Greetings loyal DobberHockey readers, and welcome to my first ever Ramblings! This might be just a one-time guest gig for me, so I’ll try to make it count.

 

By now every poolie with a pulse and functioning brain cells should’ve already bought a copy of the Fantasy Guide. But if for some reason you haven’t, then you literally should stop reading right now and go order it. Don’t worry – I’ll wait……This is me waiting…..I’ll really wait as long as necessary……….

 

In all seriousness, the Fantasy Guide has no equal. It would be the best out there based just on the fact that it’s updated time and time again leading up to the season; but there’s much more! The reason I came to the DobberHockey community way back in 2009 (my forum name is rizzeedizzee in case you want to look for me – not on Twitter, yet) was because even though I had already been successful in leagues for over a decade I knew I had to start doing even more to stay ahead. The first time I saw the Fantasy Guide it literally blew my socks off. And every year it just keeps getting better and better.

 

Like most everyone else doing the ramblings of late, I’ll tell you what you already know – it’s been pretty slim pickings out there for meaningful fantasy hockey news. But even with camps not yet officially open we’re actually starting to hear some useful information, like guys who won’t be ready for the start of the season, and that sort of thing.

 

One note on camp news – beware the journeyman or unheralded youngster who sees time on a scoring line. When the dust settles after camp and preseason, more often than not you won’t see someone unexpected in a prime spot; or if you do, chances are it won’t last long. So don’t rush out and burn an important draft pick or precious free agent bucks to grab players like that.

 

But one thing that has changed of late is the willingness of teams to give a bit more of a shot to smaller players and guys who found success after a number of years in the AHL. All it took is guys like P.A. Parenteau and Cory Conacher (not to mention Martin St. Louis, who did fit both criteria, leading the entire league in scoring last season), to convince teams there can be value in these types of players. That having been said, guys with size (Mr. Penner, your pancakes in the shape of Mighty Ducks are ready) and who were once top draft picks (I’m looking at you Erik Johnson) will always get many more chances.

 

Since I’m handling Cage Match now, that doesn’t leave me room to write about random topics as much as during my Holding Court days. So I figured this is my best chance to pass along two pieces of often overlooked pre-draft advice for fantasy owners - one for people entering a new league and another for people returning to their tried and true leagues.

 

For people entering new leagues, it may sound simple but be sure to do your draft prep while keeping in mind the total number of players who‘ll be drafted. Suppose you’re entering an eight team league where each team will draft 12 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 2 goalies. That means only 96 forwards, 48 defensemen, and 16 goalies will be drafted, and you need to avoid being tempted to focus on sleeper picks who, even if they pan out, probably won’t justify being drafted. So even if you think Danny Briere will bounce back in Montreal (not gonna happen BTW), that should be of no concern to you when drafting since there’s no way he should be among the top 96 forwards selected. The same is true for the likes of Tyler Myers on defense (not top 48) or Evgeni Nabokov in net (not top 16). The key is not to overreach, as you can always grab a guy later via the waiver wire. Stick with proven entities or guys where it won’t take a miracle for them to put up stats that justify being drafted in your league.

 

For those of you returning to existing leagues, make sure to study old draft results to look for patterns among your fellow owners, and then figure out what worked and what didn’t. In my main limited keeper league there’s a guy (let’s call him Sam, mainly because that’s his name) who seems to go out of his way to grab top multi-cat guys pretty early. But he hasn’t done too well lately, and it turns out that by reaching for those guys he’s missing out on points, which count a whole lot more than hits and blocked shots in our league. And at the risk of tooting my own horn, I’ve done very well in the league, mainly I think due to drafting a top goalie with at least one of my first two picks (Wait, the guys in the DobberHockey Expert League aren’t reading this, are they? Errrr, what I meant to say is I NEVER draft a goalie in the first two rounds… Yeah, that’s it…...) The point is you want to look for patterns that either work well or which lead to poor results, and then factor that into your draft preparation.

 

Hopefully this advice will help you. Since I’m a lawyer in real life, I’ll cover myself by saying void where prohibited, your mileage may vary, some assembly required, wait 30 minutes before swimming, etc.

