Frozen Pool Forensics: Buy Low Candidates (Nov 2016)

by Cam Robinson on November 11, 2016

Looking at some early buy low candidates for your fantasy hockey league.

 

There is a major difference between targeting a player who’s off to a sleepy start but may be showing signs of turning things around and simply buying players destined to disappoint whoever their owner is. This week on Frozen Pool Forensics, we’ll be looking at some guys who should have lowered perceived values yet are primed to succeed as the season moves on.

 

We’ll also outline a few players to shy away from.

 

***

 

The True ‘Buy Lows’

 

Anze Kopitar

 

If you haven’t received the memo yet, Kopitar is a classic slow starter. In the last three seasons, the Kings’ captain’s first quarters have played out like this:

 

2014-15: He produced 11 points in 20 contests (0.55 point-per-game pace). Pacing for 45 points.

 

2015-16:

 

First Quarter Summary

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

Pace

+/-

PIM

Shots

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

PPTOI

%PP

%PK

TOI/G

%TOI

20

7

3

10

0.50

41

8

6

33

18

1

2

0

18

02:32

52.3

40.2

19:45

32.6

 

2016-17:

 

First Quarter Summary

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

Pace

+/-

PIM

Shots

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

PPTOI

%PP

%PK

TOI/G

%TOI

13

2

5

7

0.54

44

1

2

32

17

0

1

0

11

03:23

69.8

37.0

21:33

 

 

He finished those previous seasons as such:

 

2014-15: 54 points in the final 58 games (0.93)

2015-16: 64 points in the final 61 games (1.05)

 

Owner’s would have loved to see him break out with a multi-point effort during the 7-0 drubbing of the Leafs on Tuesday, but his single assist should only further the likelihood of being able to buy-low on the 29-year-old.

 

Despite being a historically slow starter, the big Slovenian’s team isn’t doing him many favours right now. The Kings are converting on just 4.9 percent of their five-on-five shots while Kopitar is on the ice – almost half of the amount that he has received in years’ past.

 

Kopitar himself is a career 12.3 percent scorer yet has found the twine on just 6.3 percent of his opportunities thus far. He still receives all the prime ice-time a franchise centre deserves and while the Kings aren’t an offensive powerhouse, they are capable and everything runs through him.

 

If there were ever a player virtually locked for 65-plus points, it’s Anze Kopitar. Buy now and reap the benefit of his point-per-game pace the rest of the way. It’s coming.

 

 

Torey Krug

 

What a dreadful start for the Bruins’ top offensive defender. While there have been some signs of life lately – two assists in his last four games – his overall numbers are dreadful.

 

13 games, two assists, with a minus-eight rating. He’s (obviously) converted on zero percent of his 45 shots and his teammates are scoring on just 3.7 percent of their shots at even-strength while he’s on the ice.

 

 

 

 

 

While Krug is known as a volume shooter who doesn’t convert much, his luck-based metrics are destined to rise; they simple must!

 

Boston’s power play is missing Loui Eriksson and his 10 power-play markers from a season ago, but that shouldn’t be the cause for them free-falling down the rankings. The 2015-16 Bruins’ team ended as the seventh best squad with the man advantage and so far this year, they sit 23rd.

 

Krug is seeing almost 60 percent of his team’s ice with the man advantage (58.9) and once the Bruins (and/or Krug) can figure out those issues, his results will start to come with more regularity.

 

Buy low-now and expect 30-35 points in the next 65 games.

 

Editor’s note: Krug scored a goal on Thursday evening, after this was submitted. His luck is already turning!

 

 

Mark Giordano

 

Another defenseman gracing our list. Giordano, like Kopitar, has historically started sluggishly out of the gate.

 

Here is a look at his first quarter summary from last season:

 

First Quarter Summary

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

Pace

+/-

PIM

Shots

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

PPTOI

%PP

%PK

TOI/G

%TOI

21

4

2

6

0.29

23

-11

22

51

16

0

0

0

57

02:08

46.0

46.0

24:02

39.6

 

The Flames’ captain went on to produce 50 points in the remaining 61 games (0.82) – a 67-point pace

 

 

Through the first month of 2016-17, Giordano has faired similarly, recording just one point on the power play and putting roughly two shots on net per contest. Hindering matters greatly, is the fact that the Flames’ top offensive weapons in Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monohan are each snake bitten themselves. Couple that with Giordano’s lethargy, has resulted in a Flames’ power play that sits dead last in the NHL.

 

First Quarter Summary – 2016-17

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

Pace

+/-

PIM

Shots

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

PPTOI

%PP

%PK

TOI/G

%TOI

14

1

4

5

0.36

29

-2

18

28

11

0

1

0

41

03:42

60.3

51.9

25:00

41.1

 

It’s hard to imagine that keeping those type of skilled players down at even-strength and with the man advantage will sustain, and while you could argue that the recently-turned 33-year-old may be losing a step, he doesn’t have a ton of hard miles on the odometer and still shows all the signs of being a top offensive playmaker.

 

He’s pointless in seven straight so now may be the perfect time to try and sneak him away from a frustrated owner and look to cash in on a far greater output through the winter and into the fantasy playoffs.

