Friday, August 31, 2018

Flames Nail Down Hanifin

The last piece of the Calgary Flames' summer has now been taken care of, as Thursday night saw the completion of Noah Hanifin's new deal with his new team, both sides agreeing to a 6-year, $29.7 million contract, a $4.95 million per season agreement.

The deal works out to be a year longer, with a slightly cheaper cap hit than expected, which is a win for both sides, and the deal is done with plenty of time remaining before training camp opens in a couple of weeks.

In the 2018 season, the 21-year old defenseman played in 79 games with the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring 10 goals and 32 points on a slightly underwhelming side, which was good enough for 288th overall in hockey pool scoring, 45th among all defensemen.

If you missed it, Hanifin was part of a blockbuster deal this summer, after contract talks had stalled with the Hurricanes and the Flames needed a change in personnel on their side as well.

It will be interesting to see how Hanifin figures into the mix on the Calgary blueline, which has already put a lot of stock into both Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie over the years, while still investing a great deal into both Travis Hamonic and Michael Stone as well.  The Hockey News seems to have big expectations for him, projecting him for 45 points this season, but I don't think I will get too excited, given that he is now on a new team and needs to find his place, another 35-point range season seems reasonable to me.

The Flames only had so much cap space to work with on this deal and if the cap number for the young defenseman was going to be north of $5 million, that was going to leave the team in a tight spot through the year. Adding that extra year did help them save on the average annual value on the deal, which certainly helped and it has now left the team with about $1.8 million in space, with a full 23-man projected roster in tow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pool Worthy Restricted Free Agents Still on the Shelf

We're turning the page on the calendar today and we're drawing ever closer to NHL training camps, the first sniff of real homework for us hockey poolies.  Rookie camps are just about to open up, but those kids are either locked in or heading back to the lower ranks after they're done, but the guys that are still big question marks today are the unsigned restricted free agents.

Seven players, who were hockey pool worthy last year, still remain unsigned and are the focus of this post today.  All of them are coming out of their respective entry-level deals and the clubs are now trying to determine whether or not they want to sign them long-term or bridge their deal by a couple of years, playing the wait and see game, trying to confirm whether or not they are worthy of being signed long-term.

Last year, at this time, there were also seven players on the list and they fell pretty quickly after this post, so I'm sure most of the fans of these teams and players are hoping for much of the same this year.

The biggest fish in the restricted free agent pond is William Nylander and his next contract will certainly have a greater effect on the salary cap status of the years after the 2019 season, more than it will the 2019 season.

There's no question that the kid is talented and fits in like a corner piece on a puzzle, but the question may remain... is he THE corner piece that the Maple Leafs need to pay top dollar for?  He's already popped off 135 points in his first three seasons with Toronto, so where is the issue on paying this kid?  With Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner looking for extensions already, John Tavares now in tow, Frederik Andersen anchoring the team and a blueline that isn't cheap, money begins to appear to be quite tight, starting in the 2020 season.

Of course, the whole picture is going to appear much clearer, when Nylander signs his next deal, but whether or not the Leafs will be able to get a hometown discount from the 22-year old Swede for keeping the gang together will loom large for the future of this team.

Things aren't nearly as serious in Buffalo, as they are in Toronto, which makes the Sam Reinhart situation a little less interesting, perhaps, but on the grand scale for the Sabres, not any less important.

It may have taken a little while, but the 22-year old has really started to show what he is really made of with this team, finishing with 50 points in 82 games last season, knowing full well it could have been better, if Jack Eichel remained healthy for the whole year.

The Sabres are growing a pretty good looking franchise on paper these days, having some poor years yield some top end prospects and they have been able to take advantage of some teams selling off pieces, which have aided in making the team look a little bit more competitive.  Getting Reinhart locked in will be a key piece of this puzzle moving forward, but it doesn't seem like it is a slam dunk to get done, which could be troubling.  By my count, the Sabres have $5.4 million in cap space with their current 23-man roster, so money shouldn't really be an issue today and with free agency looming next summer, they should have even more space.

One of the lesser-known players on this list, New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood, popped out of the woodwork (pardon the pun) and snuck his way onto the pool worthy list of scorers, ranking 197th among all forwards with 32 points in 76 games.

This could be a tricky negotiation, one that the player really doesn't have a lot of leverage on, but the difference between 'what have you done for me lately?' and 'what is your potential for the coming year?' really begins to settle in here.

After two solid seasons, playing in 136 games, it does appear that he is now an everyday player for this club and he may have a case for being paid like one, even though he could possibly be thought of as a bubble player, thanks to some only 'okay' numbers.

