21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles

by Mario Prata on July 21, 2019

Every Sunday, we'll share 21 Fantasy Rambles – formerly 20 Fantasy Thoughts – from our writers at DobberHockey. These thoughts are curated from the past week's ‘Daily Ramblings’.

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

 

1. Two years at $4.4 million per season for Jordan Winnington? I’d say the Blues got off easy. I think the dollars are right but I figured he would get three or even four years. He’s betting on himself. Smart move because the team in front of him will keep winning – all he needs to do is be average. (Something Jake Allen couldn’t do). (july15)

 

2. The Canucks made some great moves this offseason, upgrading their defense by adding Tyler Myers, as well as depth guys Jordie Benn and Oscar Fantenberg. The trade for J.T. Miller was a real good addition.

But how did spending go? Well, under my philosophy of ignoring all the free agents and filling needs via trade, giving Alex Edler $6 million is ludicrous. Giving Benn $2 million is ludicrous, and even giving Myers – one of the better FA’s available – is a little ludicrous. Fortunately, Benn and Edler are for just two years and won’t harm this team’s future dealings.

The Canucks then waited until almost mid-July (as they should have done with Edler, Myers and Benn) and what do you know? Micheal Ferland’s price came down. I think $3.5 million per season is a solid contract, considering he was reportedly offered $4 million per season just a few months ago by Carolina.

This is an improved team, no question. Especially when you consider Quinn Hughes joining. But from a business standpoint, this could have been handled cheaper and nearly as well. Don’t believe me? Wait and see what Jake Gardiner signs for. (july15)

 

3. The world is sleeping on Martin Necas, the 12th overall selection from 2017. Necas skated in a single NHL game as an 18-year-old and another seven games last season as a draft-plus two. But the real story was how he performed as a 19-year-old in the American League during the 2018-19 campaign. 16 goals and 52 points in 64 regular-season games with Charlotte and another five goals and 13 points in 18 playoff games on route to a Calder Cup Championship.

Those regular season totals are second only to Mikko Rantanen’s 60 in 52 by a U20 skater in the last decade of AHL action. That type of production is nothing to sneeze at.

Necas is the heir to the second line center gig on an up and coming Hurricanes’ squad. Speaking with someone close to the organization earlier this year, they felt the brass had earmarked Necas and Andrei Svechnikov as a pair to supplement Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teraivainen. If indeed that ends up being the case, Necas will be feeding a very real 30-plus-goal threat and taking secondary defensive pairs – a juicy proposition in fantasy. Carving out a role on the top power-play will take time, however.

The boom is likely at least a year off, but he’s one to watch.

Conservative 82-game pace: 30 points (july17)

 

4. Anze Kopitar’s fantasy value fell down at least a few flights of stairs in 2018-19. Not only did his point production fall by 31 points, but he also went from a plus-21 to a minus-20 while losing nine power-play points. An astute fantasy owner would have known that his 17.5 percent shooting accuracy from 2017-18 was unsustainable, but when combining that with fewer shots, the drop was even more pronounced.

Can fantasy owners expect some sort of rebound from Kopitar? Throughout most of his career, you could reasonably expect a points-per-game total of between 0.8 and 1.0 from Kopitar. Over the past three seasons, Kopitar’s points-per-game ratios have been as follows: 0.68, 1.12, and 0.74. It’s difficult to know what to reasonably expect this coming season.

Kopitar seems to be a reasonable candidate to bounce back, but not to the 92 points of 2017-18, when he was a Hart Trophy finalist and the Selke Trophy winner. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit 70 points, but I wouldn’t go much higher than that. (july21)

 

5. If you are in a pure points league, you probably expected more from Marchessault than his 59 points, which was a 16-point drop from his initial season in Vegas. I won’t get into William Karlsson in much detail today, but I’ll say it’s safe to assume he’s closer to a 25-goal scorer than a 40-goal scorer going forward, so we should expect something closer to 60 points from his linemate Jonathan Marchessault than 75 points.  (july20)

 

6. Charles Hudon, a one-time standout in the QMJHL, is another player on a ‘prove-it’ contract. After scoring 30 points in 2017-18 (his first full season), Hudon was held to just five points in 32 games while mainly being used on the fourth line.

It won’t get any easier for him to move up the lineup this coming season, as Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki will be battling for roster spots. (For more on where prospects such as Poehling and Suzuki rank, pick up your Prospects Report.) The Habs avoided salary arbitration with Hudon this week by signing him to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800,000. (july20)

 

7. Meanwhile, the Canes avoided arbitration with forward Brock McGinn, signing him to a two-year, $4.2 million contract. McGinn scored 26 points (10g-16a) in 82 games in 2018-19, four points short of his career high set the previous season. All of those 26 points were even strength, which resulted from very limited use on the power play. He was only 1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, which makes him an option for only the deepest of leagues.

