Eastern Conference Real or Imagined: Forwards (Part Four)

by Eric Daoust on January 19, 2016
  • Eastern Edge
  • Eastern Conference Real or Imagined: Forwards (Part Four)

Buy low on Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Penguins and other Eastern Conference recommendations.

This week the “Real or Imagined” series concludes with the focus on Eastern Conference forwards from Pittsburgh to Washington. Forwards will be given a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or waive based on a number of factors and there will be additional comments about players of interest. First, what they have done so far will be taken into account along with how things might play out in the coming months, both statistically and in terms of opportunity. But more importantly, the analysis will put everything in the context of each player’s value in one-year fantasy leagues with a primary focus on points-only settings but with an eye on the world of multi-category formats.

Note: There are instances where the line between “hold” and “waive” can be blurry. Sometimes forwards that fall short in offensive production offer multi-category appeal. In those cases they will get a “hold” recommendation.

Pittsburgh

Player

GP

G

A

TOI

SOG

PPP

PPTOI

SH%

5on5SH%

Status

Evgeni Malkin

44

19

24

19:36

125

20

3:46

15.2

6.0

HOLD

Sidney Crosby

43

14

22

19:53

128

14

3:48

10.9

7.3

BUY

Phil Kessel

44

12

15

18:57

135

8

3:40

8.9

5.6

BUY

Patric Hornqvist

44

10

13

16:07

139

8

3:06

7.2

5.5

BUY

Chris Kunitz

44

7

8

16:25

85

4

2:14

8.2

7.9

BUY

Matt Cullen

44

4

9

12:28

45

0

0:07

8.9

6.1

HOLD

Carl Hagelin

44

4

8

14:58

86

0

0:11

4.7

5.1

BUY

Nick Bonino

40

3

7

15:24

52

1

1:31

5.8

5.3

WAIVE

Beau Bennett

24

5

5

12:56

41

3

1:24

12.2

7.1

WAIVE

Eric Fehr

34

5

2

12:52

42

0

0:06

11.9

3.8

HOLD

Conor Sheary

12

2

1

12:07

23

0

0:55

8.7

4.6

WAIVE

Sergei Plotnikov

32

0

2

9:41

32

0

0:09

0.0

4.0

WAIVE

Bryan Rust

9

1

0

9:22

13

0

0:08

7.7

8.6

WAIVE

Tom Kuhnhackl

4

0

0

11:23

4

0

0:00

0.0

5.9

WAIVE

 

 

Sidney Crosby – Sure, Crosby has already turned things around and we are now weeks past the optimal buy-low moment. Keep in mind some people may still be underestimating how much he really can bring to the table in the second half. It depends on his owner in your league.

Phil Kessel – Like many other Penguins, Kessel fell short of expectations out of the gate given his track record putting up impressive point totals. Surprisingly, he is currently on pace to fall short of last year’s 61 points while in Toronto which was considered a total disaster. Lately he has gotten back on track with seven points in his last eight and both his personal shooting percentage and on-ice five-on-five shooting percentage have plenty of room for improvement. His final numbers will no doubt disappoint everyone but moving forward he could be a key contributor for your squad.

Patric Hornqvist – Hornqvist also had a disappointing start to the campaign but has been much better over the last few weeks. Since December 31 he has 11 points in nine games. While it is unlikely he will keep this exact pace the rest of the way, look for Hornqvist to continue doing good things down the stretch as he is a high-volume shooter and also a regular on the Penguins’ top power-play unit. This will help sustain good numbers.

Chris Kunitz – Another Penguins’ forward, another player trying to bounce back from a cold start to the year. Kunitz’s decline over the last two years has been alarming but that does not mean he is no longer an asset in fantasy land. Offensively, the numbers show there is room for improvement and he still spends a lot of time on Crosby’s wing but ultimately he will likely still underwhelm as a point-producer. Multi-category leagues are where Kunitz shines given his production across the board and his gaudy hit total which currently ranks sixth in the NHL and is on pace to top 300. Any offensive improvement would turn Kunitz into an important player in these leagues over the final months, especially if you need a boost in hits while trying to not sacrifice other categories.