One would have to believe that the bridge deal is far more likely for Wood at this point, as much as the player may want a little bit more of a long-term commitment.  I don't think there will be much of a hockey pool commitment from many teams at this year's draft, since he was such a bubble player at the end of last year and there are some up-and-coming rookies ready to take his place (or be better).

Now we get into all the defensemen that are left on the list and we start in Calgary, where the newly-acquired Noah Hanifin is apparently "super close" to a new deal and that is good news for the Flames.

Thanks to the recent buyout of forward Troy Brouwer, the Flames opened up a little more cap space to get a deal done with Hanifin, as reports are suggesting that the deal could be in the 5-year range, worth north of $5 million per season.

In giving up a franchise defenseman like Dougie Hamilton in the trade that brought Hanifin to Calgary, the Flames are destined to pay Hanifin like he is a franchise defender, as he appears to be on the verge of being one of those guys.

With what has already been said in the media reports and still a couple weeks until players start arriving for training camp, there shouldn't be any reason to panic... for now.

I think we're all still waiting to see if Shea Theodore is really going to live up to all the hype he has had in the last couple of years, albeit he made it onto the hockey pool worthiness list after last season's effort of 29 points in 61 games.

We still haven't seen a full 82-game season out of him yet, last year was really his first full season, so there's still a little bit more proof needed that he is worthy of a long-term deal.  Somehow, I think this could still be the thinking for the Vegas Golden Knights, who do appear to be quite high on him, but did he really do enough to earn that big deal or will he still only manage a bridge deal out of it this summer.

If you believe what you have read, in terms of some of the projections that the Hockey News has given him for the coming season, 43 points, then maybe he has a little bit of leg to stand on, but the proof is really in the pudding and Theodore might be better suited for a small bridge deal, hoping that he can work out the kinks and be that full-time guy that everyone expects him to be.

The Winnipeg Jets and Josh Morrissey are likely in some pretty interesting talks, in terms of settling their restricted free agency differences. 

The Jets are another one of those teams that have to look much further ahead down the road with these negotiations, as they have lots of work to do in the next year or so, just to lock down the core group, hopefully for the long-term.  Morrissey will need a new deal now, but Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba will also need new deals in the next 12-to-13 months and that is going to take up a lot of cap space immediately.

I am currently showing the Jets having a 23-man roster and $8.5 million in cap space, but the cap hit that Morrissey gets in his new deal will creep over the length of the deal and where he stands right now, that could put a pretty big dent in what the team could offer the four other players soon.

Today, I could see a guy like Morrissey fetch about $4 million per season, if he was to re-sign long-term and that could be a good deal for both the club and the player, but the argument for upside is certainly there and is probably what is hindering the deal getting done.

And finally, closely following Morrissey in Winnipeg is the same situation between Darnell Nurse and the Edmonton Oilers, certainly looking long-term, but really keeping an eye on the pennies spent.

Nurse is another kid that has plenty of hype around what his future looks like in the NHL and it is certainly bright, but the Oilers will already struggle to afford what that could be worth down the road, as they may struggle with the cost of him, just outside of his entry-level deal.

I currently show the Oilers with a 23-man roster and only $2.2 million in cap space today and he'll be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $4 million per season, much like Morrissey above him here.  If he was to pan out to his expectations, his contracts would be worth much more than that and that's a scary thought for this team, which has already allocated a lot of cap space to very few players.

I don't think it is out of the question to think that the Oilers will be forced to make a move or two, just to make sure they have Nurse on the roster for the coming season.

Zetterberg Not Ready to Get Going

There was a sense of uneasiness around the Detroit Red Wings this summer and it stemmed from the health of Henrik Zetterberg, who has been dealing with back issues over the last few years.

Zetterberg hasn't missed many games since his last back surgery, back in 2014, only a total of five games and they were all back in the 2015 season.  Since then, the veteran has played every regular season game for the Red Wings over the last three seasons.

Unfortunately, he has said that the tricks that he has done to get his back into playing shape haven't worked for him this summer and training has been a non-starter for him.  He hasn't been able to push himself through any training and he now believes that training camp is already a no-go and that will cost him the start of the regular season, with fears that it could extend all the way through the year.

