Daily Fantasy Sports Players to Target: Friday, November 9

On nights with busier NHL schedules, I will be breaking down some key plays for your DFS lineups. If I get enough engagement on these, then I will be looking into hosting Draft Kings tournaments with some followers. Here we go - your Friday, November 9 DFS Key Plays:

Six games in the NHL tonight, which is fairly busy for a Friday night.

DRAFTKINGS

GOALIES

For those of you who are avid DFS players, you know what to look for in goalies. Obviously, you’re looking for a guy who’s going to get you a butt-load of saves, along with a win. A Shutout will also help you out a bit with that 2 point bonus. Here are some goalies I will be targeting tonight

Jimmy Howard, DET, $7,600

Howard and the Redwings are hosting the Rangers tonight. While the Rangers have won four straight games, the Redwings are also on a bit of a streak of their own, winning four of their last five.

Howard is coming off a 40-save win Tuesday night against the Canucks.

Dating back to December of 2015, the Rangers and Red Wings have had some pretty low-scoring games, with Howard and Lundqvist starting a large majority of those games. The Red Wings had a GAA of 1.90, almost a full point less than the current league average (2.88GAA) during that time of I wouldn’t be targeting any skaters on either team tonight, but either goalie (depending on who you believe will win) would be a solid start in your goalie position.

DEFENCEMEN

A game I feel like is going to be high-scoring tonight (and one that I am targeting) is the Colorado/Winnipeg game. Two high-powered offences facing off against one another.

Ian Cole, COL, $4,300

A blueliner I am going to be heavily rostering tonight is Ian Cole. Cole finds himself on the team’s #1 pairing and is a shot-blocking MACHINE. Cole had 5 blocks in his last game while putting up over 20 minutes of ice-time, behind only Eric Johnson (who should not be targeted at all in DFS). Over Cole’s last 3 games, he has potted 1 goal, to go along with an assist, while averaging a hair under 4 fantasy points in those games. I’ll also add that there has been a total of 29. Yes. 29 goals scored in those three games. Cole will prove to be a solid value play to let you pay up for those high-scoring forwards.

And just for fun… I’m going to bet the over on this game (T:6.0)

FORWARDS

Since we were able to save some salary in drafting Cole, let’s pay up for these next players.

Nathan MacKinnon, COL, $7,600

We all know about the tear MacKinnon has been on this year and I see no chance of that slowing down tonight against the Jets. MacKinnon has four points (2G, 2A) in his last two games after being held pointless for more than one game in a row for the first time this season. As mentioned before, I expect this game to be high-scoring. Look for MacKinnon to continue putting up points tonight. MacKinnon has averaged 6.1 fantasy points per game this year.

Patrick Laine, WPG, $6,400

Blake Wheeler, WPG, $6,500

Now here I was honestly torn between Wheeler and Laine, so I thought, ‘what the Hell, let’s do both of them.’ Both Laine and Wheeler are solid players who get a lot of Powerplay time as well. The league #2 ranked Powerplay with surely get a few chances on the man-advantage tonight as Colorado takes the 3rd most PIM/G in the league (not to mention WPG takes a league-most… a reason to look at at least one more Av for your DFS lineup tonight).

You can never really go wrong with these two powerhouse forwards.

TIPS FOR FILLING OUT THE REST OF YOUR LINEUP

Now that I’ve talked about a base for your DFS lineup tonight, it’s up to you to fill out the rest. There are a lot of solid players out there to add to your lineup. Try to look at what games are going to be higher-scoring than others and go from there. I like to play some stacks here and there, matching two or more players from the same line, but it’s totally up to what you decide!

Good luck on tonight’s NHL DFS slate!

Struggling Penguins

As a Penguins fan, this news hits a little too close to home. We all know of the Penguins’ struggles as of late. The Pens have lost five in a row, being outscored 20-7 in those 5 games and 12-2 in their last three.

"Certainly if this continues, in short order, we're going to have to make some changes," Rutherford said during a radio interview before the Pens’ 2-1 loss to the Capitals.

