Fantasy Mailbag: Deciding on Top Prospects, Gurianov, Rantanen, Binnington, & Malkin

Rick Roos

2020-04-29

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder; but it also helps fill the mailbag, as I got more inquiries this past month than sometimes when the season was still going! As per usual, I'll do my best to answer the questions while providing advice useful to poolies even if they don't own the specific players being discussed. And remember, if you want your fantasy hockey question answered in the next mailbag, be sure to check out the end of the column, where I explain the ways to get it to me. The earlier you send a question the more likely it is to be included, and the deeper dive I can provide with my reply.

 

Question #1 (from mcmcpher2 via the DobberHockey Forums)

My question is about Denis Gurianov. He'd already hit the 20 goal mark in just 64 games and despite limited ice time. Although I only watched him play a few times, from what I saw he passed my eye test, with an apparent combination of size and speed plus a desire to shoot the puck. I'm intrigued. What are your expectations regarding deployment and production for him over the next few years?

 

Gurianov might seem like he came from nowhere, but let's not forget he was a former 12th overall draft pick in 2015. Yes, it took him until his age 22 season to make an initial NHL impact; however, that's not entirely surprising since he's a "big guy" (6'3, 200 pounds); and as Dobber has pointed out, sometimes it takes larger players like him longer to connect the dots and fulfill their true potential.

Here's what we know – Gurianov's ice time increased with each quarter, and he responded with more goal scoring, although his SOG rate didn't really spike. As such, he sports a 15.2% shooting percentage, which is a bit high, although plenty of snipers can maintain a rate in that vicinity. Plus, if he starts to shoot more than the two per game he's averaging for the season, his personal shooting percentage might drop but the added SOG should result in more goals, for a wash.

Not that it's necessarily telling, but Gurianov's 2019-20 stats are remarkably similar to those of Vladimir Tarasenko in 2013-14, who at that same age produced 22 goals in 64 games on 136 SOG. Tarasenko also was picked just four spots after Gurianov in his draft year and the two are almost the exact same height and weight. Others who scored 20-29 goals in at least one of their first three seasons by age 22 since the 2010-11 campaign are Elias Pettersson, Aleksander Barkov, Jake Debrusk, Alex DeBrincat, Mikko Rantanen, Nikita Kucherov and Leon Draistaitl. Of them, however, only Tarasenko and Debrusk were 22 when doing so, with the others all being younger. 

What's also interesting is Gurianov's improved goal scoring occurred as he's played with less talented players more often. For example in Q1, when he scored four goals and eight points in 17 games he was playing with Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, whereas by Q3 and Q4 when he accumulated 11 goals and three assists in 27 games his most frequent linemates were Jason Dickinson, Jamie Benn, and Roope Hintz. And it wasn't the man advantage making a difference, as he was on PP2 all season long, although he produced well there too, with 12 PPPts.

My take is Gurianov's talent and age, combined with the apparent drop off in skill of Benn and Radulov, will likely create a spot for Gurianov in the top six for next season, and perhaps on PP1 as well given his abilities with the man advantage. A jump to 30+ goals seems likely, although for the time being he might not become a complete player with matching assists. But that could happen over time due to his large frame and it being unlikely for him to truly break out until a later age. So 30 goals and 20 assists next season could be in the cards, and perhaps a ceiling of 35-40 goals and a similar number of assists could be his upside, ala what Tarasenko has shown in his career thus far.

 

Question #2 (from Matso)

I'm in an eight-team limited keeper league, points only, in which we run 14 forwards, 5 defensemen, 3 goalies, and additionally have 2 bench spots for rookies (requirement of <50 career FPts). I get to keep 6 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 2 goalies, as well as 2 rookies. My complete roster, as of when the season paused, is: 

F: Mathew Barzal, Oliver Bjorkstrand (IR), Brock Boeser, Leon Draisaitl, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Nicolaj Ehlers, Kevin Fiala, Zach Hyman, Travis Konecny, Dylan Larkin, Sean Monahan, William Nylander, Mikko Rantanen (IR), Sam Reinhart, Vincent Trocheck, Jason Zucker

D: Rasmus Dahlin, Adam Fox (rookie eligible), Dougie Hamilton (IR), John Klingberg, Ivan Provorov, Shea Theodore

G: Frederik Andersen, Sergei Bobrovsky (IR), Carter Hart, Juuse Saros

R: Martin Necas, Ilya Samsonov

I currently plan on Keeping Barzal, Draisaitl, Rantanen, Hamilton, Dahlin, Anderson, Hart, Fox and Samsonov; leaving me to choose 3 additional forwards and 1 defense. Who else do you recommend? 

