Eastern Edge: Top players of 2019

Brennan Des

2019-12-31

 

In this week’s Eastern Edge – the final one of the calendar year – we take a look at the best players of 2019. Here’s wishing you nothing but success in your fantasy hockey leagues for 2020! Shoot me a message on Twitter @BrennanDeSouza if there’s anything you want to see in these articles during the new year.

 

Forwards

Rank

Player

Team

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

TOI

1

Connor McDavid

EDM

81

42

79

121

42

22:35

2

Brad Marchand

BOS

81

43

74

117

34

19:36

3

Leon Draisaitl

EDM

84

51

66

117

39

23:00

4

Patrick Kane

CHI

81

42

65

107

30

22:12

5

Nikita Kucherov

TBL

78

35

68

103

42

19:50

6

Aleksander Barkov

FLA

82

33

69

102

31

20:54

7

Jonathan Huberdeau

FLA

82

36

65

101

34

18:56

8

Nathan MacKinnon

COL

81

39

57

96

37

21:36

9

Artemi Panarin

NYR

80

37

58

95

26

20:06

10

David Pastrnak

BOS

67

44

47

91

34

18:49

11

Steven Stamkos

TBL

76

37

53

90

38

18:39

12

Teuvo Teravainen

CAR

83

20

65

85

31

18:42

13

Jake Guentzel

PIT

82

44

41

85

18

20:18

14

Jack Eichel

BUF

76

37

48

85

29

21:31

15

Auston Matthews

TOR

83

44

40

84

22

19:23

16

Patrice Bergeron

BOS

73

37

46

83

27

18:40

17

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

83

46

36

82

27

20:45

18

Sebastian Aho

CAR

83

37

42

79

23

20:04

19

Sean Couturier

PHI

83

29

49

78

19

21:08

20

Tyler Seguin

DAL

82

33

45

78

24

19:53

 

In the average Yahoo Fantasy League, Jonathan Huberdeau was the 65th player off the board. 64 players were supposedly more valuable than Huberdeau, who has put up 101 points over 82 games during the calendar year. In all fairness, last season was the first in which the 26-year-old forward really exploded offensively, so I understand if his previous status as a 60- to 70-point player made you a little apprehensive. Over the past few months, Aleksander Barkov was often mentioned as the league’s most underrated player. People have started to recognize Barkov and his excellent two-way play a bit more, but I think Huberdeau’s great offensive abilities are still flying under the radar. I mean, take a look at the table above. He has more points than MacKinnon in 2019! More than Stamkos, Eichel, Matthews and Ovechkin – even though he’ll never be regarded as highly as those guys. Huberdeau has been on fire recently, with 16 points in his last six games. I know I’ve been pumping his tires a lot, but you’re here for fantasy hockey advice – so let’s think logically for a second. Huberdeau is on pace to finish this season with 114 points, but he’ll be hard-pressed to maintain his lofty shooting percentages. I personally think he’ll end up with around 100 points, but if someone in your league is enamored with Huberdeau given his recent run of success, I say you sell high.

Speaking of underrated players, how about Teuvo Teravainen? In 2019, only 11 players amassed more points than the 25-year-old forward. He tallied 76 points in 82 games last season but that didn’t seem to raise his fantasy hockey stock enough as he was drafted 95th overall in the average Yahoo league. He’s had a strong start to the 2019-2020 campaign with 38 points in 39 games and most of the advanced stats suggest he’ll continue to thrive as the season progresses. He’s currently scoring on 6.4-percent of his shots, which is a lower rate than we’ve come to expect from him. Teravainen’s ice time has increased significantly from last season (17:55 to 19:23) and he’s also shooting the puck more than he ever has before (2.79 shots/game). He’s averaging 30 seconds more on the power-play and the Hurricanes have been more successful with the man advantage this year (23.4-percent) than last year (17.8-percent).

Jake Guentzel has been consistently excellent this year for a Pittsburgh team that has been absolutely decimated by injuries. In  a cruel twist of fate, Guentzel suffered a shoulder injury during Monday’s game against the Senators and will need four to six months to recover from surgery.

After back-to-back 76-point seasons, Sean Couturier has had a slow start to the season and is on pace for a modest 63 points. I expect he’ll close out this campaign with less points than last year. His ice time has decreased considerably since last season (from 22:08 to 19:49), presumably because Kevin Hayes – who was acquired in the offseason – is eating into some of his minutes. He’s also seeing less than half of the team’s total power-play time (47.8-percent), despite seeing 61-percent of it during the last two seasons.

