James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Devan Dubnyk's Big Break

Thursday, January 16, 2014



To bring things back to fables, Dean Lombardi makes me think of the “just right” porridge in the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, or at least how one remembers such things (spoiler: not well). MacTavish is too hot and Poile is too cold, but Lombardi’s combination of the hot (proactivity) and the cold (patience) make him one of the best GMs in the NHL.


Much like Poile, Lombardi had an expensive goalie go down with an injury (though obviously not as severe). Unlike Poile, Lombardi made sure to back Jonathan Quick up with a goalie with a decent amount of NHL experience and (of underrated importance) a nice AHL track record in Scrivens.


(Oh yeah, he also filled his team with high-quality players and bargains instead of paying a bizarre premium for grinders and average types like Poile did, but let’s move on.)


Lombardi probably got lucky that Martin Jones blossomed like he did, but the bottom line is that his strong management (plus some luck) turned what would sounded like a crisis into a free third-round pick. After all, with Scrivens showing the competence he did, he wasn’t going to be a minimum wage guy come next summer … so why not get something for him when you can?


(Note: Scrivens does stand to lose quite a few thousands if the Oilers hang him out to dry, though.)




Anyway, Martin Jones becomes an interesting consideration. I’d lean toward watching him like promising stock that might not be mature enough for an impulse purchase.


My gut instinct is to say that the Kings will treat Jonathan Quick as a workhorse if they can, but two things promote optimism for potential Jones owners: 1) injuries and 2) the Olympics.


It was my opinion that the Kings were pretty stubborn when it came to handing Jonathan Bernier starts over Quick last season even though Bernier had been out-playing Quick in a resounding way, but those injury and Olympic fatigue-related reasons (plus being a little further removed from Quick’s Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup-winning year) probably make Darryl Sutter more amenable to starting Jones.




Dubnyk is Wednesday’s biggest winner, yet one Quick injury could swing that in a big way. At worst, Jones could be a nice guy to add and drop periodically if you’re into that kind of thing.




That was a brain-full, so just to summarize:


-- Dubnyk is a must-add, Scrivens is worth watching immediately and Jones might be something of a slow-burn.


-- Lombardi is a fantastic GM, while Poile and MacTavish sport interestingly contrasting strengths and weaknesses.


-- Rinne’s season is probably over; let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse (sadly imagines digitized Bo Jackson) than that.


-- Bryzgalov basically falls into the spot Dubnyk vacated in Edmonton: old news, and borderline discarded in management’s eyes. Still, fantasy owners should keep an eye on him; after all, Dubnyk heated up a bit when Breezy was signed ...


-- There could be a valuable goalie on your waiver wire who isn’t discussed. Don’t just add someone because it’s an interesting storyline. Unless it’s Dubnyk. Then just do it.




It’s difficult for me to evaluate enforcers who do nothing but get penalty minutes, at least if they’re forwards. It’s easier for me to throw away a D spot for an otherwise useless player because there are so many dime-a-dozen fantasy defensemen in the midrange.


The problem with enforcers is that they’re unpredictable. Tom Sestito has a ridiculous 49 PIM in his last two games, giving him a sizeable lead for the season over Antoine Roussel for the top PIM prize, but Roussel shows flashes of being … you know, a hockey player instead of a mixed martial artist on skates.


If my eyes don’t deceive me (let me know if they did) Sestito registered PIM in 19 of his 45 games this season. Are you willing to go all-or-nothing in that category more often than not? If so, you better be clairvoyant when it comes to when John Tortorella will throw some raw meat his way.


Personally, if punting PIMs altogether isn’t in play, I’d rather just grab that category with guys who can also do other things. You should know the group by now: the likes of Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Brandon Dubinsky, Steve Downie, Chris Stewart and so on.


That being said, I’ll do my best to come up with some more helpful research and theories on the risk-reward factor of enforcers at some point. Just don’t expect it to happen as quickly as Sestito’s night of work was over against the Kings on Jan. 13.


In fact, I might just raise a glass to Poile and take the tortoise-like approach with that plan.


For a full list of injuries and suspensions, click here.

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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