21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles

Mario Prata

2021-02-14

Every Sunday, we’ll share 21 Fantasy Rambles from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week’s 'Daily Ramblings'.

Writers/Editors: Ian Gooding, Michael Clifford, Cam Robinson, and Dobber

1. I know a lot of you out there like Nikolaj Ehlers, and even more so if he starts getting that first-unit power-play time that has eluded him. Yet there’s nothing but red in the advanced stats (19.6 SH%, 14.1 5-on-5 SH%, 4.4 PTS/60, 1110 PDO). The good news for Ehlers is that Pierre-Luc Dubois has been more of a second-unit power-play guy for the Jets since joining them, while last season’s PPQB1 Neal Pionk is also now on the second unit. So the power-play points won’t completely dry up, even if his 5-on-5 scoring cools off. (feb13)

2. So, what’s going on with Mika Zibanejad? Thus far, Zibanejad has one goal on 39 shots, a cool 2.6 percent conversion rate. He has never been below 10 percent in a full season and shot at least 12 percent three years in a row coming into this season. Yes, there is positive regression coming. He won’t stay at 2.6 percent shooting.

But it is worth digging into what’s going on here. For that, I turned to HockeyViz and his shot locations. We saw that he had no problem getting to the net and a lot of his shots were from within 20 feet. We know scoring rates go up as we get closer to the net, so this all makes sense. That last season led to a career-best in goals is not surprising.

What’s going on this year? Glad you asked. There is a wild, wild change in pattern. He went from almost exclusively shooting from the slot to almost exclusively shooting from beyond the tops of the circles. There is a stark difference in shooting 20 feet away from the slot and 40-45 feet away from the circle.

So when I say that Zibanejad has positive regression to come, he does. He won’t shoot 2.6 percent. But will he shoot nearly 20 percent if this is where he’s taking his EV shots? I very much doubt it. He is not Patrik Laine or Alex Ovechkin. His offensive impacts, so far this season, are the worst of his career. Not only is he shooting from far away, but they’re not even driving a lot of shots. It really is a bad combination.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Zibanejad had COVID in the offseason.

Will he turn it around? Yes. He won’t post five goals and 15 points this year. But will he be anywhere close to the player he was last year? I think we have a lot of reasons to doubt that. For that reason, buying low on him in fantasy really needs some calculus. If you think he’s scoring 25 goals in the next 42 games or whatever, you may be in for some disappointment. (