 

First off, why Hart over Andersen? You didn't list your goalie categories, but I think if you're going to keep a goalie – and in an 8 team league that's not always something you do – I like Andersen and his tons of starts and likely more wins. But I also can see an argument for Hart over Andersen if your league counts SV% instead of Saves and because Hart does have a higher upside in the coming years.

Assuming you do keep a goalie, let's look at the rest of the players you flagged. Of them, the only ones where I might see the potential not to keep are Barzal and Fox. But let's first assume you are keeping them until/unless we can find four better forwards and two better defensemen.

Along with Barzal, there are several forwards who, on paper, could be pegged for 70+ points next season, namely Boeser, Konecny, Nylander, Fiala and Reinhart. That's six players for four spots. So who are the odd men out? Some might be tempted to say Boeser because winger eligibility doesn't matter. But if we look at pure wingers who, since 2000-01, averaged at least as many points and goals per game as him over their first four seasons by age 23, we get Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Nikita Kucherov. That's some pretty fine company, and Boeser likely will slot back on the potent top line in Vancouver. Reinhart is a fine player who benefits by the line on which he plays, whereas both Konecny and Fiala seemingly would've succeeded even without the players around them. In fact, Fiala did so despite a dearth of top talent in Minnesota. Nylander, I covered in my most recent Goldipucks column, where I predicted point per game output as soon as next season.

In cases where the players, on paper, are so close, the deciding factors are downside scoring floor and redraft potential. Nylander is a big name, plays for a high profile team, and had a big jump in scoring. He'd be tough to redraft for fair value. Same, pretty much, for Konecny. Reinhart had a quietly solid season and thus I think is possible to redraft inexpensively, as, I believe, is Barzal, whom most fear will be restrained by playing for the Islanders. Fiala could get even better, as he had by far the least ice time. All things considered, I keep Boeser, Nylander, and Konecny, plus Fiala over both Barzal and Reinhart, whom I think are low profile and re-draftable. If you don't keep a goalie, go with Barzal

Turning now to d-men, Fox might have the best long term upside; but with Tony DeAngelo in New York at least for the time being, will Fox score enough to merit keeping over the other three? I think yes over Provorov, who has lots of talent but is not deployed optimally. Klingberg has never had a great season when there's been another defenseman scoring option around, which is not great news considering the presence of Miro Heiskanen, who should only get better by the year, likely at the expense of Klingberg's production. Theodore looks to have arrived; however, closer scrutiny shows he had an extremely high secondary assists percentage (53.4%, versus 46.6% goals plus primary assists), fourth-highest among 40+ point scorers, such that his scoring rate might be unsustainably inflated. 

I like the idea of playing the long game with Fox, who should still be solid in the meantime. For the other d-man, the safer pick is Theodore.  Yes, he might still be a decent redraft due to people not being sold on him and Klingberg having more of a "name;" but Theodore is the top dog in Vegas and his scoring won't crater even when his secondary assists percentage comes back to earth. Klingberg is a tempting choice, but I worry too much about the Heiskanen factor not to mention Dallas' offense. Or if you don't keep a goalie, you could opt for Klingberg over Barzal.

 

Question #3 (from Boyd)

I saw that in one of your recent columns that you didn't pick Mikko Rantanen as a keeper. Is there anything you are seeing that prompted you to do this? His injury? The Possibility of playing away from Nathan MacKinnon? The reason I ask is because in my one-year auction league (G, A, PPPts, SHPs, Bl, H, SOG, W, SV%, SO) I got Rantanen for 26$ (out of 100) which I thought was a steal. I had been planning on going for him next year too.

I am also wondering if you see Timo Meier rebounding next year? I overpaid for him this year because I thought he was going to break out, and wonder if I should target him next year at a reduced price.

