In just three weeks, the 2018-19 Dobber Hockey Fantasy Guide will be released. Be sure to head to the Dobber Shop to grab your copy! The guide is updated periodically until the season begins to reflect trades, injuries, and new line combinations, so even if you’re early, you won’t miss out on up-to-date information.
Dominik Bokk signed his entry-level contract with the Blues on Wednesday and it seems he’ll be headed back to Sweden for the 2018-19 season. With the bevy of signings and trades St. Louis has made in the last few weeks, there’s no real need to rush the sniping prospect into the NHL. I know dynasty owners are going to be disappointed but it’s the right call.
In talking with Cam Robinson around draft time, Bokk was a guy he mentioned among the non-elite to keep an eye on. St. Louis evidently thought the same thing as they traded up to draft him. The more I read about him, the more impressed I am with him though it seems the hockey community is kind of split on him. Some saw him as a mid-first pick, some didn’t see the potential. I’m starting to be a believer, though the usual disclaimer applies: I’m not a prospects writer nor do I scout them. I rely on the excellent work of people like Cam.
You can read Bokk's Dobber Prospects profile here.
Just to reiterate something about the Florida Panthers: one of Mike Hoffman and Evgeni Dadonov will not be on the top PP unit this year (for the most part). Now, Dadonov did not really need a bevy of PP points to perform well last year, so he can still be a 55- or 60-point guy without that slotting. If Hoffman is to top 30 goals for the first time in his career, though, he does need those minutes. Keep that in mind when draft season approaches.
Something I noticed while trying to figure out San Jose’s line combinations for next year: Logan Couture has seen is individual shot-on-goal rate per 60 minutes at five-on-five decline every year since the lockout season. In 2017-18, he ranked 170th out of 367 forwards with at least 500 minutes in shots/60 minutes. Five years ago at the end of the lockout year, he was 29th out of 339 forwards with at least 300 minutes. In total, his shots/60 has declined about 34 percent over the last five seasons. We expect decline as a player ages but he’s still in his twenties and that decline came largely from age 24 through age 27.
Line mates? Role? Being more selective (his two highest shooting percentage seasons are the last two years)? Regardless, it’s going to be hard for him to repeat 30 goals if his shot totals don’t grow.
We’re hitting the quiet part of the off season. As far as trades are concerned, it seems inevitable both Max Pacioretty and Erik Karlsson are moved, it’s just a matter of when. We can probably add Jeff Skinner to that list as well. There are some cases going through arbitration from RFAs deserving of big contracts like Mark Stone, Jason Zucker, and William Karlsson. The signing of Patrick Maroon (you can read the fantasy impact here) basically means all the big-name UFAs are signed. In all, outside a few trades, there’s not much left until training camps hit.
As a side note, something I realized while writing these Ramblings: the Western Conference as a whole, outside of St. Louis and Calgary, didn’t really do a whole lot this off season, did they?
- Chicago’s biggest signing might be Cam Ward.
- Colorado signed some depth with Ian Cole and Matt Calvert.
- The biggest addition/signing between Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, and Winnipeg, four teams with Cup aspirations, is probably Blake Comeau? I guess Valeri Nichushkin though he’s really just a returning player.
- The Kings signed Ilya Kovalchuk which may not be that big of a get depending how he performs.
- Vancouver… well we’ll leave Vancouver alone. They know what they did.
- Arizona added a few forwards but Alex Galchenyuk may be the only player of serious impact, and even that’s uncertain.
The Blues and Flames made pretty significant changes while most largely stood pat or handed out tens of millions of dollars to fourth liners. I suppose Erik Karlsson could change that equation if he does land somewhere like Dallas.
On the topic of UFAs, I think it’s worth reviewing the landing spots of some of the bigger names in new destinations either via trade or free agency. Too often, fantasy owners (present company included) just hand-wave a player going to a new team who seems to be just going into the same role on a new team and assume constant production.
Here are a few players whose production probably declines with their new team.
Bozak’s signing is solid for the Blues in terms of getting them a true third-line centre who can facilitate for their scoring wingers. In terms of fantasy hockey, owners need to realize that Bozak, going into his age-32 season, has one 50-point campaign (2016-17) and one 20-goal campaign (2014-15).
