I was going to joke about how I avoided watching the Leafs-Sabres game last night because I am not a masochist but then I remembered that I cheer for the Edmonton Oilers, which is basically masochism defined. So nuts to that joke, I guess.
Those Oilers did swing a couple of moves yesterday. For those of you who missed it, the Oilers dealt embattled starter Devan Dubnyk to Nashville for Matt Hendricks and then acquired Ben Scrivens from Los Angeles for a third round pick. You can read Dobber’s take on the matter and it’s a good one. I look at what this says about Pekka Rinne’s status, which is to say, it doesn’t look good.
The last I heard about Rinne was there was no timetable for his return. I warned back in October when he went back under the knife that this could be an ongoing issue. Well, here we are, the Predators have made a move for a starter, which tells me they don’t have much confidence in Rinne returning healthy this season.
If you follow the playoff odds the Predators are basically out of the race even if they are only eight points back. That means there should be no rush in getting Rinne back this season. Instead they can send Marek Mazanec back to the AHL where he can compete at a level more suiting his abilities right now.
I like this landing spot for Dubnyk though. The Predators have long had success with lanky goaltenders and frankly goaltenders of all shapes and sizes. Their goalie coach Mitch Korn is one of the best in the business. The question is whether or not they’ll have enough time with Dubnyk to really help him improve this season. Ideally, he’d spend more than a year there and really develop but that doesn’t really seem like an option.
Still, with a nice break for the Olympics that could be enough practice time to really instill some things in Dubnyk’s game. If Rinne really is out for the rest of the season then this could be Dubnyk’s chance for another big contract.
For Edmonton, this is their chance to vet Scrivens as a starter and also sell him on the organization. If he does well they’ll have had nearly six months to work on an extension with Scrivens before he hits free agency. Given he is an Alberta boy perhaps the homecoming will be too much to pass up.
The price – a third round pick – isn’t much to take a chance on Scrivens. If you disregard scouting and player development (two areas the Oilers struggle anyhow) a third rounder doesn’t have better than a 1/3 chance of becoming a regular NHL player, let alone an actually good one. So giving up lottery ticket for a run at the goalie who might be your starter isn’t all that big a price to pay. Also, the team gets Hendricks who one could argue is worth the pick on his own even if he is nothing more than a depth forward.
There is an opportunity cost to this deal giving up that pick. I’m also not sold that Scrivens is the goalie of the future especially not in the hands of the Oilers’ coaches who thus far have a very spotty record with developing goaltending. All the progress he’d made in LA this season could be undone. Goaltenders in Edmonton get abused with shots, which is the exact opposite of what he was facing with the Kings. I’m not sure he is ready for that transition.
While we are on the Oilers, I loved this candid interview with GM Craig MacTavish:
It’s coordinated defence and coordinated offence. Like when you’re a junior player, and Yak would be an excellent example of this, you can survive on physical skill. Like he’s faster than everybody. He takes a line and he can blow by people, but when you get to the NHL and for a large part the AHL, too, you can’t do it on your own. You’ve got to tap in to the strength of the team. You’ve got to tap in to your teammates to help you create that open space that you need. So whether it’s on defence, where you have to have coordination of defence, where you’ve got to work together, and have some sort of plan and have guys above the puck (between the puck and the Oilers net), which we’re improving in, or on offence, where you go to the puck. Like at the start of the year, we’re 100 feet from the puck.
Now to last night’s action…
So the Leafs tied the Sabres and then Tyler Bozak clinched their “win” in the shootout. No team has won more games via shootout than the Leafs this season so if/when they make the playoffs they can point to the skills competition as a big reason why.
Bozak, by the way, did not score during the game, which may signal the end of his hot streak. He is currently shooting 28.1% so you know the regression monster is coming for him.
Adam Gretz has more on Bozak and the anatomy of a hot streak:
In his last 13 games, a stretch that's seen Bozak tally 16 total points, the Maple Leafs have scored 16 goals with Bozak on the ice during 5-on-5 play. They've done this while recording just 112 shots on goal, which results in an on-ice shooting percentage of 14.2, a ridiculously high number that no player can realistically hope to maintain for an extended period of time. Since the start of the 2007-08 season only four players have appeared in at least 40 games and finished with an on-ice shooting percentage higher than 14 percent (Nazem Kadri and Mark Fraser last year, Darryl Boyce in 2011-12, and Daniel Sedin in 2009-10).
