If you’re in mailbag withdrawal due to the delay from Bubble Keeper Week, worry no more, as it makes its return today! For first time readers, this is where I get the privilege of answering your fantasy hockey questions, which you can send me via instructions at the end of the column. As always, the goals are for me to give thorough responses while at the same time providing fantasy advice and food for thought to other readers, even if they don’t own the particular player(s) that are the subject of the inquiries. Now onto the questions for this month!
Question #1 (from Bryce)
What is your opinion on Connor Hellebuyck's value going forward, with an ageing Byfuglien and the departures of Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers?
Before looking at what might be in store for Hellebuyck, let’s focus on his career accomplishments to date. For one, he amassed over 100 wins in his first four seasons by age 25, which is something only a trio of other goalies has done since 1985. The three are Henrik Lundqvist, which is fine company to be in, but also Cam Ward and Ron Hextall, who went on to good but not great careers. So his early success doesn’t automatically anoint him a surefire star.
Over the past two seasons, Hellebuyck had 69 Quality Starts (defined as achieving the mean leaguewide SV% in a start or, in a start where one faces 20 or fewer starts, stopping at least 17 of them) out of 126 total starts, which put him 7th in Quality Starts among 44 goalies with 50+ cumulative starts over the past two seasons. He’s rarely terrible though, with only 12 “Really Bad Starts” (defined as starts with a SV% below 85%) over that time; and all who had more Really Bad Starts than him started no more than 109 games (versus his 126), plus the second-lowest Really Bad Start mark among netminders who, like Hellebuyck, had 126+ starts, was 15. Among the 44 goalies, Hellebuyck was 11th in SV% and 14th in GAA, which are not especially impressive; but on the other hand was 8th in Shutouts, 2nd in Wins, and first overall in goalie point shares.
What do these stats tell us? For one, Hellebuyck was helped quite a bit by playing a lot and for a good team, which is why we do need to worry about the departures of Trouba and Myers. Without them, Winnipeg’s game plan is likely to shift from winning via a balanced offensive and defensive approach to focusing more on its firepower. The result might be Hellebuyck not seeing a decrease in wins, but a reduction in Quality Starts, an increase in Really Bad Starts, and, to go along with those, an even further elevated GAA and a reduced SV%.
By way of comparison, I think he might put up numbers ala what Marc-Andre Fleury did for the 2008-09 to 2015-16 Penguins, which was a high-octane team not known for its defense. Among 38 goalies with 200 or more starts during that time frame, Fleury stood in first place in Wins by 11 over the second-place netminder and a staggering 30 over the third-place goalie, although in fairness he did start the second-most games of all 38 goalies. But Fleury’s lack of help on the blueline was apparent when we see he ranked 15th of the 38 in GAA, 19th in SV%, 9th in SOs, only 32nd in Quality Start Percentage, and 4th worst in Really Bad Starts.
What does this mean for poolies? Hellebuyck should be gold in leagues where Wins and Saves are key but will likely lose value the more other goalie stats are counted. That being said, if the Jets don’t find a way to win with offense, they could retool, and, in doing so, look to find help on the blueline, which in turn should help Hellebuyck’s stats to get closer to where they’ve been the past two seasons. But that’s an if; for now, I think he’s a great goalie to have as an anchor on a fantasy team, provided you have one or more other goalies also on your squad who play for more defensive-minded teams where although wins might be harder to come by solid GAA and high SV% are givens.
Question #2 (from Jesse)
I am in an 8 team H2H league where each team gets 8 keepers out of 24 roster slots, so 64 players are kept and 192 total players are owned. Skater categories are G/A/PPP/BLK/PIM/SOG/HIT/BLK; Goalie categories are W/GGA/SV/SV%. As of now, I’m envisioning my keepers as Nikita Kucherov, David Pastrnak, Tyler Seguin, Morgan Rielly Victor Hedman, Mark Sheifele, Connor Hellebuyck and Jordan Binnington. This would mean I wouldn’t keep the following players: Torey Krug, Sean Couturier, John Klingberg, Mika Zibanejad, Vincent Trocheck and Charlie McAvoy.