 

You didn't provide a link, so I'm not sure what column it was; however, in my most recent Forum Buzz I had Rantanen as a keeper over Patrik Laine, so it's not that I'm down on him. In truth, it probably was a case of better options, as few players exist who are auto-keeps. Leagues, where Rantanen might not be kept, include heavy multicats or ones where salary cap matters. In your case, although I don't know how many players you need to roster, Rantanen apparently taking up 26% of your entire budget, and given your categories, I think that money likely can be better spent otherwise at your draft.

Turning to Meier, say what you will about his lack of progress this season; he still has cumulatively averaged 2.8 SOG per game over his first four seasons by age 23, which, since 2010-11 is something that only has been done by Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Patrik Laine, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyler Seguin, Dylan Larkin, Brendan Gallagher, Gabriel Landeskog, and Jeff Skinner. The issue is, if we focus on those, like Meier, who didn't score 70+ by age 23 we get Landeskog, Gallagher, and Skinner, among whom only Landeskog has ever scored 64+, and he has just two seasons over 62. The other concern is San Jose is a team seemingly headed into what could be a prolonged period of low scoring. On the one hand that all but ensures Meier will get top deployment; but without a rising tide to lift all boats, his upside is limited. All this being said, in a league with SOG and Hits, Meier's letdown 2019-20 campaign might lower his price enough to make him worth drafting even if his points upside is in the 50s. What I'd do is set a price you're willing to pay, and if he goes for higher let someone else have him, as the risk of missing out on him having a major breakout is probably pretty low.

 

Question #4 (from Scott)

I'm in a 12 team, H2H league with G, A, PPPts, PIM, SOG, Hits, GWG, SHP, Blks, and +/- as skater categories and Wins, GAA, SV%, SV , and SO as categories for goalies . We can keep only three players and I am keeping McDavid for sure then I have to choose from among Brady Tkachuk, Matthew Tkachuk, Patrick Laine, or Andrei Svechnikov, and Jordan Binnington for the other two spots. Who would you keep and why?

 

Let's start with Binnington. He's shown he's a top tier goalie; however, I think he's only a keep if he would be a better option than three skaters. So is he?

Your first keep needs to be Brady, as simply put he's already shown himself to be a multi-cat beast, and he'll only get better in scoring. No question he's a top 25 player with these categories. For the other forward spots, it's Laine and Svechnikov if you don't keep Binnington. The elder Tkachuk is quite good, but he's not in the same echelon. Svechnikov is thought by many, myself included, to be the next Steven Stamkos; and given the leaps, Svechnikov made from his age 18 to age 19 season he could hit 90 points in 2020-21. Plus, he shoots and hits. Laine made strides this season and seems to be morphing into a more complete player; however, he's still yet to hit point per game numbers. Both might end up being special players, but give me Svechnikov and his multi-cat stats and likely higher trajectory. So if you do end up keeping Binnington, I'd let Laine go and keep Svechnikov.

 

Question #5 (from Dave)

I'm in a 12 team league that has been running for nearly 40 years! We start the season with a total of 55 players, where 10 forwards 2 defensemen and 1 goalie are active. The other 43 are on our farm. I am curious how you'd rank the following prospects in terms of which will be the best point producers at their peak: Joel Farabee, Jack Hughes, Bobby Brink, Cole Caufield, Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach, Kaapo Kakko, Arthur Kaliyev, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Vitali Kravtsov, Payton Krebs, Alex Turcotte, Filip Zadina, and Trevor Zegrass

 

Full disclosure – I'm not a big prospects guy. I don't pay a lot of attention to players until they reach the NHL or are on the cusp of doing so. That having been said, I'll weigh in on these guys as best I can.

Farabee played the majority of 2019-20 with Philly, producing modest numbers and SOGs. I think his big issue is he doesn't really have an NHL body as yet – that is, he's tall but thin and lanky. I'd feel better if I was saying that about an 18 or 19-year-old, not someone who's already 20. Fortunately, he should be allowed to be eased into the line-up and get a chance to play with talented Flyers forwards to get the benefit of their experience before their talent wanes. My view is he's a 55-60 point player within three years and might top out at 70+, but probably won't be a huge scorer.

