21 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts

by Mario Prata on November 24, 2019

Every Sunday, we'll share 21 Fantasy Rambles – originally 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. When Morgan Frost was called up, I mused that this was (finally, for real this time) the end of Claude Giroux as a center. Maybe that will hold up. So, I took the opportunity to watch the Flyers on Thursday because I wanted to watch Frost, and more importantly, how Frost would play with Giroux on his wing. Hockey is a funny game and let me explain why.

This game saw the Flyers generally outplayed by the Hurricanes, as is known to happen when teams play Carolina. The Giroux line, especially, often got dominated territorially, but you could see the individual skill on display on Frost’s short-handed goal, and in other scoring chances. Giroux did end up with four points (2+2), after all, and Frost by no means looks overwhelmed at the NHL level. Basically, I think this is a line that can do very well in softer matchups, which is what’s going to happen often at home. When they’re on the road, though, it could be a tougher slog. (nov22)

 

2. You see Anthony Duclair’s name on the waiver wire, yet you might try to ignore him. However, Duclair scored a power-play goal and added an assist on Friday, giving him four goals and six points over his last four games. He’s playing on Ottawa’s first-unit power play (for what it’s worth), and is playing regular overall minutes (16:35 TOI) for what seems like the first time in his career.

If you think he’s simply experiencing good luck, his advanced stats seem to check out fine. Maybe you were burned when you added him as a prospect a few years ago, and you notice that he's now on his fifth NHL team. Ottawa might have been the only team left that had any reason to give the now-24-year-old this kind of opportunity, and he’s making the most of it. I’d be perfectly okay with adding him in a deeper league. (nov23)

 

3. Quinn Hughes is already the NHL leader in power-play points among defensemen, as he has already accrued 13 power-play points in just 23 games on a Vancouver team that now has a top-5 power play (five power-play goals on Thursday). As well, Hughes is fifth overall in power-play points among all skaters. In fact, Hughes has only five even-strength points all season, which is one of the largest proportions of power-play points to overall points of any player.

One player that has an even larger PPP-to-PTS ratio is Torey Krug, who returned to action on Saturday and immediately proceeded to score the game-winner in overtime and add two assists (one on the power play). A total of 12 of Krug’s 16 points (over 18 games) have been on the man advantage. So if you’re looking for a short-term fantasy template of what to expect from Hughes, Krug might be that player. In real life, you can see the resemblance, as both are smaller defensemen with great offensive upside. Krug recorded a career-high 30 PPP last season and has recorded over 20 PPP in each of the previous three seasons. That’s not a bad player for Hughes to be compared to. (nov24)

 

4. Without Kris Letang AND Justin Schultz on Friday, the Pens opted to use… Brian Dumoulin on their first-unit power play. Dumoulin has decent banger peripherals and is tied with Brad Marchand and J-G Pageau atop the leaderboard with a plus-17, yet he’s never going to be a lights-out scoring option.

The Pens also have a young blueliner named John Marino who scored on Friday while taking five shots. Marino has a four-game point streak and points in seven of his last nine games while averaging nearly 22 minutes per game. The Penguins seem to be raving about his overall play. I dunno… maybe see what Marino can do on the first-unit power play while Letang and Schultz are out? (nov23)

 

5. Bryan Rust now has a four-game point streak of his own, and he’s averaged four shots over his last six games. He’s now owned in one-third of Yahoo leagues, so fantasy owners are catching on to his deployment and point-per-game production this season. Once the Pens start getting healthy, then you might want to consider selling high or dropping outright. Then again, the Pens never seem to be completely healthy.

Elsewhere on the Pens, Tristan Jarry has now earned wins in back-to-back games to go with a sparkling 1.80 GAA and .945 SV% in six games. He’s established himself as a solid streaming backup. (nov23)

 

6. Could Dave Tippett be this season’s version of Barry Trotz? The Oilers are in the top half of teams in terms of goals allowed, yet many fantasy owners are expecting the bottom to fall out from Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith. Maybe their season numbers gravitate closer to career numbers, yet Tippett’s system could prevent these two goalies from damaging your goaltending numbers to the extent you might think. (nov23)

 

7. What a difference a week makes for Tyson Barrie. At this time last week, we discussed him being a potential bust. Now Mike Babcock is fired, and Barrie is where his fantasy owners hoped he would be – Barrie has now scored in consecutive games, his only two goals of the season. Which, as you might know by now, immediately followed the firing of Babcock. Coincidence? However, this also begs the question as to whether Barrie will stay on PP1 when Mitch Marner returns. With most teams using a 4F-1D PP1, I wouldn’t count on it, even if Barrie’s value has already improved with Sheldon Keefe as the new coach. (nov24)

 

8. Just wanted to point out that Logan Couture has zero power-play goals this season. In the three years from 2016-19, he shot 14.8 percent at five on four, so he’s probably been short-changed by three or four power-play goals this year. If he shoots at his current rate all year, and scores at his current rate all year, we would expect 12 power-play goals.

