Toronto Goaltending, Buy-Low Players, Verhaeghe, Montour and more … (Nov. 07)
The Leafs are in goaltending trouble, as we had expected would happen this season. Matt Murray is sidelined, though is set to return likely this week. And now Ilya Samsonov is out. Being tight against the cap, Toronto has no Plan B. Erik Kallgren has been putting up backup-type numbers, but he’s really not more than a No.3. However, Toronto being such a strong team, he is going to get his share of wins. And all this team cares about is how the goaltending looks in April.
Plan C is Keith Petruzzelli, a Detroit draft pick who had yet to sign an NHL contract despite being drafted high (third round in 2017) and posting decent numbers at the college level. He has had a strong season in six games with the Marlies and is still only 23. In keeper leagues, if push comes to shove, I probably prefer Petruzzelli’s longer-term outlook than Kallgren’s. This contract was made possible because Washington was kind enough to claim Nicolas Aube-Kubel off waivers. What that means is that the Leafs dropped from the maximum 50 contracts, down to 49 contracts – allowing them to sign Petruzzelli instead of an Emergency Backup.
That being said, Kallgren posted a strong outing Sunday, stopping 29 of 30. I think it’s possible that Murray starts Tuesday against Vegas, and if he doesn’t then I assume Kallgren will go again. But I doubt this is the last time Murray gets hurt. And next time it happens, I’m very curious to see Petruzzelli get a look. Petruzzelli backed up Kallgren Sunday.
The Leafs are waking up, at least in terms of offense, so the regular season goaltending can be on the weaker side and still get the W’s. Mitch Marner is on a six-game point streak, while William Nylander has picked a point in all but two of the games so far this season. Auston Matthews has 11 points in his last nine games.
Stefan Noesen is a former top prospect who was drafted 21st overall in 2011. He has finally figured out the pro game to the point of dominating. But it’s too late? He’s 29 now, which is usually too late to forge a regular-duty NHL career. Last season he had 85 points in 70 AHL games, including 48 goals (and 112 PIM). His NHL ice time is being held down (averaging 10:40 per game), but his name is starting to crop up on the Daily Fantasy (DFS) tools when I run them. He’s a cheap option and so far he’s been productive. In 11 games with minimal ice time he has six points and 27 SOG. Four of his points have come on the power play. For what it’s worth, his last four games have seen his ice time closer to 12 minutes, which is trending in the right direction.
But if you are wondering what is holding Teuvo Teravainen and Seth Jarvis back – it’s that Noesen is taking their power-play time. The second PP unit for Carolina has yet to score.
Still deeply regret it.
And as I watched him score in overtime to give him 15 points in 12 games, I cringed. His 5on5 S% is still high at 12.0, but he’s done enough to remain on that top line. That should be good enough to ensure he tops his career high of 46 points and probably push 60. This is his BT season, so in hindsight – what was I thinking?
Your ‘buy low’ window on Moritz Seider is rapidly closing, if it hasn’t closed already. With two points Sunday, Seider has four in his last four games. He had one point in eight games before that.
Jacob Trouba‘s production is slightly below expectation, but he has been a huge fantasy asset nonetheless, posting Hits and BLKS at career-high rates. His 3.23 Hits per game tops the 2.92 he averaged in 2020-21. His 2.92 BLKS per game is higher than the 2.21 he averaged in 2020-21 and his 38 BLKS sit fourth in the league. He had five Hits and six BLKS on Sunday.
After going three games without a point, Brandon Montour had himself a four-point game on Sunday. Montour has played both special teams heavily with Aaron Ekblad sidelined. In the last eight games, the lowest ice time that Montour has seen is 25:15, which happened Sunday against the Ducks. That’s massive. He’s always had this potential, but now at 28 we’re finally seeing it – and only because of the Ekblad injury. It’s an unsustainable pace, but all the same he is showing that he can put big points on the board. That will earn him a lot of leeway even after Ekblad returns.
Montour’s emergence has cost Gustav Forsling some points. The two are defense partners and it seems like Montour is the one who gets the ‘go’ sign while Forsling holds back. Forsling is still a fairly safe 40-point player, I feel. But any upside for 50 is in jeopardy as long as this arrangement holds.
