I failed to get the rankings up before the Winter Classic. But 95% done and will have them posted tonight

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The Islanders are starting to gel as a team (fingers crossed) and they've won their last three games with John Tavares in the lineup. But looked completely lost without him. With him, however, they are starting to look like the team we expected - young and improving, with terrible goaltending. At this point it's becoming clear that Kevin Poulin is not the answer. He looked like he might be, but two years later he has done zero to show that he can handle it. And Evgeni Nabokov is clearly a step slower from last year (when he was a step slower from the year before) and I struggle to even consider him NHL material let alone No.1 material. That leaves Anders Nilsson - and he's imploded at the AHL level.

This is crazy, but it's part of being a GM in the NHL. You have all your ducks lined up in a row, and then suddenly shit happens. The Islanders stockpiled some pretty good prospects and between the pipes was no exception. We were pretty optimistic about Poulin, Nilsson and Mikko Koskinen - and Nabokov was a perfect stopgap 'bridge' solution. Poulin and Nilsson saw spot starts and looked impressive, and Koskinen saw the writing on the wall and left for the KHL. Now, a couple of years later, Nabokov, Poulin and Nilsson are horrible. Ironically - Koskinen is kicking ass in the KHL and I'm thinking there is a chance that the Isles look that way. Not that Koskinen could be a savior - after all, Karri Ramo kicked ass over there too, but back in the NHL he has been subpar. But he may be worth an add in deep leagues.

Keep two things in mind when it comes to Koskinen: 1) Ramo was the best the KHL had to offer and he's been rather pedestrian for the Flames. 2) Koskinen is in the first year of a two-year deal, so any chance the Isles have of bringing him over is nearly two years away.

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The more likely scenario is a trade. In which case - who is available? Ryan Miller and Michael Neuvirth are in the same conference. Jonas Hiller, Frederik Andersen and Ben Scrivens are not. Would they pay a premium for a rental like Hiller? Would the Ducks give up Andersen? Not without re-signing Hiller first. And would Scrivens, the product of a great defensive system, be the answer? Doubtful. If the Capitals were in the other conference, Neuvirth would be the perfect play.

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Anyway, I got off topic there. I was starting to get into how the Islanders seem to be on a hot run, which means some big points are ahead for Tavares, Okposo, Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald, who seems to be the go-to offensive rearguard on that team for now. Tavares had four points last night, and MacDonald has five points in his last six games.

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Long-time readers of this site know that I was pretty high on Al Montoya, and I was disappointed when Phoenix didn't give him a chance despite his awesome play for them late 2008-09. I thought he would be gold when he went to the Islanders in 2011. But injuries at the worst times killed any progress he was making. I, like the rest of you, gave up on him. He's a career backup. But not so fast - at the age of 28 he's pulling a Craig Anderson. He's staying healthy and taking over the crease in Winnipeg. Three wins in a row and after 13 games he has a 1.85 GAA and 0.934 SV%. What's more impressive is the fact that he is not in a stifling system as in Los Angeles or Anaheim. He's earning those numbers. But Pavelec is the Golden Boy - Pavelec was drafted by the organization. Pavelec is making $3.9 million. Pavelec will be making $3.9 million for another three years after this one. Montoya's best outlook is to pull a Brian Elliott and steal half the remaining starts this year, post incredible numbers and earn a contract up around $2.5 million. Then he'd be a 1B type of goalie next year and with strong play could maybe force a decision in 2014-15.

For the short term, look for Montoya to get a handful of starts right away, with Pavelec getting tested every couple of games in hopes that he can find his game (same situation as Holtby vs. Grubauer).

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With three points last night, David Desharnais has seven in his last six games. Two of his assists, of course, were on Max Pacioretty goals. He's on pace for 37 points, but I have a hunch he squeaks past 50. Talk about back from the dead! But at least were crystal clear on one thing - he's 100% reliant on Pacioretty being healthy.

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Taylor Hall has eight points in his last four games and has emerged as the clear-cut best out of Edmonton's Big 4 draft picks. As young players play more games and have more seasons under their belt, it gets easier to define things like upside and expectation. When a player is 18, I go loosey-goosey on the upside, often letting it balloon 20 or 30 points higher than needed because you just never know. But after a couple of years, when it becomes clear that these players will never hit such lofty numbers, it's safe to start dialling it down and be confident that the player will never top it (that's the goal of upside, to get it as low as possible yet ensure the player never surpasses it). Here is what I have for the Big 4:

Taylor Hall - Upside 100, 3YP 87

Jordan Eberle - Upside 92, 3YP 81

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Upside 102, 3YP 85

Nail Yakupov - Upside 95, 3YP 77

Keep in mind that all players are still young and some more downward adjusting is in store over the next two or three years, particularly among the younger two (RNH and Yakupov). The 3YP number, for those who don't buy my fantasy guides, is an average of their projected three best seasons in their career ahead. It's more of a "likely" number when they are in their prime. The Midseason Guide, which is out in 11 days by the way, will have 3YP stats for all fantasy-worthy players in the NHL and in the system. That alone is worth the $9.99 let alone the other goodies I'll have in there for you. (and also take a look at that Draft Street deal I have in there - I won't get into details here, just take a look - it's a no-brainer offer you should go for)

