Goldipucks and the Three Skaters: Josi, Klingberg, Bailey
What better way to decompress after all the UFA craziness of the other day than by sitting back and reading another edition of “Goldipucks and the Three Skaters?” For first time readers, or those needing a refresher, this column is a play on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story, except instead of there being three bowls of porridge I’m covering three skaters and declaring one too hot (i.e., doing unsustainably better than he should), another too cold (i.e., doing unsustainably worse), and a third “just right” (i.e., producing where he should be). I also assign each a 1-10 rating, indicating just how hot (rated 7-10, where 10 is the most unsustainably hot), how cold (rated 1-4, where 1 is the most unsustainably cold), or how “just right” (rated 4-7, where 5.5 is the most “just right”) he is.
On tap for this week’s column are Roman Josi, John Klingberg, and Josh Bailey. Stop here and test your fantasy knowhow by trying to guess which one was too hot, which was too cold, and who was “just right” for 2018-19. Once you’ve settled upon your choices, read on to find out if you guessed right.
After dropping from a career high 61 points in 2015-16 to 49 in 2016-17, Josi has seen his point total rise in each of the past two seasons, to 53 in 2017-18 and then to 56 in 2018-19, marking the second highest output of his career. But having just turned 29, can Josi be realistically expected to continue to score at this pace? The answer is no; but rather than that meaning he’s set to see his scoring drop, he should do even better when the dust settles on 2019-20.
For last season arguably the most telling stat for Josi was his man advantage production, or, more appropriately, his unsustainable lack thereof. Josi’s 12 PPPts tied for the 28th most among defensemen last season despite him having received the ninth most PP Time and taking the sixth most PP SOG of all rearguards, with the average PPPts of those who received more PP TOI than him being 24 and the average number of PPPts of the five who had more PP SOG than him being 23. At least some blame for his poor output falls upon the dreadful Predators’ PP, which scored on only 12.9% of its man advantage chances, after being at 19.7%, 18.9% and 21.2% in the previous three seasons. There’s really nowhere to go but up, both in terms of Nashville’s PP proficiency and, with that, Josi’s PP production.
Also, last season there were also only four defensemen who had under 60 points but for whom the number of games in which they scored a point was at least 15 fewer than their point total – Tyson Barrie (59 points, 42 games with at least a point), Kris Letang (56 points; 40 games), Erik Karlsson (45 points; 29 games), and Josi (56 points; 41 games). This type of spread is seen from explosive scorers, as evidenced by the other three scoring at a 0.76 points per game or higher pace for 2018-19, whereas Josi’s pace was 0.68. In fact, the average points-per-game scoring rate for the other three was 0.82; and had Josi scored at that rate, his total would’ve been 67 points, rather than the 56 he actually scored.
Another trend that’s encouraging for Josi is his SOG rate, which has increased in each of the past three seasons, going from 198 in 2015-16 to 274 last season. Since 2010-11, there’ve been six other instances of defensemen who had 274+ SOG in a season, with all but one scoring 66+ points in that same season, and with the average point total among the six being 70 points in that same campaign.
This data reveals Josi is more elite than even his 56 points last season would suggest. If his SOG rate and ice times stay similar, and the Nashville power play rebounds even somewhat, Josi could see a scoring gain of ten or more points next season. The recent trade of P.K. Subban shouldn’t change the analysis above, as little to none of it had to do with Subban’s presence. In all, for 2018-19 Josi was TOO COLD; I’m assigning him a rating of 2.5 to account for what will likely be a 15-20% increase in his production.
After a fourth year that was indeed magical and saw him post 67 points, Klingberg eased off the scoring gas pedal somewhat, finishing with 45 points in 64 games, for a 57-point full season pace. Poolies who invested in Klingberg in hopes of him being a perennial top-five rearguard scorer are naturally eager for him to go back to his higher scoring ways; however, they should instead likely prepare themselves for more of the same in the coming seasons.
Klingberg started 2018-19 strong before getting hurt; however, there was plenty of time for him to reignite, with him failing to do so in tallying 27 points in 39 second half games. Moreover, his SOG rate, which had risen to 2.48 per game in his 67-point campaign, was barely above two per contest in those second half games. While it’s possible Klingberg’s injury was the type where he’d need the offseason to fully recover, 39 games is a lot, so his failure to recapture his higher scoring and shooting ways of the 2017-18 campaign might indicate that 2017-18 was actually the aberration.
Looking at man advantage time and output, Klingberg scored at a slightly higher rate in 2018-19 versus 2017-18 (0.31 PPPts per game versus 0.28 in 2017-18) despite taking the ice for 40 seconds less on the PP per game. Yet despite shedding PP Time, his overall ice time rose by 28 seconds per game and his offensive zone starting percentage was 55.8%, which was a career high and well above his average of 50.1 over his career prior to last season. So although his PP scoring might have been a bit high given his ice time and his output in 2017-18, chances are that was balanced by a lower overall scoring rate in view of his OZ% being a good bit higher than in past seasons.
