Ramblings: Midseason fantasy draft and trade musings (this guy…or that guy?) (Jan 27)

***

The fantasy hockey world mourns with the rest of the world of sports, on the tragic deaths of basketball legend Kobe Bryan and his beautiful daughter Gianna, baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa. This stunned me as I'm sure it did you, and spending much of the day reading tributes and watching clips brought many tears even for a guy who doesn't watch a lot of basketball. Our members are paying tribute to Kobe in our forum here, in case you want to put down some thoughts.

*

The Midseason Guide was released just over two weeks ago. Still relevant for at least another week, thanks to the lighter NHL schedule slowing down the games played since the release. Click on the link to see screen shots of much of what you get. At the very least – take a look. Maybe you’ll see it can help you.

The projections are still in the PDF, but I have also added them to a spreadsheet. There will be a coupon code in the PDF that allows you to get that spreadsheet for free, so don’t buy it. This was the only way I could add a spreadsheet without putting it into your accounts one at a time.

*

And yeah, don’t forget – the bye weeks finish up this week so add/drop/adjust your rosters accordingly.

*

No games over the weekend, other than the All-Star exhibition of which by now you already know all that you were interested in knowing. The most interesting moments to me – Matt Barzal dethroning Connor McDavid as the fastest skater… and a forward setting an all-time professional hardest shot standard instead of the usual defenseman. What’s more is that forward is not an NHL player, but an AHL player. That’s right – on Sunday Martin Frk blasted a 109.2 MPH shot, which topped Zdeno Chara’s record of 108.8. This a new NHL/AHL record.

Whatever his issues over the years – attention to defense, footspeed…whatever. He’s in his prime now, he obviously has a wicked shot, he’s a point-per-game player in the AHL and he has three goals in four NHL games this year. Why not Matt Moulson him? That is to say take this AHLer and stick him with your version of John Tavares and try to force it for 10 games. In the case of LA that’s Anze Kopitar. See what happens. Sometimes it works (Rob Brown, Moulson, PA Parenteau come to mind).

*

I had a midseason draft on the weekend and there were some interesting internal debates raging. In terms of points-only league and looking at not only this year, but long-term as well as trade value. Because in the end, you’re drafting a trade asset. Maybe he won’t do much this year, and perhaps you aren’t overly high on him for the future, but what do the other GM’s think of the guy?

 

Anthony Beauvillier or Yakov Trenin?

This was late in the final (i.e. second) round of the draft and I wasn’t going to draft anyone who would count on my pro team. Points carry over, so Beauvillier’s 29 points join my team but he doesn’t make my Top 12. And I doubt he could go hot enough to ever make it on my pro team, at least not if I expect to win. So this was strictly a trade value and long-term play. Trenin is a lesser-known prospect and I’m certain he wasn’t on anyone’s list at the draft. But I love his trajectory right now. He was middling for two years in the AHL, and then this year something clicks and he explodes for a point-per-game. He gets called up for a game or two to cover off injuries, but plays so well that Nashville can’t send him down. He produced, too: six points in 13 games despite limited ice time on the fourth line. He just turned 23 and he was a high draft pick (55th overall in 2015).

Beauvillier was drafted in the same year as Trenin, but 27 picks higher. He’s been in the NHL for four years, but hasn’t really done much offensively. He started this season just past the 200-games threshold and I had earmarked him as a possible breakout player. He’s definitely stepped it up and will have a career season, but his current pace is just 49 points. However, he does have six in his last five games. He’s also being used a lot defensively (high defensive zone starts, tough quality of competition) and he’s been really good in that role. On one hand, it means that he won’t be used at even strength for as many offensive zone faceoffs. On the other hand, if he ever was used that way then his production is sure to pop.

In the end, I determined what you probably knew right away – Trenin is still too risky (boom or bust), their upsides are too similar, and Trenin is still so much of an unknown that I could probably get him late in the draft this summer. It was one of the easier/faster decisions I made. But since I did look into it, I thought I’d run through my analysis here.

 

Anthony Beauvillier or Frank Vatrano?

The other player I was considering for this pick was a much tougher call. Vatrano has been flying of late with 12 points in his last 10 games and nine in his last five. He also looks to be a better playoff guy. On the other hand, he has a spotty injury history and I think Beauvillier’s upside is a good 10 points higher. He gets all the offensive zone starts that he needs, but doesn’t see as much PP time as Beauvillier. I went with Beauvillier. But I’m having regrets and questioning that call.

