Tournament: Players Who Would Thrive With Improved Deployment
It’s once again everyone’s favorite time of the month – the Roos Lets Loose tournament/poll, where your votes get to give fantasy guidance to your fellow DobberHockey readers. After two polls that looked ahead, this time we’re focusing on the here and now, and players who are being the most poorly utilized by their teams.
What qualifies as being poorly utilized? Things like getting stuck in the bottom six notwithstanding being cut from a scoring cloth, or lack of man-advantage time despite the apparent talent to be able to excel on the PP. Basically, it boils down to not getting enough playing time or having the playing time you get not be in keeping with the skill you seemingly have. In a nutshell, these are players we believe are realistically capable of doing more for their teams and your fantasy squads, if only they had a better opportunity to do so.
Note that I excluded any teenage players or those who’ve played fewer than 100 NHL games, since there you can somewhat “forgive” a team for bringing them along more slowly. Also, I’ve stuck to skaters only so as to make it easier to choose among the players. With that out of the way, here’s the list of skaters (in alphabetical order) for you to vote on.
Josh Anderson – Although Anderson took the ice for 17:01 per game, he barely sniffed any PP Time, with what little he received being on the second unit. Nevertheless scored a goal per every three games and his second-half numbers project to a full season scoring rate of 56 points. If he was put into a better spot, who knows what his ceiling might be.
Oliver Bjorkstrand – Everyone who scored more goals than Bjorkstand’s 23 averaged at least 14 minutes per game, while Bjorkstrand averaged a mere 12:20 per contest and was stuck on what was effectively the Blue Jackets’ third line. As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, his PP Time somehow dropped by 30 seconds per game from last season. What’s he need to do to catch a break?
Pavel Buchnevich – Despite sometimes being a healthy scratch this season and seeing his ice time vary significantly when he did play, Buchnevich still managed to post 21 goals in 64 games and concluded the season with 20 points in his last 26 contests. For now, we can only imagine what he might be capable of if given a chance to truly show off his talent night in, night out.
Paul Byron – What did two consecutive 20+ goal seasons get Byron? Only 14:34 per game and barely a minute of man-advantage time. Yes, he did miss nearly a third of the season; however, when he did play he was effective, scoring at a career-high pace. Just think what he could do if he saw more playing time and with better linemates….
Brett Connolly – Even though he was stuck playing predominantly with the likes of Lars Eller, Andre Burakovsky and Carl Hagelin, Connolly’s points per 60 minutes for 2018-19 put him ahead of, among others, Filip Forsberg, Mathew Barzal, Brock Boeser, Jeff Skinner, not to mention teammate T.J. Oshie. If that’s not enough to give him a shot on a scoring line next season, then I don’t know what is.
Phillip Danault – In what might’ve been the quietest 50+ point output of 2018-19, Danault had ten or more points in each quarter of the season as his season-long per game ice time average rose by roughly a minute for the second campaign in a row. What didn’t rise? His PP time, which was cut in half from 1:01 per game to a mere 0:29 per contest, with every NHL forward who outpointed him getting at least twice as much man advantage time per game. Pretty head-scratching……
Vince Dunn – Who was the second leading defenseman scorer for St Louis? Don’t say Colton Parayko, as although Parayko averaged more than five minutes more TOI per game than Dunn, it was the 22-year-old former 56th overall pick who outpointed Parayko by 25%. Yet despite this, and steady production, Dunn somehow saw his PP time drop from 3:00 in the first quarter of the season to 1:19 in the fourth.
Alex Galchenyuk – Sure, Galchenyuk missed time at the beginning of the season due to injury; but the idea behind trading Max Domi for him was to give Galchenyuk what he hadn’t received in Montreal – a true chance to show his talent. Yet somehow Gally averaged fewer minutes per game in Arizona than he did while languishing in Montreal last season, with his ice time dropping each quarter.
Dougie Hamilton – Similar to Galchenyuk, it was expected that Hamilton’s trade to Carolina would allow him to finally get star treatment in terms of ice time and deployment. Yet despite a career high in goals Hamilton somehow averaged fewer minutes per game this season – overall and on the PP – than he did in any of his campaigns with Calgary. Perplexing to say the least.
Travis Konecny – After 32 points in his final 40 games of 2017-18, most thought Konecny would factor prominently in Philly’s 2018-19 plans. Yet here we are a season later and his ice time numbers are almost identical, and that’s despite James van Riemsdyk missing extended time and Wayne Simmonds being traded at the deadline. While Konecny is still only 22, one has to wonder if he’ll get a chance to show his true talent any time soon.
