Ramblings: Secondary Assists – Goligoski, Klefbom, Theodore (Mar 29)
Some news to begin:
A second unnamed Colorado Avalanche player has tested positive for COVID-19. For more, see the statement from the team's website. Hoping for all the best.
Yesterday I discussed the primary assists per goal leaders among forwards over the past three seasons. So while on the subject of assists, I'll dive into players whose secondary assist totals are significantly higher than their primary assist totals.
I was interested to find out if this would be higher among defensemen, so I left them in when I pulled the numbers from Frozen Tools. A defenseman feeding the puck to a forward assisting another forward on a goal is a common sequence. As it turned out, I was right in that defensemen dominate this category. With that in mind, there are a few defensemen whose secondary assist totals are much higher than their primary assist totals, so I'll simply focus on defensemen today.
I've included the total difference between secondary assists (A2) and primary assists (A1) in the "A2-A1" column, as well as the proportional difference (A2/A1). The list below shows the top 25 proportional difference players, with 19 total assists to be the cutoff. With that range, I was able to include Alex Ovechkin, whose low assist total was heavily concentrated in primary assists (13) compared to secondary assists (6). This might indicate a potential increase in assists next season for Ovie, which should be a no-brainer given his previous assist totals.
For a primer on the relevance of secondary assists to overall scoring, you can read more on the topic from Travis Yost at TSN or Eric T. at Broad Street Hockey. Simply put, the more secondary assists a player has in a given period, the more likely that his assist total will decline in future periods.
I'll preface this by mentioning that in one of my leagues, another owner had sent me multiple trade offers involving his Goligoski a few weeks ago. I could not come to terms on a deal, which had more to do with the main piece that he was offering and what he was asking in return as opposed to Goligoski himself. Still, I didn't have a strong inclination of acquiring Goligoski. This might be an example of a hunch that is backed up later by fact.
With 28 total assists and 32 points, the 34-year-old Goligoski (38% owned in Yahoo leagues) was set to surpass his highest assist and point totals during his four-year stint in Arizona. Over that span, he has only posted more secondary assists than primary assists once, which was in 2016-17, his debut season in the desert (14 A1, 16 A2). That season, he recorded his current Arizona career high in both assists (30) and points (36).
Even with the assist bump this season, Goligoski has been remarkably consistent over the last half-dozen seasons. Dating back to his time in Dallas, Goligoski has ranged between 32 and 37 points over five of his last six seasons. The only exception was last season, when he scored just 27 points in 76 games.
According to Frozen Tools, Goligoski's defensive partner for over 70 percent of his even-strength minutes has been Jakob Chychrun, who has scored 12 goals this season. Without getting into specific analysis on how many times Goligoski assisted on a Chychrun goal, Chychrun's overall shooting percentage was significantly higher (8.1%) than his previous two seasons (about 4.1%). This could be something to watch as far as Goligoski's assist total goes.
Goligoski's primary assist total has been declining, from 16 in 2017-18 to 12 in 2018-19 to just seven in 2019-20. For that reason, I wouldn't project his overall point total to be any higher than around 30 points next season. However, move him up your rankings if your league counts blocked shots. Since 2013-14, only three players (Kris Russell, Andy Greene, Mark Giordano) have blocked more shots than Goligoski. He's just outside the top 10 in that category this season.
While we are on the topic of blocked shots, this is also a good time to mention that overlooked in Klefbom's career-high point pace (0.55 PTS/GP) is the fact that he leads the league with 180 blocked shots. That total is by far a career high for him and likely a result of his overall increased usage of 25:25 per game, a total only surpassed by Thomas Chabot, Drew Doughty, Roman Josi, and Kris Letang.
For a player who was drafted in a similar position to the likes of Nate Schmidt, Cody Ceci, and Tyler Myers, Klefbom has provided incredible value this season. Off the top, the blocked shots total might be a reason not to knock Klefbom down too far in your rankings, assuming he continues to receive that level of icetime.
Having said that, only nine of his 29 assists have been of the primary variety. Not surprisingly, 16 of those 29 total assists have been on the power play, 11 of which were secondary. The scenario of Klefbom to Leon Draisaitl to Connor McDavid (or with the forwards in reverse) on the Oilers' top-ranked power play likely played out numerous times. Assuming Draisaitl and McDavid don't drop off considerably, there's still plenty of opportunity for Klefbom if he stays on PP1. It might be safer to say that number won't get any higher, though.
Something to keep in mind with Klefbom, though, is that he's a certified Band-Aid Boy. Klefbom had already missed nine games this season, so we'll assume he'd have played in all of the Oilers' remaining games and end up with 73 GP. Over his previous two seasons, Klefbom played in 61 and 66 games, giving him an average of 67 games played over the previous three seasons. Any point projections have to come with an injury discount (let's say 10 games), with anything above that a bonus.
If you're expecting Klefbom to cruise to a 50+ point season riding off the coattails of McDavid and Draisaitl, you might want to temper your expectations for the reasons I've listed above. Klefbom maintaining his current point pace would be a more realistic projection.
The Vegas blueliner had already reached career highs in all of goals, assists, and points. However, even though his assist total increased from 25 last season to 33 this season, his primary assist total has actually declined from 16 last season to 12 this season.
Since being added by the Golden Knights for their first season, Theodore has followed the career trajectory we had expected. He was the runaway team leader in power-play time percentage, having been on the ice for 70 percent of Vegas's power-play time. The noticeable difference in primary to secondary assists comes in even-strength time, with only five of Theodore's 18 even-strength assists occurring as primary assists.
In spite of the variance between primary and secondary assists, something that should help Theodore maintain his value is his shooting. This season he is one of four defensemen (Josi, Alex Pietrangelo, and Brent Burns the others) who have taken at least 200 shots. This has also translated into goals, where Theodore's 13 goals place him into the top 10 among blueliners.
For what it's worth, Theodore's icetime has risen since Peter DeBoer took over as head coach from 21:47 before (this season only) to 23:16 since. Both Burns and Erik Karlsson (when healthy) have thrived under DeBoer's system, which bodes well for Theodore. He's also a strong enough defender (leads all d-men with a 58.54 Corsi percentage) that you don't have to worry about him suffering the same fate as Shayne Gostisbehere.
I might hold off before assuming Theodore will trend toward Josi or John Carlson-type numbers. However, in spite of the high secondary assist total, Theodore has the talent and the situation to take a run at 50 points going forward.
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.
No data at this moment.