 

Patrik Laine or Nicklas Backstrom?

This was in trade discussions in which I was trying to land Patrick Kane (I succeeded). I kept trying to insert Backstrom and he was insistent that it be Laine. So what is Laine? Last year was terrible. This year is great, but only because he’s finally getting the linemates that he’s wanted. And I feel like that’s at the cost of other players (and team success). Laine is getting heavy zone starts, and is losing possession. His puck luck is a little high too. As a high draft pick, he’ll always get this treatment, despite any shortcomings. I think he and Backstrom have very similar upside, but Laine carries some risks in terms of his overall game. Backstrom is reliable. He’s not declining yet. Check out his points-per-game average over the years, beginning 2014-15: 0.93, 0.93, 1.05, 0.88, 0.93, 0.93. In terms of trade value, Laine carries a big stick in fantasy leagues, whereas Backstrom is looked upon as aging (at just 32?). It sucks that I had to lose the better trade asset in Laine, but in terms of real results this is probably not going to hurt me this year or next. This league also has a playoff component, and Backstrom will/should go further into the playoffs than Laine will.

 

Conor Garland or Kevin Labanc?

At one point during discussions I had to decide which player to remove from a counter offer. Who would I rather keep? In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately fantasy mentality, Garland is flying right now and he’s playing with Taylor Hall. Labanc, after years of steady rising in both production and value, has plummeted this season. This is actually not due to puck luck, as his 5on5 S% of 7.6 is not out of whack. I have Labanc’s upside as slightly higher than Garland. Again this came down to the playoff aspect, and how I think Arizona has a better shot of getting in and San Jose does not. I like Labanc a lot and feel that he will come back strong next year. But I also have a hunch about Garland in that he may only be scratching the surface. I decided I would rather keep Garland.

*

I also had a ‘soft’ trade deadline in another league, but the points situation is similar except in this one I’m looking at both tanking and going for it. I could go either way. Whereas in the above league, I was only eyeing a run at first place.

 

Brad Marchand vs. Vladimir Tarasenko + + +

This is obviously Marchand, no question. Marchand is getting more points this season, will get more next year and is a great playoff guy to own. But how big is the gap? If I get a first-round pick and a pair of second rounders will that be enough? Tarasenko is coming off seasons of 66 and 68 points, and he’s a write-off for this year. Is he just a 70-point player now? Well, he’s in his prime now and in his last 48 games played he actually has 55 points. He is also a great playoff guy to own and he’ll be playing in the playoffs this year. That’s what sold it for me – the thinking that he at least has the ability to produce 85 points next season.

 

Does Henrik Borgstrom still have reasonable value?

As a taller player (6-3) my thinking is that he needs an extra year or two to get acclimated to the pro game. His college career was prolific, as was his first pro season (22 points in 24 AHL games and 18 points in 50 NHL games). But this year he has been working more on his defense and is playing with different players. The Panthers are now a much deeper team and can afford to wait on him. I think next season is pivotal for him and if he starts off strong in the AHL (point-per-game) then he will join Florida midseason as a third-line player. By 2024 if all goes well he can be a top-six player with high-60s upside. Those first 30 games in the AHL next season will give the indicators we need to see (ideally he does what Yakov Trenin, above, did this year). He is worth rolling the dice on as a deep bench stash if I’m willing to wait.

 

Where will Alexandre Texier top out at?

Is Texier a worthwhile asset or is Columbus just a team that will hold middling offensive players’ production down? Some teams take a possible 55-point player and turn him into a 70-point guy because they’re a dynamic offensive team and they play him with great linemates. Some teams take a possible 55-point player and turn him into a 45-point guy because they stifle him and most offensive players on their team. The truly great talent, such as Oliver Bjorkstrand on this team, can shake that off. But the second-tier guys, such as Texier, can not. This can change awful quickly if there is a coaching change (unlikely to happen anytime soon) or with new players. Or if Texier happens to click with Bjorkstrand. So far Texier has been playing mostly with either Pierre-Luc Dubois or Cam Atkinson. Great players, but not drivers who can push Texier higher. Where will he top out? This is a question that requires a fluid answer. What I like about Texier is the fact that he is only 20 years old and an NHL regular. And right now his coach likes playing him with his top offensive guys, which means he too is considered a top offensive guy. I don’t expect big production from Texier this season or next, but when he’s 23 or 24 who knows what the situation will be? His upside very much depends on his future with Bjorkstrand (because I think Bjorkstrand will be a star).

*

See you next Monday.