Ramblings: Hawks/Pens Trade, Buyouts, Pettersson and Vasilevskiy’s Value
In this deal, the Penguins clear over $3 million in cap space in trading the $4.083 million cap hit of Maatta. This gives the Penguins some breathing room with their cap situation, which probably lessens the likelihood that Phil Kessel is traded. There are still RFA contracts to take care of for Teddy Blueger, Zach Aston-Reese, and Marcus Pettersson, but otherwise the Penguins seem set to try for another run next season. Don’t expect them to be a team that will attempt the “St. Louis model” of building with size and grit, but instead sticking to what has made them successful in the past.
The Pens probably would have rather traded Jack Johnson or Erik Gudbranson. However, Maatta likely had more value on the trade market. Using Maatta, the Pens were able to acquire a true under-the-radar forward in Kahun, who should help bolster their top 9. To put it another way from my Fantasy Take, I think Kahun might be another Bryan Rust in that he would pop up on your screen as a hot waiver-wire option at various points during the season.
The first buyout window opened on Saturday, with two struggling defensemen looking at a contract buyout.
The Kings have bought out the final two years of Dion Phaneuf’s contract. Phaneuf had been earning $7 million per season, with two more years left on his contract. Phaneuf experienced his worst season last season, scoring just six points with a minus-21 and several healthy scratches. Phaneuf could easily land somewhere else at a much cheaper salary, where his leadership and toughness could benefit a team while he serves a role as a depth defenseman. He should no longer be on your fantasy radar, though.
Andrew MacDonald was placed on waivers for the purposes of buying out his contract. MacDonald had nine points in 47 games last season. His contract had one year remaining with a cap hit of $5 million, and he likely became expendable with the Flyers’ recent acquisition of Matt Niskanen yesterday.
I have a feeling the Flyers might not be done, as Shayne Gostisbehere has been mentioned in trade rumors recently. However, MacDonald’s departure could also free up a spot for Philippe Myers to slot in full-time next season. Myers scored 33 points (9g-24a) in 53 games last season in the AHL. He is yet another young Flyers’ defenseman with considerable scoring upside.
The Jets have signed forward Joona Luoto to a three-year, two-way contract. Luoto is a former teammate of Patrik Laine, so this could be a move aimed at keeping Laine happy.
The Top 100 Roto Rankings were released on Saturday. I’ve taken them over and will be releasing them on the 15th of every month. Take a look and provide me with your thoughts and feedback. Remember that these rankings are for multicategory single-season leagues. In other words, keeper value is not taken into account. Only the season directly in front of you.
Since the previous roto rankings were posted, I’ve added goalies to the top 100. It was a difficult decision as to where to place goalies, and I was continually second-guessing myself on whether I had ranked the goalies high enough. As much as we can claim that scoring is up and goalies are largely inconsistent, there will be that predictable goalie run sometime in the first few rounds of a fantasy draft.
There was one goalie that stood out to me as being at the top of the pile, however. His ranking might be more of a reflection on the number of regular-season games that his team has won over the last two seasons. Regardless, wins are a fantasy category in many leagues, even if they aren’t accurate as far as judging true goaltending ability.
Over the last two seasons, Andrei Vasilevskiy has 83 wins, which is five more than the next-highest goalie (Connor Hellebuyck). Over that same span, Vasilevskiy’s save percentage is barely within the top 10, while his goals-against average is just outside the top 10. So what explains why he is ranked so highly?
There has been significant turnover on who the top goalies were in 2018-19 as opposed to who they were the season before. Of the five goalies that had a higher save percentage than Vasilevskiy in 2018-19, two played five or fewer games in 2017-18 (Jordan Binnington, Jack Campbell), and none of the other three (Ben Bishop, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss) had a save percentage higher than .916 (Vasilevskiy’s was .920 that season).
Vasilevskiy could be subject to the goalie volatility that others have experienced, of course. However, I have no reason to believe that the Lightning won’t be able to rack up wins during the regular season again. (The playoffs, of course, are a different story, and that only matters if your league extends into the playoffs – none of mine do.)
This goalie turnover makes it much more difficult to rank goalies than it ever has been. Who are the league’s top goalies? Chances are you’ll get a different answer each time you ask someone. Of course, if there’s a goalie who you believe deserves this top spot more than Vasilevskiy, then let me know who it is and why.
One particular skater that I wrestled with ranking was Elias Pettersson. I’ll admit that ranking him at 58 seems a bit low given the talent he demonstrated during his rookie season. In addition, it isn’t fair to rank him based on the fact that he finished outside of the top 50 in scoring even though he missed 11 games due to injury. He also seems primed to improve on his 66 points in 71 games in 2018-19, provided you don’t believe in the dreaded sophomore slump.
Let’s break it down to points-per-game, though. Of players that played at least 40 games last season, Pettersson finished 49th in productivity with 0.93 points per game. If that Pts/GP ranking seems low, keep in mind that 32 players finished the season with at least one point per game, up considerably from previous seasons. I also had eight goalies ranked ahead of him, so if you rank all those players plus those goalies ahead of him, then that might be a reflection of his current value.
Because these rankings are multicategory, here are some other points to consider on Pettersson: His shot total during his rookie season (144) was around 200th in the league, which would further decrease his value. That number has the potential to increase, although it already suggests that he won’t carry your team in that category. The playmaker in Pettersson will often think pass first as opposed to firing the puck at every opportunity. In addition, his hits total (42) was not particularly high, either. I don't expect the slight Pettersson to improve considerably in that category.
Pettersson has the upside to climb considerably in scoring, so I’m not ranking him assuming that he will stay there. I might consider moving him up, but to me he’s not top-25 in single-season formats – at least not yet. Someone may reach for him in that spot in single-season drafts, but I’m more of a “I’ll believe it when I see it” type. Nothing against Pettersson at all – remember that if you’ve been reading my work for a while, you’ll know that I’m a Canucks’ fan. I’m hoping like crazy that he takes another step ahead in 2019-20.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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