So, remember when we examined the Philadelphia Flyers’ foibles on Monday but also noted that it was too early for condemnation? Well … Flyers management decided not to take such a calm approach.
Of course they didn’t. The Flyers’ team-building strategy isn’t so much a blueprint as it is an Etch-a-Sketch.
In case you didn’t hear the news, Philly’s higher-ups reversed course once again on Monday, making head coach Peter Laviolette the victim of someone else’s mistakes.* To borrow an analogy from Bill Parcells, the Flyers fired the cook (Laviolette) when the person buying the groceries (GM Paul Holmgren) kept showing up with rotten meat and spoiled milk.
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The main focus of Monday’s column was not to overreact, but instead to coldly assess situations and - ideally - gain a boost here and there by taking advantage of hotheaded rivals.
The way Laviolette’s firing fits into a larger narrative of Flyer 180’s brings up another important lesson for fantasy owners (outside of keeper leagues**):
Don’t blow up your foundation. Instead, focus on smaller tweaks.
Many people will point to the Flyers’ decision to acquire Ilya Bryzgalov as the moment everything went south. I’d say they’re half-correct; the Flyers went downhill because they discarded core players Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to make room for Breezy, changing their identity out of desperation.
PUNTING ON SECOND DOWN
Look, I think that some of the pieces they’ve acquired in their many knee-jerk moves have actually worked out nicely; Jakub Voracek showed why he was a first-round pick by making beautiful music with Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds is becoming a highly useful power forward and so on.
Still, fantasy owners should take note that it’s usually not the greatest idea to part ways with an asset you valued highly not so long ago. Sure, it might work out every now and then, but you can only use that emergency ejection seat so many times before you crash and burn.
GET(ting rid of) CARTER
The ink was barely dry on Carter’s cap-friendly contract by the time Holmgren suddenly changed his mind and traded the slick sniper in the brief window before his no-trade clause kicked in.
Say what you will about Carter, there are few who can score goals like he does. From the 2007-08 season to 2012-2013, only four active players scored more than Jeff Carter's 191: Alex Ovechkin, Steve Stamkos, Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash.
In Richards’ case, it seemed like at least some of the concern came from stripping him of the captaincy, but we’ve seen players like Mike Modano and Patrick Marleau get over it and help their teams. Philly management apparently decided he wasn’t worth the extra effort, though.
Personally, I think the Flyers should have stuck with Carter and Richards … and not just because Bryzgalov flopped. Either way, the message is more important than the details: smart teams rarely make enormous changes every 6-12 months.
And, again, such thoughts can apply to fantasy, too.
By blowing everything up just weeks in, you’re selling your assets short.
Leagues can vary in size and rules, so it’s silly to attempt a “don’t drop anyone selected before Round x” rule. Instead, a good rule of thumb is: if you used an early pick on a player, you should probably give him a long leash. Conversely, if someone sours on his or her own high pick, do your best to take that “problem” off their hands.
THE PUJOLS PRICE
Strangely, the most amusing example that comes to mind is in fantasy baseball, and it involved someone else’s team.
One mostly blurry night at an awesome patio bar in 2012 - I’d guess in May - I overheard my friend discussing a possible trade in which he would grab Albert Pujols, who began his first season with the Los Angeles Angels in a massive slump. I strongly encouraged him to make the deal - I don’t remember the pieces involved, but they were depth guys by comparison - and he pulled it off.
Here's a quick look at Pujols’ split stats, noting that the fantasy trade happened in either April or May:
March/April - 0 home runs, four RBIs, .217 batting average, .265 on-base percentage
May - 8 HR, 24 RBI, .264 BA, .491 OBP
June - 4 HR, 19 RBI, .326 BA, .568 OBP
July - 8 HR, 20 RBI, .330 BA, .411 OBP
August - 9 HR, 24 RBI, .312 BA, .350 OBP
Sept./Oct. - 1 HR, 14 RBI, .269 BA, .315 OBP
Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, it should be clear that Pujols bounced back in a massive way.
It was a real bonehead trade, with my friend’s “victim” overreacting to Pujols’ early struggles. Worse yet, he gave up on a guy who was a huge investment; my guess is Pujols wasn’t drafted any later than the third round in that league.
Now, don’t get me wrong; you won’t get the chance to dupe someone this dramatically very often. Still, it does happen, especially with people who are a little newer to fantasy and/or might have booze in their system … and you should be there to capitalize.
Then again, maybe the real message is: friends don’t let friends trade drunk.
After the jump: Game notes from a light Monday and other bits.
