In a similar vein to last week, we are going to break with our usual mode slightly. Given this is the last week for many before their playoffs I wanted to make sure to spend some time going through a few more streaking players and provide a little commentary. If your playoffs start this week, well it will be relevant to you too, and if they are still two weeks off – well now you have a head start.
Evander Kane: Kane was on this list to check in on before his injury, and now is doubly so. He missed Friday’s matchup and it appears he will be out Sunday evening as well (you will know the outcome of this already). According to Peter DeBoer his is likely only going to be out short term. In a weekly lineup that still makes your decision to start him risky. With daily lineups you have a bit more flexibility to wait and see.
Even before his injury, Kane had slowed mightily, with only two points over his last seven games. Prior to that he has 26 points over 18 games (118 full season pace) dating back to December 19th. He had been playing on a line with Timo Meier, and Joonas Donskoi, and on a second power play unit with Joe Thornton and Meier. In his most recent seven games he seems to have a lost a bit of time on ice overall and about 30 seconds of power play time per game. Erik Karlsson was also missing in action for some of this time and that could have impacted the power play as well.
Overall Kane is putting up a career high pace, and it looks pretty sustainable. He makes a risky play for the upcoming week, but once back in the lineup look for a 65 point pace here on out. He isn’t an 118 point pace player, or a 23 point player. If there is any indication he is good to go, get him back in your lineup.
Nikolaj Ehlers: Since December 22nd, Ehlers has played nine games, totalling two points. He put up 17 points in his prior 11 games though. Unlike with Kane, who manages to keep his deployment between his two splits, things have changed for Ehlers. During his hot run in December he had ideal running makes with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. He was also seeing about 18 minutes of total ice time on average, peaking at about 22 minutes. Flash forward and his ice time has dropped two and a half minutes, and he has spent his time with Kyle Connor and Bryan Little (and now Kevin Hayes since the trade).
The prognosis is definitely not a rosy as with Kane. His slump comes at a time when he has lost out on the best deployment his team has to offer at even strength, and on the power play. As decent and Kyler Connor and Kevin Hayes are, they are no Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. He has also lost a significant amount of time on ice. To make matters slightly worse, his full season pace, of 55 points (not all that exciting) looks like if anything it might be a touch too high. His IPP and his personal shooting percentage are a bit high, while his percent of his team’s power play is definitely down.
A 55 point ceiling certainly isn’t too exciting, but unless his deployment changes, or he finds some serious puck luck I don’t see much changing. Your trade deadline is likely past, and unless you have a pretty shallow league he likely wouldn’t sit in free agency long. He is still shooting, though that is in spurts too, with six shots some nights and zero the next. For the most part I think you are stuck with him if you have him, and just have to hope that he strikes gold for you once or twice to make it worth it.
Jared Spurgeon: From January 23rd to February 15th, Spurgeon put up nine points in ten games. Since then he has fallen back to earth with two over his last seven. His season long pace is essentially a repeat of 2017-18, though he has already passed 2017-18’s games played numbers. Given Matt Dumba’s injury and an increased role with Minnesota it is surprising to see that his production pace has not increased from last season, or from when Dumba was in the lineup.
Spurgeon is regularly seeing over 25 total minutes of ice time per game, and over three minutes of ice time on the power play with the top power play. His shot rates also look good. This slump is likely just a roll of the dice kind of situation and he should be back to putting up his season long 50 point pace soon.
Ryan Donato: In the month of January, Donato suited up for eight games for the Bruins. He totaled two points, and 19 shots, with about 12 minutes of ice time and just about 1:20 of power play time. In February, after his trade to Minnesota, he exploded. In the five games since that trade he has seven points (three on the power play) and 15 shots. He is up to almost two minutes of top power play time (thanks to several Minnesota trades) and is seeing an average of 15 minutes of ice every night.
As we saw in 2017-18 with Evander Kane, role is king. When he moved to San Jose and they used his as a top forward he acted like one. Something similar is likely the case for Donato as well. He is being given some opportunity and he is responding. Unfortunately I am not going to suggest that he maintains the 114 point pace he is currently seeing on Minnesota. In the plus column he is shooting almost three times per game, and is seeing a surprisingly reasonable (if high) shooting percentage. His IPP however sits at a very unsustainable 87.5% versus his career high of 54%.
Donato may have capture lightning in a bottle for a couple of weeks here, and certainly may continue to ride the hot streak, so if you can add him for the week definitely give it a go. I would be have a short leash though as deployment could change quickly and without top opportunity he won’t keep up the pace.
Vinnie Hinostroza: Over the last six games, Hinostroza has put up eight points. This represents by far the most productive string of his season, and more than a quarter of the points he has accumulated thus far in 2018-19. He is seeing less than a minute of second power play time, and just over 15 minutes of total ice. In addition he has shot about twice per game over this stretch and his IPP is sitting at 100% – meaning he was in on all eight points that have been scored while he was on the ice over the last six games. None of those numbers seem particularly encouraging.
If we back up about a month further he has 16 points in his last 18 games (more than half of his total points). Again about two shots per game, barely any power-play time, almost a 20% shooting percentage and a 94.1% IPP.
His most frequent linemate through all of this seems to be Richard Panik, and recently he has added Brad Richardson at both even strength and on the power play. He has not increased the quality of his linemates, or his deployment in any significant way. It's just him.
At the end of the day if you have the space for an add him for a stream and his schedule makes sense it is hard to argue with the results. Six in eight, or even better (larger sample) 16 in 18 makes for a compelling spot start. When he falls though he is likely to fall hard as his current 45 point pace is his career high.
Mikael Backlund: Backlund has caught eyes recently as he has put up nine points in his last eight games. This is newsworthy, as like Donato and Hinostroza above, he does not have a history of scoring at this consistent pace. What is different though is that Backlund does have a history of hitting some of these torrid streaks. In fact though he went pointless in the five games prior to this run, he put up nine points in the eight games from 12/31-2/1. All together he has 21 points in his last 26 games.
Backlund’s career high pace so far is 54 points for a full season, and the pace for his last 26 games certainly would exceed that. His overall stats actually look pretty good for maintaining around that 55 point pace, but I would not at all be surprised if he is able to keep up a higher rate than that through the next couple of weeks as Calgary pushes for the playoffs.
If history is any guide, Backlund is due for a couple of pointless games soon, but overall I am interested if I can fit him into my lineup somewhere, particularly with a decent schedule next week.
Until next time.