20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts

by Mario Prata on May 27, 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. If there was any doubt Brayden Point played over his head during his sophomore year, they should now have been laid to rest. He had 16 points in 17 games and though the shooting percentage was high, he’s posted a high number for his short career so far.

Point was easily the most dangerous forward for the Lightning all through the Washington series and he and Ondrej Palat played very well together throughout the playoffs when given ice time together. It was nice to see Point get consistent top power-play minutes towards the end of the team’s run, as well. If he can stay on that top power play unit next year, this is a point-per-game player in the making. (may25)

 

2. Mikhail Sergachev: hoo boy. This is a guy with a 40-point season as a teenager while putting up top-10 shot rates among defencemen. The young Bolts’ future is incredibly bright and it’s good to see the pressure of the playoffs didn’t get to him. He’s still playing his game and playing it well. (may24)

 

3. Nate Schmidt is probably a more valuable real-life defenseman than fantasy defenseman but we shouldn’t overlook his fantasy numbers. After previously failing to crack the 20-point mark on a deep Capitals’ defense, Schmidt posted a solid 36 points (5g-31a) in 76 games this year. Schmidt checked off all the boxes in this league when I added him: decent offense, plus/minus (plus-19), and solid ice time (these are the only categories that are counted among players in this league). In spite of the lack of offense in Washington, Schmidt was a combined plus-34 over his two seasons there, giving him a plus-53 over his last three seasons.

Schmidt led all Vegas skaters with just over 22 minutes per game in the regular season. The only team blueliner who had more offense than him was Colin Miller, who picked up 41 points. Schmidt still has Shea Theodore looking over his shoulder, as he appears primed to make a greater fantasy impact over a full season next season. So, Schmidt’s offensive ceiling shouldn’t be considered that much higher than what he has already produced. Yet, as far as gems that were unearthed from other teams, Schmidt’s name isn’t discussed enough. (may27)

 

4. Man, Carolina’s Sebastian Aho is going to be a special player – his trajectory of 49 points and then 65 points and then this ridiculous output at the World Championship this year (18 points in just eight games) has me feeling pretty bold about his numbers next season. (may21)

 

5. Long considered one of the top prospects in the world, Brayden Schenn hasn’t quite lived up to his billing. It’s not too often a fifth-overall pick is traded twice in their twenties while being a NHL player but Schenn has managed to succeed despite it. His most recent 70-point output in St. Louis represents a career high. His chemistry with Vladimir Tarasenko means he’s in a strong position to at least come close to replicating it. (may26)           

 

6. OEL is a horse. He logs a ton of minutes and almost always hits double-digit goals. No seriously, Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored 12 or more goals in six of his eight NHL campaigns. As long as your league doesn’t count plus/minus, he’s been good for at least a half-point-per-game in each of the last six seasons. Toss in a 55-point season in 2015-16 and you’ve had a strong blueliner on your fantasy hockey squad for years. With AZ trending in the right direction, his value will continue to hold steady. (may26)

 

7. Matt Duchene peaked early in his NHL career with seasons of 0.68, 0.84, 0.94, and 0.99 in his first five campaigns. It looked like a point-per-game pace would become his norm. However, since 2013-14, he’s averaged 0.68 points-per-game (a 55-point pace). The Sen is still a valuable depth piece but not a player to build your fantasy team around. (may26)

 

8. Some Canucks news came down Friday. The team announced they have signed their most recent first-round selection and top prospect, Elias Pettersson. For my money, Pettersson is the top-rated fantasy prospect in the world. Including the 2018 crop that is about to enter the fray.     

P.S. Apparently the proper pronunciation of his name is “Eh-lee-as Peter-son”. (may26)

 

9. I wonder what this Cup run has done for Braden Holtby’s average draft position (ADP) next year? He burned everyone who drafted him for the 2017-18 season and eventually lost the starter’s job to Philipp Grubauer.

In an alternate universe, Grubauer and the Caps get bounced in the first round and we have a Holtby who lost the starter’s job and couldn’t even get in the cage for the postseason. Instead we have a Holtby who took the job back, helped the Caps come back against the Blue Jackets, posted a .924 save percentage through three rounds, and shutout the Lightning in back-to-back games to get to Washington’s first Cup Final in the Alex Ovechkin era.

He’s probably a top-10 goalie off the board again, yeah? (may25)

 

10. It’s worth noting Dmitry Orlov averaged two shots, two hits, and two blocked shots a game through the first three rounds despite not cracking any of those benchmarks in the regular season.

John Carlson’s future is uncertain in Washington and it seems like the cap-strapped team might have to let him walk. The top PP unit has been built around a right-handed defenseman who can feed Alex Ovechkin going back to the Mike Green days. Orlov is a lefty. Do they change the PP around to accommodate him or just slide Matt Niskanen to that spot?

I hope it’s Orlov and they figure out a way to make it work. It would easily push him over the 40-point plateau for the first time in his career. (may25)

 

11. Timo Meier had one of the highest shot rates in these playoffs among all forwards and led the Sharks in this regard at five-on-five. The news about Evander Kane’s signing will draw the attention, but this really rests on the future of Joe Thornton. In my head, I envision Kane/Joe Pavelski as the top line, Logan Couture with Tomas Hertl on the second line, and Thornton feeding Meier on the third line in a sheltered role. That’s my vision, I’m sure the coach would have other plans.

Should Thornton come back, I will be drafting Meier everywhere I can. That’s an if, though, because with Hertl, Kane, Joonas Donskoi, and others in the mix, it might not mean consistent top-6 minutes for Meier. (may25)

 

12. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Caps’ Jakub Vrana’s individual expected goals per 60 minutes these playoffs: (going into Game 7) 0.91, 10th among forwards with 150 minutes at five-on-five. That mark was ahead of names like James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, and Rick Nash. The problem is he’s shooting 3.85 percent at five-on-five so the actual production hasn’t been there.

