watch the games, other than their favorite team. In the end, the sport's growth would stop, and the revenue lost would not make up for the revenue gained by selling "rights". The NFL has this right, and I thought the NHL did too. Here's hoping!


The issue of tanking comes up all the time in fantasy hockey. Occasionally it comes up with the real NHL too, though not as much now that we have the draft lottery. But in seasons such as the one we are about to enter, it becomes a hot topic. The Connor McDavid year. This is a generational superstar (potentially) along the same lines as Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin. It's not your typical year (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov) and it's not your exceptional year (John Tavares, Nathan MacKinnon). This is your Crosby year. I already decided six months ago that when the 2014-15 season is over, I would offer Anze Kopitar to the owner with the top pick. Because even if it doesn't work out, you have to take a chance on getting a Crosby at a pre-Crosby price and I'll go bold to get the deal done.

As for tanking and the moral implications - who cares? I'm all for tanking in fantasy hockey. Do whatever you can for a better team and if you and another team are destroying yourselves for that top draft spot, then good luck. One team will ruin themselves for a Mike Modano-type (Jack Eichel), the other team will do it for the Crosby-type. Either way, the cost of tanking will be two or three more years of recovery. If you want to suffer through what could be four years of bad teams in total, then you've earned the glory of having a good team led by a superstar for the six or seven years that follow. Zero problem with tanking. Although, in my league there are several rules in place to discourage it enough that - if you really want to tank you either a) have a bad team anyway and tanking doesn't take much effort and/or b) it's a McDavid year. These rules that I have are:

1. The Bottom 5 teams in the league can't compete in the playoffs - so no money can be won in the postseason for those owners.

2. The Bottom 5 teams compete with each other in the playoffs. The playoff points that their players have are removed from the regular season totals, giving the those teams a shot at the top draft pick if their playoff players perform well enough.


Lou Lamoriello on Ilya Kovalchuk's potential return to the Devils (in case, for some nutty reason, you were holding out hope):

“I’ll answer that the best way you can. He cannot come back until he is 35. He’s (31) now. You’d never look at someone coming back at 35 when he’s (31).”


Funny quote in the above NJ article from owner Josh Harris:

"It was a disappointing season. I see it. I was unhappy. I didn’t like being home watching the playoffs on TV. I wanted to be in the playoffs. That’s not lost on me. At the same time, good people and good systems can have disappointing years. We’re long term. We’re focused on making this a great franchise over the long term.”

Mr. Harris, are you paying attention to your club? The key players on it are Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky. You patch up your offensive needs by signing the likes of Mike Cammalleri and Ryane Clowe. You draft guys like Stefan Matteau and the only forward in your pipeline with anywhere near top-six upside is Reid Boucher. Long term? Bullshit. You have a quality young(ish) goaltender and several great young defensemen on the way - but your forwards are a mess and there is nothing on the way that will help this. I was just writing about the issue of "tanking" above - you guys should look into it, seriously. McDavid would save you!


Former DobberHockey writer Chris Burns and his struggle with depression:


#4 audiopile 2014-08-20 18:29
My keeper league has a draft lottery for the bottom three teams. A good way to discourage tanking but still allowing weaker teams to grow.

Overall I don't see it worth the risk. We had a guy tank for Yakupov, still hasn't paid off, maybe never will.
#3 Potatoeman 2014-08-17 22:07
On the subject of tanking, while morally I don't have very strong objections to it, the problem it can also cause is a GM getting tired of his bad team and quitting before his team gets any good which, in a fixed number of teams league, means you got to find a new GM to take over, and that can sometimes be a pain.
#2 donpaulo 2014-08-17 21:24
In Harris' Devils land he is building long term. While depression is in the headlines, never forget that denial can create terrible situations too.
#1 Shoeless 2014-08-17 17:44
Thanks for sharing Burnsy's video, Dobber. I remember his articles from the early days and have often wondered what he was up to. This answers that question.

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