We’re only one game into the 2013-14 season, and it’s already time to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to tell you to add someone. Like, now.
Follow these instructions:
1. Open a new tab or window.
2. Visit your Yahoo league page and click “Players.”
3. Add Mikhail Grabovski if he’s still available in your league(s).
4. Go back to reading the Daily Dose.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $4,000 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Wednesday). It's just $2 to join and first prize is $600. Starts at 7:30pm ET. Here's the link.
Is your team up one Belorussian yet? (Folds arms, taps feet.)
Oh, and there’s still plenty of time to join a Yahoo! Hockey Pool, so get on that.
Oh, you need a little push? OK, let me present an argument in case Grabovski’s hat trick + assist (including three power-play points) night isn’t sufficient. (Note: I mentioned Grabovski as a sleeper on Tuesday, but I understand if you missed it.)
The best span of time to judge Grabovski is from 2008-09 through last season, which gives us a five-year sample. In that time, Grabovski scored 20+ goals on three occasions and crossed the 50-point barrier twice, falling just short with 48 in 08-09, and he made up for that with a whopping 92 PIM.
(Grabovski generally gets a respectable amount of time in the box, with 245 PIM in 367 regular season games.)
Don’t get me wrong, Grabovski absolutely got lucky on Tuesday. His hat trick came on four shots, so the bounces clearly went his way. There will be lulls, especially if he gets good-but-not-massive ice time (17:13 TOI last night).
Still, time on ice is actually another positive to consider.
He received 3:29 PP TOI yesterday, dwarfing his 1:42 average from 2012-13.* The same caveats about his hat trick apply here - the Capitals won’t receive six man advantages every night - but it’s still a promising sign that Grabovski will get a much better chance to earn valuable points this season than he did with Randy Carlyle frowning at him.
Grabovski also has contract year motivation, which is the delicious icing on the top of a compelling fantasy hockey sundae. (More on that - contract years, not ice cream - soon.)
* - He averaged about two minutes per game of PP time in 2011-12 (mostly Ron Wilson, some Carlyle) and three per contest in 2010-11, the last time he played a full season with a coach who appreciates his game. It’s probably safe to pencil him in for about 2:30 most nights.
THE SUPPOSEDLY BAD
He fell short of 20 goals in 2009-10 and last season, but those campaigns were limited by injuries and then a work stoppage. He scored 35 points in 59 contests (.59 points per game) in 08-09 and 16 in 48 games (a point every three games, basically) last season, when he was clearly in Carlyle's doghouse.
So, really, he’s only had one true “off-year” … and man, is he getting punished for it in certain venues. Which is great news for those who are bargain-hunting.
MAKE HASTE BEFORE THINGS GET UGLY
Still not convinced? Sadly, you might not have a ton of time to sit on the fence (although league activity can vary wildly).
Grabovski’s only owned in 29 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues as of this writing, but that could change throughout Hump Day; do you really want to lose out on a quality mid-tier center because your opponents made the jump while they were bored at work?
OK, now that I’ve browbeaten you into grabbing Grabovski, let’s get into Wednesday’s expected Kessel talk.
Most sportswriters and sports fans have their little obsessions. Beyond pumping out cringe-inducing pun nicknames, mine is the contract year phenomenon. It is the greatest tie-breaker for me; I’m more willing to believe that a player can hit a hot streak (see: Joel Ward scoring on 25 percent of his shots in the 2011 playoffs) or that a fragile player can mysteriously break the 70-game mark when millions are on the line.
Fortunately for fans but unfortunately for fantasy owners, teams are becoming more adept at wrapping up their core players before they can maximize their earning potential. (Note: you should root against an extension for Henrik Lundqvist if he’s on your team.)
So, my first thoughts weren’t “that’s a lot of money for Phil Kessel” or “what does Dion Phaneuf/Tyler Seguin think?” Instead, they were something along the lines of “that knocked an unknowable amount of goals off of his totals this season.”
AMONG THE NEXT-BEST SNIPERS
Honestly, asking if Kessel is really worth $8 million per year seems like a fruitless exercise or at least work for braver souls. All the subjective factors swirling around (ranging from your tolerance for anyone making that much money to how much you’re impacted by goofy photos like these) make it tough for many to treat the 26-year-old objectively.
Instead of that thornier issue, let’s ask a more important question in fantasy terms, anyway: is he really one of the best scoring forwards in the NHL? I’d say absolutely.
First, let’s see where Kessel falls in the ranks of goalscoring from 2008-09 through last season, which for him is a sample size of 352 games:
1. Alex Ovechkin - 208 goals
2. Steve Stamkos - 208 goals
3. Patrick Marleau - 166 goals
4. Ilya Kovalchuk (sheds tear) - 163 goals
5. Jeff Carter - 162 goals
6. Corey Perry - 161 goals
7. Jarome Iginla - 156 goals
8. Rick Nash - 156 goals
9. Kessel - 155 goals
Kessel is the last guy in the 150’s, besting the likes of Thomas Vanek (146), Eric Staal (144), Daniel Sedin (143), Jonathan Toews (143) and Sidney Crosby (139). Obviously, injuries hurt the totals for guys like Crosby, but it's worth noting that Kessel's spent big chunks of his career without an elite playmaker feeding him perfect passes.
