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