Now, I’m not saying he’ll score 12 PPGs in his next 60 games because that’s a pretty high rate for any player not named Alex Ovechkin, but it does show just how much growth he could have in his point production if he can maintain his current production rates while adding some power-play goals to the total. In other words, the goals will come. Have patience. (nov21)

 

9. If you have a peek at Brendan Lemieux’s Frozen Tools player profile, he’s been given a prospect upside rating of 5.5 out of 10. That works out to a 55-point upside, which at initial glance doesn’t suggest that you should rush out and grab him for your keeper pool. Yet if your keeper pool has hits and/or penalty minutes as categories, Lemieux might be a nice player to own.

Lemieux is also second on the Rangers with 46 hits. He’ll need to build on his scoring (now nine points in 20 games), but the good news is that his 8.6 SH% is much lower than the 16-18% that he has averaged over the past two seasons. (nov24)

 

10. One question I often receive is: how do you predict goals on the power play? When people are looking to fill out their fantasy rosters, power-play production is crucial in their assessment of a useful or useless player. Knowing which people may be in line for an uptick in power-play production, as the season wears on, is possible.

As far as I know – if anyone has seen/done more recent research, please link below in comments – the best way to predict future goals at five on five is looking at shot generation rather than current level of scoring or expected goals. It was an article by Arik Parnass at Hockey Graphs, who is now an analyst for the Avalanche, that showed this work. So, if we’re looking to players and teams that could score a lot of power-play goals in the future, it’s teams that haven’t scored a lot of power-play goals in the past but have generated a lot of shots. Clear as mud? Good. (nov21)

 

11. Adam Gaudette – This kid simply refuses to be left out in the cold in Vancouver. Despite kicking the door down in camp and forcing the team to keep around, he was deployed as the 13th forward early and found himself watching more than playing. A quick trip to Utica followed. But he’s back up again and with Brandon Sutter on the shelf, he’s the new sheriff on the third line. He’s making the most of it, too. 

The 2018 Hobey Baker winner as the NCAA’s top player has been a juicer wherever he’s played this season. Gaudette, 4-4-8 in 14 outings, likely a lower ceiling than many prospects, but he’s going to impact the game in a myriad of ways. And that’ll help in the multicat world. (nov20)

 

12. Martin Necas is coming. If you’ve been following my work, you know I’ve been quite high on the Czech product. His U20 season in the American League in 2018-19 was beyond impressive. His 52 points in 62 games were miles ahead of the next teenager and represent the sixth-best mark by a teenager in that league in the past 20 years. 

This season, he’s seeing under 14 minutes a night and his most common linemates have been Erik Haula and Ryan Dzingel. Despite that, he’s finding his sea legs in a hurry. The 20-year-old forward has 10 points in his last 11 games. His shot and conversion metrics are spot on. He’s only seeing 1:47 on the second unit and receiving a high percentage of IPP (80), but these are the good bounces he was due for. 

My dream was to see Carolina pair Necas and Andrei Svechnikov long term and let them run wild behind Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. But it appears that Svech and Aho are insta-buds, so that will hurt Necas a bit long term. That said, I see stardom in his future – especially if he can find a tasty mate to link up with.  Get your Necas stocks before they spike! (nov20)

 

13. There’s just something about Dylan Strome that I don’t love. Maybe it’s the pace of play (or lack thereof) but I’ve continually been lower on him than most. Inconsistency isn’t foreign to him at the pro-level either. Which is fine, he’s 22. But I just can’t get over a nagging feeling that he’s not a serious asset. 

I like him a whole lot more when he’s with Patty Kane and Alex DeBrincat – and that trio should be somewhat safe for this year. A concern is in a keeper league, since he has to worry about Kirby Dach coming up and taking the bread out of his mouth. Personally, I believe more in Dach than Strome to be the man in Chicago’s middle long term. 