 

 

Aleksander Barkov

 

A sexy pick to breakout and enter into the 70-point region, Barkov has left his owners disappointed thus far. That means it may be the perfect time to snag the young franchise centre. Through 14 games, the big Finn has accumulated just two goals and seven points – only two of which have come with the man-advantage.

 

Many people feared Barkov may struggle with his running-mate, Jonathan Huberdeau on the shelve for several months, and while that is turning out to be true, Huberdeau’s replacement, Jonathan Marchessault has been lights out despite his centre’s struggles.

 

 

Freq

Line Combination

87.3%

BARKOV,ALEKSANDER – JAGR,JAROMIR – MARCHESSAULT,JONATHAN

5.2%

BARKOV,ALEKSANDER – MARCHESSAULT,JONATHAN – SCEVIOUR,COLTON

3.5%

BARKOV,ALEKSANDER – HARPER,SHANE – MARCHESSAULT,JONATHAN

2.1%

BARKOV,ALEKSANDER – MARCHESSAULT,JONATHAN

2%

BARKOV,ALEKSANDER – JOKINEN,JUSSI

 

A cause for pause is that Barkov is getting the puck on net less than two times per night after averaging close to three per contest last season, and his team’s power play is actually clicking away at an 18.8 percent clip, up from the 16.9 percent they shot a season ago.

 

Advanced Stats

Year

PDO

5 on 5 SH%

Off. Zone Start %

PTS/60

2016-17

986

6.19

53.57

1.6

2015-16

1037

10.99

46.07

2.8

2014-15

994

7.56

47.56

1.7

2013-14

990

8.47

51.65

1.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, his teammates are converting on just 6.2 percent of their even-strength shots while he’s on the ice and let’s be frank, Barkov is too big, too strong and too talented to be held down for too long. If you can convince his owner that’s it time to move him, you should be setting yourself up for a nice second half and a monster career in keeper leagues.

 

***

 

 

The Buy-Low Mirages

 

David Krejci

 

Despite a very nice 2015-16 campaign that netted him 63 points in 72 games, Krejci is clearly missing his former running-mate, Loui Eriksson. Difficulty meshing with new line mates, a five-on-five on-ice shooting percentage that’s near the bottom of the league (2.2%) and struggling to put pucks on net are hampering the Czech centre.

 

Advanced Stats

Year

PDO

5 on 5 SH%

Off. Zone Start %

PTS/60

2016-17

931

2.2

54.9

1.3

2015-16

1023

9.35

50

2.6

2014-15

1021

8.18

51.91

2.2

2013-14

1043

9.52

53.73

2.7

2012-13

998

8.84

52.45

2.3

2011-12

985

9.47

53.3

2.6

2010-11

1045

9.45

52.11

2.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is he actually this bad? No, but expecting him to rebound into the 60-point range may be asking for too much especially with his average ice time sitting at 17:32 – down almost three minutes from a season ago. And of course, injuries remain a concern as well.

 

 

Jake Muzzin

 

After putting up 40 points for the second consecutive season in 2015-16 and consistently skating with Drew Doughty at even-strength and with the man advantage, Muzzin was considered to a safe late round choice for fantasy owners. However, this season has not started well for the 27-year-old.

 

Even Strength Line Combinations

 

Freq

Line Combination

54.5%

MARTINEZ,ALEC – MUZZIN,JAKE

29.5%

DOUGHTY,DREW – MUZZIN,JAKE

13.4%

GILBERT,TOM – MUZZIN,JAKE

2%

GREENE,MATT – MUZZIN,JAKE

0.7%

DOUGHTY,DREW – MARTINEZ,ALEC – MUZZIN,JAKE

 

Recently, he has been skating on the second pair and second power play unit for much of his time, and the results have not been there. Historically, he isn’t a huge producer of points and if he’s not getting prime ice, the likelihood of a third consecutive 40-plus point season drastically diminishes.

 

 

Quick Hits

 

  • Andrew Ladd: This slow start is not an opportunity to pounce. He may pot a few as the season goes on, but that contract will be an albatross for the Islanders and fantasy GM’s should steer clear.

 

  • Ondrej Palat: This would be a good time to pick up the struggling Lightning winger, but expecting him to return to the 0.85 point-per-game output from a couple seasons ago is naïve. Low-50’s appears to be his home at the present time.

 

  • Evgeny Kuznetsov: When things are going well, you’re never as good as you think. When things are going poorly, you’re never as bad as you think. That about sums up Kuznetsov the last 12 months. It’s questionable whether he’ll summit the league’s top 10 scorers on a consistent basis; especially while playing second-fiddle to Nicklas Backstrom, but the talented 24-year-old will definitely turn things around.

 

  • Robby Fabbri: Despite seeing three more minutes of ice per game, the uber-talented sophomore is going to need better line mates and some better finish if he wants to regain the output he saw in the back half of last season and through the playoffs. Big potential remains long term, but you shouldn’t be rushing to deal for him today.

 

***

 

Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at least someone is listening to.