Geek of the Week: Wake Me Up Before You Gaudreau

Ben Burnett

2019-12-08


One of the toughest holds for fantasy hockey players this season must be Johnny Gaudreau. The diminutive forward has always been a somewhat tougher own in bangers leagues, as he routinely finishes seasons with hits and blocks totals in the teens, and mediocre penalty minutes.

This year though, he’s been a tough hold even in points-only leagues, where his full-season pace has fallen nearly 40 percent from 99 in 2018-19 to 60 through this year’s first 30 games. Across the board, if early trends hold Gaudreau looks like he’s going to put up lower totals than last year in every category except power-play points, where he’s currently pacing for a decent 27 points.

As the Flames move on from Bill Peters, Gaudreau’s situation is obviously in flux. But do we have reasons to expect a bounce back under new interim coach Geoff Ward? Thus far, Ward has coached only three games, and for his first game he mostly mirrored his predecessor’s line combos, he’s tried out a few new looks in his second and third games at the helm.

New Look Lines

The Gaudreau / Sean Monahan / Elias Lindholm trifecta that we’d come to rely on in Calgary was finally split over the past week. While Lindholm centered Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane, Monahan joined Mikael Backlund and Dillon Dube. Gaudreau was relegated to a line with Milan Lucic and Derek Ryan.

That changed over the course of Thursday and Saturday night’s games as Ward experimented. Despite starting on line three in each game, Gaudreau has played most of his minutes with Backlund and Monahan. Though the Flames found lots of success with their top six set-up from last year, I’m intrigued by these mix and match possibilities. There’s no reason