Geek of the Week: Phil Kessel’s Monster Season

by Scott Maran on February 18, 2018

Has Phil Kessel been an elite player this season, even in leagues that count hits?

Phil Kessel has always been known as one of the most dangerous forwards in the league, with his wrist shot widely known as one of the most deadly in the NHL.

For years he’s provided tremendous fantasy value to owners as he’s been one of the best offensive forces in the league. But this year, Kessel has taken it to another level, providing unprecedented value in almost all formats.

In Toronto, Kessel was the superstar of the team and got to spend some of his best years there. From 2009 to 2015 (his 22 to 27-year-old seasons), Kessel accumulated 181 goals and 394 points in 446 games. The only time he failed to hit 30 goals in a season was in 2015 and the only time he scored under 60 points was all the way back in 2009 (when he only played in 70 games).

Then he got to Pittsburgh and his fantasy value was expected to go through the roof. After being the only elite offensive player on the Maple Leafs, Kessel would now be playing with some of the best centers of the generation in Crosby and Malkin. But through his first two years in Pittsburgh, it had mostly been a mixed bag for Kessel, as there were both good and bad signs of things to come.

In his first regular season with the Penguins, Kessel struggled to reach the same heights he hit in Toronto. After registering only 26 goals and 59 points, people were worried that Kessel was on the decline. This was largely dispelled when Kessel tore it up in the playoffs and the following regular season (posting 70 points), but the concerns still remained. Kessel was only getting older and the goal scoring had declined significantly. A perennial 30+ goal scorer back in Toronto, before this season Kessel had only scored a combined 49 goals in 164 regular season games for the Penguins. He also saw a huge drop in shots in his second year with the Penguins, as Kessel finished with his lowest amount of shots on goal since 2007.

Yet Kessel has absolutely destroyed those doubts this season, becoming one of the most valuable skaters in all of fantasy hockey. His 66 points are tied for the fourth most in the NHL while his 24 goals are the 17th most. Out of the current top 10 scorers, only Alex Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov, and Evgeni Malkin have more goals than Kessel.

Using our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, we can see that Kessel has provided value in all sorts of leagues with a variety of setups and categories.
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

Nikita Kucherov

3

88

58

31

44

204

27

Phil Kessel

4

86

59

24

42

202

33

John Klingberg

5

72

58

7

47

142

19


In a 12-team, Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, and power-play points, Phil Kessel shines with an FHG Value of 86, standing at fourth overall in terms of fantasy value. Besides his dominance in goals and assists, Kessel has been a beast in many other categories, specifically the two most common ones- shots on goal and power-play points. His 202 shots on net are the ninth-most in the NHL and put him on pace for over 280 by the end of the year (a huge increase over the 229 he posted last season).

His power-play totals have been off the charts this year, as his 33 points with the man advantage easily place him first in the league. For comparison, last year’s power-play points leader (Nicklas Backstrom) finished with 35. Kessel has almost matched that in 23 less games!

But it’s not just in leagues that play to his strengths where Kessel is a dominant fantasy force. Even in leagues that count categories that Kessel struggles in (like hits), he is still one of the most valuable players you can own.
 

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

Brent Burns

2

108

58

10

40

245

22

65

Nikita Kucherov

3

90

58

31

44

204

27

20

Phil Kessel

4

85

59

24

42

204

27

20

Blake Wheeler

5

83

58

16

48

177

27

62

Sidney Crosby

6

79

59

19

46

168

29

51


In an average Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power-play points, and hits, Kessel still finishes as the fourth-most valuable skater. This is despite his very low hit totals, as players behind him like Blake Wheeler and Sidney Crosby can put up both a lot of points and a decent amount of hits. But despite Kessel’s awfully low hit totals, he still manages to maintain excessive value in formats that count hits. His stellar point totals this season combined with his other excellent peripherals do more than make up for his lack of hits.
 

 

Rank

FHG Vale

GP

G

A

+/-

GWG

PPG

P.K. Subban

11

67

57

15

30

9

2

4

Phil Kessel

12

67

60

24

42

-3

5

9

Nathan MacKinnon

13

66

49

24

37

10

7

8


Even in more goal-heavy leagues Phil Kessel still shines. In a hypothetical Yahoo league that measures goals, assists, +/-, game-winning goals, and power-play goals, Kessel provides the 12th most value. His plus/minus isn’t that good (him and John Carlson are the only players in the top 25 to have a negative plus/minus value) but he makes up for it in everything else. We’ve already talked about his impressive goal totals, but he’s also done well in game-winning goals and power play goals. His nine power-play goals are tied for the ninth most in the NHL while he’s tied for the 15th most game-winning goals in the league.

No matter the format, Phil Kessel provides immense value across the board. His insane season has not gone unnoticed as Kessel has reached a new level this season.

 

3 responses to “Geek of the Week: Phil Kessel’s Monster Season”

  1. leafs93 says:

    Really considering keeping Kessel for next year.

    Can only keep 3 forwards.

    -McDavid
    -Kessel
    -Huberdeau*

    other forwards:
    Simmonds*
    Radulov
    Teravainen
    Ferland
    Neal
    Mantha
    Dadonov

    Categories: G A P PPG PPA PPP +/- SOG Hits GWG

    What do you think?

    • TheOev says:

      Yep, I like those 3 as well. Simmonds is a multicat stud, but Hubs has really taken off this year

      • leafs93 says:

        Thanks.

        That might change though…

        I just got offered:

        Laine + Freddie and 7th

        for

        Murray + Simmonds and 3rd

        My other goalies are Rask and Fleury. I’d probably have Andersen as my future keeper and Laine would replace Huberdeau.

        What do you think?

        Take the deal and run?