A week into the season and we have some surprises – both positive and negative – as well as some early season line changes and injury news. With all of this, it is easy to overreact, and hamstring your chances of bouncing back from a bad start. Like with driving on ice, sometimes you have to steer into the skid to be able to actually get some traction and get back on the right path.
Travis Konecny (PHI) – Cap hit $5,500,000
It may not be evident due to the lower games played total, but Travis Konecny putting up two goals in the season opener is a good sign for his season to come. Last season saw a solid 49 points, with a consistent 10+ per quarter. This was done with an average of just over 15 minutes per game, while in Konecny’s first game this year was almost 17 minutes of ice time. He’s on pace for 250 points, but we’ll assume he at least surpasses 20% of that, to set a career high in points (over 50).
Mika Zibanejad (NYR) – $5,350,000
We all knew that Zibanejad couldn’t keep up his four-point-per-game pace from his first two games, however it shows the ability that him and the Rangers have to put the puck in the net this season. This team will have their fair share of minuses, however, Zibanejad is set to post a career high for points, and shouldn’t be sold high, especially considering his amazingly team friendly contract. By extension of playing with Zibanejad, and newcomer Artemi Panarin, players such as Jacob Trouba and Pavel Buchnevich also move from question mark territory, towards providing fair value for their contracts.
Anthony Mantha (DET) – $3,300,000
If you didn’t get in during the offseason, this one’s on you for not keeping up with DobberHockey over the summer. We’ve spilled enough ink on him over the last few months. He’s for real.
Erik Haula (CAR) – $2,750,000
With the deployment Haula is seeing, and currently producing at an excellent race with, we can expect him to be able to match his breakout season of 55 points in 2017-2018. Early on, Haula is seeing even better deployment than he was two years ago, and his linemates are a step up from James Neal and David Perron. Keep an eye on the linemates and the powerplay time, as without those, expectations for Haula’s production will dip drastically.
*The trio of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron was going to be listed here, and then they went out and had a monster night against Vegas. Market correction will come, and for some it will be very soon.
Elias Pettersson (VAN) – $925,000
The young phenom out West started last season off with a bang, but this year hasn’t managed a point through three games (written before Wednesday night’s game against LA). He will end up close to a point per game by the end of the year. The points will come, and when they do they will be in bunches.
Connor Hellebuyck (WPG) – $6,166,666
The entire Jets team just doesn’t look the same as the dominant force that ran through the regular season last year, but the largest fallout has been the decline of Hellebuyck’s stats thus far. With a defence core that is a big step down from previous seasons, the question becomes whether Hellebuyck can put up solid stats on his own, or if he was just a product of a solid team. Considering that Laurent Brossoit also put up some excellent numbers last year, the team definitely made a difference on the numbers. We likely won’t see the same win totals out of Monitoba this season, and the percentage stats will suffer as well.
With Brossoit getting two straight starts, and then Hellebuyck bouncing back against Pittsburgh, we could be looking at more of a timeshare this season than initially expected. In leagues where volume is the focus, he can safely be knocked down a tier or two.
The San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning
Both teams were missing a key player for the first few games of the season (Evander Kane/Brayden Point), but along with their return, comes some offensive stability, to two teams that just haven’t been able to score more goals than their opponents. The big guns will always be the big guns with these teams, so don’t look at the point totals right now and get nervous. What we can take a look at however, is powerplay time; if a player wasn’t getting top minutes with Kane/Point out, they sure won’t be on the top unit with a full squad. All three of Joe Thornton, Ondrej Palat, and Yanni Gourde appear to be on the second powerplay unit at best. All three could be good owns in points leagues, but their value will take a big hit without the powerplay production of previous seasons. Thornton stands to be the least impacted, however the departure of Joe Pavelski means the forward group is a little shallower, and Big Joe won’t have as much help as he has in previous years.
Other Injury and Lineup News:
-Reports are that Evgeni Malkin will be out for about a month (though my uneducated guess is that it will be more like six weeks). Status quo with him, but an early injury brings down his value. If you are going to try to buy now, your league has to have a good IR system in place.
–Josh Morrissey has been hurt for a couple of games, and as the number one blue-liner for the Jets, this is the lowest his value will be all season. Buy now if you can.
–James Neal putting up four goals in a game is going to be quite the aberration by the end of the season. He should cruise to 20 goals, but 30 is unlikely. At his price, he’s past his best-before date.
–Patrick Marleau signed with San Jose for the league minimum of $700K on Tuesday. He can provide some depth scoring for you in deeper leagues.
If you have questions, comments, or article requests, you can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.
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