Ramblings: Top Frozen Tools Searches – Bratt, Kunin, Virtanen, Djoos (May 2)

Ian Gooding

2020-05-02

If the NHL decides to jump straight to the playoffs without any more regular season, the Boston Bruins would be the league's top seed. But if we've seen the last of the 2019-20 season, the Bruins have at least solidified their goaltending situation for next season, signing Jaroslav Halak to a one-year, $2.25 million extension. Both Halak and Tuukka Rask are now signed through the 2020-21 season.

$2.25 million might seem a bit expensive for a backup goalie. However, Halak has provided great value in his two seasons in Beantown, posting a 40-17-10 record with a 2.36 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage, and eight shutouts.

Should one or both of Halak or Rask leave after the 2020-21 season (remember, there are rumors about Rask retiring after that season, Hobey Baker finalist and NCAA top goalie Jeremy Swayman could be ready to step onto the big club. The former University of Maine goalie recently signed a pro contract with the Bruins, so expect him to spend next season in the AHL. Swayman is ranked #12 in the latest Top 65 Fantasy Prospect Goalie rankings, and you can also view his profile at Dobber Prospects.  

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Maybe I was expecting more high-profile names or top prospects, but I was surprised by some of the names that were listed as the most popular Frozen Tools player searches this past week.

I can understand that star players like Draisaitl or top prospects might Yamamoto might be often-searched players. But I was puzzled as to why Bratt, Kunin, Virtanen, and Djoos would appear on the top 10. Frozen Tools Twitter suggested that it might be because they are possible bubble keeper players. For the record, none are more than 15 percent owned in Yahoo leagues.

They're not my bubble keepers, so I won't wait until Bubble Keeper Week to try to solve this mystery. What could make these players appealing in fantasy leagues?

On Bratt and Kunin, I'll let Striker weigh in before I weigh in and he weighs in again.

Jesper Bratt

Let's examine Bratt's production before and after the Taylor Hall trade:

Before: 25 GP, 6 G, 3 A, 9 PTS, 0 PPP, 13:06 TOI

After: 35 GP, 10 G, 13 A, 23 PTS, 6 PPP, 14:37 TOI

Considering that Bratt's most frequent linemates after the Hall trade were Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri, he should slot in as a top-6 forward next season on the Devils as currently constructed. There are some red flags with both his overall and 5-on-5 shooting percentages, which appear to show a minor regression. In addition, Bratt is not a high-volume shooter, as his 101 shots in 60 games this season represents a career high.

That being said, prorating his post-Hall stats over a full season shows about a 0.65 PTS/GP pace, which could amount to just over 50 points. There is potential for that kind of fourth-year breakout with more things going right than wrong. The shot volume increased to about two per game after the Hall trade, so maintaining that number will be key if a breakout is to happen.

Luke Kunin

Kunin's first full season seemed to fall under the radar, as he was on pace for 40 points (15 goals and 31 points in 63 games). His power-play time in particular increased over the past month of the season, so he seemed to benefit from the coaching change to Dean Evason. Kunin was also on a hot streak before the season pause, as he had a four-game point streak and had taken three shots in three of those four games. One strength to his game is his shot total, which at 128 is fourth on the Wild. 

One reason for the more recent success is the line placement. To start the season, Kunin lined up with Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway, two 23-year-olds who haven't found their way as top-6 NHL forwards, at least not yet. Kunin finished the season on a line with Zach Parise and the red-hot Kevin Fiala, which should probably be considered the Wild's top line at this point. Does that make Kunin a number one center? It's certainly more than I had bargained for with Kunin, which could make him a sneaky deep sleeper in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.

Jake Virtanen

One of the most popular things to do for hockey fans with a ton of time on their hands is to do redrafts of particularly interesting seasons. If you were to redraft the 2014 season, chances are you wouldn't pick Virtanen at sixth overall. In spite of that, he has turned into a bona fide NHL player, complete with his own fan ritual when he scores a goal.

"Shotgun Jake" was originally created on a bet prior to the 2018-19 season that he would score 20 goals. Well, Virtanen has been sitting at 18 goals and would be on pace for 20 if the season is somehow completed in full. If you're betting on him getting to 20 next season, keep in mind that his overall shooting percentage has been creeping up each season (up to 12 percent this season). He has been able to sneak onto the top line at times this season, but he seems more set as a third-liner with second-unit power-play time. He could stand to benefit, though, if the Canucks are unable to sign Tyler Toffoli.

Virtanen looks the part of a power forward (226 lbs.), but he doesn't always play one in real life. He does use his speed to burn to finish his checks, having recorded over 100 hits in each of his four full seasons. Another positive trend is that he has taken at least 150 shots in back-to-back seasons, which will help the drive toward 20 goals. He won't be the most interesting Canuck when it comes to fantasy leagues, but at least he has been trending upward the past couple seasons.

Christian Djoos

I just have to get this out of the way. Djoos' father is a former Red Wings defenseman named Per Djoos, which is undoubtedly one of the best names in hockey. I just remember that name from a Pro Set hockey card from the early 90s. Remember those?

Okay, back to the task at hand. After suiting up for just two games for the Capitals, Djoos was traded to the Ducks at the deadline for Daniel Sprong (see more in Dobber's Intriguing Minor Deals That Could Pay Off). Dobber pointed out that Djoos had 90 points in his last 108 AHL games, yet he hadn't figured it out at the NHL level with just 24 points in 110 games with the Capitals.

Djoos has found new life in Anaheim, however. His three points in nine games probably won't scream "add me," but there is another number that might get your attention. Over those nine games, Djoos led the entire Ducks team in power-play time, and he was second in overall icetime (21:22).

Before you get too excited, there is a caveat here. Over most or all of that span, the Ducks' defense has been without Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, who both lead Ducks' defensemen with eight power-play points each. There may be opportunity for Djoos, though, as only Ottawa had a worse power-play conversion rate than the Ducks (14.7%). I'd consider him penny stock with a bit of upside, as he's currently less than 1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues.

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Should Frozen Tools tweet this information regularly and spit out some more somewhat surprising names, I'll try to make this a regular feature in the Ramblings for the next little while. Happy searching!

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.

UPCOMING GAMES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency PHI Players
22.2% SEAN COUTURIER CLAUDE GIROUX JAKUB VORACEK
15.3% NICOLAS AUBE-KUBEL MICHAEL RAFFL NATE THOMPSON
14.8% DEREK GRANT SCOTT LAUGHTON TYLER PITLICK

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