No matter which way you slice it now, this is a pretty big blow to the Red Wings upcoming season, but with injuries like this, it will open up the door to some younger players, giving them an opportunity to showcase their talents at the top level.  Filip Zadina, Evgeny Svechnikov and Michael Rasmussen may all have a chance to make a strong case for a 2019 rookie season in Detroit.  Be sure to adjust your projections, accordingly.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Top Prospect Signings (Aug 27)

On Sunday, the Winnipeg Jets announced that they came to terms with their 2017 1st round draft pick, forward Kristian Vesalainen, inking him to his entry-level deal.  The 19-year old was taken with the 24th overall pick and played in Finland's top league last season, picking up 43 points in 49 games, playing with men. 

The 6'4" forward already has the size to make an impact in the NHL, but if he can't crack the roster with the Jets this season, he does have a European clause, which would see him head back home on loan to a Finnish club.  His scouting report reveals a player that is a good fit for the Jets, plays an up-tempo game and uses his size to his advantage, including a heavy shot.  He certainly could be one to watch, if he does indeed crack a very good Jets roster.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Pool Worthy Goon Squad

This is a fun blog post to write, I must admit.

The mini-game wheel didn't favour the PIM pool last season, which was too bad, because it is a really good mini-game in the hockey pool season, certainly for those teams that have a rough go of it early on in the year, they can goon it up and try to earn their money back.

This is the third time I've written this post, missing out on the 2016 season, mostly because of the hooplah around the World Cup of Hockey, it was somewhat overlooked.  So, only 2015 and 2017 were done before and that will be my frame of reference now looking back.

So, to qualify for the Pool Worthy Goon Squad, you needed to finish in the hockey pool worthy conversation in points, top 200 in forwards, top 100 defense and top 50 goalies, and then we take the top penalty minute getters.

Forwards Team Points PIM
Tom Wilson WAS 35 187
Evgeni Malkin PIT 98 87
Miles Wood NJD 32 84
Evander Kane SAN 54 82
Milan Lucic EDM 34 80
Ryan Johansen NAS 54 78
Mikael Backlund CAL 45 78
Defense Team Points PIM
Dustin Byfuglien WPG 45 112
Nikita Zadorov COL 20 103
P.K. Subban NAS 59 82
Ian Cole COL 20 76
Goalies Team Points PIM
John Gibson ANA 71 16
Andrei Vasilevskiy TAM 106 14
673 1,079

So, here we go!  Dustin Byfuglien will wear the the "C" for this squad, as he has now appeared on all three teams and if I was to go back and look at the 2016 goon squad, I'm sure he would have been there as well.  Maybe one day, I will look at that team.

Evander Kane and Milan Lucic each make their second appearance on the team and then there are some surprises here and there.

Tom Wilson may be more of a surprise, given the number of points he had, rather than the penalty minutes, but Evgeni Malkin and Mikael Backlund do come as somewhat of a surprise.  There is a lot of top end talent on this team, so much so, that the team would have finished 7th in points, if you were to slot it in to last year's hockey pool standings.  That's a good finish.

With all of that being said, we should have a look at what the remaining goon squad would look like.  We won't use any of the already drafted players above and we'll see what they come in with.

Forwards Team Points PIM
Michael Haley FLA 9 212
Antoine Roussel VAN 35 187
Austin Watson NAS 19 123
Cody McLeod NYR 4 111
Ryan Reaves VGK 10 94
Zack Kassian EDM 19 92
Garnet Hathaway CAL 13 88
Defense Team Points PIM
Alex Petrovic FLA 13 98
Jamie Oleksiak PIT 17 87
Radko Gudas PHI 16 83
Kevin Bieksa UFA 8 83
Goalies Team Points PIM
Cam Ward CHI 50 14
David Rittich CAL 16 14
229 1,286

Lots of familiar names on this list, especially in the forward department.  If you were going to just goon up this season from day one, without any hesitation about whether or not the PIM pool lands on the wheel, you could take most of these forwards and be very confident that you would win your money back.  Antoine Roussel, Cody McLeod and Ryan Reaves have appeared on all three lists now.  The defense and goalies are a good mix, but you might not want to draft Kevin Bieksa, as he has not been signed to a new deal on any NHL team yet and he could have been replaced by Travis Hamonic in Calgary, losing out on a few minutes in the process.

All in all, I do hope that the PIM pool makes its return to the hockey pool this year, but that's not for me to determine.  That's for the wheel to decide.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Goalies Taken By Round Historically

Ask any NHL team and they would probably agree, getting a top end goalie is a hard thing to do.  That might be especially so in a hockey pool draft, when top end goalies are just as good as those top end forwards we're always chiming on about.

