Eastern Edge: Evaluating High-Scoring Defencemen

by Brennan Des on June 4, 2019
  • Eastern Edge
  • Eastern Edge: Evaluating High-Scoring Defencemen

 

Howdy folks! My name is Brennan and I’m going to be taking over the Eastern Edge column for the foreseeable future, so get ready for a drop in quality! In all seriousness, I probably won’t be able to match the level of analytical expertise that Cam Metz brought to this article, but I promise to provide you with as much information I can in a way that’s easy for all of us to digest. In this week’s installment we’ll take a look at the highest-scoring defenseman from the Eastern Conference and further investigate how they performed so well. I’m also in charge of the injury updates on this fine website we call DobberHockey, so follow me on Twitter @BrennanDeSouza if you’re ever looking for injury news. Also, If there’s ever something you want to see in one of these articles, or if you just want to talk fantasy hockey, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter!

 

Morgan Rielly

Season

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

Shooting %

Time on Ice

2016-2017

76

6

21

27

5

3.5

22:10

2017-2018

76

6

46

52

25

3.3

21:36

2018-2019

82

20

52

72

21

9.0

23:07

 

Two years ago, if you told me that Morgan Rielly was going to be the third–highest scoring defenseman in 2018-2019, I would have laughed in your face. What shocks me most about his insane performance this year is the fact that his numbers weren’t inflated by unsustainable performance on the power play. Toronto boasts the offensive talent of John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander – but their 21.8% success rate with the man advantage is well below what I would have expected this season. The team’s power play actually started off red-hot and Rielly was a beneficiary, posting 10 power-play points in Toronto’s first 20 games. Amazingly, he tallied just 11 points with the man advantage in the remaining 62 games.

Rielly’s even strength production this season reinforced my belief that he’s an upper-tier fantasy hockey defenseman. I expect Toronto’s power-play to improve next season, which should prevent a drastic drop in his point totals. It is important to note that his production during the 2018-2019 season was supported by a higher shooting percentage than we’re used to seeing from him. He had 223 shots and it’s rare to see a defenseman score at such a high rate when their shot volume is that high. While it’s not outrageous for a blueliner to score on nine percent of the shots they take, it’s unlikely that they can sustain that efficiency through multiple seasons.

 

John Carlson

Season

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

Shooting %

Time on Ice

2016-2017

73

9

28

37

16

5.0

22:24

2017-2018

82

15

53

68

33

6.3

24:47

2018-2019

80

13

57

70

33

7.0

25:04

 

A large part of John Carlson’s evolution into a high-scoring defenseman can be attributed to the success he has seen on the team’s top power play unit. Washington sported a modest 20.8% success rate on the power play during the 2018-2019 season, which is certainly a number they’re capable of matching in future seasons. While it obviously helps to play with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov on the PP, Carlson’s power play production was almost inevitable considering he was on the ice for over 80% of the team’s total power-play time. Over the past two seasons, Carlson has averaged around four minutes of ice-time with the man advantage and in both of those seasons he’s put up 33 power-play points.

 

Keith Yandle

Season

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

Shooting %

Time on Ice

2016-2017

82

5

36

41

18

2.8

21:49

2017-2018

82

8

48

56

18

4.5

24:29

2018-2019

82

9

53

62

39

4.5

22:27

 

So, I just spent a lot of time talking about how John Carlson is a good fantasy hockey asset because he sees a lot of time on a dangerous power play unit and makes the most of his favourable situation. While Carlson was able to put up 33 power play points in back-to-back seasons, I have a hard time believing that Keith Yandle can tally 39 points with the man advantage for two straight years.

At first glance, I was happily surprised to see that 30 of Yandle’s 39 PPPs were primary points (goals and primary assists). We tend to look down on secondary points because they aren’t always directly responsible for a goal being scored. So, it looks like Yandle was effectively quarterbacking the power-play this season, fair enough.

What concerns me is the fact that Florida scored on 26.8% of their power-play opportunities in 2018-2019, good enough to be the league’s second-best power play – behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning (28.2%). Now don’t get me wrong, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are fantastic hockey players, as are Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman. But I have a hard time believing that they can replicate such a high level of power-play efficiency next year. On top of that, Yandle was on the ice for just 66% of his team’s total power-play time – so I don’t trust that he’ll get the opportunity to post another season with 39+ power-play points.

 

Kris Letang

Season

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

Shooting %

Time on Ice

2016-2017

41

5

29

34

14

4.1

25:31

2017-2018

79

9

42

51

20

4.1

25:20

2018-2019

65

16

40

56

19

7.8

25:58

 

Are you the type of person who likes rollercoasters? Whitewater rafting? Cliff diving? Bungee Jumping? If you answered yes to any of the above, congratulations. You’re probably a risk-taker who has taken a chance on Kris Letang at some point in your fantasy hockey career. 

