It’s been a fun start to the fantasy offseason so far identifying the easy draft day steals for next year. For a summary of those articles check out these links RW-Metro, RW-Atlantic, LW-Atlantic. All you really need to know is that you should be smashing the draft button on Anthony Mantha and Brendan Gallagher come next season. This week we’ll look at the left wings in the Atlantic.
The graph below highlight LW goal scoring abilities this year in the Metro. The graph can help you visualize where a player falls with regards to their actual goal totals and the difference between actual and expected goals scored (X-Axis), and their individual shooting percentage from this year (Y-Axis). Given that the league average shooting percentage is around 11% you can see if there are any big names on the list that fall in the category of having a below average shooting percentage and room to grow in the actual goals scored. More than anything I think that this graph can find you a couple extra goals and make sure you realizes that 40 goals by one player may mean that they could fall back to 32 next year. Player skill/opportunity is still something to remember – just because Ondrej Palat ends up in quadrant that tends to be a BUY area doesn’t mean he’s a 40-goal scorer. Please note that all the data used to create this graph is for a 5v5 situation and was obtained via Corsica.Hockey.
Jake Guentzel exceled en route to his first 40-goal season. His release and willingness to battle in front of the net has cemented him as fixture on the wing alongside Sidney Crosby. He saw an increase to almost 19 minutes a game with two minutes on the power play – however not always on the first unit. Next season look for Guentzel to take another step forward as he gains more time on the top unit. He’s going to need this role promotion in order to offset the 17% shooting percentage he sported this season. Expect at least a 30 goal season from Guentzel again next year. Obviously there are signs of concern with him far exceeding his ixGF; but the deployment, age, and historical production indicate Guentzel should be just fine. The main problem with Guentzel next season is where you’ll need to draft him in order to get him onto your team. I’m guessing we’re looking at a fourth rounder and that’s pretty steep, so imagine a scenario where Patric Hornqvist is still a Penguin and retains his net front presence on the first unit, Guentzel falls back to a 12% shooting percentage, and all of a sudden a 4th rounder for a 30-goal scorer is not the best usage of draft capital for a 65 point player. The alternative scenario is he becomes a net front presence on the first unit, shoots 15%, and offsets any decrease at 5v5 with an increase in goals on the power play- we could be talking about a steal in the 4th round at that point. What version of this do you see? I’m fairly risk adverse so a stud defenseman is usually where I go at this point in drafts – I can’t see drafting Guentzel just because the downside risk could be enough to really slow a fantasy team down.
One player that I cannot wait to draft again is Taylor Hall. He let a lot of us down this year and made my championship run much more difficult then it needed to be, but that’s the nature of the game. Imagine the excitement of seeing Hall sitting there in the 3rd or 4th round this coming season. He’ll surely see his ADP depressed with a shortened season, he shot below his career average and actually was a tad snake bitten with an actual goal total less than his ixGF. Drafting Hall next season seems like the easiest steal of the early rounds. If you tailor your entire draft around taking him as your first LW you can focus on RW early. It is entirely possible to see a team with Ovechkin, Pastrnak, and Hall if the cards fall in your favor – then using some of our earlier conversation you can fill in the gaps with Mantha and Gallagher and you’re already half way there to winning your league. Sometimes fantasy hockey doesn’t have to be hard.
I’m excited to see what Travis Konecny can do next season, mark it as a 4th year breakout. He’s scored 45+ points plus the last two seasons including a remarkable second half run in 2017-2018. Konecny started the season alongside Couturier and Giroux but ended up on a line with Ryan Hartman and Scott Laughton by the end of season; not exactly a scoring line. He sat at 15 minutes per game without seeing any real uptick on the power play during the season. We’ll know more as the training camp lines start to shake out but keep your eye on Konecny as a player with the tool set, pedigree, and line mates to explode if he is given the opportunity – it’s worth noting that it’s possible that his production form last year was aided by some luck in the goal scoring department. However I’d be willing to take a swing on him in later rounds as a league-winning draft choice.
Next week we will dive into Centers in the Atlantic.