Forum Buzz: Buying Gaudreau; Joel Armia’s future; Domi’s talent level, and more

Rick Roos


Welcome back to Forum Buzz, where I peruse the DobberHockey Forums and weigh in on very active, heavily debated, or otherwise relevant recent threads, reminding everyone how great of a resource the Forums are, especially now that the season is paused. Nearly anything might be covered here, other than trades and signings, which usually get separate write-ups on the main site and are also covered in the next day’s Ramblings, or questions specific to salary cap issues, which is the domain of Alex MacLean’s weekly Capped column.

As a reminder, you can access the forum thread on which the question is based by clicking on the “Topic” for each question.


Topic #1 – In a 10 team, keep 6 league (1 keeper must be a goalie or defenseman), with these categories: G, A, +/-, PIM, PPPts, SHPts, SOG, FOW, W, GAA, SV percent, SV, SHO and with active lineups consisting of 3C, 3LW, 3RW, 5D, 1UTIL, 2G. Five keepers are earmarked as Nikita Kucherov, Johnny Gaudreau, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mark Scheifele, and Frederik Andersen. Who should be the last keeper from among Anthony Cirelli, Vincent Trocheck, Boone Jenner, Timo Meier, Sean Couturier, Jeff Petry, John Klingberg, Thomas Chabot, Dougie Hamilton, Pavel Francouz, Elvis Merzlikins, Joonas Korpisalo, Ilya Samsonov, and Philipp Grubauer

First off, I think Gaudreau and Scheifele might need to be reconsidered. Even assuming Gaudreau can rebound, multi-cat is his weakest format. As for Scheifele, he is what he is at this point, namely an 80-85 point scorer with decent but not great peripherals. Depending on how the others look, one of both of them might not make the cut.

First and foremost, Hamilton is a must keep. As noted two weeks ago in my mailbag column, Hamilton's 2019-20, although abbreviated by his injury and the season's early stoppage, was one for the ages, putting him in the company of only Brent Burns, Al MacInnis and Ray Bourque in terms of defensemen over the last 30 years. He's a cornerstone keeper – he's that good, and likely to get even better.

As for other potential keeps, to replace one or both of Gaudreau or Scheifele, the names that stick out are Trocheck and Chabot. If this was two years ago, and Hits counted, maybe Trocheck would be a candidate for keeping; but he didn't dazzle in his limited time in Carolina and more and more it looks like his one great season in 2017-18 was exactly that… great season. As for Chabot, even with him taking a step back for 2020-21 his star is on the rise. But he plays for Ottawa, which will hurt him in terms of not just his +/- but also scoring. Yes, the same could be said for the 2018-19 Sens when Chabot produced at a 64 point pace; but that team averaged 2.95 goals per game, versus 2.67 this year. Chabot will shine, just not soon enough to keep.

So in the end Gaudreau and Scheifele make the cut, with the other keep being an easy Hamilton.


Topic #2 – In a simulation league where 9 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 1 goalie count toward the standings, what are the top four players from this group: Cale Makar, Jack Hughes, Kirby Dach, Kappo Kakko, Nikita Gusev, Adam Fox, Dominik Kubalik, Barret Hayton, Gabriel Vilardi, Igor Shesterkin, Erik Brannstrom, Joel Farabee, and Ilya Samsonov?

The top two slots belong to Makar and Shesterkin for certain. Makar more than amply showed he's a superb talent, whereas Shesterkin will, at worst, be a 30-35 start machine who could, especially if Henrik Lundqvist is bought out or retires, steal the #1 job and run with it. Either way, what you'll get from Shesterkin will be great; and by 2021-22 he'll be a true #1 and poised to be a top five league netminder.

For the next spot, give me Fox. Yes, Tony DeAngelo had better production; however, Fox is the d-man whom the blueshirts will position to be "the guy" on defense. Not only was Fox on a streak of 11 points in nine games before the season was prematurely stopped, but his ice time per game increased each quarter from 17:25 in Q1 to 20:23 in Q4. Yes, Tony DeAngelo had a superb season and he too was getting heaps of ice time, including on the PP. But make no mistake, Fox is the golden boy, and not just because of his pedigree but also since he's on his ELC for two more seasons while DeAngelo will be looking for an expensive RFA raise this offseason (like Ryan Strome). The Rangers might end up dealing one of the two, with DeAngelo's stock likely never higher plus he's more one-dimensional than Fox. And even if DeAngelo is not dealt now, he could be down the road once the Rangers try to load up to make a Cup run. And all the while Fox will just be getting better and better.

The last spot comes down to Hughes, Dach, Kakko and Gusev. I probably don't go with Kakko as three Rangers would be a lot. Hughes is the risk/reward pick, as he probably has the highest ceiling of the three; however, he also might end up being a bust, as although most #1 overall picks of late have fared quite well that's never a foregone conclusion – just ask Nail Yakupov, Rick DiPietro and Patrik Stefan. Dach will benefit from being around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane long enough to come into his own and then be able to lead the team when they're put out to pasture. Gusev was a superb talent overseas and was rounding into form quite well as the season was ending. I think the deciding factor is their age difference, as if this is a team looking to win in the nearer term then Gusev, who's older than Dach by nine years, likely makes more sense; otherwise, go with Dach.Or roll the dice – and cross your fingers – with Hughes.


