One of the countless great things about the Fantasy Guide (available for order here) is I can use the point projections to help pick what – on paper – should be even battles, like this week, with Rickard Rakell squaring off against Mark Stone. The Fantasy Guide has them at virtually identical scoring rates for 2018-19, but let’s see if one player has an edge (both for this season and down the road) according to the deep dive of Cage Match.
Career Path and Contract Status
Rakell, 25, was selected 30th overall in 2011 and returned to juniors for two more years of development that saw him post barely point per game numbers, making him not a standout in the high scoring OHL. But he nevertheless took the AHL by storm in 2013-14 by posting 37 points in 46 games and earning a call-up to the NHL, where he had a mere four points in 18 contests. Even still, it was clear to the Ducks that Rakell was above returning to the AHL, so starting in 2014-15 he was with the Ducks to stay, and he tallied a so-so 31 points in 71 games. But since then, all Rakell has done is increase his 82-game scoring pace with each passing season, going from 36 as a rookie to 49 in 2015-16, to 59 in 2016-17, to 73 last season. Notice though I referred to scoring pace – that’s because Rakell missed 10+ games in each of his first three seasons, and last season still managed to only play in 77 contests.
Stone, 26, was drafted 178th overall a year earlier than Rakell then proceeded to tally 229 points over his next two seasons in the WHL. He nevertheless spent the 2012-13 lockout in the AHL and returned there for 2013-14 until his 41 points in 37 games led to him coming to Ottawa to stay. His first full NHL season was a doozy, as he posted 64 points in 80 games. Unfortunately, he’s played in fewer games with each passing season, dropping first to 75, then 71, and finally to only 58 this past season. Yet for 2017-18 he had better than point per game output (62 points), which is all the more remarkable since it came on the woeful Sens. It also reversed a slight scoring dip that occurred in 2016-17, which had seen Stone post a mere 54 points in those 71 games.
Rakell is set to embark on year three of a six-year deal that carries a mere $3.789M cap hit per season, while earlier