Ramblings: Primary Assists Per Goal Leaders Voracek, Backstrom, Bailey (Mar 28)

Ian Gooding

2020-03-28

Hello, I hope you're doing well and laying low at this time. A special shout out to all the health-care workers working the frontlines of this pandemic, plus anyone else who is working extra hard during this time.

The Anaheim Ducks have signed 2019 first-round pick Trevor Zegras to a three-year, entry-level contract. Now that he has left college, Zegras is a strong bet to be on the Ducks' roster next season (or even if the regular season somehow resumes). For more on Zegras, see his Dobber Prospects profile.

We haven't been given names of the Senators or Avalanche players who tested positive for COVID-19. However, broadcasters Gord Wilson (Ottawa) and John Kelly (St. Louis) have both tested positive for the coronavirus. Hoping for the best for both.

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Last week (Saturday and Sunday) I discussed assist-heavy forwards, noting on Sunday that no forward had been in the top 25 of assists per goal over all of the previous three seasons. In response to that, reader Jason Gagnon suggested: "If you redo the analysis after removing secondary assists, I’m assuming you’ll find more repeat players over years, and maybe one that appears in all three years." I'm willing to put that to the test.

For ease of pulling data for the reports below, I have taken players who finished in the top 100 in total assists each season, as opposed to players who finished with a minimum of 20 assists as I had last week. That will reduce the list, but not by much, as the cutoff for all three seasons was fewer than 30 assists.

A1 = primary assists

A2 = secondary assists

A1/G = primary assists per goal

2019-20

Player GP G A A1 A2 P A1/G
Jakub Voracek 69 12 44 28 16 56 2.333
Ryan O’Reilly 71 12 49 27 22 61 2.250
Teuvo Teravainen 68 15 48 32 16 63 2.133
Pavel Zacha 65 8 24 17 7 32 2.125
Robert Thomas 66 10 32 21 11 42 2.100
Mitchell Marner 59 16 51 32 19 67 2.000
Joe Thornton 70 7 24 13 11 31 1.857
Nick Schmaltz 70 11 34 20 14 45 1.818
Taylor Hall 65 16 36 28 8 52 1.750
Jonathan Huberdeau 69 23 55 39 16 78 1.696
Mathew Barzal 68 19 41 30 11 60 1.579
Vincent Trocheck 62 11 27 17 10 38 1.545
Nikita Gusev 66 13 31 20 11 44 1.538
Ryan Strome 70 18 41 27 14 59 1.500
Chris Tierney 71 11 26 16 10 37 1.455
Nicklas Backstrom 61 12 42 17 25 54 1.417
Josh Bailey 68 14 29 19 10 43 1.357
Jonathan Toews 70 18 42 24 18 60 1.333
Mark Stone 65 21 42 28 14 63 1.333
Johnny Gaudreau 70 18 40 24 16 58 1.333
Dylan Strome 58 12 26 16 10 38 1.333
Nick Suzuki 71 13 28 17 11 41 1.308
Brad Marchand 70 28 59 36 23 87 1.286
William Karlsson 63 15 31 19 12 46 1.267
Sidney Crosby 41 16 31 20 11 47 1.250

 

2018-19

Player GP G A A1 A2 P A1/G
Chris Tierney 81 9 39 23 16 48 2.556
Blake Wheeler 82 20 71 47 24 91 2.350
Phillip Danault 81 12 41 26 15 53 2.167
Mikkel Boedker 71 7 28 15 13 35 2.143
Ryan Johansen 80 14 50 29 21 64 2.071
Mitchell Marner 82 26 68 52 16 94 2.000
Teuvo Teravainen 82 21 55 36 19 76 1.714
Mikael Granlund 79 16 38 27 11 54 1.688
Claude Giroux 82 22 63 37 26 85 1.682
Josh Bailey 82 16 40 26 14 56 1.625
Artemi Panarin 79 28 59 44 15 87 1.571
David Krejci 81 20 53 31 22 73 1.550
Evgeni Malkin 68 21 51 31 20 72 1.476
Brayden Schenn 72 17 37 25 12 54 1.471
Jakub Voracek 78 20 46 29 17 66 1.450
Jonathan Drouin 81 18 35 26 9 53 1.444
Joe Thornton 73 16 35 23 12 51 1.438
Mats Zuccarello 48 12 28 17 11 40 1.417
Sidney Crosby 79 35 65 49 16 100 1.400
Connor McDavid 78 41 75 57 18 116 1.390
Nicklas Backstrom 80 22 52 30 22 74 1.364
Clayton Keller 82 14 33 19 14 47 1.357
Jonathan Huberdeau 82 30 62 40 22 92 1.333
Paul Stastny 50 13 29 17 12 42 1.308
Nikita Kucherov 82 41 87 53 34 128 1.293

 

