March 20, 2023
Ramblings: Finnish finishers;  Top NHL Scorers in Horvat, Karlsson, Olofsson and More (Nov. 5)

Ramblings: Finnish finishers; Top NHL Scorers in Horvat, Karlsson, Olofsson and More (Nov. 5)

Nice weekend! I’m substituting for Ian on Saturday and Sunday, so you’ll get an extra dose of Alex this week.


The Avalanche and Blue Jackets kicked off their weekend double header yesterday, with both games being played in Finland. We’ve seen quite a few of these mid-season overseas games, and in the past there has always been at least one team that really struggled coming back to North America. Even the Preds and Sharks, who opened the season in Prague, both struggled for weeks after returning.

It might be time to flip a hot Avs player, but it’s hard to imagine their team’s core breaking in badly. Mikko Rantanen scored a hat-trick and added an assist in his home country, with Nathan MacKinnon complementing the performance with four assists. It would take a little more than jet lag and a routine shift to slow the pair down.

If you then see this as a time to buy a battered blue jacket like Elvis Merzlikins or Jakub Voracek, maybe wait a few more weeks. Your window is probably bigger than you think.

It was good to see Patrik Laine getting his second of the year in Finland. If there’s one player who uses the trip to Finland as a stepping stone to a winning streak, it’s Laine. Having this weekend circled on your calendar could be a major distraction and the trip home to Finland could be a great restart for the high-scoring winger.

Getting Laine going would also be a key factor in getting Johnny Gaudreau back near last year’s scoring pace. His scoring comes at a very similar pace, but his assist rate is less than half what it was last year, taking him to a 67-point pace, which has been his bottom for the past decade. At least its owners can console themselves at this point that it shouldn’t get any worse.


The Finnish duo for the Hurricanes scored the first goal of the game, meaning that Teuvo Teravainen was actually included in the goalscoring chart. He’s lagged behind his teammates this year, but as mentioned a couple of times in the Ramblings over the past week or two, he’ll pick things up again.

Sebastian Aho, the other half of the Finnish duo at canes, also scored the second goal and then set up the third with a skillful spin to create some space. He added an empty net to complete the hat trick.

Finally, Finnish striker Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored his first goal of the season, which served as a key to safety midway through the third period.

To round out the quartet, Antti Raanta finished the win with 22 saves and is now 3-0-1 this year. He’s unlikely to steal much time from Frederik Andersen (uninjured), but his solid game should earn him the occasional extra start and see him closer to 35 than 25 this year.


The NHL’s top scorers as of today:

Connor McDavid – 12

Bo Horvat – 10

Erik Karlsson – 10 (!)

Viktor Olofsson – 9

Four names equal eight, including Gabe Vilardi, who I want to investigate.

the 11th Overall Pick in 2017 has had a very unique and non-linear development path. After dealing with many injuries, including a nagging back injury that was considered career-threatening at times, he rebounded with solid performances in both AHL and NHL stints in his D+2 year. He was a tweener for the next two years, and coming into camp this year it felt like A) there wasn’t room for him to thrive and B) he didn’t have quite the same benefits he did previously flashed had moved in. He was someone I checked out in my Dynasty leagues to take a chance on when the price was very low, but I didn’t jump at what was then a cheap cost. Now its shares are soaring and it’s unlikely it will ever be that cheap again.

That aside, and while his eight goals in 13 games are impressive, Vilardi’s underlying numbers are grossly inflated at the moment. His current shooting percentage of 23.5% is about 1.5 times his career shooting percentage of 16%. His IPP is a ridiculous 86%, although oddly his secondary assist percentage is only 20%. Goal tally may be down a bit, but the five assists from 13 games look reasonable overall. A 60-point pace the rest of the way isn’t out of the question, especially if he still sees at least 50% of his shifts in the top-6, which is a good bet given his ice time in each of his last four games has been over 17 minutes.


If we jump back to the goal list, we can all see Erik Karlsson there and know that he is doing WAY too much in the goal column now. Regardless, it’s still great to see him playing at an exceptional level and influencing the team’s offense so much. In hindsight, it should have been clearer that he would see a big surge in production with Brent Burns gone, but instead of thinking about it, let’s just put it away to remind ourselves next time we have a similar situation.


Victor Olofsson is also worth a visit. He’ll score, yes, but he’s only had one assist this year and has averaged less than 15 minutes of ice time per game so far. That makes him a risky game going forward and it’s likely his performance will be patchy all season. What speaks for Olofsson, however, is that he shoots a lot more – almost 1.5 times as much per minute as in previous years. That means when the Ice Age starts to creep in, there’s tons of volume to gain even if his shot percentage drops by half.

Additionally, he’s just one game away from the 200-game breakout threshold, which would put him in the 70+ point range due to a 20 percent increase over his norm in recent years.


Bo Horvat’s rise as top scorer comes two years later than everyone expected. He scored 10 goals in 17 games in the 2020 playoffs but then only managed 50 goals in his next 126 regular-season games over the next two years. Well, this year he’s upped things, shooting more, finishing more efficiently and also seeing some starts in the offensive zone. The 70-goal pace won’t continue, but he could very well hit 40 at this point, which would be huge considering his career high was 31, set just last season.


Connor McDavid is no surprise here. It will be him or Austin Matthews for the Rocket Richard trophy for the next decade.


The Bruins continue to make each other slightly unsympathetic.

I’m all for second chances, but when we’re talking about a very privileged job like playing in the NHL, those chances have to be earned, and until there’s proof that Miller has reformed (let alone actually apologized), then we do have to


A few days ago Arvid Söderblom celebrated his first NHL victory of his career. With Petr Mzrazek and Alex Stalock currently out through injury, Soderblom has a chance to show off his talent. It’s the kind of opportunity where a goalie can squeeze his way into regulation time as neither Mrazek nor Stalock present a real obstacle, even when healthy.

However, let’s not forget that these are the Chicago Blackhawks who should be fighting for the Connor Bedard lottery and not the playoffs, so expecting many wins would be foolish.


you find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean if you have questions or comments about fantasy hockey. Until next Wednesday!

#Ramblings #Finnish #finishers #Top #NHL #Scorers #Horvat #Karlsson #Olofsson #Nov

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