20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts

by Mario Prata on April 29, 2018

Every Sunday until the start of the 2018-19 regular season, we'll share 20 Fantasy Thoughts from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week's "Daily Ramblings".

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

 

1. The Sabres are the big winners of the draft lottery, giving them the opportunity to draft Rasmus Dahlin first overall. Buffalo arguably needs this player more than anyone, as they have been held together with a paper-thin defense in recent seasons.

Dahlin’s presence would ease the burden on Rasmus Ristolainen, who the Sabres have leaned on heavily at over 25 minutes per game over the last three seasons. This overuse has put undue pressure on the 23-year-old defenseman, who is a career minus-102 over four and a half seasons, including a minus-25 last season. The Dahlin effect could result in a slight reduction in Ristolainen’s point totals and peripheral stats resulting from ice time, but make him a more effective defenseman overall.

I know it’s not a perfect comparison, but I tend to think of Victor Hedman’s development when I think of where Dahlin will be next season. Hedman did not crack 30 points until his fifth season, when he broke through for 55 points in 2013-14. Dahlin might be even better than Hedman but don’t expect an inexperienced defenseman on a rebuilding team to take the fantasy hockey world by storm next season. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t target him for your keeper league team, of course. Hedman did play in the NHL the year he was drafted, so I would expect the same from Dahlin. Just temper your expectations for 2018-19. (apr29)

 

2. We've now learned that the fresh smell of spring brings with it flamethrower-Jake Guentzel. And boy, does the young Pen enjoy setting the world on fire. He sits second atop the playoff leaderboard with 16 points in seven games, just one behind Boston’s David Pastrnak. Guentzel's 37 points in 32 playoff contests thus far in his NHL career represents a 1.16 point-per-game output. That mark slides him into the top 10 all-time for players with at least 25 playoff games.

What can we expect from Guentzel next season and where he should land in fantasy drafts hinges on a few things:

– Does he maintain his spot next to Sidney Crosby for more than the 66 percent of even-strength ice time he saw in 2017-18?
– Does he manage to work his way onto the top power-play unit in lieu of newly re-signed Patric Hornqvist? (This is a biggie).
– How inflated will his value you be on draft day due to this continued playoff excellence?

Last season, despite the massive point production, it appeared that the inexperience of just 65 NHL games under his belt played a role in assessment. Guentzel was the 104th player off the board on Yahoo last season. Though dual eligible for centre and left-wing, he was the 23rd LW selected on average. It’s difficult to say if you can count on snagging him in the ninth round again next fall, but if you can, that seems like a prudent move to make. (apr28)

 

3. Of all things to happen in this Leafs-Bruins series, for me, it was a coming-out party for Jake DeBrusk. He never took a game off and his speed was too much for the Leafs blue line to handle. Beyond the speed, he was going hard to the net at all times and showed good finish.

Assuming Rick Nash doesn’t sign, maybe DeBrusk can be their net-front guy on the power play next season. I am very interested in his potential fantasy value. He’s a guy that’s made an impression on me all season and the playoffs cemented the belief he can very productive in the fantasy game. (apr26)

 

4. Now that he’s in his prime years and is acclimated to the NHL, Stars’ John Klingberg having this kind of season isn’t a huge surprise. The question is whether he can replicate it next year? Ken Hitchcock is gone, so how will a new coach affect Klingberg’s production and shot rates?

With Dallas’ elite scoring talent and top power-play unit, I’m not overly concerned about point production. Can he keep up the shot rates, though? I’m optimistic if only, as mentioned, he’s in his prime now and should be comfortable enough to shoot when he deems it necessary. Maybe his new coach won’t want him doing that unless absolutely necessary. We’ll see. (apr26)

 

5. The World Championships usually aren’t at the forefront of hockey news at this time of year but I was intrigued to see that both Olli Juolevi and Miro Heiskanen are on Team Finland’s roster.

Heiskanen is of particular interest here, along with Julius Honka. Dallas undoubtedly needs a bit of help on the blue line and Heiskanen being able to step into the NHL lineup next year, along with Honka finally being given regular minutes, would be nice to see. There is some good competition at that tournament so watching to see how they hold up could give fantasy owners a glimpse into next season. (apr26)

 

6. Avs’ Sven Andrighetto got off to a good start this past year with five goals and 12 points through the first 20 percent of the season. Then he went a couple weeks without a point, got injured, and never really found that early-season success again. He was used basically as a third-liner in the playoffs.

One area that stuck out is the scoring depth for Colorado. Their top guns are great, they have a solid blue line (especially if a couple of their prospects pan out), and they should be fine in goal. But they need more middle-six scoring. The top line was great with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen over a point per game and Gabriel Landeskog finishing at 62 points, but the next-closest after that was Alex Kerfoot at 43 and no other forward had more than 37. Colorado needs a few players who can put up 20 goals and 45 points. Do they have that in-house?

