Ramblings: Roto Rankings Fallers – Burns, Monahan, Kuznetsov, Yandle (Jun 7)

Ian Gooding


A couple days ago in the Ramblings, I mentioned a few names that I plan to bump up the Roto Rankings when I post the June rankings. Today I'm going to focus on players who will be moving down the rankings.

Full disclosure: In adjusting the rankings for June, I have been moving more players down the rankings than up. There are several players who have quietly not performed up to expectations… perhaps a little more under-the-radar than players like Phil Kessel and P.K. Subban, who had completely fallen out of the Top 100 during the season. So there may be more fallers that I discuss in the near future.

Maybe one or more of the following players should fall out of the Top 100, but I'm going to keep them in there, at least for now. If you think they should be banished for another player not in the Top 100, feel free to state your case.

Brent Burns

Burns didn't just fall last season – he crashed. Yet that's what will happen when a player has set such lofty standards at his position such as 65+ points, 25+ power-play points, and 300 shots on goal. As Dobber pointed out in his Players Who Won't Bounce Back, Burns' power-play time has dropped nearly a minute over the past two seasons. Apparently, there are only so many minutes for Burns and Erik Karlsson to share.

Burns is still a worthwhile own in fantasy – he's simply no longer the blueliner you could plug in and dominate a bunch of roto categories. It's worth mentioning that at age 35, it's unlikely that he will return to his previous benchmarks. So what is the "new normal" (to borrow a term that is overused nowadays)?

Much will depend on whether the Sharks as a team are able to improve their overall production. As well, Burns will benefit if Karlsson continues to miss more than a handful of games (at least 10 missed in each of the past three seasons). But let's modestly assume Burns' production doesn't change next season. Over an 82-game season (another assumption, in more ways than one) Burns will score just over 50 points, take over 250 shots, and record about 20 power-play points.

In spite of the down season, Burns was still tied for second in shots and just outside the top 10 in scoring among defensemen in 2019-20. That's still worthy of a spot in the top 100 roto players – maybe even the top 50. He may be a depreciating asset, but not one worth writing off yet.

Sean Monahan

If I drafted Monahan this season, I would have come away underwhelmed. This was a player who scored at over a point per game last season, but this season he found himself at a similar pace to David Krejci and Jordan Eberle. Not terrible players, but not point-per-game players either. All of the Flames' top players were down in scoring, including Monahan's most frequent linemate Johnny Gaudreau (who will be knocked down the rankings as well).

I tried to find out if there were any categories that Monahan was dominant in this season, and here's what I found: Monahan did not finish in the top 50 of any of the categories of goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points, hits, and shots on goal. So needless to say, there's no way he should be inside the top 50 among skaters. Keeping him in the top 100 might even be a reach at this point.

However, there may be reasons for at least a slight bounceback. For one, if the Flames' offense as a whole improves, then so should Monahan's production. Also, Monahan's 5-on-5 shooting percentage was down to 7.1%, which is slightly lower than the 8 – 10.5% that he has shot throughout his career. If you're looking at the glass half full, Monahan has scored at least 20 goals in each of his seven NHL seasons, which gives him a certain dependability. Yet considering he also plays at the deep center position, be careful not to overvalue him.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov hit his peak two seasons ago, scoring at over a point-per-game pace in both the regular season and playoffs while being a major component in the Capitals' first Stanley Cup. Since then it's been a steady decline, finishing the 2019-20 season with 52 points (19g-33a) in 63 games.

Kuznetsov's fantasy value declines further when you consider that his peripherals aren't that strong. If we apply the same test to Kuznetsov that we did for Monahan, Kuznetsov did not fall into the top 50 in any of goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points, hits, and shots on goal either. Particularly noticeable is the shots on goal, where Kuznetsov's 129 SOG is his lowest since 2014-15, even though he has never reached 200 SOG in his career. Kuznetsov also finished with 12 PPP, which is partially due to a %PP dip from 74% to 60.6%, but still a major drop from the 31 PPP and 23 PPP he posted in his previous two seasons.

If you're expecting a major rebound next season, Kuznetsov's shooting percentages don't signal anything will be on the way. In fact, his 14.7 SH% in 2019-20 was the highest of his career. His three-game suspension to start the season didn't turn out to be the reason, since he was a point-per-game player during the first half. He finished the season with just 12 points in his last 23 games. I'd like to drop Kuznetsov further than I will be, but the Capitals are one of the league's top offenses year after year, which could in itself spark some kind of turnaround.

Keith Yandle

I profiled Yandle last month when I was discussing defensemen with low blocked shot totals. At the time, I focused on his low blocked shot/hits/penalty minute totals, his current ironman streak, and his heavy contributions to power-play points through the years.

About those power-play point totals… Yandle dipped from a career-high 39 PPP last season (third in the NHL) to just 21 PPP (tied for 28th). That's not a terrible number by any means, but this power-play decline was close to the difference between his overall scoring last season and this season. Granted, he wasn't able to play a full season, but he was on pace for a nine-point decline overall. Maybe after how exceptional last season was, we should have expected the power-play point total to drop.

Yandle simply wasn't shooting the puck as much. Last season he averaged about 2.4 shots per game; this season, just under 1.9 shots per game. This lack of shots also affected his goal total, which was down to five this season with no goals in his past 21 games.

Yandle declined in all the major roto categories, with the exception of plus-minus, where he improved from a minus-17 to a zero. Because of these declines, I will be pushing him down the rankings. How he performs next season will have a lot to do with the Panthers' power play, but something like 50 points and 25 power-play points still seems within reach.


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


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