Mike Matheson – Here it’s not a case of too few minutes, as Matheson averaged 22+ per game. Instead, it’s his lack of PP time despite talent to do well with the man advantage, as shown by him ranking only 91st among d-men in PP time but 64th in PPTs.
Charlie McAvoy – What happens when you’re on a team with among the most one-dimensional d-men in the NHL in Torey Krug? In the case of McAvoy, you somehow see your overall ice time stay the same but your PPTOI per game drop from your rookie campaign.
J.T. Miller – After Miller had just under a point per game production upon joining the Lightning and then they signed him to a big deal in the offseason, poolies figured he was set to become a bigtime scorer. Fast forward to now, and Miller ended up not even seeing 15 minutes of TOI per game, often mired on the fourth line. The silver lining was he did see regular PP time and did well with the man advantage. The question is when, if ever, Miller will be able to emerge from whatever doghouse he’s in and get consistent top-six time yet again.
William Nylander – Understandably Nylander was brought along slowly after missing nearly half the season holding out. Yet once he returned it was to 1:10 less ice time per game than last season. There is some possible reason for encouragement though, in that Nylander was back with Auston Matthews by the fourth quarter and saw his best production of the season, which bodes well for him being able to go back to the type of deployment that saw him post over 60 points at age 21 in 2017-18.
Brandon Pirri – When Pirri is hot, he can a top producer, as shown by his point per game stretch this season, him being just outside the NHL’s top ten in goals per 60 minutes, and him scoring at a nearly 40 goal full season pace in 2014-15. The issue is he’s not established enough to have a long leash; so when he inevitably cools, he finds himself scratched or jettisoned back to the AHL. One has to wonder how Pirri would fare if just given a whole season’s worth of games to show what he’s truly made of.
Jesse Puljujarvi – Another season came and went without JP finding a foothold on a regular line, let alone in the top six. And he had double hip surgery this offseason to boot. Edmonton having a new GM and JP being an RFA might just result in JP being dealt and perhaps getting the true chance to shine that he’s yet to receive in Edmonton. Or it could be another season of more of the same in Edmonton.
Ryan Pulock – Last season Pulock posted nearly point per every other game numbers despite seeing less than 2:00 on the PP and 18:23 per game. His reward? Four more minutes of TOI per game but 12 seconds more of PP Time, with Nick Leddy still averaging a full minute more on the man advantage per game despite barely producing double digits in PPPts. Could Pulock be Matt Dumba 2.0, where he’s forced to bide his time for several seasons before finally getting a chance to step up and strut his stuff?
Jakob Silfverberg – Although Silfverberg finally cracked the 2:00 of PP Time per game mark, his overall ice time dropped despite the injury and scoring struggles of the Ducks. There may be hope, however, in that after signing his five-year contract extension Silfverberg posted nearly point per game numbers in the last quarter of the season and was at 18:07 per game. Maybe – just maybe – he’s arrived.
Frank Vatrano – After Vatrano played his way into the top six, and, following a near point per game third quarter, signed a three-year extension, most thought he’d receive bumps in his ice time. Yet that was not to be, and he’s produced his worst numbers in the fourth quarter. Paid enough to guarantee he’ll play every game but not necessarily guaranteeing him a spot in the top six, Vatrano might have to prove himself all over again next season.
Pavel Zacha – Don’t look now, but Zacha quietly posted eight points in eight fourth-quarter games while receiving 18:03 per contest (up nearly three minutes from the first quarter) and 2:05 on the PP (up from a mere eight seconds per game in Q1). The question is, was this a function of the Devils being out of the playoff hunt and having a shortage of healthy forwards, leaving Zacha once again stuck with his usual subpar deployment once next season rolls around?
There you have it – 20 voting choices. I probably could’ve included at least a handful of others (Jakub Vrana, Samuel Girard, and Nick Bjugstad come to mind, although I’m sure there are others), but in the end, I settled on these 20.
You can cast your votes by clicking here. Since this is a poll to determine the most poorly utilized skater, I’m only going to allow you to vote for one player, as opposed to multiple players like in recent polls, so be sure to think about this carefully and cast your vote for the player who’s most truly deserving.
I’ll be back with another poll in a month, but next week is another mailbag. I’m already set for questions this month, but you can always send me additional mailbag questions either by private messaging them to me (rizzeedizzee) via the DobberHockey Forums or by sending an email to [email protected] with “Roos Mailbag” as the subject line.
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