Ramblings: Types of Players at an Advantage (or Not) Should Regular Season Resume (May 15)
Which players would hold some kind of advantage should the regular season resume? I've seen this question asked a number of different ways on Twitter, so I'll try to tackle it here. The best way I can probably answer it is to provide general categories of players as opposed to a list of specific players that you should target or avoid.
This answer assumes that the NHL goes ahead with its rumored plan to restart in July. Depending on what happens, one or more of these thoughts may not be relevant, depending on how the season is restarted… if it is restarted at all. In other words, don't bet your first-born child's college education that all of this will play out as planned. If the season is cancelled, none of this will matter anyway. There are still too many unknowns at this time.
The two-month pause has allowed many players to recover from injuries while no new players have suffered injuries as a result of game action. For fantasy owners hanging onto players on IR, this is like finding money under the sofa cushions that could be anywhere from spare change to a $100 bill. A significant number of players who were injured in March should be ready for game action by July, if not right now. To find out who should be ready and who still won't be, check out our latest Injury Ward article.
On a personal and related note, thank goodness I didn't trade Mark Stone in my keeper league for more immediate help. Anyone else who didn't make a similar trade of an injured stud for a short-term but lesser option must be thanking their lucky stars. Conversely, I feel your pain if you went all in this season in the hopes you would win, as I made a few other trades sacrificing the future to try to live for the moment.
How Swede it is
As you may know, Sweden has decided to implement fewer restrictions than other countries in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. I'm not going to evaluate the effectiveness of this plan, but instead focus on the hockey-related implications. Generally speaking, Swedish players have had greater access to their normal training routines, while players in other countries have experienced more stringent lockdowns. Even with the expected 2-3-week training camp before the season resumes, Swedish players should already have a leg up on players from other countries.
Jacob Markstrom has been able to benefit from both being able to heal from his injury and living in Sweden. I'm wondering if by designing this shiny new mask, he expects the season to resume, and if not, to re-sign with the Canucks for 2020-21.
More games could still be better
This assumes that the NHL restarts with the regular season exactly as it was left off, as opposed to starting with some type of playoff format such as the 24-team playoff being discussed. Carolina and the NY Islanders provide the most opportunities for games (14 games remaining), while everyone else either has 13, 12 or 11 games remaining. Even if all these games are played, they could be played in hub cities while being more closely condensed than originally designed. In other words, if this does turn out to be an advantage, I wonder how much of an advantage it will really be.
On that note, I wonder how motivated the Detroit Red Wings will be, having already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Should the season restart with the 24-team playoffs, non-playoff teams could be looking at a long layoff. Under that scenario, I wonder how rusty players from those teams would be once the 2020-21 season finally starts.
Potential rule changes
Major League Baseball will likely use a universal designated hitter should its season resume, which will no doubt have fantasy baseball implications with the increased number of at-bats among certain hitters, particularly among National League teams. Any possible rule changes in hockey may not have that kind of impact, but they still make great talking points.
Socially distanced hockey could mean no fighting, no scrums after whistles, and wingers maintaining two feet of distance. That will result in fewer penalty minutes and quite possibly fewer hits, which would hurt Tom Wilson's value in multicategory leagues. However, I wonder how on board players would be with these changes. If opponents don't maintain two meters of distance, can I whack them with my stick?
Full face shields have also been discussed. Players might have a hard time adapting, especially those who don't normally use a face shield. Extra protection is never a bad idea in a contact sport, but hockey players are creatures of habit.
I'm not sure how banning spitting will affect the fantasy game. Somebody help me with that one.
Won’t play because of the current situation
Another reference to baseball, I know. You may have heard Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell’s comments about not playing this season unless he receives his full salary. Given the current pandemic, not every NHL player will be on board with continuing the season, especially considering they may be away from their families for a while in a host city. As mentioned earlier, players from non-playoff teams in particular might have an issue, since they definitely won’t be playing for the Stanley Cup. It’s possible that players feel more comfortable with a plan once they know more about it. Hockey players often don’t rock the boat in interviews, but an interesting comment or two may trickle out. Whether that would lead to a player refusing to report remains to be seen.
If you think there are any other factors worth mentioning, feel free to list them below in the comments.
Thought #6 from Elliotte Friedman's latest 31 Thoughts:
"Since Martin Jones became San Jose's starter in 2015–16, he leads all goalies in minutes played (20,548) and appearances (353) — both regular season and playoffs."
I was curious to find out if Jones was near the top in terms of wins. Turns out, he is tied for third with Tuukka Rask and Pekka Rinne with 155 wins (regular season only). Frederik Andersen is second with 158 wins, but the runaway leader is Braden Holtby with 181 wins.
I'm still finalizing the May edition of the Top 100 Roto Rankings, which you'll see later today (Friday). Of course, you can view the April rankings here. Be sure to leave any feedback, of course.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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