In fantasy keeper pools, the rise and fall of NHL teams can have a tremendous influence on the success of your fantasy team. We’re going to focus on a team rather than an individual this week, and that team is the Nashville Predators. Nashville is currently 2nd in the Central Division and 4th in the Western Conference, but the standing pales in comparison to the 118 points they had in 2017-2018 on their way to earning the President’s Trophy. As a team, their GF% has declined from 56.61 in 2017-2018 to 52.90 this season but CF% has increased to 52.53 from 50.72 while team PDO has decreased from 102.2 to 100.1. Nashville’s goaltending in 2017-2018 led the league with a 92.33% save percentage while this season it has dipped to 91.22%. Their power play has been awful this season at 12.8% (30th in the NHL) compared with 21.2% last season. None of this will matter in the playoffs, if Nashville can gel at the right time and hoist the Stanley Cup.
Let’s look at their roster and highlight some of Nashville’s key players using Dobber’s Frozen Tools team stats Report Generator:
Ryan Johansen is on pace for 66 points, which would rank as the 2nd most in his career. He used to average almost three shots per game but now is lucky to average 1.75/g. It is clear that he will never be the 33-goal scorer he was in 2013-204 but he has never had fewer than 39 assists since that same year and is currently at 49 assists which is a career high. He is dominant in the faceoff circle at 53.5% and his CF% is 55.53 so he is a versatile two-way center who can put up 60-70 points every year. There might be a little more in his tank at 26 years old; even if Nashville falters going forward, he should be a 60 to 70-point guy for a few more seasons.
Forsberg has had a challenging year battling injuries but has still managed 26 goals in 57 games. It has been a little disappointing for owners who were expecting close to a point per game from last season and a breakout year. His PDO last season was 104.4 compared to 99.1 this season so there might be some reversion coming into play from his point per year output and perhaps he was at his peak around 0.80 pts/g?
Arvidsson would be on pace for 50 goals if not injured and has already matched his career high of 31 goals in only 51 games. While averaging over three shots per game in the past three seasons, his shooting percentage has increased this year to 18.7% from around 12%. His offensive zone starts have increased from 55.88% to 66.12%. One incredible aspect of Arvidsson’s year is that he has only one PP goal, and 29 of his goals are at even strength. Arvidsson, if healthy, should be a 35-goal scorer going forward.
The one stat that jumps off the page with Bonino is his plus-minus. He is plus-29 in a year where his CF% is 48.33 and his PDO is 104.8. I would argue that his CF% of 48.33 is actually very good for a player who only starts in the offensive zone 30.5% of the time. His plus-minus will take a hit moving forward, so don’t buy high on him.
Sissons has his career high in goals at 13 and points at 28. His plus-minus is 25 and much like Bonino this is most likely unsustainable for the same reason of a high PDO and low offensive zone starts. He should be able to consistently put up 15-goal and 30-point seasons for those in deeper pools.
He has been remarkably consistent over the past five seasons, producing 12-15 goals and 49-61 points. He has a chance to get his career high in both goals and points this season, and his cap hit is only $4 million per year. He is a UFA at the end of next season and should command more than $8 or 9 million per season. Josi is one of the top defensemen in the NHL and is still going strong and will produce similar output in the next few seasons.
Ekholm is having his best season statistically and is on pace for 46 points, blowing away his previous high of 35 points. Always a solid defender, he’s added an extra offensive element to his game. Depending on what the Predators do next season to solve their salary cap woes, I’d be skeptical of Ekholm duplicating this level of production next season as he has fallen off a little in the past 16 games with only one goal and one assist.
Seeing that Smith came off a 52-point season in 2013-2014, I’m sure that I wasn’t the only owner who thought they had a future 60-70 point player. Other than a 51-point season last year, Smith has settled into a 3rd line role that will have him getting between 40-50 points each season. Nothing more, nothing less. He might be a target for Nashville to move after this season to shed his $4.25 million cap hit, as he is set to become a UFA at the end of 2020.
What has happened to Kyle Turris? He has three goals and four assists in his past 28 games and has been a healthy scratch a few times. His stats have fallen off the map as he is only averaging 1.38 shots/g which is more typical of a 4th liner. Turris is protected like an offensive player with over 68% of his zone starts in the offensive zone but is not producing like one. At $6 million per year for the next five seasons, how can Nashville keep him with their salary cap issues moving forward?
It is far too early to tell and there will be some adjustment, but Granlund’s early lack of production and his overall stats this season compared to prior years must have Nashville fans a little worried that they gave up too much in Kevin Fiala. They need Granlund to produce, and quickly, as they only have control till the end of next season, at which point he becomes a UFA.
Subban will not even come close to his career low of 36 points from 2011-2012 as he is on pace for 28 points this season. He’s battled injury this season but only has 25 points in 56 games. It is baffling to see Mattias Ekholm, Subban’s partner more than 76% of the time, having such a solid season while Subban struggles to put up solid numbers. His PDO of 98.5 has had an effect, I’m sure, but he is still not the 59-point player he was. I’d be concerned going forward, especially at $9 million per season for the next three seasons.
At 36 years old, Rinne must slow down at some point, and maybe this is it? His save percentage is down from 92.7% to 91.6% and his percentage of quality starts is down from 66.1% to 52.9%. The team PDO ties into these numbers almost exactly, so perhaps they were a little inflated last season. With 2 more years on his contract at $7 million per season, Rinne will still get 40-50 starts until Saros takes over, if that is indeed the plan.
Saros has seen his share of the net increase each of the past three seasons, and will exceed 30 games this year. Much like Rinne, his save percentage has taken a dip from 92.5% to 91.5% and his quality starts have declined from 57.7% to 48.3%. There are not many NHL starting goalies under 6’ tall, and Saros is 5-11, so there are certainly questions about his ability to increase his workload and become a number one goalie.
Nashville has a lot riding on the playoffs this season. If they don’t win the Stanley Cup, they will have failed, and the window to win will have almost closed going into next season. They are on the edge of losing their grip on the ladder to the Stanley Cup next season as they have only $3,858,334 of cap space remaining with just 34 contracts signed for 2019-2020. Ryan Ellis moves from $2.5 million to 6.25 million, P.K. Subban is making $9 million, and they will need to extend Roman Josi or trade him before they lose him as a UFA. Will they extend Mikael Granlund, who is under contract for one more season? They are saddled with Turris’s contract, and Johansen is probably overpaid for what he brings. They won’t mess with their formula of the four really solid defensemen they posess, so we should see a few forwards jettisoned this off-season. Win or lose, Nashville will have to trade some of these contracts out before next season, and it will be interesting to see what David Poile does.
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