 

8. Thinking about this some more, I have no idea how James Neal ends up outside of the Oilers’ top-six – and he may even end up on the top line (is Zack Kassian really a first-liner?) And if Neal does end up outside of the top-six, his fantasy value is dead in the water. Neal’s value could be helped big time with this trade, and he might be a player of interest in more than just the 20-team, 35-player megaleagues. (july20)

 

9. Milan Lucic will have a tougher time climbing the ranks in Calgary, with their first and second lines already fairly set. I think the Flames are one of those teams that looked at the St. Louis model and assumed that they would need to be tougher to succeed in the playoffs.

For more on the trade from a fantasy perspective, you can check out the fantasy take. I realize that neither player will be a hot commodity in leagues over the coming season, but this was an interesting one to write anyway. Both players are now 31 and have seen better days. However, it will be interesting to see if the trade sparks either player. (july20)

 

10. Ron Francis might be criticized as being the Seattle franchise's choice, since the Hurricanes did not make the playoffs at all under Francis’ time as GM there from 2014 to 2018. However, general managers cannot necessarily be evaluated on how the team performed during their tenure, as player personnel moves need time to come to fruition.

Despite being under the tight budget of the Hurricanes, Francis seemed to leave the franchise in a better state than it was before, drafting Sebastian Aho 35th overall in the 2015 draft and weaponizing cap space by acquiring Teuvo Teravainen in 2016 when the Blackhawks needed to shed Bryan Bickell’s contract. Those decisions were key in helping the Canes break their playoff drought and advance to the Eastern Conference Final this past season.

The Seattle franchise still have a way to go yet, as they don’t have a team name, logo, uniforms, or players. With Seattle set to start play two seasons from now, Francis will have plenty of time to mock draft players who could potentially be left unprotected in the 2021 expansion draft.

 


You may have seen the ads on the site already, but just in case you haven’t or you’ve simply forgotten… Bubble Keeper Week starts tomorrow!

Throughout the week, our writers will be focusing on keepers that are generally outside of the top 150 of Dobber’s Top 300 Keeper League Skaters.

If your fantasy pool is more in the shallow end, Bubble Keeper Week is still worth checking out for players who may have fallen out of the top 150 (there’s still some solid names there) as well as players that could creep into the top 150 this coming season.

So, be sure to visit us regularly, it should be an exciting week for fantasy owners with the mega-deep rosters.


 

11. Last I had read about Mike Green, he had effectively recovered from his illness that plagued him and his liver last year and ended his season early. He was just given the recommendation to rest. My assumption, then, is that he’ll be healthy for the start of the 2019-20 season. If something changes, I’ll update my projections accordingly.

Over the last three seasons, Green has played over a 40-point/82-game pace, including his shortened 2018-19 season. Injuries are always a concern – he hasn’t played more than 74 games since 2009-10 – but when in the lineup, Green should be productive with those top power play minutes.

I have Green, in an 82-game season, at 43.1 points, a shade over two shots per game, and over 90 hits/125 blocks. If we pro-rate that to 70 games, we’re looking at ~37 points, a little over 140 shots, and roughly 80 hits and 105 blocks. My guess is he’ll be completely overlooked in draft this year and could be had as a fourth or fifth defenseman in 12-team leagues. At that point, I think it’s probably worth the risk. (july18)

 

12. The Avs knocked another RFA off the board by signing center J.T. Compher to a four-year deal with a $3.5M average annual value. Compher had 32 points in 66 games last year.

Colorado got deeper this summer and Compher has likely been pushed down to the third line as a result. Third line usage with secondary power play minutes doesn’t bode well for a breakout season. Now that Nazem Kadri’s in the mix, it could be a couple years before we see Compher have any serious fantasy relevance, if ever. (july18)

 

13. A minor signing as Chris Stewart signed in Philly. This is a pro tryout, something we should expect to see a lot of in this year’s training camps. Stewart last played in the NHL in 2017-18, amassing 16 points in 54 games. He had 31 goals and 26 assists over his final three NHL seasons.

If Stewart can find a role on the team, he can probably give double-digit goals while playing to a penalty-minute-per game (and hit-per-game) pace. In deep leagues or cap leagues, this might be a decent depth option.

Of course, Stewart has to make the team first. He’ll be 32 years old in October and his last decent season – in real hockey terms – was four years ago. There is room in Philly’s bottom-6 but there are some rookies who might earn a spot, too. There is a lot of daylight between a PTO and an opening night roster spot. (july18)

 

14. It is not easy being a teenager in the AHL and Filip Zadina quickly discovered that. It’s a difficult league to score in already, let alone as a first-year player. His play elevated throughout the middle portion of the season, eventually concluding with recording 18 points in the final 29 games  – including the playoffs. A brief stint in the NHL and a sub-par WJC were splashed in.

Zadina is far from a lock to even play the full season in Detroit next season, but if he does, it’ll be a dog fight to peel prime ice. Anthony Mantha (more on him next week) will eat up the top right-wing minutes. Fortunately for Zadina, he’s comfortable on the left-side as well – a spot that is far more open in Detroit. Hoping for middle-six and second power-play unit deployment seems fair and the muted results that accompany it safe.

Conservative 82-game pace: 36 (july17)

 

15. Vitaly Kravtsov crosses the pond after two successful KHL campaigns. His biggest issue is the Rangers lottery luck. The right-winger will now forever be trapped behind Kakko for top deployment on the right side. He also has fellow Russian, Pavel Buchnevich to compete with.

