Fantasy mailbag is open for the weekend - ask your questions here.
I really want to work a $ sign into Bryan Bickell’s name, but it doesn’t fit anywhere. Either way, he is going to get PAID this summer. Another goal (and an assist) last night. I’d say about 29 other NHL teams could use a player like Bickell on line two or three. How much does he end up going for?
Is he a legit second line scorer? Or is this just the latest John Druce postseason hot streak?
Nick Hjalmarsson had two helpers and 25 minutes of ice time – he stepped up in a huge way without Duncan Keith.
Pat Kane had his best game in a while – a goal and seven shots on net, and way more involved offensively (as the SOG indicate) than he has been in any other game this series (or in recent postseason memory).
Andrei Loktionov will likely center the top line in NJD next year (or at least whatever line Kovalchuk is on). And he's close to re-signing.
Craig MacTavish was on Edmonton radio yesterday – reading between the lines, don’t be surprised to see both Hemsky and Horcoff elsewhere next season.
St. Louis forward Andy McDonald has officially retired, citing concussion issues as the reason. McDonald had a great career (too short, though), and he was instrumental in Anaheim’s Stanley Cup in 2007 – remember him centering Kunitz and Selanne on the top scoring unit?
“The last few years too much of the focus became worrying about the next hit. I was always thinking about it.” Said McDonald.
Retirement began creeping into McDonald’s head during the regular season but it wasn’t until after the Blues were eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings did he become 100% sure. He spent the last several weeks with his family and is confident now is the right time to move on with his life.
“I’m fortunate to get out now. I know I could play two or three more years and I love the game of hockey, but healthwise I know I shouldn’t be playing.”
For a little guy, McDonald always played with a lot of grit and tenacity.
Dallas Eakins had a second interview with the Canucks yesterday – the Stars and Rangers also like him. So did former player Mike Mottau, who played under Eakins with the Marlies.
Coaches have a significant impact on the fantasy performance of their players. Vigneault’s radical zone start strategy helped the Sedins win Art Ross titles, and it also helped Ryan Kesler score 40 goals. What kind of impact would Eakins have?
His AHL teams were always stingy defensively, but it is a lot different coaching at the NHL level in terms of personnel and the focus of the game (AHL is just as much about development as it is winning).
The Canucks will have their AHL affiliate play in Utica, New York next year. They purchased the Peoria organization as they wanted to have more control over the development of their prospects (which they didn’t have with the Chicago Wolves).
Vancouver doesn’t have a very good prospect pool – here are some fantasy-relevant guys who could be in Utica next year:
Nicklas Jensen – top six upside, big winger with a great shot
Frank Corrado – mobile defensive defenseman with a big point shot
Henrik Tommernes – skilled two-way defenseman who is coming over from Sweden
Eddie Lack – coming off of hip surgery, has lots of upside and potential but needs to start turning it into substance and on-ice success
The Bad: Despite the breakout season, the playoff series highlighted the ups and downs in Holtby’s brief career. Critics will rightfully point to his wretched performances in Games 3, 4, and 7 of the Rangers series, when he collectively allowed 13 goals.
And he couldn’t have picked a worse time to melt down than Game 7, allowing an ugly goal to Aaron Asham in the first period and initiating the 2012-13 version of the annual Washington Capitals spring-time swoon. Obviously, those performances have to cease for Holtby to be considered an elite NHL goaltender.
I’m still on the fence with Holtby in terms of elite upside, but he has shown that he can string together great games. Consistency will come, he’s still young. His teammates love playing for him, and that goes a long way.
Work has begun on the 2013-14 Fantasy Guide already. Last year I included advanced stats as a way to look at players and teams a bit differently.
I know not everybody is on board with advanced stats, and I am fine with that. A lot of times, they simply confirm what we see from watching hockey anyway. But one way or another (either using stats exclusively or completely ignoring them) is not the way to go. You need to use and have an understanding of all potential tools at your disposal when it comes to evaluating players.
An example – wouldn’t it be useful to know WHY a player saw a regression or a progression offensively? Could it be easier opposition? More offensive zone starts? Better luck? These things matter. You can ignore them completely and have your competition gain an advantage, or you can use them (in conjunction with opinion, watching the game, and instinctual thoughts too) to help create a fuller picture of analysis.
And unfortunately so many times the advanced stat debate turns into bloggers vs. mainstream media guys. It shouldn’t be that way. People get very defensive when advanced stats are criticized, and instead of lashing back out, they need to educate on why they are useful.
Another example – Corsi measures puck possession. Corsi, at its core, isn’t an advanced stat. It is just the difference between all shots directed on the opponent’s goal and all shots directed at a player’s own goal. What is so advanced about that?
Here was a piece I wrote last year, summarizing some thoughts on the 2011-12 season from an advanced stats perspective.
And using advanced stats (primarily) to see why Mike Green had declined (written last summer). Green had a good 2013 season. He saw the fifth toughest minutes of Washington defensemen in terms of opposition, and he started less than 50% of his shifts on the offensive zone (Washington wasn’t a great possession team for the first few months of the season, which contributed towards this).
I’d still like to see Green used more as a PP option – he is so dynamic offensively, the team needs to do all it can to minimize his defensive minutes. Why tow gravel with a Ferrari?
An in-depth look at Vincent Lecavalier – what are Yzerman’s options? Trade? Keep? The salary ramifications are also very interesting, and I enjoyed seeing this laid out as it is relevant to many other big money long term guys too.
Dubbed the "Luongo Rule," it is widely understood to be the league's retribution for teams using so-called "retirement" contracts with front-loaded salary structures for a lengthy term in order to generate more manageable cap hits.
Specifically, should a player with one of these targeted contracts be traded and not fulfill the entire term (i.e. retire or defect to another league), the team that originally signed the player to the deal and the club that traded for him are potentially subject to a cap penalty spread equally among the remaining years in relation to any "cap advantage" (the difference between cumulative salary paid and cap space charged) gained during the player's tenure with both teams.
A look at fixing the Canucks fourth line – on the right wing. Do they fill it internally (Weise, Kassian), or do they look at a UFA like Chuck Kobasew?
I was on CTV in Vancouver yesterday morning to talk bodyweight fitness – a great way to work out if you are travelling/busy/don’t like the gym/recovering from an injury (or all of the above).
Also got to meet Mike Holmes before, which was pretty cool. He is a Canadian (American too?) celebrity with his shows on home renovations.
Today’s team to analyze is the St. Louis Blues – almost done this thing!
2013-14 sleeper pick: Ty Rattie
Some guys, regardless of size, height, speed, or whatever, are simply great hockey players. Rattie is one of them. He thinks the game at an elite level. He has magic hands, and a knack for scoring big goals (he reminds me a lot of Jordan Eberle).
Without slotting guys into the right linecombinations, the Blues have Backes, Oshie, Perron, Steen, Tarasenko, Schwartz, and Sobotka under contract for next year. That is seven top-nine forwards.
The other contenders for top nine minutes – Rattie, Chris Stewart (RFA), Berglund (RFA), Dmitrij Jaskin (big young forward). Will there be enough ice time to go around? I think Rattie finds a way into the lineup – it may be in December or January, though.
Long term sleeper pick: Jordan Schmaltz
Schmaltz and Schwartz may one day be teammates (too bad goaltender Marek Schwarz is no longer in the organization…). Schmaltz is a skilled puck moving defenseman who needs to get bigger, stronger, and better defensively before taking the next step to pro hockey. He had 12 points in 42 games as a Freshman at North Dakota – expect him to spend at least three years in college.