Before dropping the puck during Bubble Keeper Week…
The August edition of the Top 100 Roto Rankings will be published shortly. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment on the ranking. Some of you may be using them for drafts in September, so any input you can provide or even questions about some player ratings are welcome.
I’m going to start Bubble Keeper Week with four players I need to make a decision on this month. The league I’m in doesn’t have a fixed maximum number of goalies, although there are a bunch of other goalie rules that mean I can’t keep every player. These rules generally relate to both the length of the contract (when I acquire a player, I can sign the player for multiple seasons, depending on how I acquire the player) and the number of league points the player registers at the within a contract year (above a certain number means they automatically go to free agency, below a certain number means I can keep them). These decisions aren’t necessarily about keeping one player over another, though the league has a slow auction with a salary cap for free agents.
As I mentioned on Twitter, the first two players listed below had surprisingly strong spells during part of the 2021-22 season. The last two players should be backup goalies that you probably wouldn’t think of much, but I’ll try to make the discussion about them relevant anyway.
Which version of DeBrusk should we expect in 2022-23? DeBrusk had vastly underperformed in the shortened 2020-21 season (14 PTS in 41 GPs) and struggled in the first half of 2021-22 (14 PTS in 35 GPs). Unhappy with his situation with the Bruins, DeBrusk reportedly requested a trade last season. Then during the fourth quarter, he was propelled on a line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and had an exceptional fourth quarter with 10 goals and 16 points in 20 games.
Add to that the fact that it’s been a turbulent offseason for the Bruins. Marchand and Charlie McAvoy will miss the first part of the season. The uncertainty of Patrice Bergeron’s situation also added to the anticipation that the Bruins would take a step back in 2022-23, but Bergeron and David Krejci will be back, bolstering the roster. Bruce Cassidy was also fired as a coach, which could be a reason DeBrusk may have called off his trade request.
Fantasy Take: Bruins hire Montgomery as head coach
DeBrusk can play on both wings, giving new coach Jim Montgomery the option to move him to a top line that would include Bergeron and David Pastrnak. This could lead to production similar to its fourth quarter production, although it could take a step back if moved off the top line. DeBrusk is clearly a better player than he showed in 2020-21, and it looks like he’ll be happier and more productive going forward. That said, he hasn’t been consistent enough to top 50 points at any point in his career. It’s probably a reasonable expectation for the 25-year-old winger for the upcoming season.
Durzi wasn’t expected to have much of an impact in 2021-22, but injuries to the Kings’ blue line necessitated an early recall. Durzi stood out as an effective performer, especially on the power play, which resulted in him not being returned to the AHL.
Only three rookie defenders recorded more total points than Durzi (27 PTS), while only two rookie defenders (Moritz Seider, Bowen Byram) recorded more total points per game than Durzi (0.42 PTS/GP) . Durzi was particularly effective on the power play, where only Seider posted more power play points than Durzi (14 PPG) among d-men rookies. In particular, Durzi’s 87.5% PP IPP suggests he’s heavily involved in the Kings power play, which I also noticed in the Kings highlights I watched.
So Durzi should be able to rely on that total points, right? Not so fast. Durzi received 66 percent of his team‘s power-play minutes after Drew Doughty was sidelined in early March with a wrist injury. Before that, Durzi only averaged around 40% of power-play minutes while on second unit. Doughty’s return could mean Durzi is relegated to the second unit, although it’s possible that Durzi’s power-play efficiency will force the Kings to adopt a 3 F–2 D first unit to accommodate the two defenders.
You’ll probably have to wait for Durzi to get his edge, especially with defensemen like Doughty, Alex Edler and Sean Walker returning to the Kings roster after prolonged injuries. The worst-case scenario is that Durzi struggles to fit into the lineup on a regular basis, especially if his defensive game isn’t up to snuff. The best-case scenario is first-unit power-play time all to himself, especially with Doughty now 32 and possibly feeling the effects of long minutes. I’ll be bullish here and bet on him hitting at least 30 points because he showed a lot of positives in his rookie season.
Is it better to keep a starting keeper from a mediocre team or a substitute keeper from a strong team on your fantasy roster? There may not be a simple answer to this, but it depends on what goalie stats your league keeps. If your league is heavily focused on wins and saves and you are not heavily penalized for goals against, then any high volume starter is ideal. However, if goals allowed and/or bad ratios can sink your goalkeeper and therefore your whole team, then solid backup might be better. Ideally as a handcuff.
Frederik Andersen was my number one keeper last season, so his season-ending injury came at an inopportune time for me as I was in my fantasy playoffs. Fortunately, I had kept Raanta on my bench all season, and he managed to win three of his last four games of the season. Raanta can’t seem to start a streak without suffering some sort of injury, which is why he seems better suited for a backup role. Since Andersen becomes a free agent due to league rules, I will only try to add Raanta again if I can buy Andersen out through the league auction first. In many other leagues, Raanta will be an ideal streaming option that should only be kept in deeper formats.
A Twitter follower asked me if I think San Jose will have the last 5 goaltenders this season. I told him I didn’t think so, but the last 5 are a more certain possibility. Why not list the teams that I think will have worse goaltenders than the Sharks: Arizona and Chicago, of course, then maybe Anaheim, Buffalo, Montreal (if Carey Price stays injured), New Jersey, Philadelphia and Seattle. Add the two sureties with half the maybes and you’d have five teams with a worse goalie than San Jose. The Sharks may not be the bottom 5, but they’re knocking on the door.
To complicate matters, the Sharks may have a three-headed monster brewing in the net. As the new player with the (slightly) larger contract, Kaapo Kahkonen is expected to be the Sharks starter. That leaves Adin Hill and Reimer fighting for the rest of the starts. Hill has battled injuries throughout his career, but he should still have some trade value if the Sharks want to upgrade elsewhere or add more draft picks. It’s hard to say what’s left for Reimer, who played the most games (48 GPs) of any Sharks goalie last season. With Kahkonen now in the picture, don’t expect Reimer to hit that tally again, barring injury. Although he kept his decent ratios (2.92 GAA, 0.911 SV%, 58.3 QS%), he can probably be left on the waiver wire in many leagues.
Footnote: There’s a fifth player I have to pick on as well, which is Mike Smith. It looks like he will at least start the season on LTIR, so I won’t automatically hold him and instead use cap space and roster space on active players.
The fact that three of the five players listed here are goalkeepers suggests that I used a very short-term strategy when it came to goalkeepers. If I decide not to keep any of these guardians, I will enter the period of free will without any guardians. I don’t like to dwell on goalkeeper deals, both in amount and duration, simply because of the unpredictable nature of goalkeeper performance. Still, given my potential lack of options in this position, I might be forced to place bigger bids than I’m comfortable with.
Some interesting dialogues about my Twitter counting on the World Junior Championships after I posted my poll question to find out if you’re watching. After all that, I managed to catch up a bit on Canada’s game against Czech Republic today. In case you missed it, here’s a successful lacrosse goal from Kent Johnson.
Logan Cooley attempted one earlier today, but it didn’t quite go to plan.