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Paul Byron has seven points in his last 10 games for the Flames and he's seeing his ice time up around 18 minutes per game. If you're desperate, he's a short-term option. He's still only 24. Here were Calgary's line combinations:

 

#1

30.9%

BACKLUND,MIKAEL - BYRON,PAUL - CAMMALLERI,MIKE

#2

20.8%

HUDLER,JIRI - MONAHAN,SEAN - STEMPNIAK,LEE

#3

10.7%

BOUMA,LANCE - JONES,DAVID - STAJAN,MATTHEW

#4

7.3%

COLBORNE,JOE - MCGRATTAN,BRIAN - WESTGARTH,KEVIN

That's courtesy of Frozen Pool.

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Back from the dead - Erik Cole has eight points in his last six games for Dallas. Here were the Dallas line combos last game:

 

#1 25% EAKIN,CODY - GARBUTT,RYAN - ROUSSEL,ANTOINE
#2 13.4% COLE,ERIK - NICHUSHKIN,VALERI - PEVERLEY,RICH
#3 12.5% FIDDLER,VERNON - HORCOFF,SHAWN - JEFFREY,DUSTIN
#4 8.5% BENN,JAMIE - CHIASSON,ALEX - SEGUIN,TYLER

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I have to cut these ramblings off here, as I want to finish off the January Keeper League Rankings and get them posted before I take off to watch the Winter Classic. Enjoy the afternoon game, and don't forget to set your lineup early! (Check out Goalie Post for starting goalie information)


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Happy New Year!

If you're reading this note in my ramblings right now, you're either a) drunk, b) bored because you couldn't go out for one reason or another, c) hungover - or d) you're living on the other side of the world and thus have already recovered hours ago.

Rest assured, you will get your ramblings on New Year's Day. However, you probably shouldn't expect them until 8am 10am noon … later. So go to bed if you're a) or b) above. Get some sleep. Hell, if you read ramblings in this state you'd probably have to re-read them again when you wake up anyway.

If it's c) or d) above, then while you wait, I stuck a few entertaining video clips below. Go grab a coffee, come back and cue these bad boys up.

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Here are the Top Hits of the Western Conference:

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The Top Hits of the Eastern Conference:

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The Top Saves of the Western Conference:

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The Top Saves of the Eastern Conference:

 


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Comments (8)add comment

Ross The Boss Palmer said:

January 01, 2014
Votes: +0

Dobber said:

Dobber
Poll Hey Ross, what is your browser? I can't recreate the issue, but judging by lack of votes I would say it's widespread!
January 01, 2014
Votes: +0

Ross The Boss Palmer said:

Ross The Boss Palmer
Main Page Poll The poll on the main page doesn't appear to be working


Thanks for all the hard work and camaraderie around here, may everyone have their best year yet!
January 01, 2014
Votes: +2

hawkdog said:

hawkdog
Happy New Year I think you hit the isles goaltending bang on
I wonder how the islanders would be doing with Luongo in Net?
January 01, 2014
Votes: +1

27Blue said:

27Blue
... Hey Dobb,

I am going to disagree with your take on the Isles this year… especially the goaltending. I still think it is far too early to tell what the Isles have in Poulin and Nilsson. And.. the team's record this year has less to do with the goaltending than it has to do with so many other things. The goaltending of Poulin (and to a lesser degree because of sample size, Nilsson too) has been one of the few bright spots for the team this year… There is so much wrong with this team, and a BIG part of it is the coaching… but just as important are the lack of quality players on the ice.

Look at this Blueline:

A-Mac
Hamonic
Hickey
Strait
Donavan
Ness
deHaan
Martinek
Carkner

Most of the list should be retired or in the AHL and not one of these guys is even close to a top paring defenceman. No goalie is going to be successful thrown into this kind of circus, let alone a rookie finding his way… I think you need to give Poulin and the Isles a couple more years to figure things out before you call him a bust. Of course, the team could very well continue to be mismanaged and undercoached to the point that they don't improve at all in the future and then the goaltending will continue to be an issue no matter who is in net.





January 01, 2014
Votes: +2

letangerang58 said:

January 01, 2014
Votes: +1

Dobber said:

Dobber
... Happy New Year Ray! My kids let me sleep in until 9am, which is awesome - but now I'll dive into these ramblings and wrap them up well in advance of the Winter Classic
January 01, 2014
Votes: +0

Rinsseux said:

Rinsseux
Reading early Im not drunk, im reading early because i have kids, you know those things u do while watchin an hockey game. Geez. La madone. im toasted. Happy New Year Dobbs and the team. Wish u new Ray Ban
January 01, 2014
Votes: +5
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