What I saw from Hughes was concerning. Yes, plenty of first overall picks didn't excel in their age 18 season; however, Hughes looked like a boy among men. On the plus side, he did average two SOG per game, but he also saw tons of PP1 time and couldn't translate that to many PPPts. And all this with an OZ% of 62%, which is pretty high. I also don't like that he's in New Jersey, where he doesn't have much of a supporting cast, and since I don't think he's ready to be "the guy" right away. I'm not sure he even gets to 55 points in the next couple of seasons; however, I think eventually the dots will connect and he should find his way to 70-75 points, but perhaps not much higher.  Or I could be wrong and he explodes.

Brink has challenges in terms of his size and, from what I've read, stickhandling. Even still, he produced well in college this season and has a strong compete level, which is needed when you're undersized, as often that means you don't get the same opportunities as larger players, so you have to seize upon the ones you do get. I'd say the odds of him being a 60 point player within five years are about 60% for 40% against, with 70 points probably being close to his ceiling.

Caufield is another undersized player, but one who's shown more flash than Brink. He also has a big chip on his shoulder from falling father than was expected in the draft. I'm not sure he's a player who's best equipped for a Claude Julien system; however, perhaps by the time Caufield is ready to shine Julien will be gone or retired. I see 60 points as a likely guarantee, and 50/50 point per game upside, with a shot at even more if he plays with talented linemates.

Cozens is a pivot on Buffalo, meaning his ceiling is limited due to the presence of Jack Eichel. Plus there is Casey Middlestadt also in the equation. But I can see Middlestadt being moved to another team, as Cozens looks more like what Buffalo would want from a #2 center. And with teams putting their best defenses against Eichel's line, Cozens could be a sneakily solid scorer, provided he gets better linemates than what Buffalo has to offer now. I like him for 50-60 points within 2-3 years, but with an upside of maybe 70 points.

Dach had an interesting 2019-20, with 23 points in 64 games. But he had several multi-point games as well as a five-game points streak in which he tallied seven points. These are very positive signs to me, as consistency will come in time. Yes, he mainly played with Alex DeBrincat, who in turn had a very down year; however, I don't think Dach is to blame since Dach had a 5×5 team shooting percentage of 8.2%, which is pretty solid for a teen. I think Dach might have the best shot of all these players to hit 60 next season, and 70+ within three years is more likely than not, with 80-85+ point upside. He is the real deal and on a path to being a major point producer.

For Kakko, yes his ice time and PP time were dropping with each quarter; however, with the Rangers poised to be one of the better NHL teams in the next 3-5 years and Kakko all but assured to be ticketed for the top six, he will score. Yes, it might take another season for him to find his game and stake out a permanent spot on a scoring line; however, make no mistake he will end up there by 2021-22 at the latest, and when he does 60 points is a downside number, with a point per game potential sooner rather than later. The only problem is there might be too many great Ranger players and not enough points to go around, limiting him to perhaps no more than 75 points until he's in his mid-20s, at which time he should be able to really dominate and make a push for 90+.

Kaliyev put up a second straight season of jaw-dropping numbers in juniors and plays for a team – in the Kings – who will be eager to bring scorers into the fold. Yes, he might not have a great supporting cast to help prop up his numbers, but I like him getting to the NHL within two years and hitting 60 points by age 23, with upside depending on what type of team the Kings are by his peak, as if the team can reinvent itself and start scoring, that should help prop Kaliyev to 70 points or higher.

Kotkaniemi is the only one of these players two have tasted two seasons of NHL action, although he went from 34 points in 79 games last season to just eight in 36 contests for 2019-20. He will not thrive under a Julien system, so his short term potential is limited to 50 points; however, as he and Caufield mature hopefully they will find themselves on a more offensively focused team, in which case JK can be a 65-70 point player I think, but probably not a point per gamer.

Kravtsov, like Kakko, will benefit from the Rangers likely being a top team in 3-5 years; however, I'm not sure if there's a great spot for him. It depends a lot on what the team decides to do with Ryan Strome, as if they re-up him then Strome and Mika Zibanejad will center the top two lines, leaving Kratsov likely outside of the top six picture. Then again, Kratsov could be trade bait, and on the right team, I think he probably projects as a second-line center with maybe 70 point upside.

Krebs doesn't have any especially strong or weak points from where I can sit. His performance since being drafted underscores that he was deserving of a first-round selection; however, it's not yet clear what his trajectory might be. The good news and bad news is he plays for Vegas, as he should get a good chance to land on a scoring line; however, since their inaugural season, the Knights have played a system which spreads around ice time, making it more likely he can get to 60+ but perhaps tougher to rise to, let alone above, 70.