For my money, he’ll be a down-the-lineup player in 2019-20 with some tangible second unit power play deployment. The flashes will be there, but the transition will mimic the traditional hiccups that most players endure compared to the very elite. His upside long-term remains high, but opportunity is king.

Conservative 82-game pace: 39 points (july17)

 

16. Russian pivot, Artem Anisimov was sent to Ottawa in exchange for Zack Smith. Chicago saves a 1.3 million off of the cap and should now be able to sign Brendan Perlini. Ottawa receives a player who just had his signing bonus paid yesterday (2M) and somehow owes less real dollars to despite the cap figure. This is how an extreme-budget team operates to get to the cap floor. (july17)

 

17. With Colorado, Andre Burakovsky looks to rebound from the back-to-back 25-point seasons he posted in Washington. For those in cap leagues, it’s unlikely he skates on the top line or top PP unit. That, combined with a lack of peripherals, makes that contract tough to roster. Even if he cracks 20 goals for the first time, it’ll be an empty 20 goals. (july16)

 

18. Had an interesting interaction with Steve Laidlaw (hi, Steve!) and it revolved around Alex Ovechkin. My basic question focused on when Ovechkin’s age-related decline would finally hit. The guy turns 34 years old in September and played an eight-year high in TOI/game in 2018-19.

I’d argue we’ve already started to see it, in a way. Despite similar TOI from 2016-2019 compared to 2013-2016, his shots per game fell from 4.95 to 4.11. Over an 82-game season, that works out to 69 fewer shots. Had he shot his three-year average in 2018-19, he would have scored 42 goals. Instead, he shot a career-high 15.1 percent and he scored 51.

My projection has his shooting percentage drop to 13.1 percent while his shots per game also continue to decline, landing him at 305 shots. That brings him to an even 40 goals. My baseline for him right now is 40 goals and 38 assists.

Even with those drops, considering the hits and shots that he can still bring, Ovechkin is a top-10 fantasy choice. He’s still a top-5 draft pick in all likelihood because of the safety he affords due to peripheral stats.

I will outright say this makes me uneasy. Ovechkin really does look like a player who will never age. We know that isn’t true and that the decline comes eventually for everyone, but the trick is trying to pinpoint the season it begins. Anyone who bet against him the last two years was wrong. Is 2019-20 the year it finally happens? (july16)

 

19. Not to give too much away but Tyson Barrie is a guy I write about in the upcoming 2019-20 Dobber Guide (you can pre-order here!) as a concern for 2019-20. Not for anything he did but, more or less, because he’ll take a big hit to his PP production.

Barrie was on the ice for 2.63 goals per 60 minutes at even strength last year in Colorado. As a team, at even strength, the Leafs scored 3.07. Assuming those numbers, and his ice time, hold constant for 2019-20, that would put Barrie on the ice for an extra nine goals at even strength. At an individual points percentage of 50 percent, which was his rate in 2018-29, we can add 4-5 points to his total last year.

On the flipside, Barrie played 315:15 on the power play last year, over four minutes per game. Morgan Rielly’s second fiddle last year, Jake Gardiner, averaged 1:51 per game. It’s very possible we see Barrie’s PP rate cut in half compared to 2018-19. If his PP production was cut in half, the gain of 4-5 points at even strength would be more than mitigated by the 12-13 PPP drop we could expect.

What expectations are of Barrie in 2019-20 will be directly tied to expectations on the power play. My assumption is that while Barrie does see some time on the top PP unit, it still stays mostly in Rielly’s hands. My 75/25 split in Rielly’s favour – it was considerably less for Gardiner – brings Barrie’s projection to 53.3 points.

That projection makes sense based on my assumptions. He had 59 points in 78 games last year. Add four ES points and then subtract what I expect his PP loss to be (~10), and we end up with 53 points in 78 games.

Of course, if someone is working with the assumption that Barrie takes over the top PP unit, his projection could be 65 points, or more. I think this is a player that will split the fantasy community and his ADP/ranking will fluctuate wildly depending on the source considered. (july16)

 

20. The Lightning is hurting for cap space. Even after trading away a couple of high-salaried players they shouldn’t have bothered getting involved in the free agent market. But they did anyway. To sign…a backup goaltender? Is Curtis McElhinney’s impact as a replacement for Louis Domingue going to be worth squandering what few dollars they have to spare? The total increase is just $150,000 with that signing, but this team is going to need every penny in order to afford Brayden Point. I don’t see the Lightning keeping all three of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn. In fact, I see two of those players being moved. (july15)

 

21. The Senators have signed a lot of lesser names to one-year deals, so they haven’t handcuffed their future because of free agent frenzy. And landing Connor Brown was a nice score. The team was wise to play it quiet and let their awesome prospects have a shot. Nikita Zaitsev’s contract with five years still left on it is what drags their offseason grade down slightly. We all know how this team is doing this year. It will all be worth it – Alexis Lafreniere will be better than Jack Hughes. Best since Connor McDavid. (july15)


 

Have a good week, folks!!