Johansen

 

Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 30 Thoughts column on the CBC website is currently the best read in hockey. Friedman is insightful, articulate, knowledgeable, fair, and most importantly, interesting. He has sources and contacts in the hockey world that most could only dream of. He has an ability which is rare in this day and age - providing a balanced and reasonable opinion on the league, the players, and all 30 of the clubs.

 

Each week I will post my own observations (I couldn’t completely steal Friedman’s idea so I’ll pick a number other than 30) – with a heavy emphasis on the fantasy side of hockey, of course. Prospects, goalies, sleepers, busts, it will all be covered each week.

 

1. With 10 goals through 36 games, Nick Lidstrom is on pace for a career year. He has already surpassed his goal output from last season (nine). He looks to be in line for his seventh Norris Trophy, and he has the Wings at the top of the Western Conference once again. It will be interesting to see how the team performs with Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary out for extended periods of time. Lidstrom’s style of play is one reason for his stellar performance at the age of 40 – he simply doesn’t put himself in areas where he has to absorb physical contact. Oh, and he’s a fantasy hockey monster – on pace for 23 goals, 75 points, 40 power play points, and 185 shots on goal.

 

2. An underrated move in the summer was Florida’s acquisition of Mike Santorelli. It is hard to make a name for yourself in the hockey world playing in cities like Nashville and Miami, but Santorelli has found his way onto my radar. He’s on pace for 24 goals, a feat even more impressive considering who he lines up with most of the time (Steve Bernier and David Booth). His assist total is far from impressive, but Santorelli bears watching in most league formats.

 

3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The motto didn’t work for Darryl Sutter and Olli Jokinen, but it appears to be working in Los Angeles. Various coaches have tried many a time to unite Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar on the top line, but their efforts have been met with a glaring lack of chemistry between the team’s two best forwards. For whatever reason, Kopitar and Brown are clicking this season. Kopitar is one of the better playmakers in the league, and Brown has better hands than most (even himself, at times) realize. Brown set career highs in 2007-08 in goals (33) and points (60). Look for him to smash both of those marks in 2010-11.

 

4. Very astute acquisition by Montreal in James Wisniewski. He is tough and capable of logging important minutes at both ends of the ice. His presence hurts the short-term value of PK Subban a bit, as both defensemen shoot right and play the right side. Wisniewski is a great defenseman to own in all fantasy leagues, and his plus-minus should return to non-Islander numbers in no time (he currently sits at minus-18). This trade makes no sense for the Islanders, but I’ve given up trying to analyze what that team does from a decision-making perspective.

 

5. I mentioned Steve Kampfer a few weeks ago in the ramblings, but after scoring his first career NHL goal the other night, I figured it was time for another reminder. He was tearing the AHL apart before getting the call up to Boston earlier this month (16 points in 20 AHL games as a defenseman). Kampfer isn’t a noted goal scorer (in fact he hasn’t scored more than three goals in a season dating back to his 2005-06 high school campaign).

 

6. Paging Nathan Horton… paging Nathan Horton…. The big winger has three goals in his past 29 games. The same issues that dogged him in Florida are back – lack of drive, motivation, desire, consistency. It is frustrating to see a player with such an impressive skill set do so little with it.

 

7.  Tough break for the Swedes, as they will be without Gabriel Landeskog for the remainder of the tournament (high ankle sprain). In addition to having an awesome name, Landeskog is a heck of a prospect. He’s the best player to come through the Kitchener system since Mike Richards. Without trying to stereotype against Europeans, Landeskog quickly endeared himself to his North American teammates with a few fights in his first couple of OHL games. He’s big, gritty, responsible, and very talented with the puck. I’m not a prospect expert but I would consider this guy a dark horse for the first overall pick next summer.

 

8. I’ll put on my contrarian hat today – unlike Dobber, I haven’t been impressed with Zack Kassian all that much. He is playing pretty good hockey, but he isn’t dominating like an almost 20-year-old should. Brayden Schenn has looked pretty good too, but again, he should. He’s played at the NHL and AHL and has the size and strength advantage over most of the opposition. I do like Kassian from a fantasy perspective though, especially with Buffalo craving a gritty forward who can produce.

 

9. The Americans as a team have been underwhelming (so far). One player has really impressed me though – defenseman Justin Faulk. Faulk was drafted by the Hurricanes in the second round last summer. He has 15 points in 18 games with Minnesota-Duluth this season, and he skates and moves the puck with confidence. He’s probably two years away from NHL action.

