Ramblings: Secondary Assists – Gaudette, Backstrom, Johansen (Apr 3)

Ian Gooding


Hello again, and hope you're managing well during this uneasy time.

With this pause likely to be measured in months and not weeks, there are many ideas floating around as for how the 2019-20 NHL season might resume. Here's one interesting one, which is derived from an NBA idea.


I don't like to dive too much into these ideas, since there are so many unknowns right now. The sports leagues like the NHL seem to want to consider every possible option before writing off the season, though. No matter what the decision, people's health should come first.

I've seen a few fantasy owners mention on Twitter that they have already decided to throw in the towel on their fantasy season. In case you're wondering if you should do the same, please read Dobber's Fantasy Impact piece, written the day that the season was officially suspended indefinitely. Whatever you decide is up to you, but as a commissioner in three different leagues, I won't make a decision until the NHL decides one way or another. Remember that in fantasy playoffs, there are all kinds of bad breaks or bounces that could result in the “best” team not winning the title.

Maybe it will be fair, and maybe it won't. But it's too early to tell. And there's still a strong possibility that the entire NHL season is done anyway, let alone the remaining regular season.


Brian Burke had an interesting Q&A session on Twitter today. One particular answer that caught my attention had to do with a proposed Roberto Luongo trade to Toronto. The Canucks would have made this offer around early January 2013, not long before the "my contract sucks" quote from Lu.

Let's pick up from last Sunday's Ramblings, when I discussed defensemen who had a high number of secondary assists compared to primary assists. Although defensemen were generally higher on this list, there were a few forwards that ranked fairly high as well.

A2 refers to secondary assists, while A1 refers to primary assists. I’ve sorted by secondary assists compared to primary assists, with 20 as the minimum number of total assists.

Name GP A A1 A2 A2-A1 A2/A1
ADAM GAUDETTE 59 21 7 14 7 2.000
RYAN JOHANSEN 68 22 8 14 6 1.750
DERICK BRASSARD 66 22 8 14 6 1.750
NICKLAS BACKSTROM 61 42 17 25 8 1.471
 SEAN COUTURIER 69 37 15 22 7 1.467
 JORDAN EBERLE 58 24 10 14 4 1.400
DAVID KREJCI 61 30 13 17 4 1.308
 KASPERI KAPANEN 69 23 10 13 3 1.300
PATRICE BERGERON 61 25 11 14 3 1.273
 YANNI GOURDE 70 20 9 11 2 1.222
KYLE PALMIERI 65 20 9 11 2 1.222
JACK EICHEL 68 42 19 23 4 1.211
VICTOR OLOFSSON 54 22 10 12 2 1.200
TANNER PEARSON 69 24 11 13 2 1.182
ANDREI SVECHNIKOV 68 37 17 20 3 1.176
TOMAS TATAR 68 39 18 21 3 1.167
CONNOR BROWN 71 27 12 14 2 1.167
 MIKE HOFFMAN 69 30 14 16 2 1.143
PHILLIP DANAULT 71 34 16 18 2 1.125

I’ll focus on three of these forwards in particular.

Adam Gaudette

With 21 total assists, Gaudette just barely made the cutoff to qualify for this list. The Canucks' center was the forward with the highest number of secondary assists (14) relative to primary assists (7). Gaudette's assist total jumped by 14 in roughly the same number of games this season to last season, yet he had only three more primary assists with about a minute and a half of increased icetime. Over a full season, Gaudette would be on pace for 46 points over a full season, which would be propped up by both a high secondary assist total and a shooting percentage of 16%.

Gaudette is a play driver that Canucks' fans in general would like to see more of, but with Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat firmly planted as the Canucks' top two centers, Gaudette won't likely be used as a top-6 forward unless he is moved to the wing. This deployment will limit his value going forward, in case you had any inclination of drafting him as a sleeper. Second-unit power-play minutes could help the former Hobey Baker winner take a run at 40 points, as long as he is used mainly with players with some offensive upside.  

Nicklas Backstrom

If you think you just read something about Backstrom not so long ago, then I'm glad you noticed. Backstrom was high on the assists-per-goal list over the last three seasons that I compiled in last Saturday's Ramblings. It was interesting then to see his name appear as a forward with more secondary assists (25) than primary assists (17).

You might be wondering whether Backstrom regularly records a high proportion of secondary assists. That has not been the case over the previous two seasons, in which Backstrom had been credited for 57 primary assists compared to 45 secondary assists. Since Backstrom is now 32, this could be the start of a natural age-related decline for him. Alex Ovechkin, who refuses to slow down the goal scoring, might have something to say about that while at the same time helping Backstrom build a Hall of Fame case.

Should I change my earlier projection of 20 goals and 50 assists for Backstrom, now that I know how relatively few primary assists he was credited for? There's probably no rush on that, as we might have all summer to tweak projections.

Ryan Johansen

This was not a particularly good season for Johansen. Not only was his point-per-game pace (0.53) his lowest since his 2012-13 sophomore season in Columbus, but he only recorded eight primary assists. For a player who led the Predators in total assists (50) and primary assists (29) last season, that's an extremely low total. To put it another way, the likes of Kyle Turris, Rocco Grimaldi, Calle Jarnkrok, and Nick Bonino all recorded more primary assists.

Although Nashville isn't a particularly high-scoring team, it surprised me that they were around the middle of the pack (16th) in the league with 3.07 goals per game. Maybe I was surprised because of the lack of high-end scoring, as no forward had reached the 50-point mark yet. (Notice I said no forward, as defenseman Roman Josi was the runaway team scoring leader with 65 points.) On the other hand, they are remarkably balanced, as 12 Predators had reached the 30-point mark.

Although the previous paragraph might seem like a detour away from Johansen, it might shed some light on what Johansen's prospects are like going forward. On one hand, Johansen could be a safe 45-point assist-heavy option with a low ceiling going forward. That doesn't sound very appealing, but there's also a glimmer of hope for a turnaround. Frequent Johansen linemate Viktor Arvidsson, who was surprisingly not one of the Preds to reach the 30-point mark, could himself be a rebound candidate next season. That could be good news for both players.

Coaching changes also matter, so it's worth mentioning that the John Hynes hiring has hurt Johansen's value considerably. Since Hynes took over, Johansen has been held to just 10 points in 27 games. Worse yet, Johansen was held to 15:43 in icetime, down considerably from the 19:33 that he averaged last season. Hynes and Johansen might have to make it work somehow, since Johansen is under contract for $8 million per season for the next five seasons.

As it stands, Johansen is just 28 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. It shouldn't be any higher than that.


If you're looking for Frozen Tools Forensics, there won't be a column this week. Chris Kane will be back next week to go over more interesting stats from Frozen Tools.


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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