When forwards (and defense) are getting a point for every goal and assist they get, not to mention having the ability to play in all 82 games, finding a evening out point for goaltenders wasn't all that difficult, when the true number one goalies, in a healthy season, are playing 60-70 games in a season and certainly, they're not capitalizing every night on the 2 points for a win and another 2 points for a shutout.  Still, there is a school of thought at the draft, that you need at least one good goalie, if you're going to win this pool and if you can get two, you might be able to make up for the lack of top end forwards late.

In recent years, this has created a bum's rush for goaltending at the draft, as illustrated by the table down below.  What we see here is goalies taken by round over the last nine drafts, thankfully, the structure of the pool hasn't changed, so this does become a pretty good exercise in statistics.

Last year's draft saw a record-high in goalies taken in the 1st round, topping out at 19 keepers in a 25-team draft, not leaving a lot for the rest of the pool.  That rush wasn't quite as significant as the 2015 draft, where 38 of 54 goalies were gone by the end of the 2nd round.

Year Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
2017 25 19 8 1 3 3 4 0 2 3 0 3 1 1 2
2016 25 18 7 5 5 2 1 0 2 0 3 3 2 0 2
2015 27 18 20 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 3 1 4 3
2014 23 7 16 8 1 1 2 4 1 0 0 3 1 1 1
2013 24 6 15 2 3 2 4 5 3 0 1 1 1 1 4
2012 17 7 11 8 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2
2011 22 10 11 6 3 5 3 2 0 1 0 1 1 0 1
2010 20 8 13 3 2 0 1 4 2 2 0 0 1 1 3
2009 17 7 7 2 6 5 3 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2

Does it really pay off in the end?  Stuart, last year's winner, didn't take his first goalie until the 3rd round and his second goalie until the 13th round, opting to exchange Louis Domingue for Keith Kinkaid at the opening Waiver Draft and then the rest was history.  Having a little bit of luck at the one-third point of the season certainly helps.

Of the top 25 players in hockey pool scoring last year, only six of them were goalies, five of them were taken in the 1st round, while Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets, wasn't taken until the 5th round.

How much help was Hellebuyck as such a good bargain pick?  Not much.  Neil, who ended up with the pick, finished 18th.

I think everyone certainly feels more comfortable with at least one starting goaltender that they can hang their hat on after the draft, but it is a long season and lots of things can certainly happen.  If you can identify the teams that you think will be at the top of the overall standings at the end of the year, pick out their number one goalie, then you might have a pretty good case for a 1st round pick, but if you're hoping that Cam Talbot, Mike Smith and/or Carey Price are going to turn around their clubs in the coming year, enough so to be a 1st round pick, you're taking a huge gamble and could be better off with Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos or an Alex Ovechkin, all three players going in the 2nd round last year.

Don't let me disrupt your strategy though... I mainly did this post out of my own curiosity.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Gone to Europe (Aug 24)

NHL free agency has been a long process for unrestricted free agent defenseman Toby Enstrom, so much so, that he's decided to head home to Sweden, signing with MODO on Friday.  Enstrom is coming off a 5-year deal, which paid him $5.75 million per season and he wasn't able to perform at a high level, thanks to numerous injury problems over the last few years.  The last season where Enstrom was worthy of being picked in the pool was back in 2015, when he finished 70th among all defensemen in scoring.  Since then, he's been a fringe player or not at all. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Off-Season Injury Notes (Aug 23)

Some injury concerns in Philadelphia these days, as Sean Couturier has suffered a knee injury in a charity game a couple of weeks ago and it is just now seeing some light in the news. It appears that it is an MCL injury, one that he had just rehabbed not long ago, only to return in a summer game and it is believed that it will keep him out until the middle of training camp.  The current projected date is around September 19th, only about 10 days before the hockey pool draft, so we'll know more about whether or not he'll be good to go or not, so stay tuned.

I have the 25-year old forward pegged for a big season, looking at around 75 points, if he can stay healthy for the whole year, while the Hockey News seems to have a little bit of a reservation on the coming season, pegging him in the 66-point range.  Of course, we'll get more updates, the closer we are to camp.

Columbus Blue Jackets top prospect Vitaly Abramov won't be joining his fellow teammates in the next few weeks at the Traverse City rookie tournament, as he had off-season wrist surgery and won't be ready to go just yet.  The 2016 3rd round pick has been amazing at the junior level, but still needs to find his way into cracking the NHL roster here soon.  His numbers in his QMJHL career have been staggering, finishing three seasons with 301 points in 185 games.  It only seems like a matter of time before he makes it and becomes a hockey pool favourite, but it might not be this year.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Top Prospect Signings (Aug 20)

The New Jersey Devils announced on Monday afternoon, that they signed their top pick in the 2018 entry draft, defenseman Ty Smith.  Smith was the 17th overall selection, scouted as one of the top skaters in his draft class and now becomes the 23rd player in the class to sign his entry-level deal.