 

10. The Canucks are winning almost 58% of their faceoffs. Tough to compete with that. Dating back to the mid 90’s, I can’t find a team that was so proficient in the faceoff circle.

 

11. Calgary’s situation is bleak, but it isn’t a disaster. Two reasons: they have their own first round pick in 2011, and the summer of 2012 (no, the world is not ending) opens the roster up. The Flames will clear about $17 million in bad contracts, and at that point the only players with deals still remaining are Kiprusoff, Giordano, Regehr, Bouwmeester, Stajan, Backlund, and Bourque. The tough part – a farm system thinner than Ryan Getzlaf’s hair, and trying to build through free agency (simply doesn’t work). I don’t think Jay Feaster is the right man for the job (he got Tampa over the hump, but he struggled trying to retool/rebuild), but he has a half-season job evaluation ahead of him.

 

12. Back to the World Juniors – the two most impressive Canadians have been Ryan Johansen and Jaden Schwartz. Johansen is more physical than I had thought, and Schwartz is a magician with the puck. I’ve made mention many times of the “it” factor that certain players possess (essentially hockey sense and a few other intangibles) – Schwartz possesses it in spades. Now isn’t the time to acquire these two in keeper leagues (lots of media/hype right now). Wait a few months and then toss a few feelers out.

 

13. There are players who are better in fantasy leagues than they are in real life (Mike Green during the past few years, for example), and there are players who are better in real life than they are in fantasy leagues (Jonathan Toews). Toews has the skill set to be a 90+ point player, but he plays such a responsible and dependable game for Chicago – not sure he hits that total for a while.

 

14. I’m struggling in the DobberHockey Experts League, but it isn’t for a lack of trying. Drafting Rask in a weekly league killed me for a few months – I finally bit the bullet and overpaid for Tomas Vokoun, a notorious second-half monster. My IR is pretty full as well – Callahan, Staal, Parise, and Okposo.

 

15. If I owned Brayden Schenn, I’d think about selling high over the next few weeks.

 


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Comments (12)add comment

Todd said:

phaneuf_fan_3
Schenn has been by FAR the best player for team Canada I dunno what you are talking about. For a guy who was never suppose to be a high scorer he's certainly looking amazing against the best of his own age group. I dont care whether hes 19 or not so is the rest of the tourney. Ellis is the only player even close to him and hes been far and away the 2nd best Canadian to this point.
January 01, 2011
Votes: +0

B Brooks said:

Olwpgjet
... A couple things I might disagree with. Johansen and Connolly are two I've been looking forward to watching and Johansen if anything I thought he might be better than what he has shown so far. Connolly not scoring has been a bit disappointing.Schennn is shooting alot more but the playmaking and vision and physical play has pretty much been his game the last couple of years in Brandon. He is having a fabulous tournament but I wouldn't underrate him either. I think he has a very good chance of being an impact player in L A in a couple of years. Also , I really like Couturier out there, this is first chance for me to watch him and his physical game to go with his skill is impressive. With Nugent-Hopkins not there, Larsson not looking dominant and Landeskog hurt, his stock for 1st overall has probably gone up
December 30, 2010
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... I'm not basing my opinion on him after 1.5 games. Just sharing my thoughts. Buffalo is a great situation for him, I wouldn't be surprised to see him make the leap next fall.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts - I went to a few WJC games in '06 when the tourney was in Vancouver. Had a blast.
December 30, 2010
Votes: +0

Tim Jarrold said:

