Welcome to Bubble Week. This week all of your weekly Dobber columns will feature Bubble Players. We are reviewing players who might not be kept in shallower keeper leagues that you may be thinking about drafting, or players who you might be considering keeping in your deeper keeper leagues. Now obviously the players you need to draft/keep will depend on the various configuration of your league settings, but staying in theme with our Wild West Summer Series we will be using the same categories of goals, assists, power-play points, shots, hits and blocks.
Also if you need to play some catch up on some of the team reviews that have been happening so far this summer check out the past articles for the Wild West Series. Also make sure to grab your copy of the Dobber Guide.
Now on to the players.
Craig Smith – Nashville
Smith seems to embody the definition of a bubble player. In a 12 team, and even in a 14 team league he continually seems to ride the edge of being rosterable. After a 38 point season though he seems to be firmly in the free agent camp.
If we take a quick look at his season we see a couple of troubling signs. Even though his average power-play time was the highest of his career (2:31), he saw a significant decrease in power-play time over the course of the season – from over three minutes in quarter one, to just over a minute by quarter four. The result was a six point drop in power-play points from 2017-18 (his most productive season), which is about half of the overall points he missed between the two seasons.
We also see stagnant and potentially dropping total time on ice. That correlates with a small drop in shot totals, which with a slight dip in total shooting percentage accounts for another couple of goals missed in 2018-19.
Outside of those factors his numbers look repeatable (which is not a ton of comfort given he only managed 38 points). His shooting percentage, while it dropped a tiny bit is still well within his normal range, as is his team shooting percentage, and his IPP. His expected goal numbers (Natural Stat Trick) were also right in line with his three year average.
This one seems pretty cut a dry then, his 38 point season appears very repeatable, which is not fantasy relevant for most teams. Before making any decisions though, I would consider a couple of additional points.
Nashville has made a couple of trades that have drastically changed the landscape of the Predators’ second line. These changes certainly provide the potential for positive change for Smith. Let’s start with the big signing this summer of