Geek of the Week: Regression in the Projections Part 4

by Scott Maran on September 16, 2018


In the last edition of Regression in the Projections, we’ll be taking a final look at two players who are projected to fall in the rankings. We’ll be basing all our projections on a standard 12-team Yahoo league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power-play points, and hits. If you haven’t seen parts one, two, and three, you can find them here.

James van Riemsdyk

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

2017-18

79

20

79

36

18

245

20

39

2018-19

133

0

80

33

24

244

14

39


It’s tough to predict how James van Riemsdyk will do next season because of the huge potential shift in deployment that may come from switching teams this offseason. In Toronto, van Riemsdyk was only needed as a secondary scorer, stuck behind big names like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. This led to a huge drop in ice time compared to years past, as van Riemsdyk averaged less than 15 minutes of ice time per game for the first time in seven years. Out of all NHL skaters last season, van Riemsdyk was only one of three skaters to score over 50 points while averaging less than 15 minutes per game (the other two being Thomas Vanek and Alex DeBrincat).

Now on the Flyers, we can expect JVR to see more ice time, making it easier for him to put up more points. When van Riemsdyk averaged over 17 minutes of ice time per game, he averaged around 30 assists a season (even posting 33 assists while only averaging around 16 minutes). So while he only finished with 18 assists last season, we should expect him to increase those totals this season. We see this in his 2018-19 projections, as van Riemsdyk is projected to finish with 24 assists (a little low in my eyes but still in the right ballpark).

Why has JVR found himself in the Regressions series then? While the move to Philly should net him more assists, it might severely hurt his power-play totals. Back in Toronto, van Riemsdyk had the net-front spot on the first unit locked up, which is no longer the case with the Flyers. For years Wayne Simmonds has excelled in that position and has been an integral part of the Flyers’ successful power play, which may force JVR onto the second unit.

At this point in the year, all we can do is speculate. With Simmonds set to become an unrestricted free agent, maybe the Flyers do give van Riemsdyk the spot on the first unit, especially after they just made a huge commitment to him for the next few years. But what if they re-sign Simmonds? Or if they’re fighting for a playoff spot and are hesitant to change the power-play setup which has worked so well for them in the past? There are a lot of questions with no clear answers, and this makes van Riemsdyk’s outlook uncertain.

But we do know that the Flyers like to allocate a lot of their available power-play time to their first unit, leaving the players on the second unit usually averaging less than two minutes of power play time per game. If van Riemsdyk finds himself stuck there, getting less power-play time could spell trouble for his fantasy value.

Also, there’s the concern that JVR scored more goals than he should have last year, outperforming his 5v5 ixGF and finishing with the highest shooting percentage he’s ever had in a season. Despite only being a career average 11.5% shooter, van Riemsdyk converted on 14.5% of his shots this season. If he were to have finished with his average 11.5%, he would have scored almost eight fewer goals (scoring only 28 compared to 36).

Overall, this potential drop in power-play points and goals is all that’s needed for JVR’s value to drop. Even with his hit and shot totals being nearly identical and his assist totals actually increasing, van Riemsdyk is only projected to be the 133rd most valuable skater this season, down from 79th overall last year. Keep this in mind when thinking about selecting van Riemsdyk for your fantasy team.

Dustin Brown

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

HITS

2017-18

34

46

79

28

33

218

14

187

2018-19

92

14

81

23

28

205

13

170


I actually drafted Dustin Brown last year in one of the later rounds of my fantasy draft, hoping he could provide a lot of value in peripherals and maybe chip in some points like the good old days. I ended up dropping him in the first week (and was unable to get him back…) but even I wasn’t expecting such a huge bounce back year from the six-time 50+ point scorer.

With a lot of Los Angeles Kings players enjoying good offensive seasons, Dustin Brown rode Anze Kopitar’s surge in production and managed to hit 60 points for the second time in his career. While in his prime Brown was known as a solid 50-60 point producer, yet for the previous five seasons he had never even broke 40 (he even failed to break 30 points in four of those years). Combined with his excellent peripherals, Brown provided an impressive 34th overall value out of all NHL skaters.

If Brown were to be able to maintain his point production in the upcoming season, he would probably be one of the best bang-for-your-buck players available. However, if history has told us anything, it’s that 30-year-old players posting a career season usually can’t replicate their success (Brown is almost 34). There are plenty of promising signs that Brown won’t revert back to his sub-30 point days (more ice time, more shots, more productive linemates), but even a slight decline in his counting stats could cause a significant drop in value. When projecting Brown to score 51 points (which may even be a little generous considering he’s averaged 36 points a season over the last four years), Brown only provides the 92nd most value. This is still very good for a player that many were ready to completely ready to write off but is still a huge drop in the value he provided last season.

 

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