More on Doan, Ribeiro, the Islanders and outdoor hockey…

 

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The Fantasy Guide has been updated with information on the Timonen/Del Zotto situation as well as the inclusion of the annual PDO article.

 

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I’ve heard some whispers that Shane Doan might be a real good buy-low/rebound candidate. The theory goes that Doan started out hot scoring 12 goals and 23 points through his first 27 games before coming down with a case of rocky mountain fever. Upon his return he struggled with just eight points in 18 games before the Olympic break. With two weeks to rest up Doan finished the season hard with 14 points in 21 games.

 

It’s a nice narrative. If you suck away those 18 games of struggles mid-season then that’s 37 points in 48 games, a 63-point pace over 82 games. And if you consider the time missed plus the time struggled a result of a fluke illness then presumably Doan would have been able to swing that 63-point season.

 

I’m not buying all of that though. Even including his “recovery” games mid-season Doan shot 13.8% despite being a 10.3% career shooter so he’s also a reasonable candidate for regression.

 

You also have to account for the absence of Mike Ribeiro who was bought out by the Coyotes this summer. Obviously things went sour between the Coyotes and Ribeiro over the second half of last season but Ribeiro was also instrumental in Doan’s early season success.

 

Ribeiro was Doan’s most frequent centerman throughout the season and in the early going they appeared to have some good chemistry. It wasn’t until the second half when things really started to go off the rails for Ribeiro. So losing a playmaker like that will only hurt Doan’s bid for future success.

 

If we discount the time spent with a quality Ribeiro and the time spent still recovering from illness then we would look only at Doan’s final 21 games, in which, if you recall, he scored 14 points, which makes for a 54-point pace. That’s admittedly a small sample size but 54-points sounds a lot more reasonable for a guy like Doan.

 

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While we’re here… I just dug this up on Ribeiro. Apparently he was having marital issues, which derailed him in Phoenix. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here and say that if anyone is a bounce-back candidate from that Coyotes team then it’s surely Ribeiro. He is on a new team, hopefully far enough away from his emotional distress to maintain focus, and with a one-year “prove it” contract that should definitely help with said focus.

 

Oh yeah, and the Predators added that James Neal guy who is pretty good at scoring goals.

 

If you had to bet on one of Doan or Ribeiro reaching 60 points next season, who would you take?

 

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The Flyers signed Ryan White to a two-way deal. This is only fantasy relevant if there are some injuries and they need a goon. In which case White could be a nice pickup for a week or two but I’m not suggesting owning him in even the deepest of leagues right now.

 

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The Hockey Writers take a look at the Islanders’ defense:

 

One of the better surprises to the Islanders 2013-14 season was the emergence of defensive prospect Calvin de Haan. While de Haan had been highly touted since being drafted with the #12 pick in the same draft year as John Tavares, he was sidelined with a stream of injuries that seemed to hamper his development. After a season-ending shoulder injury in 2012-13, de Haan finally squashed the injury bug and was able to remain healthy for the entirety of last season. He started in Bridgeport but as the injuries mounted on the Island, de Haan was called up to provide a lift and never looked back. With his smooth skating ability and overall hockey sense, de Haan put up a respectable 16 points in 51 games with the pro club. An even more promising statistic was that his Corsi relative was a +5.2, leading many to believe he could continue to develop into a future top-2 defenseman for the Islanders in the near future.

 

I’m not over the moon for de Haan. He’s got some nice potential and if you can get him on the cheap then by all means but I don’t think you should overpay. He’s still injury prone until we see otherwise and has some competition if he wants a shot at top power play minutes.

 

For one, Lubomir Visnovsky is back after a year of struggling with injuries of his own. Visnovsky may not actually prove that tough a hurdle as he hasn’t had a healthy season since 2010-11, not coincidentally, his last productive season. But he’s still the frontrunner because of his skill and experience.

 

Also in the mix is TJ Brennan, who lit up the AHL for a point-per-game pace the last two years. Brennan is on a one-way deal, indicating the Islanders intend on giving him a real shot. He might be a one-dimensional guy but if he proves strong enough at that one dimension then he can lock down the lone defenseman spot on the Islanders’ power play.

 

And that’s key to note, there will be only one spot available for a defenseman on the Islanders’ top power play because they have so much talent up front that it would just be inefficient to roll two defensemen with the man advantage.

 

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More on the Islanders…

 

At the risk of stepping on my own toes as I spoke to this in the Fantasy Guide, I’m hard on Frans Nielsen as a regression candidate for this season.

Consider that he did most of his damage during the first quarter of the NHL season scoring 21 points in his first 21 games. He scored 37 in 59 the rest of the way – a 51-point pace much more in line with his career numbers.

Nielsen also scored on 15.0% of his shots despite being a 10.4% career shooter. That screams regression right there.

