I was fortunate to be invited on two podcasts over the past two days, which clearly means weren't into the fantasy hockey stretch drive and heading for the regular season. I pumped out two episodes a week of the Daily Fantasy Hockey Edge podcast last season, so it was nice to set up the mic and just yak.
The episode of Keeping Karlsson was great, and I'll share a few of my notes below for those who don't tune into casts, but I definitely encourage checking it out. I'm not sure what the plan is for The Fantasy Fix show I recorded with Christopher Morais, but once it's out there, I'll make sure to share.
As just a quick aside, I don't listen to any fantasy hockey podcasts consistently or read much fantasy hockey articles outside of searching for talking points for these ramblings. I don't like to be influenced by the opinions of others with the goal of arriving at my conclusions through my own processes. With that said, but Brian from Keeping Karlsson and Chris were complete professionals and the product shows. Brian was an excellent host who provided excellent talking points and didn't interrupt or push his own agenda, and Chris was a statistical dynamo, so I really hope that podcast doesn't end up behind a paywall.
Here are a few notes from the Keeping Karlsson podcast:
Concerning projecting games played totals
When doing games played projections, I assume most players are going to play between 70 and 80 games. There are a handful of players who have shown an inability to stay healthy consistently, and their projected games might be a little lower — for example, Evgeni Malkin has averaged 62 games over the past three seasons.
After the first few rounds of your draft, it likely isn't necessary to fret too much about projected games played totals. You should target talent in prominent roles because you're going to deal with injuries throughout your lineup and at all points of the season. That's also why with high-capital selections early in your draft, you could be better off avoiding perennial injury risks.
Because injuries are inevitable, why construct the foundation of your roster with players with a track record of being more susceptible to injury? Again, Evgeni Malkin is a prime example.
Wrapping this up, over the past three seasons, 106 players have played 80 games, which is an average of 35 per year. Players miss time, expect all your players to miss a few games, and sometimes, missing four games to return to full health is better than playing at less than 100 percent for 12 games. Injuries are part of the real and fake game, and we shouldn't count on 82 games or full health from any player.
Dobber's point projections I disagree with:
Disclaimer: Dobber is incredibly conservative with his projections, which is an approach I share. There have only been 54 70-point seasons in the past three years and 17 80-point seasons. So, it's really hard to find spots where he aggressively projected a player too high. With that said, here are a few that stick out.
Artemi Panarin (74 points): One little nugget about Panarin's rookie season was he finished with 13 points through five April games. Cut that torrid stretch in half, and he sits with 70 or 71 points, which is what we should view as his ceiling entering his sophomore season. Chicago's power-play percentage climbed from a 19th-ranked 17.6 in 2014-15 to second-ranked 22.6 percent last year. There could be some negative regression there, too, which would impact Panarin's upside.
Ryan Suter (48 points): Suter averaged 40.5 points per year through his first two seasons with Minnesota, and he has some young rearguards in competition to potentially steal some of his power-play minutes and overall ice time. He also exploded out of the gate last year with 20 points through the first 22 games of the season before cooling to score 31 points over the final 60 games. Bruce Boudreau helps his case, but Suter's ceiling should likely be capped at 45 points.
Loui Eriksson (53 points): From the 2008-09 season through the 2011-12 campaign, Eriksson scored 118 goals and 278 points over 325 games, which was high-end production: 11th in goals and 21st in points during the four-year span. Sure, he's older now, but last season who proved he can still move the needle offensively, and playing with Henrik and Daniel Sedin is a nice landing spot. 53 points is more like a floor projection, and the upside for another 30-goal, 60-point season is well within reach.
James Neal (49 points): There's no threat of Neal morphing back into the point-per-game threat he was during his prime with Pittsburgh, but Neal is coming off a 31-goal, 58-point season. He could drop a handful of points, but this is too much of a projected drop off. Ryan Johansen is poised for a huge breakout, and Neal is his triggerman. Neal tied for the 30th-worst shooting percentage on the power play among forwards with 100 minutes, but 31st best at five-on-five among skaters with at least 1,000 minutes. So, if there is a slight decline in even-strength production, expect it to be mitigated by his rebound in power-play results.
Concerning when and how to use Advanced Statistics:
For the past two seasons, I've created Dollar Values for Draft Kings and FanDuel that incorporate advanced statistics into the formula to calculate the salary. PDO, High-Danger Scoring Chances, CorsiFor Percentage, Goals, Assists and Points per 60 minutes were all weighed to a degree.
Advanced statistics are absolutely part of the equation for evaluating players, but they're not the only lens to view a player under. In coin-flip decisions, it might be fair to look at a player who has 13 shots over his past three games and a 94 PDO for the month and figure his puck luck is due for correction, but you're also looking at shots in that example, too. Or perhaps you look to pick on a struggling team because their CorsiFor percentage is 42.5 percent over the past 10 games.
There are all kinds of ways to use advanced statistics to your advantage, but you want to rely on your talented players in prime roles first. You're not benching Wayne Simmonds for Jesper Fast because Fast has a 92 PDO and is playing Colorado with a 43.2 CorsiFor percentage.
The Fantasy Fix show was a stock watch, and actually, all the players we discussed are players I've already covered here at least once, so I'll spare you the notes. However, the addition of Chris' perspective alongside my own helped present a well-balanced evaluation of each player while also showcasing the range of outcomes each player owns.
