In many preseason standings predictions, such as this highly-debated one from USA Today, the Winnipeg Jets have free fallen all the way out of a playoff spot. Two unsigned top-6 forwards, two departing top-4 defensemen and another top-4 d-man contemplating retirement will do that.
Those preseason point projections might start to swing the other way, as the Jets were finally able to take care of business with Patrik Laine on Friday. The Jets finally agreed to a two-year, $13.5 million contract with the goal-scoring winger. A cap hit of $6.75 million per season seems like a reasonable risk for salary cap leaguers.
It’s zero surprise that the contract is a bridge deal, as projections for Laine seem to be all over the map. You might already know that Laine scored 18 of his 30 goals last season in November alone, while he scored just nine in 58 games after that, including one in his last 19 games. Which Laine will fantasy owners receive over the coming season – the one who pushed for 50 goals in 2017-18, or the one that completely dried up on fantasy owners during their league’s playoffs last season? When this contract expires in two years, we’ll have a better idea of what kind of player Laine is, and he’ll be paid accordingly. Then again, maybe we still won’t know then either.
Whether you target Laine may depend on which league format you use. For example, Laine has an ADP of 40 in Yahoo leagues, but an ADP of 103 in ESPN leagues. I don’t think I’d sleep easy picking Laine at his Yahoo ADP, since his floor is too low from what I’d expect at that spot. However, I’d grab Laine at his ESPN ADP and run to the bank. You don’t usually find 40-goal scorers at pick 100. In fact, the still-unsigned Kyle Connor has an ESPN ADP of 94.5 – higher than Laine’s. As gun-shy as owners might be on Laine, only five players have scored more goals than him over the past three seasons.
The focus for the Jets now turns to signing Connor to a contract, while the team hopes that Dustin Byfuglien will decide to give it a go for at least another season. According to Ken Wiebe of The Athletic, Connor is expected to receive a longer-term (six or seven year) deal with an AAV between $7 – $7.25 million.
Meanwhile, the Laine signing might also speed up a Mikko Rantanen contract. Here’s the latest, according to Pierre LeBrun:
Still work to be done on a Rantanen contract. Are the Avs willing to go north of $9M aav on a long term deal? On the flip side, would Rantanen sign long term for under $9 M aav? The $9 M aav figure on a long term deal seems to be the key threshold. Can both sides bridge the gap?
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 27, 2019
For the last of my position groups, I’ve decided to group wingers together. Not only because we don’t have much time left before the season starts, but also because I’d like to focus on player values and not on whether a certain player should be listed as a LW or a RW.
Remember, these are groups based not only on similar value but also on common characteristics, so there may be some overlap. Generally speaking, though, you can draft players from one group ahead of players in the group below.
Here are the rest of my groups from previous Ramblings, in case you missed them.
Group 1: Mother Russia
Nikita Kucherov, Alex Ovechkin – Pretty straightforward. These are the only wingers who are in the discussion for the first overall pick in fantasy leagues. You can’t go wrong with picking Kuch first overall in any format, especially points-only leagues. The decision to pick Ovie first overall should be restricted to multicategory leagues, particularly bangers leagues. To give you an idea, I’m currently participating in a draft over at The National Fantasy Hockey Championship (more on that in a future Ramblings), where Ovechkin was chosen first overall. I was granted the second overall pick and wasted little time in choosing Kucherov.
Group 2: Legit LW1/RW1 Options
Patrick Kane, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Leon Draisaitl, Mitch Marner, Artemi Panarin, Johnny Gaudreau, Mikko Rantanen – These are mainly players in the prime of their career, with the possible exception of Kane and Marchand, who are now both over 30. Unless injuries get in the way, these wingers should range between 85-100 points. You will likely need a top-25 pick for any of these players, as each will likely be the first winger picked on many fantasy teams.
Group 3: Legit, with a Twist
Blake Wheeler, Gabriel Landeskog, Taylor Hall, Patrik Laine, Jamie Benn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Claude Giroux, Jonathan Huberdeau, Matthew Tkachuk – This is a very mixed bag. Some have improved value in bangers leagues (Landeskog, Benn, Tkachuk), while Hall is an injury risk, and Laine is as low floor/high ceiling as you’ll find (as we just mentioned). You’ll likely need a pick between 25 and 50 for most of these players.
