Eastern Conference Players Who Dominated Peripheral Stats

Brennan Des

2020-07-14

In fantasy hockey, there are certain players we consider to be dominant in certain categories. For example, it's a common belief that Alex Ovechkin reigns supreme in goal-scoring, that Patrice Bergeron is a face-off king and that Pittsburgh's elite power-play results in a lot of power-play points for the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. In this week's Eastern Edge, I tried to find out which players have displayed dominance in peripheral categories (plus/minus, shots, hits, blocks, faceoff wins) over the past few years. Check out last week's article where we looked at offensive categories (goals, assists, points, power-play points).

The Process

First, I determined the top-10 players in each category over the last four seasons (19-20, 18-19, 17-18, 16-17). If a player appears in one of the tables throughout this article, it means that they finished in the top-10 of that category at least once over the past four years.

I came up with a 'Dominance Score' to reflect how well a player performed in a particular category. Players were rewarded if they ranked highly within the top-10 (i.e. finishing second in goal scoring would give you more points towards your Dominance Score than finishing eighth in goal scoring) and for making the top-10 in multiple seasons. I did this because both quality and consistency should be considered when assessing dominance in a category. A more detailed view of my point system is shown below:

Performance Quality
NHL Leaderboard RankPoints Towards Dominance Score
1st10
2nd9
3rd8
4th7
5th6
6th5
7th4
8th3
9th2
10th1
Consistency
Number of Seasons in Top-10Points Towards Dominance Score
10
25
310
415

For each category below, you'll see a table with four main columns. The first column – Rank – essentially tells you which player has been the most dominant in that category over the last few years. It's based on the Dominance Score you see in the right-most column. The third column – NHL Leaderboard Rank – shows you where a player ranked within the top-10 for each of the last four seasons. You'll see a dash if they didn't crack the top-10 that particular year. To give you a quick example, in the Plus/Minus table, you'll see that Hedman finished seventh in 2019-2020 and sixth in 2017-2018.

Plus/Minus

RankPlayer19-2018-1917-1816-17Score
1Victor Hedman7th6th14
T2Ryan Graves1st10
T2Mark Giordano1st10
T2William Karlsson 1st10
T2Jason Zucker1st10
T2Ryan Suter1st10
T7Artemi Panarin 2nd9
T7Ryan McDonagh2nd9
T7Jonathan Marchessault2nd9
T10Jaccob Slavin 3rd8
T10Dougie Hamilton 3rd8
T10Brett Pesce3rd8
T10Sean Couturier3rd8
T10Josh Manson3rd8
T10Yanni Gourde3rd8
T10David Savard3rd8
T10Jared Spurgeon3rd8
T18Mikael Backlund4th7
T19Brayden Point5th6
T19Anthony Cirelli 5th6
T19Brian Dumoulin5th6
T19Brooks Orpik5th6
T23Elias Lindholm6th5
T23Teuvo Teravainen6th5
T23Ron Hainsey6th5
T23Dmitry Orlov6th5
T27Dustin Brown7th4
T27Reilly Smith7th4
T27T.J. Oshie7th4
T30Valeri Nichushkin8th3
T30Nikita Kucherov8th3
T30Zdeno Chara8th3
T30Connor McDavid8th3
T30Justin Schultz8th3
T30Mikko Koivu8th3
T36TJ Brodie9th2
T36Anton Stralman9th2
T38Nick Bonino 10th1
T38Claude Giroux 10th1

I've always hated plus/minus as a fantasy hockey category and the results of this experiment only added fuel to the fire.

Over the past four years, not a single player has consistently ranked in the top-10 of plus/minus rankings. For every other category covered in this series (goals, assists, points, power-play points, shots, blocks, hits, faceoff wins), at least a few players have display consistency – cracking the top-10 three or four times in the past four years. In contrast, plus/minus produces a new set of names atop the rankings each season. Victor Hedman is the only player who's made the top-10 multiple times over the last four years – and he's only done it twice.

I think plus/minus takes away from some of the strategy of fantasy hockey because it's so unpredictable from year to year. You can't really plan for it the same way you can plan for other categories and I find it frustrating that the results are mostly out of your control. Sure, you can target players on good teams and avoid players on bad teams, but that still doesn't offer the same level of predictability that exists among other categories.

With all that being said, I also acknowledge that we have our own preferences and some of us might prefer an element of randomness in our fantasy hockey leagues. I mean, part of the fun of fantasy hockey is the unpredictability – things rarely play out exactly how you expected. So, maybe I'm the old man yelling at a cloud here and plus/minus isn't as bad as I'm making it out to be. I will say though, I enjoy fantasy hockey a lot more now that my leagues have stopped counting plus/minus as a category. So maybe try it out and see what you prefer.

Shots

RankPlayer19-2018-1917-1816-17Score
1Alex Ovechkin2nd3rd1st2nd51
2Tyler Seguin9th4th2nd4th40
3Patrick Kane6th2nd7th5th39
4Nathan MacKinnon1st1st8th33
5Brent Burns7th3rd1st32
6Vladimir Tarasenko5th6th16
T7Max Pacioretty3rd9th15
T7Auston Matthews4th8th15
9David Pastrnak5th10th12
10Brendan Gallagher6th10th11
11Patrice Bergeron3rd8
12Evander Kane4th7
13Jack Eichel5th6
14Vincent Trocheck6th5
T15Roman Josi7th4
T15Jeff Skinner7th4
T17Brady Tkachuk8th3
T17Cam Atkinson8th3
T19Dylan Larkin9th2
T19Nikita Kucherov9th2
T21Kyle Connor10th1
T21John Tavares10th1
T21Taylor Hall10th1

As you can see, Ovechkin loves his shots – and I don't mean vodka. The crazy thing is, the table above doesn't even capture how dominant Ovi has been in shot volume throughout his career. Through his 15 seasons in the NHL, Ovechkin has never failed to crack the top-5 of this category. He finished with the most shots in 10 of 11 seasons between 2005 (his rookie campaign) and 2016, with 2011-2012 being the only exception.

