Ramblings: Placeholder Team Wins First Overall Pick, Top Frozen Tools Searches Burakovsky, Bjorkstrand (June 27)

Ian Gooding

2020-06-27

If Phase 1 of the Draft Lottery was the only new entertainment we as hockey fans receive for a while, then it was well worth the half hour. The only outcome more intriguing than a placeholder team winning the first overall pick would be if all of the first three picks went to placeholder teams.

That placeholder team (or to be more precise, Team E) will have the opportunity to choose Alexis Lafreniere. However, if Cam Robinson were the GM of Team E, he would pick Quinton Byfield. View his final 2020 NHL draft rankings if you haven't already. I don't know if I agree with Cam (and I certainly don't put in the work that he does watching prospects), but I admire his bold take.

Entertaining? Yes. Fair? Not so sure. If the NHL wanted to deter teams from tanking for the first overall pick, then it has accomplished its purpose. The Detroit Red Wings, with the lowest point percentage of any team in 20 years, fell as far as they could to the fourth overall pick, losing the first overall pick to a team with just 2.5 percent odds of winning it. If you combine all eight placeholder teams, a placeholder team was more likely to land the first overall pick (24.5%) than the Red Wings (18.5%), so maybe we should have expected this. Although I have faith that Steve Yzerman can rebuild the once-proud franchise, that's the worst possible outcome for a team that needed as many positives as it could get.

In case you're wondering what happens if the play-in cannot be completed…

Not long after I saw this, I then wondered about who exactly these bottom 8 teams would be. Good grief.

So if you're a fan of a team that is in the play-in tourney but not one of the bottom 8 teams of that group (like I am), a more favorable outcome would be to lose in the play-in series than for it to not happen at all (and thus not experience the agony of defeat). Some fans of those teams will even prefer that their team loses than wins since their first overall pick odds (12.5%) from losing the play-in series will most likely be better than their Stanley Cup odds from winning the play-in series (6.25%, if every team in the round of 16 has the same odds). Then again, it's just math, and this probably won't be it for weird outcomes.

In case you missed it or don't have it memorized by now, here's the draft order:

1. Placeholder team

2. Los Angeles Kings

3. Ottawa Senators

4. Detroit Red Wings

5. Ottawa Senators

6. Anaheim Ducks

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Buffalo Sabres

Of the 16 teams remaining that could claim the first overall pick, which would you least like to see win it?

In a DM chat with a couple of my fantasy league mates, we managed to name all five of the teams listed in this article before I saw it! The only other team we came up with was the Rangers. (Put down your tomatoes, Rangers fans. That wasn't me. I will take responsibility for most of the rest, though.)

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Since we've been talking draft, this is probably a good time for me to mention that the 2020 Fantasy Hockey Prospects Report is available. Head over to the Dobber Sports Shop and download yours! You can read about the top draft-eligible prospects, as well as prospects already drafted and/or signed.

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Over the past two summers, we've used the last week of July (aka the middle of the dead zone) to hold Bubble Keeper Week. Yet based on the results of the poll below, Bubble Keeper Week will be postponed to later this year.

We don't have firm dates for Bubble Keeper Week 2020 yet, but I would expect it to be sometime during the abbreviated offseason in the fall. The benefit of this nothingness over the past few months will likely be a shorter slow period during the offseason, so we will have to figure out when that will be.

If you've never heard of Bubble Keeper Week, it's a week where our usual weekly features discuss players that would be considered "on the bubble" to many keeper leaguers. None of your studs or blue-chip prospects. In a pile of commons (to use hockey card terminology), we try to unearth a hidden gem or two that might just be worth hanging on to.  

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Here are the top Frozen Tools searches from the past week:

As I've done in previous weeks, I'll discuss reasons that players new to this list might be of interest to fantasy owners.

Andre Burakovsky

Take a look at Burakovsky's season-by-season point total. His first season in Colorado was his best, as he reached 20 goals and 45 points for the first time in his career. Then take a look at his 82-game pace (a new column on Frozen Tools). Over a full season, he was on pace for 64 points. Of course, he wouldn't have reached it because he missed 12 games due to injury. Yet because other Colorado players also missed time with their own injuries, Burakovsky finished third on the team in both goals (20) and points (45).

Side note: The Avalanche were so decimated by injury this season, only two of their players played all 70 of their games: Samuel Girard and Matt Nieto.

This spike in production is what happens when a player receives additional opportunity. Although Burakovsky's 15 minutes per game did not even come close to leading the team, it was a four-minute per game increase from the previous season in Washington. What's more, his 2:23 per game in power-play time was the highest of his career, which also led to a career-high 11 power-play points.
Burakovsky was mainly a second-line scoring threat with Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi, although those aforementioned injuries led to some time on Nathan MacKinnon's line.

There are still areas of concern, though. Burakovsky scored those 20 goals on just 103 shots, which works out to be an overall 19.4 SH%. Although he's never been a high-volume shooter, there is some concern of a possible regression in the goal department considering that his shooting percentage is usually between 12-14%. In addition, Burakovsky is listed as a Band-Aid Boy trainee, as he has suited up for 70 games in just two of his six NHL seasons.

Burakovsky helped provide the Avs with some much-needed secondary scoring this past season. If he can stay healthy for all of next season, then we could very well see that 60+ point campaign play out for real.

Oliver Bjorkstrand

This is one of Dobber's favorite players, so I better hype him up as well. (Nah, who am I kidding?)

Bjorkstrand is a player worth taking seriously, though. If you simply look at point totals and nothing else, his second consecutive season of 20+ goals and 36 points and his third consecutive season of 160-165 shots playing on a defensive-minded Blue Jackets squad likely won't grab your attention. If you frequent this site, however, chances are that you know that the underlying numbers suggest that he is a player on the rise.

Because of two separate injuries, Bjorkstrand's points-per-game increased from 0.47 (38-point pace) to 0.73 (60-point pace). Moreover, Bjorkstrand caught fire after a rough October. From November 1 on, Bjorkstrand was a near point-per-game player, scoring 34 points in 37 games. That also included 19 of his 21 goals, which over a half season would have put him on pace for 40 goals. Even though Bjorkstrand missed 21 games, those 21 goals were enough to lead a goal-starved team.

For anyone trying to do some early prep for a playoff pool, Bjorkstrand should be ready for the play-in series against Toronto. When he was injured with a high ankle sprain and fracture on February 20, he was expected to miss 8 to 12 weeks. (Banger favorite Josh Anderson won't be ready, if you're looking further down the Jackets' lineup.)

There's absolutely no reason for Bjorkstrand to be on anything less than the top 6 or first-unit power play for Columbus, though he does play on the same side of the ice as the more established Cam Atkinson. Either way, Bjorkstrand is a player you can target as a post-top 100 sleeper for next season.

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

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency VAN Players
23.7% J.T. MILLER ELIAS PETTERSSON TYLER TOFFOLI
20.8% BROCK BOESER BO HORVAT TANNER PEARSON
19.7% TYLER MOTTE BRANDON SUTTER JAKE VIRTANEN

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