20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts
Every Sunday, 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. Basically everyone on the Kings from the goalie on out has been a disappointment. However, Anze Kopitar was likely drafted in the second or third round and he’s not close to be even a top-100 player, let alone returning draft day value.
Where do we begin? Kopitar has zero power play goals and five power-play assists on the season. Last year, he had seven and 20, with five and 14 the year before. He’s a plus-2 where his plus-minus had been a plus-21 last year and generally a plus player for his career. With LA’s goaltending problems, though, and the team’s scoring issues in general, it’s a surprise his plus-minus isn’t worse than it is. His shot rate is down a bit from 2017-18 but well within norms for him, at least at five-on-five.
There are hopes for a turnaround, though. Kopitar’s production should pick up but he’s not an across-the-board contributor, so expecting much more than a top-100 player from here on out is a mistake. (dec18)
2. Flames’ Mark Giordano has been remarkably consistent. Back in 2014-15, he had 35 points in 38 games to start the season, so he’s done something like this before. But he’s 35 years old now and coming off a 38-point season. Who knew that getting rid of Dougie Hamilton would help him this much at this age?
In 2014-15, he slowed to 13 in 24 games before a biceps injury ended his season. In 2013-14, he had 43 points in 53 games, again showing a track record of similar production. That, too, was interrupted by injury (21 games, leg). His current pace is for 80 points and he is seeing a bit of puck luck, but it’s on the power play where he’s seeing the biggest spike. At 12 PPPts, he’s already surpassed last year’s 10 and is well on his way to a career high (currently 26). I think if he stays healthy, this is the year that Giordano tops 70 points. (dec17)
3. Tom Wilson 10th goal of the season was scored in just his 15th game on Friday night. At the time, Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin, and Jeff Skinner were the only players with as many games played as Wilson with a higher goals-per-games-played pace.
Wilson has had some good luck in the shooting percentage department (currently 26.3%), so some regression should be expected. Wilson has helped his cause, though, taking nearly a full shot more per game than he did last season. If your league counts penalty minutes or hits, though, he’s only a sell-high if you’d otherwise be fine in those categories. (dec22)
4. Since finally signing his contract, William Nylander has yet to score a goal and has just two assists in eight games. Those two assists came in one game, so he’s been without a point in five games since. You probably shouldn’t be surprised, as it does take a while to get up to game speed. You should probably also be patient. (dec23)
5. With two goals on Saturday, Brandon Pirri now has three goals in two games played. That gives him the highest goals per games played total in the league. Go add him now! (I’m kidding – well, sort of). Pirri has had some fairly strong linemates in Paul Stastny and Reilly Smith, but he has to find a way to stick around in the NHL. That could all depend on how long Max Pacioretty is out.
Pirri has scored at a torrid pace in the AHL (41 points in just 28 games) and was close to a point-per-game player there last season. Something that could also help Pirri’s cause: he and Smith played together in the Toronto minor hockey system. (dec23)
6. Coach Barry Trotz being brought in as the Islanders coach inevitably meant a team that would tighten up defensively, or at least play at a much slower pace than the Islanders’ 2017-18 club. That’s exactly what has happened and everyone’s offensive production has suffered as a result (losing John Tavares hasn’t helped, obviously).
Though it feels like Mathew Barzal has been a disappointment, keep in mind he’s on pace to crack around 70 points. Even in today’s higher-scoring environment, that’s still a really good season. What jumps out, of course, is the fact that Barzal is shooting 6.5 percent. Though we don’t have a big enough sample to what kind of shooter he is, I feel comfortable saying he’s not a 6.5 percent shooter. If that were doubled – and double that percentage would still be worse than last year – he’d be a point-per-game guy.
So, given we know that Barzal isn’t a high-volume shooter (yet), and the team is focused more on defense than offense, I’m not sure if we can realistically expect a big turnaround for him. Fantasy owners should make peace with the fact that he could just be a 15-goal, 70-point guy this year. Of course, that doesn’t mean people should be down on his prospects for the next 4-5 years. It’s just a blip. (dec18)
7. Since Shea Weber’s return to the lineup 13 games ago, Jeff Petry has collected 10 points (5g-5a). Petry had grabbed the PP1 role when Weber was injured last season, yet the assumption was that Petry’s production would fall off once Weber returned. So, should we expect the now over-30 Petry to be a 40-plus point defenseman going forward, or will he have trouble cracking 30 as he did prior to last season? In other words, should you attempt to sell high if you’ve been riding Petry’s success?