Rutherford went on to say that actions speak louder than words, which is why he had decided to call up Zach Aston-Reese and Garrett Wilson from AHL Wilkes-Barre ahead of Wednesday night’s game, “this will be the first move of a few if we don’t get it along.”

The Penguins’ struggles don’t lie in the hands of superstars Crosby, Malkin and Kessel, who are all averaging over a point-per-game. Instead, Rutherford called out a few of the team’s support players, “It’s almost like the guys come to the games and say, ‘let’s let the top guys do it.’”

I’ll be honest - it’s been a little frustrating watching the Penguins over the last few games. With the exception of last night (where I actually thought they played a little better than lately), the Pens have looked lazy. Especially the support cast. Guys like Brassard, Sheahan, Rust, Haggy have what? Like four goals on the year so far COMBINED? What the hell is that? Maybe the Pens should look back into getting Nick Bonino back. Reunite the legendary ‘HBK’ line of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.

With the lack of support from the team’s support players paired with inconsistent goaltending, the Penguins are struggling, “They get bigger contracts and they kind of settle in,” Rutherford said, surely speaking of guys like Hornqvist (signing 5-year, $26.5M contract in February).

The former back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions are going to have to prove to their GM (and former GM of the Year) that they still have what it takes to be a contending team. Since getting off to a hot start at the beginning of the season (6-1-2 and getting up to 3rd overall), the pens have fallen off and now sit with a record of 6-5-3.

The Pens hope to bounce back Saturday night at home against the Arizona Coyotes. If they don’t you can bet I’ll be upset. I’ll have a strongly written LETTER (lets call it a love letter) dedicated to the laziness of the Penguins over the last two weeks (with the exception of my boys Phil, Geno and Sid. They’re cool in my books still. Oh - and Tanger.

2006 REDRAFT

2006_nhl_draft.jpg

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

  1. St. Louis: Jonathan Toews (picked: Erik Johnson)

  2. Pittsburgh: Nicklas Backstrom (picked: Jordan Staal)

  3. Chicago: Phil Kessel (picked: Jonathan Toews)

  4. Washington: Claude Giroux (picked: Nicklas Backstrom)

  5. Boston: Brad Marchand (picked: Phil Kessel)

  6. Columbus: Jordan Staal (picked: Derick Brassard)

  7. NY Islanders: Derick Brassard (picked: Kyle Okposo)

  8. Phoenix: Kyle Okposo (picked: Peter Mueller)

  9. Minnesota: Bryan Little (picked: James Sheppard)

  10. Florida: Nick Foligno (picked: Michael Frolik)

  11. Los Angeles: Milan Lucic (picked: Jonathan Bernier)

  12. Atlanta: Artemi Anisimov (picked: Bryan Little)

  13. Toronto: Erik Johnson (picked: Jiri Tlusty)

  14. Vancouver: Semyon Varlamov (picked: Michael Grabner)

  15. Tampa Bay: Patrik Berglund (picked: Riku Helenius)

  16. San Jose: Michael Grabner (picked: Ty Wishart)

  17. Los Angeles: Chris Stewart (picked: Trevor Lewis)

  18. Colorado: Jonathan Bernier (picked: Chris Stewart)

  19. Anaheim: Jeff Petry (picked: Mark Mitera)

  20. Montreal: Steve Mason (picked: David Fischer)

  21. NY Rangers: Nikolai Kulemin (picked: Bob Sanguinetti)

  22. Philadelphia: Cal Clutterbuck (picked: Claude Giroux)

  23. Washington: James Reimer (picked: Semyon Varlamov)

  24. Buffalo: Jamie McGinn (picked: Dennis Persson)

  25. St. Louis: Mathieur Perreault (picked: Patrik Berglund)

  26. Calgary: Andrew Macdonald (picked: Leland Irving)

  27. Dallas: Leo Komorov (picked: Ivan Vishnevskiy)

  28. Ottawa: Trevor Lewis (picked: Nick Foligno)

  29. Phoenix: Matt Belesky (picked: Chris Summers)

  30. New Jersey: Shawn Matthias (picked: Matt Corrente)

Is the NHL getting "soft?"

Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella doesn’t seem too fond of the level of hatred (?) in the NHL today. Torts told reporters on Thursday, "It's a little frustrating, quite honestly. The game has changed, and for some dinosaurs that are in it, it's very frustrating, I have to admit."

Personally, I’m in the same boat as Torts. The NHL seems to be getting softer and softer over the years. I understand part of this has to do with player safety, but at least PRETEND to hate your opponent.

"I'm not joking about it. It's really frustrating to me. On conversations on the ice amongst opponents on a faceoff, it's like a big hugfest sometimes. I don't know if they have so many meetings with the NHLPA and all that stuff that goes on, but there's no hate, and I miss that. It frustrates the shit out of me, quite honestly."

Torts definitely does not seem too thrilled about the state of intensity in the NHL.

 

What do you think?

World Cup of Hockey: 2020

Today, in a conversation with The Athletic’s Corey Masiak, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly that the hope is to have the next World Cup of Hockey (WCOH) in the Fall of 2020.

Daly went on to say that the WCOH plans are reliant on how the NHL’s current CBA holds up after both the NHL and NHLPA have to option to terminate the current CBA next year. If the CBA is terminated or reevaluated, the WCOH would likely not happen in 2020.

Hockey fans all around will agree that a best-on-best tournament is desired (the last WCOH saw Team Canada hoist the Cup in 2016), especially with NHL players excluded from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Let’s hope it is about time to dust off those team North America sweaters in 2020!

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 3.49.25 PM.png

WAITING FOR A CALL: Part 4: Goalies

 https://www.flickr.com/photos/mafue/11662845974

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mafue/11662845974

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

It’s time to have a look at the remaining UFA goaltenders. With Ondrej Pavelec  (31) announcing his retirement just days ago, there are only two UFA goalies worth talking about and potentially signing this season.

 

Steve Mason

Just four years removed from a 33 win, 60 start season in 2014, the 30-year-old netminder is still without a job with just a little over a week until the start of the season. In 476 games (458 started), Mason holds a Save % of .911, just 1 point behind the 2018 league average.  

Mason struggled with injuries in 2018. So much so that he actually made the Jets’ training staff the fighter pilots on his mask. You can check that out here. Two concussions, knee surgery, and then just straight out underperforming, Mason definitely had a season to forget (5-6-1 record, 3.45GAA, .906 Save %). If Mason can stay healthy, he could be a backup option for a team with a 65+ game starter.

 

Kari Lehtonen

With only 30 starts last year, Lehtonen officially lost his starter job with the Dallas Stars, posting a Save % of less than .906 in each of the three seasons prior to 2018 (where he posted a .912 Save % as a “backup”).

The 34-year-old Finnish goaltender still has some potential to be a solid backup as his consistency has been a problem. Look for a team who could use their backup for up to 30 games to sign the UFA netminder. I’d sign him!

WAITING FOR A CALL: PART 3: Defencemen

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Johnny_Oduya_-_Chicago_Blackhawks.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Johnny_Oduya_-_Chicago_Blackhawks.jpg

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

Over the last few days I have been taking a look at the remaining UFAs around the National Hockey League. Centers and wingers have been looked at and now it’s time to check out the Defensemen.

 

Johnny Oduya

 The 36-year-old Defenseman has been solid on the blue line throughout his career. Oduya has spent 11 seasons in the NHL with 7 different clubs, most notably with the Chicago Blackhawks where he won two Stanley Cup Championships in 2013 and 2015. Although Oduya has never been known for his scoring, the Swedish blueliner is capable up putting up big minutes.

With a cap hit of $1M in 2018 with the Senators, surely a Stanley Cup contending team can pick him up for a bottom two role in 2019. The Toronto Maple Leafs could be a landing spot for Oduya with $13M in cap space (some will have to be used for Nylander), the Leafs could benefit from a 1 year, $1M deal with the Swedish D Man.

 

Paul Martin

Bought out by the San Jose Sharks early in the summer, the veteran D man is now a UFA. With a cap hit of $4.85M in 2018, the 37-year-old will have to take a pay cut if he wants to play for an NHL club again. Martin had some health issues last season and was never quite able to get back to game speed, only playing 14 NHL games and another 18 in the AHL. Martin was called up before the playoffs but spent must of the postseason as a healthy scratch.  

