Free agent signings have slowed down, but have continued to trickle in over the past week with a few interesting signings. It’s tough to compete with the NBA and what is happening there right now, but we’ll continue to look at a few more bounce-back candidates below. Some of these players are a little risky as they might just be entering the downward trend in their careers, but perhaps they have a few more years in them to put up good numbers again?
Pacioretty averaged around 0.80 pts/g from 2011-2012 to 2016-2017 and potted more than 30 goals five times in that span. In the past two seasons, he has missed 18 and 16 games and topped out at 40 points and 22 goals, which has been a disappointment for most of his fantasy owners (including me). With the move to Vegas, Pacioretty has seen his ice time diminish from his days in Montreal and as a result his shots on goal have decreased.
Pacioretty had been a shot machine averaging over 3.6 shots/g in Montreal for his last seven seasons there, but it fell to 2.89 shots/g in his first season in Vegas. His PDO has been low over the past two seasons, being 968 in his last year in Montreal and 979 in Vegas. His expected goals (Off_xG) is higher than what he has produced the past two seasons, so there should be an increase if he is healthy next season. The addition of Mark Stone for a full season can only help Pacioretty return to a 26-32 goal level and 50-60 points.
Getzlaf is 34 now, and we all need to ask what he has left in the tank. His pts/g of 0.72 was his lowest since 2011-2012 but he still was on pace for a 59-point season. Getzlaf has averaged just over 72 games per season (not including the 44 games he played in 2012-2013), so we can’t assume he will play any more than that next season. I just can’t see Anaheim being a playoff team and/or scoring a lot of goals next season with the roster they currently have. Getzlaf is still very valuable in pools that include hits (although 150 last season seems a little high and should come down) and faceoffs, but he is unlikely to reach 25 goals again. Temper your expectations to 15 goals and 40 assists, but know he could have one more season of 20 goals and 55 assists in him.
Benn had his least productive NHL season since his rookie year in 2009-2010. He’s only missed ten games in the past six seasons, which is an accomplishment in itself, but he dipped to 53 points in 78 games and the signs don’t point to him bouncing all the way back to where he was with close to a point per game. One of my first player profiles with Dobber was on Benn, back in March 2019, and I stated he might have one more bounce-back in him but he is definitely slowing down at 29.
Not much has changed for my outlook on Benn, other than Dallas adding Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry. The hope in Dallas is to improve upon their second-round playoff run this past season and get further. I do think the Dallas power play will improve with Pavelski and Perry, and as a result Benn should get back up over 20-25 PP points. Benn should see 25 goals and 40 assists next season.
Doughty didn’t fall off so much with his eight goals and 37 assists in 82 games, but for leagues like my own, he had a horrendous year in plus/minus with -34. His hits and blocked shots are still high, so he is valuable to leagues that count those. Not much will change roster-wise next season for the Kings since most of their blue-chip prospects are a year or two away from the NHL. They did replace Willie Desjardins with Todd McLellan as coach and this should allow for a little more offense in the Kings’ play. Doughty signed an eight-year deal in July 2018 that goes into effect this season, so it seems clear that LA is determined to build around him. I think Doughty will have a similar season with around 10 goals and 40 assists, but his plus/minus should improve quite a bit.
Hopefully we won’t see this that often next year:
I was a little surprised that the Islanders re-signed Eberle for five years at $5.5 million AAV after his 19 goals and 18 assists in 78 games. He did have a very good postseason with nine points in eight games, so that might have given New York confidence that he could regain his form of the season before when he had 59 points. He is part of the Islanders’ nucleus of four forwards signed through 2023-2024, who will all be over 32 years of age by then.
As for Eberle bouncing back, he is certainly capable of getting back to the 0.70 pts/g that he had averaged for most of his career. With Mathew Barzal hopefully getting back on track, I would think Eberle will return to 22-25 goals and 30-35 assists. He doesn’t play defense well enough to justify his contract if he has another season like the last.
Keller found Year Two in the NHL a little tougher, even though Arizona tried to protect him more with over 66 percent of OZ starts as compared to around 56 in his rookie year. One can’t help but be excited at the prospect of Keller setting up Phil Kessel on the PP and perhaps forming the first line with Derek Stepan or Nick Schmaltz. I think it is very safe to assume that Arizona will score more goals next season and that their leading scorer will have more than the 47 points that Keller posted last season. I would put Keller as at least matching his rookie season of 23 goals and 42 assists, with an outside chance of breaking 75 points.
There are plenty more bounce-back candidates, but I think we will focus on a few selling propositions for the next few weeks. As always, please send any column suggestions to me on Twitter @gampbler15.