Welcome to the second installment of what is now my monthly fantasy hockey mailbag column. The concept is simple – you send me (instructions are at the end of the column) questions about fantasy hockey and I address them here in a way that not only gives you the answer(s) you’re seeking but also provides fantasy advice and food for thought to other readers, even if they don’t own the same players. That way everybody wins! Without further ado, here are this week’s set of questions and answers.
Question #1 (from Justin)
I made a trade in my 10 player roto pool. I traded away Ben Bishop, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mark Stone to another GM in exchange for John Tavares, Artemi Panarin, and Darcy Kuemper. When I made the trade, I was in 2nd place in my pool. Can this trade help put me over the top to win the pool, or did I give up too much to get what I received?
This is a tough question because I’m missing information on what categories you count and where you (and the GM who’s in first) stood in each one. Also, the question came to me at the end of February, so a lot has happened since then. Even still, I’ll do my best to answer it, all things considered.
Let’s start with a side-by-side of the netminders. Kuemper is doing his best to channel Peter Budaj of 2016-17 by morphing from borderline NHLer to very capable starter, as he’s stepped in and stabilized the Arizona net while Antti Raanta is on the sidelines. Bishop plays for the better team and, on paper, is the better goalie; yet despite his recent string of shutouts, he isn’t that much of an improvement over Kuemper at the moment. And as we’ve seen twice in 2019, Bishop is always an injury risk. If your league counts saves and wins, they’re quite comparable; it’s not until you factor in GAA, Shutouts and SV% that Bishop gains an edge, although not by too much over the 2018-19 version of Kuemper.
The next two for comparison are Backstrom and Tavares. Clearly if goals and SOG matter in your league that swings the pendulum toward Tavares big time, with Backstrom’s roughly 50% edge in PPPts not enough to close the gap that Tavares holds over him in nearly all other categories, including plus/minus and Hits+Blocks. Big edge to Tavares.
That leaves Stone and Panarin for comparison. When Stone was traded at the deadline, Vegas said the intent was to play him with Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty; but poolies suspected it was only a matter of time until he lined up with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson on the top line, replacing Reilly Smith. Yet here we are a month later and Stone is still stapled to Pacioretty and Stastny at even strength, albeit with Karlsson and Marchessault (plus Smith) on PP1. And the results have been just okay, with eight points in 12 games but a stretch of six points in five contests. So in short – better team but worse stats, at least for now.
What that also means is, while Stone blows Panarin out of the water in multi-cat areas like Hits+Blocks. Panarin is probably still the one of the two who I’d want to own since although his ice time isn’t super high he gets upwards of 75% of his 5×5 starts in the offensive zone, making it all but impossible for him not to keep up his torrid scoring pace. In contrast, Stone – as talented as he is – plays for a Knights team which divides ice time and zone starts more evenly, which should keep his scoring below that of Panarin by 10-15%.
So, all in all, it looks like you make a shrewd deal, getting the two best forwards and a goalie who’s not much of a step down from Bishop. All the best in what hopefully will be (or already has been) a journey from second place to first.
Question #2 (from Michael)
I am a huge fan of Joshua Ho-Sang, but I’m getting the feeling he's never really going to become a fulltime NHLer, let alone the future fantasy force that was envisioned in juniors and when picked in the first round. In your opinion, is it time to cut him loose?
This hearkens back to recent questions I answered about Jesse Puljujarvi and Pavel Zacha. Ho-Sang, at 23, is more than a year older than both of those two (Zacha turns 22 next month, JP turns 21 in May), but he’s played far fewer games than either – just 53 to date, including only ten this season. Yet somehow Ho-Sang managed 24 points in those 53 games, for a much higher scoring rate than either Zacha or JP. Even Ho-Sang’s AHL career scoring rate is about 60 points. All this begs the question – why is he not yet an NHL regular?