 

Back to actual hockey news - count me among those genuinely shocked that Damien Brunner is still unsigned. Sure, he’s not going to score 40 goals or 80 points, but he’s got to be an upgrade over at least one guy that maybe a dozen NHL teams have pegged to be in their top six, right? At this point you have to think it’s his agent telling him to dig in his heels.

 

Assuming Brunner gets signed and doesn’t miss much of camp, I’d bank on him having a solid season - maybe even 55+ points. After all, the talent is there, and he’ll want to show teams who passed on him that they made a big mistake – kind of like Alexander Semin did on a one year deal last season.

Speaking of Semin (try saying that out loud a few times), now that he’s set to stuff $35M into his pockets over the next five years, I see him as a HUGE risk for a disappointing season. A big contract plus a guy who has a track record of a “questionable” (and that might be putting it nicely) attitude is not a good mix. Do yourselves a favor and slide him down your draft list, or explore options to trade him. On the flip side, apparently Jordan Staal is in great shape, and he’s someone on Carolina that poolies should really try and land this year, as I can’t imagine when his cost will ever be lower in relation to his likely value.

 

Something also worth thinking about is which projected 1A/1B goalie tandems have the best chance of one guy emerging as the undisputed #1. I’m 100% with those who say that Ray Emery and Jaroslav Halak will get 55+ starts each. Barring injury, there’s just no way I see either one splitting time with the likes of Steve Mason (a glorified insurance policy being touted as a possible starter to help motivate Emery) or Brian Elliott (it’s Halak’s job if he stays healthy, and reports from this summer sound very promising). And if the Devils didn’t play back-to-back a jaw dropping 22 times this season (yet another important fact that’s highlighted in the Fantasy Guide), then I wouldn’t have hesitated at all to put Cory Schneider in this category too.

 

I also like Jonas Hiller’s chances to be the true starter in Anaheim, as not only is he an impending UFA, but in terms of Victor Fasth we’ve seen many instances of goalies who are lights out as a back-up or 1B only to come back to earth with a crashing thud when they get a chance to be “the man.” Vesa Toskala, Martin Gerber and Brian Boucher are three examples that jump to mind (yes, they were younger), but I’m sure there are many others. Tampa and Toronto are most likely in my mind to indeed end up as true 1A/1B situations where neither goalie ends up starting ten games more than the other.

 

And of course, how could I mention Toskala without this sad reminder to all his former owners:

I suppose here’s as good a place as any to defend my choice (on DobberNation) of Dany Heatley as a legit sleeper for this season. My thinking is he’s set to be a UFA next summer, which means for the first time in ages he’ll actually have something to motivate him to perform (besides, you know, pride, which apparently didn’t help move the needle the past few seasons). Plus, so many people in so many leagues have been so burned by him in the recent past, that you likely won’t have to pay more to get him (in draft/trade) than you would for a 55 point player. And at that price, why not grab him and hope for 65+?

 

Heatley is a perfect example of what I call a “slider”, which in his case is a player who is regarded so negatively due to recent underperforming seasons that he ends up falling way too far in drafts. Some other sliders of this type for 2013-14 are Cam Fowler, Ryan Malone and Paul Stastny. One of my very first pieces for the DobberHockey Black Aces forum was about this and other factors that turn guys into different kinds of “sliders.” The piece is dated and far from my best, but it still might be a useful read.

 

You know what the opposite of a slider is? A “fake sleeper,” which is a guy who’s on so many sleeper lists that he actually ends up being overrated. With fake sleepers, you can get so focused on making sure you draft them (to benefit from what’s expected to be their breakout season) that you end up taking them way too early in relation to their actual value. The result is they disappoint, unless – as is usually not the case – they vastly exceed expectations.

 

To me, three examples of fake sleepers for this year are Patrick Wiercioch, Torey Krug and Josh Bailey. Sure, they could do very well; but at this point it might cost you too much to get them even if they end up producing value that’s in line with expectations.

 

Seeing the news of Niklas Hjalmarsson’s new five year deal with Chicago reminded me of something else to keep in mind on your league’s draft day. There are some “goalie’s best friend” defensemen who can be a fantasy asset even if they’re not on your roster. Hjalmarsson is one, but the guy who might have the most pronounced impact this season is Rob Scuderi.