Carter Verhaeghe began the campaign pointless in three games. Since then he has 13 in his last 10, including multi-point efforts in four of his last five games. This is his BT season, so don’t be surprised if he continues to flirt with a point-per-game.
Last week I traded Seth Jones for Noah Hanifin in one of my dynasty leagues. I knew the other guy really liked Hanifin, owning him since he was drafted. I started liking him after he ended last season with 20 points in 20 games. Looking deeper at the numbers, everything looked good – just bad luck, really. So I wanted to take advantage and buy low. Hanifin picked up his first point on Saturday.
Other players worth grabbing as ‘buy lows’ in keeper leagues:
Ryan O’Reilly (zero points in nine games), 2.9 5on5 S% and his linemate Jordan Kyrou
Kailer Yamamoto (three points in 11 games). His 5on5 S% doesn’t indicate a market correction, but he is in his BT season and about to hit that 200-game mark. He still gets consistent ice time with Leon Draisaitl.
Damon Severson (two points in 12 games). No, his slow start is not because Dougie Hamilton is back. Hamilton was back for the last 20 games or so last season and Severson was dynamite – better than Hamilton, in fact. Severson’s PPTOI is down, so that’s a partial reason. But at this juncture it means about two points. The real reason for the slow start? He’s been handcuffed at even strength. His defense partner has been Brendan Smith. May as well tie an anchor to Severson’s legs. Last season, Severson flourished with Ryan Graves. We’re starting to see signs that the Smith experiment alongside Severson is ending, as Severson lined up with Jonas Siegenthaler.
Sam Reinhart picked up a pair of points on Sunday to give him five on the season – both were goals, his first and second of the campaign. He had a huge season last year playing mostly with Anton Lundell. Well, Reinhart has only played maybe 15% of his ES shifts with Lundell so far. He was put with Lundell Sunday and I have a feeling those two will remain a pairing going forward – even though the lines shuffled around due to the Matthew Tkachuk suspension.
Ontario DFS fans – I’ve just discovered a DFS company that operates in the province. OwnersBox started out as a weekly fantasy site (so I guess…WFS?) but expanded to the DFS format and maintain operations in Ontario. You can visit them here, and you can have a free DFS play if you use promo code “DOBBER”.
We have made OwnersBox our fourth DFS company that we provide tools for with our DFS subscription (along with the Big 3 that you know well). For $99.99 you get access for the full season and playoffs to these tools for four big DFS sites – including our patented hot/cold and weighted average formulas that optimize your lineups, as well as our stack generator (which helps you stack your DFS lineup if you want to focus on a certain team). You can get the subscription here.
So far I have used this tool to enter 17 contests and have won money nine times, and am up 80% in terms of real cash. I started playing last Wednesday. I don’t expect this kind of torrid pace to continue, but at this point I’m quite confident that I’ll win more than I lose. I do occasionally swap out a suggested player for a player I like better – sometimes it works, one time it most certainly didn’t. But yes, definitely add brain power to what the tool provides, and you’ll do fine.
By the way – I won money in two out of three contests Sunday…and the one I didn’t win was because Eric Daoust (who is the programmer who built those DFS tools on Frozen Tools) was in the same contest and beat me out because we both used the same tools!
Update on my meeting with Ontario’s Minister of Finance that was supposed to take place last Friday. He was unfortunately out of town on Friday and they contacted me early last week to offer a Zoom meeting. I prefer an in-person meet, so we rescheduled for December 2. This meeting will be to discuss the benefits of moving DFS out of the Sports Gambling set of laws, and instead give it its own guidelines and free structure. It’s just crazy that we had DFS in Ontario for 10 years, yet as soon as sports gambling becomes legal the “always legal” DFS has to pull up stakes and flee the province. DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo have all pulled their DFS games.
See you next Monday.
NBA Finals Takeaways: Nuggets’ stars show they’re ready for biggest stage – Sportsnet.ca
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Maple Leafs move forward with Treliving as Dubas lands with Penguins – NHL.com
TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs had a plan in place. With their fan base in panic mode after Kyle Dubas was not brought back as GM last month, the Maple Leafs introduced Brad Treliving on Thursday as the GM who would lead the franchise forward.
This press conference was going to be about the future, about what the experienced Treliving, 53, could do for Toronto, not about Dubas, who 13 days earlier had been told his services would no longer be required after a five-year stint as a Maple Leafs GM.
