Ramblings: Ceci Signs with Penguins, Grzelcyk Re-Signs, More Top 100 Roto Discussion – Dubois, Meier, Wilson (Oct 18)
The Bruins were able to avoid arbitration with Matt Grzelcyk, signing him to a four-year contract with an AAV of $3.6 million.
Grzelcyk recorded a career-high 21 points (4g-17a) in 68 games last season. If that doesn't seem significant, there's the potential for a lot more given the Bruins' situation in 2020-21. Because they haven't really signed a replacement for Torey Krug, the point man for the first-unit power play is still up for grabs. That job should go to either Grzelcyk or Charlie McAvoy, neither of whom will provide the skills that Krug has. McAvoy is a first-unit shutdown defenseman who is an opposite-hand shot to Krug. It's not a sure thing, but don't be surprised if Grzelcyk becomes the power-play guy, which gives him potential sleeper value assuming the Bruins don't sign or trade for another defenseman with power-play experience.
Another consideration regarding the Bruins' power play: David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand are currently recovering from offseason surgery. Depending on when the 2020-21 season starts and the actual time they need to recover, one or both may miss the start of the season. If that's the case, Ondrej Kase or the recently-signed Craig Smith could be in line to take Pastrnak's role on the power play, while Jake DeBrusk (unsigned at the moment) should take on Marchand's role. Not having Pastrnak or Marchand on that first-unit power play could also factor into Grzelcyk's potential power-play opportunity.
The Penguins have signed blueliner Cody Ceci to a one-year, $1.25 million contract. Ceci's one-year contract with the Leafs last season was for $4.5 million, so this is an example of a player taking a significant pay cut based on the economic climate of 2020. Say what you want about Ceci's ability, but he fills the need of a right-shot defenseman, which become more difficult to find deeper into the offseason. The term is short and the cap hit is small, so the signing isn't of Jack Johnson proportions to the Penguins even if Ceci healthy scratches his way out of the lineup.
Fantasy-wise, hopefully Ceci's minutes don't encroach on those of John Marino. In his rookie season, Marino produced a very respectable 26 points (6g-20a) in just 56 games. Ceci's salary and term suggest that he should be used as a third-pairing defensemen, but there may be the temptation to use him in the top-4 as he was in Toronto (which didn't go well). Hopefully that's not the case, not only for Marino owners but also for Penguins fans.
In yesterday's Ramblings, I listed five players that could break into the Top 100 Roto Rankings in 2020-21. They aren't all necessarily sleepers or young up-and-comers – just players that you could make a strong case in being within the top 100.
As I also mentioned yesterday, there are going to be solid arguments for over 100 players to be listed in the top 100. Yet the top 100 can only fit 100 players. I mentioned that for players that I am considering, I'm using a wait list. Based on some recent feedback, I'm going to add at least two more names to that list.
The Blue Jackets center was in the top 100 at one point, but I had removed him in July because he had failed to reach 50 points during the regular season. There are a handful of forwards in the top 100 who did not reach 50 points in 2019-20, some of whom did not play a full season and a few who are bangers (I discuss two of them later). Dubois managed to play a full season, and he does have some banger value (100+ hits in two of his three seasons). Even though he did not reach 50 points, he still led the Blue Jackets with 49 points.
Since then, we've had a postseason, where Dubois stood out with 10 points, 27 shots, and 20 hits in 10 games. Leafs fans in particular may remember him for his hat trick in Game 3 of the Toronto/Columbus series, but Dubois scored six of his points in five games against the eventual cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The strong postseason no doubt helps Dubois' cause to return to the top 100.
There's also something else to keep an eye on for Dubois: he is about to enter his fourth NHL season, the breakout for many players. To his advantage, he has never missed a game over three NHL seasons. The Blue Jackets don't boast a loaded scoring attack, but the offseason addition of Max Domi could take some of the pressure off the Dubois line to produce. He's definitely in the conversation for top-100 value.
Dubois is currently an unsigned RFA, so those in salary cap leagues will need to keep an eye on what his contract will look like. In his Top 200 Free Agent Salary Projections, Alex projects a cap hit of just over $6.7 million for Dubois.
I also had Meier in the top 100 at one point, but he was another casualty of San Jose's disappointing 2019-20 season (like Tomas Hertl mentioned yesterday). In fact, he was in the exact same boat as Dubois because he led his team in scoring in spite of not being able to reach the 50-point mark. Still, Meier's 0.7 PTS/GP placed him among the likes of Dubois, David Krejci, Sean Monahan, and teammate Erik Karlsson.
There's more to the Top 100 Roto Rankings than scoring, though. Meier scored 30 goals in a breakout 2018-19, and he could very well do it again if centers Hertl and Logan Couture can remain healthy, unlike what happened in 2019-20. In addition, Meier took a career-high 155 hits in a season that was cut off at 70 games, so there's potentially more where that came from.
I like the Sharks as a potential bounce-back team, particularly if the 2020-21 schedule offers a higher concentration of regional games. That's why I'd probably take Meier's minus-22 with a grain of salt. We can't assume they're a playoff team, though, so plus-minus may still be a concern. In addition, Meier has a relatively low power-play-point total throughout his career, reaching 9 PPP in 2019-20 after a career-high 10 in 2018-19. He's not a shoo-in for first-unit minutes, considering that the Sharks will likely use twin towers Karlsson and Brent Burns on the points and can also offer Couture, Hertl, Evander Kane, and Kevin Labanc up front.
Although I don't think Meier is quite there as a top 100 option based on last season, I still think he's a player to watch. The benefit to you could be that if you draft him outside your top 100, he could deliver top-100 level results if more goes right for the Sharks in 2020-21.
I also received some feedback on my ranking of Tom Wilson (#55) being too low if hits/penalty minutes are considered. Keep in mind that the Roto Rankings do not count penalty minutes as a category, but hits are definitely a category. (I am using default Yahoo categories, since they are likely the most common combination of categories in multicategory leagues.) If you're in a league that counts both hits and penalty minutes along with only a few other categories, you're going to want to move Wilson into your top 50. Now that would be a true bangers league.
In my comment on Wilson's ranking, I mentioned that he had an identical goal (21) and assist (23) total to Brady Tkachuk. To be clear, Tkachuk reached that total in three fewer games. Tkachuk is currently ranked #42, so he's a good player to compare to Wilson. Comparing bangers to pure scorers might not always be seamless, but it's also worth mentioning that it's easier to find hits leaders on your waiver wire than scoring leaders.
Tkachuk had more hits (303) than Wilson (253) last season. This may sound surprising because Tkachuk is the more highly-pedigreed scorer (4th overall pick in 2018). Wilson was also a first-round pick (16th overall in 2012), but it's usually the first few picks (give or take a few) in any draft that stick out in a draft. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Tkachuk comes out on top in shots on goal, and it's not really close (259-154). Power-play points are virtually even, while plus-minus favors Wilson.
Wilson is a must-own in any roto league, particularly since his scoring has increased over the last few seasons (0.23 PTS/GP in 2016-17 to 0.45 PTS/GP in 2017-18 to 0.64 PTS/GP over 2018-19/2019-20). His power-play time has increased as well, particularly over the past few seasons as he is being used in a more offensive role. As his scoring has increased, his hits totals haven't changed (over 200 for six consecutive seasons). Yet if Tkachuk can deliver just as many hits with more scoring upside, then I'd have to keep Tkachuk above Wilson, which means I can't move Wilson much higher than where he is now. Keep in mind that Tkachuk is only entering his third NHL season and is only going to improve from here.
For more fantasy hockey discussion, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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