Ramblings: Alex Ovechkin and the Contradictions Matrix (Aug 30)

Ian Gooding

2017-08-30

Ovechkin, Pirri, Parise, plus more…

What appeared to be a slimmed-down Alex Ovechkin skated at the Capitals’ practice facility on Tuesday. Ovechkin tipped the scales at 239 pounds last season, so he appeared to take on a challenge from the team to improve his conditioning.

For the first time in four seasons, Ovie was not able to reach 50 goals. In fact, he dropped to just 33 goals, underwhelming those who grabbed him with an early first-round pick in fantasy drafts last season. He did make up for it by posting his highest assist total in six seasons, resulting in an overall drop of just two points. Still, Ovechkin took 85 fewer shots in spite of finishing second in that category to Brent Burns last season.

This news could have some fantasy implications for a number of different reasons. For one, a more svelte Ovechkin could be a faster Ovechkin. That could obviously lead to more goals and more points, which fantasy owners would welcome. But an improvement in one quality could result in another quality gets worse. (In the science of product development, this is referred to the contradictions matrix.) 

That quality would be his physical play; namely, his hit totals. Ovechkin finished tied for 19th in the NHL with 216 hits last season and has finished with at least 200 hits over each of his last four seasons. The Capitals obviously need the soon-to-be 32-year-old Ovechkin to at least maintain his scoring level, so the hits total could suffer as a result. That hits total has already decreased over each of the last two seasons. Tom Wilson has already taken over as the Caps’ most physical player, leading the team in hits over each of the last two seasons.

The question is, could that change result in an overall improvement to Ovechkin's fantasy value? In this case, the answer is yes. I'd be more bullish on Ovechkin as a result.

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Here are two players well past the age of 30 that could make their NHL debuts this season.

Veteran KHL winger Danis Zaripov will be allowed to sign in the NHL after his KHL contract was terminated because of a positive doping test. Certainly this is a decision that not everyone will agree with. He has scored at or near point-per-game numbers throughout his KHL career. At this stage in his career (age 36), I wouldn’t expect a team to make him into a top-6 forward, but he could provide a team with scoring depth and may even sneak into the fantasy conversation if he can land a one-year contract somewhere.

Chris Lee, who was the only Canadian player at the World Hockey Championship that has never played in the NHL, has been offered a professional tryout by the LA Kings (NHL.com). Even though he will already be 37 in October, Lee scored 65 points in 60 games as a defenseman in the KHL last season. That was a KHL record. Pretty remarkable, especially for someone at his age who was never drafted.

Would Lee be the oldes