He’s going to a situation in St. Louis where his role at five-on-five won’t change much – third line in a sheltered role with talented wingers – but he will probably lose significant power-play minutes; Schenn-Schwartz-Tarasenko will eat a lot of minutes on a top unit while Ryan O’Reilly likely figures as the fourth. Losing just 30 seconds on the power play per game, which is a conservative estimate, will see him lose 3-4 points off his total from last year assuming constant goal rates. It’s that double-whammy where not only does his overall production decline, but his PP production as well, reducing his value in multiple roto categories.
He’s never been a multi-category performer so Bozak is basically only to be drafted in deep leagues or leagues that count face-offs. Though he’s going to what appears to be a very good St. Louis team going into 2018-19, the loss of power-play time is going to be a hit to what was already his meagre fantasy value.
As I mentioned in a review of the free agent signings a couple weeks ago, we’ve probably seen the best fantasy season we’re going to see from Ferland unless we see some dramatic changes to the Carolina roster. Last year saw a big jump in five-on-five ice time per game, garnering 1:45 more per game than his previous career-high. While the uncertainty around Jeff Skinner’s situation means there are likely more changes coming to this Carolina roster, as it stands right now, Teuvo Teravainen and Justin Williams are ahead of Ferland on the right side. They also just drafted a potential star in Andrei Svechnikov. If Svechnikov shows well early in the season, Ferland could find himself on the fourth line.
Now, Ferland is a left-handed shot even though he often played the right wing often in Calgary. But even if they moved him to the left side, he’s still behind Sebastian Aho and Skinner (for now). Brock McGinn had a solid season last year, Valentin Zykov showed promise down the stretch, and they added Jordan Martinook. If Skinner is moved and they don’t add another left winger, maybe Ferland ends up as the second-line left winger. But Skinner would have to be traded, the team would have to decide to move him to the left wing, and he’d have to outperform a few players to maintain that role. His best-case right now is that he’s moved around the middle-six for the Hurricanes, which is still a huge downgrade from spending nearly three-quarters of a season on a top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
Without top power-play minutes, which he won’t get, and top-line slotting, which he also won’t get, it’s very, very hard to see Ferland repeating 20 goals and 40 points. He can still be fine with a 15-15 season in leagues that count hits, but this is a serious downgrade for him.
I suppose no one drafts Roussel for point production. He’s drafted for triple-digit penalty minute and hit totals. And his shooting percentage is going to rebound from the 5.9 percent he shot last year, a far cry from his 12.7 percent shooting for his career going into the 2017-18 season.
All the same, anyone not playing on the top line for the Canucks is going to have a hard time scoring this year. There are a lot of hopes pinned on the likes of Elias Pettersson and Adam Gaudette but for now they’re still unproven rookies. In his last decent offensive season, Roussel was spending significant minutes with Tyler Seguin. I can’t imagine he gets a real shot with Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser.
Again, Roussel is going to spend time with unproven rookies or someone like Brandon Sutter. That’s with mediocre (at best) puck-moving defencemen behind them which may or may not include Chris Tanev in the near future. Despite being a rat on the ice, he’s an effective player. The problem is he may not get the same chance in Vancouver that he did at times in Dallas. A 25-point season would be a huge win. Though, as mentioned above, he’s not really drafted in fantasy for his point totals.
Though the rumours for years have been that Max Pacioretty is on his way out the door, M-A Godin of The Athletic says that a trade is going to happen soon, given that the team will not negotiate a contract extension with him. It seems the tenure of one of the top goal scorers in a generation of the team’s history is over.
That’s not hyperbole, either. Though he’s not near the top of the franchise list in total goals scored, he did have one of the best peaks in team history. He was late to the NHL and suffered injuries, so his first full season was 2011-12 at the age of 23. In the six seasons from the age of 23 to the age of 28, he scored 189 goals in 439 games, or 0.43 goals per game. That is the highest goals per game mark of any Habs player since the mid-1980s. Quite literally, Montreal fans waited nearly three decades for a goal scorer as consistent and prolific as Pacioretty.
Wherever he ends up, hopefully he’s embraced by his new fan base. During his peak, Pacioretty was among the top wingers in the league and 2017-18 saw a decline due to injury. If he’s healthy when he returns, his new team will get a tried-and-true top-line left winger.