Dobber released his box pool lists this week, and they're great.
Here are my contrarian picks and 100-percent avoids for the centermen groups in the basic pool.
Connor McDavid: I'm sure he is going to be selected plenty, but with Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Tyler Seguin also in the mix, there will likely be enough "he hasn't proven it yets" in your pool for McDavid to go underowned. Tavares and Nicklas Backstrom are nice pivots.
Evgeni Malkin: Have I mentioned recently he's averaged just 62 games over the past three seasons?
Ryan Johansen: This group might be better than the first one. Jack Eichel, Nathan MacKinnon and Evgeny Kuznetsov are up-and-coming stars entering their prime, whereas Ryan Getzlaf, Anze Kopitar, Claude Giroux and Joe Thornton are the models of consistency. Because of the depth, there likely isn't going to be a center showing up on the majority of teams. Still, Johansen is the sneaky option who could provide a top-10 season in points and be owned by very few in your pool.
Anze Kopitar: Sure, he is as reliable as they come, but he's no longer surrounded by the strong supporting cast that made him a lock for 70 points. No one should be surprised to see him fall into the 60- to 65-point range.
Sean Monahan: With consecutive 60-point showings over the past two seasons, Monahan is a high-floor option entering his offensive prime who should be fairly underowned. Expect Mark Scheifele, Alex Galchenyuk and Logan Couture to be more popular selections, and while each may have more upside, none have produced like Monahan over the past two seasons.
Jonathan Toews: It's time to accept Toews as a 28-goal, 58-point player. He could surprise, but the supporting cast around him is potentially weaker than ever, and he's still going to matchup against the opponent's top players. He could also be one of the more chalky selections from the group in more casual circles because of his name value.
Aleksander Barkov: Ignore the possibility he's the most owned pivot in this group and just circle him, mark an "X" or even pull out your red pen and draw a heart in his box. Barkov is the best player in this group without question, and while there have been some injury concerns, his upside is second to none, and he doesn't need 80 games to pace his peers in points. Jason Spezza is a high-floor conservative option.
Derick Brassard: Players frequently struggle to hit the ground running in new digs, and Brassard might be joining a weaker offensive team. He's also coming off the best two seasons of his career and may have already peaked in terms of offensive production.
Vincent Trocheck: He's still flying way under the radar in the majority of circles not to be scarcely owned. He's also sharing a group with five centers from Canadian teams, so north of the border, Trocheck will receive little love. All he has ever done at every level of his career is score, too.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: While potentially the most talented player in the group, Nugent-Hopkins is a candidate to slide up and down the lineup and potentially even be on the trading block. There is just too much uncertainty.
Mika Zibanejad: There's a chance he's the most popular option of the group, so it's not exactly an against-the-grain selection, but he's the best. Sometimes you just have to grab the player with the most upside in the best offensive situation, and especially when they're entering their offensive prime.
Henrik Zetterberg: He's old, brittle and I'd rather be a year early than a year late when passing on a player. Plus, he likely still carries the most name value of the group.
Sam Reinhart: I'll gamble on his floor and role alongside Jack Eichel. Reinhart was a dangerous scorer last season, and he paced Buffalo in goals in the second half. His breakout is likely still a year away, but he's poised for a nice season on an improving team. Victor Rask is also an excellent alternative.
Eric Staal: Expect a bounce-back campaign, but he's clearly a supporting piece at this stage of his career. Entering his age-32 campaign, 45 points could be his ceiling. Staal could also land in more of a defensive role.
A couple quick-hit notes …
Toronto should intervene, if that's even possible, and keep him out of that bogus tournament and make sure he is fully healthy for the regular season. No missed time in camp, no nursing a minor injury, no nothing — 100 percent healthy.
Part of the failure of the Edmonton rebuild was the lack of competent goaltending. You need a goaltender to compete, and young players can excel and win regardless of their lack of experience with the right supporting pieces. That now-separated core the Oilers had might have flourished in front of a competent goalie.
Toronto needs Andersen healthy, fantasy owners need Andersen healthy and the World Cup needs to avoid players injuring themselves during the tournament. Andersen shouldn't play.
Mikael Backlund has replaced Henrik Zetterberg on Team Sweden in the World Cup. Call it a major upgrade for Sweden. And feel free to chirp below and wherever else, but Backlund might lack some of the starpower Zetterberg owned, but newsflash, Zetterberg isn't a star anymore. He's slow and coming off his worst offensive season since his rookie campaign. Zetterberg also suited up for all 82 games, so health — for the first time in forever — clearly wasn't an issue.
Jeff Carter was injured during training, and Corey Perry will replace him on Team Canada for the World Cup. This is a seamless transition for the Canadians, and until more details are known about Carter's injury, it shouldn't impact his fantasy stock.
However, if Carter were to miss time, his absence would derail Los Angeles. They're already shallow and relying on a handful of excellent players, so missing their cog on the No. 2 line would be determental. It would be enough to downgrade Jonathan Quick, and potentially significantly, depending on the severity of the ailment.
Don't overreact yet, but Los Angeles is heading in the wrong direction quickly, so missing important pieces of their lineup would be rough.
Enjoy the holiday weekend, Dobberheads.