What are your thoughts? Am I too high on Binnington? Would you swap out one of my keepers? Who are the closest calls? Do any of my keepers or non-keepers make good trade bait?
I think your toughest dilemma is defense, where you have four big names from which to choose. Rielly’s value likely will take a hit due to the arrival of Tyson Barrie; but with the firepower, the Leafs stand to have and Rielly still likely being heavily used in all situations (as compared to Barrie being pigeonholed), I think Rielly is a nevertheless lock for 60-65+ points for 2019-20. And then in 2020-21 Barrie will be gone, priced out of Toronto as a UFA, making you glad you kept Rielly. Hedman had a bit of an off-year last season, but I still think he’s a better keeper than McAvoy for sure and even Krug, who might come close to scoring nearly as much as Hedman but will likely fare a bit worse in peripherals, and Klingberg, whom I covered in my a recent Goldipucks column, where, among other things, I worried that with Dallas now having other defensemen who can score Klingberg likely will be a sub-60 point d-man.
So your defensemen keepers are spot on. As such, I’d look into dealing Krug, since you can talk him up as an impending UFA who’ll be likely doing all he can to boost his offseason value, and perhaps also Klingberg, although him having a bit of a down year in 2018-29 might make it difficult to get proper value for him in return.
As for your netminders, Hellebuyck is a must keep since notwithstanding what I said above about his GAA and SV%, your league counts Wins and Saves, where he should excel and, more likely than not, be a top-five netminder leaguewide. In terms of Binnington, it’s either keep him or not keep a second goalie. And assuming all seven other teams keep two goalies, that would leave you to be forced to draft what should be the 15th best goalie in the league. I covered Binnington extensively in a Forum Buzz column, where the conclusion I reached was he’s likely enough to be the “real deal” to value him as if he’ll be a top 10ish netminder, especially on a St. Louis team that figures to be just as good come next season.
Are any of your other potential keeper skaters good enough to keep over Binnington? I’d say no, which only leaves the question as to whether you should swap out any of your skater keepers for any of your projected non-keeps. And as much as I hate to toss back Mika Zibanejad, who looks to be coming into his own and will have Artemi Panarin alongside him, and Vincent Trocheck, who’s a great stat stuffer, I like the skaters that you already have earmarked as keepers better. As for Couturier, I think he’s a pretty easy toss back, especially with Philly being coached by Alain Vigneault, who’s notorious for dividing out ice time and, in turn, costing his stars points.
So to sum up, you should indeed keep the eight who were on your original list, and try to move one or both of Krug or Klingberg. You can try to dangle Zibs or Trocheck in trade as well, but my guess is they wouldn’t get you anything in return in a league where only 64 total players are kept, 16 of which are likely goalies, meaning Zibs and Trocheck – plus perhaps even Krug and/or Klingberg – are likely to be seen by your fellow GMs as redrafts.
Question #3 (from Nick)
I’m in a 10 team, non-cap, keeper league. We keep six players plus one rookie. Rosters are 2C, 2RW, 2LW, 3FWD, 5D, 2G, 1 UTIL, 5 BENCH. Skater categories are G, A, +/-, PPPts, SHG, PIM, SOG. For goalies, it’s 4 points for a win, 5 for a SO, -1 for a GA, and 0.2 for every Save.
I have Aleksander Barkov, Taylor Hall, Victor Hedman, and Sergei Bobrovsky as my keeper locks. For my last two spots, I’m debating between Mathew Barzal, Torey Krug, Nicklas Backstrom, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Marchessault, Jakub Voracek, Seth Jones, and Connor Hellebuyck. We also get a rookie keeper. I have Rasmus Dahlin as my choice there, but Quinn Hughes is an option.