TJ4
world juniors Sorry Angus, I forgot to write about our Sunday WJ experience. My son and I had a 3 game pass and we had a blast. The GER/SWI game looked like it was gonna be blowout when the speedy Swiss took a 4-0 lead in the 1st. GER pulled Grubauer (WAS) and the fun began. GER scored and the crowd (what there was anyways) started cheering for GER. They came back to 4-3 and had a few good chances but Conz held it together. Niederreiter (NYI) seemed pretty dominant for the Swiss.
Game 2 was the CAN/RUS match and it was everything I hoped for. The crowd had to be 90-95% CAN! What a rush to be a part of the adrenalin in that arena. The cheering for CAN started in the lobby and continued throughout the game. RUS was very good and seemed to match CAN rush for rush but whereas CAN sustained pressure, RUS seemed to get one chance and CAN team D gained possession. As a fan, I felt like we needed that 2 goal lead because RUS just kept coming back. They are skilled but they took a few too many penalties. Tarasenko (STL) was very good. The Knights' Bobkov made a few great, timely stops. The puck seemed to follow Sobchenko around...a good thing if you want to get noticed. I really like Leblanc's PK skills and Foligno's checking was top notch. Just after the crowd chose an earlier Foligno check as the hit of the game, he just about tore the head off another RUS player in the corner right in front of us! Even though our very own Spitfire was the player of the game, Ryan Ellis (NAS) just played his usual game. I must be taking him for granted!
The last game of our day was the OT USA/FIN tilt. Late in the 2nd, my son says "Dad, this game is really slow compared to CAN/RUS". I had to think but he was right. It must have been the teams' styles. In any case, it was an exciting game. It had the atmosphere of a college event. The USA fans chanting "USA,USA..." and the "others" (many Canadians included) cheering "let's go Finland". Some nice goals including a USA OT winner that FIN goalie Ortio didn't deserve. He played a good game...geez, another FIN goalie for Calgary! Anaheim's Palmieri stood out and Morin (CHI) played well until he was crushed on the glass. My son noticed that he went straight to the tunnel after that hit so he knew he was hurt. Jack Campbell (DAL...and another Spit!) played well EXCEPT when he tried to play the puck behind the net. He had at least 2 adventures when he misplayed the puck in the trap but, luckily, no damage done.
I now realize how much I HATE that USA OT goal from the final last year. I had to watch it, oh, about 8-10 times throughout the day...and did it ever get booed during the CAN game!
All in all, a great day of hockey and a great day with my son.
December 30, 2010
Votes: +0

Tim Jarrold said:

TJ4
Kassian Angus, you have got to see Kassian playing in the O. he looks like a man playing amongst boys. his strength and stability allows him to skate through contact with the puck. he has had single-minded training since he was a young kid...dedication, or obsession...you decide. lol
Now, I can respect your opinion as he hasn't stood out against most of the best in the world in his age class so far, but, he has transformed himself from a grinder-type (high PIM) who scores a bit into a scoring power winger with lower PIM. he still fights if someone is silly enough to go. he is doing it all here in Windsor. maybe you can do a post-tournament evaluation after you have seen him play more than 1.5 games. thanks.
December 30, 2010
Votes: +0

gregory churchill said:

spitball
10. canucks can't think of a team that had a better off-season addressing key weakness. five important additions; malhotra, torres, tambellini, ballard, and hamhuis. all without costing anything of value. third line center was soft, now a rock.

come playoffs, the back-line is potentially edler, salo, hamhuis, ballard, ehrhoff and bieksa.

great management.

December 30, 2010
Votes: +1

DuklaNation said:

DuklaNation
... I've defended Schenn here recently but it comes down to fantasy impact now. The one reason I might agree with Angus' sell high recommendation is Kopitar. Being 2nd line centre without #1 PP time may limit Schenn to 60 pt range. Why? Schenn is most effective on the right wall on the PP just like Kopitar. Key here is if either could change. Hard to say without seeing it in action. You need one of the 2 to more of a shooter (probably Kopitar). Having said that, if you could get greater than 60 pt value/potential for him, Angus may be right here.
December 29, 2010
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... Schenn/Johansen - I am basing my evaluations relative to my expectations. Schenn and Kassian older, expected to dominate.

Sell high - read that column. Sums up my thoughts on the issue.
December 29, 2010
Votes: +0

sentium said:

Dakkster
... "a farm system thinner than Ryan Getzlaf’s hair" ZING!

Landeskog means landforest in Swedish, if you're wondering smilies/smiley.gif
December 29, 2010
Votes: +0

Emanuel Sequeira said:

hockeymasters
Brayden Schenn Hi Jeff,

I couldn't help notice your last comment on Schenn and selling him high. I have him in my keeper pool and it's unlikely you can move a player that isn't playing in the NHL. Even if he were to when his junior season ends there won't be a lot of time to help a team make an impact in the pool. I'd love to hear your thoughts on why you feel selling him high is possible.
December 29, 2010
Votes: +0

Glen Hoos said:

angelofharlem
Johansen? A bit surprised to hear you single out Johansen as being more impressive so far than Schenn. Even leaving out the Norway game in which Schenn has 4 points and counting, I'd say he has been far better than Johansen so far.
December 29, 2010
Votes: +0

Lukas Polak said:

LuckyLuke
note "In addition to having an awesome name, Landeskog is a heck of a prospect. He’s the best player to come through the Kitchener system since Mike Richards."

There's someone called Jeff Skinner who says Hi!
December 29, 2010
Votes: +0
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