Top 10 fantasy hockey questions so far, early in the 2016-17 NHL season
There have been some important questions that have cropped up early in the season. And the answers could dramatically impact your fantasy squad.
There have been a few trends that could help shape how you design your team the rest of the way. We’re already a month into the hockey season and by now you should have your fantasy squad pretty much figured out. Are you a contender or a pretender? Is your squad benefitting from early-season puck luck or have you been riddled by injuries? Regardless of where you are in your league’s standings, it’s a good time to look at squad and try to get the answers to some of these questions. On to the list.
10. How good is Carey Price?
Two seasons Price put up the greatest fantasy season of any goalie ever. Last year he looked just as good until his week-to-week injury in November knocked him out for the season. Now he’s off to an even better start. In 10 games, he has 10 wins, two shutouts, a 1.40 GAA and a .957 save percentage. He’s easily the best goalie in the game and is arguably the best player as well. He has a good chance of being the fantasy hockey MVP again this year.
9. Will we see a 200-PIM player?
Last year, Derek Dorsett led the league in PIM with 177. That was pretty low but it’s getting tougher to find reliable penalty producers. Players have only hit the 200-PIM mark on four occasions since 2012-13. But four guys are on pace for 200-plus PIM this year as PIM are up this year over last year (0.548 PIM/man game this year versus 0.527 last year: Thanks to Steve Laidlaw for helping me with that stat). Antoine Roussel leads the way and is on pace for 277 PIM.
8. Can Shea Weber finish with a plus-50?
Right now he’s on pace for plus-82. He obviously won’t keep up that pace. But what about a plus-50? Only one person has managed to finish a season at plus-50 since 2004 (Jeff Schultz with plus-50 in 2009-10). What about a plus-60? Only one person has managed to be a plus-60 since 1987-88 (Vladimir Konstantinov was plus-60 in 1995-96). So, it’s a pretty rare feat. But with Carey Price healthy for a full season, Weber could enter elite plus-minus history.
7. Can Nashville ever have another 70-point player?
The Predators haven’t seen a player hit the 70-point mark since J.P. Dumot and Jason Arnott in 2007-08. There was much hope this would change this year with Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen. Heck, one magazine predicted P.K. Subban would hit 70 points. Instead it’s been a slow start for many of the Preds with no one on pace for more than 64 points and Johansen on pace for just 41.
6. What’s up with the rookies?
There seems to be more great rookies this year than in previous season. Seven rookies that have played at least 10 games have a points-per-game of over 0.7. That’s not including impressive rookies such as Travis Konecny and Sebastian Aho. And Matt Murray has been slowly taking over the Penguins crease. Some will hit a rookie wall but it’s been fun to watch so far.
It’s sure looking like it. Fleury started off the season with a couple of impressive wins before having a poor stretch of games and is now hit and miss. He has a 6-3-2 record with a .910 save percentage and a 3.06 GAA. Murray has started four of the last six games and is 4-0 with a .961 save percentage and a 1.25 GAA. I originally thought Fleury was going to be the bona fide number one but it seems like Murray will be getting the majority of the starts from here on out.
4. Will scoring continue to increase?
The NHL right now is at 2.77 goals per game per team. That’s up slightly from 2.71 last year, and is actually the highest since 2010-11. Even though it’s a small increase, it’s a great sign. More goals mean more points in fantasy hockey. And that means more excitement.
3. Is it possible three teams finish with fewer than two goals per game?
Right now, there are three teams flirting with the two goals per game number. Vancouver is at 2.0 goals per game while Buffalo and Colorado are both at 1.93. Since 1950, only five teams have finished at two goals or less for a whole season and never in the same season. And now three teams are flirting with it. Buffalo is a good chance of getting more offense when Jack Eichel comes back from his high ankle sprain. But it could be a long season for fantasy owners of Vancouver and Colorado.
2. Can Mark Scheifele finish in the top 10 for points?
As it stands right now, Scheifele has 20 points — tops in the league — and is on pace for 96 points. That’s amazing and seems to have been completely as most projections had him in the 60-point range. But Scheifele looks prepared to blow right by those projections. He’ll obviously slow down, but he’s been on a roll with 54 points in his last 43 games dating back to last season.
1. Is Steven Stamkos elite again?
It sure seems that way through the Lightning’s first 15 games. Stamkos is on pace for 44 goals and 93 points. He hasn’t put up a point total like that in years. Remember when there was a debate about whether the top three in fantasy hockey should be the top four because of Stamkos? That discussion has passed but he seems to be earning his new contract. He’s winning the majority of his faceoffs for the first time ever. He’s also on pace for 295 shots, his highest since 2011-12.
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