Turcotte was drafted to be the heir apparent to Anze Kopitar, namely to provide offensive output yet also some defensive responsibility. His stats at the college level this year were solid, and he probably will find his way to LA before Kaliyev, and I wouldn't rule out an immediate impact, provided LA gives him a chance to strut his stuff. I think 60-70 points within his first couple of seasons are realistic and point per game upside seems to be there.

Zadina is the only player to already score at better than a point per every other game clip in the NHL. He also averaged over two SOG per game overall and in his last 11 games before the season stalled he had five points but a staggering 37 SOG. He could be a very special player; but needs Detroit as a team to improve, as he can't do this all alone. I'd put him at 60-70+ points within three seasons, and of all these players he's one of the few who seems like the best bet for 40+ goal output.

Lastly, there's Zegras, who, like Turcotte and Kaliyev on the Kings, benefits and is hurt by being the property of a team – in his case the Ducks – which is not very good, making it easier for him to come to the NHL, but also unlikely to have a strong supporting cast. And as good as Zegrass projects to possibly be, he does not seem like he's cut from a "do it himself" cloth. I think it could be at least several seasons until he even gets to 60 points, and from there he might not top out at much above 70 unless the Ducks get better as a team.

So in sum, in my mind, the elite are Zadina, Kakko, Dach and Caufield, with most of the rest being on a roughly even keel. The big wild card is Hughes. The ones with the most risk/reward are those on the weaker teams, namely Zegrass, Turcotte, and Kaliyev.

 

Question #6 (from Julien)

I’m in an auction league with a $150 annual spending budget. It's a standard points league except there's an extra 0.5 per PPPt and an extra one point for a defensman goal. I get to keep 3 players, with a $5 keeper tax per kept player and each team has to end up with 6 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goaltender, so whatever money doesn't go to keepers has to be allocated to the other seven spots. 

My one keeper for sure is Elias Pettersson at $10 ($5 + 5). Who should be the other two out of this list: Evgeni Kuznetsov ($20+5), Tyler Seguin ($40+5), Pavel Buchnevich ($0+5), Filip Forsberg ($29+5), Tomas Hertl ($9+5), Tomas Tatar ($10+5), Victor Hedman ($38+5), Kris Letang ($28+5), Josh Morrissey ($5+5), Jacob Markstrom ($1+5), Ben Bishop ($7+5), Thatcher Demko ($0+5)?

 

It would help a lot to know how many teams are in the league, to help decide what to do about your goalies. Part of me wants to tell you to keep Markstrom at $5; however, if you were able to get Ben Bishop for only $7 after his amazing 2018-19, then it seems like goalies are not costly. As such, you might opt to not keep Markstrom.

Defensemen are at a premium, with the bonus point for a defenseman goal. Letang at $33 is a risk/reward keep option as if he gives you 70+ games he almost unquestionably provides value for his price. In terms of your forwards, I believe Seguin is for sure going to be available at a better price, but I'm on the fence about Kuznetsov. Truth be told, I think Hertl at $14 is better value. So if you keep Markstrom and Letang, there's your three. If you don't keep Markstrom, then the decision boils down to Kuz versus Tatar or Buchnevich. I like Buchnevich over Tatar, as Tatar's point total was far too high for someone who had ice time (overall and on the PP) as low as he did. Is he a legit solid player now? For sure. But on the Habs and set to turn 30 this year I see Tatar more as a 60-65 point player. Buchenevich looks like he is turning a corner; however, chances are he goes for $5 or less in next year's draft. So the question becomes if you think Kuznetsov can rebound to be a point per game or better player and, even if the answer to that is yes, will his down 2019-20 make it so his draft cost will be under $25. If the answer to that second question is no, then probably I'd keep him, Letang and Hertl. But if you believe Kuznetsov could be had for $25 or even a tad more, then I'd swap in Markstrom as your third keeper.

 

Question #7 (from Jason)

I need to decide on my last keeper in a keep 10 league with G, A, Points, PPP as skater categories. The important thing to note in this league is we have no bench, so positional scarcity matters, making wingers and defensemen more in demand than centers because waiver level replacement centers are easier to find. My question is this: am I crazy for even considering keeping Clayton Keller over each of Zach Werenski, Jakub Vrana, or Dylan Larkin? I believe Keller will break out next year; but can I afford to take that chance and lose the other three? One other key fact – I have four picks out of the first 20, so whomever I don't keep I probably can redraft.