Unlike JP and Zacha, Ho-Sang has had recurring questions about his effort/character; and while his AHL scoring rate has been highest this season, he’s even been a healthy scratch at that level, which says a lot, although of course, he could have pent up frustration for not getting what he feels is a chance to show his talent at the NHL level. Chances are next season will be different, as either New York will choose to re-sign him, presumably for enough money to get e regular roster spot, or he’d end up on a new team for a fresh start. But can we tell if he’d have a chance at success elsewhere, or if given a longer look in New York? Let’s try to figure that out by dissecting what little NHL data we have to go on.
Unlike the case with Zacha and JP, when Ho-Sang did play he was given ample PP time – 2:25 per game in 2016-17, 2:15 in 2017-18 and even 1:55 this season, yet amassed a mere three cumulative PPPts. If we crunch the numbers, that’s three PPPts in approximately 120 total PP minutes, or 1.5 PPPts per 60 minutes. There’ no way to spin that as anything but a very poor output. Moreover, it was not a case of him having back luck; instead, the PP simply was ineffective with him on it, with the team scoring a total of seven PPPts in those 120 minutes. And considering Ho-Sang’s most common linemates when skating on the PP were either top tier or at worst second tier Islanders, it’s difficult not to conclude he was a drag on the PP overall.
But until this season, he actually wasn’t a drag on production in general, as in his first two campaigns his 5×5 team shooting percentage was above the 9.0% mark usually associated with solid scorers. And although his IPP (i.e., the percentage of points he received on goals scored while he was on the ice) was 50% in 2016-17, it was a very impressive 80% last season. Fast forward to 2018-19, however, and both those numbers have cratered, with his 5×5 team shooting percentage dropping to 4.69% and his IPP to 33.3%, which are truly atrocious numbers.
But was it a case of him being saddled with far worse linemates in 2018-19 versus prior seasons? Yes and no, as this season he spent about 40% of his even strength ice time skating with Anders Lee and Brock Nelson, versus 2017-18 when his most frequent linemates at even strength were Nelson again, plus Anthony Beauvillier, and 2016-17 when he most often shared the ice with Beavillier, Lee, and Nelson. But he also spent 35% of his 2018-19 shifts with Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula. And his OZ% this season cratered to 40.3% after being 59.5% and 52.4% in his prior seasons; so in a way that’s some excuse for his diminished even strength output for 2018-19, although not his abject failure on the PP.
Given all the data and the fact that Ho-Sang is already five years out from being drafted, my take is he should not be owned in any non-dynasty league at this point. And even in dynasties, he could be a drop if he doesn’t somehow find his game wherever he ends up next season.
Question #3 (from Owen)
I'm in a points-only, ten team keeper league. Each team has a 21 player active roster (5 subs) which must consist of four defensemen, one goalie, and one rookie. I drafted Andrei Svechnikov as my rookie this year and have been disappointed. When will he have a breakout season, if at all?
Let’s keep in mind, first and foremost, this is Svechnikov’s age 18 season, so it’s far too early to surmise whether he’ll have a breakout season. But let’s see if data and comparables can give us any clues.
Svechnikov has 20 goals while averaging 2+ SOG per game. Since 2000-01 only six other 18 year-olds have accomplished both feats, two-thirds of whom have turned out to be major stars (Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, Steven Stamkos, Ilya Kovalchuk), one who’s still young but likely headed for great things (Patrik Laine) and one (Jeff Skinner) who didn’t turn out to be a super player but still has proven to be a fantasy-worthy asset. So that data right there should help you breathe a whole lot easier about Svechnikov’s future prospects.