It's worth noting that Brendan Gallagher was on pace to crack the top-10 for a third-straight season but a concussion kept him sidelined for too many games.  Gallagher is an underrated high-volume shooter and provides lots of value in fantasy leagues that count shots.

Hits

RankPlayer19-2018-1917-1816-17Score
1Ryan Reaves1st1st9th10th38
2Matt Martin5th5th2nd31
3Tom Wilson3rd4th10th26
4Adam Larsson9th6th6th22
5Brandon Tanev4th3rd20
6Milan Lucic7th2nd18
7William Carrier6th4th17
T8Lawson Crouse9th2nd16
T8Mark Borowiecki10th1st16
10Radko Gudas10th4th13
11Robert Hagg8th7th12
12Nikita Zadorov1st10
13Brady Tkachuk2nd9
T14Chris Wagner3rd8
T14Luke Schenn3rd8
T16Michael Del Zotto5th6
T16Marcus Foligno5th6
18Cedric Paquette6th5
T19Nick Foligno7th4
T19Nicolas Deslauriers7th4
T19Brandon Dubinsky7th4
T22Rasmus Ristolainen8th3
T22Nick Ritchie8th3
T24Brayden McNabb9th2
T24Alexei Emelin9th2
26Cal Clutterbuck10th1

Now that Tom Wilson has added an element of offense to his game, he's become a much more valuable fantasy hockey asset. He's one of a few players on this list that can put up 50 points alongside 200+ hits and 100+ penalty minutes.

Another player who blends offensive talent with toughness is Brady Tkachuk. This season, the 20-year-old forward ranked third in penalty minutes, second in hits and eighth in shots. He managed an impressive 50-point pace on an Ottawa roster that doesn't exactly possess an abundance of offensive talent.  He's going to be a multicategory beast for years to come.

Blocks

RankPlayer19-2018-1917-1816-17Score
1Kris Russell3rd1st1st38
2Andy Greene5th1st4th33
3Alexander Edler3rd8th3rd29
T4Niklas Hjalmarsson2nd6th19
T4Ian Cole5th3rd19
6Alec Martinez2nd8th17
7Mark Giordano7th5th15
8Brent Seabrook4th9th14
9Oscar Klefbom1st10
T10David Savard2nd9
T10Erik Karlsson2nd9
12Ivan Provorov10th9th8
T13Christopher Tanev4th7
T13Calvin de Haan4th7
15Patrik Nemeth5th6
T16Ryan Graves6th5
T16Jacob Trouba6th5
T16Brayden McNabb6th5
T19Travis Hamonic7th4
T19Marc-Edouard Vlasic7th4
T19Danny DeKeyser7th4
T22Darnell Nurse8th3
T22Codi Ceci8th3
T24Ryan Pulock9th2
T24John Carlson9th2
T24Dan Girardi9th2
T24Andrej Sekera9th2
T28Connor Murphy10th1
T28Ryan McDonagh10th1
T28Esa Lindell10th1
T28Ron Hainsey10th1

Faceoff Wins

RankPlayer19-2018-1917-1816-17Score
1Ryan O’Reilly1st1st1st2nd54
T2Jonathan Toews2nd3rd6th8th40
T2Anze Kopitar4th6th3rd6th40
4Sidney Crosby5th2nd9th27
5Bo Horvat3rd2nd22
6Patrice Bergeron5th1st21
7Aleksander Barkov4th5th18
T8Phillip Danault6th7th14
T8Claude Giroux9th4th14
10John Tavares10th4th13
T11Dylan Larkin7th8th12
T11Mikko Koivu10th5th12
13Travis Zajac9th7th11
14Vincent Trocheck7th10th10
15Ryan Kesler3rd8
T16Jordan Staal8th3
T16Paul Stastny8th3
18Ryan Johansen9th2
19Leon Draisaitl10th1

If you're looking for a less-expensive alternative to Patrice Bergeron, Phillip Danault is your guy. He's defensively responsible and strong in the faceoff circle, so he's earned coach Claude Julien's trust to take draws in all situations. He skates alongside Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar – who may not possess the same offensive flair as David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand – but can score goals nonetheless. Danault remains criminally underrated in fantasy hockey formats but I think he's a really valuable asset that you can steal in the later rounds of your draft.

Claude Giroux's faceoff dominance becomes all the more valuable when you consider his multi-position eligibility in Yahoo leagues. That means you can slot him in as a winger in your fantasy lineup and he can provide faceoff wins in addition to the centers in your lineup.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency CGY Players
25.2% JOHNNY GAUDREAU SEAN MONAHAN TOBIAS RIEDER
22.9% MIKAEL BACKLUND ELIAS LINDHOLM ANDREW MANGIAPANE
22.1% SAM BENNETT DILLON DUBE MILAN LUCIC

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