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A quick update on Jakob Chychrun on his knee rehab:
Per Coyotes GM John Chayka, D Jakob Chychrun is back in Arizona. He has been "cleared to skate and will resume skating any day." Chychrun is 17 weeks removed from knee surgery.
— Craig Morgan (@craigsmorgan) August 8, 2018
Arizona has added some nice pieces over the summer but having Chychrun ready to go for the start of the season would be a huge boost. It’ll be wait-and-see for fantasy value because they might have to ease him in but there is loads of talent there.
From Dan Kingerski at Pittsburgh Hockey Now, a reminiscing piece on the accomplishments of Evgeni Malkin. I’m sure there have been times fantasy owners have been frustrated with his issues staying healthy, but when you lay out everything he’s done in his career (thus far), you realize just how impressive it is. I’m sure there’s been times he’s carried fantasy owners to championships along the way despite sometimes having injury issues.
There was an interesting mailbag posted a couple days ago by Michael Russo of The Athletic. For those unfamiliar, he covers the Minnesota Wild.
Here are a couple takeaways:
- Though there’s no official update on Ryan Suter’s status, Russo said he talked to Suter and recent scans on his ankle/foot came back clean and he’s been doing very light on-ice work. Suter’s expectation is that he will be ready for training camp. Now, what an athlete believes and what actually happens are often two very different things, but that’s what we have for now.
- Russo believes we could see Nino Niederreiter on the third line this year. He says Bruce Boudreau wants to be able to throw three scoring lines at the opposition and that means there’s going to be a very skilled player on the third line. That might be Niederreiter. In which case, it’s a downgrade. No offence to Joel Eriksson Ek, but he’s not Eric Staal. If Nino has third-line minutes and split power play time, returning to his 57-point performance in 2016-17 will be tough to accomplish. He also had Charlie Coyle on that third line as well, which kind of makes sense if you want to balance things out.
I won’t give away the rest because it’s behind a paywall but those seem like significant developments for fantasy hockey owners.
In a separate mailbag, this one from Helene St. James from the Detroit Free Press, all things Red Wings were discussed.
Here are a couple takeaways from this one:
- She states that the team wants to be competitive this year, which reads as playoff aspirations to me. In that vein, she thinks Jimmy Howard’s starts could be reigned in with the signing of Jonathan Bernier. Howard’s 57 starts in 2017-18 were the most for him since 2011-12 and largely due to the underperformance of anyone else they tried to use. If Bernier can perform at the level he did the last couple years, this could be a split-start situation rather than Howard starting 50-plus again. Even if Howard performs well, he could be a trade deadline casualty.
- Though there’s nothing from management or coaching staff, she would like to see Filip Zadina play alongside Henrik Zetterberg if – IF – Zetterberg is healthy enough to play this year and Zadina makes the roster out of camp. Given that Zetterberg still possesses good playmaking abilities, this makes sense. There is a lot of time between now and the start of the season, though, so this is obviously just speculation for now.
Yesterday’s Ramblings saw just some catching up on the news. When you go on vacation for even just five or six days in the dog days of August, there’s a lot that can be missed. Such is the nature of professional sports in North America.
On Tuesday, though, I posted some five-on-four stats from the last couple of years. They mostly focused on production likes goals, assists, and shot attempts. The reason for that is just to point out the production of some players that aren’t only mainstays, but some players who might get overlooked.
Today, I want to go through some players who may have gotten a little unlucky on the power play last year. Keep in mind that these are just five-on-four power plays. All data from Corsica.
I wrote on Larkin a little over a week ago so I won’t go into it much further here. Everything that really needs to be said was said in that Ramblings. If everything stays status quo at even strength and his luck improves dramatically on the power play, we could see a Nathan MacKinnon-esque leap in production. Probably not all the way to 97 points but a point-per-game is in play.
Just being healthy will see a bounce-back for Getzlaf this year, but he was one of a handful of players to cross the 100-minute mark at five-on-four and shoot zero percent (on 29 shots landed). Though he’s never been a significant goal scorer on the power play, he did score 12 goals on 107 shots from 2014-17, or an 11.2 percent conversion rate. If he shoots roughly as often again next year and his shooting percentage rebounds, that adds 4-5 goals to his overall total. A number like that could see him push for 20 goals. Not a huge amount, but add that to 50-plus assists, and Getzlaf is back to being the Getzlaf we all know from prior seasons. Let’s just hope the team smartens up and stops playing Corey Perry next to him.