Despite Weber’s return, Petry has maintained his spot on the first-unit power play, with the Canadiens opting to use two defensemen and three forwards instead of the 4F-1D model that many teams use. Petry’s two most recent points (both assists) over his last two games have been with the man advantage, so he’s still finding ways to contribute.
Having said that, I don’t see this arrangement lasting for long. Overall, the Habs’ power play success rate was the third-worst in the NHL (12.9%), and it has actually gotten worse since Weber’s return (8.1 percent since November 27) — both statistics as we entered Saturday action. Weber and his shot likely won’t be bumped to the second unit, so Petry could easily be the odd man out on the first unit at some point.
Of course, a ‘sell high’ is always relative. Since Petry has already reached 27 points in less than half a season, 40 points seems like a lock unless he is injured. He could easily be sold to a team desperate to upgrade its blueline that would view him as someone who will reach the 60-plus points that he is currently on pace for. But if you can’t find the right deal, I don’t think Petry’s production will necessarily fall off a cliff, but some dropoff should be expected. (dec22)
8. I was not high (or even reasonable) on Zach Parise coming into the year. He finished the 2017-18 season just fine with 12 goals and 15 points in the final 18 games. I took that as a guy on a hot streak in a small sample and not that it would portend what we would see to start the 2018-19 season. To date, he’s been roughly a top-75 player in standard Yahoo! leagues. That’s after perhaps not being drafted in 12-teamers or being drafted as a bench option.
The first thing to point out is that Parise is currently enjoying a career-high 15.3 percent shooting. His three-year average coming into this season was 10.8 percent and 12.7 percent is the best he mustered in any season in which he played at least 50 games (2014-15). Still, fantasy hockey owners have a decision to make. At five-on-five, there’s not much to worry about, most his shooting numbers are well within norms. At five-on-four, though, we should see a goal drought soon.
Parise won’t fall off the map by any stretch, but he won’t be as valuable the rest of the way as he’s been so far without a streak of good fortune. And while the injury history is always lurking in the background, I would have no problem trading Parise for a similarly-valued player at a position of need. For more details, follow the link … (dec20)
9. With a 40-save shutout of the Ducks on Saturday, Linus Ullmark has now won each of his last three games. Over the last couple weeks, Ullmark has started about every third game. With the Sabres much improved from last season, Ullmark is a solid streaming option whenever he starts. His numbers (2.71 GAA, .922 SV%) aren’t that far off from Carter Hutton’s (2.58 GAA, .917 SV%), so it’s possible that we see him start even more soon. (dec23)
10. When Ilya Kovalchuk went onto IR nearly a month ago, his fantasy value had sunk to an all-time low. His Kings’ career had not worked out as expected, having been held without a point in 11 games with incredibly low ice time under new coach Willie Desjardins. Yet, Kovy returned to the Kings’ lineup on Saturday and proceeded to score two goals, including the overtime winner.
Despite the two goals, those issues may still end up mattering for Kovalchuk. He played a total of 13:42 in this game, on a line with recent waiver-wire pickup Brendan Leipsic and checking line veteran Nate Thompson. Kovalchuk is already 42 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, and I have trouble recommending that you do your part to increase that number. (dec23)
Don't miss it: Rick Roos is rolling again with his annual Cage Match Tournament. Check out the forums to vote for ‘The New Normal’ edition, Part 2.
