Ramblings: All The Hits, All The Time – Reaves, Tanev, Coleman (Apr 25)
While the NHL has been paused, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been taking care of business with their netminders. By signing Elvis Merzlikins, both of their goalies are now signed for next season. In case you missed it, Elvis receives $4 million per season compared to $2.8 million per season for Joonas Korpisalo. That might be the vote of confidence given by management to make Merzlikins at least the 1A starter. My very early prognosis for next season (and even with the continuation of this season still a possibility) is a 60-40 split in favor of Elvis.
The NFL draft on Thursday featured numerous players who grew up in very difficult environments, which based on demographics seems to be far more prevalent than in the NHL. That got me thinking. The barriers to entry for a child to play hockey are quite high, both in terms of time and money. Is there something that hockey can learn from football? In other words, it seems much easier for a young person to be able to play competitive football than competitive hockey.
The reasons seem to boil down to money. I'm thinking there's more equipment to purchase in hockey. For example, a football player doesn't need a stick or skates. Icetime costs also seem to be quite high because of the limited number of ice rinks. As well, football is also typically played at high school, where schools pay for equipment such as helmets.
I noticed most players being drafted in the WHL draft earlier this week were developed through a hockey academy. These appear to be private businesses/organizations to which a player's parents will pay league dues and purchase equipment in return for specialized coaching and top-level competition. Researching these costs for my own son, and having a nephew who plays for a hockey academy, I know it can get quite expensive.
If you are more closely affiliated with minor hockey or football, feel free to shed some light on this. Yet for now, I'm wondering if there is a better way than this for hockey so that the talent pool can be more far reaching to kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds. There are benefits in terms of talent recruitment, plus sports teaches so many life skills.
Let's talk about a few of the hits leaders from the past season.
We've already discussed Brady Tkachuk here and Tom Wilson here. In particular, both are top-10 options in penalty minutes, so it goes without saying at this point that both are must-owns in bangers leagues.
For today, though, I've picked out three other players that may not be relevant in pure scoring leagues, but might be of some interest in bangers leagues.
The Golden Knights winger is the very definition of a category killer, as he has been the league leader in hits in both 2019-20 (316) and 2018-19 (305). That might explain why a player with just 15 points in 71 games is 16% owned in Yahoo leagues. I'm a Reaves owner in one roto league, and not surprisingly, hits is one of my better categories.
Whether you decide to add a one-category wonder like Reaves should not only depend on how deep your league is, but also how many categories your league counts. If there are only four other non-goalie categories in your league, then Reaves takes care of one-fifth of what you might need. However, if your league counts something like 10 skater categories, then adding more well-rounded players might be more important. Knowing your league categories is a critical element to winning your fantasy league.
Reaves is also widely regarded as one of the league's toughest players, so I was curious to see if he is one of the league leaders in fights. Did you know that Frozen Tools also has a Fights button? I might dive into that later on if the offseason extends for quite a while. But for now, Reaves is not one of the league leaders in fights, having been in just three fights in each of 2019-20 and 2018-19. Reaves also took just 47 penalty minutes this season, which is a career low in 10 NHL seasons.
Tanev has been a top-5 option in hits over each of the last two seasons, as he was third in 2018-19 with 278 hits. Tanev has dished those hits for two different teams, having left Winnipeg to sign a six-year contract on July 1 to provide the Penguins with some much-needed grit. He has continued to provide a strong hits total in Pittsburgh, but we should explore whether his scoring justifies owning him in multicategory leagues.
Tanev's scoring and icetime in Pittsburgh has mirrored what he provided in Winnipeg. He had scored 25 points in 68 games, which would have put him on pace for 30 points – exactly the pace he was on with the Jets in 2018-19. As well, his icetime in 2018-19 was a few ticks (but less than a minute) higher than it was in 2018-19, but still under 15 minutes per game. Tanev receives almost no power-play time and has only one power-play point in his career, which will limit his scoring upside.
His 22 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues reflects the higher scoring totals that he'll provide over someone like Reaves, along with hit totals that don't trail by much. Unless there are significant injuries to multiple key pieces on the Penguins, expect Tanev to continue to fill more of a grinder bottom-6 role in Pittsburgh.
The Lightning added Coleman for the same reason the Penguins added Tanev: to provide a much-needed physical element. He has done just that, dishing 25 hits in his nine games for the Bolts. However, that scoring touch that he had found in New Jersey (back-to-back 20-goal seasons) has eluded him in Tampa Bay, where he has yet to score a goal and has added just one assist in nine games.
Coleman is owned in more Yahoo leagues (55% ownership) because he has more of a scoring touch than Reaves or Tanev, although his hits total is lower. Can his scoring rebound for the Bolts, or should his ownership actually be more in line with that of Reaves and Tanev? If you're a Coleman owner, you won't like the fact that he has received just five seconds of power-play time with the Lightning. That's five seconds total – not an average. Coleman averaged 30 seconds of power-play time with the Devils, but that usage had increased dramatically over his last six games with New Jersey (maybe as the Devils were trying to shop him).
Since the Lightning have considerably more scoring options than the Devils, Coleman won't likely see a top-6 role or much power-play time with his new team. Both the Devils and the Lightning have used him in more of a penalty-killing role. However, Coleman will make the most out of the icetime that he's given, having taken at least 200 shots in back-to-back seasons. That's why a goal regression may not occur, assuming he can continue to shoot at around 10 percent. In fact, Coleman was in the top 10 in non-power play (even strength + shorthanded) shots on goal this season, having taken 193 shots of that kind.
Coleman will be an interesting player to watch next season for his strong totals in goals, shots, hits, and even penalty minutes. Don't reach for him, though, as he will be a liability in other categories such as assists and power-play points.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding
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