And for an hour or so on Thursday, it was. Until it wasn’t.
At 11:31 ET, some 29 minutes before Treliving and team president Brendan Shanahan were scheduled to address the media at Scotiabank Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins issued a release announcing Dubas as president of hockey operations. Yep. That same Dubas. The release noted that Dubas and members of the Fenway Sports Group would hold their own press conference in Pittsburgh at 1 p.m., one hour after Treliving’s meeting with the media.
Was it just a coincidence that all this took place on the same day? Was this a chance for Dubas and the Penguins to upstage his former team?
Shanahan quickly rejected that notion, trying to calm the conspiracy theorists who thought something fishy was going on regarding the scheduling.
“I don’t think it was intentional timing,” he said. “They need to get to work as well.
“I fully endorse Kyle.”
Maybe Shanahan doesn’t believe the timing was intentional. But it certainly was intriguing. And it was almost as if the day progressed as dictated from the pages of a movie script.
Indeed, the Maple Leafs and Penguins will be connected by the common thread that is Dubas.
It certainly makes for a fascinating tale of two franchises.
Dubas, 37, is one of the sharpest young hockey minds in the game. The Maple Leafs, under his watch, went 221-109-42 in the regular season but won one Stanley Cup Playoff series in that span despite featuring uber-talented players like forwards Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares, and defenseman Morgan Rielly.
Video: Penguins name Dubas president of hockey operations
Dubas was in the final season of his contract in 2022-23. It was the Maple Leafs’ decision not to give him a new contract last offseason.
According to Shanahan, the decision had been made to bring back Dubas, even after the Maple Leafs were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Second Round on May 12. A contract offer had been presented to Dubas prior to the Maple Leafs locker cleanout day three days later, he said. But when Dubas addressed the media that day, he lamented how difficult the season had been on his family and how he had to discuss with his loved ones whether he needed time to recalibrate.
Dubas said that regardless of what decision he’d make regarding a return to the Maple Leafs, “You won’t see me next week pop up elsewhere. I can’t put [my family] through that after this year.”
He was right. He didn’t pop up the next week; it was actually closer to two weeks that he surfaced in Pittsburgh.
To be fair, he said it was his wife, Shannon, who prodded him to explore the Penguins situation. It was, in the end, a partial family decision.
At the same time, in his new role he gets the power he coveted in Toronto. With Shanahan in place, that was never going to happen with the Maple Leafs. And when Shanahan received a counteroffer from Dubas’ agent with a revised financial package, which is a synonym for “more money,” Shanahan cut the cord.
You can’t make this up. It truly is the stuff of soap operas.
And where it goes from here is can’t-miss TV.
Both teams are star-studded. That’s where the similarities end.
Treliving didn’t come out and say it, but he seemed to hint that the so-called “Core Four” of Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Tavares could stay intact. Though skill has a lot to do with that, so does age. Matthews is 25, Marner 26, Nylander 27. You could say their best years could be ahead of them.
The same can’t be said for the core Dubas inherits. Forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and defenseman Kris Letang will each be at least 36 when next season starts. At the same time, the championship pedigree of the three future Hall of Famers who have helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cup championships can’t be questioned.
Treliving is somewhat shackled under the NHL salary cap because the Core Four gobble up more than $40 million of the space under it. Dubas has far more flexibility; indeed, he mentioned the Penguins will have around $20 million of cap space to play with.
Then there are the coaching situations. Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan was the coach of the Penguins’ 2016 and 2017 Cup title teams and can coach “forever,” according to Dubas. There is more uncertainty for Treliving, who said he’ll meet with Maple Leafs incumbent Sheldon Keefe and try to learn more about him before determining his future. Keefe, by the way, also coached under Dubas in two other leagues: the Ontario Hockey League with Sault St. Marie and the American Hockey League with the Toronto Marlies.
So many plots. So many storylines.
All that remains to set the stage for this juicy narrative is for the 2023-24 schedule to be released in the next couple of months. Because any games between Treliving’s Maple Leafs and Dubas’ Penguins need to be circled on the calendar for obvious reasons, no matter how both men might try to downplay them.
NBA Finals Takeaways: Nuggets' stars show they're ready for biggest stage – Sportsnet.ca
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