 

I can see the lure in keeping Keller. After all, by age 20 he'd recorded over 110 points and 400 SOG in fewer than 175 games. The four others who met all these criteria from 2010-11 are Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Sebastian Aho, and Jack Eichel. That's a fine foursome for sure! Still, though, Keller can only do so much on his own, as the team around him is far less talented. On the plus side, that means Keller will be given every opportunity to shine, on the top lines at ES and on the PP.

Still, though, the strides Vrana took this season were impressive. I went into detail on him in a recent Forum Buzz column, where I noted that he's taken an important step each of the past two seasons, first to get into the top six during the second half of 2018-19, then to get on PP1 for at least part of 2019-20. And all this while sporting one of the top five goals per 60 rates of the past five seasons. And although his team is far more stocked with firepower than the Coyotes, that also means there is a chance, albeit a small one, Vrana could lose his spot if he falters.

To me, this boils down to who'd be tougher to redraft. A season ago for sure, it would've been Vrana; however, with vastly improving this season poolies might view him as a player who has arrived and could even do better, whereas they'd downgrade Keller for his team and poor 2019-20. As such, I'd probably keep Vrana and try to redraft Keller, although it's close enough that you could go either way.

 

Question #7 (from Pit Bulls via the DobberHockey Forums)

I’m not sure what to do with Evgeni Malkin. I’m in a 20 team, H2H salary cap dynasty league. Rosters are 18 Active, 5 Reserve and a maximum of 30 Minors. Scoring categories are: G, A, BLK, HIT, PIM, +/-, SOG, FO%, PPP, SHP, W, SV, SHO, GAA & SV%.

Malkin will turn 34 next season and carries a cap hit of $9.5 million for the next two seasons. Since the 17-18 season, he has missed 4, 14 and 14 games due to injury. His ESTOI has held steady in the 18-19 minute range since 2018-19 and he continues to receive 3+ minutes of PPTOI. In this league, his trade value is pennies on the dollar due to his age, injury history and cap hit – it would be like selling at the lowest of lows. He is obviously a relevant fantasy option….so far, but what to do for next season? When will his statistical decline happen?

 

You hit the nail on the head about Malkin in that he's almost impossible to trade for anything you'd consider to be fair in return. But if you look at it from another GM's perspective, can you blame him or her? After all Malkin, despite having the best points per game average of any player over the last 20+ seasons from age 30+ for a forward who's played at least to age 33, is also someone who literally can undermine a fantasy season by his clockwork 10-15+ games absences each campaign. So as great an asset as he is, he also creates huge headaches – huge enough that some fantasy GMs simply do not want to bother with the frustration of owning him.

What can we expect from Malkin in the coming years? If we look at others who, since 2000-01, had at least three seasons of a point per game scoring from age 30-33 and have already played to at least age 35, we get Daniel Alfredsson (who had 84 points at age 34 and 89 at age 35), Jarome Iginla (who had 67 points at age 34 and 66 at age 35, and Henrik Zetterberg (who had 66 points at age 34 and 50 at age 35), so past precedent ranges from superb to very good to good. Thus Malkin might keep on humming, or he could start to slow.

My take is we should expect more of the same in terms of production and, lamentably for fantasy GMs who own him, with respect to ill-timed and lengthy injuries. His cap hit is worse than it appears. After all, your league has reserved, so let's say Malkin continues to score at his 1.20 points per game pace since turning 30 and plays only 65 games. That right there is 78 points. And if you plug in one of your reserves who, let's suppose, scores at a 60 point pace, then he'll end up getting you 12 or 13 points in those 17 games that Malkin misses, for a total of about 90 points, which would justify the cap hit of $9.5M that Malkin carries. I think you hold onto Malkin, as you only make out bad if he misses more games than usual or his scoring drops, and those are indeed ifs. Plus, as you said and I can attest to, you can't get fair value for him in trade, further underscoring that your best bet is to hold and hope.