It’s pretty clear that Ovechkin and Stamkos - and probably a healthy Crosby - are on a whole other plane sniping-wise, but after that, Kessel ranks among the best of the rest.
He's not milking a lot of luck, either; his career shooting percentage is 10.9 and he's never shot better than 15.5 percent in his career. His 1,698 shots in 505 career regular season games easily clocks in at more than three per contest, which is catnip for fantasy owners.
He’s still in the mix when you broaden the discussion to points, too. While his 313 points from 08-09 to 12-13 “only” places him 24th overall, he’s getting better at pairing assists with all that sniping.
During his last three seasons with Toronto, Kessel scored 198 points, the eighth-best total in the NHL. If anything, we probably should’ve seen a big raise coming.
THE PLIGHT OF THE SNIPER
While a contract year would’ve been a nice sweetener, Kessel should be fine this season and for quite some time. He’s still young, after all.
The one area where you might want to try to “sell high” might be keeper leagues, although probably not this season. Gabe Desjardins’ research hints that Kessel might very well be approaching the end of his prime, so maybe think about it when he’s getting a little closer to 30.
Beyond that caveat, there’s little reason for negativity regarding the American-born winger. He even had a nice assist on Tuesday.
After the jump: Players to watch and injury bits.
Mikhail Grabovski wasn’t the only person worth monitoring on Tuesday. Here’s the lowdown on guys playing their first games either in the NHL or for a new team.
Daniel Briere - Briere didn’t register a point on Tuesday, but in a way, he revealed why he’s an asset in fantasy. He fired four shots on net, collected four PIM and even won three out of four faceoffs last night.
You might be surprised how much time the undersized forward spends in the box; he’s collected 89 PIM twice and is one minor away from 700 PIM in his career. He also shoots pretty frequently, often has dual position eligibility and received plenty of power-play ice time last night.
Sure, he’s injury prone, but if you’re lucky enough to be in a league where he wasn’t drafted, I say scoop him up.
Mason Raymond - Grabovski is far from the only guy who was seriously wronged by the weird free agent market this summer. Raymond could be in the perfect spot with the Leafs. He scored a goal on five shots and received great opportunities (4:22 power-play time on ice, 18:26 overall) on Tuesday. Give him a serious look.
Jacob Trouba - What a debut for the Winnipeg rookie, especially in simple stats. He scored two points (1G, 1A), blocked four shots and delivered a hit. The time on ice numbers excite me the most, however: a whopping 25:02 overall (besting every Jets player, Dustin Byfuglien included) and just under three minutes of power-play time.
It might be too early to add him - that probably depends upon how deep or shallow your league is, and how frequently you expect to tweak the lower reaches of your lineup - but keep tabs on him, especially if he plays beyond the nine-game deadline for entry-level players.
Michael Frolik - With two goals (including a game-winner), Frolik made quite the splash. He’s as lucky as anyone was, however, scoring on each of his two shots. He didn’t log a whole lot of minutes, either, barely besting 14. His fancy stats also make Jacob Trouba look like Nicklas Lidstrom.
Still, a two-goal night could very well earn him more ice time, and he passed the 20-goal barrier twice beginning his NHL career in Florida. He’ll likely get much better opportunities in Winnipeg than he ever did in Chicago, so don’t dismiss him altogether.
(Honestly, Mark Scheifele might be my favorite under-the-radar Jets consideration, though.)
* - Sleepers will probably be back on Thursday. The preceding list sort of fit that bill anyway, right?
INJURIES (full list) AND QUICK HITS
Man, did Mike Green look like the guy who used to be worth considering in the second or third round of drafts last night, or what? If you haven’t drafted yet, I’d recommend grabbing him earlier than expected … Scary stuff for George Parros. Luckily it seems like he’s OK, at least in relation to how frightening that fall was … Speaking of fights, enforcers are finding some ridiculous ways to circumvent the “penalty for taking off your helmet” rules. At least it might call for the occasional extra two minutes tacked onto a fighting major … Max Pacioretty and Michal Handzus seemed like they dodged injury scares last night. Keep an eye on them just in case they feel worse in the morning/afternoon, however … Lars Eller’s three-point night wasn’t based on luck alone … Congrats to Martin St. Louis for becoming the Lightning’s captain. It feels overdue, really … Marcus Foligno will miss at least Buffalo’s first game … Could this be the season that Ales Hemsky stays healthy? Uh oh, I probably shouldn’t have even asked that.