If Martin does not sign with an NHL club this year, this could be the end for the veteran Defenseman.

 

Kevin Bieksa

The 37-year-old Veteran Defender has spent most of his NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks (10 seasons) and was a solid defender for most of that time. Most recently, Bieksa played three seasons with the Anaheim Ducks after being traded from the ‘Nucks for a 2nd round pick in the 2016 draft.

Bieksa is coming off a $4M cap hit with the Ducks. Will a team be willing to take a shot on Bieksa? After a 8 assist and 0 goal effort in 59 games in 2018 (and a -13 rating), it’s not looking too good for the veteran.

WAITING FOR A CALL: Part 2: Wingers

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rick_Nash_Rangers.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rick_Nash_Rangers.jpg

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

The countdown to the regular season continues. But there are still a number of UFAs who are a little less excited for the start of the season. A couple days ago I looked at a few remaining UFA centers that have still yet to be signed, including veteran forward, Antoine Vermette. That poor old soul…

Let’s shift over to the wingers. Now, before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article, I have to ask… What’s with these wingers? I’d be signing most of these guys in a heartbeat! But I guess that’s why I’m sitting behind this computer writing about these veterans and not running an NHL franchise. Here are the top wingers that remain unsigned:

 

Rick Nash

Although this is more of a case of Rick Nash simply unsure if he wants to play, I still think he should be mentioned in this article.

Nash has been unsure if he wants to return to the NHL for a 16th season and I’m sure his most recent concussion is something to do with it. The 34-year-old winger has had several head injuries throughout his 1000+ game career. 

Nash has 437 goals and 805 points through 1,060 games. It was rumoured that both the Boston Bruins and the Columbus Blue Jackets were top contenders for Nash, along with several Western Conference powerhouses. Nash was never able to win the Stanley Cup, but came close in 2014 when the Rangers lost to the Kings.

 

Jason Chimera

Jason Chimera has been a solid shutdown forward for his entire career. Drafted in the 5th round in 1997 by the Edmonton Oilers, the 39-year-old has played with five NHL clubs, most recently the New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks in 2018. 

Chimera was had a long career playing in over 1,100 games, notching 186 goals and 415 points, mostly as a bottom 6 forward. Perhaps a young team will sign Chimera in a veteran role.

 

Chris Stewart

Chris Stewart is a winger who still has some potential and might be worth taking a shot on for a team with enough depth. The 30-year-old has had some issues with penalty minutes in the past but that had drastically improved over the last season with Minnesota and Calgary.

Through 652 games, Stewart has been able to post 160 goals and 321 points with six NHL teams with his best season coming in 2010 with the Colorado Avalanche where he potted 28 goals and 64 points in 77 games. This was a year where Stewart’s PIMs where down compared to other years. If the 6’2”, 240lbs forward can stay out of the box and utilize his size digging in the corners, Stewart could be a solid 1st or 2nd line power-forward, as well as offer some protection for a young superstar (like McDavid, for example).

We’ve seen the Oilers try this with Milan Lucic, but do they have enough depth to take yet another risk on Stewart?

 

Scott Hartnell

Scott Hartnell has earned the reputation as quite the agitator over the years, most memorably with Sidney Crosby in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, Hartnell has had his issues keeping up with today’s NHL superstars.

The 7-time 20-goal scorer and one-time 30 goal scorer could potentially have at least one more season left in him as a 4th line agitator for a Stanley Cup contending team. I’d give him a shot.

Waiting for a Call: Part 1

 https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:AntoineVermette1.jpg

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:AntoineVermette1.jpg

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

Over the next few weeks, I will be reviewing the four positions and the free agents who remain unsigned coming into the 2019 season. Give me your feedback! If you disagree, call me out on it and try to change my mind! I’ll personally reply to you.

With only 19 days left until the beginning of the 2019 NHL season, there are still a number of free agents without a contract for this upcoming season. Let’s go through a few of these (notable) names and where I think they will end up, including how my speculation on the contracts they may receive.  