Note, we can only keep players for a max of three years (rookies for four) so most guys are traded two and a half years in. What would you do in my shoes?
One piece of missing information is what year keeper each of your non-rookies would be, which might make a difference between two otherwise equal players. For purposes of answering the question I’ll assume they’re all the same year; but if they aren’t, then do factor that into the equation.
First, let’s get the easiest one out of the way – I think Dahlin is a slam dunk over Hughes. That’s not a knock against Hughes; however, Dahlin just became the second age 18 rookie defenseman since Bobby Orr to post 40+ points as a rookie. Moreover, Buffalo is poised to take a big step forward this season, in which case Dahlin could stand to be a key beneficiary. Hughes might be special too; yet with Alex Edler around for two more seasons and Tyler Myers just added, Hughes likely will be treated with kid gloves and thus not given enough ice time to truly excel right out of the gate.
The other slam dunk is Barkov, who plays tons of minutes in all situations and, as noted in my recent Forum Buzz column, doesn’t appear to have lucked into his 98 points from last season. Yes, his PIM are woeful; however, his SHG prowess (5 in 2017-18) and PPPts more than makeup for that. He’s a lock. In a 10 team league I’m also keeping both Bobrovsky and Hellebuyck, as they’re not only be playing for teams which should rack up wins but also should be among the top five in games started, which in turn will help you pile up saves. Bob also gets a lot of shutouts – more than enough to compensate for what will likely be a higher GAA for Hellebuyck this season for the reasons I discussed above.
That takes care of three of your six keepers. In a league with 5D, I’m also going with Hedman and Krug as your fourth and fifth, as both should be top ten in points and PPPts among rearguards for this upcoming season, and none of your forwards – other than Barkov – will likely be in that elite.
Your sixth keeper is a bit tougher. If he played for almost any other team and had more of a supporting cast, it would be Barzal; but as I noted in a mailbag column, the fact that he managed over 60 points this past season was a testament to just how great he is. Someday he’ll be a 90 point scorer, but not until there’s a new coach and more players to help him score. Marchessault, I covered in a different mailbag, where I noted that he likely overperformed in 2017-18 and slightly underperformed in 2018-19; but we put that together and he doesn’t make the cut. Neither does Voracek, whom I covered in a Goldipucks column, where I noted that he relies a lot on PPPts, which will be harder to come by under new coach Alain Vigneault.
Backstrom and Kopitar look to be reaching a tipping point in their careers where they might start seeing a decline in production, which is too bad since if Kopitar was still performing up to his usual standard then he’d be tempting given your categories. So they too don’t make the cut.
Long story short, that leaves Taylor Hall. His Band-Aid Boy status is the stuff nightmares are made of; but with the additions New Jersey made in Wayne Simmonds and Jack Hughes, Hall has a lot more support than he did when he hit 100 points just two seasons ago. And at 27 years old, and particularly given games he’s missed over the years, he should have fresh enough legs to be able to perform at a peak level for at least a couple more seasons. Yes, his peripherals are not great; but other than Barkov he's the only forward on your roster who gives you a realistic shot at 90+ points, with a chance at topping 100. So I think your instinct to keep him is correct.
In sum, I think you keep the four you had on your initial list, plus Hellebuyck and Krug. And come to think of it, I’d probably go with those six even if some of them might be on their last keeper year and ones I excluded could be kept longer, with the possible exception of Barzal in for Hall if Barzal could be kept for two more years and Hall just for this season and you’re concerned about Hall’s injury history.
Question #4 (from Mouseburger via forum private message)
I'm in a 10-team league where positions matter. Every GM starts with the following contracts: (2) 2-year contracts (only players who make $6M or less can be given this), (3) 1-year contracts, and (1) 3-year Rookie contract. Players can only be signed up-to 2 contracts, so for example, once a 2-year contract expires you can only sign that player to a 1-year contract. After that, he goes back into the draft. One other note, you can't sign a player to a 2-year contract after he was previously signed to a 1-year contract.
