Cage Match – which disappointing power forward is the better fantasy own: Gabriel Landeskog or Boone Jenner? Rick Roos digs deep

 

Among the bigger fantasy disappointments for 2016-17 were Gabriel Landeskog (whose 33 points were barely half the 65 he posted just three seasons ago) and Boone Jenner (who managed only four more points – 34 – this season than goals in 2015-16). Are both players still young enough to right their ships, or are they on a fast train to fantasy frustration? Let’s find out – Cage Match starts now!

Career Path and Contract Status

Landeskog, 24, was drafted 2nd overall in 2011. He made an immediate mark with 52 points as a rookie, then was rewarded before his sophomore season with the Avs captaincy at age 19. After taking a step back (17 points in 36 games), he exploded for 65 points in 2013-14. Unfortunately, and rather amazingly, in each of the next three seasons his goals (23, 20, 18), assists (36, 33, 15), and points (59, 53, 33) all dropped! Poolies are now left wondering if Landeskog can return to past form, whether as a member of the Avs or on another team if – as rumored – he’s dealt.

Jenner, who turns 24 in June, was grabbed 35 spots later in the same 2011 draft and made it to the NHL in 2013-14 after posting 82 points in 56 games in his final OHL campaign. Unlike Landeskog, Jenner didn’t make an immediate NHL impact, and stood at only 46 points in 103 games heading into 2015-16. That season he not only tallied more points (49) than in his entire NHL career to date, but also reached the 30 goal mark, resulting in poolies tabbing him as the next multi-cat star. This season, however, Jenner’s points dropped by almost a third and his goal total was cut nearly in half, leaving poolies scratching their heads about what the future might hold.

Landeskog’s deal expires in 2021 and dings the cap at $5.571M per season, while Jenner makes barely half as much ($2.9M) but is only signed through 2018.

Ice Time

Season

Total Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game

(rank among team’s forwards)

2016-17

18:46 (G.L.) – 2nd

16:03 (B.J.) – 6th

2:21 (G.L.) – 4th

1:08 (B.J.) – 9th

1:47 (G.L.) – 4th

0:51 (B.J.) – 5th

2015-16

18:55 (G.L.) – 1st

16:24 (B.J.) – 6th

2:45 (G.L.) – 5th

2:04 (B.J.) – 8th (tied)

1:26 (G.L.) – 5th

0:15 (B.J.) – 10th

2014-15

18:30 (G.L.) – 3rd

18:16 (B.J.) – 3rd

2:29 (G.L.) – 3rd

2:12 (B.J.) – 5th

0:27 (G.L.) – 8th

1:17 (B.J.) – 9th

2013-14

18:40 (G.L.) – 2nd

14:04 (B.J.) – 11th

2:24 (G.L.) – 6th

0:55 (B.J.) – 11th

0:12 (G.L.) – 10th

0:01 (B.J.) – 13th (tied)

 

Jenner’s Ice Time dropped by 1:52 from 2014-15 to 2015-16, casting immediate doubt on the legitimacy of his 2015-16 production. Then his PP Time was cut nearly in half from last season to 2016-17, and ended up just barely above his much increased SH Ice Time. Plus, Columbus coach John Tortorella isn’t exactly known for mending fences with players; although, if he was able to patch things up with Brandon Dubinsky after their troubled times in New York, I suppose anything is possible. Plus, Jenner played on PP1 during the last game of the playoffs and scored, so maybe that left a favorable impression?

 

With Landeskog, the concern isn’t stemming from a major drop Ice Time, but rather from how similar his Ice Times have been despite his plummeting production. Really the only notable change since his 65 point 2013-14 campaign has been a jump in SH Time; however, that alone shouldn’t have led to his poor recent output. Even the struggles of the Avs as a team seemingly aren’t to blame, as although Colorado scored 22% fewer goals in 2016-17 Landeskog saw his point production shrink by 37%.

