Fantasy Hockey Mailbag

Life and Fantasy Hockey Mailbag: Year in Review – Bad Takes

Welcome to the LFH mailbag, where all your burning fantasy questions are answered moderately well by Spencer Plamondon, co-host of the Life and Fantasy Hockey Podcast.

Well, we’ve made it to the final week in most fantasy pools, which brings us to the final mailbag of the season. Our final bi-weekly podcast of the season will be May 16th, as well. We’ll be announcing a new playoff format shortly.

I gotta be honest – this mailbag idea was thrown together pretty quickly. It wasn’t something I’d planned on doing, it came about a month and a half into the season, and it sort of went from an idea to a full-on series in the span of a couple hours.

I’m glad it did.

I’ve enjoyed this a lot. At a time when I was struggling to write content I didn’t loathe, the mailbag became a perfect outlet. Somewhere I could just let it flow without overthinking it. It was a good reminder that this is supposed to be fun, and it became an assignment I looked forward to every week.

A huge, huge thank you to the regulars who gave this a read every week, and who were always ready with a fresh and thoughtful question for me to answer when I was in need. You’re the reason I was able to do this, and I’m really grateful for that.

Alright, let’s get into the “year in review”, which feels like a weird f*cking thing to say 4 months into the season. In it, I’ll be breaking down my worst takes from the mailbag this year. I considered doing the “best” takes as well, but come on, we all know you want to see me show my a** more than you want to see me patting myself on the back. I snuck a couple in, though.

Let’s start the show.

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“I’m in a 3 goalie league with Price, Rinne, Saros and Kuemper on my roster. Saros and Kuemper are on IR. Who should I add? – Maximus Afinogenov (not really) (16/03/21)

Let’s start this off with a bang. When Maximus Afinogenov (Tyler O’Connor from Healthy Skratch) asked this question, I didn’t realize I was about to have my worst take of the year in the reply. And that’s saying something, because there was actually good advice in this answer. It just involved committing to my worst advice to access it, which would’ve undoubtedly left you with the short end of the stick. Here’s what I said:

Yes, that’s right. Not only did I suggest dropping an already-I.R’d Juuse Saros right before he was about to to go super-nova and become a league winner, I went out of my way to say that between him and Rinne, I felt it was six of one, half a dozen of the other.


So the basis for this bit of advice, I like. Getting Shesterkin on your IR at that point would’ve been a prudent move, and would’ve offered some strong goalie depth down the stretch, especially in a three goalie league. I’m always in favour of using your IR spots to the fullest if there are fantasy-relevant free agents you can place there. One team might be forced to drop a talented player because their IR slots are full – so that’s a great opportunity to swoop in and use yours to get a player you otherwise wouldn’t have had a free shot at.

That said, recommending Saros as the guy to drop looks terrible right now, and equating his value to Rinne’s looks worse. At the time, his and Rinne’s stats were pretty similar, and Nashville had been playing terrible all season with a talented roster. Honestly, that roster is still underperforming – Saros has just been absolutely insane for the past month and a half.

Anyway, nothing made much sense at the time, and I’d really begun to lose faith in Saros’ ability to be a good starter. He failed to blow me away last year, and I still don’t know where I stand on it, honestly. He’s proven capable of going white-hot for months-long periods, and that’s enough to give any team a shot in the playoffs if the stars align, but I still haven’t seen Saros put up strong numbers while starting 60% or more of his team’s games in a full 82-game season.

Maybe I’m nitpicking there, I don’t know. When all’s said and done, he’s going to finish well above a .920SV% with 33-36 starts in a 56-game, condensed season that he missed time in due to injury. Actually, he currently sits at a .928SV%, so .930% is legitimately attainable. And literally all of that is unbelievable. I don’t think he’s getting enough attention for it, honestly. The thing is, he was weak over the first two months; he’s just been so hot over the last month and a half that his stats have recovered.

Anyway, however you slice it, my take was terrible. Thank god I’m not the hard-headed a**hat I used to be, because I was able to identify pretty early on that my judgment was off here. I managed to add Saros in four different leagues, and I’m in the finals in three of them. Here’s hoping Ty didn’t listen to me on this one.

Time to sell on Rickard Rakell? – MC Kris (Not the Star Wars rapper) (16/03/21)

Two bad takes in the same mailbag – yikes.

This one is more a change of opinion than an explicitly bad take, as far as I’m concerned anyway. What I disagree with is the commitment to holding onto Rakell unless an offer completely blew Kris away.

