It’s time for another installment of Forum Buzz, where I pore over the vast and invaluable resource that is the DobberHockey Forums and weigh in on some of the most active, heavily debated, or otherwise relevant threads from the past month. Pretty much anything might be covered, other than trades and signings, which usually will get their own separate write-ups on the main site and are also covered in the next day’s Ramblings, or questions relating to salary cap issues, which is the domain of Alex MacLean’s weekly Capped column. What did the Forums have for me to cover this month? Let’s find out!
It depends on what “for real” means. Has he done enough to prove he’s “arrived” as a bona fide NHLer who has significant offensive talent? Yes. Can he continue to score at anything close to the rate we’ve seen from him for 2019-20 thus far? Nope.
The Rangers are a team which has not only Jacob Trouba, whom they clearly envision as a true #1D, plus also Adam Fox, who, although still young, is projected to be at least as offensively gifted as DeAngelo. In fact, despite DeAngelo racking up PPPts of late, Fox looks to be slowly but surely slotting into the PP1 QB role for the team. Moreover, while DeAngelo was making strides last season, what with 21 points in his final 38 games, we can’t ignore he’s a player whose commitment level some have questioned during his career and he just so happens to be playing for an RFA deal this summer.
What does the data/metrics say? That DeAngelo’s scoring for 2019-20 thus far has been the by-product of unsustainable good luck. One need look no further than his IPP, which, as I write this, is 72.2%, a number that would be high for a forward and is unheard of for rearguards. There’s also his P/60 rate, which is nearly double what it was last season. When – and yes, it’s a when, not an if – those numbers crater, his scoring rate will diminish substantially, especially with him only averaging 2 SOG per game yet somehow scoring on 15.6% of those shots.
In reality, DeAngelo is likely a 50 point d-man. As such, if I’m a DeAngelo owner in a one-year league I’m looking to sell before his numbers come back to earth. In keepers too I still might be open to dealing him, as the looming presences of Trouba and Fox make it so a lot would have to go right for DeAngelo to live up to the hype that currently surrounds him.
Here’s what we know. Karlsson posted four seasons of 71+ points by age 28, a feat that was achieved by only eight other d-men in history. What happened to the eight as they aged? Factoring out Bobby Orr, whose career ended prematurely, the rest had at least one more 70+ point season, and six had two or more 68+ point seasons, with four having three or more seasons of 70+ points. So simply by virtue of being in this very exclusive “club,” Karlsson would appear to have a still bright future.
Where concern arises, however, is in what we’re seeing from Karlsson as he plays his first full season since coming back from a major injury, and on a team with fellow rearguard Brent Burns. Thus far the results look…….discouraging. Not since his first two seasons in the league had Karlsson failed to average at least three SOG per game, yet for 2019-20 he’s below two per contest! Also, in every season where he posted 71+ points, his share of his team’s PP minutes was at least 73%, and this season it’s on track to be 60%. Overall ice time is also a factor, as in his 70+ point campaigns his average TOI per game was over 27:00, yet this season thus far it’s 25:22. And his OZ% has only twice been below 55% and never below 52%, yet for 2019-20 it’s on track to be under 50%. Not good.
One could take solace if Brent Burns wasn’t signed for so many more seasons or looked like he’s might be poised to see his production drop. And although there have been nine instances of teams where two defensemen scored 70+ points in the same season, the last time it occurred was more than 25 years ago (the 1992 Rangers). So yeah, the Burns factor is very real, and very detrimental to Karlsson.
Accordingly, although it would be going against past precedent for Karlsson not to top 70 points at least once more (if not several times more) in his career, him being on a struggling San Jose team and playing alongside Brent Burns might stand in the way of that happening. Thus, it does indeed appear that the Karlsson of today is no longer a truly elite defenseman, until/unless he proves otherwise.
My view on this is no. For one, most of those who own Barrie in keepers believe he will score more on a per game basis than he has thus far, not to mention should go back to his usual higher scoring ways once he goes to a new team as a UFA this summer. Plus, even if they didn’t think that, the perceived value he still carries based on his past results and current team is such that I’m not sure anyone would be willing to sell him for a price that could rightfully fall under the banner of “buying low.”
With that out of the way, what do I see unfolding for Barrie over the rest of the season? Assuming that Morgan Rielly continues to be Toronto’s top dog blueliner and holds down the lone defensive spot on PP1, Barrie is unlikely to put up numbers this season which will be close to his outputs in his most recent campaigns with Colorado. In addition to Barrie not being on PP1, he’s shooting the puck a somewhat less than his norm, which won’t do his stats – or fantasy owners – any favors.
These things having been said, Barrie is receiving plenty of ice time per game, and his IPP, which had ranged from 55.1% to 58.5% over the past three seasons sits at below 30% as I write this. Although he might not reach an IPP 55% as a Leaf due to the hole he’s dug so far plus the fact that Toronto is a better all-around team, one has to expect his IPP to increase at least somewhat, and, with that, his scoring rate as well. As such, despite his poor start and even if he remains deployed as suboptimally as he’s been and shoots at a lower volume than normal, I still think Barrie could hit 45+ points. Of course next season one would expect him to jump back into his familiar 60+ point territory, provided he signs with a good team and once again occupies the top offensive defenseman role, including on PP1.
Going back to why he’s not a sell high, the issue is any GM who owns Barrie is likely aware of these factors, or, if not already aware and approached for a trade, will do his or her research and arrive at the same or similar conclusions. Accordingly, I think Barrie is a “fake news” buy low candidate in that while he fits the usual criteria, his past results and likely future outcome will make it so you can’t buy him for less than his true value. Of course if this is a one-year league, then it would likely be a different story and maybe – just maybe – you can find a GM who is panicked enough to trade Barrie for a low enough value to net you a positive return.
Much like Barrie, Hall’s situation is muddied by the fact that he could become a UFA and sign with a new team next season. There’s also the reality that Gaudreau is far more valuable in points-only leagues, where his dreadful Hits and poor PIM don’t weigh down your team.
Since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, however, Gaudreau sits is eighth in cumulative scoring, ahead of – as I write this – Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, Aleksander Barkov, Artemi Panarin and John Tavares. On a per game basis, however, Hall outproduces Gaudreau (1.16 to 1.10). But the key there is “per game,” as Hall missed more than half of last season and before that had played 76 and 72 games. Plus, he turns 28 this week and is 15 months older than Gaudreau, who, for the record, has missed 15 totals games in his five full seasons.
Also, Gaudreau has already reached a stage in his young career where, until proven otherwise and despite his somewhat slow start to 2019-20, he can be counted upon as a truly elite scorer. Hall, on the other hand, had 93 points in just 76 games in 2017-18 but since then has been closer to “merely” a point per game player. Also, if Hall leaves New Jersey, the price he’ll command could make it difficult for him to land on a high scoring team, as instead he might be looked upon –like he is in New Jersey – to be “the guy” and thus we can’t know how well he’ll fare. Yes, he did tally those 93 points in 2017-18; but his points per 60 minutes rate for that season was 3.8. Last season it dipped to 3.4 and this season it’s below 3.0. Plus, in three seasons immediately prior to coming to New Jersey it ranged from 2.2 to 2.5.
Yes, Hall will hit a good deal more than Gaudreau and rack up more PIM and SOG; however, he can’t do those things if he’s not in the line-up, whereas Gaudreau has rarely missed a contest and you know you’ll get elite production from him. In view of Hall’s band-aid boy status, coupled with his advancing age, and the possibility he lands somewhere next season that is even less conductive to him producing well, I think it’s better to go with Gaudreau. Is it nice to also have Lindholm on the same roster? Yes, but that’s not a major factor in reaching the decision.
The question was asked in the context of the poster’s seven team league where 12 forwards start and only six transactions are allowed. So essentially it boils down to whether Benn is still a top 100 forward in a points only format.
It used to be that Benn was among the most bankable fantasy performers, with 79-89 points in three straight seasons from 2013 to 2016. And although he dipped to 69 points in 2016-17, he bounced back to 79 points in 2017-18 before a drop to 53 points last season. This season though, he’s on pace for not even a point per every other game. The question is whether he has another rebound in him, ala what happened in 2017-18, or if, instead, he’s finally no longer the same player he once was.
One key is his play last season was worse than it appears, as he ended with 21 points in his final 36 games. So really he was sputtering even before this season. Moreover, his poor play at the end of last season was occurring while his most frequent linemates – Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov – were producing at nearly a point per game clip. Also, his SOG rate, which, in his 79+ point seasons, was at least three per game, was 2.42 last season and thus far is on pace to be even lower for 2019-20. Also, even with his 79 point rebound in 2017-18, Benn’s PP scoring has dropped three seasons in a row and this season could fall even lower than the measly 11 he had in 2018-19.
Benn also is clearly just not as dialed into the offense as he once was. This was a player who had an IPP in his first seven seasons that was only twice below 71.7% and even in those two seasons was still above 65%. Last season, however, his IPP was down to 59.6% and it’s even lower for 2019-20 to date.
It’s a similar story for his 5×5 team shooting percentage, which generally ranged from 8.91% to 11.36% during his first seven seasons, except for one year at 7.06%. Last season it was 8.7%, but this year it’s way down below even 6.0%. The conclusion which has to be reached was that last season his linemates were able to score despite Benn’s presence; however, this season Benn’s level of play has dropped so much as to be costing his linemates points; plus when the line does manage to score, Benn’s fingerprints aren’t on the goals, as shown by his low IPP.
What appears to be happening is Benn’s history of “rough and tumble” play is catching up to him. If we look at players who are now age 30+ and had 200+ goals and 1000+ Hits since 2009-10, we see a list of guys who all started to slow down at or near Benn’s age, if not earlier: Bobby Ryan, Patric Hornqvist, Andrew Ladd, and Wayne Simmonds. The lone exception is Alex Ovechkin, but he’s of course a truly unique talent. For the rest of the bunch, clearly there seems to be a price to pay for sustained years of putting one’s body on the line.
Given these factors, I think there are better options than Benn in a points only – keeper or not – league where ~100 players are owned and limited transactions are allowed. How the mighty have fallen…….
Jones has looked bad this season; but then again, so has San Jose for the most part. I think the key to being able to reliably assess Jones though is to focus on 2018-19, when he played 60+ games yet posted a SV% less than .900. Those two criteria were met in the same season only nine other times by any netminder since 2000-01. Looking at the others who were members of this ignominious club, four never started even 55 games again after doing so, and nearly half weren’t full-fledged starters within two seasons. That having been said, three (Marty Turco, Cam Ward, Ed Belfour) went on to have at least two more 30+ win seasons after doing so, which means all hope is not automatically lost. It’s noteworthy though that Jones was the first goalie to meet both criteria in exactly a decade, so it really was a very, very poor season by current standards.
As noted in the Forum thread though, San Jose doesn’t have a great back-up; so Jones is being trotted out there to try and work through his issues. That can be a good thing, since he doesn’t have to worry about one more bad game meaning he’s lost the starting job; however, it also can compound an already bad situation. Even if the team had a capable back-up, Jones is set to make $5.75M through 2023-24, meaning they’d be all but forced to give him a very long leash.
What cannot be ignored, however, is that Josef Korenar is playing superb hockey in the AHL at age 21 and could be in the NHL as soon as soon as 2020-21, as back-up Aaron Dell is inked only through the end of this season. Maybe though it would be a good thing for a back-up to push Jones, as when Dell was effective in 2016-17 and 2017-18, Jones played solid hockey. Still though, that was before Jones inked his current deal, so one can’t help but wonder if Jones’ effort level and focus has decreased as his bank account balance has ballooned.
I think the team sticks things out with Jones for the bulk of this season, in hopes he turns things around given what they’re paying him and how long his deal runs. I’d feel better about his long term chances were it not for his poor play beginning just after he signed his big contract, let alone what happened to other goalies who also had 60+ game sub-.900 SV% seasons. But as I did note, several of those netminders were able to continue their careers and turn things around enough to win 30+ games at least two more times, so there’s a chance Jones can right his ship.
Perron is a classic case of a player who didn’t live up to the hype…..until there was no more hype. A first round draft pick in 2007, he failed to record even a single 60 point season during his first ten campaigns, and was shuttled between five teams in less than four seasons before he was left exposed and indeed picked by Vegas in the 2017 expansion draft. What’s he done since then? Oh, no big deal – just average more points per game than teammates Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly, and Brayden Schenn, plus the likes of Mathew Barzal, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeni Dadonov, Logan Couture, and Ryan Getzlaf to name just a few.
We’re also talking about nearly 150 combined games of production, or well past short-term variance territory. And what’s more amazing is his metrics show he could still improve, as his 5×5 team shooting percentages were 9.35 and 9.17 in the past two seasons and this season sits at 7.41%. It’s a similar situation with his IPP, which had been above 74% in each of the past two campaigns but is barely above 60% this season; and while to some degree that’s due to playing with even better talent, the expectation is it will rise.
How long can this continue? With his game not built on power or speed and him still only 31, he could produce this well for at least a few more seasons. What’s more – he’s doing this after he signed a UFA deal in 2018 that runs through 2021-22. So the fact that he’s playing this strong with a contract already in his back pocket lends still further legitimacy to his production.
And yes, since Tarasenko went down Perron has already seen a benefit, with his PP time in particular spiking from not once more than 55% of his team’s total man advantage time to at least two-thirds of their PP minutes in all but one post-Tarasenko contest and with six PPPts to show for it. His ice time has similarly risen and his SOG rate has shown healthy gains. And all this has paid dividends in the form of better than point per game post-Tarasenko scoring.
If you own Perron, my advice is to hold because he’s going to give you great production, plus – and this is just as important – I think he’d be unable to get you proper value in return. Even after what he’s done in the past couple of seasons poolies will be hard pressed to get past his preceding years of going from team to team and failing to put up even halfway decent fantasy numbers. Long story short, you most likely can’t sell high on Perron because there won’t be poolies out there who will assign him the value he now truly deserves. Of course you can still see about trading him, as perhaps you’ll somehow be able to receive proper value in return; however, if you’re “stuck” with him then enjoy the ride, which should only slow a little once Tarasenko returns next season.
Questions needed for Mailbag column
Be sure to send me questions if you want them included in my monthly mailbag column. You can get them to me by private messaging “rizzeedizzee” via the DobberHockey Forums or by sending an email to [email protected] with “Roos Mailbag” as the subject line.
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