Group 4a: The Up-and-Comers
Filip Forsberg, Jake Guentzel, Alex DeBrincat, Viktor Arvidsson, Timo Meier, Elias Lindholm, Tomas Hertl, Jonathan Marchessault, Teuvo Teravainen, Brock Boeser, Mark Stone, Kyle Connor – These are mainly players with five or fewer full NHL seasons. As a result, most will be 25 and under, while many will not have reached their career high yet. Most of these players will be drafted between picks 50-100. In a pure non-keeper format, these players will be similarly valued to Group 4b below, but if there’s a keeper element, then these players will clearly be a cut above Group 4b.
Group 4b: Established Options
Evander Kane, Mike Hoffman, Jeff Skinner, Alexander Radulov, Jakub Voracek, Joe Pavelski, Phil Kessel, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Cam Atkinson – These players have been in the NHL for at least five seasons. Many are over 30, while the ones that aren’t (Nugent-Hopkins, Skinner, Kane) have been in the league so long it might seem like they are now 30. Some of these players’ ADPs have fallen in value over last season’s (Pavelski, Kessel, Pacioretty), while others have maintained value (Hoffman, Voracek). The majority have probably reached their peak unless there is further scoring inflation. Many of these players will be drafted between picks 50-100, although there will be more of these options available after pick 100 than in the similarly valued Group 4a.
Group 5: Sneaky Value Picks
Brady Tkachuk, Andrei Svechnikov, Evgenii Dadonov, Nikita Gusev, Max Domi, Anders Lee, Rickard Rakell, William Nylander, Kaapo Kakko, Brendan Gallagher, Clayton Keller, Anthony Mantha, Kevin Labanc, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Kyle Palmieri, Tom Wilson (in bangers leagues) – These players are mainly a tier below the others, but they have the potential to provide as good or better value than Groups 4a or 4b. There are some young sleepers (Svechnikov, Mantha, Labanc, Gusev) here, but some other players who may not be getting the respect they deserve in drafts (Lee, Niederreiter) or had down years last year (Rakell, Granlund, Nylander).
Any questions about wingers? Leave them in the comments below, and I’ll try to get to them in tomorrow’s Ramblings like I did last week.
In case you missed this on Twitter (which you might have, because I was responding to Eric Daoust), here is a team that I drafted in an Experts League on Thursday night.
Here's mine. The autodraft fairy granted me Reaves, Pearson, and Lowry as two of my final three picks. Though Reaves and Lowry provide lots of hits. pic.twitter.com/E2PtyE8D7C
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) September 27, 2019
12 teams, roto
4 C, 4 LW, 4 RW, 6 D, 2 G, 5 BN, 2 IR
G, A, +/-, PPP, SOG, HIT, BLK, W, GAA, SV%
Before you provide the deserved criticism, I’ll let you know which criticism is undeserved. The first four picks (Brad Marchand, Gabriel Landeskog, Mark Giordano, Tuukka Rask) were keepers, which weren’t entered in any particular order. After that, I live drafted my players all the way up to and including Drew Doughty in round 10. The rest were autopicks, since I had a previous commitment to attend to (several other owners admitted to autopicking part or all of the draft as well). To prepare, I preranked about 150 players, which didn’t include the keepers listed in advance. The only players I don’t remember preranking were the last three (Ryan Reaves, Tanner Pearson, Adam Lowry).
In case you have your doubts about autopick, I preranked and autopicked the entire draft last season and finished tied for first. Huge credit to the Fantasy Hockey Geek for assisting with the prerankings. One tip: If you have to autopick, find a way to push those goalies up so that you’re not left out in the cold!
Here are the overall league draft results, which should be open for all to view.
For more discussion on my team and Eric’s team, see Eric’s original Twitter thread.
Had enough of preseason games yet? Apparently so has Ryan Johansen.
For the second straight year Ryan Johansen scores a preseason OT winner in Carolina and immediately leaves the ice pic.twitter.com/t0KMD8ogWR
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) September 28, 2019
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.