Smith played with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL last season, putting up 73 points in 69 regular season games, certainly among the elite defenders in his class, numbers-wise.  The Devils certainly have some bubble players on their blueline, but there won't be any rush to get an 18-year old out there, but I suppose you never know.  I will be waiting to see how far he makes it in camp before I start throwing projections out there, if at all.

The Hockey News Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide 2018-19

I believe the Hockey News Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide is the most popular publication at my hockey pool drafts and rightfully so. It's easy to read and it lays out a lot of information there for you.  Even though I work on my own projections every year now, which I actually publish (click here), I sure do like looking at the other publication's numbers, just as a reference point.  Some of them may come in handy, as I try to possibly revise my numbers for when draft day (click here) actually rolls around.

One of the things I like the most about the other publications is their insight into some deeper players, who they might see making the team, which prospects are on the verge of breaking through and who might be falling off a little bit.  I don't get to watch hockey all of the time, no matter how much I would like to, so sometimes you have to rely on the hard work of other people to get the job done.

This year's guide does see a small improvement in the number of players published, as they have 707 projections in their book, including 62 goalies, so they cover the gamut of players across all 31 NHL teams.  Just doing a comparison between lists, they did offer up projections for some of the unsigned players, like Sam Reinhart and William Nylander, but mine will come when they sign.  They have a lot of projected rookies, mostly defensemen, that I didn't consider in my immediate list, but they're all certainly players to keep an eye on in training camp.

No surprises here, as Connor McDavid in Edmonton again rules the roost, in terms of projections for the 2019 season, coming in at 114 points.  The rest of the top 10 (and ties) isn't really much of a surprise either... Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning, Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets, Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, Braden Holtby of the Capitals, Brad Marchand of the Bruins, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets, Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, Nathan MacKinnon of the Avalanche and Pekka Rinne of the Predators round out the selection.

In goal, the rest of the top 10 of note are all worthy of a 1st round selection in the pool, if we were to have a 25-team draft again this year.  Matt Murray of the Penguins, Jonathan Quick of the Kings, Frederik Andersen of the Maple Leafs, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Golden Knights and Devan Dubnyk of the Wild are all worthy of your pick in the opening round and it's hard to argue with much of that.  They're betting pretty heavy on Murray in Pittsburgh, which I suggested you could, but his injury concerns are worth discounting his value on a bit.

The forward group had six in the top 11 (thanks to a tie), so the remaining four players of note look a little something like this... John Tavares of the Maple Leafs, Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, David Pastrnak of the Bruins and Steven Stamkos of the Lightning.  Kucherov, Marchand and Pastrnak are the only three players in the top 10 forwards to not have been taken with the 1st overall selection in their respective draft year. 

The first defenseman on the list doesn't appear until 42nd on list, which means he would be a late 2nd round pick in a 25-team draft and I would imagine that the actual draft may see one of these top defenders go earlier than that and a landslide of blueliners may hit.  Last year, the top defender was taken early in the 2nd, 28th overall, followed by four more in the round.  Erik Karlsson of the Senators, Brent Burns of the Sharks, Victor Hedman of the Lightning, John Klingberg of the Stars, Tyson Barrie of the Avalanche, Seth Jones of the Blue Jackets, Morgan Rielly of the Maple Leafs, P.K. Subban of the Predators, Shayne Gostisbehere of the Flyers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Coyotes would be your top 10.  If you can snag one of these guys, you're probably going to be in good shape through the year.

How about the rookie class?  Are you shopping for those freshmen?  Elias Pettersson of the Canucks leads the Hockey News projections at 58 points, not too far from where I have him slotted, so he'll be one to watch.  The rest of the top 10 rookies, in order, are Andrei Svechnikov of the Hurricanes, Casey Mittlestadt & Rasmus Dahlin of the Sabres, Sam Steel of the Ducks, Ryan Donato of the Bruins, Filip Zadina of the Red Wings, Valentin Zykov of the Hurricanes, Andreas Johnsson of the Maple Leafs and Vladislav Kamenev of the Avalanche.

For just about anyone, I would suggest putting your own list together, but who really has the time to look at 700+ players, especially for my draft, to figure out who you should take and when you feel most comfortable to do so.  The Hockey News does do a pretty good job of putting together a list, where you can cross off players at the back of the magazine, but they do separate the skaters from the goalies too, so you better be prepared for that.