Via trades, I've been able to attain (1) 2-year contract, and (7) 1-year contracts. I get another 2-year contract next season. The only player who is already signed is Auston Matthews (under a rookie contract, which expires at the end of the 2019-20 season). Guys who I’m leaning towards signing are Brayden Point (1 year – first contract), Mikko Rantanen (2 year – first contract), Seth Jones (1 year – second/final contract) and Frederik Andersen (1 year – first contract).
Here’s the list of who else I can sign for my remaining contracts:
Anthony Mantha (1 year – first contract) – RW; Vladimir Tarasenko (1 year – first contract) – RW
Kyle Connor (1 year – first contract) – LW; Shea Weber (1 year – first contract) – D; Connor Hellebuyck (1 year – second/final contract) – G; Jake Guentzel (1 year – second contract) – LW; Brendan Gallagher (1 year – first contract) – RW; Torey Krug (1 year – first contract) – D
Shayne Gostisbehere (1 year – second contract) – D
League Categories are: For Skaters (Goals, Assists, Shots, Blks, Hits, FW (+ pts.), FL (-pts.), +/-, PIM (- pts.), HT, GWG, SHG, SHA); For Goalies (Wins, Losses (-pts.), GA (-pts.), Saves, Shut Outs)
Do you agree with my four I’m leaning toward signing; and if so, which four others from the nine possible choices would you sign?
One key piece of information I’m missing is how many you need to start at each position since that is of relevance in determining whether to take an otherwise “worse” player from a less deep position. For purposes of answering the question, I’ll assume the league requires you to start 3C, 3RW, 3LW, 5D and 2G. Hopefully, that is close to your actual numbers.
First off, give me Hellebuyck in a ten-team league, as with him and Andersen as two keepers you’re likely to have among the best two netminders heading into the draft. Yes, they will give up their fair share of goals; but in doing so, they will also rack up saves and wins by virtue of playing a lot for great teams. Do yourself a big favor and keep them both and then you can focus your draft on skaters, looking for a late-round goalie who could be slotted in for one of the two as needed.
That leaves you with three more slots unless one of your projected keepers should be pushed aside, which I don’t think should occur, although it’s a close call with Seth Jones. Jones was one of only four rearguards to have 100+ Hits and Blocks last season while also averaging 2.4+ SOG; but Zach Werenski is a more one-dimensional player who was cutting into Jones’ PP Time last season such that it went from over 3:00 per game in the first quarter to barely above 1:00 per game in the fourth quarter. Even still, I think Jones should get you 45 or so points with great peripherals, which is enough to keep him.
One of those three spots should belong to fellow d-man Krug, as although he’s far from a great stat stuffer he’s a scoring machine. And with a UFA payday set for next summer, he stands to do even better than in past seasons. Grab him and enjoy the 65+ points. With the exodus of PP1 stalwart Phil Kessel, I think Jake Guentzel also becomes a must keep, as the only thing that was standing in the way of Guentzel breaking out big time was a regular shift on PP1. And although unfortunately, he’d need to be signed to only a one year, final contract, he’s the class winger of your choices.
The last pick also should be a winger and boils down to Mantha versus Tarasenko. In a Goldipucks column, I pointed out that Mantha is poised to explode. Yet what can’t be ignored is Tarasenko’s 45 points in his last 38 games, as he seemingly showed the superstardom that we all believed he had in him once Craig Berube was installed a coach. Is there any reason to think that Tarasenko should fare worse come next season? I say no; so although not retaining Mantha is a tough pill to swallow, you have to go with Tarasenko and the chance at 90+ points. You can always aim to redraft Mantha.
