Sid and the Kids

by Cam Robinson on March 24, 2017

Extoling the virtues of Sidney Crosby, Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel.

A couple of days ago, this article had the potential to be nothing but blue skies and pie in the sky hopes. A rare fantasy hockey column dedicated to pure positivity. However, Rasmus Ristolainen made sure that a dark cloud would interfere and must be dealt with. And while the status of Jake Guentzel’s concussion leaves the fate of this dynamic trio in question, we here at DobberHockey are going to push on and shed some light onto one of the most exciting lines in the game today.

 

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With forward depth that most teams can’t even dream about, it’s hard to imagine a coach sending the greatest player on earth out on the ice with a couple of young pups and expecting results to come fast and furious. Most players of Sidney Crosby’s ilk would want the team’s top winger by his side and maybe an experienced veteran to retrieve pucks from corners. Over the years, we’ve seen that hasn’t always worked with Crosby. Veterans have a way of playing the game and as the adage goes, it’s difficult to teach an old dog new tricks.

 

That’s where the blissful ignorance of youth comes in handy.

 

Conor Sheary had a trial by fire last spring in the art of ‘playing with Crosby’. It’s hard not to simply defer to the generational talent and/or try to guess what he’ll do next. Sheary discovered, as Guentzel is currently learning, that playing your game is the best course to success as Sid will adapt to you and make the plays you can’t even see yet.

 

Since becoming a trio eight games ago, Sid and the Kids have been on a torrid pace. In the first six games, they had accrued 10 of the Penguins 20 total goals and racked up 16 assists on top.

 

Here’s a look at how dominant they’ve been compared to some of the league’s other top combinations.

 

 

 

 

Snaps Shots:

 

Sidney Crosby

 

Is there really anything we need to say here? Sid leads the league in goals with 41 – the second time in his career that he’s broke through the 40-goal ceiling; is tops in points-per-game with 1.23 and is currently four points behind Connor McDavid for a chance at his third Art Ross Trophy.

 

Advanced Stats

 

Year

PDO

5 on 5 SH%

Off. Zone Start %

PTS/60

IPP

2016-17

1010

8.67

62.72

3.7

73.0

2015-16

1014

8.87

53.85

3.1

74.6

2014-15

1006

8.17

59.04

3.3

74.6

2013-14

1009

9.83

50.78

3.5

80.0

2012-13

1064

13.53

47.47

4.4

75.4

2011-12

1067

15.66

56.78

5.2

76.7

2010-11

1039

11.63

47

4.4

76.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist is seeing some of the best zone start times of his career and despite the revolving door of line mates until recently, hasn’t gone more than two straight games without recording a point.

 

He has 11 points in his last six games and one of them happened like this…

 

 

 

Crosby is clearly the straw that stirs the drink on this magnificent trio. He’s at the top of his game and he’s creating offense on almost every shift while supplying the Penguins with tenacious defensive assignments as well.

 

He’s the second most valuable asset in keeper leagues and remains the top offensive option in one-year leagues.

 

 

 

Conor Sheary

 

The second-year player has taken a quantum leap forward this season. A terrific story of an undrafted, NCAA free agent who has found a home on the top line and is pushing the needle towards a point-per-game output. He’s quickly becoming a beacon for fantasy managers to reach towards.

 

The 5’8 right-winger has improved on basically every possible metric this season. He’s tripled his goal totals, raised his shot rates by nearly 225% by putting 2.57 shots on net per contest up from the 1.15 he managed in 2015-16, and his 0.94 point-per-game output is currently tied for 13th in the league with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

 

Not bad company to keep.