 

I’d be a bit worried if I was a Jonathan Quick owner, since his transformation from fifth round draft pick to Conn Smythe winner and Vezina finalist came with Scuderi playing all sorts of tough minutes against the best forwards from the other team. On the flip side, if I’m a Marc-Andre Fleury owner, I’m turning cartwheels right now at the prospect of Scuderi working his magic for the Pens once again.

 

Another topic that has again dominated summer speculation is whether there will be a breakout season among the guys (according to this list, it’s upwards of 40 players) who trained this summer with former NHLer Gary Roberts at the BioSteel camp. While there’s no denying that Steven Stamkos exploded after working with Roberts in the summer of 2009, with so many more players now under Roberts’ wing, and the vast majority of those players not possessing anything close to Stamkos’ raw ability, I think folks need to start tempering their expectations for significantly increased production from a player just because he’s one of those training under Roberts.

 

That having been said, if I’m an owner of the likes of Devante Smith-Pelly, Brett Connolly, Mark Scheifele or some other younger or unproven player on the list, I do like seeing his name there. Looking at this video preview for BioSteel 2013, it seems pretty hardcore, and they don’t even show the on ice components!

 

I’ll leave you with a trivia question to see if you can guess my favorite hockey player of all time. Hints are that he played a full season in the NHL the same year he was drafted; and although he’s no longer active, he did play more than one season in the 2000-2010 decade. He had several point per game seasons, but never a 100 point season. He served as an NHL captain, and also holds an interesting distinction in that the first three NHL teams he played for were all based in Canada, although he finished his career with a US-based team. I’ll post the answer Friday AM if no one has guessed it by then.


Write comment
Comments (23)add comment

Ed. said:

Ed.
Fake Sleepers Darth Vain makes a good point, in that most sleepers don't stay that way in any moderately competitive league. Basically anyone who cares enough about fantasy hockey to spend ten minutes a day reading about it is going to be exposed to the major ones, so if you are in a league full of GMs who are paying attention, it really does become more a game of chicken than anything else. Keep an eye on the "sleeper" but don't be the guy who grabs him ahead of five guaranteed 55+ point guys because he is a sleeper for 60 points if his knee is healed, the new coach likes him, and he finds his lucky rabbit's foot.
That said, there are leagues that are casual enough for those guys to be genuine sleepers. I first got into fantasy hockey through a league on a music message board. Autodraft, and very few people altered their rankings beyond the top 30 players or so. In a league like that, taking an hour to bump some sleepers up the list can be very rewarding.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

Steffen said:

Steffen
Smart boy Very very nice. You can ramble any time.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

RizzeeDizzee said:

RizzeeDizzee
... @iamddtm - Yup, I'd definitely say Bennett falls into the fake sleeper category. The main issue is that he hasn't proven himself enough to ensure that he can stay in the top six even if he has a poor stretch of games. Plus, history has shown that great centers often have "flavor of the month" wingers who come and go, and so far I haven't seen enough from Bennett to believe he's above being that type of revolving door winger.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

RizzeeDizzee said:

RizzeeDizzee
... Thanks for the additional kind words everyone. Yes iamddtm, I really am a lawyer (between me and the Puck Pastor we're two-thirds of the way to the punchline of a lot of classic jokes), and among the best compliments a lawyer can receive is that he or she can communicate in layman's terms. Many thanks!
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

iamddtm said:

iamddtm
... Wow...
If you are truly a lawyer, you have accomplished 2 things.
This article has maintained the integrity of your profession
with the exceptional content of your writing.
And, you have done it in layman's terms.
I enjoyed this "rambling" a great deal.

Can we really expect a big fantasy year from Bennett?
Do you consider him to be "fake sleeper"?


September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

DarthVain said:

DarthVain
Good read. I find most "sleepers" to be fake sleepers. I am in a pretty hardcore pool. Sure some teams are more than others, but everyone buys at least one book from somewhere, and they all have sleepers. Of the sleepers they don't all overlap, but a lot do. Even when they don't in a 15 team league, odd are at least someone else has. I find usually you have to come up with your own much of the time which is as much based on guts as stats.

