- Hockey Rambling
- Written by Darren Kennedy
I remember when I first came across this site a number of years ago. At the time I was regularly buying three or four of the print fantasy magazines that come out every fall. I can honestly say that no guide goes into the level of detail that Dobber does – from team strategies, to projections, and advanced stats, it’s all there in spades.
I’ve been seeing an oddly high number of Ovechkin trades on twitter of late. It’s hard to say what exactly is precipitating the action. He turns 29 in September, which, typically, is an age where you will start to worry about goal scorers. Washington didn’t do a tonne to augment their offence this summer, which means teams will once again be able to ‘sell-out’ defensively against his line at even strength.
Am I concerned? No, not really. It’s still Ovechkin – the best goal scorer of his generation. The same guy who potted 51 and fired 386 shots (first in both categories), as recently as last season.
It did, however, get me thinking about the not too distant future when Ovechkin will, like every superstar player before him, hit the downslope of his career. It’s not fun to think about, especially if he’s on your squad. But the nature of fantasy hockey is that you have to have one eye on the present the other one trying to see off into the future. 30 years old can be a troublesome time for athletes. *Looks over at Eric Staal poster on the wall… sheds a single tear*
Eric Tulsky did some nice work on aging and its impact on offensive statistics. It’s great work. The counter point to this research could be: perhaps star players like Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, and Ovechkin are more immune to decline than average NHLers (If you’ve seen this studied anywhere across the web before, I’d love to see it in the comments).
Anecdotally, I don’t believe this to be the case. Guys like Kovalchuk, Heatley, Iginla, Thornton – once upon a time fantasy-elite, all started to slow, to some degree, after reaching the big three-zero. That’s far from a representative sample, but worth keeping in mind at the very least.
All of this is a needlessly long way of me saying that it’s not time to worry about Ovechkin – not yet. However, the time to worry is approaching. Whereas three years ago his decline was some ineffable future state – a world with hover cars and robotic butlers – it’s now a growing spec on the no-so-distant horizon.
We’ll get there eventually. But until then, enjoy the ride (and stop trading him for less than market value, dammit!)
Jake Gardiner’s new five year, $20.25 million contract is a nice sign for Toronto’s blueline (thankfully Carlyle wasn’t able to run him out of town).
What interests me the most, however, is Cody Franson. And not he himself, it’s his impact on Morgan Rielly. Last year Franson saw 2:54 on the powerplay each night. Second most on the team, trailing only Phaneuf at 3:17. There are persistent rumors that the Leafs may deal him, since he’ll be a UFA at the end of the year.
Now, he may not be dealt until the deadline. Toronto isn’t bursting with defensive depth – they still need him. But if and when he moves, that’s almost three minutes prime fantasy time for Rielly to gobble up.
It will depend on your draft day strategy, but if you can draft the 20-year-old and hold onto him for the year, there could be a significant uptick in production by the time 2015 rolls around.
The one that really intrigues me is Niemi/Stalock in San Jose. It’s a bit of a perfect storm, with the early playoff exist, Stalock’s strong numbers last year, and the fact that Niemi is a UFA this summer and will be looking for a raise on his $3.8 million salary. If there was a year to drop him down a few slots on your board, this might be it.
Kent Wilson of Flames Nation took a look at Calgary’s goaltending situation and what the addition of Jonas Hiller could mean:
Over his last 4500 even strength shots, Hiller has stopped an above average 92.4% of them. In two of those seasons, he managed near elite numbers (.931 and .936) and only one year did he dip below average (.915). This suggests Hiller has a true talent in the .920-.925 range, absent some injury or age related step backwards.
I don’t typically think of Hiller as one of the games top 15 goalies, so these numbers caught me a bit by surprise. He’ll struggle to get wins, and that goals against average is going to be an issue no matter how herculean Giordano’s efforts are. But if you’re in a league with saves and save percentage as categories, maybe he as value as a low end number two tender or high-end three.
Your crazy factoid of the day (I’m told a factoid is essentially just a fact, but I prefer factoid – sounds all fancy-like): of goalies that played 41 or more games, Sergei Bobrovsky had the sixth best even strength save percentage (.931%). Behind only Rask, Varlamov, Price, Bishop, and Bernier.
I’ve been driving the “Bobrovsky should be treated as a top 10 option” bus for a couple seasons now. I’ll continue to drive said bus, at least until it gets a flat tire, or Jack Johnson starts allowing too many prime scoring chances. Whichever happens first.
This isn’t really fantasy related, but stick with me here. There has been a lot of buzz around the internet around the upcoming Batman-Superman cross-over movie. I’m nervous about it. Ideally Christian Bale would have been back as the Caped Crusader. He isn’t. They went with Affleck, and I’ve got reservations. Also, the script for Superman: Man of Steel wasn’t all that impressive, and apparently a lot of the writing crew is back for this one.
Of course even with my doubts – it’s Batman versus Superman. It’s what we’ve all wanted since we were old enough to want things. Little kids tug on their Dad’s coats at the grocery store asking “Daddy, why can’t Batman and Superman be in a movie together?” Well they are, finally.
In hockey, we sort of had our climatic ‘best versus best’ moment a few years ago when Crosby and Ovechkin played each other in the 2009 playoffs. I bring this up as a sort of tie in to the looming decline of both players – a decline that will likely hit at some point over the next five or so seasons.
We need at least one more memory. One more playoff series. One more game. One more moment.
I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed hockey for hockey’s sake as much as I did that series. There is something innately special about watching arguably the two best players of a generation at the peak of their powers. Immovable object versus unstoppable force – pick your narrative.
Maybe Affleck and Cavill will let us all down. Another ill-fated summer blockbuster with too many bells and whistles and not enough direction. But as long as they’re making Batman and Superman movies I’ll be lined up outside the theatre, begrudgingly ready to hand over 15 bucks.
Darren Kennedy (@fantasyhockeydk) is a writer for Dobber and Mckeen’s Hockey. He’ll talk about anything and everything. Except Kovalchuk. Never, ever, Kovalchuk.