Question #5 (from Ron)
I’m in a keep 6, draft 12 league. My keepers – I think – are already set (LW Sebastian Aho, LW Tomas Hertl (although both I could move to center), C Mathew Barzal, RW Mark Stone, Teuvo Teravainen and Mikko Rantanen). The way the league works is each team submits 3 lines (LW, C, RW, D) each week, and it’s just points that count.
My question is who do I target with my 1st round pick (11th overall). I’m not getting Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, but players I think will be available are: Ryan O’Reilly, Jonathan Toews, Dylan Larkin, Bo Horvat, Anze Kopitar, Matt Duchene, Logan Couture, Evgeni Dadonov, Sam Reinhart, Cam Atkinson, Jeff Skinner, Jonathan Marchessault, Filip Forsberg, Clayton Keller, Tyson Barrie, Mark Giordano, Roman Josi, Kris Letang, Torey Krug, Jacob Trouba, and Seth Jones.
I kept no defensemen, so do I grab the top d-man in the first round even though in the league there’s a history of good value rearguards being available late? At center I have Barzal, so I need to get a couple of good ones and I was thinking Larkin if he’s there. But I could also focus on LW, and guys like Skinner and Marchessault, and then move Aho and/or Hertl to center. Right-wing is thin in our draft, but I’m keeping three good ones so I figure I can wait on drafting a RW since whomever I pick likely won’t be playing unless one of my three RW keepers underperforms or gets hurt. All things considered, my thinking right now is nabbing the best center or LWer and getting one of the D men in the second or third round. What would you do in my shoes?
In a points only league, I’m most likely not drafting a center early, as it is the deepest position. In fact, according to nhl.com positional assignments, the 25th best scorer among centers had 73 points, versus a mere 46 points for the 25th best LW and 51 points for the 25th best RW. In terms of rearguards, there were 13 who had 50+ points and 30 who had 40+, but really only a handful have a chance to get you 65 points if all aligns well for them. Given that you have flexibility to move Aho and/or Hertl to center, I’d be looking for a LW or D with your first pick.
Skinner is not great in points only leagues, as his weighted goal-scoring is irrelevant. And in terms of Marchessault, as I noted earlier in my linked to piece I think what we saw from him in his first season in Vegas will not be duplicated due to a variety of factors but he also likely wasn’t as bad as what we saw last season, so he’ll likely give you production somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-65 points for the upcoming season. These things having been said, if the next best LWs available to draft don’t figure to get you even 50 points, then you might want to “reach” to grab one of these two. Why? The available defensemen include four (Josi, Krug, Letang, Giordano) who all have a legitimate shot at 65+ points. If you think one of these four d-men will slip to you in the second round, it might be proper to reach for Skinner or Marchessault (I’d personally take Marchessault) in round one. Or if instead, you think all your fellow GMs will snap up rearguards in round one, then you want to grab one of those four and then pick whichever of Marchessault or Skinner is left in round two.
Remember, drafting is not done in a vacuum. You need to consider what other teams are likely to pick based on prior tendencies plus given what they retained. The key here though is you want one of those four truly elite d-men while at the same time getting Skinner or Marchessault, so you should simulate what you think will happen at the draft and go in with a plan but also be ready to depart from the plan if things turn out different than you envisioned. Good luck!
Question #6 (from Joel)
I have two questions.
1) In my H2H keeper, I have to choose two of the following three players: Claude Giroux, Jamie Benn, Mark Stone. Categories are G, A, +/-, ESP, PIM and HITS. Who would you go with?
2) Of the players that were rookies last season, are there any that you would try and obtain for this year? What are your thoughts on Henrik Borgstrom in particular?