* - Not that Laviolette was perfect, but GMs all-too-often get off the hook while head coaches get the axe.
** - Keeper leagues are a beast of their own, as it might actually make sense to make big changes sometimes, especially if you inherit a bad group from someone else.
EDMONTON 5, NEW JERSEY 4 (SO)
-- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins enjoyed a fantastic return from injury, aside from a that’s-so-Oilers -2 rating. Even if you factor overtime in, it's still ridiculous that he logged 28:12 of ice time yesterday. He scored a goal, piled on six SOG, received 4:17 of PP time and won 50 percent of his faceoffs. Nice. I still worry that the Oilers let him come back too soon - his earlier targeted return date was November - but what a start. Now let's see what happens when the adrenaline wears off.
-- RNH wasn't the only forward who received defenseman-like minutes, but I’m going to single out David Perron, as he's a new addition to the Oilers. Perron received more than 26 minutes of ice time last night, scoring a goal and an assist on three SOG.
Perron is owned in just 37 percent of leagues, and depending upon the depth of your waiver pool, he's either intriguing or downright fascinating.
There's no doubt that he's frustrating too, particularly injury-wise; while he played in all 48 games for St. Louis last year, he was limited to 57 in 2011-12 and 10 in 2010-11. Still, he's shown glimpses of some impressive scoring skills in his time with the Blues. Perron, 25, already has two 20-goal seasons to his name, including 21 when he was limited to 57 contests in 11-12.
He gets decent SOG (especially so far in Edmonton, with 11 in three games), is pretty feisty for a smaller guy (238 PIM in 342 career games) and is skating with fellow talented-but-fragile winger Ales Hemsky. Intriguing, all around.
-- I wouldn’t worry about Jason LaBarbera stealing Devan Dubnyk’s job, although he might get another start soon after snagging Edmonton’s first win.
-- Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal for the Devils last night. Like Teemu Selanne, I’m a big fan of his abilities and legacy, but Father Time might finally have caught up with him. Keep him on your radar, though, because he was still effective in 2012-13, despite the lack of playoff goals for Boston.
-- Damien Brunner’s high on the list of guys who were seriously mistreated by this past summer’s bizarre free agent market. He won't get eight SOG or two points every night, mind you, but he had close to three SOG per game in Detroit and should get every chance to succeed in New Jersey. Brunner should be owned in more than 28 percent of leagues.
If that’s not enough, his name is Damien and he’s on the Devils. I mean, c’mon. (Feel free to add a Miroslav Satan joke here.)
-- His peripherals are a mixed bag, but Michael Ryder (29 percent owned) is worth monitoring at least in deeper leagues.
-- Of those possible waiver adds, I’d go with Perron first.
RANGERS 3, LOS ANGELES 1
-- Jonathan Quick’s gaffe was bad news, no doubt, and there have been subgroups of people trashing him lately. You know these things work with everything from hockey to music: first you’re underrated, then you’re widely appreciated and then you’re overrated.
-- Brad Richards is an obvious sleeper consideration because of how talented he is, the quality of linemates such as Rick Nash and the possibility that he's in a virtual contract year because the Rangers might use a compliance buyout on him this summer. Add in the possibility for dual-position distinction, and you have a nice potential bargain.
-- The bad news: Ryan Callahan received a cut that kept him out part of the second period of his return to action Monday. The good news: he was able to return.
-- Looks like Willie Mitchell is indeed back. Not really worth much fantasy consideration, but should help Quick in subtle ways.
-- Brian Boyle had a great night: an assist, four SOG, five hits and just under 18 minutes of ice time. He's also in a contract year himself. If he keeps up that multiple-category usefulness, he might (gasp) be worth a look. (Not yet, though.)
-- Rick Nash was the best of them all, but that shouldn’t be a surprise, right?
INJURIES (full list)
George Parros (concussion) isn't traveling with the Habs for a four-game trip and his return date remains a mystery ... Patrick Sharp might miss a game soon because his wife is expecting, so keep an eye out ... Brian Gionta missed Monday's travel day for personal reasons of his own, but his expected to play Wednesday ... Ryan Smyth was a healthy scratch last night ... Oliver Ekman-Larsson is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Derek Morris has a similar diagnosis ... Tuomo Ruutu practiced on Monday and Tim Gleason traveled with the Hurricanes, so Carolina's health luck might be turning around ... Ryan Miller might not be able to go tonight, as he's concerned about worsening a groin injury ... Jaroslav Halak could be a workhorse early on.