Topic #3 – In a 12-team, keep 13 league where each team rosters 25 players (no more than three goalies) and has scoring categories of: G, A, P, +/-, PPG, PPA, SHP, GWG, SOG, FW, BLK, HIT, W, L, GAA, SV, SV percent, SO, a team is embarking on a rebuild and wonders if this would be a good trade to get things started: Artemi Panarin + Steven Stamkos for Brock Boeser + Jakub Vrana + Evgeni Malkin. It's also possible to get Travis Konecny in place of either Boeser or Vrana and perhaps even get a second round pick thrown in.

No way do I make this deal. If I have assets like Panarin and Stamkos, who bring real value and name value, I trade them separately to get the best return. For sure try to get Konecny as part of a deal for one of them, since he shined in 2019-20 despite being on a Flyers team which saw its offense decline markedly. I also don't hate the idea of getting Malkin. He probably won't cost much and, more importantly, could be flipped in the first half of 2020-21 before he gets hurt, as there will be a contending team which will convince itself this is 2017-18 yet again and Malkin somehow will defy the odds and play the whole season. In terms of Boeser versus Vrana, I'd try to get Boeser, since if we look at pure wingers who, since 2000-01, averaged at least as many points and goals per game as him over their first four seasons by age 23, we get Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Nikita Kucherov. Plus, with the team unlikely to re-sign Tyler Tofolli, Boeser should slot right back on that potent Canucks top line.


Topic #4 – In a dynasty league with skater categories of G, A, PTS, PPPts, SHPts, PIM, GWG, SOG, HIT, BLK, FOW and where it's very difficult to move anyone age 30+, is trading Steven Stamkos and Ryan O'Reilly for Johnny Gaudreau and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins a smart move?

Just because it's difficult to move players over the age of 30 doesn't mean one should look to unload them when possible. Here's a fun fact – 16 of the 59 instances of 80+ point scorers over the previous four seasons were age 30+ during that same season. So although it is true that players over 30 aren't as impactful, percentage-wise, as those under 30, plenty are still elite.

And that includes Stamkos, who looks to have fully recovered from his injuries a few seasons ago and, just as importantly, is stapled to superstar Nikita Kucherov. I see him as an 85-point downside, 100-point upside player for at least the next couple of years. As for ROR, he not only plays a lot of minutes for a high scoring team, virtually guaranteeing him a path to score 70+ points per season, but he's among the top in the league in FOW.

Don't get me wrong – I think it could be a good time to acquire Gaudreau, whose value might never be lower, plus RNH would be great to obtain if he sticks with Leon Draisaitl and they keep up the fantastic chemistry they had. But parting with Stamkos and ROR is too high a price to pay. In a league like this I'd stand pat, or try to fashion another deal to get one or both.


Topic #5 – What does the future hold for Joel Armia?

Poolies can't be faulted if they forgot Armia was a former first round pick, as it occurred nine years ago and, given that draft slot, he has been an overall disappointment. But just when most everyone had – rightfully – written off Armia, he's been showing signs of life. Most notably, he's seen his point scoring rate and SOGs increase in each of the past three seasons and for 2020-21 was on pace for a point per every other game for the first time in his career.

But before we get too excited, 2020-21 saw him receive 17:10 per game and him taking the ice for nearly 50 percent of Montreal's PP minutes. So while a 42-point scoring pace was a nice step up for him, it's not great output given his ice time. The question is, are we seeing the best he has to offer, or could he continue to step up his game?

I think the key here is to focus on SOG, as he had 155 in 58 games. Only 48 other forwards played in as many games and averaged at least as many SOG. Of them, all but four averaged more points per game, with 37 scoring at a 55+ point per game level. Yes, Armia's SOG per game dropped as the season wore on; however, his ice time didn't and he likely did enough to at least keep his "spot" safe, since if we know anything about Claude Julien it's that once you've earned his trust he'll keep you in his good graces unless you really do poorly.

What should we project for Armia for 2020-21? If he can keep his ice time and SOG rate, he should have a floor of 45 points, especially since his IPP was only 53.6 percent, which marked a four-season low. But his IPP has only once been above 59.0 percent, meaning he does not have a nose for scoring. As such, 55 points might be a stretch. I'd say expect 45, hope for 50, and consider him more likely to drop to 40 than to rise to 55.

(Note: IPP stands for Individual Points Percentage. IPP tells us what percentage of goals scored by a certain team with a player on the ice resulted in that player receiving a point. So if Armia was on the ice for 100 goals by Montreal, and he had a point on 53 of those 100 goals, he’d have an IPP of 53 percent.)


Topic #6 – In a 16 team dynasty league starting 2C, 2LW, 2RW, 3Util, 5D, 2G and with skater categories of G, A, PIM, PPPts, SHPTS, SOG, FOW, and HIT, who's the better own, Max Domi or Sam Reinhart?

