Training camps in progress – Ekman-Larsson, Bouchard, Puljujarvi, Niku (September 25) – DobberHockey
Two days of camp are now in the books, with two preseason games to play tonight (Saturday). Needless to say, there is a lot to be said.
Since part of my job as an editor is to organize writers and articles, I will mention that the Lineing Up and Injury Ward article will resume regularly next week. Ryan will discuss which line combinations to pay attention to during training camp, while Brennan will break down key injuries. In the meantime, I’ll try to cover some major developments with these topics, as well as some news and notes from the training camps.
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Vaccination certainly promises to be an interesting topic this preseason. I can call someone back on Twitter asking why the Red Wings wouldn’t have just bailed out Tyler Bertuzzi, given his refusal to get the shot. Since the Wings only play nine games in Canada, Bertuzzi is not as affected as Josh Archibald (the Oilers play 32 games in the United States). In addition, Bertuzzi is less of a replaceable player for his team than Archibald or Zac Rinaldo for theirs. That’s a minor inconvenience for Bertuzzi’s teams, when he should be relegated to the bottom of the standings. But at least you can plan ahead, like I’m going to have to. Yes, I decided to keep it several weeks ago.
If you live in the Vancouver market (or perhaps beyond due to the vast expanse of Twitter), you may have seen Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s bag skate video.
It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t the entire skate bag – just the final part. And Travis Green’s boot camp bag skates are known to be mean. So that doesn’t necessarily indicate that the 30-year-old OEL is out of shape or is past its prime. However, that raises an immediate minor concern for the Canucks when you combine the fact that his contract will last another six years at over $ 7 million. Obviously, OEL doesn’t offer much for its money in the salary cap leagues. Either way, it’s important to keep early training camp developments in perspective and not overreact.
Ekman-Larsson is currently drafted into 100% Yahoo Leagues with an ADP of 133, so I wouldn’t necessarily change your ranking based on this video. Keep in mind that Quinn Hughes is still without a contract and not in training camp, so OEL’s short-term value would skyrocket if Hughes was still not signed to start the season. Even though Ekman-Larsson isn’t well regarded in the analytical community, it’s important to separate this data (which measures two-way play) from its real fancy value. OEL has posted a pace of over 40 points in four of their last five seasons, which to me is more relevant in the fantastic leagues.
Speaking of which, maybe it’s time to push Hughes and Elias Pettersson (and Brady Tkachuk for that matter) very lightly up your rankings until they’re signed. Or at least picking another player of equivalent rank if you have the option of picking one up in a single-season league draft. I don’t know when they will be signed. Even though I’ve heard local reporters say otherwise, I’m starting to wonder if the Canucks will have to move a player just to get Hughes and Pettersson under contract. Jim Benning once again overspended on his list.
Also, report the rumor that brothers Hughes and Tkachuk (and maybe Pettersson too) are conspiring to make a great team. Ceiling issues aside, if this team were to perform, which one would it be? New Jersey? Detroit? Elsewhere?
On the Edmonton blue line, much of the attention has been given to Tyson Barrie, Darnell Nurse and even recently acquired Duncan Keith (for more than one reason). Still, one defenseman who has received a lot of praise recently is 2018 first-round pick Evan Bouchard.
With Ethan Bear moved to Carolina, Bouchard should be able to take a full-time job with the Oilers. It seems like a third pairing role and second unit power play minutes to start. Unlike other Oilers prospects, Bouchard was in no hurry, which allowed him to develop and produce offensively at all levels before the NHL (OHL, AHL, Swe-1). Additionally, Bouchard may have a little more offensive advantage than Nurse, who might be better suited for a long-term two-way role (although I mentioned before that I really like Nurse as a multi-category league threat. ).
Also from the Oilers camp, Jesse Puljujarvi and Zach Hyman were placed on a line with Connor McDavid. Hyman got the long-term free agent deal during the offseason, so it’s no surprise he’s on the McDavid line. Puljujarvi’s most frequent cross last season was actually McDavid, so that shouldn’t come as a huge shock either. Continued use of the McDavid line is a good sign for Puljujarvi as it continues to grow.
Puljujarvi has played 194 career games, so the 6-4 forward has some way to go before he hits the power threshold of 400 games. Although he was drafted five years ago, he has never played more than 65 games in a season. So, as Oilers fans can attest, it has been a draft in the truest sense of the word.
“Pool Party” is also only listed at 14% in Yahoo Leagues, so there is a good chance that it will be available on your league’s waiver thread in case it hits its pace before the game. 400. Patience has been the key if you’ve had Puljujarvi in your pool keeper all this time. I’m curious if anyone has stayed with him for five years, as given the timing of the escapes it can take even longer than that.
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After being bought out by the Jets just days ago, Sami Niku signed a bilateral deal with Montreal. Is he a potential post-hype prospect? Or just a prospect who will never impact NHLer? Although Niku only played 54 games in the NHL, the Jets got relatively decent mileage from a selected player 198e globally. In fact, he managed to post solid numbers in the AHL during his time there as well as being named the league’s top defenseman of 2018. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough NHL opportunities, likely at because of its defensive shortcomings. It was even when there were major openings on the Jets’ blue line.
Even though he’s already spent a lot of time in the AHL, it’s possible Niku will be back this season. If he can make it to some NHL games, he might be able to save a few minutes of power play (remember Shea Weber should miss the season). Something to keep in mind is that Niku is no longer waiver exempt, meaning he could be on the move again if he is not part of the Canadiens roster.
The Washington Capitals have become the first team to announce the sponsor of their jersey announcement, announcing that Caesars Sportsbook will appear as a small jersey patch early next season (2022-23). The NHL jersey has been considered sacred until now, but during the pandemic, NHL teams have had to consider other sources of income, especially if the salary cap were to increase as soon as possible. The jersey announcement looks similar to the NBA one where it appears to blend in instead of stand out. Let’s just hope that European style jerseys aren’t in our future, though.