Potential multi-cat targets for 2020-21

Tom Collins

2020-05-11

While points-only pools are my favourite type of fantasy leagues, there's something fun about being in a league with peripherals that give value to players you normally wouldn't draft.

A few years ago, I won a one-year head-to-head Yahoo pool that included PIM, blocked shots and hits, and a large portion of that success was due to Mark Borowiecki and Radko Gudas. They occupied two of my three starting defensemen spots, almost guaranteeing me the victory in at least two of those categories each week.

Below are 10 players that should see increases in peripheral statistics for next season.

For this list, I want to concentrate on the next generation, so I'm only looking at players who are under the age of 25. Because of this, just missing the cut was Matt Roy, but I wanted to take a minute to talk about the 25-year-old's season. Although he played 25 games a season ago, this year was officially his rookie campaign. In 70 games, Roy had 112 shots, 132 hits and 100 blocked shots, making him one of only 12 players to hit triple digits in all three categories. His ice time increased from 15:33 in the first 21 games to over 19 for the rest of the season, so expect those peripheral numbers to increase next year if he continues to average 19 minutes a game.

As well, instead of focusing on prospects who may not get a shot to play in the NHL next year, I'm only looking for guys already playing in the NHL. There's no point in telling you about a player that you should focus on for next season that may not even play in the NHL.

Some players, such as the Tkachuk brothers and Timo Meier, aren't included as they've already pretty much hit the peak of their peripheral stats.

Honourable mention: Dennis Gilbert

Gilbert doesn't quite make the list as there's no guarantee he will even in the NHL next season. However, if he does and can play almost a full season, he may be the next Gudas or Borowiecki. The 23-year-old played in only 21 games this year (which was his rookie campaign), but had 38 PIM, 74 hits and 33 blocked shots. That paces out to 148 PIM, 289 hits and 129 blocked shots over 82 games. He won't necessarily hit those numbers over a full season, but he's a safe bet for peripherals anytime he is in the lineup.

10. Drake Batherson

After a couple of poor games to start the season, Batherson was much better when he was recalled in January. In 23 games, he had 13 PIM, 32 shots and 51 hits while playing 15:34 per game. Even though it's a small sample size, over 82 games, that projects to 46 PIM, 114 shots and 181 hits. He's expected to eventually play a top-six role, which will only help increase that shot total.

9. Luke Kunin

One of the Wild's biggest issues is that they don't give their young players enough playing time, but that will hopefully changing in the next few years as Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal become free agents. Despite a decrease in ice time this year by a half a minute per game, Kunin saw a significant increase in many peripheral stats. In 63 games, he had 55 PIM, 128 shots, 64 hits and 54 blocked shots. That blocked shot number was tied for 20th in the league among forwards.

8. Filip Hronek

For Hronek, and pretty much anyone on the Red Wings, you have to be really forgiving of the plus/minus (this year's minus-38 for Hronek was third-worst in the league, and 12 of the 20 worst players for plus/minus played for the Red Wings at some point). However, in a couple of years, this guy is going to be a stud. He's already manning the team's top power-play unit, which will look even better once Filip Zadina and potentially Alexis Lafreniere is on it regularly. However, he's also a solid contributor in other categories. In 65 games this season, Hronek had 125 shots, 46 PIM, 105 hits, and 74 blocked shots.

7. Ryan Graves

Graves was only given 11 minutes a game in his 26-game rookie season in 2018-19, but that jumped up to 19 minutes per contest this season. Anyone that drafted him was rewarded, as he finished with 45 PIM, 134 shots, 112 hits, and 150 blocked shots in 69 games. Add in nine goals, 26 points and a plus-40 into the mix (tops in the league), and you have a player who was able to contribute in every category. His ice time also rose this season from around 16 minutes per game at the start of the season to 22:37 at the end.

6. Neal Pionk

It may seem obvious now, but not many fantasy general managers had faith that Pionk was going to be a great player with the Jets this year. That's why he was undrafted in 95 per cent of Yahoo leagues. He's still unowned in 16 per cent of Yahoo pools. While he broke through with 45 points (25 of them on the power-play), don't overlook his peripherals, where he had 177 shots and 165 hits in 71 games. I would have liked to see more blocked shots than his 78 but the rest is great.

5. Erik Cernak

It's quite possible that next season, Cernak will reach that rare stat line of 150 shots, 200 hits and 100 blocked shots. He probably would have hit those marks this year if the season wasn't suspended, as the 22-year-old had 125 shots, 172 hits and 97 blocked shot in 67 games. He also had 59 PIM. He doesn't get the chance for offense in Tampa Bay, so you are drafting him simply for his peripherals.

4. Brendan Lemieux

If you're in a keeper or dynasty league that uses peripheral stats, Lemieux is already a must-own. In one-year leagues that include penalty minutes, he's a must-draft. This season, he had 111 PIM and 164 hits in only 59 games (he missed some time due to a hand injury). However, his ice time was up almost four minutes a game from a season ago, and he was also able to register 52 blocked shots, which is pretty high for a forward. A bonus is that he did see some time on the second power-play unit, where he was able to chip in with five power-play points. Add in 86 shots, and you've got a player that can contribute in almost every fantasy category. 

3. Mikhail Sergachev

The former Montreal Canadien (it still stings to type that) is a popular breakthrough candidate every season due to his offensive capabilities (at least 32 points every season and twice already hitting double digits in power-play points). However, don't overlook what he can bring you in peripherals. This season, Sergachev had 58 PIM, 118 shots, 106 hits and 99 blocked shots in 70 games. His ice time was up almost two-and-a-half minutes per game, and more importantly, he started seeing some time on the penalty kill, which helps increase the number of blocked shots.

2. Charlie McAvoy

Can you have a fourth-year breakout for peripheral stats? If that is the case, then next season should be insane for McAvoy. While he may not hit the heights we originally envisioned for him on the offensive side (he doesn't get power-play time, even when Torey Krug is out of the lineup), he's been excellent in peripheral categories. This year, he had 41 PIM, 101 shots, 131 hits and 131 blocked shots in 67 games.

1. Andrei Svechnikov

Svechnikov will be the next great power forward, and he's almost arrived already. However, I feel like he still has another gear when it comes to peripheral stats. In 68 games, he had 54 PIM, 183 shots and 116 hits. Put that out over 82 games, and you're looking at 65 PIM, 221 shots and 140 hits from a player who would have also scored 30 goals and hit 74 points. Keep in mind that he turned 20 years old in March, and he's still a couple of years away from his prime.

UPCOMING GAMES

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency WPG Players
26.8% KYLE CONNOR NIKOLAJ EHLERS BLAKE WHEELER
21.1% CODY EAKIN JANSEN HARKINS MATHIEU PERREAULT
17.4% ANDREW COPP ADAM LOWRY JACK ROSLOVIC

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