 

The Islanders just got much deeper with forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin signed for big free agent money as well as young prospects like Ryan Strome and Michael Dal Colle potentially grabbing big minutes, not just on the power play but also at even strength.

 

Nielsen set career highs for goals, assists, points, PPP, SOG and minutes played. It’s entirely possible that this is simply a player coming into his own with a combination of great opportunity and skill to match but odds are something comes along to derail his progress.

 

The big key is seeing whether one of Strome or Grabovski steals his top unit power play spot. You have to figure Strome is taking it eventually. It’s just a matter of when, not if. If it’s this year then Nielsen’s upside goes way down. If it’s next then you might scratch another 50-point campaign from him. Either way, I’m not expecting him to continue improving.

 

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Sean McIndoe has some sage advice for those of us freaking out over hefty contract extensions; don’t:

 

When in doubt, just wait for the next deal: Does anyone remember Phil Kessel’s extension? Signed on the eve of last season, his eight-year, $64 million deal was the largest ever handed out by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The deal drew its share of criticism from Leafs fans and outright mockery from fans of other teams. Ten months (and another 80-point season) later, a very similar player in Kane signs for $20 million more, and Kessel suddenly seems like a bargain-bin deal.

That has a funny way of happening. If Kane and Toews seem overpaid now, check back when Anze Kopitar re-signs with the Kings this time next year.

 

I made sure to include that Kopitar point in my excerpt because I am REALLY curious to see how much he pulls in.

 

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With all this news about NHL teams hiring analytics guys Elliotte Friedman went searching for one of the progenitors of hockey analytics – a real interesting profile.

 

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The San Jose Sharks will host an outdoor game next year with the LA Kings visiting. Should be an excellent event if the game at Dodgers Stadium last year was any indication. I said after that one was such a success that if the NHL went back to a warm venue for their outdoor game that I’d have to go. Didn’t think they’d go back to the well so soon. That being said, this is looking REAL tempting for me.

 

I have to be honest, I love the notion of the outdoor game but I don't actually want to go to most of them. A game played in a cold climate has little appeal to me. If it’s cold or windy or snowing or all of the above then I’m going to be miserable and I’m not going to have a good view. I know it’s about the atmosphere but it doesn’t strike me as different from going to a football game, which is similarly miserable when the weather doesn’t cooperate and only mildly enjoyable when the weather is nice.

 

Don’t get me wrong on the live experience. I love live hockey (and basketball) when I can actually see the action taking place and the conditions are favourable. Remove both of those factors and I’d sooner be at home on my couch.

 

So I can justify going to an outdoor game in California because the weather conditions should be favourable so at least I won’t be miserable. Plus it’s an excuse to leave Northwestern Ontario in February, which, if you’ve ever been here then you’ll know that any excuse will do.

 

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An oral history of The Mighty Ducks. Classic!

 

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You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

Comments  

#11 Isle B. 2014-08-08 23:40
On the one hand you rightly acknowledge that the isles are likely to go with 4 forwards on the 1st PP unit, but then, in the very next sentence, you tab Nielsen to be a prime candidate to take a tumble. He IS that 4th Isles' forward who plays the point!

I totally agree with de Haan, though. He had an impressive rookie season and could be a very good defenseman but for years to come, but I don't see him as ever being a big point producer.
#10 number54 2014-08-08 22:31
Quoting strikelucky:
In a keeper s league points only Malkin or Crosby with my first pick overall ?? THank you !

Unquestionably Sid. He has never played a full season with fewer than 100 points. Pretty much the deal is this: if he's healthy he wins the Art Ross. He's the only NHLer to boast that stat, btw.
#9 strikelucky 2014-08-08 20:33
In a keeper s league points only Malkin or Crosby with my first pick overall ?? THank you !
#8 Rodgort 2014-08-08 14:48
I too agree that these ramblings were good
#7 rataylor22 2014-08-08 14:34
Totally agree on the outdoor stuff.
#6 JimmyMac 2014-08-08 14:23
Awesome ramblings, Steve! You set a high bar around here.
#5 joee 2014-08-08 12:53
Very good read Steve! The islanders points were excelelnt as I'm worried about Strome seeing the third line the whole season.
#4 donpaulo 2014-08-08 11:14
Agree with Darren, great writeup. I think the Islander blueline is a drama half written at this point
#3 Darren Kennedy 2014-08-08 11:05
Nice ramblings Steve, and even a Mighty Ducks article!
#2 metaldude26 2014-08-08 05:39
Disagree. The Islanders play with only one true point man with Nielsen playing the left half-wall. He definitely plays a key role on their power play but it isn't necessarily a position that a defenseman would replace but rather a player with solid playmaking and hockey sense would grab, which is why Strome has a real shot at taking that spot.

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