 

Question #8 (from Uncle Leo)

In a 12 team league with rosters of 24 players, and G, A, P, Plus/Minus, PP, SHP, hits, blocks, shots, GWG as skater categories and W, Saves, GAA, SV%, Shutouts as goalie categories, which eight of the following players should be kept: Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Brady Tkachuk, Gabriel Landeskog, Claude Giroux, Anze Kopitar, Darcy Kuemper, Carter Hart, Igor Shesterkin?

As a second question, what is your take on Patrik Laine? What do you see as his ceiling and how soon can we expect him to reach it? I was hoping he'd be in the same ballpark as Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews; can that still happen? Either way, should I trade him and two or three borderline keepers in order to get Mika Zibanejad?

 

For the first question, helpful information would've included how many players start at each position and whether it's just forwards or do you start centers, left wings, and right wings. It also would have been useful to know how many goalies each team tends to keep.

The big question is whether to keep two goalies, as Shesterkin is going to be great, if not this season then by 2021-22 when Henrik Lundqvist's contract is assuredly done and Alexander Georgiev will likely be tending net for Seattle. It might be worthwhile keeping Shesterkin to ensure you're the one to reap the benefit once he's a full-timer. For your skaters, I think Mac, Panarin, Kane, Laine, Tkachuk and Landeskog are must keeps. That's your eight if you keep two goalies. Why not Giroux or Kopitar? There is no FOW category and both look to be slowing. And I opted against Scheifele because he's shown us that he's not going to be more than an 80-85 point player and that isn't enough to put him above guys like Landeskog and Tkachuk, who are big-time stat stuffers. One possible wrinkle is whether you believe that Scheifele could still improve; if so, then keep him instead of Landeskog, whom you might redraft since his season-long numbers don't show how superb he was playing in the second half. Scheifele also is thus the guy I'd keep if you only hold onto one netminder.

As for Laine, I went into detail on him in my most recent Forum Buzz column, where I dug up some very favorable player comparables; however, what all of them had in common is at least one point per game season by their fourth NHL campaign, which is something Laine has yet to do. Does he have the raw talent to be a point per gamer, and even make a run at 90+ points? Yes; however, I'm not sure he has the drive to "show up" every game, as is needed to be a true star. Would I use him as a chip to try and get Zibs? Absolutely. Zibs' season was for real, as although his personal shooting percentage was a bit high he also had a very low rate of secondary assists, which is so key for a center to be a true star. He is a late bloomer, but bloom he has, and I think 85 points is now his downside, with him having a shot at being a 100 point player one of these years if the Rangers as a team continue to improve. He's well worth the price of Laine and spare parts you don't intend to keep.

 

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For those reading this now, it's never too early to start providing me with mailbag questions, which you can do in one of two ways: (1) by emailing them to [email protected] with the words "Roos Mailbag" as the subject line, or (2) by sending them to me via a private message on the DobberHockey Forums, where my username is "rizzeedizzee". Or if you prefer to wait, the time to get me the question is right after each Roos Lets Loose Poll, since the mailbag normally runs the following week.

When sending me your questions, remember to provide as much detail about your league/situation as possible, since as you saw above in a couple of the questions there were some omitted details which made it difficult for me to give a truly proper answer. Examples of the types of things I need to know include what type of league you're in (i.e., limited keeper, dynasty, or one-year; roto vs H2H), does the salary cap matter, how many players are rostered (and of those, how many start at each position), what categories are scored and how are they weighted, plus other details if necessary (such as free agents available if you're thinking of dropping a player or rosters of both teams if you're thinking of making a trade). The key is to tell me enough for me to give you a truly proper answer, and for readers of this column to benefit from the answer/advice I provide. When in doubt, err on the side of inclusion. See you next week for Goldipucks!

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
JOHN KLINGBERG DAL 4 0 6 6
ALEXANDER RADULOV DAL 5 1 5 6
PAUL STASTNY VGK 6 2 4 6
VICTOR HEDMAN T.B 4 2 2 4
BLAKE COLEMAN T.B 5 1 3 4
SHEA THEODORE VGK 4 1 2 3

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency COL Players
20.1% PIERRE-EDOUARD BELLEMARE MATT NIETO LOGAN O'CONNOR
17.5% NAZEM KADRI VLADISLAV NAMESTNIKOV VALERI NICHUSHKIN
17.2% ANDRE BURAKOVSKY NATHAN MACKINNON MIKKO RANTANEN

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