 

Yet still – both their situations could realistically get better. Landeskog’s output should improve as the Avs right their ship, or he could be sparked by a trade. Plus, perhaps he’s grown complacent; and if he was to see his Total or PP Ice Times drop that could serve as a wake-up call. With Jenner, things look worse than they were, since he had over 17:00 of Ice Time in only 25% (i.e., 9) of his 35 games through December, but exceeded 17:00 in 44% (i.e., 21) of his 47 contests from January onward. Plus, as Jenner was given more Ice Time he responded with a higher scoring rate – 23 points in those 47 games, versus only 11 points in the previous 35 contests. Thus, despite poor season-long totals, things were trending in the right direction. Also, if Torts sours on Jenner even more, he – like Dubinsky back in the day – could get traded and play better in his landing spot.

 

Considering the collective Ice Time data and possible scenarios, I feel like things look at least somewhat better for Jenner to return to his past ways (i.e., 25+ goals and/or 45-50+ points) than for Landeskog to rise back to 60+ point territory. But let’s see what the other numbers below tell us before reaching an overall conclusion.

 

Secondary Categories

 

Season

PIMs

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2016-17

0.86 (G.L.)

0.64 (B.J.)

1.98 (G.L.)

2.65 (B.J.)

0.57 (G.L.)

0.94 (B.J.)

2.34 (G.L.)

2.56 (B.J.)

0.08 (G.L.)

0.01 (B.J.)

2015-16

0.92 (G.L.)

0.94 (B.J.)

1.88 (G.L.)

2.63 (B.J.)

0.88 (G.L.)

0.86 (B.J.)

2.25 (G.L.)

2.74 (B.J.)

0.18 (G.L.)

0.17 (B.J.)

2014-15

0.96 (G.L.)

0.38 (B.J.)

2.06 (G.L.)

3.29 (B.J.)

0.89 (G.L.)

0.80 (B.J.)

2.61 (G.L.)

2.67 (B.J.)

0.20 (G.L.)

0.16 (B.J.)

2013-14

0.87 (G.L.)

0.62 (B.J.)

2.74 (G.L.)

2.94 (B.J.)

0.64 (G.L.)

0.51 (B.J.)

2.74 (G.L.)

1.76 (B.J.)

0.12 (G.L.)

0.09 (B.J.)

 

These are extremely impressive PIM, Hits, and Blocks numbers, which certainly explains why poolies coveted both players back when they were scoring more. In fact, by scoring 20+ goals while also averaging 2+ Hits, 2+ SOG, 0.75+ Blocks and 0.75+ PIM per game in the same season, as Jenner did in 2015-16 and Landeskog accomplished back in 2014-15, they were two of only four forwards to meet all these criteria in a single season since 2013-14 (along with David Backes – who met all the criteria three times, and Ryan Kesler – who did so twice). And even now that their scoring has waned, the output of Jenner and Landeskog in these areas is still, for the most part, very solid.

 

Yet we can’t ignore that Landeskog’s 2016-17 PIM and Blocks were his worst among these four campaigns, and Hits his second worst. In contrast, although Jenner’s scoring went into freefall and his Hits dropped to his second lowest rate among these four seasons, his Blocks rate was highest and his PIM second highest; plus, even his lower Hits were on a par with Landeskog’s highest rate.

 

Landeskog’s dropping numbers also apply to his other multi-cat areas – the ones that more directly affect scoring. His SOG were second lowest among these four seasons and his PPPts the lowest; yet the silver lining is that his SOG were still very reasonable and his PPPts being that low means there’s logical room for rebound. Meanwhile, Jenner’s PPPts rate fell off a cliff; and a drop by that much – although it too leaves room for improvement – is more concerning since it, along with a steep drop in PP Time, suggests Tortorella simply doesn’t think of Jenner as a top PP option (or at least he didn’t until the last game of the playoffs). Yet like Landeskog, Jenner’s SOG rate has remained solid, which is a positive. In short, ingredients are there for both to realistically produce better than they did this season.

 

Luck-Based Metrics

 

Season

Personal Shooting Percentage

Team Shooting % (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)

2016-17

10.7% (G.L.)

8.2% (B.J.)

