Malkin, Rust, Tanev Damage Updates; Postponements; Josi, Wahlstrom and Olofsson – December 28 – DobberHockey

That should be a given at the moment, but the landscape of the NHL is going to change dramatically on a daily basis in the near future. Each player risks landing in COVID protocols, and it can take any player or any combination of players out of the lineup. We got a glimpse of the shifting balance of power with the news that came out on Monday. For example, the Toronto Maple Leafs do not have enough defenders to ice a team. It’s throughout the organization. Even getting a few back can leave them with a very faint blue line. Over in Philadelphia, they are now missing Ryan Ellis, Sean Couturier and Carter Hart among many others. It was announced the same day that Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point returned to train for the Tampa Bay Lightning. We are going to see wild roster fluctuations like this in the foreseeable future, and that means fantasy owners will have to be on their toes daily.

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Significant updates in Pittsburgh:

It should also be noted that Evgeni Malkin skated on Sidney Crosby’s wing alongside Rust on the other side. It’s something we’ve not seen with any frequency in their careers, outside of the last few minutes of a close match or something. Whether it sticks or not, we’ll see. But it would be a pretty big change in his fantasy outlook if it’s something that has any duration.

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Neither Mark Stone nor Max Pacioretty were at practice to Vegas Monday afternoon, but they are not with protocols. They are just good old fashioned injured and are officially making decisions on playing time for Tuesday night.

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Brutal news for Brandon Tanev in Seattle:

Although he is generally considered a defensive guy, he was in the running with over 20 goals and 40 points before this injury. That is what will make him hard to replace in the imagination. He was on his way to a Tom Wilson-like season and those guys are not available on the dispensation thread. It will be an improvement of overall.

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This is an incredibly busy time of year for hockey fans, or so it should be. The NHL has pushed the resumption of play back after the holiday break for very good reasons. There will be some cancellations or postponements going forward, both in the NHL and elsewhere. It started with the IIHF announcing the cancellation of all events beginning in January – the result of all that is still unresolved – and continued with the NHL giving teams and players a little extra time to sort out their affairs.

For fantasy owners, as I wrote earlier, this will be frustrating. At the best of times, fantasy lists can be decimated by just plain damages. As we have seen over the last six weeks, this new wrinkle of protocols and postponements can smash even the best fantasy challenger in any league. The games were postponed on the 27th and a third of them game the 28th and 29th have so far also been postponed.

To that end, I think it’s worth talking to your league mates to see if there are any updates to your own league rules that may need to be made. Changes like two-week H2H matchups instead of a week, extending pickup rules, extending damaged lists, adding FAAB dollars or anything else that leagues can come up with. Maybe individual leagues don’t want to change anything and are willing to just let the chips fall where they can. It seems like there are some fantasy owners who are getting to the breaking point in terms of not caring about the rest of the season and it’s hard to blame them.

Whatever decisions have been made, I think it’s a good idea to at least talk about some rule changes now. Get the idea planted in the minds of league mates, so when things get quiet in the summer, it might be easier to make changes as we prepare for the 2022-23 season.

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What about this game from Brad Lambert in Finland’s match yesterday against Austria?

He’s a player I’m excited to see where he lands because he looks to be a future star. How high is the top? I will leave that to the wise scouts, I just think he will be a high-impact player and it might not take long.

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Reviewing some power-play data from season to date, there are some very interesting names we need to talk about. These statistics are from Frozen Tools or Natural Stat Trick.

Oliver Wahlstrøm

Leads the league in shooting attempts per. 60 minutes with the male advantage? He would not stand here if it were not for him. It’s really remarkable that he edges names like Alex Ovechkin or Mike Hoffman in power-play shooting rate, even though it’s only been a third of the season.

To say that Wahlstrom will continue to lead the league in shooting range at 5-on-4 feels like a bridge too far, but there are good signs that it remains high. First, these are back-to-back seasons with a big shooting rate jump, which for a player drafted for his offensive upside, yes, it makes sense. He was the team’s best producer with the man advantage last year on a minute basis and also led them in shooting rate by a significant margin. Like I said, this could just be the development of a talented player.

Seven of his 15 points a year have come with the man advantage. Given all the damage and COVID problems that the islanders have endured, it feels like Wahlstrom is being shortened with his TOI skating 13:14 at night. He is now on the COVID list, so he is going out for a few games. Regardless of the power-play shooting speed, it’s hard to maintain the fantasy value when you skate 13 minutes a night. He needs more ice time and better linemates when he returns if there is to be hope of being fantasy-relevant over the next four months.

Victor Olofsson

Sitting inside the top-10 strikers for 5-on-4 shooting rate this year is a guy who lost his center due to a barter. Therefore, it is a good sign to see him where he is; he’s doing all this skating without Jack Eichel. Sometimes, when a player skates a lot with an elite talent, we can attribute the value of one player to another, and it becomes difficult to imagine that they will succeed without that talent. Well, Olofsson has 17 points in 22 games and he seems to fit really well with Tage Thompson on the top line.

The curious thing is the shot percentage. Olofsson has one goal on 19 shots and shoots just over 5%. For his career, he is a 23% + shooter with the male advantage. If he shot his career norm on the powerplay, he would be close to a point-per-game player right now. It has really been a good start for him.

Olofsson is a guy whose power-play skill was coveted when Eichel was nearby, but we generally, collectively, lost interest in the offseason. That interest should be back now because it’s clear that both Dylan Cozens and Tage Thompson have revived, or pushed forward, their fantasy value this season, and that means he gets a talented center to play with. Once those shots with the man advantage start to go in, he can have a very big second half of the season.

Josh Norris

It’s really funny how good the Ottawa top line is. Norris is heading for a season with 30 goals and 60 points and he has six more goals than assists as a center. It’s just not something we often see in the league, as the centers are the distributors and not the finishers. But that’s also what makes the Ottawa top line so dangerous: every player is a 30-goal threat. The teams can try to grab Brady Tkachuk and shut him down, but Norris has 31 goals in his last 84 games and Drake Batherson has 26 goals in his last 79 competitions. That Norris is also among the leaders in the league in shooting rate on the powerplay just adds another dimension to this line that can scare opponents.

Norris is in the process of scoring about 15 power-play goals this year, shooting 20% ​​at 5-on-4. It’s not really that high with the man advantage, as long as he keeps shooting when he reaches maybe 15 PPGs. This is just something we need to monitor as we move forward here. It’s hard to see him stay in the top-10 for shot rate across the league because there are only so many shots for that line to take with the man advantage. We need to monitor this, because if this can continue, it would not only make Norris a 30-goal threat, but possibly a 40-goal threat as well.

Roman Josi

The only defender in the top-10 is Roman Josi, which is probably both a surprise and not. If anyone were to tell me that a 2021 defender shot a lot at PP, Josi would be on the shortlist. But the Nashville Predators have had a bad power play for years now, and high shooting rates generally do not follow bad power plays. That has changed this year as the Preds generate more shots per game. 60 minutes on 5-on-4 this year than any season in his career, and also more goals. Whether that continues in 50 more games remains to be seen, but again, he is one of the few defenders capable of doing exactly what he does in an entire season.

It is possible that Josi will field between 30 and 40 PPPs this year, if both his shooting rate and the team’s goal rate of 5-on-4 continue as they have done. There have been many interruptions to the season, but Jose’s ability to seemingly improve even as he skates in his 31-year-old season is really something to see.

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