Let’s give Dion Phaneuf a round of applause. No, he didn’t score, as he has so often failed to do this season but he did fire six shots on goal, which is a season high. More nights like this please, Mr. Phaneuf. Maybe then you’ll start scoring some more.
Like I said, I didn’t watch the full game but in limited viewing I liked what I saw from Nazem Kadri. It’s been a tough year for him as the regression monster has taken a big bite out of his scoring and Leaf fans will tell you that Randy Carlyle has no clue how to use his talents. Whatever the case, he’s still an effective player.
James Reimer got the start for the Leafs and it was another one of those “well he’s clearly the backup” starts.
Another game, another strong performance from Ryan Miller. It’s high time someone freed him from Buffalo. It probably won’t happen until right before the trade deadline but Jaroslav Halak and a 1st for Miller makes way too much sense. You can probably even work it so that the Sabres retain enough salary that the Blues could make it Brian Elliott getting dealt instead of Miller, though I’m not sure what the point of that would be.
It’s the only destination that makes sense, unless you think the Flyers are going to spoil the good thing they have going with Steve Mason in order to chase another big name. Actually, let’s not rule this out.
In three games since returning from injury Cody Hodgson has four points and suddenly the Sabres look like they might have some fantasy worthy players – Hodgson being chief among them. Sample size issues abound but the Sabres have scored seven goals in three games since his return and have scored on two of 11 power plays. These marks still leave the Sabres incredibly deficient offensively but are vast improvements over their performance for the full season so let’s hope this trend continues.
Of particular interest, Tyler Ennis and Christian Ehrhoff are both riding three-game scoring streaks since Hodgson’s return. Acknowledging their modest upsides you still have to figure these two as solid buy lows for the second half of the season.
Finally, what got into Zemgus Girgensons last night? He only fired off six shots and 13 hits! Rotisserie stud in the making right there.
The Caps-Pens game went down to the wire, needing an Olli Maatta goal to break the tie with less than two minutes remaining. The better team won for sure but like the Leafs you have to respect the Capitals’ quick strike ability that enables them to be outshot and yet still compete in games.
I find it funny that the two teams staying competitive despite vast deficiencies in shot differential are also the two teams who have benefitted the most from shootout wins. Bubbles waiting to burst? Probably. But maybe they’ve just figured out how to game the system.
The Caps gave Michal Neuvirth the start and he was okay but this certainly wasn’t the performance he needed to push Philipp Grubauer out of the net. Grubauer was in the press box but you’d have a tough time selling me that he wouldn’t get the next start.
Nicklas Backstrom is clearly not enjoying his time separate from Alex Ovechkin. He’s now gone three games without a point. I wouldn’t worry too much though. It’s only a matter of time before those two are back together and they still skate together on the power play. Backstrom can put up points in bunches with the best of them so don’t make a mountain of this molehill of a slump.
Carlson skated just 27 seconds with the man advantage last night while Green skated 2:10 good for tops on the team, even more than Ovechkin. This is great news for Green owners and terrible news for Carlson owners. If Carlson can’t produce while getting power play minutes he certainly isn’t going to start when those minutes disappear.
Carlson did skate over 28 minutes last night so you know he is important to the Caps. He just isn’t a factor when it comes to scoring.
Green, on the other hand, keeps chugging along on pace for 45-or-so points. It wouldn’t surprise me if he even kicked it up a notch and finished with 50. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he got hurt and finished with less than 30. Such is the mixed bag of a Band-Aid Boy defenseman.
You know, as good as Marc-Andre Fleury has been this season he’s starting to give us the classic “just good enough to win” Fleury that leaves you really nervous as a fantasy owner. Small sample size is a factor here but over his last 10 starts he’s allowed three or more goals in seven of them. He’s also won eight of those 10 starts but that’s my point. “Just good enough to win” doesn’t necessarily mean he’s playing “good” enough to win my fantasy league. Is that nit-picky enough for you?
Neal’s absence opened up a spot for Jussi Jokinen on the top power play unit. He scored a goal and an assist last night though neither came with the man advantage. He continues to just quietly produce at a solid pace.
Speaking of continuing a solid pace, Kris Letang’s recent return has done nothing to slow down Matt Niskanen. Niskanen has five points in five games since Letang returned. Letang is gobbling up all the power play minutes though so I’d jump on this opportunity to sell high on Niskanen, unless of course you think Letang is getting hurt again, which is a totally reasonable position to take.
Letang, has four points in five games since his return including an ugly goal coming off a pass deflected by the defense into the net. I don’t know if Letang has been lucky or unlucky this season. He’s shooting 10.1% with more goals than assists but a scoring rate of just a point every second game. I am genuinely befuddled.
