Ramblings – What’s Ahead for the NHL’s RTP? Also – 10 Players to Watch Based on Pts/60 Indicator (June 22)
The Fantasy Prospects Report (14th Edition) was released on Friday (June 12) and updated June 19!
The Draft is likely happening in October after the 24-team playoffs that is forthcoming, so instead of posting an update as per usual in late June with a Mock Draft, I will post the Mock Draft update in October. Whenever the draft order is set, then we will update the Fantasy Prospects Report.
Last week I added a few player links and a couple of new charts. I still plan to add links to the Draftees and put in our ranking for each player, and will chip away at that this week and next.
Late last week we had the surprising and heartbreaking news that multiple sports figures tested positive for coronavirus. I don't think any of us believes that the athlete is in danger of dying, but we all understand the importance of stopping the spread. So our concern lies in the NHL playoffs and what will happen as a result. I am going to try and settle some of those concerns.
Should the NHL have bothered with a 2019-20 postseason to begin with? I think anyone in the position that the league was in would have tried their best to figure out a way to still make this happen. So let's not blame the NHL for trying. I also think that everyone involved in the process of making this work (or trying to), is staying positive. Even if one or two of them is only 51-49 in favor of playoff hockey, or some of them are even against having the playoffs, the bottom line is that a decision wasn't easy. But now that it's made, it's made. And all focus should be on making it happen, with everyone in lockstep in terms of achieving that goal.
Eleven players have tested positive, including Auston Matthews. Are we in trouble? No more than we were to begin with. This is Phase 2. If the NHL didn't think that some players would test positive, we would have skipped Phase 2 and went from Phase 1 directly to Phase 3. This is the reason for players and staff skating in groups of six. What is a concern, however, are the players and the mood among them. While I think the younger guys are gung-ho to get back out there, some of the older players feel that this is moving too fast. But those are the players with millions in the bank already. Those are the players with families. Will all players get to vote on this return-to-play format? This is the part that concerns me in terms of whether or not there will be playoff hockey – and not the positive tests. With the NHL testing and the smaller groups of players early on, I think that everyone will be cleared by mid-July and Phase 3 can proceed. A quarantine after that, with Hub cities in Canada, and all the healthy players will stay healthy.
Both Hub cities in Canada? That's what we're hearing now. With Canada down to averaging 300 new cases per day (fewer than that on Sunday) and the United States still hitting close to 30,000 per day, it's what makes the most sense. The trend, from what I'm seeing, is Canada hitting 100 or even fewer new daily cases by the time the NHL wants to start in late July. In British Columbia there are 178 currently active Covid-19 cases, and just over 500 in Alberta. By July 30, the NHL's target start date, those provinces could be completely clear (it certainly looks as though BC will get there). So I think Vancouver and Edmonton will be the two Hub cities.
So don't feel down, or lose hope, with news of positive tests. There will be a few more this week, don't you doubt. But the quarantines and recoveries thereafter will work and there are still 19 days before Phase 3.
Mining for value using the Pts/60 Report in Frozen Tools, and filtering in a 15-game minimum, here are the top 10 players who stuck out at me. None of them will shock you and I'm sure you had most of them on a list of expected players on the rise. These are players who rank high in the league in terms of their production per 60 minutes of ice time:
Kailer Yamamoto (17th) – the Oilers actually seem to be doing this one right and bringing a prospect along in just the right way. I have some concerns about Yamamoto's ability to stay healthy, but as far as points-per-games-played goes, I think he'll do better next season than most people think.
Kevin Fiala (18th) – He had 26 points in his last 18 games, so I'm sure you have already concluded that next season will be a biggie…
Andre Burakovsky (28th) – He started off fairly well, but then suffered an injury. Upon his return, his production was back to the Washington Burakovsky production so we all just moved on. But wait – he found his groove again in January and posted 20 points in 17 games. The problem is, Burakovsky gets injured every season. But I think 65 points in 70 games or something along those lines is in the cards for next season.
Jakub Vrana (33rd) – Pretty steady each quarter, but it was only in the third quarter that he got the first-unit PP time. That meant an additional three points for him. If he got that throughout it would mean an additional 10-15 points, which would put him up to 70 next year easily.
Anthony Mantha (44th) – Once again the problem is the ability to stay healthy, but if this guy can ever play 80 games (he has done it once) then I think he's an 80-point player.
Dominik Kubalik (46th) – The surprise rookie ended up on an 82-game pace to reach 55 points and 36 goals. But he had 33 points in his last 35 games. As Chicago's only 30-goal scorer besides the mighty Kane, you know Kubalik will get a ton of ice time in Year 2.
Adam Gaudette (53rd) – This one, to me, is the biggest surprise name in the Top 60. I know Vancouver loves him and I knew he was a tremendous asset in his role on a depth line. He's been stuck playing with pluggers, and has been used on the second PP unit. But man, did he ever take advantage of the limited PP time? Twelve (!) power-play points despite averaging barely 90 seconds of PP time each game! He's a player who could see a boost with more PP time and better linemates, but my confidence in those things is 50-50 at best. For now, anyway.
Nikita Gusev (54th) – Gusev's struggles in the first quarter rested primarily in his inability to produce on the power play. But he caught on by December, picking up his first PPPt on December 2 after 22 games without one. After that – 15 PPPts in 44 contests.
Robert Thomas (65th) – I remember getting a handful of questions early in the season asking if he's ever going to see his potential (he started with four points in 16 games). His 38 points in the last 50 games was fifth on the team, but it was just four points behind first (Ryan O'Reilly).
Dylan Strome (67th) –Strome's ice time was cut in February by more than four minutes. He had returned from an ankle injury and they were likely just easing him back into the lineup. Give him a Mulligan for the one point in 11 games that he picked up in February. He'll come back huge next year.
See you next Monday. Be safe. We're almost there! (In Canada. But in the US, well…)
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