 

NHL Stats – Last-5 Years – Conor Sheary

 

SEASON

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

+/-

PIM

Shots

SH%

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

FOW

FO%

PPTOI

%PP

%SH

TOI/G

%TOI

2016-2017

52

21

28

49

0.94

25

20

134

15.7

26

1

4

0

19

0

 

01:42

30.1

0.2

15:46

26.0

2015-2016

44

7

3

10

0.23

-1

8

51

13.7

15

0

0

0

5

1

12.5

00:46

15.0

0.2

09:45

16.0

Average

82

24

26

50

0.61

21

24

158

15.1

35

1

3

0

21

1

12.5

01:16

23.6

0.2

13:00

21.4

 

 

A further feather in his cap is the fact that Sheary has been dominant at five-on-five. His 3.28 points/60 at 5-on-5 sits tops in the league for players with 18 or more games. Imagine what’ll happen when he finally carves himself a piece of the top man-advantage unit as he has the last few games with Evgeni Malkin out.

 

 

It’s come to point now where we need to consider Sheary amongst some of the more promising young players to own. Does he push into the third round of drafts next season? The second? In points-only settings he should now be viewed as a higher-end asset capable of producing at a near-point-per-game pace over long stretches.

 

 

Jake Guentzel

 

Many of my followers are aware of how highly I regard Guentzel. He’s the type of player who demands success from himself and that passion fuels his highly skilled and hardworking game.

 

The rookie out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha found himself immediately dominating the American Hockey League and his results didn’t go unnoticed by management. In mid-January, after a quick bounce up and down, GM Jim Rutherford gave the green light for the 22-year-old that he’d stick the remainder of the way.

 

When Dobber recently placed the man affectionately known as ‘Pretzel” as the top fantasy prospect in points-only settings, there was a great deal of discussion on the matter. Would he trade Clayton Keller for Guentzel in a keeper league? How much is his success hinging on remaining next to Crosby? Will he be able to carve out a spot on the top power play unit to fully realize his offensive ceiling?

 

Crosby has proven capable in the past of turning a player like Chris Kunitz into a point-per-game guy and Jake Guentzel owns far greater skill and has fit like a glove on the left side of the top line.

 

NHL Stats – Last 5 Years – Jake Guentzel

 

SEASON

GP

G

A

P

PntPG

+/-

PIM

Shots

SH%

HITS

PPG

PPP

SHG

BLKS

FOW

FO%

PPTOI

%PP

%SH

TOI/G

%TOI

2016-2017

35

11

14

25

0.71

6

8

68

16.2

58

0

1

0

15

8

47.1

01:20

25.3

0.1

15:45

25.8

Average

82

26

33

59

0.71

14

19

159

16.2

136

0

2

0

35

19

47.1

01:20

25.3

0.1

15:45

25.8

 

 

While having played just 35 games, only Patrik Laine, Auston Mattews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander have a higher point-per-game output than Guentzel’s 0.71. As of late, the Minnesota-native has been seeing around 40 percent of the team’s ice with the man advantage from the second unit, just one of his 25 total points have come on the power play.

 

 

His 2.70 5-on-5 points/60 sits sixth in the league for players suiting up for 18 or more contests and he’s doing so with relatively sustainable numbers. Guentzel has begun to fire the puck on net with more frequency – averaging 3.25 in his last eight healthy games, and as a previously known-sniper, his 16.2 percent conversion rate is in line with talented goal scorers.

 

 

But of course, this happened…

 

 

 

The obvious hope is that Guentzel recovers quickly and can jump back into the mix to keep this formidable unit together and rolling for your fantasy finale matchup and for the Penguins push to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

 

But even if it takes some time, the dynamic play that resulted from combining these three highly skilled players surely reached a point where they will be given plenty of opportunities to reign down on the opposition.

 

Both Sheary and Guentzel’s production rates are indeed hinged to Crosby and how much production they can scrape from their power play time, but even if they’re redistributed, getting a look next to Malkin on line two, or across from Kessel on line three… there’s not a lot of bad mixtures on the horizon.

 

Give them each a bump come draft day next season, and those in keeper leagues need to think long and hard over committing to a more established, potentially lower-ceiling player over the likes of Sheary and Pretzel… I mean Guentzel.

 

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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.