It’s been quite the season for goalies thus far – I suppose you should have headed the notion that goalies do not matter? For those of us who avoided Matt Murray, Tuukka Rask, Carey Price, Cory Schneider, it is wheels up for those poolies!
Since this is the sixth week of the season I thought it would be worth going back over some previous articles to see if anything I have said thus far has any validity. Also I’m wondering if players who seemed to be playing above their heads have continued their hot play. As always I’ll dig into a couple players of interest.
Week 1 takes:
- Morgan Rielly who I own in a 14-team league as my fifth defenseman (Positional scarcity!) has been lights out this year, so far he has also fired one more puck on net per game. Rielly is probably the only piece of the Leafs PP that you could potentially get without sacrificing the core of your team. It’s going to be a career year for Rielly, pull whatever levers you need to get him on your team. The experts all offseason had Rielly plugged in as a value play compared to his ADP and so far this season he’s exceeding all expectations.
Rielly has continued his lights out play – he’s on pace for 101 points which will obviously come down. He’s shooting at 13% so that will be the category where his points pace with decline. What is great news for the Rielly owners is that has IPP sits at 58% which is higher than his career average but absolutely reasonable given the squad he is on. His assist rate could come down a little if the team at 5v5 doesn’t continue to shoot at a high rate but that’s not an immediate bet I would take against this Toronto squad. Trade for Rielly if you think you can convince an owner they are selling high.
- Cam Atkinson and Anders Lee are firing at will compared to the last three years on the power play. Another player hyped for an increase in total points is on the PP SOG list – Dylan Larkin.
All three of these guys have been on absolute fire. Their shot on goals pace along with their production are the reason a lot of experts had these guys pegged as great value opportunities at the draft table. Unfortunately I missed out on all three guys but there’s always a chance a trade can be swung!
Week 2 takes:
- Travis Konecny has not been able to reproduce last season’s late magic and his unfavorable deployment should probably put him on your waiver wire.
Konecny is on the top line now and the team is slowly starting to come around with some more goals being scored. Those with patience are being rewarded as he has scored three points in his last four games.
- Craig Anderson has a .913 save percentage through 4 games – not nearly as terrible as I would have suspected at this point.
The tire fire of Ottawa has not brought Craig Anderson to the bottom of the leagues tenders. So far if you’re willing to gamble with you goalies Anderson has been positing respectable save percentages with a .905 (is that the new .916?) and 31% quality starts. Obviously Anderson isn’t a brick wall but if you focused your draft on skaters or your league counts saves – you’re being rewarded six weeks in.
- Conor Sheary has three goals in five games.
Jason Pominville has assumed this spot since week two and is owned in the majority of Yahoo! Leagues. I can’t imagine it lasts all year long but I’m probably bitter from three plus years of hoping for the Pominville resurgence.
Kapanen has been a delight for those fast enough to get him off the waiver wire. He’s on a 58-point pace and will be playing with one of the top three shooters in the league when Matthews returns. Lately he’s cooled off but all of his percentages indicate a player who can continue producing at his current pace.
- Keith Kinkaid is worth a pickup if you’re in need of a goalie – the Devils are forcing play against their opponents.
Cory Schneider has been bad – real bad. He’s sitting at a .849% and has tied a cinderblock around every owners neck who has him rostered. Kinkaid has cooled off as of late but NJ is looking to get back into the swing of some winning; roll Kinkaid.
- Nikita Kucherov is somehow shooting almost shooting 0.7 shots per game less thus far – small sample size but certainly a concern. Almost all of his other key stats are in line with career averages. So if he really is going to slow his shot rate down you could be looking at a 30 goal season ad not a 40 goal season. I’m not a Kucherov owner, but if I was I’d be taking a look at this every week to make sure I can escape a problem before others realize it has already started happening.
Kucherov is still shooting about 0.7 shots less per game than he has over the last two years. The above statement of his goal totals still holds true. He’s on pace for only 82 points and sure an offensive explosion from the Lightening is probably coming but it is quite ominous through almost 6 weeks of NHL action.
- Sean Couturier – If I was a Couturier owner I’m looking for a way out – quickly. The scariest part is that his shot rate has absolutely plummeted to a pace of 164 shots. I’m not sure that’s something that is going to magically change after playing 10 games. It’s either a very unlucky stretch – or it’s the beginning of a season long trend. The one ounce of good news is that his PP time is still sky high with 4 minutes per night – I suppose that could be the one thing keeping me from selling him to the best offer. Shot rates are where I start getting afraid – when they are dipping there isn’t a lot of brute force that can be applied to make puck luck revert rate stats.
Couturier has picked up his play as of late, he’s on pace for 53 points but if you look at the last two weeks since this was written he’s headed more in the 70 point pace range. His IPP is still low even compared to his pre-breakout years, so there is room for growth there. The best news is that he has been shooting the puck more and is on pace for 200 SOG, it’s beginning to look like he’s going to try and shoot himself out of this funk.
- Claude Giroux – Giroux is on pace for 82 points this year, I suspect you’re not terribly disappointed if you drafted him in Yahoo! Leagues with the dual eligibility. His shot volume at 5v5 is up almost an entire one SOG/GP against his three year average.
Giroux is back up to a 106 point pace and his SOG pace has completely corrected itself. He’s on pace to shoot almost 250 shots which he has not done since he was scoring at a near point per game pace he was scoring at a near point per game pace from 2011-2015.
Nolan Patrick is on pace for 53 points; he’s been hot as of late with seven points in his last six games. He’s centering the second line with Jakub Voracek and he has captured a spot on the top power play. His ice time at sits right around 15 minutes and his power play time is up to 40% of the teams share. He’s shooting at 20% which has helped inflate his goal total of five. His current shot rates are throwing up a red flag as someone who is overproducing, he’s on pace for 134 shots. When you frame the narrative in that manner Patrick will likely see his point pace decline as he is unlikely to continue scoring at his current rate.
Phil Kessel has been maintaining his point pace from last year but there are a few stats that suggest he won’t eclipse the 90 point threshold this year. He’s shooting about 3% higher than his three year average and he’s doing so on a minute less of ice time per game, he’s also seen a slight reduction in power play time. Kessel is still one of the best RW in the league, it’ll be interesting to see if a couple good games can help keep his pace above 90 points.