Frozen Pool Forensics: Bounce Back Candidates – Part 2

by Chris Liggio on July 6, 2018

 

In continuation of last week’s piece covering players with potential for bounce back campaigns in 2018-19, let’s look at another six players across the league who I feel stand a great chance to reward those who invest in coming drafts.

 

Jakob Silfverberg

Despite only falling nine points short of 2016-17’s 49-point campaign, Jakob Silfverberg let us down in 2017-18 falling short of the 45-point plateau. He was a locked-in top-six winger receiving 18 minutes per game and second unit power play duty, he could not exceed last season’s 23 goals and 26 assists. Playing with pesty Ryan Kesler and speedster Andrew Cogliano consistently before Kesler’s injury, the 27-year old Swede could not ascend to the 25-goal plateau. Again, not in an attempt to belittle the solid winger who’s been in the 40-point vicinity from 2014-15 onward, but some of you like me may have been thinking last season was the setup for 50 points in 2017-18. Silfverberg is in a scenario for success though and should retain his top six spot next year with nobody to contest his job. Patrick Eaves returning is the only thing one could foresee being the monkey wrench in Silfverberg’s wheel, alas with his health woes he may never return. Silfverberg fell below 200 shots on goal for the first time since 2014-15 with a resultant a one percent drop in shooting percentage which can more or less translate going from 23 to 17 goals. Like Simmonds, whom I covered last week, Silfverberg enters 2018-19 looking for his most lucrative contract he’ll ever sign in the heart of his prime. Bank on his yearning for a pay day to see him cross the 20-goal plateau once again and perhaps finally hit the 50-point mark.

 

Kyle Okposo

Long gone are the days of riding shotgun with John Tavares in Long Island and it shows in Okposo’s point totals since leaving the Islanders for western New York. Okposo hasn’t so much as sniffed the 60-point plateau he crossed in his last campaign with the Islanders, though he’s been incredibly consistent in Buffalo with 44 and 45-point campaigns respectively. The Sabres are a new-look team, adding Rasmus Dahlin in the draft, Vladimir Sobotka and Patrik Berglund in the Ryan O’Reilly deal, and Casey Mittlestadt essentially now being thrust into second line center duty. Okposo should be in the top six once again and seeing time on what figures to be a dangerous primary power play unit with Jack Eichel. Always considered a product of his surroundings, Okposo deserves more credit in his own right for the player he is. Yes, there are some health/injury concerns in the past couple years, yet he’s still managed to play 220 of a possible 246 games in the past three campaigns. The addition of Dahlin in my opinion is going to do wonders for this Buffalo squad and stark improvement in their record could come to fruition as early as 2018-19. Okposo is going to be counted on to be a major contributor, with exposure to Dahlin and Eichel easily giving him the means to once again hit 50 points. Take a flier on him late in drafts as he is sure to fall after two mid 40-point campaigns on a squad nobody perceives as a contender.

 

Milan Lucic

Plain and simple anyone who sees time with Connor McDavid in my book is worthy of bounce back consideration. Dropping below 40 points for the first time since 2012-13, many are fearing Lucic’s decline is here playing the power forward style he does. Now 30 years of age, it is clear he has lost a step but who can honestly keep up with McDavid. Lucic shot an astoundingly low 6.8% in 2017-18, five percent below his career average, while his PDO was below 1000 for the first time since 2011-12. Prior to this Lucic was the model power forward and one must attribute at least some of his misfortune to his team’s shortcomings overall. Because of his relatively consistent production since 2010-11, I can look at last year as a blip on the radar and look to 2018-19 with high probability for a rebound. Only 30 years of age with that low of a shooting percentage, you can expect at least some regression towards the mean next year as far as goals are concerned. Lucic is guaranteed in the Oilers top six being paid the amount of money he receives year to year. Erase 2017-18 from your memory and capitalize on his essentially guaranteed drop in market price for coming drafts/auctions, especially in multi-cat leagues.

 

Carey Price

You can only go up from the Montreal Canadiens previous year and Carey Price stands to be the one to lead the charge. With a campaign nothing close to what we’ve come to expect from Price, he only managed 16 wins after the season prior’s 37. Despite the dumpster fire that was Montreal’s campaign, he still managed to have a .900 save percentage but his GAA went from 2.23 in 2016-17 to an ugly 3.11 in 2017-18. Some of this is his fault but much of it is the spotty defensive effort before him. Seeing almost 1500 shots in just 49 games played speaks to how often Price was being peppered every game. Shea Weber is unfortunately out until mid-December, per reports, so the likes of Jeff Petry need to fill the void. Petry put up a career-best 42-points in Weber’s absence keep in mind for drafts. Be honest with yourself and know he will not have a career year with the team he has deployed in front of him. To trust Price as your number one fantasy goaltender is not advised but he is still worth taking on as your second option in the crease based on his personal talent alone. Many are going to steer clear of Montreal in coming drafts as they stink of non-contention but that does not mean savvier owners cannot capitalize on the relevant pieces they have in the fantasy world.

 

Kyle Palmieri

Not here because his performance was underwhelming last year but Kyle Palmieri may sneakily fly under the radar because his slightly lesser production overall will be ill perceived. Only playing in 62 games total, the American winger posted an impressive 24 goals and 20 assists on the top line with MVP Taylor Hall. Palmieri’s solid production may not get the love it deserves in Hall’s shadow and the fact he fell below the 50-point plateau for the first time in his three seasons with the New Jersey Devils. Despite this, he posted the highest points per game of his career at 0.71. Do not be the one to look at his 44-points total and write him off as a letdown. In his last 13 games that counted towards the fantasy postseason, Palmieri scored six goals while setting up four to go with 33 shots, 18 hits, and 14 blocks. He is quietly one of the most solid all around multi-cat wingers in the game and surely will go below his value in coming drafts. Seemingly locked in on the top line at even strength and ample time on the primary power play unit, be the savvy owner that locks up his services in your draft(s) and reap the fantasy fruits.

 

Vladimir Tarasenko

In my readings so far this summer, it’s alarming how often I have seen writers throwing out the term decline when discussing Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. All of 26 years old, it would seem his two years of declining goals since his 40 tally 2015-16 campaign warrant this. Yes, whilst concerning to see Tarasenko fall to only 33 goals in 2017-18, everyone needs to heavily consider that it was year one of Mike Yeo’s head coaching regime. Not every coaching change translates to offensive proliferation right off the bat so I’m willing to give the Russian a pass on the first go. Even so, the past year was basically what you expect to be his floor, 30 goals/30 assists. Though the scoring was lower, he had a career-high 306 shots on net and his highest ATOI ever at over 19 minutes per game. Tarasenko may not be the best all-around player on the St. Louis Blues these days (Jaden Schwartz when healthy) but he’s far and away the most dangerous goal scorer. Possessing one of the deadliest releases in the game, he has the ideal scenario to rebound to the 70-point plateau in 2018-19, especially after the moves made on St. Louis’ end, the team is stacked at forward. Shooting at a rate equivalent to his rookie campaign falling below 13% for the first time since said inaugural year, expect statistical correction in the coming season.