Maybe this year I'll look at a few other magazines out there, I know I have before.  It's kind of fun to compare notes.  It makes for decent reading.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

2019 Pool Projections: Sophomores

If you have stuck around the blog a while (thank you, by the way!), you will have noticed that there was something new on the projection pages for each team under the rookie column and that was the letter 'S', which designated that a player played enough games last season to move past his rookie status. For some, it wasn't really the standard way of going about it, like playing a lot of games in their first season, but you can't win them all.

Nevertheless, you pass the rookie qualifications in the previous season, it will make you a sophomore in the next season and that's the way it's going to be.  By my count, that makes 94 players out of the 240 rookies who played last season, played enough games to move out of rookie status and into sophomore status.  Of those 94 players, 91 have contracts currently and two of the three without are restricted free agents just waiting on their new deals.  Of the 91 with contracts, I have 71 of those projected to be in their team's 23-man roster right now.  24 of those players have been deemed worthy, by my projections and they are among the players I have down below.

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Team
Mathew Barzal F 75 NYI
Brock Boeser F 60 VAN
Clayton Keller F 55 ARI
Yanni Gourde F 45 TAM
Kyle Connor F 45 WPG
Jake DeBrusk F 45 BOS
Alex DeBrincat F 45 CHI
Nico Hischier F 45 NJD
Pierre-Luc Dubois F 40 CBJ
Alexander Kerfoot F 35 COL
Charles Hudon F 35 MTL
Danton Heinen F 35 BOS
Will Butcher D 35 NJD
Tristan Jarry G 35 PIT
Mark Jankowski F 35 CAL
Joel Eriksson Ek F 35 MIN
Dylan Strome F 35 ARI
Mikhail Sergachev D 35 TAM
Tyson Jost F 35 COL
Nolan Patrick F 35 PHI
Dominik Simon F 30 PIT
J.T. Compher F 30 COL
Alex Tuch F 30 VGK
Adrian Kempe F 30 LOS
Thomas Chabot D 30 OTT
Jack Roslovic F 30 WPG
Jesper Bratt F 30 NJD
Charlie McAvoy D 30 BOS
Blake Coleman F 25 NJD
Martin Frk F 25 DET
Alex Iafallo F 25 LOS
Brendan Leipsic F 25 VAN
Ryan Pulock D 25 NYI
Tyler Bertuzzi F 25 DET
Jakub Vrana F 25 WAS
Christian Fischer F 25 ARI
Sean Kuraly F 20 BOS
Joakim Ryan D 20 SAN
Chandler Stephenson F 20 WAS
Matt Grzelcyk D 20 BOS
Boo Nieves F 20 NYR
Dominic Toninato F 20 COL
Juuse Saros G 20 NAS
Remi Elie F 20 DAL
John Hayden F 20 CHI
Madison Bowey D 20 WAS
Ian McCoshen D 20 FLA
Sonny Milano F 20 CBJ
Travis Sanheim D 20 PHI
Michael Amadio F 20 LOS
Haydn Fleury D 20 CAR
Vince Dunn D 20 STL
Travis Dermott D 20 TOR
Samuel Girard D 20 COL
Tage Thompson F 20 BUF
Neal Pionk D 20 NYR
Oscar Fantenberg D 15 LOS
Laurent Brossoit G 15 WPG
Pontus Aberg F 15 EDM
Robert Hagg D 15 PHI
Julius Honka D 15 DAL
Victor Mete D 15 MTL
Andreas Borgman D 15 TOR
Joshua Ho-Sang F 15 NYI
Jonny Brodzinski F 10 LOS
Frederick Gaudreau F 10 NAS
Christian Djoos D 10 WAS
Gemel Smith F 10 DAL
Connor Brickley F 10 NAS
Josh Archibald F 10 ARI
Zack Mitchell F 10 LOS
David Kampf F 10 CHI
Anders Bjork F 10 BOS
Marcus Sorensen F 5 SAN
Markus Hannikainen F 5 CBJ
Maxim Mamin F 5 FLA
Peter Cehlarik F 5 BOS
Ben Harpur D 5 OTT
Nikita Scherbak F 5 MTL
Matthew Peca F 5 MTL
Paul Ladue D 5 LOS
Kurtis MacDermid D 5 LOS
Nicholas Baptiste F 5 BUF
Anton Lindholm D 5 COL

I have rambled on, to great lengths, about the sophomore slump or jinx, which is still a fairly common occurrence in the NHL and as much as us hockey poolies don't enjoy those seasons, when we get caught with an exciting rookie from last season on our team, only to see him go through his growing pains, it's an important step for a lot of these guys to be reminded of the work ethic it takes to remain in the top tier of any professional sport.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

2019 Pool Projections: Rookies

I counted, at this time last year, that there were 254 rookies to appear in at least one NHL game in the 2017 season, but only 28 of them were pool worthy players: 15 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goalies.  In the 2018 season, there were 240 players, qualified as rookies, to appear in at least one NHL game and 27 of them were considered to be pool worthy: 15 forwards, eight defensemen and four goalies.

