Fantasy Take: Tomas Plekanec Returns To The Habs

by Michael Clifford on July 1, 2018

 

Even when he was traded to their rival, it always seemed like Tomas Plekanec would eventually return to Montreal. He has, as the Canadiens announced a one-year deal with a $2.25-million AAV that is loaded with incentives.

In what was a lost season for the Habs, it’s easy to overlook that their third line – and I use that term very loosely – was their best line; Plekanec with Brendan Gallagher and almost any other winger, be it Paul Byron, Artturi, Lehkonen, or Charles Hudon, had excellent shot share and expected goal share numbers (via Corsica). Not just in the context of the team, either.

One issue for Plekanec as it relates to fantasy value is that power-play minutes he got in his younger days just aren’t there anymore. In fact, Ales Hemsky, who played seven games, had more PP time for the Habs last year than Plekanec did. Getting almost zero minutes with the man advantage means Plekanec’s 50-point seasons of years past are long gone.

It’s a matter of what Plekanec’s role will be. They don’t have a centre outside of Phillip Danault. They can try and stuff Jonathan Drouin or Max Domi in the middle but at this point those are hopes and wishes, not something to build a franchise around.

Despite the lack of power-play time, Plekanec led all Montreal forwards in five-on-five ice time per game last year. More than Danault, more than Drouin, and more than Max Pacioretty. It’s clear that he and Brendan Gallagher have the trust of coach Claude Julien, and it’s why Plekanec had more than 1000 faceoffs taken for the team in just 60 games played.

That’s where Plekanec’s fantasy value lies: the faceoffs. In leagues that count faceoff wins, Plekanec has at least 650 faceoff wins in every 82-game season going back a decade. League-wide last year, he ranked 24th in total faceoff wins. That’s including his time in Toronto where his TOI was greatly reduced.

Plekanec shot just 4.2 percent last year and that should rebound, it should be noted he had two seasons under 7.5 percent prior to that. Even rebounding to 7.5 percent on his shot rate would only add 4-5 goals to his 2017-18 total of six.

That’s basically where we’re at with Plekanec at this point if his career. On a low-scoring team with no power-play time, if he can manage 10 goals and 20 assists that year, it’s a good season. His value will come in leagues that count face-off wins. In leagues that don’t count them, unless they’re very deep leagues, he can be left on the waiver wire.

What the Habs decide to do with their centre depth is uncertain. Danault seems to be the first-line centre, for better or worse. Do they stay dedicated to Drouin as the second-line centre? Trade for someone? I don’t think it really matters as far as Plekanec is concerned. As outlined above, whether it’s the “second” line or the “third” line, 30 points is the expectation. Where Drouin slots in the TOI pecking order, and which position, is up to Julien. 

 

Who This Helps

Gallgher gets his centre back and hopefully their chemistry can help repeat the 30-point season

 

Who This Hurts

It makes Jacob de la Rose's role redundant and mean his slim chances at making the roster got even slimmer. 

I guess it means that Ryan Poehling and Jesper Kotkaniemi will both be spending a year in the minors unless they do one of the following: leave Drouin on the wing or play one of Poehling/Kotkaniemi on the fourth line, which would be a really bad idea. Again, it depends what they decide to do with Drouin.