Every Sunday until the start of the 2018-19 regular season, we'll share 20 Fantasy Thoughts from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week's "Daily Ramblings".
Writers: Michael Clifford, Ian Gooding, Cam Robinson, and Dobber
1. It’s pretty hard to get upset at a 29-goal, 60-point season from a 21-year old non-generational player but having so few second assists on a team that scored as much as the Jets did is kind of disappointing. Not that it would have greatly altered his fantasy performance – an extra five assists isn’t the difference between winning and losing a league – but it’s just a reminder of what could have been for Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers. That doesn’t even factor his limited power play usage (at least on the top unit).
This should give fantasy owners hope for next year. Ehlers didn’t have any percentages out of line, be it his own or the team’s when he was on the ice, and he’ll continue to make a dynamic duo with Patrik Laine. A bit more fortune with assists at five-on-five, and maybe a few more power-play points, and 2018-19 has 70-point season written all over it for the dynamic Dane. (may03)
2. Brayden Point’s nine postseason points (thus far) sit second behind Nikita Kucherov for the Tampa Bay lead. The former third-round selection is facing the oppositions’ top line each night and manages to create offense out of nothing. He and Ondrej Palat have formed a deadly matchup duo. It’s safe to say we haven’t seen the best out of the 22-year-old just yet. His 66 points this season appear to be just the tip of the iceberg. (may05)
3. As for Palat, he has three 50-point seasons and one 60-point season in the last five campaigns. In that span, however, he’s averaged just 69.8 games per 82 played due to injuries, and 2017-18 was another injury-plagued campaign.
The fantasy value for Palat would depend a lot on the type of league. He’s not a multi-category performer, having never managed 25 goals, 2.2 shots per game, 40 penalty minutes, or more than 15 power-play points in any campaign. He does have very good hits totals but that’s about it. His value, then, is largely in points-only leagues, and is largely derived from assists.
Therein lies the problem for 2018-19. If he can play 75 games, on a productive second line with Point, his production may be just fine. But his secondary assist percentage from 2013-17 was 28.2 percent, a far cry from the 43.5 percent he posted in 2017-18. Even with that sky-high percentage last year, his 82-game pace was 52 points. Even in a full-ish season, expecting him to be in the 55-60 points range he’s flashed in the past is pushing it. Don’t be surprised if he comes in under 50 next year. (may01)
4. Roman Josi is not getting it done in playoff pools, which of course I discovered in my own playoff pool. As of Sunday, the Preds’ captain had not only been held without a point in the entire second round, but he had also not recorded a point since Game 3 of the first round, which spanned a total of eight games. Josi has just two assists in 11 playoff games. His 0.42 points/game over his playoff career is well below his 0.61 points/game regular season career average. (may06)
5. What will be key to Jonathan Marchessault’s continued success will be the sustainability of his linemates. Will William Karlsson be able to replicate his tremendous goal-scoring prowess? Do we see Reilly Smith slip back to being a 50-point threat as he has been most of his career, or does he maintain the 60-point level he displayed this season?
There are no assurances in this world but the way the trio is playing in the cocoon of the wild-west Golden Knights’ system appears to be a reasonable bet. And what better place to lay a bet down than Las Vegas. (may05)
6. It may be time for people to start opening their eyes to Timo Meier. The 21-year-old winger just completed his first full season in the league and posted a very respectable 21 goals and 35 points. And he’s backed that up with two goals and three helpers in his first nine playoff games this year. He’s part of the reason that the Sharks are playing some of their best post-season hockey since deep run in 2015-16.
What stands out the most when looking at the Swiss forward this past season is his shot generation. A total of 210 shots in 81 regular games while seeing under 15 minutes a night. That’s an average of 10.5 shots-per-60 minutes. While I don’t have cumulative data for this season, that number would have landed him within the top 20 skaters in 2016-17. All this while seeing second unit power play time and having his second most consistent linemate be Chris Tierney.
The flashes of dazzling skill are becoming more frequent and you can see his confidence growing. That was obvious for all to see in Game 2. That night, he played a career-high 27 minutes, had a helper, six shots, six hits and over three minutes of power play time. While his true breakout may be another season away, Meier is a player that needs to be rising on people’s lists of keeper players to watch. (may05)
7. Everything went wrong in Montreal this year: Jonathan Drouin had a poor first season, Max Pacioretty had a down year and then was injured, and Shea Weber missed most of the season. Outside of Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher, it was a disappointing year across the board, Carey Price included.