Once a prolific goal scorer on the power play, Ryan had just one PP goal last year and two the year before. When you look at just five-on-four power plays, he had zero goals in 2017-18 and two in 2016-17. That’s two goals at 5v4 over a span of 124 games and 302 power-play minutes. This is from a guy who once posted back-to-back double-digit 5v4 goal seasons.
Ryan’s hand injuries over the last few years are lengthy and well-documented. It’s a wonder if he’ll ever get over them again. With the exodus of talent in Ottawa of late, there should be a lot of PPTOI available for Ryan if he can stay healthy. And that is a big, big if.
Despite his 66 points being a career-high, Perron scored just 16 total goals, two fewer than 2016-17, and only one of those came on the power play, which was at five-on-four. That’s one goal on 29 5v4 shots. Perron has never been a prolific PP scorer (career-best is eight total PP goals and that’s his only season exceeding five), but he scored eight goals on his previous 74 shots at 5v4. That’s a shooting percentage around 10.8 percent.
Perron signed for four years in St. Louis but that team has a lot of weapons now. There are the mainstays of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen, and Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn was added last year, and Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, and Patrick Maroon were brought on with Perron this year. That is a lot of mouths to feed on the power play. I’ve assumed they’ll run a top PP unit of Tarasenko-Schwartz-Schenn-O’Reilly with the rest filling in on the second unit. Even if Perron bounces back in the shooting percentage department, the sheer ice time probably won’t be there. If he can get back to five total PP goals again, that’ll be a big win.
Despite falling just short of a point-per-game in an injury-shortened season last year, it wasn’t due to power-play goal scoring. He had just three PP goals on 67 shots at five-on-four, which is a conversion rate around 4.8 percent. Over his first two seasons, he scored 17 goals on 89 shots, converting on 19.1 percent of his shots.
There’s been a lot of upheaval in Buffalo. Evander Kane was traded during the season, Ryan O’Reilly was traded after the season, Conor Sheary and Jeff Skinner were brought in, and there’s also that guy named Rasmus Dahlin. There are going to be big changes to the power play unit so I’m not sure just pegging Eichel right for 20 percent shooting again is the right approach. But even if he shoots just 10 percent, on a shot per game at five-on-four, that’s eight goals. Plus whatever he does at five-on-three and four-on-three. Even without bouncing back all the way, 10 power-play goals seems likely.
This will be an interesting year in Buffalo.
It’s pretty easy to forget that at one point, Spooner was a fixture of the top PP unit for Boston. Over 2015-2017, he had 35 total power-play points. It’s pretty obvious he can fit in well with other skill players so I’m interested to see his usage in New York. I’m doubly interested considering he scored just one goal at five-on-four last year on 22 shots. Over the previous two years, he shot just under 10 percent.
Spooner is not a shooter on the power play but he can facilitate for guys like Chris Kreider or Mika Zibanejad. But it’s how they decide to deploy the top unit. It seems like Kreider, Zibanejad, and Mats Zuccarello are locks. Is the fourth Spooner? Or someone like Vladislav Namestnikov or Pavel Buchnevich? Buchnevich would make sense to take advantage of his wealth of offensive skill. If it is Spooner, a rebound in his shooting percentage could inflate his overall production totals. If it’s not, he’s probably waiver wire fodder.
The last player to discuss today is Johansen. He does have a 33-goal season to his name, which was followed up with a 26-goal season. His last three seasons, though, have seen totals of 14, 14, and 15. His last two years have seen fewer total power-play goals (5) than either of his seasons with the Jackets from 2013-2015. Now, when you skate with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, there really aren’t many shots left to go around, and Johansen doesn’t need to be a scorer. That doesn’t mean he can’t pop a handful of power-play goals this year, though, especially if his five-on-four shooting percentage rebounds from a six-year low of 3.7 percent.
Again, Johansen isn’t a scorer now, and he doesn’t need to be. With a bit of good fortune at five-on-four, though, he could push for 20 total goals. That’s not overly impressive, but it’s better than what he’s done lately, and could provide a Getzlaf-type season.