I like to read about hockey a lot but mostly they’re stats-centric articles. How a player has performed beyond traditional stats, what new stats are on the horizon, how systems and coaches affect players, and the like. I also read the human interest pieces because they are fascinating, but they’re fewer and further between.
I also don’t read much along the lines of trade boards, rumours, and all that fits under this umbrella. They just don’t help me do my job any better nor help me become a better season-long or daily fantasy player.
That’s why something like The Athletic’s trade bait board column from Craig Custance would normally just pass me by. It’s certainly not that Mr. Custance is a bad writer (he’s very good) or that the piece isn’t interesting (these types of articles drive a lot of traffic). It’s that it doesn’t help me convey actionable information to fantasy hockey owners. They’re just rumours of varying veracity. Sometimes I include them in my Ramblings if it’s a slow news day. Usually, I just ignore them.
That is, until I read something like this, an excerpt from that column:
— Austin Nivison (@AustinNivison) June 5, 2019
Can we all take a step back to think about how dumb “P.K. Subban is a second-pair defenceman” is? This is a guy who just turned 30 who has a Norris Trophy and two third-place finishes, the latest being just last season. I’ll be the first to admit that Subban had a down year but even in a down year (where he was injured) on a team with an abysmal power play, he played to a 40-point pace. He wasn’t great defensively but suddenly proclaiming that he’s now a second-pair defenceman is laughable.
The follow-up to a proclamation like this, of course, is, “name 62 defencemen better than Subban is right now.” Good luck with that.
To bring it to fantasy: always, always, always, keep established players coming off a down year on a list. Guys like Kopitar, Byfuglien, Getzlaf, Ehlers, and Nylander should at the very least get a deeper look. They all had down years for different reasons, and maybe they aren’t worth their ADP next year, but they should at least get consideration. There are always people who will swing the pendulum too far on a player, making that player a good draft value.
Something very interesting came across my Twitter timeline on Wednesday morning:
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) June 5, 2019
Now, I usually ignore stuff like this at this time of year. A lot of information is getting leaked by either labour or management to try to create leverage over the other. Ryan Rishaug of TSN followed up that tweet with this one:
My understanding is negotiations between Puljujarvi and Oilers are ongoing, and a KHL deal would come as a surprise to the team. He’s not free to sign with another league until the end of June, and is continuing his injury rehab in cooperation with the team. https://t.co/A3izuENUDc
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 5, 2019
And then we got a final refutation:
The report circulating about Jesse Puljujarvi signing a KHL contract with Jokerit is "totally inaccurate," according to his agent Markus Lehto.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 5, 2019
A couple notes:
- Puljujarvi is rehabbing right now. The team can’t send him to the AHL, either, as he’d be required to clear waivers and would certainly be claimed. Whenever he’s healthy, he’d have to go straight to the NHL.
- If he does go to the KHL, the Oilers keep his rights as an RFA.
There’s no question the Oilers have bungled this from the start but there’s a new regime in place, one that presumably commands some respect from Hockey Men.
Here’s a fun fact: did you know that the duo of Puljujarvi/McDavid has led to nearly the exact same rate of goals at 5v5 over the last three years (3.87) as the duo of Draisaitl/McDavid (3.98)? Another fun fact: did you know that the duo of Puljujarvi/McDavid has led to a higher shot rate for the team when they’re on the ice together (70.03 per 60 minutes) than with the duo of Draisaitl/McDavid (62.2)? It’s almost as if, this entire time, Puljujarvi hasn’t been a big problem and the Oilers managed to make a mountain out of a molehill. And all this is despite the Oilers providing him about as much support as a wet Kleenex.
[I understand it might seem hypocritial to post this about Poolparty in the section immediately following the one about not paying attention to rumours, but “Puljujarvi has signed in the KHL” is something that I can’t just ignore.]
Erik Karlsson underwent groin surgery and is expected to make a full recovery before next season.
A couple days ago in these Ramblings I discussed Ryan Johansen, he of zero goals at five-on-four in 2018-19. Mentioned were Richard Panik and Frans Nielsen, as they also both had zero goals at five-on-four. It’s worth digging a bit deeper on these two guys because they’re players who could both provide late value in deeper leagues.
I’m not sure how many people would guess this, but over the last two seasons, Panik leads the Coyotes in goals per 60 minutes at 5v5, points per 60 minutes at 5v5, and individual shot attempts per 60 minutes at 5v5. Leading the Coyotes forwards in those categories has led to Panik posting 52 points in 110 games, or about a 39-point pace per 82 games. Not good, but not horrific.
What should first be noted is that Panik has 201 hits in those 110 games. If Panik can even push close towards 50 points, that’s a lot of value in leagues that count hits. The second note to make is that Panik is an unrestricted free agent, meaning he may not even be back with Arizona for 2019-20.
It’s that last note that is really important. Arizona has one of the worst scoring environments in the NHL and Panik’s power play production has taken a dive since entering the franchise; over his final 119 games with Chicago, Panik had 12 PPPs, compared to just five in his 110 games with Arizona. Just three or four additional PPPs can mean a lot for a guy who can provide solid peripheral production from the wing.
It’s easy to see a clear path for Panik getting over 40 points on a new team that can surround him with more offensive talent. Even on a terrible offensive team like Arizona last year, he managed 1.79 points per 60 minutes. About 1000 minutes at five-on-five scoring at that rate gives us ~30 points at 5v5. Add 2-3 points at 4v4 or 3v3 (which is about what he’s averaged the last three years) with 10 points on the power play and now we’re well over 40. And that’s just assuming a decent power play with moderate PP usage and static production at 5v5. Should he get more minutes than that on the PP, or should the power play be much more productive, there’s upside beyond 42-43 points.
Where he ends up is a bigger question. He could just re-sign with Arizona, in which case I’d be a bit nervous if they don’t add significant talent through free agency. Or, because he hasn’t had huge production seasons, he signs for cheap on a contender. Normally, I wouldn’t have much interest in a player like this but his ability to post big hit totals should put him on a lot of radars. The team that signs him in July will have a big impact on his outlook for next season.
I’m expecting a mostly quiet summer from the Wings. They might try to move out some contracts or sign some smaller deals, but barring some unforeseen blockbuster trade, most of the playmakers/producers they had in 2018-19 will be the core of the team’s production again in 2019-20 with a couple younger guys added to the mix. That means Nielsen, who was fourth among the team’s forwards in five-on-four TOI per game last year, should still firmly be on one of the two PP units for next year. With the Wings balancing their power play units, that should mean relatively consistent minutes.
I won’t spend a lot of time on this one because I think Nielsen’s fantasy impact, outside of leagues counting face-offs, isn’t as high as Panik’s. And if a league counts both hits and FOW’s, I’d rather have the winger who hits and gives 40 points than the centre who doesn’t hit and gives 40 points.
The last thing that should be pointed out is that Nielsen’s shot rates absolutely cratered last year. For his career before 2018-19, Nielsen had never shot lower than 10.5 shot attempts per 60 at 5v4 (2011-12) and that was his only season below 13. His first two seasons in Detroit produced shot attempt rates were 16.4 and 18.9; that bottomed-out to 9.7 in 2018-19.
If that’s the future of Nielsen, then there won’t be much of a rebound coming in 2019-20 for PP goals. If he can turn it around, maybe he pops 4 or 5. Regardless, about 40 points is the most we can hope from him and if he doesn’t turn around the shot rate, he’s waiver wire fodder.