Letang is such a good hockey player but he’s been limited by injuries throughout his career. When he plays though, oh boy can he play. Sure, it helps to play with talented guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel, but Letang has shown throughout his career that he himself boasts a great amount of offensive talent. As I mentioned though, when you draft Kris Letang, you don’t expect him to play a full 82-game season – he’s only done that once in his 12-year career.

Beyond his health, something that might hinder Letang’s fantasy hockey value next season is the potential trade of Phil Kessel. While the Penguins have an abundance of offensive talent, it’s hard to see how the team’s scoring would improve through the subtraction of a point-per-game player.

 

Thomas Chabot

Season

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

Shooting %

Time on Ice

2016-2017

1

0

0

0

0

0

7:09

2017-2018

63

9

16

25

8

9.6

17:31

2018-2019

70

14

41

55

16

7.6

24:17

 

If the Ottawa Senators are going to be successful this season, they’re going to need to tighten up defensively – so don’t be surprised if Chabot’s offensive numbers take a slight hit in order to benefit the team’s overall performance. I know it’s almost laughable to think of the Sens being a ‘good’ team next season, but they still have a young roster with plenty of dangerous pieces. We love hockey because of how unpredictable it can be – the St. Louis Blues were sitting in last place halfway through the regular season and now they’re two wins away from the Stanley Cup.

While Ottawa’s future might be promising, I have a tough time believing that Chabot can replicate his offensive output from the 2018-2019 season in 2019-2020. The reality is, he had the offensive capabilities of Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel at his disposal for a large portion of this past season. In fact, 38 of his points came in the first 38 games of the season – before the roster was blown up – meaning he tallied 17 points in his final 32 games. Don’t get me wrong, his production in the second half of the season was still really impressive considering he missed time with a broken toe and didn’t have much of a supporting cast (no pun intended). All in all, I think Chabot could surprise us next season because he’s capable of creating offense for himself and will have a chance to build chemistry with Brady Tkachuk – who is going to be a great player. Don’t expect a 64-point pace from Chabot, but at the same time don’t expect his production to fall off a cliff. 

 

Victor Hedman

Season

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

Shooting %

Time on Ice

2016-2017

79

16

56

72

36

9.6

24:31

2017-2018

77

17

46

63

26

7.9

25:51

2018-2019

70

12

42

54

25

6.6

22:46

 

While a late-season injury prevented Hedman from eclipsing the 60-point mark for the third-straight year, he still played well enough to earn a Norris Trophy nomination. Hedman is still very much ‘the guy’ in Tampa Bay as he’s better than Ryan McDonagh and Mikhail Sergachev still needs time to develop. I feel like we don’t always realize how good Hedman is because he plays on the league’s most talented roster. Going into next season, some managers might avoid Hedman in fantasy hockey leagues. Maybe because he dealt with injuries late in the regular season and during the playoffs, maybe because they think Sergachev is going to breakout, or maybe they’re discouraged by the fact that his point totals have been decreasing over the last three seasons. Whatever the case, if your opposition doesn’t want to draft Hedman, their ignorance is your Victor-y. 

 

Torey Krug

Season

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

Shooting %

Time on Ice

2016-2017

80

8

43

51

25

3.9

21:50

2017-2018

76

14

45

59

24

7.1

20:24

2018-2019

64

6

47

53

30

4.0

21:18

 

During the regular season, I saw a lot of Bruins’ fans frustrated with Krug’s defensive play. However, from a fantasy hockey perspective, Krug’s offensive output was outstanding. Even during the playoffs, he’s played a huge role in Boston’s road to the Stanley Cup Final. He has 16 points in 21 games during this postseason run! Other defensemen we consider to be elite offensively – Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson – had 16 points in 20 games and 19 games, respectively. Despite missing a lot of time due to injury during the regular season, he managed to surpass the 50-point mark for the third-straight season and was on pace for 68 points! Heading into the 2018-2019 campaign, Krug was drafted in the mid-seventh round in the average Yahoo League. If your league rewards offensive production from the blueline, Krug is a premier option. While we might see Charlie McAvoy take on a bigger role and eat into Krug’s future production, I think we still have some time before that happens.

 

Jeff Petry

Season

GP

Goals

Assists

Points

PPP

Shooting %

Time on Ice

2016-2017

80

8

20

28

7

4.7

22:07

2017-2018

82

12

30

42

23

6.7

23:30

2018-2019

82

13

33

46

11

7.6

23:07

 

I’ve had a chance to watch a lot of Habs Hockey this season and I have to say that Jeff Petry is one of the league’s most criminally underrated defenseman. He was drafted in just 10% of Yahoo Leagues and when he was drafted, he was selected in the late rounds. Petry carried an incredible workload during Shea Weber’s absence and showed flashes off his play-making abilities through some incredible passes. From my vantage point, Petry is an extremely talented skater that is capable of putting up 40-point seasons consistently in the NHL. While some might ignore him because he’s behind Weber on the depth chart, I think he’s matured into a player that makes the most of the opportunities he is given. Montreal’s power-play was awful in 2018-2019 as the team capitalized on just 13.2% of their chances. I’m willing to bet that improves next season, so Petry should see more than just 11 power play points.