Let’s start with the centers:

 

Antoine Vermette

Vermette entered the NHL back in the 2003-’04 season with the Ottawa Senators and posted a less-than-spectacular rookie season, notching 7 goals and 14 points in 57 games with the club. The 36-year-old middleman and 4-time 20-goal scorer played his last two years with the Anaheim Ducks as a bottom six forward, where he failed to score double-digits goals in either season. The veteran center has never really been a shutdown option, which will hurt his valued in free agency as it seems he is no longer to keep up with today’s NHL, even in a bottom-six capacity.

IF Vermette is signed this season – and I really mean IF – look for it to be a young team where he may be able to help some younger players transition into their careers in the NHL.

 

Freddie Hamilton

The 26-year-old could never really get things together at the NHL level posting only 4 goals and 6 points in 75 career NHL games with four NHL clubs. Hamilton was, most recently, claimed off waivers by the Arizona Coyotes from Calgary where he went on to be held without a point in his 8 games with the Yotes.

There is still a lot of upside with the 26-year-old Canadian – perhaps enough for a team to take a shot at him this season. Hamilton seems to do fairly well at the AHL level. If Hamilton doesn’t find a club in North America, look for him to end up somewhere in Europe.

 

Nick Shore

Much like Freddie Hamilton, Nick Shore is another young (25) center that could never really get things done at the NHL level. Shore went through some excellent seasons in the AHL with the LA Kings’ affiliate team, scoring 20 goals and 42 points in 38 games after being sent down to the AHL after only potting one goal and 6 points in 34 games with the Kings in 2015. Shore helped lead the Manchester Monarchs to a Calder Cup Championship, going 15-4 while scoring 4 goals and 18 points in 19 playoff games.

Nick Shore could be a decent fourth-line center for any team at this point. Shore has played for 3 different teams in the last year. Surely someone can decide on this 25-year-old dart throw. What’s there to lose?

The End Of An Era. Goodbye Henrik Zetterberg

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henrik_Zetterberg_2010-01-31.JPG

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henrik_Zetterberg_2010-01-31.JPG

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

On Friday, September 14, it was announced that Red Wings Forward, Henrik Zetterberg is unable to continue his career in the NHL due to a degenerative back condition.  

The 37-year-old has been the Red Wings’ captain since the 2012-’13 season and finished last season as the #2 scorer on the team with 56 points behind only young star Dylan Larkin (63 points).

Zetterberg spent his entire playing career with the Red Wings after begin drafted in the 7th round (210th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. The Swedish center came as a bit of a surprise to the franchise scoring 22 goals in his rookie season with the club. It was all up-hill from there. Zetterberg is the 5th leading scorer in franchise history with 960 points over his 1,082 games with the club.  

Zetterberg helped lead the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup victory in 2008, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. Zetterberg (along with Sidney Crosby) led the playoffs in scoring with 27 points and came out with both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. 

What does Zetterberg’s departure mean for the Red Wings moving forward? Who will be the next captain of this original six club? Niklas Kronwall is entering the final year of his contract. Or maybe Justin Abdelkader, who wore an ‘A’ last season. Abdelkader has five more seasons left on his contract. The 31-year-old winger has been a leader both on and off the ice for the young Red Wings team.

At this point, all we can do is speculate. But the Red Wings have lost an integral part of their team. Their leader. Their captain.

Passing The Torch

 https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/report-steve-yzerman-step-lightning-gm/

https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/report-steve-yzerman-step-lightning-gm/

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

On September 11, news broke that Tampa Bay Lightning, General Manager, Steve Yzerman had stepped down from his role of GM and into an advisory role.

Let’s have a look at what Stevey Y has done for the Tamp Bay Lightning during his tenure as GM: 

Since Yzerman was hired as GM in 2010, the Tampa Bay Lightning have made the conference finals four times including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals where the Bolts fell to the Blackhawks dynasty. Yzerman was also awarded the GM of the Year Award for the Bolts’ run at the Cup.

In 2018, the Lightning set franchise records for both wins (54) and points (113).