On the other hand, Svechnnikov’s IPP for 2018-19 is only 62.1% and 5×5 team shooting percentage is just 6.02%. Those are not strong numbers and likely explain, along with him averaging just 2.0 points per 60 minutes of ice time, why Svehnikov hasn’t garnered more ice time as a rookie despite his skill. But before you let those tidbits concern you too much, consider that although he’s played sparingly with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, he’s arguably made them better when they’ve taken the ice together, as both have higher percentages of overall scoring chances and high danger scoring chances when they play with Svechnikov than without. Beyond that, although Svechnikov plays only 14:36 per game, which is about 30% less than star in the making Sebastian Aho. Yet Svechnikov’s scoring chances and high danger scoring chances only trail those of Aho by 10-15%. I think that encouraging data at least balances out – if not trumps – the not so great IPP and team shooting percentage numbers for Svechnikov’s rookie campaign.
Overall I’d say that Svechnikov looks to be well on his way to becoming a very good if not a great fantasy asset. As for when the switch might be flipped, I might not bank on 2019-20 but I think by age 21 he should be showing us his true talents and, more importantly for you, racking up the points as well.
Starting this week, I’ll be giving some “quick hit” responses to some of your questions that came in at the 11th hour. If you’d like a deeper dive answer, please send your question at least a week in advance; Instructions on how to do so are at the bottom of the column.
For sure Makar, as I think Tyson Barrie will walk as a high-priced UFA next summer then Girard might bridge the gap for a season or two, after which it’ll be 100% the Makar show, with Colorado’s forward core still smack dab in the middle of its prime. I’m also taking Sergachev since Tampa figures to be a juggernaut for the next half decade and Sergachev looks like he could be Kevin Shattenkirk or Keith Yandle type, with plenty of offensive zone starts and enough PP time to put up solid numbers, yet not saddled with tough minutes. This isn’t to say that Fox will be bad – I’m just less confident about Fox’s chances to have a role that’s as conducive to scoring as the other two.
Will Giordano’s magic continue into next season, or should be we expect a drop-off? (From Kyle)
Age is not working in Mark Giordano’s factor, as only twp defensemen (Al MacInnis, and Nicklas Lidstrom) in NHL history have scored even 60 points at age 36+! But like those two, Giordano is a minute-eater who also is put out there in scoring situations – a best of both worlds so to speak. What’s more, Calgary has no one set to push him for coveted PP time. Beyond that, Gio’s metrics aren’t wholly unsustainable, as although his 5×5 team shooting percentage and IPP were high both for him (and for a defenseman in general), most everything else was reasonable, making it so my take for 2019-20 is poolies should expect roughly 60 points, with a better chance at 65 than 55, especially if Calgary remains a team on the rise.
What’s your read on Rittich beyond this season? (From Randall)
With David Rittich an RFA and Smith a UFA, I believe Smith is as good as gone and might even retire. I think Calgary playing Rittich over Smith this season even though Smith was higher paid and Rittich was so untested speaks volumes in terms of their confidence in him and willingness to keep – and pay him – as a starter. As long as he doesn’t completely lay an egg in the playoffs, this summer I’d expect the team to give Rittich a 3-4 year deal worth something in the $3M per season range – enough to denote him as the starter but also to allow them to sign a back-up who could step in if Rittich falters.
As for how Rittich might perform going forward, I believe we’ve seen enough to feel confident he can seize the reigns and perform well. One key is his even strength SV%, which is better than that of Marc-Andre Fleury, Braden Holtby, or Devan Dubnyk. That metric is usually an indicator that a somewhat more unproven goalie can – and will – step up if given the change to be a true #1.
What would you do with Sam Bennett in a 31 team, cap hit, all players owned league with regular stats plus Hits, Blocks, SHTOI, and FOW? (From Thomas)
Bennett is an RFA and will likely get a bump in salary which normally should bring with it more playing time, except for the fact that most of Calgary’s top forwards are under contract for several more years, making it difficult to envision Bennett being able to rise above the bottom six. It’s also not a good sign that both his SOG total and his IPP both went down this season, which was his “magical fourth year”. That also leads into another key, namely, we can’t ignore he’s now a 22-year-old who’s played more than 300 NHL games, begging the question as to when – if ever – he’ll connect the dots. All this being said, he did have a decent stretch of better than a point per every other game hockey this season and if injuries occur and armed with his new contract he could get a chance to strut his stuff and perhaps carve out a more prominent role. I’d keep him but not be afraid to package him as part of a larger deal without fear he’ll come back to bite you.
What’s the outlook on Cody Glass in a straight points league? (From The Chaliman)
Glass is terrific in my book. He’s got skill and a scoring drive – that much we saw on full display at both the WJCs and this season in the WHL. My concern is whether Vegas is the right fit for him in that the team doesn’t give scorers the kind of ice time – at even strength or on the PP – that he would get on most any other squads. Perhaps that could help transition him to the NHL and ease his development, but I worry it could frustrate him and have a deleterious effect. Long story short, on most any other team I’d have high hopes; but with him being a Vegas prospect I’d temper expectations substantially, at least for his early years or as long as Gallant is the coach.
What’s the fantasy outlook for Jordan Greenway? Can you think of a good comparable? (From Jon)
Greenway is a non-big man trapped in a big man’s frame. He doesn’t throw his weight around, so his value in Hits and PIM leagues is questionable, and he doesn’t shoot the puck much, which concerns me more so than his points total. It is good to see that his IPP is 65% for this season, as that suggests a nose for scoring. But I worry that he doesn’t have a clearly defined role or specialization – he strikes me as a player whose upside is the middle six and maybe a point total in the high 40s. As for comparables, that’s a bit of a tough one – maybe Nick Bjugstad, except with fewer shots and hits?
Who are some early bounce-back candidates for 2019-20? (From Dan)
The one that stands out to me the most is Rickard Rakell. Stretching back to the end of 2016-17 and going into this season he had 76 points in his previous 86 regular season games. That’s too good for too long for him to be this mediocre. I’m also a believer in Laine, whom I think will look back on this season once it’s over, be embarrassed, and will come back for 2019-20 ready to dominate once again. And don’t sleep on Jake Gardiner, who’ll either be “the guy” on a new team or likely back to more of his old self on Toronto, or Antii Raanta, who’ll likely be injury-free and also back to his old self.
What kind of production should we expect from PLD without Panarin? (From KF)
Great question, and it’s important to focus on the fact that after a red-hot start to the season Dubois has cooled considerably despite still being glued to Panarin for the most part. Interestingly, Dubois’ Fenwick in the minutes he plays without Panarin is higher than when they’re together, but his scoring chances, both in general and “high danger” plummet when they’re apart. That’s worrisome, but at the same time Dubois has done enough to be the #1 center in Columbus and it wouldn’t shock me to see him step up his game more once his “binky” is gone. Personally, I’m taking a flyer on Dubois this offseason because between the end of season slump and concern over Panarin’s departure, the price probably will be right, or at least right enough to gamble on Dubois being able to shine on his own.
Is Ryan O’Reilly a sell-high? (From Fernet)
The short answer, to me, is no. I think ROR is in a similar class as Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar as centers who play mega minutes and can still do it all while putting up a minimum of 70+ points. The question is why, in that case, wasn’t ROR shining in previous years, and I think a lot of that had to do with him playing for truly lousy teams where his 55-65 points were, percentage-wise, a similar ratio to total team goals scored as what he’s done this season. There is some concern, however, in that Vladimir Tarasenko has started to heat up as he’s played more once again with Brayden Schenn, but that might be a red herring in that ROR’s yearlong totals are still solid. Don’t sell high – keep and reap the benefits.
Thanks to those who sent in questions this week – sorry I couldn’t answer them all. In some cases, it was due to having touched upon the player(s) (Meier, Zacha, Karlsson and Puljujarvi) in a recent column while in others (like Subban) it was due to him being covered in a recent ramblings. Although my next mailbag isn’t for another four weeks, it’s never too early to start sending me more questions if you want a “deep dive” as I did with the first three questions. You can send questions to me in one of two ways: (1) emailing them to [email protected] with “Roos Mailbag” as the subject line, or (2) 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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