I imagine this team will be patient and allow guys like Kerfoot, Tyson Jost, and JT Compher to develop on their own before making any sort of big splashes. That would include Andrighetto, as well. Outside of top power play minutes, he should be given every chance to succeed next year and the fact that he was a go-to guy outside the top line for Colorado gives me hope. Call it cautious optimism. (apr27)

 

7. William Karlsson is well-known for his out-of-nowhere 40-goal season but something that doesn’t get mentioned enough is the Vegas pivot’s strong two-way play. Karlsson was definitely worth consideration for the Selke Trophy because of his penalty-killing ability. Perhaps that is why he couldn’t get off John Tortorella’s checking line in Columbus. (apr29)

 

8. Miles Wood was the only player in the NHL this season to play at least 75 games, earn under 1000 minutes in total ice time, and still put up at least two shots on goal per game. That’s a lot of shots in not much ice time, particularly for a second-year player.

New Jersey struggled to score at times when Taylor Hall was off the ice but Wood had a good season with 19 goals and a manageable shooting percentage. It’s a wonder where he fits into New Jersey’s plans next year, though. He was effective in the bottom-six, providing some scoring and good two-way play. They have wingers that need signing, and if not, some other wingers they’ll go sign or trade for. Wood might get some minutes in the top-six this year but I’m not sure he’s a mainstay. With decent peripherals, though, a guy who shoots this much is a nice deep-league asset in multi-cat leagues. (apr27)

 

9. Since getting to the NHL, Andreas Athanasiou leads Detroit in goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five (1.11) by a considerable margin (next-closest is Anthony Mantha at 0.80). In his 1800-plus minutes in that span, he’s sandwiched between Jeff Skinner and Brad Marchand league-wide.

Despite Detroit not being a high-volume team, Athanasiou’s volume relative to the team is extremely high, which is why he can score a lot of goals without a high shooting percentage; it sits at 9.23 percent through 172 career games. Athanasiou has high shot rates and that plays well on a team that doesn’t take a lot. He’s highly skilled and has probably earned a long-term contract. Will the team give him one? (apr27)

 

10. Finding players who shot a lot in the lower minutes range, maybe with a low shooting percentage, can make for good deep league values in 2017-18. Maybe it was an injury-shortened season, maybe it was a call-up, maybe it was a guy buried in the bottom-six. These types of players can eventually have breakout years. Recent examples are guys like Brendan Gallagher, Jason Zucker, and Viktor Arvidsson. (apr27)

 

11. My affinity for Oscar Klefbom is well-known but Darnell Nurse had himself one heck of a season. The raw production wasn’t anything to write home about with 26 points but 194 shots, 161 hits, 153 blocks, 67 penalty minutes, and a plus-15 rating will play well in any multi-category league.

There is a lot of fixing needed in Edmonton. They need scoring wingers, they need to rebuild the bottom-half of their defence corps, and special teams need a complete overhaul. It’s going to be tough to make heads or tails of the Oilers even once we get into August. Where does Nurse stand in the power-play hierarchy? Second? Third? Where does he stand if they bring in a true PP QB? Is Klefbom going to be traded? Will the power play just flat-out suck again? Who knows.

The thing is, in multi-cat leagues, Nurse doesn’t really need power play time to bring a lot of value. If he can manage 6-7 goals and 25-30 assists, with his peripherals, that’s just fine. It’s nice to see him shooting as much as he is at five-on-five. (apr26)

 

12. Morgan Rielly’s rate of 5.73 per 60 minutes was 2.03 assists/60 minutes greater than the next-highest NHL blueliner (Dustin Byfuglien at 3.70). The gap between Rielly and Byfuglien was similar to the gap between Byfuglien and 40th-place Noah Hanifin at 1.68. Rielly had 16 secondary power-play assists in 2017-18; he had 18 for his career before this season.

Toronto obviously has a lot of talent but don’t forget that they still split power-play minutes between two groups; there was eight seconds of difference in PPTOI/game between Rielly and Jake Gardiner. That secondary assist rate is going to crash next year. It’s not to say he can’t be productive again with the man advantage but expecting him to cruise past 20 PPPs again is misguided. (apr24)

 

13. Mikhail Sergachev finished ninth among all defencemen in shot attempts with 100 minutes of power-play time. He also finished ninth among all defensemen with 1000 minutes of ice time in five-on-five shot rate. His peripheral stats don’t look great because he just wasn’t given much ice time but it was a very impressive rookie campaign.