The team’s performance under Yzerman is one thing, but that team had to be put together somehow. Yzerman was able to do this in a number of trades, free agent signings, and draft picks. With trade additions like Ben Bishop, Mikhail Sergachev and Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller, the team continued to fill it’s cracks. Who remembers the trade of Martin St. Louis? Yes, it was heart breaking to see Marty leave the place where he spent the majority of his career, but the Bolts acquired the Rangers’ 1st and 2nd round picks and F Ryan Callahan (along with a couple conditional picks that were swapped when the Bolts signed Callahan). Those picks turned out to be traded to the Islanders, where they were turned into draft picks Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli. In 2018, Cirelli played 18 games where he netted 5 goals and 11 points. Stephens continues to play in the AHL for Lightning affiliate, Syracuse Crunch where he scored 19 goals and 41 points in 70 games in 2018 for the club.

 

Other notable draft choices:

  •    Nikita Kucherov (58th Overall)

  •    Andrei Vaslievskiy (19th Overall)

  •    Johnathan Drouin (3rd Overall)

  •    Traded for Sergachev

 

Yzerman was also tasked will having to sign superstars Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman to contracts.

Yzerman will continue with the Tampa Bay Lightning in an advisory role, but new GM, Julien BriseBois, will have a powerhouse team in the Atlantic to have a little fun with for the next coming years. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have the man who built the powerhouse team.

 

2019 Prediction: 52-25-5 (A1)

How Will The Rangers' New Head Coach Help The Future Of The Team?

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

The Rangers are one of the NHL’s most historic teams and part of the NHL Original Six. The Blueshirts are coming off their worst season since the 2003-04 campaign.

The Rangers hope to move past their 2018 struggles and hired Head Coach, David Quinn in May to help through the rebuild. Quinn has had a successful career as head coach of Boston University, leading the team to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances in his last four years with the Terriers. Look for Quinn to do great things for the New York Rangers over the coming years.

The Rangers have a lot of young talent including Defenseman, Brady Skjei, who signed a 6-year, $31.5M contract in July, this past Summer. Skjei regressed in his second season with the Rangers, posting 25 points (39 in 2017) and a -27 rating (+11 in 2017). However, the Rangers struggled as a whole defensively. The 6’3” 24-year-old is coming off his second full season with the Rangers and will surely bounce back in 2019.

The Rangers struggled defensively in 2018 allowing the second-most shots against per game (35.3), behind only the New York Islanders for worst in the NHL. Along with the abundance of shots allowed, the Rangers also ended the season in ranked 28thin goals against (263). For the Rangers to succeed in 2019, they will have to bolster their D line. 

Look for the top line of Kreider – Zibanejad – Buchnevich to carry much of the offensive load this season during the team’s rebuild.

2019 Season Projection:   31 – 41 – 10 (72 points), 7thin Metropolitan Division.

Blake Wheeler and the Winnipeg Jets

 David Zalubowski / The Associated Press Files

David Zalubowski / The Associated Press Files

THE BANDWAGON PESPECTIVE

News broke Tuesday morning that the Winnipeg Jets have signed Forward, Blake Wheeler to a five-year, $41.25M contract ($8.25M AAV) for the 2019 season. This contract locks in the 32-year-Jets Captain through the 2024 season.

Wheeler led the Jets with 91 points, including 23 goals, in the 2018 campaign and is set to slot in on the first line along side Mark Scheifele and left-winger, Kyle Connor – although many will argue that Nikolaj Ehlers will make a push for the spot on the top line.

Wheeler helped lead the Jets to their first playoff win in Franchise history this past spring and don’t expect the NHL’s #2 team from last year to slow down this year. The Jets, along with Laine and Ehlers another year older, are definitely a Stanley Cup contender and will continue to be for years to come. 

Two-Minute Take: Playoff's Format

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

New to the Bandwagon are my two-minute takes. This is where I’ll rant about stuff going on in and around the National Hockey League. Give me your feedback. Tear me a new one. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know if you think I’m an idiot, don’t hold back! Lay it on me, fellas!

