The NHL’s skills competition took place on Friday, with some interesting and unique twists from previous seasons. Here are the winners from each event:

Fastest Skater: Mathew Barzal, 13.175 seconds

Save Streak: Jordan Binnington, 10 save-streak

Accuracy Shooting: Jaccob Slavin, 9.505 seconds

Elite Women’s 3-on-3: Canada

Hardest Shot: Shea Weber, 106.5 mph

Shooting Stars: Patrick Kane, 22 points, 2 points in OT

One key to making this event interesting is to try at least one new event, so I was interested in the Women’s 3-on-3 and the Shooting Stars. Below is the full game of Canada’s 2-1 win over the U.S., followed by the Shooting Stars competition.
 


 


 

Kevin Bieksa shooting the breeze with Elias Pettersson is far and above your typical boring, cliché-filled hockey interview.  
 


*

Let’s answer your questions from yesterday’s Ramblings. These were all great questions, and I appreciate your submissions. If you missed out, I have some room for tomorrow, so post below in the comments and I’ll try to get to it.

*

How about analysis on when/how long until Rasmus Dahlin, Filip Hronek, and Quinn Hughes will become elite for a next topic?

Before I answer this one, frequent commenter Striker responded:

I think Hughes may already be so. Elite that is. 34 points in 48 games currently sits 11th among d-men and is a power play quarterback stud with 18 PPP. It's only going to get better.

Dahlin is close, another year or two, it would help if Rasmus Ristolainen were traded as he bites into Dahlin 's deployment. Hronek is well ahead of the curve for his age and NHL experience but it will take Detroit getting better, significantly so for Hronek's offensive numbers to improve significantly as he is already logging huge icetime.

All three of these d-men are part of the 20% under my 80/20 rule. None of them are following a standard development curve for d-men, they are beating the model both in years and games played by a huge margin.

I can’t really argue with that analysis. Something else I’ll mention with Dahlin and Hughes in particular is that a major Twitter debate emerged earlier this week on whether Hughes has surpassed Dahlin as the top player from the 2018 draft. The debate originated from an article by Harman Dayal of The Athletic in which he concludes that Hughes is the best player from the 2018 NHL Draft.
 


If you don’t have an Athletic subscription, Dayal looks at not only the offensive numbers, but also defensive analytics with clips of game action. Dayal concludes that Dahlin is more likely to have the more successful career, but so far Hughes has had the edge.

From a fantasy perspective, using the Compare-a-Player on Frozen Tools, Hughes has the edge over Dahlin both in terms of basic stats and extended stats.
 


In terms of being elite, I think both could easily be there by next season, which would be Hughes’ second season and Dahlin’s third season. As Striker said, the Red Wings will need to improve significantly offensively before Hronek reaches that status, and even then, he won’t hold the same upside as either Hughes or Dahlin.

*

You think Roope Hintz is worth holding on to in a keeper, or was his hot start just a flash in the pan?

Whether you hold onto Hintz ultimately depends on how many players you’re allowed to keep, who those other keepers are, and your league settings. For example, if you’re in a keep 4 format in a 12-team league (like I am), you should pass. If you’re in a much deeper league with unlimited keepers, then I would consider it.

What happens with him the rest of the season might factor into your decision. A fast start (nine goals in his first 15 games) didn’t appear sustainable. Even after slowing down (six goals and 14 points in 26 games), his shooting percentages (8.5% 5-on-5 and 19.0% overall) are still fairly high. Based on that, don’t expect another explosion similar to what happened in October. So to the statement on whether his hot start was just a flash in the pan, it probably was, although there’s still some room for the second-year forward to grow on his current 44-point pace (calculated based on games missed and assuming he plays every remaining game).  

*

I've had John Gibson as my third goalie behind Elvis Merzlikins and Jacob Markstrom, but now with Darcy Kuemper off IR I'm going to have make room. Is it crazy to just drop Gibson? His team stinks and while his peripherals are solid, I just can't see keeping him. For this season he's the fourth best goalie out of this bunch.

This is not a crazy question at all. In fact, I own Gibson in two leagues, and I’ll admit that the thought has creeped into my head as well. Gibson is strong from an analytics point of view, as he is one of seven goalies who has saved 0.2 goals above expected per game or more over the past three seasons. However, the Ducks mired at the bottom of the Pacific with their two California rivals, and there isn’t much to suggest they will turn it around. In fact, they may find themselves to be sellers at the deadline. Wins will continue to be difficult to come by, and Gibson is already struggling in that category (tied for 24th with 14 wins).

Analytics can help fantasy owners discover trends and hidden information to improve decision making. However, there’s a point where you would need to separate the analytics that prove how skilled a goalie Gibson is with what your fantasy team needs are. We’re learning more and more about how much a team’s success or failure plays a significant role in that of a goalie. In other words, the Ducks’ lack of success is setting Gibson up for failure on your fantasy team.

As for your individual decision, I’d wait until I see Kuemper in game action or at least some sort of confirmation of that before cutting Gibson loose. I would first consider putting Gibson on your trade block or sending trade offers in case another owner still overvalues him. Once Kuemper returns, I don’t think I would start Gibson over any of your other three options when you have to choose.

*

Players to target and acquire for playoff weeks? I know that's more for Adam and the Looking Ahead series but trade talks in fantasy leagues I imagine are heating up (at least in my league).

This is where I’m going to plug the Midseason Guide, since there’s a handy article in there that breaks down the schedule over both the last two weeks (March 23 – April 5) and the last three weeks (March 16 – April 5). You can also pull reports from Frozen Pool (select Research, then Schedule Planner, then a Custom Date Range). I’m an instructor by trade, so I’m teaching you how to fish (or in this case showing you how to use the tools) instead of giving you a fish (or in this case, a name or two).

Spoiler alert if you didn’t purchase the Midseason Guide and don’t feel like pulling the reports: There’s no one team that stands out above the rest over either of the aforementioned two-week or three-week periods. Two seasons ago, the Panthers stood out as that team, as a game rescheduled for the end of the season meant that they played two more games than every other team except for one over the final three weeks of the season.

Over the final two weeks, all teams either play seven or six games. Over the final three weeks, all teams either play 11, 10, or nine games. That’s not going to lead to any significant advantages, but it might factor into who you decide to target for streamable options. However, don’t look purely at games played. After all, having Leon Draisaitl for two games could easily turn out better than having Josh Bailey for four games (to use an example from the final week).

Speaking of which, I’ll mention this: Over the final week (March 30 – April 5), the Stars, Islanders, Rangers, and Capitals all play four games. The Oilers play two games. Everyone else plays three games.

Also keep in mind: If the fantasy playoffs are a slam dunk at this point, then by all means fortify your roster for the playoffs. Yet if you’re still battling for a playoff spot, or playoff seeding matters (maybe even a bye in the first round), then your focus should turn to the coming week. Once you get to the playoffs, then anything can happen. And speaking from experience, I mean anything. As Mike Tyson once said, “everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth.”

*

Talk to you tomorrow. For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.