Just add this to the mounting evidence that Vrana will be (or already is) a pretty good player. Upside is capped without the top power-play minutes, but he is a guy who will litter my fantasy rosters come September. (may24)

 

13. Evander Kane’s decision to stay with the Sharks should serve as great news for his keeper league owners. After all, Kane looked right at home with his new team (nine goals and 14 points in 17 games) mainly set up on the top line with Joe Pavelski. A while ago, I compared Pavelski’s production with and without the injured Joe Thornton, which showed Pavelski’s production actually improve after Thornton’s injury. Let’s do the same for Pavelski without and with Kane.

  • Pavelski before Kane acquisition: 46 points in 62 games (0.74 PTS/GP)
  • Pavelski after Kane acquisition: 19 points in 20 games (0.95 PTS/GP)

We don’t know what will happen with Thornton in the offseason. But, regardless of whether he is back, the Sharks need to keep their newly-signed left wing with Pavelski to yield maximum gains from both.

Of course, if you’re in a league that counts shots on goal, you’ll want to move Kane up a little in your pre-draft rankings. Kane was fourth in the entire league with 307 shots. The Sharks as a team were second in the NHL with 34.3 shots per game and could be the league leader in that category next season with both Kane and Brent Burns in the fold for a full campaign. Kane hardly slowed his shot total after the trade, staying in the top 5 in that category after the trade with 80 SOG. (may23)

 

14. But, can Kane stay healthy? Being able to stay on the ice is important, especially for fantasy hockey. Having to replace a 30-goal scorer with a waiver wire replacement occasionally is fine. Having to do it for a dozen games can be an issue unless you strike lightning in a bottle. His 78 games last year are a career high. Over the last five seasons, he’s missed 23.7 percent of games, which means he’s averaged about 63 games played over those seasons. That’s not nearly good enough. If he can play 80 games, playing with a top-tier center like Pavelski or Thornton (or both!), then he’s 30 goals and 60 points in the making. If that’s 65 games? Not so much.

Given how well he played with San Jose after the trade, both regular season and playoffs, he won’t be a sleeper at the draft table. We’ll see where his ADP falls, but I’ll probably be out on him for 2018-19. (may24)

 

15. We all know about Mathew Barzal’s breakout season and Josh Bailey’s breakout first half. But, kind of under the radar when compared to his contract situation, John Tavares assembled another impressive season with 37 goals and 84 points – his second-best total in both categories over his nine-year career. Is that the contract year talking?

Much of Tavares’ success in 2017-18 can be attributed to solid chemistry with linemates Bailey and Anders Lee. Bailey had a breakout season (71 points in 76 games), although his first-half numbers (50 points in 39 games) was far more impressive than his second-half numbers (21 points in 37 games). So how much did Bailey’s downturn affect Tavares?

Tavares' splits:

  • Oct-Dec: 49 points in 39 games (1.26 PTS/GP)
  • Jan-Apr: 35 points in 43 games (0.81 PTS/GP)

Not exactly a steep decline like Bailey in the second half (0.57 PTS/GP) but a decline nevertheless. Just keep this in the ol’ memory bank in case Tavares is back. (may23)

 

16. The Jets have some work to do this summer. Both Jacob Trouba and Connor Hellebuyck need new contracts, they have a lot of guys in their bottom-six that need new deals or need to be replaced, and they’re a year away from having to sign Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor to, presumably, long-term deals. Not to mention this is the last year of Blake Wheeler’s contract and he’ll be 32 years old.

Winnipeg has most of their core locked up already and I don’t think they want to go through more negotiations with Trouba like they have in the past. A one-year deal would be great for them but seeing as Trouba has one season with 30 points in five years, now might be the time to lock him up long-term. If he breaks out for 44 points or something this year, he’ll be a lot more expensive in 12 months from now. (may22)

 

17. The hockey world is waiting with impatience to see what a player with no track record of high-level production putting up a 43-goal, 78-point performance being due an RFA contract will get. A month ago, I intimated that William Karlsson’s contract could be similar to what Jonathan Marchessault received in Vegas, if only a bit higher AAV. Repeating 40-plus goals will be near impossible, but that contract would be fine if he settles into the 20-25 goal, 55-60-point range. (may22)

 

18. Jonathan Marchessault hasn’t peaked. I liked him in the minors, I liked what he did over seven or eight games when Tyler Johnson went down and ‘Marchy’ had first-line ice time with Tampa Bay And, when Florida picked him up I thought it was a great signing with sleeper potential. I didn’t understand why they gave him up to Vegas, I thought it was stupid. And, last summer I traded Evgeni Malkin for a package that included Jonathan Drouin, Viktor Arvidsson and Marchessault. I had Malkin for, what, 13 years? I drafted Malkin (I remember trading Mats Sundin for that second overall pick plus a fourth rounder that became Jussi Jokinen). Last summer I called Marchessault this year’s Brian Bradley – a sudden superstar. (may21)

 

19. Reilly Smith? He’s peaked. I’m often referring to his track record of having a fantastic first season with a new team but then slowly falling by the wayside over the next year or two. That may not happen next year, but I still think a steady decline is in the cards. (may21)

 

20. Congratulations Marc-Andre Fleury for winning this year’s Conn Smythe Trophy. I don’t care if Vegas is swept next round, Fleury gets the CST simple as that. I picked Vegas to win the first round. And, again the second round. Big mistake to bet against them the third round. I’m done betting against them, I don’t care who they play. Lesson learned. ‘Uncle!’ I cry. (may21)

 

Have a good week, folks!!