The question is Price’s health. He has started just 122 games over the last three seasons and getting 40-odd starts a year from your franchise goaltender is worrisome. Will he be 100 percent healthy next year? Only Price knows that.
If he’s to bounce back in fantasy, his team has to help him out. Injuries and a rotating cast of defensemen likely played a part so maybe just having a healthy lineup changes things. It’ll be the team’s second full season under Claude Julien and his staff, so familiarity should help a bit. (may04)
8. We had a rare mid-playoff trade as the Arizona Coyotes sent Jordan Martinook and a fourth-round pick to Carolina for Marcus Kruger and a third-round pick. Carolina retains 10 percent of the salary.
I can’t imagine Martinook’s role increases in Carolina, so there’s no fantasy relevance there outside of deep leagues that count hits. Kruger should have a regular bottom-six role, so he might have some use in deep leagues that count face-offs. Basically, for fantasy hockey, not much to see here. (may04)
9. Blue Jackets announced that Zach Werenski will need five to six months in recovery from shoulder surgery. Five months would put him in line for the beginning of the regular season, six months would have him miss the start of the year.
This is tough for fantasy owners but we’ll just have to play it by ear. Not having an offseason to recover and train properly is worrisome. As is the fact Werenski had already lost the top power play job to Seth Jones. He is a superb talent on the blue line but 2018-19 might be a bump in the road. (may04)
10. Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist had the lowest percentage of secondary assists compared to total production last year, coming in at 9.4 percent. He had just three such assists on 32 points. Over his three seasons from 2014-17, Nyquist averaged a shade under 30 assists a season; he had 19 in 2017-18. The problem was he skated most of the season at five-on-five with Henrik Zetterberg as his center. Zetterberg had his lowest goal total for an 82-game season of his career with 11.
Nyquist was on the ice for just 46 Detroit goals at five-on-five this year and he scored 18 of them himself. In fact, if you raise the parameter to 1200 minutes of ice time, he was on the ice for the fewest amount of goals in the NHL. When you look at all this, it’s no real surprise he had such a low secondary assist rate.
Does it change next year? Zetterberg will be a year older. The defense isn’t getting better, which may not seem like a huge problem, but if team defense can’t move the puck effectively, the Detroit forwards are pushing a boulder uphill all season. This team is just flat-out incapable of producing offensively. I think Nyquist is very talented but I’m not very bullish that anything changes next year. Nyquist’s best hope is that he moves to Dylan Larkin’s line and Larkin has a Nathan MacKinnon-esque breakout season. Outside of that, it’s a pit of despair. (may03)
11. If you’ll excuse me, I need to wipe off a bit of this egg on my face for saying last summer that I wouldn’t draft the Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin because of his injury history. A total of 98 points in 78 games later, he helped win leagues. (may03)
12. In recent memory, there probably hasn’t been a player with a quieter 40-goal campaign than Isles’ Anders Lee’s 2017-18 campaign. He tied Jamie Benn and Vladimir Tarasenko for seventh in five-on-five goals with 23, while John Tavares and Josh Bailey combined for 29. It’s pretty easy to see why Lee had a low secondary assist percentage; he was scoring all the goals. There’s not much more to discuss here until we know the future of John Tavares. Until we know where he’s signing, the fantasy value of every Islanders forward is in limbo. (may03)
13. Par Lindholm had been rumoured to different teams but the Swedish center is apparently going to be signed by Toronto soon. This helps fill the void in the bottom-six that will ostensibly be left by Tomas Plekanec and Tyler Bozak moving on. Lindholm will be 27 in October. Bottom-six centers usually don’t have much fantasy value outside of deep leagues but we’ll have to see how they use him. (may01)
14. Often ‘healthy-scratched’ by the Golden Knights during these playoffs, I’m intrigued for Tomas Tatar’s fantasy value next year because I do believe he’s a very good player and should see top-six minutes. I imagine he gets overlooked given his lack of success after being traded by Detroit. (may01)
15. Oilers’ Milan Lucic’s scoring struggles were well-documented with his 10 goals being the lowest mark for him in any season where he’s played over 50 games since his rookie campaign. Naturally, his career-low shooting percentage goes hand-in-hand with that goal output but that’s another conversation for another day.