Carl Hagelin – Hagelin’s lack of puck-luck really stands out when looking at his disappointing campaign. While the trade helps his overall value and his likelihood of correcting course, he did not suddenly become a 50-point player. Matched with Malkin and Kessel, it would not be surprising if Hagelin builds some short-term momentum. But with a career-high of 35 points, his value is likely limited to short-term streaks.  

Tampa Bay

Player

GP

G

A

TOI

SOG

PPP

PPTOI

SH%

5on5SH%

Status

Nikita Kucherov

45

18

19

18:34

114

17

3:24

15.8

7.1

HOLD

Steven Stamkos

45

20

15

19:55

131

16

3:36

15.3

8.5

HOLD

Vladislav Namestnikov

45

9

14

14:22

55

4

1:48

16.4

9.9

HOLD

Valtteri Filppula

45

6

16

18:55

64

7

2:37

9.4

4.8

BUY

Alex Killorn

44

7

12

16:49

78

4

2:03

9.0

6.3

HOLD

Ryan Callahan

44

5

9

17:33

90

2

2:18

5.6

5.8

HOLD

Tyler Johnson

32

5

9

17:40

70

7

2:36

7.1

6.7

BUY

J.T. Brown

41

3

9

12:41

69

0

0:05

4.3

7.6

WAIVE

Ondrej Palat

25

3

8

17:23

45

3

2:31

6.7

8.4

BUY

Jonathan Marchessault

24

6

5

11:46

45

6

3:04

13.3

5.8

WAIVE

Brian Boyle

39

8

2

13:13

55

0

0:04

14.5

8.5

HOLD

Jonathan Drouin

19

2

6

14:07

19

2

2:00

10.5

12.4

BUY

Erik Condra

32

3

3

11:17

32

0

0:06

9.4

8.7

WAIVE

Cedric Paquette

21

2

2

12:39

24

0

0:08

8.3

4.4

WAIVE

 

 

Tyler Johnson – Johnson has battled through various injuries this year which has prevented him from getting on a roll. He has better of late with three points in his last five and the Lightning are heating up as a team. His shooting percentage is close to half of his career average of 13 percent and his on-ice five-on-five shooting percentage is also way down. There is lots of room for improvement moving forward. At the very least, the improved environment should help him sustain his recent good play.

Ondrej Palat – After a rough start to the year and two extended periods of absence due to injury, Palat might actually be available on your league’s waiver wire. On his usual line with Kucherov and the improving Johnson, Palat should be able to get better puck luck in the coming months provided he can stay in the lineup.

Jonathan Drouin – Thus far Drouin’s sophomore season has been a disaster with a lack of production leading to a demotion to the AHL. As you already know he has requested a trade out of Tampa and could find a new home in the near future. Nothing is guaranteed but Drouin’s new club will try to get some points out of him. If the stars align Drouin could be an important contributor in the final months and may be worth stashing if you have bench space and your league is fairly deep.

Toronto

Player

GP

G

A

TOI

SOG

PPP

PPTOI

SH%

5on5SH%

Status

Leo Komarov

43

16

14

17:31

87

7

2:04

18.4

6.9

SELL

James van Riemsdyk

40

14

15

17:46

129

9

2:46

10.9

7.7

HOLD

Tyler Bozak

39

9

19

17:47

66

8

2:44

13.6

7.7

HOLD

Nazem Kadri

43

8

15

18:14

156

5

2:34

5.1

6.3

BUY

PA Parenteau

43

11

11

15:58

85

7

2:41

12.9

7.9

HOLD

Peter Holland

38

7

10

13:53

73

9

2:15

9.6

3.7

BUY

Shawn Matthias

42

4

10

12:53

54

0

0:10

7.4

6.7

WAIVE

Brad Boyes

36

5

8

11:33

54

2

2:21

9.3

6.8

WAIVE

Joffrey Lupul

38

9

3

15:03

91

4

2:21

9.9

4.2

WAIVE

Michael Grabner

41

6

5

13:41

52

0

0:03

11.5

7.4

WAIVE

Daniel Winnik

39

3

8

13:51

55

0

0:30

5.5

5.7

WAIVE

Nick Spaling

24

0

4

15:44

19

0

0:05

0.0

7.3

WAIVE

Byron Froese

33

1

3

13:19

46

0

0:21

2.2

5.0

WAIVE

 

 

Leo Komarov – Komarov’s break-out campaign has been a great story to follow this year. Unfortunately, his production is likely due for a regression. His 16 goals are already a career-high but he accomplished the feat while scoring on 18 percent of his shots, a very difficult rate to maintain. Things could get much worse in the event Komarov is moved to a contender at the trade deadline and is placed in a lesser role.

Nazem Kadri – Kadri has been one of the more notable victims of poor puck luck this year with just eight goals so far despite averaging around four shots per game. He has actually increased his shot volume recently with his mean pushing five per contest. Despite faring better of late, Kadri’s shooting percentage is still way low and is actually less than half of his career average of 11 percent.

Peter Holland – After a slow start and a few games spent in the press box, Holland has been a strong contributor for the Maple Leafs. Since his last healthy scratch, he has 15 points in 29 games. He has been especially lethal on the power play where he is tied for the team lead with nine points. Look for him to improve at even-strength where his on-ice shooting percentage sits under four percent which should help push his production rate slightly better than 0.5 points per game in the final months. His role could even expand at some point depending on the direction of the Leafs at the trade deadline.

Washington

Player

GP

G

A

TOI

SOG

PPP

PPTOI

SH%

5on5SH%

Status

Evgeny Kuznetsov

45

15

28

17:36

99

13

2:13

15.2

10.2

HOLD

Nicklas Backstrom

42

13

29

19:22

75

18

3:01

17.3

8.6

HOLD

Alex Ovechkin

44

27

13

20:34

222

13

4:18

12.2

9.9

HOLD

Justin Williams

45

16

15

16:44

114

8

2:02

13.9

9.3

SELL

Marcus Johansson

42

12

16

17:12

80

9

2:52

15.0

9.6

HOLD

T.J. Oshie

45

15

12

19:14

105

10

3:01

14.3

8.6

HOLD

Jason Chimera

45

12

14

13:41

102

10

1:18

11.8

8.2

HOLD

Andre Burakovsky

42

4

12

11:58

49

3

0:52

8.2

9.3

BUY

Tom Wilson

45

4

11

12:45

47

1

0:04

8.5

10.3

HOLD

Jay Beagle

36

6

6

14:23

42

0

0:04

14.3

7.4

WAIVE

Michael Latta

29

3

3

8:30

21

0

0:01

14.3

8.1

WAIVE

Brooks Laich

44

1

4

10:49

49

0

0:03

2.0

5.1

WAIVE

Mike Richards

2

0

0

12:24

3

0

0:04

0.0

0.0

BUY

 

 

Justin Williams – Williams has adapted well to Washington and is having his best year since 2012-13. However, there are some concerns about his potential moving forward, in particular the rate of his goal-scoring thus far. The main issue is his shooting percentage, which is rather high at 14 percent after ranging between eight and 10 percent in each of the previous four years. The difference could prove to be a product of the change of teams but consider Williams a bit of a risk to own in the second half. Perhaps there are opportunities in your league to acquire another more natural point-producer in exchange for Williams.

Andre Burakovsky – Burakovsky has suffered from inconsistency in his young NHL career but has caught fire of late with eight points in his last 10 outings. The concern, of course, is his ice time which sits at just 12:30 during the recent stretch of improved play, making it less likely the run will be sustained long-term. That said, Burakovsky may be better-served as a short-term pick-up in leagues that do not put severe restrictions on signing free agents.  

Mike Richards – Of course, Richards is considered a gamble at this point after the rapid decline of his production at the end of his tenure in Los Angeles. It is unlikely he becomes much of a factor offensively for the Capitals but he has intriguing potential in deep multi-category leagues. His 19 faceoffs won (61-percent efficiency) after two games is impressive and his physical game helps as well while his heavy shorthanded minutes make him a dark horse for a couple late-season points while killing penalties. Keep him on your radar for now.

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For other buy, sell or hold recommendations make sure you check out Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

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Follow me on Twitter @DH_EricDaoust