The regression monster should surely come take a bite out of Letang’s shooting percentage but at the same time he is seeing huge minutes on a loaded Penguins team. How is he not recording more assists? I’m glad I don’t have him on any of my fantasy squads anymore because just trying to make heads or tails of this is exhausting.
Another guy to sell high on is Olli Maatta – assuming your league is deep enough to even own him at all. The rookie defenseman has been impressive as hell with 12 points in his last 20 games but you know that well is drying up when Paul Martin returns. This of course does not cover keeper leagues where Maatta is much more intriguing but even then I’m not sure he’s the vaunted power play QB of the future so perhaps you could sell high in those formats as well.
Take note: Brandon Sutter has been seeing some top line time with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Sutter notched an assist last night and could be in for some good times. Of course, the Penguins don’t play again until Monday so perhaps you hold off on a pick up.
9-1... more like 9-1-1!
Seriously, what do you even take away from a drubbing of that magnitude?
The Ducks beat up on the Canucks 9-1 last night. The second time they’ve done so in the past two weeks. I know that the last game went to overtime but the Ducks outshot the Canucks 49-20 in that game and then turned around and outshot them 44-33 in this one to further assert their dominance. The Ducks might just be the best team in the league.
They did most of their damage last night with the man advantage scoring six power play goals in an attempt to drag their power play back to respectability in one night of hockey. Sorry, Ducks. Even after last night you still sit 22nd in the league in terms of power play efficiency, perhaps your lone blemish this season – unless you want to count a sky high PDO due for some regression.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Duck who didn’t have a good night last night but if you want to point fingers Cam Fowler somehow avoided scoring a point. I blame a lack of power play time, which has been a common occurrence over the past few games.
Instead, the bulk of the power play time went to Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm who scored three and two points respectively. But again, you can’t read too much into this, all of the Ducks’ big guns were rested last night as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf saw barely a minute of power play time each. They both scored though – four and two points respectively – so no complaints from their fantasy owners.
Teemu Selanne took full advantage of the blowout goosing his numbers with a three-point night. He now has six points in the last four games but even this run isn’t enough to make him fantasy relevant.
Dobber mused on Twitter that we might see Andrew Cogliano score 30 goals this season even going so far as saying he wouldn’t bet 50 bucks against it. I would like to bet $1,000 but I’m also a degenerate gambler. The way I see it, Cogliano isn’t on pace for 30 goals and he’s already over-producing with a 16.8% shooting percentage. He’s going to inflate that total with the regression monster hot on his heels? I don’t think so.
Jonas Hiller missed the contest with the flu giving Frederick Andersen the easy win. We’ll see if this added rest allows Hiller to start both games in the back-to-back this weekend.
Not much to report on the Canucks side.
They called up minor league pugilist Kellan Lain yesterday and considering all the scraps that broke out they could have used him in the lineup. Alas, he did not get into the lineup so we’ll have to wait and see. He’s one to look out for down the line as a future PIM/Hits guy for rotisserie leagues.
The magic seems to have run out for Mike Santorelli. He has just one point in his last eight games. He’s droppable in most leagues I would say.
Alex Edler scored his first point in just his second game since returning from injury. He hasn’t found a spot on the top power play unit as of yet so you may want to hold off on picking him up, although this does offer a decent buy low opportunity.
You’ll find some real gems in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:
24. At this time of year, I always like to see what's out there regarding NCAA free agents, but it looks like there isn't as highly regarded a prospect as Danny DeKeyser or Justin Schultz this time around. James van Riemsdyk's brother, Trevor, a defenceman at New Hampshire, is a name I've heard a bit, as is Lake Superior State blue-liner (and broadcaster nightmare) Kevin Czuczman. van Riemsdyk attended a Flyers rookie camp, while Czuczman has skated with the Sabres.
You can find a whole list of these guys in our Midseason Guide. Just one of the many perks!
Sean McIndoe reminds us of five huge moves we’ve probably forgotten.
I mentioned the run Calvin de Haan had been on recently. Here’s a nice read on him from Michael Willhoft.
Perry, the one-handed bandit:
Finally, the UHL fantasy league is searching for a new manager to take over one of its squads. This is a 24-team comprehensive salary cap league requiring year-round daily involvement.
It could be your chance to take on myself, Gates, Daoust and many others from the DobberHockey forums. If interested hit me up on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw and I’ll fill you in with more details.