Looking at who the league's top prospects are playing with whether you can expect line-up changes in this week's Sunday Ramblings…
Its finally here! The season has begun and fantasy nuts are excited to finally see their drafting pay off. In the case of those of us in keeper leagues, we are finally catching glimpses of our prized, formerly-benched prospects finally playing in the NHL, but where are we seeing them? And will we keep seeing them there?
Using the addictingly useful Frozenpool tool by Dobberhockey, I'm taking a look at the ice time and line-mates top prospects have received so far, and deciding if I believe this to be long-term or subject to change.
Through two games, the top pick has spent almost 75% of his even strength time centering William Nylander and Zach Hyman. There have been brief periods of replacing Hyman, but usually only after he had been busy killing penalties and needed a rest. I do predict this combo will change in the future, but for the better. Matthews is quickly establishing himself as the top player on the team, and I think the Leafs will take the opportunity to put someone with higher scoring upside than Hyman on his wing, In no case should we expect Matthews to receive less ice time or worse line-mates.
Unlike Matthews, who's line gets almost 20% of the Leafs' even strength time, Marner's get only 11% – the lowest of the 4 forward lines. This is mainly due to the fact he plays 81% of the time Bozak, who is not the team's strongest option at center. But like Matthews, Marner is showing that he is too offensively gifted to squander. This probably wont come from a line change, unless him and Nylander swap RW spots, but rather from his line receiving more ice time as a group as they gain more chemistry and become more dangerous.
Spending nearly 90% of the game with Couturier may imply that the Flyers have put Konecny in a reserved, defensive position, but this is not the case. 78% of that time has Voracek on the other wing, which is excellent news for the talented youngster – especially since this line gets the second-most ice time on the squad. I fear this will be short-lived however, given the historical production of Giroux and Voracek together. Unless Konecny can unlock Voracek's scoring like Giroux already can, the pair will probably be reunited as soon as the team gets desperate for offence. In addition, Schenn returning from suspension will likely replace Couturier. Despite all these players still being talented top-sixers, expect some rocky patches as changes are bound to happen around him.
Fantastic outlet pass by Provorov almost sets up Konecny's first NHL goal pic.twitter.com/mFXZoQRtBw— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 16, 2016
The most disappointing percentage for Laine – 26% – the percentage of Winnipeg's powerlay time that he is on the ice so far. Once he starts showing off his laser of a shot more often, expect this to go up and him to earn a spot on the top powerplay. One huge uncertainty is his even-strength ice time. Winnipeg has iced 21 different combinations of forward so far that have eaten up at least 1% of the team's time. He has spent equal time on the wing with both Schiefele and Perrault – sticking with the former would definitely be a win. I do think one of these two spots is the most appropriate for him and he will stick there…but for now we do not know which it will be.
Laine goes shelf for his first NHL goal ?? https://t.co/uc1WrrfIaJ— Hockey Central (@HockeyCentraI) October 14, 2016
The good news – almost 86% of his time has been spent with Leon Draisaitl, a fantastically talented linemate for a rookie winger to have. The bad news – the duo is the team's third most used line, receiving only 11% of the team's even-strenght ice time. This is unlikely to change anytime soon, with Nugent-Hopkins being the de-facto shutdown line and the essential guarantee that Eberle and Lucic will be surrounding McDavid for the majority of the year. More bad news – Puljujarvi is on the second PP unit, but given the amount of talent in Edmonton this shouldn't be a surprise. Unless Puljujarvi gets very hot and the other offensive options go very cold, dont expect to see imminent changes to the lines.
Jesse Puljujarvi scores his first career NHL goal, Oilers up 6-3 pic.twitter.com/hZJ0P4UHPZ— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) October 13, 2016
Second line and the second PP unit are good places to be for a player who wasn't drafted as a sure-thing to make the team this season. It's also a relatively safe place to be in a Calgary lineup that has very little to push him out of that spot. The team's bottom-six are very much traditional bottom-six type players, meaning Tkachuk is likely to stay on the top lines where he belongs – a very good thing considering the ice time piece of the pie drops from 18% for the second line down to 10% for the third line. The bigger question mark here is whether the team think's its worth keeing him in the NHL and burning a year of his contract if they keep getting beaten up like they have in games one and two.
Episode 3 of the DobberProspects podcast is on the air and available for free listening – if you have some spare time to gain some very valuable knowledge on NHL prospects, I highly recommend checking it out. Click nywhere in this paragraph to give it a try, you will undoubtedly learn something new by the end of the show.
As always, thank you for reading and best of luck in your hockey pools this season!
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