2017-18

Player GP G A A1 A2 P A1/G
Henrik Sedin 82 3 47 13 34 50 4.333
Ryan Getzlaf 56 11 50 34 16 61 3.091
Henrik Zetterberg 82 11 45 32 13 56 2.909
Max Domi 82 9 36 22 14 45 2.444
David Perron 70 16 50 34 16 66 2.125
Blake Wheeler 81 23 68 48 20 91 2.087
Jakub Voracek 82 20 65 41 24 85 2.050
Tyler Bozak 81 11 32 21 11 43 1.909
Kevin Labanc 77 11 29 20 9 40 1.818
Josh Bailey 76 18 53 30 23 71 1.667
Mathew Barzal 82 22 63 35 28 85 1.591
Dylan Larkin 82 16 47 25 22 63 1.563
Oliver Bjorkstrand 82 11 29 17 12 40 1.545
Derek Stepan 82 14 42 21 21 56 1.500
Mats Zuccarello 80 16 37 23 14 53 1.438
Johnny Gaudreau 80 24 60 34 26 84 1.417
William Nylander 82 20 41 28 13 61 1.400
Leon Draisaitl 78 25 45 34 11 70 1.360
Mikael Backlund 82 14 31 19 12 45 1.357
Steven Stamkos 78 27 59 36 23 86 1.333
Jonathan Drouin 77 13 33 17 16 46 1.308
Mark Stone 58 20 42 26 16 62 1.300
Artemi Panarin 81 27 55 35 20 82 1.296
Corey Perry 71 17 32 22 10 49 1.294
Nicklas Backstrom 81 21 50 27 23 71 1.286

 

I was able to find three forwards that appeared for all three years, all of whom have played in the Metropolitan Division during this time. Let's expand on each forward, as well as what the numbers could mean from a fantasy perspective.

Jakub Voracek

It's unfortunate that the season ended when it did for both Voracek and the previously red-hot Flyers. Voracek had recorded ten points (all assists) over his last six games on the Flyers' top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier.

On Saturday I noted that Ryan O'Reilly was the overall leader in assists per goal. However, ROR posted six more secondary assists than Voracek with roughly the same number of primary assists. In fact, it's remarkable how similarly ranked the two players have been in 2019-20.

Name                                    GP           G             A           PTS        PPP       SOG       +/-          Hits

RYAN O’REILLY                   71           12           49           61           18           118         11            16

JAKUB VORACEK               69           12           44           56           17           132         14           17

Voracek is clearly an assist-heavy forward, having scored just 12 goals this season while reaching 20 goals in each of his previous three seasons. Over his 12-year career, Voracek's career high is 23, so it seems unlikely that the 30-year old winger will ever reach the 30-goal mark in his career.

Assists-wise, Voracek ranks 17th among all players in assists over the last three seasons and is 8th among all players in assists over the last six seasons. When it comes to primary assists, he's ranked similarly (16th and 10th, respectively) over the same spans.

In terms of his value in multicategory leagues (ie. Top 100 Roto Rankings), I'd consider Voracek a bubble top-100 player. In pure points leagues, Voracek could be considered a top-50 player. That value drops in roto leagues for a number of reasons. One is that the point total is assist-heavy, and goals are more valuable than assists because there are fewer of them. Another is his hits total, which is about 20 per season – not much higher than Phil Kessel. Other categories check out okay, although his shots total has dipped to 132 this season after he posted 200+ shots over each of the previous six seasons.

Nicklas Backstrom

The first player that I honestly guessed as at the top of the assists per goal list is Backstrom. Although he has had four 20-goal campaigns entering 2019-20, he is/was on pace for fewer than 20 goals this season. Backstrom has a slightly lower than expected 9.1 SH%, which could be partially due to an age-related decline from the 32-year-old center. Backstrom's career high of 33, set way back in 2009-10, seems like an outlier, since he has never reached even reached 25 goals in any other season.

Backstrom is as consistent as it gets when it comes to assists. Entering this season, he had posted at least 50 assists over each of his previous six seasons. That makes him the top assist-getter since the 2013-14 season. As many players' production has increased over the past few seasons, Backstrom's has declined slightly, as he is 22nd in total assists over the past three seasons.

His current production and consistent deployment with Alex Ovechkin on the top line and first-unit power play means that the 32-year-old should push for 20 goals and 50 assists again, so something close to 70 points should be expected again next season. Aside from that, Backstrom has okay-but-not-great non-banger peripherals, which this season have been very similar to Voracek and O'Reilly listed above. And like Voracek and O'Reilly, Backstrom's value should be higher in points leagues than it is in multicategory leagues, particularly bangers leagues.

On a side note, has Backstrom had a Hall of Fame career, or is he simply someone for the Hall of Very Good? I'd love some opinions on that one.

Josh Bailey

Since Bailey's first full season back in 2009-10, he has never recorded a 20-goal season. Not even during his "breakout" 2017-18, when he recorded 71 points in John Tavares' final season on the Island. With 14 goals in 68 games, that wasn't likely to change this season. To give you an idea how unlikely Bailey is to reach 20 goals, the last time a player recorded his first 20-goal season at age 30 or higher was in 2013-14, when Joel Ward reached that milestone at age 33.

Bailey is essentially a poor man's Backstrom (or Voracek or O'Reilly). Even though he has peaked over the last four seasons, he still falls behind the other three in assists over the past three seasons. To his credit, though, he followed up Tavares' departure with his third consecutive 40-assist campaign. On his current pace this season, he was likely just going to fall short of that total.

A closer look at his peripheral categories shows a player that should only be drafted in deeper leagues. Bailey had failed to reach even 100 shots (just over one shot per game) at the time the league shut down, while his power-play point totals were about half that of Backstrom, Voracek, and O'Reilly. The other peripheral categories are no better, so if Bailey isn't chipping in assists, he's providing little else to your roster. In a Barry Trotz-led defensive system, don't expect that assist total to jump either.

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Since there isn't a ton happening in the hockey world right now, feel free to leave any questions or comments, and I may discuss them in a future Ramblings. For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.

 

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency VAN Players
17.5% JAY BEAGLE TYLER MOTTE JAKE VIRTANEN
13.2% BROCK BOESER BO HORVAT TANNER PEARSON
13.2% BO HORVAT TANNER PEARSON TYLER TOFFOLI

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