For your first question, I think Mark Stone is a lock. Yes, Vegas is stingy with ice time and during the playoffs, he far exceeded what we should expect from him; however, he has been a collective point per game player over the past two seasons and isn’t overly reliant on PPPts, plus gives you pretty good Hits. For the second pick I’m going with Giroux, but barely. For one, you don’t get the benefit of his PPPTs nor his FOW, plus he’s weak in Hits and PIM. Beyond that, Alain Vigneault’s system is notorious for holding back star players. All this being said, I think age, plus a rough and tumble playing style, are catching up with Benn, and fast. Joe Pavelski does a lot of what Benn does, and his addition might lead to Benn’s ice time not rebounding and perhaps decreasing further. Yes, Benn gives you Hits and PIM; but you can find those elsewhere. It’s a tough call to let Benn go; but if you can’t trade him, then he’s who I’d omit.
For your second question, Borgstrom is going to be hurt by playing for a team which will be trying to win a Cup, and, as such, will be less concerned about giving quality minutes to youngsters, even ones as talented as Borgstrom. So unless he somehow finds a way to force the issue, I see him having a small bump in his production to perhaps 30-35 points.
The rookie who I think might explode is Andrei Svechnikov. As I pointed out previously he had 20+ goals and averaged 2+ SOG per game as an 18-year-old, which, since 2000-01, is something that’s been done by the following players: Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nathan MacKinnon, Patrik Laine and Jeff Skinner. Only Stamkos – like Svechnikov – failed to record 50 points as a rookie, and in his second season, he rose all the way to 95 points. Now I’m not saying you should expect anything close to that for Svechnikov; however, he should see his role expand and his scoring increase significantly. He’s who I’d target first and foremost.
Moreover, despite the addition of Mats Zuccarello, I like Ryan Donato in Minnesota, as many might look at his season-long totals and forget he posted 16 points in 22 games for the Wild and, in doing so, likely secured a spot in the top six. Although the Wild might be a team that struggles offensively this season, I still like Donato to perhaps post 50+ points.
Likewise, many might see 22 points in 58 games and write off Roope Hintz of Dallas; however, he had 13 of those 22 points in his final 20 games rounding out a trifecta of Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin, where he likely could be earmarked for again. There’s a concern he just caught fire and could get pushed back down the depth chart if he doesn’t pick up where he left off; however, he also could explode for 60+ points. A definite risk/reward pick.
For defensemen, Devon Toews’ posted a pretty solid 18 points in 48 games and, more importantly, was getting added ice time each quarter and even some PP Time. He also was playing sheltered minutes and in turn, had nearly a 60% offensive zone starting percentage. Even if he doesn’t improve too much from what we saw last season he should post 30-35 points and have an outside shot at 40+, especially if Nick Leddy is moved as has been rumored.
Someone else to look at might be Erik Cernak in Tampa Bay, who not only saw his average ice time increase with each passing quarter last season but also nabbed seven points in his last 17 games while also firing 37 pucks on net. He most likely won’t get you any PPPts; but due to being on the Lightning, he could stumble into 30-35+ points just from 20:00+ per game he figures to skate alongside Ryan McDonagh at even strength.
Thanks to all those who sent in questions for this week. Although my next mailbag isn’t for another four weeks, it’s never too early to start providing me with more questions, which you can do in one of two ways: (1) by emailing them to [email protected] with the words “Roos Mailbag” as the subject line, or (2) by sending them to me via a private message on the DobberHockey Forums, where my username is “rizzeedizzee”.
When sending me your questions, remember to provide as much detail about your league/situation as possible, since as you saw above in a couple of the questions there were some omitted details which made it difficult for me to give a truly proper answer. Examples of the types of things I need to know include what type of league you’re in (i.e., limited keeper, dynasty, or one-year; roto vs H2H), does the salary cap matter, how many players are rostered (and of those, how many start at each position), what categories are scored and how are they weighted, plus other details if necessary (such as free agents available if you’re thinking of dropping a player or rosters of both teams if you’re thinking of making a trade). The key is to tell me enough for me to give you a truly proper answer, and for readers of this column to benefit from the answer/advice I provide. When in doubt, err on the side of inclusion. See you next week for the return of Goldipucks and the Three Skaters!
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