Rob and Matt examine Andrew Shaw's sleeper potential.
Matt Cane and Rob Vollman have devised a system to project a player's future performance by finding players with common statistics historically (Vollman, on the left) and in the modern day (Cane, on the right). This article is part of a series to introduce readers to their system, and to demonstrate how it can give you an edge in fantasy hockey.
Sleeper alert! At first glance, Andrew Shaw's scoring totals don't appear to be particularly noteworthy, from a fantasy hockey perspective. After all, his career high is just 20 goals and 39 points, and his weighted average over the past three seasons sets his base projection at just 17 goals and 30 points. However, a look at recent players with similar underlying numbers suggests that the 24-year-old Blackhawk could be a fantastic late-round sleeper pick.
The historical projections (on the left) may indeed reinforce the perception of Shaw as a complementary scorer, but the more modern tools (on the right) put him in far more select company. In the past, we have all seen what happens when a young player gets to line up next to Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, or Marian Hossa – imagine what would happen if Shaw got the same opportunity this year!
Rob's Take: While comparing Shaw to Ryan Getzlaf is obviously a stretch, it's certainly not beyond the realm of plausibility to see him reach the same scoring level as Derick Brassard and Patrik Berglund. Even among the historical comparables, both Darcy Rota and Lucien Deblois each blossomed into effective top-line talents in Vancouver and Winnipeg, respectively.
Shaw's scoring totals to date may be modest, but remember that the majority of his time is spent playing on a bottom-six line with the likes of Bryan Bickell. Shaw has played almost 3000 minutes of five-on-five hockey in the NHL and, according to the data at Puckalytics, only 550 has been spent with Kane, 285 with Hossa, and just 101 with Toews.
As things currently stand, that trend is probably likely to continue. While Shaw's net-crashing 12.9% shooting percentage may be the perfect complement to a line that included Kane, Hossa, or Toews, it's actually the left wingers that will have the most opportunity to play with Chicago's top stars – and Shaw plays center/right. However, this system has clearly demonstrated that it's worth keeping an eye on Shaw, especially if something changes in Chicago's lineup.
Matt’s Take: If you're looking for a big contender for a breakout year, Andrew Shaw should be on your radar. Not only are a good share of his comparables some of the top forwards in the game, but their comparable seasons were mostly breakout years as well, where many of the modern comparables proved themselves as the threats we know them as today. The most obvious example of this is Ryan Getzlaf, whose 82 points in 77 games was 24 above his previous career high in 2 seasons before that. The Ducks center has never looked back since his age 22 campaign, and while Andrew Shaw might not turn out to be the next Getzlaf, it does speak to the potential that the system sees in him.
Even beyond Getzlaf, there are several other signs that the Belleville native may be on the verge of establishing himself as a household name. Ryan Strome and Derek Brassard are two of the top young centers in the game, and both of their comparable seasons were the first years in which they each topped the 50 point mark. And while Patrik Berglund has failed to recapture the scoring touch that had him above 50 points at age 22, he remains a solid secondary offensive threat for the Blues. When you combine these comparables with Shaw's playoff performance last year where he posted 5 goals and 12 assists in 23 games and played a critical supporting role in the Hawks' cup run, it's easy to see why Shaw looks like he could be a solid late round fantasy sleeper.
While the upside for Shaw is obvious, he's not a player without a fair amount of risk. His historical comparables aren't cut from the scoring cloth at all, as names like Cal Clutterbuck and Gilbert Brule don't exactly inspire confidence that Shaw is ready to take a step forward. His total protected scoring under the historical method on the left is substantially lower than using the modern projections, which makes it more difficult to invest too much in Shaw, as we still don't have a solid feel on what type of player we should expect him to be in the coming year due to the disagreements between the systems.
This may be one case, however, where the modern projections might know a bit more about Shaw's future than the historical projections do. Because the modern system takes into account each player's quality of teammates, and because we can expect Shaw to get time in the top 6 this year with Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp having left Chicago this off-season, it stands to reason that Shaw should get the same level of support that each of the aforementioned stars had in their breakout year. If that's the case, 47 points is likely easily attainable for Shaw, and he might offer a great “buy low” opportunity for fantasy owners.
For complete projections on over 700 active NHL players, Vollman and Cane Historical Projections 2015 is available exclusively through the Dobber store for just $4.99 – or it's free if you bought the Fantasy Guide using the coupon code on page 151!