"To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in more than 25 NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie."

With that being said, one of our pool worthy goalies from last season, Vegas' Malcolm Subban still qualifies as a rookie for this season, as he has only appeared in a total of 24 NHL games in three seasons and is still only 24 years old.

Okay, moving on... the rookie mini-game hasn't landed on the wheel in the last couple of seasons, so there hasn't been a great motive to take the risk on some rookies or load up on rookies at the Waiver Draft.  Nevertheless, I have comprised my list of the freshmen that I have given projection numbers to and I think it is an adequate representation of my excitement level for these kids.

It is pretty difficult to gauge what these kids are really going to do from an overall season perspective, the best thing that you can do heading into the draft, is figure out where you would be most comfortable picking some of these guys.

Last year's swing and miss was Mathew Barzal, who had a hard time trying to crack the roster in the 2017 season, so it was really hard to suggest that he would blast off onto the scene and be worthy of a 1st round pick by the end of the year.  It does go to show you that some of thse kids only need just a little bit more time at the lower levels to physically evolve enough to compete with the big boys and some patience is required.

This year's list will evolve with the move towards rookie camp, training camp and preseason games, as they will show the cream rising to the top, ever so slowly, and don't forget about the unforeseen circumstances.  The injury bug can be a cruel animal, as it takes down rookies and veterans alike, but with that comes opportunity and that needs to be considered and your numbers adjusted for.

So, without any further ado, here is this year's list of rookies...

Player Pos 18/19 Proj Team
Casey Mittelstadt F 60 BUF
Ryan Donato F 55 BOS
Elias Pettersson F 55 VAN
Eeli Tolvanen F 50 NAS
Anthony Cirelli F 45 TAM
Andrei Svechnikov F 45 CAR
Rasmus Dahlin D 40 BUF
Victor Ejdsell F 40 CHI
Martin Necas F 40 CAR
Filip Zadina F 40 DET
Lias Andersson F 35 NYR
Jordan Greenway F 35 MIN
Daniel Sprong F 35 PIT
Evgeny Svechnikov F 35 DET
Troy Terry F 35 ANA
Miro Heiskanen D 30 DAL
Linus Ullmark G 30 BUF
Gabriel Vilardi F 30 LOS
Kailer Yamamoto F 30 EDM
Henrik Borgstrom F 25 FLA
Daniel Brickley D 25 LOS
Logan Brown F 25 OTT
Rourke Chartier F 25 SAN
Spencer Foo F 25 CAL
Dylan Gambrell F 25 SAN
Adam Gaudette F 25 VAN
Barrett Hayton F 25 ARI
Oskar Lindblom F 25 PHI
Michael McLeod F 25 NJD
Michael Rasmussen F 25 DET
Sam Steel F 25 ANA
Malcolm Subban G 25 VGK
Colin White F 25 OTT
Julien Gauthier F 20 CAR
Henri Jokiharju D 20 CHI
Noah Juulsen D 20 MTL
Vladislav Kamenev F 20 COL
Luke Kunin F 20 MIN
Tucker Poolman D 20 WPG
John Quenneville F 20 NJD
Sebastian Aho (D) D 15 NYI
Ethan Bear D 15 EDM
Gabriel Carlsson D 15 CBJ
Pierre Engvall F 15 TOR
Jon Gillies G 15 CAL
Carl Grundstrom F 15 TOR
Calle Rosen D 15 TOR
Ilya Samsonov G 15 WAS
Filip Chlapik F 10 OTT
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson F 10 BOS
Alexandre Fortin F 10 CHI
Blake Hillman F 10 CHI
Andreas Johnsson F 10 TOR
Janne Kuokkanen F 10 CAR
Trevor Moore F 10 TOR
Alexander Nylander F 10 BUF
Christian Wolanin D 10 OTT
Rasmus Andersson D 5 CAL
Zach Aston-Reese F 5 PIT
Sammy Blais F 5 STL
Colby Cave F 5 BOS
Carl Dahlstrom D 5 CHI
Michael Downing D 5 FLA
Andreas Englund D 5 OTT
Warren Foegele F 5 CAR
Alex Formenton F 5 OTT
Shane Gersich F 5 WAS
A.J. Greer F 5 COL
Henrik Haapala F 5 FLA
Adin Hill G 5 ARI
Ross Johnston F 5 NYI
Dean Kukan D 5 CBJ
Brendan Lemieux F 5 WPG
Roland McKeown D 5 CAR
Dakota Mermis D 5 ARI
Trevor Murphy D 5 ARI
Danny O'Regan F 5 BUF
Nick Paul F 5 OTT
Kevin Rooney F 5 NJD
Blake Speers F 5 NJD
Mike Vecchione F 5 PHI
Nathan Walker F 5 WAS
Valentin Zykov F 5 CAR
Daniel Sprong F 35 PIT
Adam Tambellini F 0 OTT
Sergey Tolchinsky F 0 ZFA
Lucas Wallmark F 0 CAR
Colin White F 25 OTT
Valentin Zykov F 5 CAR