It can be a good idea to hold onto a player through the deadline in the hopes they’ll get moved to a better situation – LFH regular Jared T. (DaBirdz3) was in this spot with Taylor Hall, and he’s been real happy to have held onto him – but in Rakell’s case, he’s a 27 year old former 30 goal scorer who was once a fantasy beast, but who has since fallen off playing on a rebuilding team that can’t score.

With Rakell being on a serious hot streak heading into the deadline while his name swirled in trade rumours with contenders, there was a unique opportunity here to potentially sell him at a higher baseline value than he’s carried in years. I just didn’t see it, or rather I didn’t assign it fair value. That was an oversight on my part. If I could go back, I’d suggest shopping him more aggressively with a willingness to pull the trigger on a good deal – not to “wait for a great one or hold”. Obviously, in the absence of even a good trade offer, holding him would have been the right call.

Will Galchenyuk work with John Tavares and Willy Nylander? – DaBirdz3 (22/03/21)

I got a few Chucky questions from Birdzy this year, which was fun. Now that Galchenyuk is a Leaf (and playing well) he’s piqued the interest of a lot of their fans, which I get. He’s a former third overall pick who’s shown more-than-just-flashes of high-end ability at the NHL level over the years. To top it off, he’s hustling his a** off and committed to playing a high energy, two-way game for the first time in his career. As a Habs fan, I got to watch most of his career unfold directly under the microscope, so it was fun and interesting to be receiving questions about him, despite his fantasy relevance never quite eclipsing “fringe” status. Here was my answer to this question at the time:

This one didn’t really move the needle in any meaningful way from a fantasy perspective; Galchenyuk currently has 3 goals and 9 points (none on PP) in 21GP since being acquired by Toronto. He never did end up worthy of a roster spot as anything more than a streamer.

Where I was wrong, though, was in my evaluation of his abilities. Clearly, I thought there were greater fundamental issues at play than there were. Toronto eased him in, sure – but in like, under a month, they were able to clean up his bad habits and turn him into a quality NHL player who plays capably in their Top 6. His emergence was so impressive, in fact, that Kyle Dubas publicly stated it changed how the team approached the trade deadline.

As I made clear at the time, I want him to succeed. So I’ve been happy to be wrong on this one, and I just so managed to sandwich this inconsequential bad take in between two of my best on the year: recommending Jason Robertson and Eeli Tolvanen on March 22nd (!). Both were in the infancy of their breakouts and would go on to light it up – Robertson is still lighting it up, whereas Tolvanen was eventually derailed by an injury that took him out for a couple weeks. He returned last week, with a modest 1G, 1A in 5GP since. Regardless, his production down the stretch prior to getting hurt was really something.

Now that the dust from the trade deadline has settled, are there any players whose situation has been negatively affected and should be dropped? – Allan C. (19/04/21)

Ooo, a fresh pile of steaming hot take. This one’s from just two weeks ago.

It’s not terrible, but since we pumped Nick Ritchie on the pod all season, I think I need to acknowledge that he’s been a Top 100 fantasy player in standard Yahoo! leagues since I changed my stance to “Sell”. He’s literally ranked 100th, but it counts. He’s chipped in some goals lately while continuing to shoot and hit at a solid clip. That power play production continues to be non-existent though, despite continued Top PP deployment and putting up 9 points on the man advantage in the first three months of the season.

The Bennett/Wennberg one is where I really missed. Florida is somehow managing to fill all its mouths at forward, and that includes Wennberg. He’s ranked 111th over the past two weeks, and 78th over the past week. Both are big improvements over his season rank of 293.

Bennett, on the other hand, has been out of this f*cking world since his arrival in the COVID Sunshine State, and while I’m still not ready to call him a Top 6 player long-term, he’s definitely making a stronger case with every passing day. With 13 points in 9 games on the Panthers, Bennett has been the 2nd ranked fantasy player in Yahoo! public leagues over both the past week and two weeks. He’s ranked 8th over the past month. What an unbelievable out-of-nowhere addition he’s been down the stretch this year. Who had “Sam Bennett being a league-winner” on their 2021 bingo card? Not this guy.

I can’t wait for the pre-season Sam Bennett discussions next year. I’m curious how those will look if he keeps this up, because it is undeniably impressive production. I can almost guarantee you I won’t be rolling the dice on him in drafts, though. Even and especially if he stays hot through the end of the year*(Editor’s note: Sam Bennett is DTD with a UBI as of 03/05/21). Someone else can take that risk. I’ll be saving my late-round “couldn’t do a pull-up at the combine” slot for Buffalo’s Casey Mittelstadt.

Got a question? Send it in to us on Twitter @LFHPod.. next year. Seriously. We’re still gonna need questions.

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