11. After a stretch of 21 games without a goal, Bryan Rust has now hit the twine eight times over his last seven games. Between the scorching hot and ice cold streaks, Rust’s shooting percentage has averaged out to about its normal pace. Add him if you need scoring help but watch the line combinations very closely. Rust won’t get anywhere near the first-unit power play, so his fantasy value will flatline if he’s not on a scoring line either. (dec21)
12. Could the Flyers’ recent coaching change have helped Carter Hart? We’ll never know, because he never played a regular-season game under Dave Hakstol. It sounds like the Flyers are a revitalized bunch under new coach Scott Gordon — they have suddenly turned into a nice story. Hart won his first two NHL games earlier this past week before Saturday’s defeat at the hands of the Blue Jackets. The 20-year-old goalie is bound to hit that rookie wall at some point but he’s absolutely worth a pickup if he’s still available. (dec21)
13. With the announcement that Zach Hyman would be out for three weeks with an ankle sprain, Andreas Johnsson saw some skates on the Mitch Marner / John Tavares line this week. The opportunity should continue to be there for the rookie, if you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve. (dec21)
14. Martin Necas has been loaned to Team Czech Republic at the World Juniors and will join (a hopefully healthy) Filip Zadina. Color me suddenly very interested in watching the Czech Republic at this year’s tournament. (dec20)
15. During Patrice Bergeron absence because of injury, the Bruins’ new-look top line with David Krejci between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak looked fantastic, and the shot share and expected goal share numbers backed that up.
It would make sense to have Bergeron as the ‘second line’ center with Jake DeBrusk (when healthy) to try and lengthen the lineup that has had trouble with depth scoring this year. But that’s easier said than done considering we’re talking about breaking up arguably the best line in hockey. I don’t expect Bergeron to skate on the ‘second line’ but I do wonder if it’s not at least in coach Bruce Cassidy’s mind. (dec20)
As for Krejci, was able to take advantage of top-line duty while Bergeron was out, scoring 14 points (5g-9a) in 16 games. Krejci saw his eight-game point streak snapped as well. Keep an eye on the line combinations going forward, as they may not be as troublesome for Krejci as you think. (dec23)
16. Pastrnak is probably the closest thing I have to an untouchable keeper on my deepest keeper league roster. A significant reason I chose him over other players is his age (only 22), and of course production. (dec21)
17. Henrik Borgstrom, Frank Vatrano, and Evgenii Dadonov looked very solid in their time together this week. Now, I’m of the mind that Dadonov is good enough that he can drive the play for an entire line, so almost any line with Dadonov is going to look good. But in my limited viewings at the NHL level, Borgstrom can be a playmaker for both Dadonov and Vatrano, two guys we know can finish.
Vincent Trocheck should be back this season but it will not be anytime soon. They should give Borgstrom (and that line) some leash. Teams can never have enough scoring and this line has the potential to be a lethal second scoring line. Let the kids play. (dec20)
18. The porous play of Keith Kinkaid only further exacerbates the issues in net for the Devils. Cory Schneider is now mercifully on the IR but his days of stopping pucks at a respectable level appear over. Kinkaid has had stretches of success but shouldn't be considered a long-term solution. That leaves Mackenzie Blackwood.
With less fanfare than Carter Hart, the former Canadian World Junior goalie also made his first NHL start this week after posting a .911 save percentage in 15 AHL games this season. Blackwood has the pedigree of a potential NHL starter but still has more than a few warts to clear up. If you're looking for a prospect goalie with a clear path, there aren't too many better spots than in New Jersey. (dec19)
19. It has really been a descent from the highest highs for Schneider. A few years ago, he was likely considered among a handful of the top goaltenders on the planet. Now, it’s a wonder if he’s even an NHL-caliber goalie anymore. He has a .905 save percentage in his last 107 games going back to and a half seasons, has an injury history, and turns 33 years old in March. (dec18)
20. It’s been a terrible season for Martin Jones and frankly, since his initial year with San Jose, he hasn’t been good at all. Fortunately for them, the Sharks are piling up the W’s despite him not because of him. Anyway, trust in the contract. He’ll continue to get all the starts he needs and will probably get 30 to 33 wins again. But I don’t see that SV% reaching 0.910 and perhaps not even 0.905. And this is the first year of his gaudy six-year deal. Thanks Martin, for ruining my goalie-free Ramblings. I even got past the St. Louis guy (Jake Allen) getting pulled without mentioning his name or position. (dec17)
Have a good week, folks!!
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