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Recent Contract Extensions (Aug 16)

I think the Nashville Predators are going to get themselves a pretty good season out of defenseman Ryan Ellis and that was before he signed an 8-year, $50 million extension on Tuesday.  Maybe some job security will make the guy play a whole lot better, but the Predators brass will certainly feel much better, now that the deal is done and dusted, before the story gets out of hand.

The now 27-year old got a late start to last season, thanks to a preseason knee injury, so he only played in 44 games, scoring 9 goals and 32 points.  That is certainly an impressive scoring rate for the blueliner, one that he would certainly like to keep up in the coming year.

Next up on the list for the Predators, deciding on what to do with Pekka Rinne, the next UFA of concern for next summer.

Oilers Lose Sekera Long-Term Again

Of course, the day before I actually had my projection posts set to publish, news came down of a major injury and I didn't find the time or the wherewithal to post about it before my schedule picked up that night.

The Edmonton Oilers announced that defenseman Andrej Sekera, who was already working himself back to 100% health after a knee injury finished his season off early and there was likely some extra work to work out the kinks... he suffers an Achilles injury, one that requires surgery.

The timetable for a return sets him back into the New Year, so he will be no good to anyone at the draft in September, which is a big hit for the Oilers and the hockey pool, as he has been a pretty good offensive player, when he has been healthy.

This injury now becomes an opportunity for someone to step up and take some minutes, but the most likely of the candidates is still unsigned in Darnell Nurse.  Right now, I've bumped Kevin Gravel into the healthy 23-man roster and given him another handful of points, but Nurse would be the guy to get some minutes and post some points, but the negotiations are still ongoing.  Sekera's projected number now gets cut in half, down to 15 points, well out of hockey pool range for an entire season.

Ducks and Kase Agree to Terms

The Anaheim Ducks have re-signed restricted free agent forward Ondrej Kase on Wednesday, giving him a 3-year deal, reportedly carrying a salary cap hit of $2.6 million in each season.

The 22-year old finished his second complete season with the Ducks in 2018, playing in 66 games, scoring 20 goals and 38 points, well within the hockey pool conversation.

The small-ish winger has found a good home with the Ducks, after being drafted late in 2014.  He has had some injury problems in the past and some up and down streaks, but he appears to be a regular roster player now, so you can certainly have him in your lists.

Looking forward, the young forward is certainly trending in the right direction and I could see him having a good third season in Anaheim, so I am boosting his projections up to the 45-point range, likely where I would be wanting to take him.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

2019 Pool Projections

Well, it's quickly becoming a middle of August tradition on the blog, getting the pool projections out, taking yet another stab at publishing my numbers ahead of time.

So, let's go over the scoring system that I work with in my hockey pool draft... 1 point for a goal/assist, 2 points for a win/shutout.  I also like to base my numbers on 5-point ranges, because arbitrarily giving odd numbers just seems crazy, you can certainly be happy with ranges, kind of picking and choosing where you think you're going to see players.

As for considering who is pool worthy and who isn't... I like to base the worthiness on last year's pool participation, which was 25 teams of 8 forwards, 4 defensemen and a pair of goalies.  The top 200 (and ties) forwards, the top 100 defensemen and the top 50 goalies.  The forwards will be pool worthy into the 35-point range and up, the defensemen start at 25 points and head up, while the lowest goalie will be at 20 points.

Okay, so there you have it... you can click on the logos below to get to each team's specific post, if you'd like or the links on the right hand side of the page will also help you out.  Please enjoy and share, if you'd like.  I suppose, if you wanted to leave feedback, the comment section is always open too.