Klingberg’s 5×5 team shooting percentage was 6.84% last season, after having been above 9.0% twice in his career and averaging 8.72% in his prior seasons. Clearly that was unsustainably low. But Kilingberg lucked into points via secondary assists, as last season he had 23 versus only 12 primary helpers after previously amassing 92 primary assists to only 80 secondaries over his career. Last season also featured two other 32+ point defensemen on the Stars, which is something that hadn’t occurred since Klingberg’s rookie season. The other seasons where the team even had one 30+ point rearguard were 2014-15 and 2015-16, during which Klingberg combined to score a total of 98 points in 141 games, for an 82-game scoring rate of 57 points, or right at where he was for 2018-19.
With an equal number of metrics that showed unsustainable good luck as bad, and Dallas back to having other decent scoring defensemen in the fold for the first time in three seasons, chances are Klingberg’s production rate from 2018-19 will be pretty close to what we should expect from him in 2019-20 and perhaps even beyond. Therefore, Klingberg’s 2018-19 was JUST RIGHT, and he gets assigned a nearly down the middle rating of 5.0, with it being a little lower to account for the possibility that he might have been playing at less than 100% for the remainder of the season after returning from injury.
A former top ten overall pick who made his NHL debut the same season he was drafted, Bailey was looking like a complete bust for a while, with a career high of 41 points through his first eight seasons. Then he was given an extended look with John Tavares and made the most of it, first with 56 points in 2016-17 then 71 in 75 games in 2017-18. Many thought the exodus of Tavares would see Bailey come back to earth, which he did; yet he still posted 56 points to remain fantasy worthy. Is this Bailey’s new normal? Regrettably no, as the data suggests he’s poised to shed even more points.
The biggest factor working against Bailey is his paltry SOG rate. Although never a high-volume shooter, Bailey’s 126 SOG last season was remarkably – and consequentially – low. For one, of the 432 instances of forwards who played 75+ games in a season since 2011-12 and scored 56+ points, there were only seven instances of forwards with fewer SOG than Bailey’s 126 last season, each of whom was a center, rather than a winger like Bailey. In fact, the lowest SOG total for any winger who scored 60+ points in any of these seasons was Ondrej Palat, who fired 139 pucks on net in 75 games (translating to 152 in 82 games) on his way to 63 points in 2014-15. And we all know how downhill it’s been from there for Palat.
While that shows in view of Bailey’s meager SOG rate he’s unlikely to maintain his scoring level let alone see it improve, there’s just as clear-cut evidence that his SOG rate will cause him to actually shed points. That’s because over the past five seasons, there were 411 instances of forwards who played 75+ games and finished with 40-55 points. Even among these lower scorers, 126 SOG is a tiny total, as just five instances of wingers had fewer than 126 SOG while finishing with 40-55 points, with their average point total being 50.
Trying to look past Bailey’s dismal SOG rate for light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t help, as Bailey’s other metrics only serve to reinforce that his 56 points were likely too high to be sustained. For one, his 5×5 team shooting percentage was 9.59%, which was the second highest of his career and only the third time it was above 9.0%. And his IPP was 72.7%, which was also the third highest mark of his career. These show that if anything Bailey’s point total might have been inflated by good luck he’ll have a tough time experiencing again.
Bailey also plays for a coach who believes in spreading around ice time, as the Islanders were one of just four teams (the Wild, Canadiens, and Golden Knights being the others) where no forward received 19:00 per game of TOI nor 3:00 of man advantage time per contest. Rather than that “spread it around” ice time philosophy helping Bailey maintain his 2017-18 TOIs of 17:53 per game overall and 3:00 on the PP, he ended up shedding time in both areas, finishing with 16:50 per game overall, of which 2:27 was man advantage time. Also, Bailey looked to be falling out of favor as the season wore on, averaging 16:00 TOI and 1:11 PP Time in 21 fourth quarter games while somehow managing to take even fewer SOG (1.41 per game, versus 1.51 overall). Not a good note to end on.
Given his SOG shortcomings plus high – for him – luck metrics and lower ice times that were getting even lower as the season was ending, Bailey actually was TOO HOT in 2018-19. With him set to turn 30 in October, I see him finishing 2019-20 in the 45-50-point range so he gets a rating of 8.25.
Mailbag questions needed
I’m always in need of questions about fantasy hockey for me to answer in my monthly mailbag column. There are two ways for you to get your questions to me – (1) email it to [email protected] with “Roos Mailbag” in the subject line, or (2) send me a private message at the DobberHockey Forums with your question (my username is “rizzeedizzee”).
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