If this was last season, it would've been a very different story, as Domi had a stat-stuffing 72 points, 80 PIM, 53 Hits and 447 FOW. But all those numbers went down in 2019-20, with his scoring pace dropping by 20 points, his PIM being cut in half, his Hits nearly in half, and him losing nearly one FOW per game. And this from a Montreal team which managed to play 71 games before the season was halted, or more than most other squads.

Who's the real Domi? Looking at 2018-19 more closely, his personal shooting percentage was 13.8 percent, a good bit above his career rate of roughly 10 percent. That right there was a handful of extra points. But his SOG and PPPts were on a par this season with last, so how do we explain the points discrepancy? By looking at IPP, where in 2017-18 and this season Domi was below 60 percent yet in 2018-19 he was at 75.8 percent. Probably the "real Domi" is not the one who posted a very high IPP, meaning he's likely closer to a 55-60 point player. As for peripherals, sometimes as young players mature they become less rough and tumble, which could be the case here.

In terms of Reinhart, he still lagged below Domi in peripherals, although other than FOW the gap was now far less pronounced. And until a late season slowdown, when the entire Buffalo top line was slumping and Reinhart had no points in eight games, Reinhart was at a 67 -point full-season scoring pace. He also seemed to have bad luck with the man advantage, as he saw the 19th most man advantage time among all forwards yet was tied for 83rd in PPPts. Yes, the Sabres ranked only 20th in PP conversion percentage; however, Reinhart's PP scoring clearly was unsustainably low. On top of that, Reinhart's IPP was 56.2 percent after being 64.4 percent in 2018-19 and 62.5 percent in 20170-18. All things considered, Reinhart probably is a roughly 70 point player, and, due to playing with Jack Eichel and if Buffalo as a team improves, has an outside shot of really exploding to be at or near a point per game level.

So who's the better own? I'm taking Reinhart, as I think Buffalo is only going to get better and his scoring rate should improve due to being victimized this season by unsustainably low PP scoring and IPP. Domi is better than he's shown this year, but not by much; and if his new normal is one where he's less of a "banger" then his peripherals aren't strong enough to give him the edge between the two.


Topic #7 – In a 10-team H2H league with 5 keepers (either 3F and 2D or 3F, 1D and 1G) plus 2 rookie keepers (<81 GP) and with G, A, PPPts, SOG, HIT, BLK, W, SV, SV percent as categories, and the following players to choose from:


C: Nathan Mackinnon, Patrice Bergeron, Jamie Benn (LW)
LW: Andrei Svechnikov (RW), Matthew Tkachuk (RW), Brayden Schenn (C)
RW: Nikita KucherovDavid Perron (LW)
D: John CarlsonRasmus Dahlin, Jacob Trouba, Cale Makar (rookie), Ryan Pulock
G: Sergei Bobrovsky, Philpp Grubauer, Carter Hart (Rookie)


Should the "auto-keeps" be MacKinnon, Kucherov, Carlson, Dahlin, Hart (rookie), Makar (rookie) and, if so, who should be the fifth non-rookie keeper: Svechnikov or Tkachuk?

I think the only potential keep that wasn't mentioned is Bergeron; however, with his inability to stay healthy and there not being FOW or SHP as categories, he probably doesn't make the cut over the names mentioned. So that takes us to the question of Tkachuk or Svechnikov. On the one hand, Tkachuk is hurt by there being no PIM, although Svechnikov is no slouch in that category either. There's also the reality that after keeping Tkachuk off the top line for all of last season, he did see time there in 2020-21, perhaps foreshadowing a more regular spot, in which case his points ceiling certainly rises.

But I think there's no way to position Tkachuk as the better keep than Svechnikov here. Yes, Svechnikov's scoring rate dropped with each quarter; however, he was still scoring at a 74-point pace as a 19-year old. And if we look those who, like Svechnikov and since 2000-01, averaged at least .85 points per game and 2.65 SOG per game on top of 20+ PPPts as a teen, we get Sidney Crosby (twice), Patrick Laine (once), Marian Gaborik (once), and Anze Kopitar (once). Laine's future is yet to be told; however, among the other three both Gaborik and Kopitar topped 80 points twice and Crosby……well, he's Crosby. With all due respect to the enticing potential of Tkachuk, Svechnikov is simply in a higher echelon. There's also the fact that although both play for up and coming teams, Carolina is the one which likely stands to improve more from what we saw this season, and that rising tide will lift all boats, including Svechnikov's. In this case I'm taking Svechnikov and not thinking twice about doing so. This GM should trade Tkachuk, perhaps with Bergeron, to try and get draft picks, as in in keep 50 league there might be suitors for one or both.



Questions for Mailbag column

Once again the Roos Lets Loose readers have filled the mailbag, so I'm all set as far as questions for this month's mailbag column.But if you have a question about your fantasy team or fantasy hockey in general, send it to me and I'll get it in the queue for next month. To get questions to me, private message “rizzeedizzee” via the DobberHockey Forums or, instead, send an email to [email protected] with “Roos Mailbag” as the subject line.


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