How dumb is the NHL’s current playoff system? Honestly, Why should the #1 team in the conference have to (potentially) play the #2 team in the conference in the SECOND round? Seriously though. What exactly was wrong with the old playoff format? Yeah, sure I guess Bettman got his wish for these rivalries to form and play out, but wouldn’t they be more exciting when you’ve got the #1 and #2 teams going at it in the Conference Final?

Really though. What was wrong with 1v8, 2v7, etc. etc. and then a re-ranking in the second round? Maybe it’s just me, but why doesn’t the #1 team have an easier route to the finals? They’ve earned that #1 spot, so, again, they shouldn’t have to be playing that #2 team in the second round. 

Yeah, I guess it’s great to see the Caps and Pens playing in round 2 every year, but wouldn’t you want to see that in the conference final? Oh well. That’s my two-minute take on the NHL’s playoff format. 

5 Bold Predictions For 2019

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

With the 2019 NHL season quickly approaching, it’s time for me to make some predictions for the 2019 season. These aren’t going to be your typical predictions. These are BOLD predictions for the season. Something that sounds crazy and unlikely, but could potentially make some sense. Just think about it. Here are my top five bold predictions for the 2019 NHL season: 

5. Vegas Golden Knights will miss the Playoffs

After the hype of the Golden Knights’ inaugural season has come and gone, Vegas is going to find that will experience some regression in their second season in the NHL. Who really thought that Vegas was going to make the playoffs last year, let alone a deep playoff run. Yes, they have found a way to improve their forwards, but that doesn’t make up for a less-than-impressive defensive corps led by defensive sensation, Derek Engelland (not forgetting young guns like Colin Miller, 25, and Shea Theodore, 23).

Another big question for the season is the performance of forward, William Karlsson (25). Karlsson managed to have a 2018 campaign that caught everyone by surprise by scoring over 40 goals and putting up 78 points in a full 82-game season. Can Karlsson do this again? Or was this just another case of the Vegas Golden Knights hype heading into their first season?

Then there’s Marc-Andre Fleury. The Flower finished the 2018 season ranked 4thin Save% (.927) among all tendies with at least 30 starts. His .927 mark was 14 points more than his career average of .913 and the highest of his career. If the Flower can keep up these numbers, then maybe the Golden Knights can flirt with the post-season again. But I’m not counting on it.

4. Arizona Coyotes will make the Playoffs

Clayton Keller, Christian Dvorak, Alex Galchenyuk, Brandon Perlini, Jakob Chychrun. Those are just FIVE of the many young superstars that the Arizona Coyotes have to lead them to the playoffs in 2019.

The Coyotes ended the 2018 campaign on a high note, with 17 wins in their last 32 games. The Yotes have proven that they can certainly be (at least) a .500 team in a season, provided they stay healthy. 

Another year means another year of development for those young stars. Watch out, Western Conference, the Coyotes are getting ready for their first playoff berth since 2012.

3. Nathan MacKinnon will win the Art Ross Trophy

The Art Ross Trophy is awarded to the player who records the most points in the NHL season. Last year Connor McDavid showed some improved goal scoring and added that to his passing/playmaking ability to lead the league with 108 points and winning the Art Ross for the second season in a row.

This year, however, McJesus will be overtaken as the League’s #1 point-getter by the one and only, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. MacKinnon finished the 2018 season with 97 points in only 74 games. With another season under his belt, the (soon-to-be) 23-year-old continues to improve his game. Had MacKinnon played all 82 games last year, he was on pace for 107 points, including 27 points in his final 20 games played.

Watch out McDavid, there’s a NEW MacJesus in town.

2. The Washington Capitals win the President’s Trophy

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Caps have finally done it! Ovi has finally won his Stanley Cup and drank his way through the off-season! This prediction is certainly bold. The Caps are going to ride their championship high all the way to the top of the NHL standings with Ovi leading the way in goals, hitting 50 for the eighth time in his career. Look for Kuznetsov to help Ovi hit this mark with a league leading 70 assists in the 2019 campaign as well.