 

Defensemen

Rank

Player

Team

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

TOI

1

John Carlson

WSH

83

20

62

82

31

24:52

2

Brent Burns

SJ

81

16

53

69

22

25:35

3

Victor Hedman

TBL

72

17

50

67

30

22:53

4

Roman Josi

NSH

80

22

44

66

17

25:08

5

Dougie Hamilton

CAR

83

28

37

65

16

21:18

6

Alex Pietrangelo

STL

85

19

42

61

26

23:58

7

Keith Yandle

FLA

82

7

53

60

32

21:26

8

Torey Krug

BOS

69

7

49

56

30

20:26

9

Mark Giordano

CGY

81

15

41

56

13

24:05

10

Erik Gustafsson

CHI

80

14

41

55

20

22:07

 

I feel like Torey Krug doesn’t get enough credit for his impressive point production because injuries have prevented him from establishing higher point totals. When he’s in the lineup he gets the lion’s share of power-play time, which means exposure to the Perfection line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Coach Bruce Cassidy has given Krug every opportunity to put up points as the 28-year-old blueliner has an offensive zone start percentage of 73.1 – which is really high for a defenseman.

 

Goalies

Rank

Goalie

Team

GP

W

SV%

GAA

1

Jordan Binnington

STL

59

43

.925

2.10

2

Andrei Vasilevskiy

TBL

60

40

.918

2.54

3

Darcy Kuemper

ARI

62

37

.931

2.10

4

Carey Price

MTL

68

36

.915

2.59

5

Frederik Andersen

TOR

61

35

.913

2.88

6

Connor Hellebuyck

WPG

65

34

.919

2.74

7

Braden Holtby

WSH

60

34

.907

2.87

8

Sergei Bobrovsky

FLA

63

34

.907

2.83

9

Tuukka Rask

BOS

51

33

.918

2.33

10

Martin Jones

SJ

62

33

.893

3.09

11

Petr Mrazek

CAR

49

32

.911

2.50

12

Matt Murray

PIT

57

31

.914

2.68

13

David Rittich

CGY

53

31

.909

2.77

14

Marc-Andre Fleury

VGK

52

28

.914

2.60

15

Pekka Rinne

NSH

50

28

.906

2.78

16

Ben Bishop

DAL

48

27

.934

2.02

17

Robin Lehner

CHI

50

27

.928

2.42

18

Carter Hart

PHI

52

27

.916

2.64

19

Mikko Koskinen

EDM

60

27

.906

2.97

20

Jacob Markstrom

VAN

58

25

.917

2.69

 

2019 hasn’t been a particularly special year for goalies in the Eastern Conference. Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the way with 40 wins, but his .918 save percentage and 2.54 GAA pale in comparison to Western Conference netminders like Jordan Binnington, Darcy Kuemper and Ben Bishop. Most of the East’s big-name goaltenders have struggled in the first half of the 2019-2020 campaign. Sergei Bobrovsky has a 3.26 GAA and .898 save percentage in 30 appearances, Carey Price has a 3.03 GAA and .901 save percentage in 32 appearances and Vasilevskiy has a 2.85 GAA and .908 save percentage in 27 appearances. To give you a little bit of perspective, 38-year-old Craig Anderson who plays for an Ottawa team that isn’t considered to be very good, has a 2.94 GAA and .907 save percentage in 18 appearances. In short, goalies are voodoo. Using a high draft pick on a goalie will often lead to disappointment in fantasy hockey. With that being said, Bobrovsky, Price and Vasilevksiy should bounce back in the second half of the campaign. So, you’d be wise to make an offer now in an attempt to buy low.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the strong play of goalie tandems from the Bruins and Islanders. Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak, Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss all have solid numbers this season, but won’t put up as many wins because they don’t play as frequently as a typical starting goalie would. Maybe it’s more effective to have two capable guys share the workload instead of one elite goaltender?

The sample size isn’t huge, but Tristan Jarry has been the best goalie in the Eastern Conference this year. He’s won 13 of the 18 games he’s appeared in, while posting a .938 save percentage and 1.88 GAA.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency PHI Players
22.2% SEAN COUTURIER CLAUDE GIROUX JAKUB VORACEK
15.3% NICOLAS AUBE-KUBEL MICHAEL RAFFL NATE THOMPSON
14.8% DEREK GRANT SCOTT LAUGHTON TYLER PITLICK

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