Ryan Kesler's offensive slowdown is due to teams figuring out how to defend against him. Much like Canada did against Ovechkin during the Olympics, teams learned that Kesler likes to cut into the zone to the right and shoot against the grain. They are simply applying back pressure with a forward on that side and he no longer has that option.
Mason Raymond is also struggling (he's bad a pretty bad year overall), but Kesler hasn't had the same offensive opportunities he had earlier in the season. Kesler is also routinely logging 20-22 tough minutes each game.
My top 10 Keeper League Prospect Defensemen list is done - just putting the finishing touches on it. Seven from my previous list have graduated (more than 25 NHL games played), so there is a lot of fresh blood on this list. Any guesses?
Dobber - Prospect Rankings are up. A couple of times per year I'll do a pretty thorough audit, and this is one of those times. I really enjoyed it - spent a good 35 hours on the project over the last week. Love the result. You'll notice some big oversights corrected - players shooting far up (or down) the list. You want a nice, accurate evaluation of your prospects, this is it. Enjoy!
If healthy this season, Drew Stafford would be on pace for 68 points. Is it safe to put him anywhere near that number in 2011-12? Does Brad Boyes cut into his ice time at all?
Skill has never been in question with Stafford, but consistency and effort have.
Alex Steen is out for the remainder of the season with a high-ankle sprain.
Fantasy hockey MVP - Corey Perry? Two more goals last night. He's been all over the stat sheet all season long.
Lubo Visnovsky has eight points in his last four games. He'll crack 60 points and could hit 65-70 with a strong finish.
Cory Stillman has five points in six games since the trade.
Cory Schneider is starting for the Canucks tonight in San Jose.
I nabbed Blake Wheeler in the DobberHockey Expert's League. I have been stuck near the bottom all season (goaltending being the main issue - drafted Rask and this is a weekly league), but am hoping to charge up the standings and at the very least beat Dobber!
Ian Cole and Alex Piertrangelo both scored for the Blues. Along with Shattenkirk, a trio of very impressive young offensive defensemen.
Alex Steen left the game midway through with an injury. More to come.
Jake Voracek has five points in his last three games.
The Washington goaltending situation is getting dangerously close to becomming a trifecta of issues - Braden Holtby is for real. He isn't as quick as Neuvirth or as flashy as Varlamov, but he is big and positionally sound. He had a shut out last night (sure, it was the Oilers, but they do have some talented players).
Eric Fehr missed the past 22 games with a shoulder injury - his first game back (last night), he lights the lamp twice.
With Backstrom out, Marcus Johansson saw almost 19 minutes of ice time (he recorded an assist). Short-term opportunity exists depending on severity of Backstrom's injury.
Backstrom missed his first career NHL game last night.
We won’t find out the true winner of the Johnson/Stewart trade for a few years, but the Blues have to like what they received in return.
Shattenkirk is still developing but he continues to show flashes of offensive brilliance.
Dennis Wideman had an assist for the Caps - he also had three shots on goal and saw almost seven minutes of PP time.
Ovechkin has 14 points in his last 10 games. He has recorded at least one point in nine of those contests. Whatever he was dealing with earlier in the season (looked like an injury to be) is now a thing of the past.
Stewart is playing exactly like he did last year – mean, big, fast, skilled, and confident. His OT winner last night (his second of the game, to boot) was a thing of beauty. Evidence is posted at the bottom of the ramblings.
Calgary is maximizing their return on Anton Babchuk this season – he’s been an offensive revelation in limited ice time.
Jamie Benn scored a goal (you’ll read that statement a lot over the next 10+ years) and he played almost 25 minutes.
Another successful Vancouver Giant graduate – Tomas Vincour, scored his first career NHL goal. Big and skilled, but a bit of a project. He could be fantasy relevant in two or three years.
Brian Campbell missed the game with an injury and Dave Bolland left the game with an injury. The dreaded lower body and upper body injuries, respectively.
Jonathan Toews had three points and seven shots on goal. The best forward in the NHL over the past two or three months.
Brian Rafalski missed another game – he continues to be day-to-day with a lingering back issue. Frustrating as a fantasy owner – I’d prefer something definitive. This is the third straight game I have dressed him and wasted a lineup spot.
Jason Botchford of the Province with a great column on the Sedin twins (1 and 3 in league scoring). Sums up how they are viewed in Vancouver - greatness becomes expectation.
Right now, if I am picking 1st overall in the 2011 draft from a fantasy perspective – give me Nugent-Hopkins. Ryan Murphy isn’t far behind, though.
One prospect to keep an eye on next year – Boston’s Ryan Spooner. Undersized but crafty – he could find his way into the lineup for 2011-12. I may talk about Boston prospects a lot – they have a number of players who for some reason fly below the radar – Spooner, Jordan Caron, Max Sauve, Jared Knight, Matt Bartkowski, and so on.
This is a fantasy hockey site, but the Chara/Pacioretty story can’t be ignored. Pacioretty is “disgusted’ with the decision, and I don’t blame him.
A certain Finnish prospect was recently brought to my attention - Teemu Pulkkinen. He was picked in the 4th round by the Red Wings last year. I’ll post what I received from a Finnish hockey friend of mine:
“This year as a rookie in SM-liiga he has 50 points (17+33) in 52 games and is a sure lock for the local Rookie of the Year Trophy (beating for example Joel Armia, who has been in some NHL mock drafts in top 10). And these points have come with fairly low 16:31 TOI playing in the third line. And his team is not even among the top teams in the league.
Even though he has more assists than goals this season, he is more a pure sniper type player than playmaker. He has a very sharp shot and fairly quick feet, but on the minus side he needs to improve his defensive game. My personal opinion is that he is readier for the NHL than Mikael Granlund because his playing style is already quite North American.
Check him out on youtube.”
As usual, Elliotte Friedman’s take on the Chara/Pacioretty hit is bang on.
Stephen Weiss with an epic shift last week:
Martin St. Louis… nasty:
Chris Stewart with a goal most players could only dream of doing – makes Clitsome look silly and then goes shelf on the back hand: