Eastern Conference Real or Imagined: Forwards (Part Three)

by Eric Daoust on January 12, 2016
  • Eastern Edge
  • Eastern Conference Real or Imagined: Forwards (Part Three)

Why you should sell high on Hoffman and other buy, sell or hold recommendations.

This week the “Real or Imagined” series continues with the focus on Eastern Conference forwards from the New York Islanders to Philadelphia. 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.

New York Islanders

PLAYER

GP

G

A

TOI

SOG

PPP

PPTOI

SH%

5on5SH%

STATUS

Kyle Okposo

40

10

21

18:27

94

10

3:02

10.6

7.0

HOLD

John Tavares

39

15

14

20:02

119

8

3:24

12.6

6.9

BUY

Frans Nielsen

42

14

13

17:02

108

8

2:38

13.0

6.4

HOLD

Brock Nelson

42

14

9

16:39

90

3

1:55

15.6

9.0

SELL

Josh Bailey

41

7

12

16:06

60

4

1:25

11.7

6.0

HOLD

Anders Lee

42

6

13

15:19

102

6

2:21

5.9

6.2

BUY

Mikhail Grabovski

42

6

13

13:55

59

3

1:11

10.2

8.2

HOLD

Ryan Strome

31

3

12

14:56

51

4

1:33

5.9

7.3

BUY

Nikolay Kulemin

42

5

8

14:12

49

0

0:02

10.2

9.3

WAIVE

Casey Cizikas

42

4

9

12:27

43

0

0:03

9.3

9.1

HOLD

Cal Clutterbuck

41

9

3

11:24

41

0

0:04

22.0

9.4

SELL

Matt Martin

42

5

3

10:21

54

0

0:03

9.3

7.7

HOLD

 

 

John Tavares – One area to look for improvement is the power play, where Tavares has just eight points after putting up a combined 58 the last two years. Currently, the Islanders rank 22nd in power-play efficiency but the group as a whole is too talented to remain this low the rest of the way. Look for at least a point a game moving forward so if his owner is selling him for anything less than top price you should jump on it immediately. Pointless in his last three, there is a window to buy but when he gets going it will close in a hurry.

Brock Nelson – The inconsistent young forward has had a strong first half for the second year in a row and currently sits with a shooting percentage that is very high. After falling off the map down the stretch last year, look for Nelson to fare better this time. But with goals coming less frequently, he will likely fall below the half-a-point-a-game threshold in the remaining games.

Anders Lee – Normally a goal-heavy player, it is surprising to see Lee sit at just six markers at the mid-way point. With an average of close to 2.5 shots per game, this should improve down the stretch regardless of whether or not he can stick on Tavares’ wing, although his upside obviously increases significantly on the top unit. Meanwhile, his progression in the assist department has been very encouraging, with his 13 helpers just three short of the 16 he had last year.

Ryan Strome – Needless to say this season has been a major disappointment thus far for Strome following a very successful first full campaign in the NHL. With that said, there is still plenty of room for him to make an impact in fantasy leagues in the months to come. His point total to date is still impressive given his reduced role and mere three goals on 51 shots. He should produce at least one point every two games and could get back to a 50-point pace in the remaining games if he can play with the big boys on the power play.

Cal Clutterbuck – The multi-category stud is actually benefiting from lucky shooting to rank himself even higher in those leagues. He is on pace for 18 goals but is scoring on 22 percent of his shots which is unsustainable. Looking back to his most successful offensive campaigns back when Clutterbuck was in Minnesota, he was getting significantly more ice time and was getting well over two shots per game. This year he hits the net just once per contest. Sell him to a fellow owner desperately looking for a boost in hits.

New York Rangers

PLAYER

GP

G

A

TOI

SOG

PPP

PPTOI

SH%

5on5SH%

STATUS

Mats Zuccarello

41

16

15

18:26

73

9

2:43

21.9

11.2

SELL

Derick Brassard

41

14

16

17:51

86

10

2:40

16.5

11.9

SELL

Rick Nash

39

12

17

17:15

121

6

2:27

9.9

10.4

HOLD

J.T. Miller

41

8

12

13:36

58

1

1:16

13.8

11.1

SELL

Oscar Lindberg

40

11

8

12:38

71

3

1:07

15.5

9.4

HOLD

Kevin Hayes

39

7

12

13:46

71

4

1:54

9.9

10.3

HOLD

Chris Kreider

39

6

12

15:53

74

3

2:08

8.1

9.2

HOLD

Derek Stepan

31

8

7

17:10

77

3

2:10

10.4

9.1

HOLD

Jesper Fast

39

6

7

14:37

34

0

0:04

17.6

7.5

WAIVE

Viktor Stalberg

35

6

7

11:15

46

0

0:01

13.0

11.9

WAIVE

Dominic Moore

39

4

6

14:27

60

0

0:04

6.7

8.3

WAIVE

Jayson Megna

2

1

1

13:31

4

0

1:55

25.0

20.0

BUY

 

 

Mats Zuccarello – Last year it was Nash who started the year red-hot and as predicted slowed down significantly afterwards. This year Zuccarello is that guy for the Rangers. While his 30-plus-goal pace has been impressive, his shooting percentage sits at 22 percent because he gets well under two shots per game, a shockingly-low rate for a high-end producer. Also, his on-ice five-on-five shooting percentage is very high at the moment. Look for Zuccarello to fall well short of his current 60-point pace and finish closer to the 49 points he achieved last year.

Derick Brassard – Like Zuccarello, his linemate Brassard has also been the benefactor of a bloated shooting percentage which should come back down to earth in time. Also, as Zuccarello slows down and the line is producing fewer goals it will also negatively affect Brassard. As of right now he is on pace to repeat last year’s 60 points but it would be very surprising if he keeps it up the rest of the way.

Jayson Megna – Every year there’s several stories like Megna worth following. Most fail to turn into anything but if it works you have the opportunity to add a viable contributor to your roster off the waiver wire, which can come in handy later in the year when injuries become a problem. Megna has thus far found a home on a line with Stepan and Nash. If the trio can stick together for a while it could propel the 25-year-old to solid numbers, at least for a while.

Ottawa

PLAYER

GP

G

A

TOI

SOG

PPP

PPTOI

SH%

5on5SH%

STATUS

Mike Hoffman

39

20

16

18:18

109

8

2:24

18.3

12.7

SELL

Bobby Ryan

42

13

23

17:37

101

11

3:18

12.9

10.9

HOLD

Mark Stone

41

11

22

20:23

80

11

3:09

13.8

7.1

HOLD

Kyle Turris

43

13

17

20:33

107

9

3:24

12.1

7.9

HOLD

Mika Zibanejad

42

8

16

17:08

80

5

2:28

10.0

10.0

HOLD

Jean-Gabriel Pageau

43

9

4

15:20

66

0

0:17

13.6

5.4

HOLD

Milan Michalek

27

6

4

16:48

49

3

3:01

12.2

10.9

WAIVE

Shane Prince

29

2

8

10:40

43

0

0:08

4.7

8.9

WAIVE

Zack Smith

42

8

2

13:34

47

1

1:01

17.0

4.5

BUY

Curtis Lazar

38

2

6

13:22

38

2

1:02

5.3

3.9

WAIVE

Chris Neil

43

2

3

8:59

45

0

0:03

4.4

6.2

BUY

Alex Chiasson

40

2

3

14:08

58

2

1:39

3.4

4.9

WAIVE

 

 

Mike Hoffman – Hoffman continues to blow away expectations and has taken a major step forward in his second full NHL campaign. However, looking at the numbers, continuing at this rate will be very difficult. Both his personal shooting percentage and on-ice five-on-five shooting percentage are very high and he has not been an exclusive member of the top power-play unit. Hoffman will remain a good option down the stretch but if you can find someone that believes his current pace will continue you should take advantage and sell for a more proven alternative.

Zack Smith – After establishing himself as a good multi-category player, Smith was a non-factor last year. This year he is back and has been excellent of late. Since December 3 he has averaged close to 17 minutes per game and has even logged an average in excess of two minutes. He has not been overly productive during that stretch but the added minutes have helped increase his output in peripheral categories and long-term the increased role will pay dividends.

Chris Neil – Like Smith, Neil also offers a ton of multi-category appeal and is especially valuable as one of the rare PIM monsters. Additionally, the modest point totals he has provided over the years have been impressive for an enforcer. This year his ice time is once again below the 10-minute mark but his shooting is way up compared to last year, giving him the potential for a few extra goals as the season winds down.

Philadelphia

PLAYER

GP

G

A

TOI

SOG

PPP

PPTOI

SH%

5on5SH%

STATUS

Claude Giroux

40

12

18

20:17

108

13

3:19

11.1

4.9

BUY

Jakub Voracek

40

4

22

18:27

118

12

3:15

3.4

5.2

BUY

Wayne Simmonds

40

10

12

16:31

85

7

3:10

11.8

6.6

HOLD

Brayden Schenn

38

9

12

16:10

86

6

3:05

10.5

7.0

HOLD

Sean Couturier

34

9

11

18:05

69

2

1:44

13.0

9.4

HOLD

Matt Read

39

6

9

16:13

73

2

1:09

8.2

6.4

WAIVE

Scott Laughton

40

4

8

10:33

48

0

0:05

8.3

7.0

WAIVE

Michael Raffl

40

6

5

14:35

70

2

1:42

8.6

7.6

HOLD

Ryan White

31

4

3

13:09

35

0

0:16

11.4

5.0

HOLD

Chris VandeVelde

40

2

5

14:11

47

0

0:07

4.3

4.8

WAIVE

R.J. Umberger

25

0

6

10:12

30

1

0:33

0.0

9.7

WAIVE

Sam Gagner

18

2

3

11:58

23

1

1:37

8.7

6.2

WAIVE

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

32

3

2

14:13

45

0

0:04

6.7

2.6

WAIVE

 

 

Claude Giroux – Giroux’s poor on-ice five-on-five shooting percentage is the leading cause of his disappointing point total to date. A correction in this area would easily put him on a 70-point pace. Voracek, a frequent linemate, has just four goals to date which has no doubt cut into Giroux’s assist total. At the very least, look for a small uptick in the second half but the potential to put up a point-per-game pace down the stretch is very real.

Jakub Voracek – Voracek has had similar issues with his on-ice five-on-five shooting percentage but his own goal total is the elephant in the room. His four goals despite averaging three shots per game is incredible bad luck. If we adjust his shooting percentage to be on-par with last year’s 10 percent, Voracek would have eight extra goals to his name. Needless to say there is big potential here and with less name value than Giroux, Voracek will be the easier of the two to acquire in a trade.

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Be sure to check out Part One and Part Two.

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