Ryan Dadoun

Fantasy Nuggets

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Fantasy Nuggets Week 1

Thursday, October 5, 2017


We had our first games of the campaign last night so we have statistics that count to chew.  Unfortunately, reading into a handful of season openers can’t really tell us much.  It’s encouraging to see the Leafs’ offense start things off firing on all cylinders, especially given how well do in 2017-18, but it’s too early to really offer any decent speculation.  At the other end of the spectrum, Steve Mason being chased out of that game is particularly worrying given that he’s entering the season on the bottom rung of starting goaltenders, but it’s too early to panic.

 

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That’s not to say that there’s no point in considering those games though, but you should focus your attention on different things.  There were some significant rookies making their debuts last night and looking at the roles they played gives us an early indication about how big of an opportunity they’re getting.

 

For starters, Nolan Patrick made his NHL debut with Philadelphia last night, logging three shots on 13:30 minutes of ice time.  He also got 44 seconds with the man advantage, which is better than nothing, but not a particularly good amount given the number of power-play opportunities the Flyers had (they went 2-for-6 in that regard).  It’s a solid amount of ice time for a first game, but it pales in comparison to the debuts we saw from Patrik Laine (two points, 18:27 minutes of ice time) and Auston Matthews (four goals, 17:37 minutes) last year.

 

You could correctly point out that comparing debuts isn’t terribly meaningful in terms of points recorded, but the ice time is the bigger red flag here.  Consider that Matthews only had one game over his entire rookie season where he recorded as little or less than Patrick’s 13:30 minutes and there are only two examples of that with Laine.  Simply put, Patrick seems to be getting a lesser opportunity than Matthews and Laine were, which isn’t unreasonable, but it’s a reason to temper your early expectations for the Flyers rookie.

 

We also saw Edmonton’s Kailer Yamamoto make his NHL debut and if Patrick’s could be described as a mixed bag, then Yamamoto’s was very discouraging.  Despite having a strong preseason, Yamamoto only logged 6:33 minutes of ice time in his debut, which was significantly less than any other player on the Oilers.  I had been feeling cautiously optimistic about Yamamoto, but if that game is any indication then he likely won’t stick with Edmonton for long.  He can play up to nine games with the Oilers before this counts as the first season of his entry-level contract and at this rate he will likely be returned to the WHL before that trial expires.  Which is fine, he has a ton of upside, but it was impressive for the 19-year-old to even open the season up with the Oilers at this stage of his development.

 

We’re going to see some more key debuts in the coming days.  Arizona’s Clayton Keller already has three NHL games under his belt (with two assists in that span), but Thursday’s season opener will nevertheless be a decent indication of how big of a role he’ll get under new bench boss Rick Tocchet.  Keller is perhaps being a touch overlooked in fantasy circles as he should be regarded as one of the main threats to compete for the Calder Trophy.

 

Then on Saturday we’ll see 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier get into his first career NHL game when his New Jersey Devils face the Colorado Avalanche.  Naturally Hischier should be regarded as another prime candidate to compete for the rookie of the season honors and it helps that he should get a sizeable role with the Devils.  Of course, we’ll have a better idea of that once we see how he’s employed in a game that counts.

 

Another early game to monitor closely will naturally be the Golden Knights’ franchise opener on Friday against the Dallas Stars.  Vegas’ roster still isn’t set yet as the squad has made some paper transactions ahead of its first contest and might end up making a trade to sort things out.  When the dust settles though, we’ll get a better sense for the new squad’s depth charts.  One player to watch will be Vadim Shipachyov as the 30-year-old KHL superstar formally begins his NHL career.

 

While we’re on the topic of the Golden Knights, they made an interesting move on Thursday by placing Calvin Pickard on waivers.  They had previously claimed Malcolm Subban from Boston so this move prevents them from going into the season with three goaltenders on the active roster.  That’s a good thing as three goalie situations almost never work out, but Pickard is a strong backup and at the age of 25 still has the potential to establish himself as a starter.  He also comes with a reasonable $1 million cap hit so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him claimed.  Honestly, it is a little puzzling to see Vegas expose Pickard for nothing, but they must see more long-term potential with Subban.

 

There is no shortage of teams that could use Pickard, but Toronto and Edmonton are two that immediately come to mind.  Neither team would be ideal for Pickard though as there isn’t room to slide into the starting position with either squad barring an injury, not that he was likely to get much of an opportunity in that regard in Vegas given the presence of Marc-Andre Fleury



Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.
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