Lucic managed his most secondary assists at five-on-five (10) since 2011-12, and he had averaged under six per season over the three years from 2016-17. Now, even if here were to drop four or five secondary assists here, his goal scoring should tick up so it will mitigate that. Also, Lucic has never been drafted in a fantasy league for his stout assist totals. Just don’t expect a huge uptick in production based on goal-scoring rebound alone. (may01)
16. Aleksander Barkov set career-highs in assists, points, and shots but also played over 22 minutes a game this past season. I don’t know if the Panthers can keep playing him so much. His injury history is lengthy and though he’s still young, you don’t want to wear down your franchise center.
One can look to Anze Kopitar as a player who’s managed to sustain 20-plus minutes a game for basically a decade but the Kings also had to back off his TOI from 22-plus to 20-plus once he got to his mid-twenties.
If Florida decides to back off his minutes, combined with a decline in secondary assists, maybe a 75-80 point season is the most we can ask for from Barkov. Not that it would be a poor season, I just think some people are hoping he can be a 90- or 100-point guy. On the other hand, a better power play would go a long way in unlocking his full fantasy potential. (may01)
17. I like Mikko Rantanen a lot as a player but I worry where his average draft position will end up next year. There hasn’t been much chatter about his 84-point campaign in general but fantasy players, and you Dobber heads, tend to be much smarter than that.
He had the ninth-most secondary assists league-wide in total and was among the leaders in percentage of points. He will still be featured on a heavily-used top PP unit that features studs like Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie, and he’ll be stuck to MacKinnon’s hip at five-on-five. I just worry about any player riding high percentages basically across the board. All it takes is one unlucky season and 84 points becomes 48 points real quick (ask Tyler Johnson from a few years ago). It might be a case where I’ll let someone else draft him if his ADP is too high. Still a long time until draft season, though. (may01)
18. Now that his sophomore campaign is over, one which I consider a ‘slump’, I expect Viktor Arvidsson to have a big year next season. Jake Guentzel is another one – these guys are coming off weak seasons (versus expectations) and I think in 2018-19 they meet those expectations. (apr30)
19. Let’s discuss NHL Draft prospect Andrei Svechnikov’s potential impact on the Hurricanes. This team will already have two of the following three prospects making the jump next year: Martin Necas, Warren Foegele and Valentin Zykov. All three impressed during cups of coffee this past season but I don’t believe an established team like Carolina will have four rookie forwards. I think you can cap it at two and maybe a third rookie join in the middle of the season. If all three of them just won’t be denied, I think there’s a chance that Svechnikov could be this year’s Jonathan Drouin. That is to say, there is a chance that he just rips up junior for another season and makes the jump a year later. That risk exists – he’s not a shoe-in.
The ‘Canes will be saying goodbye to Lee Stempniak and possibly Derek Ryan. Joakim Nordstrom is an RFA but I wonder if he’s even worth qualifying, given the talent that’s on the way. If Svechnikov makes the team, my hunch is that he won’t be shooting out the lights en route to a 60-point Calder-worthy season. Instead, something conservative in the mid-40s. This is just the wrong team for Svechnikov to make an early impact – Montreal would have been better for first-year results. (apr30)
20. So, the Habs are looking at Quinn Hughes, a lefty rearguard with high-end wheels who can run a power play. Just what the doctor ordered for this team. And despite all the jokes going around the Internet – general manager Marc Bergevin has learned his lesson about trading young high-end defensemen (example: Mikhail Sergachev). He’ll keep this one.
Normally I would say, on about 20 other teams, that they would push to get him signed and turn pro. One thing to keep in mind here is that Quinn’s younger brother Jack (Hughes) is looking to play for Michigan and so the possibility of playing a year with his brother is a factor here. But that aside, many teams would push for him to turn pro and put him straight on their team. Montreal? Look at Sergachev and Noah Juulsen – both players had to go back to their respective leagues for at least another year. Would the Habs guarantee a roster spot to Hughes? With that track record I wonder. And without the guarantee, the temptation to play a year with his brother may be too tempting. (apr30)
Have a good week, folks!!