I liked the UFA note on Heatly. I think that is something fantasy worthy. Money talks to some players more than others and everyone hates him at this point so he probably will be as cheap as he will ever get.

I also liked the note on Scuderi. The effect that good defensive defenman and/or system can have on a goalie. While not fantasy worth himself may impact MAF. That said MAF wasn't all that bad in the regular season anyway, nor playing for a terrible team, so won't be all that cheap anyway. Anyway case in point is Bryz move from the desert away from all that great defense. No offence to Mike Smith, but don't ever get traded (unless you plan to retire)!
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

Who Dat said:

Who Dat
... Best rambling I've read in a while. Good stuff. Hope to see you writing the rambling again!
September 06, 2013
Votes: +2

RizzeeDizzee said:

RizzeeDizzee
... Thanks to all for the positive words and support. Hopefully I can carry through this momentum the next time I handle the Ramblings. Until then, don't forget to check out my Cage Match column.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +1

shingy said:

shingy
Ramblings
Awesome. Hope to see more. Thanks.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

littleranger said:

littleranger
... Great debut, hope to see more!
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

Dakkster said:

September 06, 2013
Votes: -1

MikeTSchmidt said:

MikeTSchmidt
... @Dakkster Roger that.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

Dakkster said:

Dakkster
... I like the new ramblings from both Mike and Rick, but can't you all just settle on the basic formatting that Dobber and Angus use? I'm pretty sure Laidlaw and Amato do it too. I'm talking about where every little piece of rambling is marked off with *** in between two empty lines. It makes it SO much easier to read.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +2

87Flyer said:

87Flyer
... Very solid rambling, great stuff, even more so knowing that the pickings are slim out there. Hoping to see your name at the top of the page more often. Love the humour as well, it's nice to have a chuckle or two while reading the days report.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +1

Ed. said:

Ed.
Quality Ramblings Good stuff! When there isn't a lot of player news available, the best thing the Ramblings can do is make us think, and give us new ideas for strategy. Rick has done that, at least in my case. I am in favour of more Roos Ramblings in the future, for sure.
September 06, 2013
Votes: +1

RizzeeDizzee said:

RizzeeDizzee
... The Black Aces link doesn't seem to be working - here it is in case folks are interested:

http://hockey.dobbersports.com/index.php?option=com_jfusion&Itemid=93&jfile=showthread.php&t=107355

@blammo - you guessed it! Sorry there's no prize, other than bragging rights!

@The Hockey Hitman - thanks! We'll see - never say never....

@Magnum - Good question. Interestingly, Cammalieri was also one of the BioSteel guys this summer. If your pool includes +/- then Cammy takes a big hit and that could be the deciding factor right there. But he'll also be a slider this year, so it might be that you can still get him for a lot less than Heatley, and in the end I think they score within 10 points of each other, so he might be your guy despite the +/- hit.

@Noma - true, and I actually know that. But how could I resist a groan-inducing spot for humor like that smilies/grin.gif
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

Noma said:

Noma
Semin Semin is not that funny name pronounced when it's done right, because his name is actually Syomin...
September 06, 2013
Votes: +0

Magnum said:

Magnum
Heater Great rant...but would you keep Heatley over Cammalleri as the last forward on your keeper league roster?
September 06, 2013
Votes: +1

The Hockey Hitman said:

The Hockey Hitman
wow Wow great ramblings, Rick! Really enjoyed this...hopefully this won't be your only time doing it. A+
September 05, 2013 | url
Votes: +1

blammo said:

blammo
fav player Vinny Damphousse!!! what a beauty
September 05, 2013
Votes: +2

RizzeeDizzee said:

RizzeeDizzee
... @ClevelandKid21 - to me, Catenacci is in the right spot given Buffalo's imminent rebuild, but I'm not sure he has what it takes to be an impact guy in the short or long term. As for Holland, he's in a tough spot as a former first rounder who hasn't exactly dazzled. It might be that a change in scenery would help reach his potential, which I happen to think is still there.
September 05, 2013
Votes: +1

ClevelandKid21 said:

September 05, 2013
Votes: +0

ClevelandKid21 said:

ClevelandKid21
... Your guys thoughts on Daniel Catenacci? this year and next 3?
September 05, 2013
Votes: +0
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy