Nail Yakupov vs. Jakob Silfverberg

by Rick Roos on May 13, 2015
NailYakupov

 

Who would you rather own in fantasy hockey – Nail Yakupov or Jakob Silfverberg? Analysis here!

 

One of the nice things about Cage Match is every time I think I’ve run out of good battles, it turns out the passage of time provides me with a fresh slate of new combatants. Case in point – this match would’ve been unthinkable two years ago and raised eyebrows this time last year; but now it seems appropriate. I’m talking about Nail Yakupov vs. Jakob Silfverberg. Will either fulfill what were very lofty initial expectations? And which represents the better player in terms of cost vs. value? Cage Match starts now!

 

Career Path and Contract/Cap Status

Yakupov was the first overall pick in the 2012 entry draft. To the surprise of no one – given his draft status and travails of the Oilers – he played all 48 games a rookie.

To say Yakupov hit the ground running would be an understatement, as he posted 31 points (tied for tops among all rookies), including 15 (11 goals) in 14 games during the season’s final month. But since then, Yakupov has struggled mightily, not averaging 0.5 points per game and finishing with more of a minus rating than total points in both seasons. But there was a glimmer of hope in 2014-15, as Yakupov posted 21 points in his final 31 games.

Silfverberg was drafted 39th overall in 2009, and after opting to play in Sweden for three years he also arrived in the NHL for the 2012-13 season.  He acquitted himself to the North American game fairly well, posting 19 points in 48 games.

As with Yakupov, expectations for Silfverberg were quite high going into 2013-14, especially after being dealt – in the Bobby Ryan trade – to Anaheim, where many expected Silfverberg to get top line time and flourish. But that didn’t happen; Silfverberg posted 23 points (in 52 games) during an injury-affected campaign. Things improved during 2014-15, with Silfverberg increasingly finding chemistry with Ryan Kesler, leading to him finishing well – ala Yakupov – with 20 points in his final 31 regular season games, and then parlaying that success into more than point per game production so far in the playoffs.

Yakupov will make $2.5M per season over the next two campaigns, while Silfverberg will enter the summer as an unsigned RFA and stands to make a bit more, unless the Ducks try to sign him for long term at a higher price.

 

Ice Time

 

Season

Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards

2014-15

15:26 (N.Y.) – 8th

15:39 (J.S.) – 4th

1:53 (N.Y.) – 8th

0:35 (J.S.) – 13th

0:00 (N.Y.)

1:45 (J.S.) – 3rd

2013-14

14:18 (N.Y.) – 11th

14:15 (J.S.) – 8th

2:10 (N.Y.) 8th

1:20 (J.S.) – 8th

0:00 (N.Y.)

1:02 (J.S.) – 6th

2012-13

14:33 (N.Y.) – 8th

16:13 (J.S.) – 4th

2:28 (N.Y.) – 7th

1:41 (J.S.) – 7th

0:00 (N.Y.)

1:07 (J.S.) – 8th

 

There were several surprises here — positive ones for Yakupov, negative for Silfverberg. For poolies still owning Yakupov, it’s a very good sign that despite his well-documented struggles he’s managed to retain nearly 80% of the PP Ice Time he had as a rookie while also seeing his Total Ice Time jump to a career high of 15:26 per game, and still not including any unproductive SH Ice Time duty.

Of course those who see their cups as half empty would be justified in pointing out that if Yakupov’s Ice Time hasn’t fallen off a cliff, why has his production? A quick check of Frozen Pool confirms that the quality of his linemates hasn’t changed remarkably, as for the most part during his career he’s played on lines away from the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. We’ll have to see whether good and/or bad luck might’ve influenced Yakupov’s production thus far.

Meanwhile, Silfverberg owners can’t be happy at his trends, notably his PP Ice Time plummeting in each of the past two seasons while his SH Ice Time has increased nearly comparably. The good news is, despite this, Silfverberg managed to up his production to nearly 0.5 points per game this past season.

But on the flip side, Anaheim is doing just fine as a team while all this has occurred; and none of the team’s big names and Ice Time dominators are likely to leave the team this offseason given their contract statuses, suggesting that Silfverberg probably won’t see things improve much in the near team. And it’s worth noting that even during his productive run in this year’s playoffs, his SH Ice Time has continued to rise and his PP Ice Time is still less than 1:00 per game, suggesting that his scoring is likely being influenced by short term luck-based variance, as opposed to reliably forecasting the future.

 

Secondary Categories

 

Season

PIMs

(per game)

Hits

(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)

Shots

(per game)

PP Points

(per game)

2014-15

0.22 (N.Y.)

0.29 (J.S.)

1.19 (N.Y.)

0.52 (J.S.)

0.34 (N.Y.)

0.45 (J.S.)

2.36 (N.Y.)

2.33 (J.S.)

0.12 (N.Y.)

0.05 (J.S.)

2013-14

0.57 (N.Y.)

0.23 (J.S.)

1.01 (N.Y.)

0.59 (J.S.)

0.36 (N.Y.)

0.38 (J.S.)

1.93 (N.Y.)

2.29 (J.S.)

0.09 (N.Y.)

0.02 (J.S.)

2012-13

0.50 (N.Y.)

0.25 (J.S.)

0.85 (N.Y.)

0.79 (J.S.)

0.29 (N.Y.)

0.27 (J.S.)

1.68 (N.Y.)

2.79 (J.S.)

0.21 (N.Y.)

0.06 (J.S.)

 

More surprises, as Yakupov’s Shots per game have increased even as his production has waned. But we also can see that his PP output has dropped by roughly 40% from his rookie season, which outpaces his smaller decrease in PP Ice Time. It’s looking more like he might’ve been unsustainably lucky as a freshman, but unlucky thereafter. And while his PIM cratered this season, his Hits have crept upward and are now quite respectable, especially for an offensive-minded player.

As for Silfverberg, most of his numbers have been holding steady, which would be better news if they were even decent to start. But his PIM are lousy and his PP output has been utterly dreadful. At least he’s good for about one Hit+BS per game, although that too is nothing to write home about.

Silfverberg’s Shots averages are not as bad as they’d appear, as although you never want to see a decrease from a rookie season, at least he stopped the bleeding by holding steady from 2013-14 to this past season. And averaging 2.33 Shots per game would be quite respectable, if – and as we saw above, this is a very big if– he was being put in situations where those Shots can lead to points. Overall, things could be much better, but they also could be even worse.

 

Luck-Based Metrics

Silfverberg’s 5×4 IPP isn’t charted because despite playing in 81 regular season contests he failed to meet the 50+ minute threshold, which underscores just how little PP Ice Time he received.

 

Season

Personal Shooting %

PDO (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)

2014-15

7.3% (N.Y.)

6.9% (J.S.)

955 (N.Y.)

1015 (J.S.)

72.4% (N.Y.)

67.4% (J.S.)

50.0% (N.Y.)

N/A (J.S.)

61.0% (N.Y.)

48.8% (J.S.)

2013-14

9.0% (N.Y.)

8.4% (J.S.)

952 (N.Y.)

999 (J.S.)

69.2% (N.Y.)

70.4% (J.S.)

75.0% (N.Y.)

25.0% (J.S.)

63.9% (N.Y.)

49.5% (J.S.)

2012-13

21.0% (N.Y.)

7.5% (J.S.)

1029 (N.Y.)

1023 (J.S.)

83.3% (N.Y.)

68.2% (J.S.)

63.6% (N.Y.)

50.0% (J.S.)

51.1% (N.Y.)

61.9% (J.S.)

 

The stellar results of Yakupov’s rookie campaign are immediately called into question by his ludicrous 21.0% Personal Shooting %, which, had it been 10.7% (currently his career average), would’ve dropped his point total to only 23, meaning he wouldn’t have achieved a 0.5 points per game scoring average in any of his first three seasons.

Yet to continue with the “mixed blessing” theme of the column, Yakupov has posted IPP numbers which, considering the not-so-talented players he’s skated with, suggest he’s adept at creating offense. That’s also supported by his woefully low PDO from the past two seasons (for 2014-15 it ranked third worst among 114 forwards who played 80+ games; in 2013-14 it was fifth lowest among 349 forwards who skated in 50+ contests). But before getting carried away with optimism, let’s also consider that Yakupov was benefitting from an insanely high OZ% (12th highest among those same 114 this past season and ninth highest among the 349 from 2013-14).

The main concern with Silfverberg is as his productive Ice Time and OZ% have fallen, the team around him has continued to flourish. That’s a bad combination for poolies, as the Ducks figure not to fix what isn’t broken. About the only positives that can be drawn are there should be room for Silfverberg to improve his Personal Shooting %, and– like Yakupov – his 5×5 IPP has been high despite playing away from Anaheim’s most talented players, which in turn suggests he has talent to drive offense. But what value is that talent to poolies if Silfverberg isn’t put in circumstances that can lead to production?

 

Value

Yakupov was drafted for 2014-15 fantasy as, on average, the 57th RW (his only eligible position on Yahoo), while Silfverberg, who was RW/LW eligible, was selected 61st on average. Neither ended the regular season ranked within the top 50 RWs, and Yakupov was still owned in 31% of leagues compared to Silfverberg’s 19%.

Yakupov being owned in nearly a third of leagues seems high. Sure – he had a nice run at the end of 2014-15, but it was nearly matched by Silfverberg, who also had LW eligibility. Much of the discrepancy likely can be explained by Yakupov’s higher profile status as a former first overall pick less than three years ago. But while that might’ve led to him being overvalued for the past two seasons as his stats fell short, it might well cause him to be undervalued going into 2015-16, since many previous owners may have “washed their hands” with him, leaving him more of a bargain than he should perhaps be.

Meanwhile, after having posted better than point per game output (at least thus far) in the playoffs, the switch might flip to Silfverberg being overvalued amidst offseason hype and unrealistic expectations.

 

Who Wins?

Who knew that things could legitimately be looking up for Yakupov, or at least that bad luck might’ve played a non-nominal part in his poor output over the past two seasons? But that’s indeed what it seems, especially since Yakupov ended last season on a nice high note in terms of his production. Even still – because Yakupov’s output looks so dreadful on paper and in view of the many fantasy teams he’s hurt over the past two seasons, he stands to be a cost vs. value bargain in most leagues going into next season. Put it this way – you’ll probably be able to get him very late in drafts, yet he should be worth a gamble since it’s quite possible (especially given the impending arrival of Connor McDavid and GM Peter Chiarelli to right the ship) that he posts 50+ points.

On the other hand, his playoff dominance notwithstanding, there’s not much to be optimistic about for Silfverberg, who’ll probably continue to be pigeonholed into a role with subpar PP Ice Time but ample SH Ice Time (perhaps above 2:00 per game mark, which I’ve noted several times in this column is a de facto points limiter for forwards). All things considered, it would surprise me if he posts more than 45 points next season.

For those thinking Silfverberg’s playoff explosion means he’s primed for a major breakout in 2015-16, I refer you not only to his unsustainably high 1049 playoff PDO, but also to Brandon Saad. Remember that Saad posted 16 points in 19 playoff games last season, then slid back into familiar production (52 points in 82 games in 2014-15, after posting 47 in 78 games in 2013-14) for the Blackhawks, who, like Anaheim, are well stocked enough to not need to lean on Saad.

For keeper leagues, if you own Silfverberg and aren’t likely to contend for the title in the next couple of seasons, it’s probably best to hold onto him, unless of course you get a very nice offer, which might be possible after his playoff run. And if you think your team could win it all in 2015-16 or 2016-17, then you should parlay Silfverberg’s playoff production into a deal to improve your team, and not worry about having sold high. As for Yakupov, if you’ve kept him this long you might have reason to be optimistic again, while if you don’t have Yakupov now there still could be time to get him at a discount, particularly from a long frustrated owner.

 

 

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