Eastern Edge: The Toronto Maple Leafs

by Cam Metz on August 14, 2018

 

As a hockey fan you have to be pretty excited about the consolidation of power underway in Toronto.  Adding John Tavares to a top line superstar in Auston Matthews has Toronto in a position to have the second-best center combination in the league; still not touching Malkin and Sid. Sorry I won’t debate it until the Pittsburgh pivots move firmly past their prime. 

Are you wondering how many points Mitch Marner is going to put up this year? You’ll need to get the but the Dobber’s 2018-2019 Fantasy Guide because I won’t spill the beans in this article.

Like for the Wild West series, the ranks are based on a 12 team, head-to-head league, using the categories of goals, assists, power play points, shots, hits and blocks for forwards/defensemen and wins, saves, save percentage and goals against average for goalies. Player eligibility for this series is based on Yahoo, and draft ranks are based on average draft positions compiled from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS by FantasyPros.  Once we can flip the switch and start getting 2018 ADPs we’ll be sure to cover you on the value plays for this season.

Check out yesterday’s column by Chris Kane on the Kings.

Recap

Toronto was unfortunate to get lined up against the Bruins in round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They admirably pushed the series to seven games but could not get into the second round.   The team’s young core has firmly made their mark on the league and this year is shaping up to be one for the ages.

Adding John Tavares over the summer the top two lines will be fantasy gold.  The only question is how many Toronto players are you willing to roster so that you’re not too lopsided?  At 5v5 last year Toronto was second in league in scoring, ahead of them was their division rivals Tampa.  I suppose the one thing that this stat makes me wonder out loud about is: if this team was so prolific at scoring last year, how many more goals can than they actually score this year?  Does the percentage of points an individual get dispersed across the top six rather than consolidated in the top three? If I’m a betting man – everyone on the team gets a nice five- to nine-point bump aligning with their skill level accordingly.

The team ranked second overall in power play success the last two years and there is little reason to think that they won’t return as a top five unit again.  If the Atlantic was not as top heavy the Leafs would all but be a lock for the number one seed out of the division.

 

Overvalued

Tavares – JT finished up basically where he was drafted based on ADP from last season.  His shooting percentage was the second highest of his career and helped aid his total goals scored.  I’m guessing the move to Toronto propels him to a sure-fire top ten pick and while his stability over the years helps create an excellent floor. Last year Tavares was drafted as the 26th-best player and ended up at 33. That being said, I’ll be the first to tell you that points are king, and you can deal with blocks in another round and you’ll never replace those points with another 6th round pick who hits and blocks a lot. Use JT as an example of how valuing players morphs round by round.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

82

37

47

84

1.02

257

14.4%

30

30

34

 

Mitch Marner–  65 points for a player drafted as the 65th overall pick is great, the way he produced those points is both exciting for the future and extremely maddening for last season’s owners.  Through the first half of last season Marner only scored five goals! Shooting five percent with his skill level is insane.  His power play production and shot volume was tremendous for a second-year player. Unfortunately Marner did not end up improving his ranking based on his ADP as he was only ranked as the 95th best skater- this is the sole reason he ended up on the overvalued list.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

80

22

47

69

0.84

194

11.3%

31

25

27

 

Nazem Kadri – Kadri has been the silent assassin from the center position in fantasy for two seasons, produce shots, PIMs, and points with little expended draft capital.  Kadri piled them on again for owners and for those of us smart enough to go ZeroC you could certainly load up on wingers and pick off efficient centers like Kadri.  Next year I’m bearish on Kadri as it seems like his usage on the power play and demotion in TOI could result in an unfavorable ADP gap.

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

78

27

21

48

0.62

203

13.3%

91

18

24

 

Patrick Marleau – 43 points is not a fantasy worthy player in most leagues, so take this note as a public service announcement: don’t hit the draft button – swing for the fences on a rookie instead.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

80

25

18

43

0.54

198

12.6%

84

9

26

 

William Nylander – Nylander feels like the type of player that is going to take his 61 points from last year and use it as the building block to produce 75 points calmly on a dominant team throughout the year.  He built a great foundation so that moving into next year you can feel confident that a middle round pick has the possibility of turning into the extra points needed to propel your team past your league.

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

80

20

41

61

0.76

180

11.1%

20

12

17

 

Undervalued

 

Frederik Andersen– Was a standout goaltender last year producing 37 quality starts in route to 38 wins.  His save percentage was greater than league average at 5v5 and shorthanded. The risky proposition is that he was very efficient with high-danger saves compared to the league in both situations.  A short-handed reversal below league average could certainly spell trouble for his save percentage.  Given that Toronto has not taken any giant leaps forward in shoring up their defense it is within the range of outcomes that Andersen takes a step backwards from the incredible value he produced last year.  Granted I do believe he will be a top five netminder, I just don’t like the price that he will likely cost if he is number five on that list versus number one.

 

Short Handed  Percentage Difference from League Mean

    AdjSv.

     delta_adj

     delta_LD

    delta_MD

   delta_HD

88.78

1.679

5.599

2.645

3.630

         

5v5 Percentage Difference from League Mean

    AdjSv.

    delta_adj

     delta_LD

    delta_MD

    delta_HD

92.290

0.014

4.724

1.496

-1.046

 

 

Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner – Talk about the definition of sneaking value in later round defense.  Without relying heavily on goals both blueliners were able to put up fantasy worthy production.  I’m excited about what these two can do next year and I’m more excited to see their ADP; these seem like two guys that you strategically build your entire draft around.  Count me in.

 

Reilly:

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

74

6

42

48

0.65

176

3.4%

47

23

82

 

Gardiner:

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

80

5

47

52

0.65

133

3.8%

49

15

100

 

Auston Matthews – What more can be said? He was drafted second overall ahead of Sid in one of my leagues last year (the incorrect move).  When Matthews is able to stay healthy he will carry teams to championships. If you’re fortunate enough to draft him this year in his third season, count your lucky stars.   It seems improbably that he can only score 13 PP points next year (this is Dylan Larkin numbers), the difference being, Matthews only played 61 games. 

 

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Points/ Game

Shots

Sht%

Hits

PPlay Points

Blocks

61

34

29

63

1.03

185

18.4%

15

13

61

 

After writing this article it has made me want to draft most of the guys on this list. I’m betting you could draft Matthews in the first, Andersen in the second, Marner in the third, Nylander in the fourth, and Gardiner/Reilly in the fifth.  While no one should actually do that I do think it is a testament to the value proposition this team has in its future.

Over the last three years there have only been six teams that have topped scoring 60+ PP goals, Toronto has come close, I’m willing to bet that this is the year they can sneak an extra seven to ten goals into their totals and elevate their players to elite fantasy status, especially their young D.

This is the last year for the foreseeable future that you’re going to be able to draft a lot of these guys at ADPs that will be criminally undervalued. Needless to say, I’m bullish on T-Dot.

 

Sources: Hockey-reference.com, Naturalstattrick, Corsica.hockey