6.24% (G.L.)

8.06% (B.J.)

79.3% (G.L.)

57.2% (B.J.)

54.5% (G.L.)

33.3% (B.J.)

47.6% (G.L.)

43.1% (B.J.)

2015-16

11.8% (G.L.)

13.3% (B.J.)

7.89% (G.L.)

7.37% (B.J.)

77.5% (G.L.)

75.6% (B.J.)

52.4% (G.L.)

85.7% (B.J.)

52.4% (G.L.)

44.6% (B.J.)

2014-15

10.7% (G.L.)

10.8% (B.J.)

8.97% (G.L.)

8.60% (B.J.)

71.2% (G.L.)

47.4% (B.J.)

75.0% (G.L.)

50.0% (B.J.)

43.2% (G.L.)

46.5% (B.J.)

2013-14

11.7% (G.L.)

12.6% (B.J.)

10.51% (G.L.)

6.78% (B.J.)

75.0% (G.L.)

64.5% (B.J.)

60.0% (G.L.)

70.0% (B.J.)

45.2% (G.L.)

48.9% (B.J.)

 

Finally some good news for Landeskog owners – his 71%+ IPP at 5×5 each season is indicative of a very talented player who finds a way to factor into scoring. It also suggests Colorado’s struggles are responsible for a lot of his production woes. On the flip side, his 10.51% team shooting % at 5×5 in his 65 point season was unsustainably high and reinforces he’s likely not a 60+ point player. Unfortunately, with that season coming when he was 21, and the fact that he was a top draft pick as well as a multi-cat asset, poolies fell in love and sold themselves on him as a surefire success, which now makes it hard for them to believe he might fall short of expectations. In truth, it looks like he’s – at best – a player who can score at or near the 55 point mark, and that’s provided the team around him does well.

 

There’s less good news here for Jenner, since his 30 goal, 49 point 2015-16 season featured IPPs well above his other seasons. But like Landeskog there’s some balancing data, notably that Jenner’s 5×5 team shooting % for 2015-16 was 7.37%, which is well lower than the expected 9.00% for a top six forward. Yet what’s concerning is Jenner has never hit the 9.00% mark; and that might suggest he’s a drag on production. It’s also not encouraging to see that his OZ% has never been above 50% – not under any coach. Plus, it’s gone down every year. Overall, this is quite concerning data,

 

Who Wins?

 

These are two players who’d likely be farther removed from the fantasy radar if they didn’t happen to be multi-cat assets. Thus, for most points-only leagues these are players to avoid, although if your points league is deep enough for 40-50 point players to be drafted, these two might make for a decent risk/reward pick in the late rounds. But otherwise you should either avoid drafting them or let someone else reach.

 

Assuming your league has PIM, Hits, SOG, and Blocks, or even just a couple of these categories, then you still need to think about these two. As far as who’s the winner of this match for these types of leagues, it’s probably Landeskog, but only if the price you’d have to pay to get him is reflective of how far he’s fallen. That’s because the Avs aren’t likely to get much better in 2017-18, or perhaps even in the next few seasons. However, Landeskog could get traded, which might be a boon for his value. Plus, I’m intrigued by the fact that even as he’s struggled mightily he’s still getting quality Ice Time – better than Jenner can likely dream of under coach Tortorella. The points should return for Landeskog; and even if he doesn’t rebound to 50+ right away, that likely will best what Jenner will produce, while still giving you a pretty good chunk of Jenner’s output in multi-cat areas.

 

As for Jenner, his luck metrics are what scare me. In particular, it looks like his 2015-16 campaign was unsustainably lucky. With him never having hit 9.00% in Team Shooting %, and amid his OZ% dropping with each season, plus apparently being disfavored by a notoriously stubborn and set in his ways coach like Torts, Jenner will have a steep uphill battle to climb back to more than even 45 points. Still – he too could get traded, and he was more of a 40-45 point player once the calendar turned to 2017, so keep your eye on him, or hold him if you still have him in a keeper, since there’s technically still realistic hope.