1. The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Free Agent forward, John Tavares long term and is one of the things the Leafs need for a Stanley Cup Championship. The Leafs are coming off their best season in Franchise historyin 2018 and will look to hit that mark again in 2019. With the big 3 young guns Matthews, Marner and Nylander another year older and playing for big contracts, we can expect to see a huge uptick in their performance.

At the trade deadline, the Leafs will look to acquire a top defenseman to fill in the gaps that the offseason left on the blue line to surely make the Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in over 50 years. 

William Nylander. What is his true value?

THE BANDWAGON PERSPECTIVE

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a team that I feel like I have to talk about, especially being from Ontario, Canada, where you’re either a Leafs fan or used to be one. As much as it’s fun to hate on the Leafs over the last 50+ years without a Championship, they have had some pretty good teams. 

Yes, the Leafs are a little lackluster on the defensive side of the puck and they do give up the most shots against among NHL teams. But with D men like Morgan Rielly (24), Travis Dermott (21), and even Nikita Zaitsev (26) a year older and another year wiser, Leafs fans can expect some improvement on the blue line. 

I’m not here to talk about John Tavares today. We know he’s going to do magical things for the Leafs offence and for the surging young talent the Leafs have. I’m here today to talk about one of those young guns, still without a contract.

 

William Nylander. What is his true value?

 The Toronto Maple Leafs and Forward, William Nylander have not yet come to an agreement on a contract for the upcoming season. Nylander is in line for a big pay raise from his rookie contract. But with other young superstars with the names of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, the Leafs will have to do some fancy work to retain their young forwards, who are all going to be looking for big money.

In his first two FULL seasons (2016-2018), Will Nye the Swedish Guy had a pretty good showing with 61 points in each campaign, tallying at least 20 goals in each year and drastically improving his +/- in the third year (+20, up from -3). 

Let’s compare Nylander’s career performance to other players around the league at the time of their signings (editorinleaf.com, 2018):

William Nylander               Nikolaj Ehlers                      David Pastrnak                    

AGE: 22                                   AGE: 21                                  AGE: 21                                  

POSITION: WING                   POSITION: WING                  POSITION: WING

GAMES PLAYED: 185            GAMES PLAYED: 154           GAMES PLAYED: 172

GOALS: 48 (.26gpg)              GOALS: 40 (.26 ppg)            GOALS: 59 (.34gpg)

ASSISTS: 87 (.47apg)            ASSISTS: 62 (.40apg)           ASSISTS: 64 (.37apg)

POINTS: 135 (.73ppg)          POINTS: 102 (.66ppg)         POINTS: 123 (.72ppg)

CONTRACT: ???????               CONTRACT: 7yrs, $42M       CONTRACT: 6yrs, $40M                                                                               $6M/yr                                   $6.67M/yr

 

Ehlers and Pastrnak are two players with similar stats to Nylander at the time of their expiring rookie contracts. This tells us that Nylander should land somewhere around these contracts. Look for the Leafs to be offering around the $6M/yearmark, with Nylander likely asking for closer to $7.5/year, settling for a 7 year, $46.7M contract, with an AAV of $6.67M/year, similar to Pastrnak.

 

Food for Thought

With Nylander slotting in on the wing with Matthews and Marleau plus some time on the team’s second Powerplay unit, expect some improvement over last year’s campaign. 

You know the saying, “Like father, like son?” Let’s have a look at Michael Nylander and his first three seasons with over 50 games playedin the NHL:

 Photo from Hockeydb.com

Photo from Hockeydb.com

 photo from: Hockeydb.com

photo from: Hockeydb.com

Not bad, right?

Now let’s have a look at Will’s first three seasons in the NHL:

 photos from: Hockeydb.com

photos from: Hockeydb.com

Michael Nylander went on to have a good career in the National Hockey League and with a better supporting cast than his father had, we can certainly expect William Nylander to surpass his father’s career numbers of 209G-470A-679Pts.

 

Scouting Report:

A solid two-way playmaker with an excellent wrist shot. He is a dynamic playmaker with loads of upside with a highly skilled supporting cast. Look for Nylander to help lead the Leafs to a third straight playoff appearance.

 

2019 Projection: 80GP – 25G – 45A – 70pts