Ramblings: Roto Rankings Risers – Hellebuyck, Makar, Wilson (June 5)
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On Thursday, more details on the return to play plan were announced.
I am generally satisfied with these in terms of a fair Stanley Cup playoff tournament. A winner will have had to win the full 16 games, and this year it will be a minimum. If a play-in team wins the Stanley Cup, it will take 19 wins. It will basically be like a Memorial Cup tournament for the play-in teams because of the long layoff followed by a minimum of three games that could determine the team’s season. How fair this will be will depend on whether you like the team that wins, of course.
The only downside is that a shorter tournament would increase the likelihood of a Stanley Cup winner if there's another COVID-19 outbreak that shuts the league down. For that reason, I'm fine with the play-in being a best-of-5. I am old enough to remember first-round series being best-of-5's, so this is hardly unprecedented.
Speaking of COVID-19, the Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that one of their players had tested positive for the virus. The good news is that the player has recovered and feeling well.
Later Thursday, the NHL also announced that Phase 2 of its Return to Play Plan will begin on Monday, June 8. Teams will be able to reopen their training facilities to allow up to six players at a time to participate in individualized off-ice and on-ice training activities.
Earlier this week I made some significant changes to the Top 100 Roto Rankings, which you'll see on the 15th. Between now and then, I may make further changes. You can, of course, view the May Roto Rankings.
I'm also open to the changes that you suggest. So far, I've received suggestions to remove Dylan Larkin from the top 100 while adding Mikko Rantanen back into the top 100. Based on that feedback, I've lowered Larkin's ranking (although I'm reluctant to remove him completely), while Rantanen will be a no-brainer add into the top 100. I had removed Rantanen when he was injured in February, but from what I understand, he should be able to return from injury once play resumes.
I'm going to use the Ramblings over the next few days to preview a few of the changes I've made. I'll start with players who I plan to move up the rankings, barring injury or other unexpected circumstance. On a future date I plan to cover players who I plan to move down.
Included in the risers are a possible Vezina Trophy finalist and a possible Calder Trophy finalist. I'll also be comparing each player to another similar player.
I've read a few articles recently comparing Hellebuyck and Tuukka Rask in the Vezina Trophy race. Let's compare their stats.
Mike got into a bit of a comparison of Hellebuyck and Rask in his Vezina Trophy nominees in yesterday's Ramblings. I'm going to stick to the fantasy roto categories (W, GAA, SV%) and explain why a) Hellebuyck will move up the rankings, and b) Hellebuyck isn't the top-ranked fantasy goalie.
Hellebuyck's 31 wins was second only to Andrei Vasilevskiy, while his 58 games tied Carey Price for the league lead. In my opinion and likely many others, Hellebuyck was the Jets' most valuable player this season, bailing out a defense that experienced the massive losses of Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers. In fact, that no-name Jets' defense finished the season with a top-10 goals against per game played. That had a lot to do with Hellebuyck's league-leading 23.22 GSAA (goals saved above average). As a real-life goalie, Hellebuyck should arguably be a Vezina Trophy winner.
Fantasy-wise, Rask is more valuable. In spite of playing 17 fewer games than Hellebuyck because of what is basically a 55/45 regular-season split with Jaroslav Halak, Rask earned only five fewer wins. If your league dings you for losses, Hellebuyck had 13 more of those. In addition, both Rask's goals-against average and save percentage are better than Hellebuyck's. Rask no doubt plays in front of a better team and stronger defensive system, which will help his numbers. But in that element of fantasy, you don't have to peel back the layers that far to determine the raw ability of the goalie – you just have to benefit from the end result.
If the Jets can somehow upgrade their defense this summer, then Hellebuyck's numbers could become even stronger.
Similar to the goalies, I'll list Makar next to the player that he is compared to the most often these days, which is fellow rookie d-man Quinn Hughes.
I've admitted on this website a few times that I'm a Canucks fan. However, I think Makar has had the slightly better season and deserves the Calder Trophy. (For the record, it would be nice if Hughes can pull it off, though.)
In his rookie season, Makar's points-per-game puts him in the company of forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Mathew Barzal, and Anthony Mantha. Among defenseman, only slam-dunk Norris Trophy finalists John Carlson and Roman Josi posted a higher points-per-game average. To think, it might only go up from here. Makar is also higher in shots per game, hits, and plus/minus than Hughes, which will justify him being ranked higher than Hughes.
The argument I'm hearing here in Vancouver about why Hughes should win the Calder has to do with where the Canucks would be without him versus where the Avalanche would be without Makar. The Avalanche are simply a better team that is further along in its development at the moment (not to mention they've been much better at managing the salary cap than the Canucks). However, if the NHL.com panel reflects the hockey writers that vote on the Calder, Makar should be able to walk away with the award.
Wilson will be moving up, but perhaps not by a significant amount. I did find something interesting when I was comparing Wilson to another similar player in the top 100 in Brady Tkachuk.
I just found it interesting how these two bangers ended up with the exact same goal and assist totals. Fantasy owners might think of the younger Tkachuk as more of the scorer and Wilson as more of the banger. That might become more apparent in the coming years, but Wilson actually had the better points-per-game total because he played in three fewer games. As well, Tkachuk had the higher hits total than Wilson, who might be more known for playing on the edge than the sophomore Tkachuk. Tkachuk also had more penalty minutes (106) than Wilson (93).
In case you're wondering whether Wilson is becoming more of a scorer and less of a banger, that is true for the most part. Wilson's point total represents a career high, while his penalty minute total is his lowest over his seven-year career. However, even though Tkachuk outhit Wilson, the Capital's hit total tied for his career high despite 14 fewer games.
The Capitals have four more years at just over $5 million per invested in Wilson, so it makes sense that they'll continue to play him on the opposite wing of Alex Ovechkin with either Nicklas Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov centering them. In fact, over half of Wilson's even-strength minutes over each of the past three seasons have been on Ovie's line. As long as that arrangement continues, Wilson will be a must-own in any bangers league.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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