At the end of the day, I have to give him credit for being a 65-plus point pivot who brings no other categories. There is value in that. And he clearly has the potential for more. But you’ll have to excuse me for not buying the 90-point ceiling talk that many pay for in deals for him. (nov20)

 

14. Kirby Dach fantasy owners don’t need patience. He’s here right now. I didn’t expect it because I practice patience with the bigger-sized players. But he’s here now and he’s comfortable and he’s producing. I still suggest tempering expectations for this year and next as he fills out and gets used to his 6-4 frame. Hell, he’s so young that he could possibly reach 6-5 before he’s finished. So, give him plenty of time before he’s a productive first-liner. But it looks as though, in the meantime, his ‘lesser’ production will still be pretty nice. (nov18)

 

15. Hardly anyone is talking about Keith Yandle, but he’s been lights out for the better part of a month. After beginning the season with four points in 11 games, the 33-year-old now has 18 points in 23 contests. Yes, his PDO of 1048 is sitting high – especially on a club with poor goaltending thus far. But he’s making his hay while seeing over four minutes a night on one of the most lethal power-plays in the league. That won’t be changing anytime soon. Pencilling him for another 60-point campaign seems solid.  (nov20)

 

16. One thought I had over the weekend was about the future of the Arizona Coyotes, namely what they should do for player acquisitions. This is just me, well, rambling for a little bit.

I hope they don’t make any big additions, sacrificing any of their top prospects for a short-term gain. Someone like Tyler Toffoli would make sense – a guy who can score but whose value has been driven into the dirt, thus making him relatively cheap to acquire.

What the team does this offseason is much more interesting. Going after Taylor Hall would make a lot of sense this summer, if they can make it work, cap-wise. Most of their players are already locked up, with depth guys like Christian Fischer and Vinnie Hinostroza needing contracts. What Arizona needs more than anything is a game-breaking forward. At the same time, Hall will be 29 for next season. Do they want to sign him until his mid-30s when he’s already shown a penchant for being injured?

Arizona needs a true game-breaking forward. Guys like Nick Schmaltz, Christian Dvorak and Derek Stepan are all good players, but they need someone who can single-handedly win them games. There were hopes Clayton Keller would be that guy (from myself included), but it’s not looking like he’ll end up being that guy. Could it be Barrett Hayton? Or are they going to have to bring someone in? Might all be far-fetched, but at least we’re now having this type of conversation for Arizona, rather than looking for which injured player’s contract they’ll take. (nov19)

 

17. Andrei Svechnikov is currently earning just 16:32 per game. He’s also on pace for 92 points. Just three players in the last decade have managed even just 70 points with that little ice time per game: Jonathan Marchessault in 2017-18, David Pastrnak in 2016-17, and Tyler Johnson in 2014-15. Before that, it was Pavel Datsyuk and Maxim Afinogenov in 2005-06 with 87 and 73 points, respectively. Forget managing 90 this year – without significant ice time increases, expecting more than 70 from Svech is expecting a lot.

This is certainly a case where I would sell high (not in keeper/iafallodynasty leagues, obviously). I love Svech as a player and he will be a perennial all star. He also has some pretty significant regression coming and does not have the ice time cushion to soften the blow. Worse, he could lose ice time once the points stop coming as fast as they are. Now would be the time to move on in return for a significant piece. (nov19)

 

18. Alex Iafallo is on the Kings’ top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. What’s different about this season for him? His PP time is way up. And with that PPTOI is a spike in his SOG. The 25-year-old is approaching the 200-game breakout threshold (20 games away) and although his upside is limited, it’s looking like he’ll hit that upside in a year or two thanks to his linemates and usage. (nov18)

 

19. Emil Bemstrom has points in each of his last five of his last seven contests. The ice time is still inconsistent, but the cream always rises to the top. He’s going to work his way up to the second line and add offense to a starved Columbus team. On this team, his ceiling for this year is limited. I’d be surprised if he made to 35 points, but I think he’ll hit 32 or 33 – which is 25 in the next 60 games. The Bemstrom that was the star of the SHL last year has arrived. (nov18)

 

20. Tanner Pearson seemed to be fading last year, with three straight season-halves of declining numbers. But in Vancouver, he’s found a bit of a niche and is back producing at his established window. We at one time had bigger expectations for him, but at 27 his window is what it is – 40 to 45 points, with maybe a ‘pop’ season where he hits 50. What I like about his short-term future is that he has been shooting the puck at twice his usual rate (20 SOG in last three games). Three of Pearson’s last six points in three games have come on the power play. At even strength he’s played with Bo Horvat all year, and lately Jake Virtanen has been the other linemate. (nov18)

 

21. This is Erik Gustafsson’s sophomore slump. And I know he’s not technically a sophomore and it’s certainly weird calling a 27-year-old that. But for all intents and purposes that’s what he is. Although he played 76 games between 2015-16 and 2017-18, he was never a true NHL player until last season in December (so he hasn’t been a true NHL regular for a full year yet). Unfortunately for fantasy owners, I don’t think he’ll get his act together quickly enough to really push your team to the top. This feels like another month or two of struggles. (nov18)

 

Have a good week, folks!!