Sergachev’s short-term problem in Tampa Bay is that Victor Hedman is signed until I hit my mid-life crisis, so getting those coveted top power-play minutes anytime soon is unlikely barring injury. As great as his season was, and until he gets those minutes, his upside his capped, even with additional 5v5 minutes. All the same, a productive first season on the PP blue line. (apr24)

 

14. Colin Miller is still not getting the respect he deserves across the league, be it by media or fans. His relative shot share at five-on-five is among the elite in the game since he entered the league. I’m very bullish on Miller, as I was back in his Boston days.

It’s fair to wonder if Miller gets an even larger role next year. He will still probably have to keep splitting power-play duties with Shea Theodore (among others), and maybe the Golden Knights don’t score as much next year at five-on-five. Hopefully, an increase in ice time at five-on-five (he was sixth in this regard on the team’s blue line) can offset a potential decline in team scoring. If he keeps shooting like he has on the PP, though, his power-play point totals should be relatively stable. (apr24)

 

15. Flames’ new coach Bill Peters says he’s more of a pairings guy than a line guy. This kind of reminds me of 2016-17, when no-name Alex Chiasson was a frequent linemate of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Last season it was Micheal Ferland and it wasn’t even close (88.6 percent of Ferland’s even-strength minutes were with Gaudreau and Monahan). Peters could be open to many more possibilities, though, so there’s a chance that this hire hurts Ferland. He led the Flames with 171 hits last season, so he’s an option in leagues that count that category no matter what. If he can stay with Johnny and Sean, then he can easily build on his first 20-goal, 40-point season. But if not, his value takes a hit. (apr24)

Assuming Mikael Backlund remains as the second-line center, forwards such as Ferland, Matthew Tkachuk, Michael Frolik, and Sam Bennett will be up for possible line redistribution. But as Dobber said in his Fantasy Take, expect a bump in power-play goals for the Flames. There’s more overall talent on Calgary’s first-unit power play than there was in Carolina. (apr25)

 

16. Obviously, power-play production is a huge component of value for any skater but it’s especially true for defencemen; no forward among the top-10 in points was close to having half their production come with the man advantage (the closest was Sidney Crosby at 42.7 percent). Meanwhile, Shayne Gostisbehere had over half his production come on the power play, while Tyson Barrie had exactly half. Others like John Carlson were just under 50 percent. (apr24)

 

17. In Manhattan, Alexandar Georgiev is a great goalie to roll the dice on for the short term. I believe Igor Shesterkin is a potential franchise goalie but he won’t be along for three years. So, Georgiev has a three-year window to take advantage and steal some starts from a fading, aging goalie in Henrik Lundqvist. Albeit a legendary one, but fading nonetheless.

Georgiev could win that starting job on Shesterkin before Shesterkin is ready, similar to the way Jonathan Quick stole it from Jonathan Bernier a decade ago. If you remember, Bernier was the Golden Boy 11th overall pick and was supposed to be the next one … but Quick never let up. Meanwhile, Bernier’s skills eroded sitting on the bench until he was traded. (apr23)

 

18. Ville Husso in St. Louis is in an even better position than Georgiev. His team’s No.1 goaltender is unproven and has far from cemented a status as a legend. Furthermore, Jake Allen makes far less than Henrik Lundqvist. Husso could actually be the Blues’ starter by the end of 2018-19, leaving Allen as an overpaid backup for the remaining two years of his contract. Elsewhere, Arizona’s Adin Hill is a far better prospect goaltender than I thought. And with Antti Raanta now a Band-Aid Boy, Hill is another goalie to invest in. (apr23)

 

19. There are so many great goalie options at the age of 22, 23 or 24. So, why on earth are you drafting 18-year-olds? A guy in my league drafted Ilya Samsonov three years ago. That’s three years of zero points. Plus this coming season for zero points, plus 2019-20 for minimal points. Five years of just rotting on a fantasy team’s bench. Last summer was when I would have drafted him. Late. This summer, I would draft him early. I can have a guy do nothing on my bench for two years but I just can’t abide doing it for five. That’s five years of trying out other prospects and possibly striking it rich with two of them. Samsonov is the best prospect goalie out there but wait time is important. Bench space is important. (apr23)


20. I can’t believe how long goaltending has been the story for the Flyers. I feel bad for them because they’ve been trying everything to find a solution, from giving Ilya Bryzgalov a monster contract (he had been a top goalie for Phoenix before that), to signing or trading for any goalie that becomes available. If you look at their depth chart, they have 12 goalies in their system and I think that’s the most of any organization. Reminds me of some fantasy teams – it’s just as hard to solve that problem in fantasy. In the end, they’ll need to wait for Carter Hart or Felix Sandstrom to save the day. (apr23)

 

Have a good week, folks!!